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A day-by-day Guide to our Critic's Choices and other previews



cchanges On their superb full-length debut, Today Is Tonight (Drama Club), these local rising stars find a hundred different ways to jangle, bounce, and glide. Picking up where they left off with their two previous EPs, 2003's First of May and 2004's self-titled release, the Changes continue to experiment with shades of the 80s proto-alt rock--Marshall Crenshaw, Squeeze, Aztec Camera--that most American groups have long since brushed aside. A few of the EP tunes turn up again--a stormy remake of "Such a Scene," a reprise of the jazzy guitar-pop fugue "Her, You and I"--alongside newer standouts like "In the Dark," with its squirrelly Steely Dan-ish faux-electric-sitar solo, and the breezy "Twilight," with hand claps and electric piano that hint at 70s dance-floor glimmer. This is a CD-release show; Tally Hall and Brighton, MA open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --J. Niimi

COBRA STARSHIP This side project of Midtown singer-bassist Gabe Saporta is probably best known for "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)," the goofy theme to an even goofier movie. Featuring one-off cameos from members of the Sounds, The Academy Is..., and Gym Class Heroes, the song may have been the first to use Samuel L. Jackson and mall emo to successfully create a cross-platform marketing opportunity. The current Cobra Starship lineup includes members of the Ivy League and Armor for Sleep. 30 Seconds to Mars headlines; Head Automatica, Cobra Starship, Men Women & Children, and Envy on the Coast open. a 6 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-752-6601 or 312-559-1212, $22.50 in advance, $25 at the door. A --Jessica Hopper

DAVE HOLLAND QUINTET Since his first quintet album, Jumpin' In, in 1983, veteran bassist Dave Holland has led one of the most dependable groups in jazz, with strong arrangements and consistently excellent personnel. On Critical Mass (Dare2), the quintet's latest, Holland as usual splits writing duties with his bandmates, creating a genuine ensemble sound with plush harmonies and nifty contrapuntal lines that glide over slightly funky grooves. Unfortunately, the music has become formulaic; Holland hasn't changed his approach in years, and even new drummer Nate Smith doesn't make much of a difference. See also Saturday and Sunday. a 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20. --Peter Margasak

magda After years of sponsorship from god-of-all-techno Richie Hawtin, who handpicked her to open multiple tours, it's surprising Magda isn't better known stateside. Her first official mix CD for Hawtin's label, She's a Dancing Machine (M-nus), proves she's definitely got chops--she hustles through 71 tracks of wordless clicks, propulsive plinks, and frosty ticktocks in just over an hour. Berlin's subtle, cool bounce is her main inspiration these days, but she breaks up some of the quiet stretches with flashes of microhouse and (true to her roots) Detroit acid. U.S. appearances have been rare since she left for Germany in 2003--best catch a glimpse while you can. Paco Osuna and Kate Simko open. a 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-4140 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Jessica Hopper

cmagnolia electric co. I had a hard time warming up to Jason Molina's country-rock band: considering how much power he had when he kept things stripped down as Songs: Ohia, why gild the lily? But since he moved to Chicago last year after a stint in Indiana, his music really seems to be jelling. The songs on Magnolia Electric Co.'s new album, Fading Trails (Secretly Canadian), are drawn from material recorded at home and at three different studios--Electrical Audio, Sun Studios, and David Lowery's Sound of Music--but what could have seemed like a bunchy patchwork quilt instead feels holistically integrated. The slinky weeper "Montgomery" could pass for early Jason & the Scorchers in slow-burn mode, and the languid "Lonesome Valley" does a credible Crazy Horse without slipping into cliche. But I still think Molina's at his most effective when he lets his words carry the song, like he does on the brooding "A Little at a Time." Fog and Arriver open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

