by Luke Baumgarten and Andrew Matson & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he moments when BARCELONA sounds like a dour Coldplay -- hard-plucked spacey guitar and twinkling piano, but in minor keys -- are as bad as the band gets. If you're going to have a low point, that's not a bad one. The pinnacle of the Seattle fourtet's oeuvre is more like latter-day Nada Surf. On "Colors," the mix is starry-eyed and earnest, blending canned drums, soaring harmonies and wanton unselfconsciousness ("she makes my heart scream color"). For the right set, that's positively knee-weakening.
Of course, the result is sometimes less swoon-causing than cringe-inducing ("secret smiles weigh me down again ... watch me drown" comes the chorus of "Secret Smiles"), but we take what we can get. It's hard being as sincere as Barcelona is while constantly obsessing over schmaltzy lyrics. Theirs is the kind of pop you can get lost in, if you let yourself. That's not easy, but it can be blithely rewarding.
-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & B & lt;/span & arcelona with Tokio Weigh Station, Paper Genius at Mootsy's on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 9 pm [or more like 10 pm]. Tickets: $5. Call 838-1570.
This Saturday, DJ SWERVEWON is bringing that old boom-bap to the Grail in Coeur d'Alene along with Seattle homies Type, Grieves, Murder Dice and Character Traits. With all the quality hip-hop coming out of CdA these days, you might think that'd be like bringing sand to the (Duane Hagadone-owned and -operated) beach, but wait a second... there's no hip-hop in Coeur d'Alene....
Wait yet another second -- yes, there is! So long as they remain open by treading lightly around neighbors who don't understand the hippity-hop, the Grail fills the area's gaping rap hole, bringing young Northwest aspirers through on the cheap. The undie rappers share a dirty-rap-and-dark-humor sensibility that is sure to resonate with Spokanites, Idahoans and other angry youth. But man-about-town DJ Swervewon -- with his effortless mixing of mainstream, indie and classic cuts -- will bring the pain hardest. Be about it.
-- ANDREW MATSON
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & D & lt;/span & J Swevewon with Characters Traits, Grieves, Kublakai and Murder Dice at the Grail on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 8 pm. Tickets: $10. Call (208) 665-5882.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & H & lt;/span & as there ever been as perfect a match as EVERCLEAR headlining the Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj Tour? The questionable Van Wilder universe was built around a frat boy-ish slacker who ekes by on drunken charm. Everclear lead singer Art Alexakis, meanwhile, got pretty huge by relentlessly marketing himself as a coked-out rage-aholic and misanthrope. (Striking, the similarities. With low light and a little rouge, those two start looking like twins.)
Sike. Art and the Taj Tour should be like oil and water, chemically incompatible. Mysterious things happen, though, when the oil is fame-starved and has children. Suddenly, when the water comes bearing a national headlining tour with only one or two distasteful little corporate compromises, the oil starts mixing with it rather nicely.
Blisteringly luminous metaphor aside, if "You Make Me Feel Like a Whore" wasn't autobiographical before, it is now.
-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN
Everclear with Johnny Lives!, Punchline, and the Alternate Route at the Big Easy on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $25. Visit www.ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.
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.