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Music Critics' Picks: RowHouse, The Jessica Blin Quintet, The West, Shyan Selah and the Republic of Sound

May 3-4: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

The West

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It's been a pleasure over the past while to watch as RowHouse grew and changed and inevitably found its feet. Fronted by Alex Tapia - previously of Bayonet - RowHouse has finally settled itself into a comfortable groove as a two-piece. Manning the drums are Gary Kawamura, of the jazz outfit Taxi Driver, and on guitar is Tapia. Musically, there's nothing outrageous or exotic about RowHouse. Essentially, they're an indie rock band with elements of the Black Keys and other minimalist projects. What remains a draw about RowHouse is the infectious energy of Tapia, who frequently seems to barely conceal his delight at performing in front of a crowd. This event marks the release of RowHouse's debut self-titled EP, as well as a fashion show for the vintage menswear collective, Feather & Oar. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

ROWHOUSE, 8 p.m., 21+, The Broken Spoke, 1014 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, no cover, 253.219.7746


"You might say that we are classic elegant swing meets surf guitar," says Jessica Blinn, vocalist and violinist for The Jessica Blinn Quintet that will play Olympia's Urban Onion Friday. The event kicks off a new jazz series for the venue. "We are excited to be playing at a new jazz venue in Olympia where there is good food to eat, beer to drink and room to dance," says Blinn. "There's something magical about live jazz because so much of it is improvised." Blinn is also vocalist for the band Erav Rav, which was voted best band in Thurston County in the Weekly Volcano's 2013 Best of Olympia issue. Blinn is known for her soulful singing and her passionate violin playing. "If you come Friday night you'll be hearing a lot of the great American songbook classics - incredible songs that singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn made famous," she adds. "I just don't think songs get better than that." {NIKKI MCCOY}

THE JESSICA BLINN QUINTET, 7:30 p.m., The Urban Onion, 116 Legion Way SE, Olympia, $5, 360.943.9242


From the first, striding chords and skittering drums on album opener, "It Was Disco and It's Over," the West succeed in evoking a dozen beloved influences - from newly deified type like LCD Soundsystem to time-tested gods like New Order. Clearly, the members of the West have an ear for not just imitation, but for constructing songs that sound like they'd fit in on a compilation of early '80s Manchester rebels and post-punk rave-ups. The dark romanticism of that era is emblazoned all over their full-length, In Low Light. (Track 2 is "You're In Control," a winking almost-answer song to Joy Division's "She's Lost Control.") But all of these evocative sounds and words would all be for naught if the West didn't bring it with compelling grooves and sharp-as-a-tack songwriting, which they luckily do quite handily. {REV. AM}

THE WEST, w/guests, 9 p.m., cover, The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020


Brave New World founder Shyan Selah and his band The Republic of Sound make their way back to Tacoma for a show with a talented supporting cast. Selah, born in Kentucky, raised in Federal Way, sports a big personality, and it follows him on stage, where he belts out rap, soul and rock tones, often in the same song. A good night's sleep is in order to stay with his roller-coaster ride of genre explorations. Behind him, the talented Republic bring it - infusing funk, jam rock, and R&B into a musical porridge that mesmerized. Mr. Downtown Tacoma, Justin Mayfield, rocks the guitar and the drumming simply amazing. {WEEKLY VOLCANO}

SHYAN SELAH AND THE REPUBLIC OF SOUND, w/DJ Kaz, M. James, Xola Malik, Monica-Crystal and the Beat Bandits, 8 p.m., Stonegate Pizza, 5421 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $10, 253.473.2255

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