by LUKE BAUMGARTEN and RACHEL SIEMENS & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t makes sense that JOHANNA KUNIN toured with seminal psych-folk weirdo Robyn Hitchcock and that she shares a band member or two with Laura Veirs (Karl Blau and Tucker Martine, most notably). Kunin's sound parallels and builds upon the work of both.
Kunin's expansive, meditative Clouds Electric (produced by Martine, veteran of the Decemberists' The Crane Wife) isn't as consistently poppy as Veirs' work, but it explores similar themes and displays a comparable playfulness with instrumentation and form. Where Veirs goes spacey, though, Kunin goes glitchy, juxtaposing keys, violin and glockenspiel with various digital bits and analog blips. To this she adds an affinity for Hitchcock's majestic, illustrative absurdism. "Tonight, the Fireflies are learning / and in the dark they remember / what it was like when we were one," she sings. Tough to describe, I know (Venn diagrams are available, as always, upon request.) The way it comes together, though, is gorgeous.
-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN
Johanna Kunin with the Popular Butchers at Whitworth's HUB on Thursday, April 5, at 9 pm. Free. Call 777-1000.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & f music is their outlet, math is their muse. Taking geek chic to the next level, upstate New York natives MATHEMATICIANS mix the musical with the numerical.
This triad is solidly standing by the institution of their moniker both lyrically (song titles include "Binary Girl" and "Hypotenuse of Love") and physically (think oversized glasses -- taped in the middle, of course -- along with bowties and plaid sport coats). Even their names denote the mathematical: Dewi Decimal, Al Gorithm and Pete Pythagoras. These young men are solid in their personas. But besides having a certain amount of kitsch about them, Mathematicians create some seriously danceable music. Forcing out a sort of poptronica that evokes the 1970-80s German band Kraftwerk, Mathematicians construct diminished beats and robotic vocals. A band that mixes the live with the prerecorded, their sound isn't to be missed.
-- RACHEL SIEMENS
Mathematicians will be playing with Flee the Century and Tokio Weigh Station at Empyrean on Friday, April 6, at 9 pm. $5. Call 456-3676.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t began as a jokey concept around which to build a half-serious band. It became an all-consuming lifestyle. The result is THE TRASHIES, a stomach-turning mix of punk, synth, mustaches and onstage semi-nudity. The change was gradual, according to fans and friends, though the full-on lifestyle move probably happened sometime after "Sweatpants Boner," a song about exactly what you'd think. It definitely arrived, though, before "Plasma Date," an autobiographical reminiscence of starting a date with a trip to the blood bank (to trade plasma for spending money). No, by the time "Plasma Date" rolled around, the cycle of "booze, pills, weed, corndogs, and ranch" (dressing, presumably) had life readily imitating art.
During last year's Are We Not Trashed? Tour, singer/mastermind Max Nordlie lost one of his front teeth. He spent the remainder of the tour toothless. That's as illustrative an example of their evolution as any.
-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN
The Trashies, with Seaweed Jack, Hockey and Pack of Wolves at Mootsy's on Saturday, April 7, at 9 pm. $5. Call 838-1570.
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.