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Music Critics' Picks: Charlatan, Umber Sleeping, Michael Powers

Dec. 12-14: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

Umber Sleeping

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Charlatan is surging, post-punk inspired electro-rock. As a solo project of Omar Rashan, Charlatan combines programmed beats, synthesizers and fuzzed-out guitars into a sound that's reminiscent of Joy Division. All cleanliness and precision is smeared with layers of noise, and the persistent drum machine gets drenched in discordant guitar. In a positively packed lineup, Hot Panda is the other standout, here. The Vancouver, B.C., trio combines art-rock, punk and psychedelia into a propulsive mixture that moves feet as much as it lights up neurons. Brit rock affectations and warbly psych elements commingle and join forces to harken back to the heady days of the UK's dense music scene in the early '90s. Both Charlatan and Hot Panda take inspiration from the UK's post-'70s explosion, though neither sound like tribute bands. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

CHARLATAN, w/ Hot Panda, Beatrix Sky, Jupiter Sprites, 9 p.m., Le Voyeur, 404 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, cover tba, 360.943.5710


In the annals of Tacoma rock history in the new millennium, a handful of names stick out. One of them has to be Umber Sleeping. Though Umber Sleeping hasn't really existed in years, the mastermind behind it has remained active. Peter Tietjen, drummer and lead singer for Umber Sleeping, has essentially carried the sound and vision of Umber Sleeping through various incarnations, changing the roster and the name whenever he sees fit - I Like Science, Follow the Kites and Balloon Power Challenge have all subbed in for Umber Sleeping. In all of these forms, the Umber Sleeping ethos of spacy, Kraut-rock-indebted psych has remained essentially the same. Now, the original lineup of Umber Sleeping, featuring Doug Morse, James Jenkins and newcomer Jake Frye will be performing together, once again. Add to that the release of the Variety Hour's new album, and this is an unmissable show. {REV. AM}

UMBER SLEEPING, w/ the Purrs, the Variety Hour, 9 p.m., The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, cover tba, 253.572.4020


Blues music is a genre that often hearkens back to the past. So when Billboard magazine proclaims guitarist and singer Michael Powers "the future of the blues," it's saying he's both a virtuoso and an innovator. That's no revelation to anyone who's heard "Murch" Powers chug through the rolling guitar licks on "Baby's Got a Train." Born in New Jersey, Powers spent his childhood summers around North Carolina tobacco fields. He was influenced by both Jimmy Reed and Jimi Hendrix, then opened for the likes of James Brown and Bo Diddley. He's recorded with everyone from Chuck Berry to Bruce Springsteen to Robert Cray. Now you can catch him live, and for free, on his sixth annual appearance at Marine View Presbyterian, where he'll play "holiday jazz" pieces from his albums Frosty the Bluesman and Frosty's Funky Holiday. Expect greatness. {CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL}

MICHAEL POWERS, 5 p.m. Marine View Presbyterian Church, 8469 Eastside Dr. NE, Tacoma, no cover, 253.229.9206

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