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Music Critics' Picks: La Luz, Balms, Dead Winter Carpenters

Saturday, Feb. 8: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

The Dead Winter Carpenters talk to the hand and sing to you Feb. 8 at The Olympia Ballroom.

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Last November, La Luz were driving along in their tour van when they hit a patch of black ice that sent them skidding into a concrete block. While waiting for AAA to come, a semi-truck came barreling into their van. It was a terrifying and destructive blip in the middle of their continued rise in prominence. Though they're still a relatively young band, 2013 found them blowing up, their ultra-cool brand of woozy surf-rock landing them a gig opening for Of Montreal on a nation-wide tour - In fact, they were heading home for an Of Montreal show at Neumo's when the accident happened. Luckily, none of the band were seriously injured, and La Luz have resumed performing and solidifying their stature as not only one of Seattle's most exciting up-and-coming bands, but an indestructible one at that. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

LA LUZ, w/ Pony Time, the Fucking Eagles, the Tom Price Desert Club, 8 p.m., Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843


San Francisco trio Balms do shoegaze right. Their songs are positively drenched with murk - the sort of cloudy texture that'd make you just a little more buoyant if you found yourself swimming in the stuff. The vocals trail off and bleed into one another, punctuated by the occasional angular guitar squeal that cuts through the noise. This dreaminess adorns the majority of their music, lending a certain melancholy feeling while avoiding becoming maudlin. At times, Balms resemble the Flaming Lips at their quaalude-iest. Shoegaze at its finest was always a little reminiscent of arena rock for people that couldn't be bothered to pump their fists. This wall of sound is anthemic, but Balms aren't up for crowd-surfing. If you desire the feeling of being alone in a crowd, Balms could be your soundtrack. {REV. AM}

BALMS, w/ Fruit Juice, Needles and Pizza, 10 p.m., Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, $3-$5, 360.943.5710


At first listen, Dead Winter Carpenters surprised me with their high-energy alt-country. The skilled fingers of the guitarist diddling up and down the neck, the easy vocals, telling stories of the road, the woods and the law, the combination of bass, drum, harmonica, fiddle and viola in a big sound, moved me. At second listen, I was a bona fide fan. Hailing from Lake Tahoe, the five-piece is on tour promoting their new EP, Dirt Nap, a look into the rooted Americana and fun-loving antics of a band that understands their genre. CMT Edge recently praised the band's "influences ranging from 1960s country to Del McCoury to Ryan Adams." Foot-stompin', hand-clappin' and whiskey-chuggin' is what comes to mind listening to Dead Winter Carpenters. {NIKKI MCCOY}

DEAD WINTER CARPENTERS, w/Danny Barnes & The Barnyard Electronics, 8:30 p.m., Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way, Olympia, $10, 360.259.1589

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

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