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Monkeys, Foxes and Bears - oh my!

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

All the animals came out to play this week, and here's the commotion they caused.

Arctic Monkeys are finally returning to Seattle after a two-year absence, and are set to perform September 19 at The Showbox Market. The Grammy-nominated foursome will release their third album, Humbug, on August 25, featuring the leadoff single "Crying Lightning." The new album is an intriguing co-production of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco). I've seen Arctic Monkeys twice, at The Gorge and The Shoxbox Market, and they were mindblowing both times - high, high, high-energy from beginning to end. Sexy, dorky lead singer Alex Turner's side project, The Last Shadow Puppets, is also worth checking out at your favorite record store. Tickets for the Arctic Monkeys - and they'll fly quickly - go on sale tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

Congratulations to Seattle's newest pride and joy, Fleet Foxes, who scored the cover story on the August issue of Mojo magazine! The organic folk ensemble is huge in Europe and Australia right now, not to mention selling out every concert here in the US and appearing at both Lollapalooza and All Points West festivals in the coming weeks. Fleet Foxes, the Sub Pop Records debut by this popular Seattle export, was my pick for the Best Album/CD of 2008, and I'm very glad to see their fan base expand far beyond the Puget Sound.

Grizzly Bear will likely find themselves on a shitload of critics' year-end lists for the riveting Veckatimist, which landed on Seattle Gay News' roster of the 10 best recordings of 2009's mid-year mark. Gay lead singer Ed Troste and his bandmates are coming back to the Emerald City for a one-night performance at the Moore Theatre, and this baby is expected to sell out - tickets go on sale July 25 at the Paramount Theatre box office. The group's sound is multi-layered pop, not the easiest to snap your fingers to in the car, yet mystically dreamy to listen to while you're speed-walking around Greenlake. I recommend logging onto YouTube and ear-sampling "While You Wait for the Others" - seriously, Veckatimist is one for the time capsule.

Unlike Fleet Foxes, who've skyrocketed to worldwide notice, The Blakes are still awaiting their major breakthrough. The Seattle-based hard rock trio, however, is on the verge of wowness as they await the October 13 release of Souvenir, an anticipated follow-up to the band's self-titled debut. I haven't seen these boys since stumbling into (actually, onto) them at Bumbershoot last year, where they kindly snuck me into a VIP drinking area - they drew a large gathering at the Exhibition Hall earlier that afternoon. I love The Blakes for their raw blend of rock 'n' roll, incredible live shows, taste for good wine, shaggy dos, and for wearing pants tight enough to get a thumbs-up from Freddie Mercury's grave. This dynamite threesome plays the Capitol Hill Block Party on July 24 and the re-opened Crocodile on August 3 - see you at both.

Remember this name: Spencer Day. He's jazz's newest "it boy," an irresistibly cute singer-songwriter already knocking on Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr.'s doors. He's also my guest in The Music Lounge on July 24, a few days before he arrives at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley for a two-night appearance. Day was born in Utah, raised in rural Arizona and now lives in Los Angeles - brought up by a single mom who teaches music and sings opera. This is a kid with the talent to record albums, play intimate jazz venues, and possibly land a stage gig on Broadway in the future - he reminds me a lot of Peter Cincotti. Catch him at the Jazz Alley before he gets big, really big. But first, catch him here in The Music Lounge next week.

Where did Tori Amos stay at in Seattle? Beats me, but I do know she dined at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar the night before kicking off her tour at WaMu Theatre. I only recommend Purple to my peeps for cocktails, as the lunch I had there two years ago sent me directly to McDonald's shortly afterward.

A quick correction to my July 3 concert picks: the KUBE Summer Jam on July 25 takes place at White River Amphitheatre and not Benaroya Hall. An update on the rap-heavy event, sponsored by local station KUBE 93, is headed my way in the days ahead - I'll blog anything worth blogging about, such as Asher Roth performing in the buff - one can dream, right?

Finally, for American Idol fanatics - and those who haven't already flung rubberbands at me for the mediocre review of the mediocre Idols Live show - get ready for David Cook, last year's winner of the hit TV reality series. The Texas-born artist slides to The Showbox SoDo on August 24 with tickets on sale now at various outlets. I haven't decided yet if I have a crush on him (leaning on yes), but I have decided that "Light On" is a definite guilty pleasure.

Next week in this column, it's an interview with jazz artist Spencer Day.

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