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Critics' Choices and other notable shows

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CAVE WEDDINGS It's been 30 long years since Albany, New York, gave the world Blotto's perennial summertime classic "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard," but the city looks likely to end its drought of sunny beach-pop jams with the Cave Weddings. Guitarist and vocalist Eric LaGrange, formerly of the Romance Novels and Eric & the Happy Thoughts—both of which broke up just as they were catching the ears of rock 'n' roll geeks worldwide—recently moved to Albany (or more precisely neighboring Troy) from Lafayette, Indiana, and started this trio with his girlfriend Erin Dorbin, previously a member of Kalamazoo's Swedish Headaches. They both play guitar and sing, borrowing from Buddy Holly and from pretty much every band that's ever used "wah wah ooh" as a backing vocal—it's the kind of music that makes you glad Chicago finally legalized boogie boarding on the lakefront. HoZac Records just released the Cave Weddings' debut single, "Bring Your Love" b/w "Let's Drive." Here's hoping they stick around a little longer than LaGrange's old bands—or at least into Indian summer. The Midwest Beat and Sleepovers open. a 10 PM, Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland, 312-226-6300. F —Brian Costello

cFIERY FURNACES I like the Fiery Furnaces best when they're being just shy of impossible and it feels like they're playing crack the whip with you, trying to toss you face-first into a snowbank. That said, I didn't like Matthew Friedberger's double solo album or the thing he and Eleanor did with their grandma (though I appreciate with-nana albums on principle), and I've got no serious problems with the forthcoming I'm Going Away (Thrill Jockey), a coolly funky pop record that ranks as one of their most linear efforts. Though it's not as whacked-out as Widow City and not as fun or seductive as Bitter Tea, it's nonetheless a solid addition to the band's polarizing discography, with refined 70s soft-rock tones and melodies that are less perverted than usual by fardled Beefheartian weirdness. Eleanor has returned to writing most of the lyrics (her bro had taken over for a while), and she sings much more than she narrates, which makes her an anchor amidst the chaos—the softness and sentimentality of her melodies gives us much more to grab onto. Double Dagger opens. See also Friday and Saturday. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $15. —Jessica Hopper

JULIAN LAGE Already a seasoned jazz guitarist at 21—he has a sideman stint with vibist Gary Burton and a collaboration with pianist Taylor Eigsti under his belt—Julian Lage makes his debut as a bandleader on this year's Sounding Point (Emarcy), revealing a considered, open-eared aesthetic that would be impressive in a musician of any age. He and his core ensemble—cellist Aristides Rivas, bassist Jorge Roeder, percussionist Tupac Mantilla, and saxophonist Ben Roseth—bring exquisite restraint to a distinctive blend of cool jazz, chamber music, world music, and string-band music. Three tracks feature a trio of Lage, banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, and Nickel Creek mandolinist Chris Thile, who convincingly mix bluegrass and jazz improvisation in a dense flurry of plucked strings and oblique harmonies—in fact Lage's unusual harmonic decisions, which give the music its rich palette, might be the most exciting thing about the album as a whole. Here and there a bit more aggression would suit him better, and at times he sounds too mannered, but considering how original his approach is at this early point in his career, I'll cut him some slack. See also Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. a 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth, 312-360-0234, $20. —Peter Margasak

Cryptacize - DENNY RENSHAW
  • Denny Renshaw
  • Cryptacize

LURA On the elegant new Eclipse (Four Quarters), Portuguese singer Lura expands her survey of traditional music from Cape Verde, the land of her immigrant parents: in addition to upbeat genres like batuku and funana, where she already shines, she tackles morna, the sorrowful ballad style made famous by the legendary Cesaria Evora, and proves herself a match for it. More than ever her sound is ecumenical, contemporary, and accessible, and though Jose da Silva's production is a bit glossy for my taste—I could die happy without ever hearing another wind chime—it can't drag down Lura's effervescent singing. She thrives on dance material, shaping melodies with great precision even over the most rigorous grooves and simultaneously imbuing the songs with the essential saudade—a hard-to-translate Portuguese term that more or less means "longing." And of course the record's slickness won't be an issue at all when she hits the stage, where she's a commanding, magnetic presence. Chiwoniso opens. a 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168. F A —Peter Margasak

