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Spot Check



THE HAGGARD 11/29, 60DUM The bicycle-friendly lesbian politics of this Portland hardcore duo are funny and sharp, and the music on their latest full-length, last year's No Future (Mr. Lady), more than keeps pace with the lyrics. To this old hag, it sounds like hardcore should--fiendish, raw, and true to its convictions. Nomy Lamm, a self-described "badass fatass jew dyke amputee, performance artist, writer and activist," and Sextional, featuring Haggard guitarist Emily B. Kingan on drums, open. The evening is organized by Frameup, a promotion team set up by Ladyfest Midwest's Lauren Cumbia and Homocore Chicago's Joanna Brown to bring "all ages pro-sex, pro-queer, pro-political shows to Chicago." JAGUARES 11/29, HOUSE OF BLUES It's only been a few months since their Revolucion Tour rolled through town, but Jaguares work fast: they recorded El primer instinto (BMG U.S. Latin), a powerful acoustic collection of covers (including Juan Gabriel's "Te lo pido, por favor") and old favorites from the band's previous incarnation as Caifanes, in two weeks. Other top-shelf Mexican musicians lend backup: Eduardo Hernandez of Los Tigres del Norte plays accordion on two songs; La Sonora Santanera, Jose Hernandez, and Mariachi Sol de Mexico are on one; and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos adds guitar and organ to two songs. This is an acoustic show; stripped of the roof-shaking electricity with which they overpower sports arenas, Jaguares are left with affecting melody as their main weapon. THE SEA AND CAKE 11/29, ABBEY PUB It's easy to blame these guys for what they spawned: lesser bands that ape their diffident and cerebral tone, fashioning glossy art pop that's as flat as week-old soda. But the veteran Chicago quartet's sixth album, One Bedroom (due out on Thrill Jockey in January), makes those familiar synth flourishes sound fresh again--though their wry energy and subtle hooks make electroacoustic experimentation sound so easy it's no wonder they've fooled the kids into trying this at home. They've never had much use for covers, but here they endow David Bowie's "Sound and Vision" with a sense of drama I'd love to hear them bring more often to their own songs. Expect to hear some of the new material at this show. MICK TURNER 11/29, EMPTY BOTTLE Australian guitarist and sometime Chicago resident Mick Turner makes his presence known in an undramatic way--though he isn't the star of the Dirty Three, that band's romantic sweep would be far less effective without his sensible grounding. As with recent side projects the Tren Brothers and Bonnevill, his third solo album, Moth (Drag City), showcases his unassuming style without subjecting it to the harsh glare of the spotlight. Keyboards by Mike Krassner and Ryan Hembrey and backward snippets of guitar subtly augment Turner's Roy Montgomeryish dreamscapes as clear guitar tones ring like a shout through falling snowflakes and echo in the distance. He performs solo here. (SMOG) 11/30, ABBEY PUB After 14 years Bill Callahan has more than earned the right to put out a B-sides and rarities collection, and the material on Accumulation: None (Drag City) will be new enough to plenty of listeners. The record includes his much sought seven-inch "A Hit" (whose nyah-nyah spirit reminds me of R.E.M.'s mid-80s metal pastiche "Burning Hell") and his wonderful five-song 1997 Peel sessions, where he strips down some of his already spare songs to their melodic essence. As the collection leaps between bitter country and sweet pop, Callahan's deadpan ties it all together--his dourness has always been spiked with gallows humor, and with its snarky intimacy, this collection shows him at his most intimidating and irresistible. For this tour, he'll play with a full band including Rich Germer on bass, Jim White on drums, and Beth Yates on flute and keyboards. V FOR VENDETTA 11/30, FIRESIDE BOWL These Providence rockers lead with their heads and their hands--hearts get dragged along because the musicians derive such joy from playing, but purging angst isn't the goal, and that's a good thing. The title of last year's Beneath This Mask Another Mask (Mr. Lady) is lifted from a quote by surrealist Claude Cahun, and the band's name comes from a fantastic Alan Moore graphic novel--clearly they want you to know they read a lot. But they don't just name-drop--their smarts are already apparent in the music. Their shrewd fusion of indie-pop sweetness and the brainy rigor of interlacing guitars sounds as much Fripp as Fugazi. By the way, they're women. Get Hustle headlines; see Critic's Choice. DIO 12/1, HOUSE OF BLUES In a heaving ocean of metal subgenres, Ronnie James Dio is a rock that never budges. In his opera-scale classic metal he remains fixated on problematic heroism and the tragic loss of innocence--in fact there's next to nothing on the new Killing the Dragon (Spitfire) that he couldn't have done 20 years ago, with the exception of "Rock & Roll," because this particular song extolling the obvious has something to do with post-September 11 music censorship. Timelessness works to his advantage: fans from various generations can debate for hours about when his good ol' days were, but there's no dramatic decline to make excuses for. Nothing's changed but the backing players--and in the case of bassist Jimmy Bain, with whom Dio first played back in the 70s, not even those. SNEAKER PIMPS 12/1, DOUBLE DOOR On Bloodsport (Tommy Boy), their first album in three years, these Brits backpedal from the trip-hop that was their entree into clubland in the mid-90s. This is a pop record, as heavy on the songwriting, the lyrics, and the offbeat-but-recognizable flow of verse-chorus-verse as it is on the fizzy beats. There's a bit of a Roxy Music flavor in the declamatory style (and analog-noise freak-out) of the closing track, "Grazes," while seductive but harsh songs like "Small Town Witch" and "Sick" suggest an updated Human League. Former singer Kelli Dayton is long gone; breathy girl vox are provided here by Sue Denis and Zoe Durrant. This show kicks off their first American tour since 1999.

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