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 myspace.com/floatersix 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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