Check out the checkout: Radiohead, Go! Team, Cave Singers, Soulja Boy, and more
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SONIC REDUCER Some of the sweetest words to deliver to impecunious types like myself: pay what you can. This I can work with be it a noise show at 21 Grand or the new Radiohead album. After blowing my newspaper wage-slave paycheck on rent, ramen, recreational intoxicants like lychee jellies, and sticker pics of my homegirls in goth Lolita getups, there's not much cheddar left to slap on surplus grillables. So taking a cue from Radiohead, what say we pretend this is a just world where we have the leisure and the leeway to bitch the would-be Hills cast member behind the counter down a cent or two for that Elvis Reese's cup? How much would we fork out for these recent releases?
They get at least $5 for getting us talking again about wiping the high prices of CDs and putting the music out there on the imaginary block: how much is this worth, unheard? More than a million queued up for a taste and an alleged average of about $8 per album download. A bargain compared to iTunes' $1 per track.
But what about the songs themselves? The sly wink lodged behind the downloadable album's flexible price has kept in check the ear-popping pressure of creating another masterwork on par with 1997's OK Computer (Capitol). In keeping with the darkly miniaturist mode of Thom Yorke's 2006 solo disc The Eraser (XL), In Rainbows is a subtle, contained meditation on love, trapped in a bell jar when it doesn't soar into creamy, cumulous, string-strafed regions ("Reckoner") or dip into the red, bristling with distortion and thumbing its nose at wincing audiophiles ("Bodysnatchers"). Fidelity is the last thing on the mind for this band off the leash, as on "House of Cards," on which burly bass lines buzz, glassy synths shiver, and Yorke oozes, "I don't want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover." How about $9.99 and rising as I find new reasons to love In Rainbows?
"Crank That (Soulja Boy)" gets about $2.50 for putting a crystallized Caribbean spin on crunk and imbuing steel drums with a certain refried dementia. SB also snatches 25¢ for working Robocop into the rhyme. But I'll take that 25 back for the doofus idea of writing an ode to a Sidekick, pandering to the ringtone market. I'll drop another $1 for the album title, which triggers flashbacks to the late '90s, when every new business felt the need to add a ".com" to its handle. The final price.com: $1.25.
The way these Seattlites juxtapose exHint Hint vocalist Pete Quirk's adenoidal croon with skiffle snare, guitar drone, and nodding tambourine on "Seeds of Night" scores them at least $3, as does the barn-raising thrum of the eerie "Helen." But the group hug on the cover lands them in the $8 range. Is it ironic a poke at the freely folkish movement from onetime rockers like former Pretty Girls Make Graves bassist Derek Fudesco? "It's pretty genuine, actually," Quirk told me last week from his native New Jersey. "It's not supposed to be a joke. We don't really take ourselves too seriously, and we usually have a good time with the things we do we do the group hug a lot!" Sounds like Cave Singers are actually pretty sensitive dudes. "That was our first band name, Sensitive Dudes, but it was taken," Quirk joked. My bid: $8 and a standing invitation to a friendly clinch.
I'd throw out $10 and a pint of blood for a daily dose of the superenergized Proof. Mastermind Ian Parton makes extremely aggro joy, collaborating with the rest of his band and working with Chuck D (embedding him in the bustling funk of "Flashlight Fight"), the Double Dutch Divas, Rapper's Delight Club, and Solex. The up-on-the-upbeat Proof resembles a giddy kidsploitation action flick score on a Fruity Pebbles sugar high. Most important, the band has coalesced into a living, breathing entity. "The world doesn't need another laptop geek onstage," a sober Parton explained from London. "I wanted to make it a real gang, if you know what I mean, with people who are quite different. I didn't want to be just another indie band. I look beyond the NME." Kid's rate: $10, give or take a box of Kix. *
THE GO! TEAM
Fri/19, 9 p.m., $15 advance
444 Jessie, SF
THE CAVE SINGERS
Oct. 24, 9 p.m., $12<\d>$14
628 Divisadero, SF
Pop sublime from Santa Rosa, Seattle, and Philly. Wed/17, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com 
Motor City's microhouse might finds an indie-pop thread with Asa Breed (Ghostly). Thurs/18, 9 p.m., $22 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com 
The songwriter untethers a wide-screen ambition on her The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Emarcy). Mon/22, 8 p.m., $25. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com 
Free jazz, noise, punk, and electronica come out to play when XBXRX guitarist Steve Touchton brings together chums to celebrate ADE's debut, Winter Weapons (Heathen Skulls). Tues/23, 9:30 p.m., free. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com 
Civilians (Anti-) issues timeless stories from the home front. Tues/23, 8 p.m., $20. Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com