Best shows to see: Cross Record, Brooklyn Rider, Sera Cahoone, Ital, and more

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Cross Record
  • Cross Record
Chicago experienced its coldest weather of the season this week and snow is in the forecast for this weekend, but it sure feels like the live music scene isn't thinking about that nonsense: there's a ton of interesting concerts happening all over town, in all styles. Steel Wheels brings its hard-driving bluegrass to the Old Town School , while Marcia Ball heats up SPACE with her roadhouse-style piano, both tonight. On Friday These Wonderful Evils (the solo project of Zak Boerger) unfurls effects-tweaked solo guitar as part of a benefit for musician Letha Melchior, who's suffering from cancer, at the Burlington. On Saturday Kansas City's Casket Lottery bring their proggy emo to Ultra Lounge and Chicago Afrobeat Project celebrate the release of their new album at Martyrs. Sunday, food-obsessed rapper Action Bronson holds forth at Reggie's Rock Club and Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon fame) serenades the crowds at the Old Town School. You can read about four more highlights of this week's Soundboard after the jump.

Thu 1/25: Cross Record at Township
"As Cross Record, Chicagoan Emily Cross tiptoes along the line between experimental ambient drone and soft-spoken acoustic indie folk—assuming there's a line there in the first place," writes Kevin Warwick. "Though the south Florida transplant has a delicate, soulful voice that most singer-songwriters would sell their Martin guitars for, her ambition makes her much more than just another ignorable cafe strummer: she often contorts and layers her singing to create a dark, tense atmosphere that's more likely to elicit a chill down the spine than a gentle sway of the hips."

Fri 1/25: Brooklyn Rider at Mandel Hall
The members of the New York string quartet Brooklyn Rider formed while working within Yo Yo Ma's expansive Silk Road Project, and since 2006 the group has nonchalantly pushed against the expectations foisted upon classical musicians. Tonight's program includes the title track from their latest album, Seven Steps, a response to Beethoven's meticulous String Quartet no. 14 in C-sharp Minor "composed collectively by all four members of Brooklyn Rider, who write in the liner notes that they were 'guided by a spirit of free play rather than the heavy hand of the auteur's pen.' It’s just 12 minutes long, in contrast with the 40-minute Beethoven quartet, but its scratchy textures, extended techniques, and rapid-fire movement make up for in impact what’s missing in duration and exposition."

Sat 1/26: Sera Cahoone at Schubas
Seattle singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone uses her new album Deer Creek Canyon (Sub Pop) to meditate on various manifestations of longing for something familiar, whether it's a place or a person. As I write this week, "As with her previous records, Cahoone's sometimes wispy, sometimes twangy folk-rock flirts dangerously with ethereal fluff a la Sarah McLachlan, but she saves her songs with the directness of her writing and the leanness of the arrangements."

Sun 1/27: Ital at Empty Bottle
Daniel Martin-McCormick, the San Francisco postrocker turned Brooklyn dance-music producer, known previously as part of the intense Mi Ami, shows off his new approach on Dream On, the 2012 album he released under the pseudonym Ital on incredible British label Planet Mu. Miles Raymer calls him "a full-blown techno producer with one foot in the form's Detroit roots and one in its wiggy, art-damaged fringe. The album is full of odd sounds and challenging ideas, but more crucially it's also the sort of thing that can get a crowd moving."

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