Xiu Xiu performs with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and Father Murphy on Thursday, May 31, at Bottom of the Hill. 8:30 p.m., $12-$14.
Jamie Stewart doesn't make things easy — not for fans of Xiu Xiu, not for his group's assorted guest personnel, and certainly not for himself. The San Jose-based musician has long frolicked in the depths of human misery, creating an alluringly fucked-up package out of restrained guitar and keyboard experiments, vocals that sound like the aftermath of self-torture, and unflinchingly raw storytelling (Sample verses: "Cremate me after you cum on my lips/ Honey boy, place my ashes in a vase beneath your workout bench"). He's simultaneously enigmatic and a wide-open book — a quite compelling juxtaposition. Xiu Xiu has always been fond of performance art shock statements (titling an album Fag Patrol; band member Angela Seo forcing herself to vomit for the video of "Dear God, I Hate Myself"), but Stewart's willingness to explore taboos and shadows often leads to some intensely real and affecting music.