The very best shows to see: Speck Mountain and Circuit des Yeux, Quicksand, and John Fullbright

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John Fullbright
I know it can be hard to peel yourself from the couch in this season of catching up on every TV show that's incessantly being chatted about in your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Can I fault you for plowing through the first season of Game of Thrones on a single Saturday? Not really. That little pissant Joffrey deserves every ounce of your vitriol. And, come on, there's always Khaleesi. But it is actually important to extricate yourself from the numbing glow of your television or laptop and seek human interaction on occasion. Downton Abbey will be there next month. So will zombies—they never go away. Soundboard is here to help. Below is a small sampling of the best shows in the city this Thursday through Sunday. The best:

Thu 1/10: Speck Mountain and Circuit des Yeux at Lincoln Hall

On their upcoming album, Badwater, Speck Mountain—mainly controlled by the duo of Marie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick—widen their dreamy, reverb-loaded sound to incorporate actual elements of rock 'n' roll. Here, I'm going to quote myself in saying that the album is "much more of a 'rock' record than its two predecessors, mostly on account of the up-front songwriting style and production that comes with a full band. It's less bedroom and more studio, particularly due to Dye's sparse but consistent rhythms."

Haley Fohr (aka Circuit des Yeux) came to Chicago by way of Bloomington after having already released three solo albums of what Peter Margasak describes as "spectral psych-folk." He goes on to describe her most recent, Portrait, as "both primal and refined, piling up strummed acoustic guitar, elegant piano, bloopy analog synth, and billowing, reverb-heavy clouds of noise around her mannered singing, which imbues the songs’ stormy melodies with gothic darkness and operatic grandeur." How on earth could you not be at least a little curious to see that live? Her new three-song ten-inch, CDY3, was made with a band, which has added more layers and intensity to her sound, according to Margasak.

Sat 1/12: Quicksand at Metro

Kind of an extension of the Rev25 festival that took place last weekend at the House of Blues, tonight's performance by Quicksand wouldn't have really fit alongside the thrashy hardcore hammered out by Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today. Instead, as Luca Cimarusti puts it, "Quicksand’s heavy, dynamic, emotive songs drew on the metal-leaning catchiness of Helmet and the angular aggression of Fugazi." Aside from what Cimarusti describes as a few songs that have "proto-nu-metal" tendencies, the band's influence "continues to make itself felt on bands that gracefully blend crushing heaviness with smooth, pretty poppiness, including the Deftones, with whom Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega has been playing since 2009."

Sun 1/13: John Fullbright at FitzGerald's

Though just a young 'un at 24 years old, John Fullbright has Peter Margasak's full attention. The singer-songwriter is not only able to "avoid the strident pretentiousness (both lyrical and musical) that tends to emerge when twentysomethings grapple with American traditions," but he also "evokes the twangy, soulful folk rock of Guy Clark, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt without a lick of self-consciousness, and his songs are smart, self-aware, and scrappily poetic in their plainspokenness." His debut, From the Ground, earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album.

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