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Music Critics' Picks: Abdu Ali, DJ Hawkskee, You are Plural, Trees and Timber

Jan. 10-11: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

TREES AND TIMBER: Deliciously sweet hooks, luscious lines and juicy rhythms / photo courtesy of Facebook

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Baltimore artist Abdu Ali is a tough one to pin down. Combining surreal poetry with droning R&B, Abdu Ali comes across as a restless experimenter, switching back and forth from rapping, chanting, singing and startling outbursts. His recent, lurching "Thornz" is as unsettling as it is oddly sensual. Elsewhere, "Machete Warz" is an aggressive slice of industrial provocation, all rattle and fuzz. The insistent beat and sci-fi keyboards of "Tornadoes in the Alley" play like a perverse club-banger. Abdu Ali almost resembles the bar-crawling nightlife version of Olympia's Arrington de Dionyso, less culturally adventurous, but no less afraid of pushing boundaries and cooking up genuinely unusual music. His Push + Slay mixtape chronicles electronic hip-hop that remains on the fringe, but draws ever closer as more mainstream artists begin to look toward the underground for inspiration. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

ABDU ALI, w/ Glitterbang, Lord Baby, Mmmocean, 10 p.m., Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, no cover, 360.943.5710

[DJ] + FRI, JAN. 10

"Grand opening!" "Grand closing!" These two words grace South Sound hip-hop music venue posters too often, many times within two months. Somebody with an attitude, somebody messin' with somebody's somebody or somebody trippin' in general - dope hip-hop shows or parties disappear because somebody acts "ignint." This isn't the case for DJ Hawkskee's parties. He's a FOR REAL party rockin' DJ. If you're not familiar with Hawkskee, he'll be spinning at New World VIP Lounge's Stop Light Party Friday night. He invites you to introduce yourself and share your relationships status by dress code.  Yes, your dress shall reveal your availability: wear red (taken), yellow (single, depending on who's asking) or green (let's get it!). A cool concept party to start 2014 with one of the dopest DJs in the Puget Sound. Hey, you might meet somebody who you like or someone who likes to stalk you. {JOSE GUTIERREZ JR.}

STOP LIGHT PARTY, w/DJ Hawkskee, 9 p.m., New World VIP Lounge, 8722 South Tacoma Way, cover charge, Lakewood, 253.589.6611


"Exploding in prisms on the inside" is part of the lyrics, sung dreamily and sweetly in hair-raising, feminine pitch over synth-y jams, reminding me a little of The Sundays and Mazzy Star. The lyrics belong to Olympia's You Are Plural, off their new release, Rabbit Rabbit. While synth-pop is the overall feel of this 8-track recorded, digitally mixed album, they pick up the pace and add a little rowdy to some jams, while returning to classical in others. A blend of heavenly voices, both male and female, a solid drum line and the incredible arrangement of cello and Wurlitzer organ make this band uniquely Olympian, and appropriately awesome. Check out an elegant, indie-rock part of your community at their record release party Saturday. {NIKKI MCCOY}

YOU ARE PLURAL, w/Romanteek, Jason Vivona, 8 p.m., Studios, 607 Fifth Ave., entrance on Cherry Street, Olympia


Over the past year or so, Trees and Timber have picked up a lot of steam around the South Sound. Their brand of garage rock incorporates playful elements of gypsy music, casually tossing in a French verse here and there, luring audiences into impromptu oompah dance parties. Their sense of humor is a streak that runs through most of their songs, yet it consistently avoids falling into heavy-handed glibness. They describe their music as "aggressive pop supreme," which does a good job of hinting at the seemingly effortless catchiness at play in the music of Trees and Timber, while not ignoring the crunchy heft of those guitars and drums. Their Electric Gypsy Lovechild EP is a testament to a band that has comfortably found its niche in the Tacoma music scene, though where they'll go from here is anyone's guess. {REV. AM}

TREES AND TIMBER, w/ Red Jacket Mine, Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount, Vigilante Santos, 8 p.m., Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843

LINK: More live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

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