cskerik's syncopated taint septet Take a mix of funk and hip-hop rhythms laced with New Orleans street beat, slather it in tried-and-true harmonies for five horns, and keep it airy enough to incorporate Basie-style riffs and Balkan counterpoint. Voila, Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet--a hearty hybrid of latter-day rhythms grafted to jazz melodies and chords. Anchored by Hammond organ and heavy on both baritone sax and flute, the ensemble has a cosmopolitan sound that encompasses the earthiness of hard bop and the neon tones of a jam band; its second disc, this year's Husky (Hyena), quivers with smarts and energy. Skerik, a Seattle tenor saxist best known for his work with Charlie Hunter in Garage a Trois, is an unprepossessing front man, handing off most of the solos and almost all the writing. Much of his job as bandleader entailed coming up with the group's concept (reminiscent of the 80s band the Microscopic Septet) and its wry sensibility--illustrated by the name, taken from a statement by a 1930s drug czar about the supposed dangers posed to upright Americans by the "syncopated taint" of jazz. Chris Berry & Panjea opens. a 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. --Neil Tesser

cTHESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, RIVER CITY TANLINES For their previous releases, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES devised a uniquely enervating combo of bratty, straining, deliberately abrasive vocals and twitchy, self-indulgent mathcore. This Seattle band's second full-length, the new Easter (Jade Tree), is even grimmer than those records--it's full of nasty surprises to keep you feeling ill at ease, and its rhythms and structures feel put together sideways, so that even the stop-start build-and-crash dynamics seem to be rising and falling in loops and tangles rather than straight lines. Thankfully the righteous screaming and grating noise are still broken up here and there by swatches of song you can sing along to. --Monica Kendrick

Alicja Trout is probably the single most exciting thing the garage scene has going for it: she's as much R 'n' R flash as she is punk integrity, with future promise to match her status as an ex-member of some of Memphis's finest, chief among them the legendary Lost Sounds. She runs the singles label Contaminated Records, she's got smoldering solos for days, and she's the only woman--or so he told her--that Arthur Lee of Love ever played music with. (She was in the band he was putting together shortly before he died.) On I'm Your Negative (Dirtnap), her first proper LP with the RIVER CITY TANLINES (the other record's a singles collection), she ditches the lo-fi fuzz that used to obscure her vocals--now she sounds like Cherie Currie times Rob Tyner, combining fervent forcefulness with hard-edged coo and sass. The songs keep it Memphis, but Trout's got an obvious love for pre-1980 California punk, making for breakneck bluesy bubblegum rock that's all spit and swagger. The rhythm section of John Bonds and Terrence Bishop is a longtime unit--they've backed R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, and the Tearjerkers, among many others--and here they play gritty and simple so the spotlight can stay where it belongs. Last time I saw the Tanlines, Trout closed the set sweating through a strapless black evening gown with her foot up on the monitor and letting loose a stupefying lead that was like Billy Gibbons by way of Sonic Youth. --Jessica Hopper

These Arms Are Snakes headline, Mouth of the Architect plays third, the River City Tanlines go on second, and the Young Widows open. a 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 18+.

cworld/inferno friendship society With its zealous horns, rampaging accordion, circusy swing, and overheated gutter-poet melodrama, this supersize New York punk-cabaret band has something to irritate just about everybody--its cheeky, casually dissolute swagger even manages to make the switchblade-sharp instrumental technique on display seem annoyingly show-offy. But despite all that, the music's as infectious as a virus (and I can't imagine the Dresden Dolls doing so well in a world that hadn't already had World/Inferno in it for years). Front man Jack Terricloth is so hammy, snarky, and earnest all at once that it gives me a headache--he sounds like a young Elvis Costello after lessons in projection and enunciation from Meat Loaf. On this summer's Red-Eyed Soul (Chunksaah) the combination of his literate shuck-and-jive and the band's corny stings and flourishes almost overwhelms the songs--the key word, though, is "almost." These are mighty strong songs, not easily bested, and no amount of bric-a-brac or this-killed-vaudeville over-the-topness can spoil catchy tunes like "Only Anarchists Are Pretty" or "Let's Steal Everything." Onstage the vocals yield some ground to the jam-packed arrangements, and it's easier to warm up to Jack when you can watch him eviscerate hecklers--picture Steve Albini as a dandified lush with a mike in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other. World/Inferno opens for the Bouncing Souls, the Street Dogs, and Whole Wheat Bread. a 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16. A --Monica Kendrick


