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CRITICS' PICKS: Trasholes, Zodiac Death Valley, Tacoma All Ages Project Benefit, Death By Stars

Live music in the South Sound: Feb. 2-4

ZODIAC DEATH VALLEY: Word on the street is their live show rules.

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>>> Thursday, Feb. 2 & Saturday, Feb. 4

I've tried to make it a point, when writing about local music, to avoid talking about the ages of the members of the bands I highlight. But I must impress upon you how young the members that make up Gig Harbor garage two-piece Trasholes are, if only to make it abundantly clear to you just how much they have their shit together. Both members are in their mid-to-early teens, and their music is more sophisticated and weird than you could ever expect. Lead singer and guitarist Ian Call's voice rides that line between adolescence and adulthood, which only makes each voice crack sound that much more punk rock. It's exciting to see another young band following the lead of other shit-kicking acts like the defunct Freakouts and Durango 95. - Rev. AM

[Backstage Bar and Grill, with Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, Girl Trouble, Red Hex, Thursday,?Feb. 2, 7 p.m., all ages, $7, 6409 Sixth?Ave., Tacoma, 253.564.0149]

[Tahoma Tea and Co., with the Fun Police, Secret Wives, Yahtzee, Saturday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., no cover, 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2477]


>>> Friday Feb. 3

The music of San Francisco's Zodiac Death Valley straddles the line between psych-rock, pulsing new wave, freak-folk, and the sun-beaten pop of Dire Straits. It's an infectious combination, aided largely by impeccable songwriting. The band's music is nothing if not filled with memorable hooks and substantial melodies. These are hefty songs, carrying with them a kind of weight and import that isn't usually found in the usual roundup of psych-inflected groups. Plodding, chugging rhythms are accompanied by drunken guitars. Sprightly keyboards lend levity and a beatific tone to songs that seem to build for long stretches of road, alone in a car. Zodiac Death Valley comes across as a fully formed band, with a palpable clarity of spirit and vision. Word on the street is their live show rules. Bonus. - Rev. Adam McKinney

[The New Frontier Lounge, with Red Hex, Rose Windows, 9 p.m., cover TBA, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020]


>>> Friday, Feb. 3

Capping off another workweek in Fife, a benefit show for the Tacoma All Ages Project will go down Friday night, bringing Marissa Olson, Four Minute Mile, Undefined, Calen Tacket and the BreakLites to the stage for the sole purpose of throwing down for our area's under-21 music fans. Of particular note are the BreakLites, a group that recently celebrated the release of a new full-length record, RAPFACE. Something about the BreakLites calling their new album RAPFACE - all caps, accompanied by an illustration of a vicious animal with the title clenched in his teeth - seems weirdly incongruous when compared to the music the BreakLites make. The packaging is so aggro that when you finally hear what the BreakLites do, you can't help but laugh. This is a hip-hop group that places a premium on the sound of the record; this is an album that mostly drifts along amiably, MC Cruel's steady stream of words floating on top of a bed of tight beats and smooth melodies - melodies that, for the most part, stay out of the way of the rap. With the exception of the occasional scratchy guitar lick popping through the mix, the music just serves to buoy and support the vocals. Listening to the BreakLites' new album - the group's fourth - the first thing that becomes apparent is the ease and professionalism with which the album flows. And flow is exactly what the BreakLites are likely to do live at Louie G's Friday night. - Weekly Volcano

[Louie G's Pizzeria, with Olson, Four Minute Mile, Undefined, Calen Tacket, 8 p.m., $5, 521 Pacific Hwy E., Fife, 253.926.9700]


>>> Saturday, Feb. 4

The string of words that make up the name Death by Stars sounds at once full of portent and utterly frivolous. This dichotomy seems to seep into and help define the band's music as well. Combining the biggest, most direct qualities of punk, electronica and psych-rock, Death By Stars has cooked up a cutting, immediately hooky sound. There's an invigorating quality to Death by Stars that seems to transcend the band's basic formula of spacey, psychedelia-informed vocals encased in programmed beats, exploding into life-sized dance-punk refrains. In a live setting, the band - led by frontman Patrick Galactic - veers into performance art territory, with light shows and costumes. It's a delirious soup - all surface, really. But what a surface it is. Death By Stars plays with local favorites Umber Sleeping and Seattle-based instrumentalist Gems at The New Frontier Saturday. "We rarely get to play with bands that fit together so well," says Galactic in a press release for the show. "We are big fans of Umber Sleeping and Gems and are very glad to play with them." - WV

[The New Frontier, with Umber Sleeping, Gems, 9 p.m., $5, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020]

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