The Sensitive Touch

sneaky-stairs.jpgGET MOROSE: Take note: When you specialize in the quietly introspective side of alternative rock, you must be able to state your sound in the cleverest of ways. S.B. threesome Clark officially describes itself as “neo-baroque.” That hyphenated wonder may not mean much to the average set of ears, but those familiar with the work of eloquently somber artists like Elliott Smith or Nick Drake will feel a familiar mellow while listening to the effortlessly resonant voice of Clark’s front man, Gabriel Friley. The band will be matching up this weekend with the likes of San Francisco native Nathan Moomaw, who also cites Smith and Drake as influences. It shows, and in a good way. Moomaw explains his sound as something like “sunny with a chance of clouds,” so expect to experience the sweetly sad sensation of good luck precipitously poised to go bad — just through your ears. Seattle’s Sneaky Thieves boast a more lush and plaintive sound drawn from complex orchestration that has piano, woodwinds, and the like joining in the heartache. As if to match their varied instrumentation, the band explains its take on the genre with a short list of such things as “imploding icebergs,” “crackling nebulae,” and “diseased lungs.” The evening’s headliner is Santa Barbara’s own Jon Bartel, whose country roots set him apart as the most dissimilar of this four-act sob-song serenade. Boasting earnest, soulful songs like “Oh Reno” and “Davey Jones,” Bartel can be more aptly compared to Willie Nelson or Hank Williams than anybody falling into the indie rock category. He sums up his darkly nostalgic sound simply with the phrase “a steam engine when you’re tied to the tracks.” It’s a bit more musical than that, of course, but his version of Americana might be the perfect capper to such a talented, sensitive lineup. It all gets morose at 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, at The Mercury Lounge.  — Drew Mackie

WEST END GIRLS: Speaking of fancy ways to describe the sounds of one’s band, try this one on for size: “warm velvet kisses that end with a slap in your face.” Welcome to the world of West Indian Girl, the band that was the Detroit brainchild of Robert James and Francis Ten. The duo, who takes their name from a strain of LSD, moved to Hollywood, signed with Astralwerks, and enlisted the help of Mark Lewis, Chris Carter, and Mariqueen Maandig to polish off their trippy, optimistic, face-slapping, expansive sound. They come to orbit onstage at SOhO in yet another hotly anticipated show there tonight, Thursday, September 7.  — Matt Kettmann

FLOAT A DOG: Can you think of a better way to spend your Saturday afternoon awaiting the 311 concert at the Bowl than with a hot dog in hand and some pop-punk blaring in your ears? That’s what’s going down this Saturday, September 9, at the Doghouse on Milpas Street, when Floater Six drop their tunes for the dog-chowing crowd on hand. Starting at 4:30 p.m., Floater’s Brian “Glitch” Miller (vocals and guitar), Marcus Duckwitz (bass), Seph “Chaos” Kinder (guitar and vocals), and Jeff “Six” Barber (drums) will deliver some of their punk that’s been making impressive rounds in SoCal during the past few months. See for some tunes. Barber, it should be known, is one of the visionaries behind the S.B. Museum of Natural History’s recent music and movie series, so he deserves your backing for that alone. But throw into the mix the Doghouse’s top-notch wieners, and there’s simply no excuse for not spending an afternoon on Milpas.  — MK

UP-COMINGS: Put the following shows on your calendar: Brett Dennen, who’s been opening for John Mayer across the country, plays the Ventura Hillsides festival on September 30. Though at the bottom of a bill that features Michael McDonald and Jackson Browne, watch Dennen steal the show. … Del tha Funkee Homosapien brings underground hip-hop back to Velvet Jones on September 28, but before that, serves up Agent Orange and Code 4-15 on Friday, September 15, and Thriving Ivory on Thursday, September 14. … SOhO delivers the Marc Atkinson Trio on Wednesday, September 13, KRS-One on Thursday, September 14, and Mother Hips on Friday, October 6. … And the Wildcat drops A Transitory State, Paint the Town, Logic, and Connection next Tuesday, September 12.

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