cCALIFONE, ANGELA DESVEAUX CALIFONE has always thrived on odd juxtapositions of sound and style, and their new Roots & Crowns (Thrill Jockey) is the apotheosis of that approach--it reminds me of those marvelous accidents where the noise of a radio stuck between stations is more interesting than any one broadcast could be. Even so, it's their most polished recording: engineer and onetime member Brian Deck gives each of the individually processed sounds its own place, but they never take precedence over the tunes, which are as sturdy and memorable as centuries-old folk songs. "Rose Petal Ear" is a great example of how they pull it off. Its core is a duet of Tim Rutili's falsetto vocals and Jim Becker's rustic banjo, sounding like Prince gone Appalachian. But bright, digitally shattered guitar scrabbles, murky analog synth gurgles, and reassuringly ragged hand claps weave in and out of the tune, coloring its emotional fabric without obscuring the overall design. --Bill Meyer

Montreal singer-songwriter ANGELA DESVEAUX claims Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch as key influences, but her debut album, Wandering Eyes (Thrill Jockey), gives a smart, glossy pop finish to old-fashioned country. She does wonders with her thin voice--her style's similar to Laura Cantrell's--and her hooky songs recall the melodic grace of Rosanne Cash's early work. --Peter Margasak

Califone headlines, Angela Desveaux plays second, and Peter & the Wolf opens. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

cold war kids The centerpiece of this California quartet's new full-length debut, Robbers & Cowards (on Downtown Records, home to Gnarls Barkley and Art Brut), is the masterfully tense "Hospital Beds"--like much of the sturdy, tuneful indie rock here, a remake of a song from one of the band's previous three EPs, all released in the past 18 months. Nathan Willett's supple wail, unusually soulful for indie rock, drives home the tune's harrowing first-person ICU tableau: "I got one friend laying across from me / I did not choose him; he did not choose me / We got no chance of recovery / Sharing hospital joy and misery." There's something about his deliberate, almost luxurious articulation of the line "Vietnam, fishing trips, I-ta-li-an op-er-a"--some of the things he'll miss about being alive--that gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. Foreign Born opens. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --J. Niimi

iris dement Iris DeMent has always followed her own path; after releasing three superb folk and country albums in the mid-90s she stopped recording for eight years. When she broke her silence it was with 2004's Lifeline (Flariella), a collection of white gospel tunes she learned growing up in Arkansas (and one original); in the liner notes she recalls that whenever her mother was troubled she'd go to the piano and sing songs like these. The record doesn't demand any particular fondness for the Bible--DeMent mainly presents Lifeline as an album of soothing, familiar melodies and messages of forgiveness, not a means of proselytizing. Her voice, which connects the austerity of old-timey music to modern folk and honky-tonk, is clearly rooted in gospel, but her uniquely liquid phrasing makes these songs her own. Darrell Scott, an excellent guitarist and passable singer-songwriter, opens this show, a benefit for the Old Town School's financial aid and youth outreach programs. a 5:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-751-3320, $150 and up. A--Peter Margasak

DON OMAR Daddy Yankee has ruled the reggaeton roost for years, but fellow Puerto Rican Don Omar mounts an impressive challenge with his new King of Kings (Machete Music). He's a ferocious rapper with a rhythmically complex flow, throaty roar, and hectoring delivery, and unlike Tego Calderon he pushes the genre's boundaries without sounding like he's begging for a crossover audience. Don Omar produced the entire album himself, and it's full of stylistic changeups. "Cuentale" mashes reggaeton's galloping beat against the guitar-driven bachata music of the Dominican Republic, and the down-tempo groove of "Candela" is swaddled in heavy electric guitar chords; he even makes room for a couple of ballads, like the piano-driven, beat-free "Tu No Sabes," which he sings in a wounded, husky cry. MC Juelz Santana and dancehall star Beenie Man drop rhymes on a couple of tracks, but Don Omar can hold his own just fine. Rakim & Ken-Y and Toby Love open. a 8 PM, UIC Pavilion, 1150 W. Harrison, 312-413-5740 or 312-559-1212, $35-$75. A --Peter Margasak

