Lovin’ and Listenin’

Friday, Jan. 13
Giant Sand, The Quags, Scout Niblett
Doug Fir, 830 E. Burnside St.
9 p.m. $13, 21+

Giant Sand songs remind me a lot of the films of Terence Malick. They often lack specific structure, but make it up for with a lot of mysteriously beautiful moments. And live shows are a perfect place to experience such moments, whereas on record they can just seem self-indulgent. Also, freak-folk singer Scout Niblett is opening, bringing her Joanna Newsom-esque charm.

Tractor Operator, Alexis Stevens and the Big Spoon, Little Girl
Valentine’s, 232 S.W. Ankeny St.
10 p.m. Free.

The first and only interview I’ve ever done was with Tractor Operator’s Eric Jensen and he was super-cool and easy to talk to, something I couldn’t help but appreciate considering how nervous I was. But Jensen’s down-to-earth attitude belies how strange his lo-fi indie rock is. Sounding like a more well-adjusted Isaac Brock, Jensen writes songs that seem inspired by too much time spent in poorly painted bedrooms and ugly working-class bars.

Saturday, Jan. 14
Roaring Lions, Quarry to the War, Sleeping Nations, The Kilbosh
Ash Street Saloon, 225 Ash St.
10 p.m. $5, 21+

When I saw the Roaring Lions open for The Fiery Furnaces last year, it was like ?” no joke ?” getting a root canal with no anesthesia. I can’t recall ever finding so many things wrong with one band at once. The band played math rock but dressed like a ska band, their lead singer had a hair metal falsetto and their music sounded like really bad melodic Megadeth. But now I’m cutting them a little slack, concluding that there are people out there who might like their math rock, who might even take pride in liking such a strange band. To them, I wish the best, but I pray to God I never have to hear a note of the Roaring Lions again.

Monkey Trick, I Can Lick Any SOB in the House, Dirtclodfight, Pacific Blasting
Dante’s, 1 S.W. Third Ave.
9:30 p.m. $6, 21+

A Jesus Lizard cover band? Wow, I’m in awe. Don’t most bands that spawn cover bands usually write pop songs or something close to them? Whoever has the time and dedication to figure how to play Jesus Lizard songs exactly like Jesus Lizard deserves your respect, if not your love. However, in my case, respect is not going to translate to actually attending this show.

Monday, Jan. 16

Since it’s Dr. King’s birthday, listen to Public Enemy’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona.” The song is a reaction to Tucson, Ariz.’s refusal to honor Dr. King’s birthday, which caused Chris Rock to ask on SNL: “Why wouldn’t people in hot-ass Tucson, Ariz. not want to have a day off?”

Tuesday, Jan. 17
Grayskul, Barfly, Dim Mak, DJ Wicked
Doug Fir, 830 E. Burnside St.
9:30 p.m. $8. 21+

Apparently Grayskul is signed to Minneapolis’ hip-hop label Rhymesayers, a label that continues to surprise and impress me with the quality of their artists and albums (with the exception of the insanely overrated Eyedea and Abilities). Rhymesayers does quite a deft balancing act between conscious and hardcore hip-hop, creating emo-rap that’s not self-indulgent like Anticon or too hit-and-miss like Def Jux.