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Decent Days and Nights

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 19, 2007 8:45PM

Hm, mid-February means two things: it's starting to warm up a titch outside, and the city is beginning to simmer in expectation of all those gazillions of bands that will be sweeping through town leading into and out of this year's SXSW next month. This week has a few groups matching that migration pattern as well as some locals (and local labels) just releasing new material for public consumption.

2007_02_ettes.jpgHonestly, we've always been slightly suspicious of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. The frightening sonic similarity to Belle and Sebastian has always precluded us from deciding whether the group are a bunch of skilled mimics or a crew of talented songwriters. The show functions as a release party for their newest 7-inch, and since it's free now, it seems like as good a time as any to check 'em out again and see if we can make up our mind one way or the other.
Empty Bottle, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., free, 21+

We really dug the last single, "Bigger than Jared" we heard from The Never, partially because of its over the top ambition. On the group's latest, Antarctica: A Storybook Record, the band has actually expanded its ambition while reigning themselves in sonically to produce a more thoughtful and subdued record. They play Beat Kitchen Wednesday before teaming up with Annuals on Thursday at Schubas. The Annuals' new disc, Be He Me, is a quirky little indie-pop jaunt that zigs when you expect it to zag. Some of it seems a little too contrived, but we found that right when we thought the band was laying the sonics on a bit thick, a wail of true emotion snapped us back to attention.
The Never, Beat Kitchen, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., $8, All Ages
Annuals and The Never, Schubas, Thursday, 9:00 p.m., $10, 18+

Arbouretum is slow, sludgy, loud, mournful, and altogether arresting. The band shares the sharp emotional imprint of someone like Bonny "prince" Billy, but infuses it with a crackling crawl of subdued noise. Very nice.
Empty Bottle, Thursday, 9:30 p.m., $8, 21+

The female-led garage rock of The Ettes is bracing and gritty and each song is over before you've had a chance to really appreciate it's even begun. We're tired of bands getting lumped under the ever-expanding "garage" moniker, but The Ettes are one of those rare groups we've heard in the past few years that really does belong in that crew with one foot in the late '60s pop idealism and the other sunk deep into the muck of the proto-punks and their torn speaker cabinets.
Ronny's, Friday, 9:00 p.m., $5, 21+

Pilot Speed works the whole Radiohead via U2 angle like a couple of pros. And by that we mean they do it so well that we actually buy it as an honest effort on their part and not some cheap marketing effort.
The Empty Bottle, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., $10, 21+

Photo of The Ettes by Jewely Bennett.