lisa germano Lisa Germano's music has always been defined by hushed languor--her breathy, sibilant vocals make her sound like she's trying not to wake a baby in the next room. On her latest album, In the Maybe World (Young God), melodic details waft like curls of smoke from the lean, keyboard-driven arrangements of her beautiful lullabies. But as usual, her words starkly contrast with the music's prettiness. Nobody else rhapsodizes about misery with such dedication: "It seems a little safer / Up in empty space," she sings on "Moon in Hell," and "Into Oblivion" is about a place she'd like to go. Sometimes when I listen to her records I wish I could tell her to snap out of it, but there's no denying that she thrives on defying logic and better judgment--when she sings, "Fuck you / Go to hell / I love you," it seems to make perfect sense. Via Tania opens. a 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10, 18+. --Peter Margasak

FLORIAN HECKER Viennese sound artist Florian Hecker makes one hell of a racket, overloading computer systems to kick up an awesome, disorienting noise, but there's usually an elaborate method to his madness. At this performance he'll present a new six-channel work composed with an artificial neural system he designed with a software engineer; in simplest terms, the program analyzes Hecker's creative choices and then sets off on its own, mimicking his style. a 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 312-282-7676, $12. A --Peter Margasak

dave holland quintet See Friday. a 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.


vicente fernandez Even more impressive than Vicente Fernandez's giant sombrero is the reach of his music in Latin America and beyond--he's sold more than 50 million records since launching his career in the mid-60s, and his songs seem to dominate the jukeboxes of every Mexican restaurant in the city. Fernandez is Mexico's greatest singer of ranchera music, a folkloric style blending polkas, waltzes, and romantic boleros. A recent 3-CD box set, The Living Legend (Sony BMG Norte), attempts to introduce him to newcomers, coming complete with English liner notes; throughout, Fernandez wails with near operatic precision and unabashed sentimentality over slick strings, stuttering guitar riffs, and punchy mariachi brass. Though he's popular in nonrural areas, his lyrics stick to the country, where most of life's important matters can be addressed in terms of love, horses, or patriotism. Paquita la del Barrio opens. a 7 PM, Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont, 847-635-6601 or 312-559-1212, $49-$64 in advance, $59-$74 at the door. A --Peter Margasak

dave holland quintet See Friday. a 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

nguyen le: tiger's tail quartet The title of Nguyen Le's latest album, Walking on the Tiger's Tail (Highnote), suggests danger, an element often present in the guitarist's work. But the record is a gentler affair than some of Le's previous projects: his quartet includes reedist Paul McCandless, cofounder of Oregon, and pianist Art Lande, whose playing has mostly trod Oregon's path, guiding jazz through acoustic folk and world-music influences. Le's music has always evinced an East-West connection, which reflects both his heritage (he was born in Paris to Vietnamese parents) and his experimentalism. But here it takes a more subtle and complicated form: an Asian melodicism, already tempered by the West, fused with American timbres and structures influenced by the East. French drummer Patrice Heral fills out the group on this tour. a 7 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. --Neil Tesser

