Best shows to see: Cold Specks, the Coup, the Fugs, and Suzuki Junzo



Cold Specks
In between begrudgingly going to the gym to shed the pounds you tacked on over Thanksgiving and sticking close to the Internet for online shopping deals—regardless of how ridiculous they are—there's still the city's live music scene to take into consideration these next few weeks. And though the holidays tend to thin out the lineup of road dogs coming through town, this weekend is a considerable exception, featuring, in addition to the highlighted shows below, Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom, the World/Inferno Friendship Society, and Miguel.

Thu 11/29: Cold Specks at Schubas

Leor Galil takes a leap right off the bat by writing that "Al Spx (aka Cold Specks) does for soul what the XX has done for R&B." He goes on to write that her "stripped-down songs combine melancholy melody and chilly, gothic production that practically uses reverb as another instrument, and they're often most powerful when Spx lets only a few notes glide past at a time." Spx's debut, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Mute), contains songs that, according to Galil, sound like they may have originally been written as a cappella numbers and "carefully arranged their nimble, low-key guitars, slowly swelling piano parts, and minimal horns, drums, and bass around her sorrowful voice." Take advantage and see Cold Specks at a small venue before she blows up and starts touring larger venues, which is inevitable.

Fri 11/30: The Coup at Mayne Stage

Though Oakland-based rap group the Coup dealt with some tough times following its rise in the mid-90s, including an "accidental controversy" linked to some pre-9/11 album artwork and a gnarly bus crash, Miles Raymer notes that the group hasn't lost its edge—which is more than evident on the recent Sorry to Bother You. He writes that front man Boots Riley's lyrics are "as prickly as ever, taking aim at everyone from politically detached rappers to the feds ('Tell Homeland Security we are the bomb'), and this time around the music is just as challenging."

Sat 12/1: The Fugs at City Winery

The first time the Fugs have visited Chicago since 1968, tonight's show is momentous occasion. Peter Margasak writes that the band—currently touring with Ed Sanders as the only original member—were the "original antifolk band, a rude and ragged bunch who loved rural American music enough to contort it into their own brand of countercultural protopunk." With "hilarious, earthy, irreverent songs about sex ('Boobs a Lot'), weed ('I Couldn't Get High'), and sticking it to the Man ('CIA Man')," how can you not be entertained?

Sun 12/2: Suzuki Junzo at the Empty Bottle

Considering guitarist Suzuki Junzo has released three albums this year, it's probably safe to characterize him as prolific. Monica Kendrick focuses on a reissue of 2009's Ode to a Blue Ghost, which she writes "appears to be the star of this solo tour." Kendrick goes on about Junzo, "[He] can swerve all over the map, from heavy riffing to chilling acid-folk to piercing feedback sculpture; at times he could almost pass for Keiji Haino, if Haino were more grounded and less otherworldly, and sometimes he sounds like he's built a souped-up off-road vehicle from spare parts that High Rise or Mainliner left lying around."

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