Critic's Choice for the week of August 31-September 5, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


You are all hereby formally indicted, declares Jim Yoshii Pile-Up frontman Paul Gonzenbach on "A Toast to the Happy Couple," his half-howl/half-croon lending additional gravity to a mellow indie-pop tune that is, for all intents and purposes, a suicide note. The Oakland quintet describes its new Absolutely Kosher disc, Picks Us Apart, as "a eulogy set to a danceable beat," and these tunes are indeed as hummable as they are heartbreaking. At SF's Rickshaw Stop Friday night with the Dudley Corporation and Ex-Boyfriends. $8, 8 p.m. (Rob Harvilla)


It's a fine week for Oakland indie-pop, actually -- the fine organic-meets-robotic outfit Audio Out Send is also releasing a new disc, the five-track EP A Broad Connection, wherein plainspoken guitars meet earnest melodies and lots of arty studio noise. Fans of Grandaddy, rejoice. Hightail it to SF's Cafe du Nord Thursday for the release party, if only to ask what the song title "Oakland Seas" is referring to. With Tomahira, Vernal Falls, and Liam Carey. $8, 8 p.m. (R.H.)


Good fortune recently graced "uptown" Oakland with a glamorous new lounge and nightclub, the modestly named @Seventeenth, which has become a hot spot for celebrity sightings: This summer alone, the joint has featured such internationally famous artists as MC Lyte, Brooke Valentine, Redman, various dashing sports heroes, and, for last week's "Femme Fatale" party, rap star Petey Pablo. (LL Cool J's cameo apparently looms on the horizon.) Saturday, hit the club for a Raiders Kick-Off Party with Cleveland's famed sensitive-thug quartet, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. They'll perform alongside R&B teen heartthrob du jour Mario, plus DJs Fuze and Pam the Funkstress live in the mix. $25, 10 p.m. (Rachel Swan)


Joe Bataan was a barrio star in the '60s and '70s with a hybrid of salsa and soul music. Of Afro-Filipino descent, he grew up in Spanish Harlem running with Puerto Rican gangs; blessed with an expressive, resonant voice, he taught himself piano and formed a band. His first hit was 1967's "Gypsy Woman" -- his classic albums include Subway Joe, Riot, St. Latin's Day Massacre, and others. Bataan makes a rare live appearance Friday at SF's Herbst Theatre for a salsoul flashback concert. $35, 8 p.m. 415-392-4400. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Alternately known as "Energy God," the bulbous-nosed reggae rapper Elephant Man, while not as well known stateside as Sean Paul or Jr. Gong, has been revving his turbines in the dancehall scene for quite some time -- with a rapid-fire cadence deadly as any automatic weapon, his skills on the mic are untouchable. But what makes an Energy God show worth attending are the numerous dances he leads the audience through like a drum 'n' bass aerobic instructor -- "Pon de River, Pon de Bank," "Thunderclap," and "Signal de Plane" are some of his signature steps, and he's no doubt invented many more since, which he'll showcase tonight (Wednesday) at SF's DNA Lounge along with Abijah. Both are backed by a full band, in addition to local artist Moese and selectas Jah Warrior Hi-Fi, Lonestar Sound, TNT Sound, and Smoke1. $30 in advance, 9:30 doors. (Eric K. Arnold)


For hardbop and boundary-breaking jazz lovers, Yoshi's offers an all-star and all-muscle septet Thursday through Sunday in Night of the Cookers, named after a classic Freddie Hubbard '60s album. These are artists who, especially in the '70s, pushed past the borders of hardbop closer to free jazz without losing that rhythmic pulse that holds it all together. Saxophonists Billy Harper and James Spaulding share the front line with trumpeters David Weiss and Charles Tolliver (all too long absent from the Bay Area scene), the always-amazing pianist John Hicks, drummer Roy McCurdy, and bassist Dwayne Burno. Forget cooking: This is a band that burns. 8 and 10 p.m. nightly, 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday. $20 on average. 510-238-9200 or (Larry Kelp)


The best poets know how to recast words to create their own meanings; the most intelligent DJs know how to chop up a song and reshape its components. This technique of splicing and sampling began with the Jamaica-born, Bronx-raised DJ Kool Herc, who found that by isolating and looping the percussion segment of James Brown's "Give It Up, Turn It Loose," he'd come up with a wild, proto-techno sound that could always turn a party out. Herc makes a rare Bay Area appearance Friday at SF's DNA Lounge to celebrate local author Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, which just earned the 2005 American Book Award. The party kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $15 at the door, or $10 in advance. (R.S.)


Aram Danesh and the Super Human Crew plays a singular brand of global pop, a sound that goes beyond worldbeat. Danesh was born in Iran, but his compositions and collaborations blend hip-hop, jazz, Brazilian music, R&B, gospel, Cuban son, reggae, and other Caribbean rhythms into a high-energy, dance-friendly groove. Tonight (Wednesday) at SF's Cafe du Nord. $8, 9 p.m. 415-861-5016 or (j. poet)


What's cool about emcees Pooh and Phonte -- who, along with celebrated producer 9th Wonder, comprise North Carolina's up-and-coming hip-hop group, Little Brother -- is that they're just regular nice guys who rap about real-life shit, which makes them sound honest and credible. Other rappers may front like mack daddies, but these emcees would rather shout out girls who go for cool fat dudes, or flash on black nationalist purists who abstain from bacon but secretly date white chicks. The earnestness of their raps -- coupled with the musicianship of 9th Wonder's beats -- made Little Brother's debut, The Listening, an album worth checking out. The group performs tonight at Slim's to support its upcoming new record The Minstrel Show. $18, 9 p.m. (R.S.)



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