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CRITICS' PICKS: Dead Cat Hat, Slam Dunk, The Cutwinkles, WaMu

Live music in the South Sound: July 3-7

WaMu: Short on name, big on sound.

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>>> Sunday, July 3

Billed as "twang infused Recession Rock," heavy on the banjo, strum guitar and snare drum (and don't you forget it), Pato Milo (San Francisco's Big Chicken Dinner) and Allan Canumay (Seattle's Jettison) of Dead Cat Hat will drop into The New Frontier in Tacoma on Sunday. Dead Cat Hat isn't just fun to say, it's a classically American sonic confection simple enough for all to appreciate, yet reverent enough for all to respect. According to lore, Allan and Pato "met in the summer of 2010 at a gas station that serves great hamburgers. ... " The rest, as they say, is history. Take Dead Cat Hat's shtick for a test drive on the day before our nation's birthday, and get the celebration started right with what the band classifies as "songs about dyin' and killin' in America." Feel free to drop your G's, but don't drop the ball on this show. - Matt Driscoll

[The New Frontier Lounge, with guests, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020]


>>> Sunday, July 3

Over the past decade, there has been an increased focus in indie rock on catharsis - of not shying away from emotion, of not acting cool about the weight of the world. Slam Dunk continue that celebration of emotion. At their best, the band's songs have a jubilant, giant sound that very effectively carries the listener along on a wave of cathartic energy. (Not to sound New Age-y about it.) Maybe a more appropriate comparison would be their name: Slam Dunk. Their music sounds like a buzzer-beating slam dunk in the middle of a packed arena - that collective release of tension when a crowd of thousands simultaneously rises to its feet. I'm quite certain this catharsis is persuasive to even the hardest of basketball-and-rock-and-roll-hating hearts. Try not to be the last person to remain seated. - Rev. Adam McKinney

[Northern, with Pat Jordache, Greek Life, 8 p.m., $5, 321 Fourth Ave., Olympia,]


>>> Tuesday, July 5

After taking a break for a couple years, Tacoma's nerdiest native sons, the Cutwinkles, have returned to the stage. Having formed as students at SOTA, the Cutwinkles quickly bonded over an intense love of punk-rock and video games. The resulting amalgam is one of the most ridiculous and fun bands around. Their flippant disregard for writing songs about (almost) anything not related to classic video games approaches a bizarre kind of purity as each Mega Man or Mario reference flies jauntily by. Even on a song like "Making Out With Chicks" - a song ostensibly not concerned with Pac-Man - there is still that sugar-high vibe that can come from a delirious all-night gaming sesh. - Rev. AM

[Hell's Kitchen, with Old Man Markley, the Fun Police, 8 p.m., no cover, 928 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6003]


>>> Thursday, July 7

Though their brutal, improvised maelstroms don't have much in the way of sonic equivalents' in the Seattle underground scene, WaMü could nonetheless be lumped in with a handful of other Emerald City noisemakers like Stickers and MOUNTAINSS (to say nothing of Olympia's own Malaikat dan Singa) who treat the saxophone as less an instrument of sultry-eyed, soft-rockin' seduction and more a radio for channeling the inhuman howls of self-flagellating underworld monstrosities. That said, saxophonist Brittnie Fuller's bleating, shrieking woodwind blasts are only one aspect of WaMü's deep, heavily decibeled sound - there's also Garret Kelly's manic drumming, Rachel LeBlanc's spooky vocals, the frantic noodling of guitarist Kaz Nomura (who plays much mellower, goofier songs as PWRFL Power) and avant-violinist/experimental filmmaker Eric Ostrowski's string-shredding, tension-charged bow-slinging. - Jason Baxter

[Northern, with Ya Ho Wha 33, Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat dan Singa, November Witch, 8 p.m., all ages, 321 Fourth Ave., Olympia,]

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