SUISHOU NO FUNE On its third and most recent album, Where the Spirits Are (Holy Mountain), this Tokyo psych-noise trio (the name translates loosely to "ship of crystal") plays with a monastic dedication that recalls Les Rallizes Denudes, the infamous grandfathers of Japanese avant-rock. (Thankfully they aren't also entangled with the Japanese Red Army.) The songs switch between the bottomless rattle and moan of Keiji Haino and the searing heat of PSF bands like High Rise, and with the help of titles like "Apparition on a Moonless Night" and "Black Phantom" they create the uncannily precise feeling that large, frightening things are moving around you in the dark. The group is selling a brand-new self-released CD-R called Akatsuki on this tour; the Willowz headline and Blueblood opens. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --J. Niimi


figurines These Danes play very American indie rock with a savantish purity: they're more Minneapolis than Minneapolis, more Seattle than Seattle, and more authentically college rock than most of the Merge Records roster. That scholarly sensibility can make their music sound fragile, though--the hints of Replacements-y chaos and Built to Spill-ish charm on their second album, Skeleton (The Control Group), feel like products of forced jollity. The Jet Age and Kid, You'll Move Mountains open. a 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick


ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT This British trio roots its taut, clanging attack in tightly constricted grooves--a minimalist throb that's part motorik and part Monks and leaves plenty of room for the spastic, hysterical yelping of guitarist Sam Windett. On their second album, Derdang Derdang (Domino), their lacerating, bluesy riffs roil with sinister glee, like 80s Brit postpunks the Fire Engines if they'd had Can's rhythmic myopia. Benjy Ferree and Pela open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Peter Margasak

cYEFIM BRONFMAN, GIL SHAHAM, AND LYNN HARRELL All stars in their own right as soloists, pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham, and cellist Lynn Harrell (replacing Truls Mork) are touring together as a supertrio, like many before them. Their Chicago program consists of Mozart's sunny Trio in C Major, Schubert's intoxicating Trio no. 2, and, even more appealing, Shostakovich's profoundly personal and moving Second Trio, one of the great works of 20th-century chamber music. Stunned by the death of his close friend and mentor Ivan Sollertinsky, Shostakovich wrote the piece as an elegy. The emotionally schizophrenic first movement opens with the cello's high harmonics piercing the silence, and the second is a bracing scherzo, with the violin and cello in an agitated dialogue. The next movement, marked largo, is desolate yet beautiful, and the last opens with a danse macabre, climaxing in a brilliant sequence where the first movement's opening theme, now anguished instead of icy, emerges out of cascading notes on the piano. At its end a ghostly sadness that echoes the largo fades to a few wisps of the danse macabre. It should be a riveting evening. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $18-$43. --Steve Langendorf


cthe hold steady The relentless deluge of hype that's surrounded the Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant)--people calling it their Born to Run or comparing singer Craig Finn to Springsteen, Pitchfork handing out its highest rating of the year--is the sort of thing that would normally make me hate a record by association alone. But it's hard to listen to Boys and Girls and not get swept up in the epic feelings that've led to all the breathless bloggery. Tad Kubler's classic rock riffage and Franz Nicolay's piano lines are monster, and Finn's writing the kind of lyrics that force you to hit pause and make sure everyone else in the room caught them too. When you hear lines like "The dance floor was crowded, the bathroom was worse / We kissed in the car and we drank from your purse," what else can you do? Soak the record up, pencil it in near the top of your best-of-the-year list, and pray you don't start to annoy your friends by quoting Finn all the damn time. Sean Na Na and Catfish Haven open. a 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, 18+, $16. --Miles Raymer

cjohnny rawls Johnny Rawls came of age during the classic soul era of the 60s, serving as a guitarist and bandleader for groups founded by O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor. Since going solo in the 80s he's grafted pop and rock stylings onto that sound, but on his latest album, this year's Heart & Soul (Deep South Soul), he sounds determined to reclaim his roots. As with much of his recent output, the instrumentation tends to be pretty rudimentary, but Rawls's vocals sound more wounded and knowing than ever, and his melodies artfully blend pathos and heaven-bound ecstasy. Though he hews to tradition here, his eclecticism still shows. "You're My Girl," an ode to teen romance in the vein of "Brown Eyed Girl," has a complex major-to-minor-to-major bridge that perfectly mirrors the bittersweet lyrics. And though Rawls's solo is punctuated with bluesy bends and chicken-scratch funk, his long, tubular-toned lines reference southern rock and acid-tinged 60s pop. a 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash, 312-427-0333, $10. --David Whiteis

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