Ya Ho Wha 13
  • Ya Ho Wha 13

cYA HO WHA 13 Psychedelic bands that try to re-create the heady vibe of the Age of Aquarius are a dime a dozen, but living links to that era—musicians who've never dropped the thread—are absolute treasures. Ya Ho Wha 13 was a loose ensemble formed in the early 70s by members of the Source Family, a benign but intense Los Angeles commune led by a man calling himself Father Yod (and later Ya Ho Wha); they sold their records through the vegetarian restaurant the commune ran in Hollywood. Father Yod's preachings—which informed the chanting and hollering he did on the group's albums—were an inspired mishmash of tantra, kabbalah, esoteric Christianity, and, well, uncut hairy-hippie mysticism. The music was generally cut in one take, with no rehearsals or overdubs, after marathon wee-hours meditation sessions; the band supposedly recorded around 70 albums' worth of material, but released only nine LPs during Father Yod's lifetime. (He was killed in a hang-gliding accident in '75, leaving behind 13 grieving wives and a Rolls-Royce.) After the Family dispersed in '77, the core members—bassist Sunflower Aquarian, drummer Octavius Aquarian, and guitarist Djin Aquarian—stayed in touch, and a couple years ago they started playing again, releasing a new album called Sonic Portation (Prophase) in 2008 and assisting Drag City with a curated compilation called Magnificence in the Memory that came out last month. Ga'an, the Singleman Affair, the Daughters of the Sun, and the Great Society Mind Destroyers open; the Plastic Boner Band plays a side-stage set after Ga'an. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. —Monica Kendrick


cCRYPTACIZE On their second album, Mythomania (Asthmatic Kitty), Cryptacize seem to have found their comfort zone, balancing sophisticated melodies, part Tin Pan Alley and part Brill Building, against shimmering, manic detail and odd instrumental flourishes. The songs are straightforward at their core—the simple strumming of former Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen, the spazzy drumming of Michael Carreira, the sturdy but ethereal voice of Nedelle Torrisi—but they're fleshed out with a shape-shifting tissue of overdubs, including autoharp, organ, hand percussion, and vinyl field-recording samples, plus of course more layers of Cohen's harsh-but-sweet guitar, sometimes sped up or slowed down like Les Paul's early tape experiments. Torrisi is a stunning singer, shaping the melodies with precision and vigor even when her voice climbs so high the air must be getting thin, and her forthright lucidity plays nicely against the album's itchy background bustle. Mythomania is a bit more elaborate than the group's debut, Dig That Treasure, which might make it harder to duplicate live; there's a lot more in front of the drums than just Cohen and Torrisi's guitars. But Cryptacize have already proved their resourcefulness—and since recording it they've added a fourth member, bassist Aaron Olson. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Serengeti & Polyphonic open. a 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $10. —Peter Margasak

cFIERY FURNACES See Thursday. a 10 PM, FitzGerald's SideBar, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 866-468-3401, $15.

JULIAN LAGE See Thursday. Tonight Lage's group is joined by the Monterey High School All-Star Big Band. a 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth, 312-360-0234, $20.

cCOREY WILKES & ABSTRAKT PULSE On his solo debut, last year's Drop It (Delmark), Corey Wilkes proved he can sound good in any setting—his incendiary trumpet and voluptuous flugelhorn easily outshone the slick arrangements—but the setting was still pretty dismaying to listeners who fell for his playing with Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory or the Art Ensemble of Chicago. His brand-new second album, Cries From tha Ghetto (Pi), is more like it. Backed by the five-piece combo Abstrakt Pulse, Wilkes is equally thrilling on hard-bop burners, imploring ballads, and free-jazz rumbles. He knows his jazz history: when he locks in with tenor saxophonist Kevin Nabors on "First Mind," it's hard not to think of Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter, and every time I listen to the band's version of Lester Bowie's "Villa Tiamo" I imagine Bowie's lab-coated ghost wearing a big approving smile. But Wilkes and crew are also clearing out their own musical space—a series of four brief pieces, all titled "Abstrakt," incorporates tap dancing and textural electronic swoops, and the title track reconciles outward-bound soloing with a reggae groove. This is a release party. a 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15. —Bill Meyer


cCLUTCH Metal-themed, charity-minded burger pub Kuma's Corner is celebrating its fourth birthday with a block party headlined by mighty Maryland four-piece Clutch. (And of course Kuma's has a Clutch burger: cheddar, jack, Swiss, and smoked Gouda.) Strange Cousins From the West, the band's ninth studio full-length and the first on their own Weathermaker label, drops this Tuesday, but it's been rocking the Internet's pirate taverns for weeks. Producer J. Robbins, who also lent a hand on 2005's towering Robot Hive/Exodus, helps reconcile the potentially conflicting strains in Clutch's limber, witty, and wonderfully weird music—bluesy stoner groove, metal crunch, free-range prog oddity—and the results include memorable tracks like the swamp-funky "Motherless Child," the downright scary "Freakonomics," and the addictive "50,000 Unstoppable Watts," with a chorus ("Anthrax/ Ham radio/ And liquor") that front man Neil Fallon propels straight into your forebrain with his insinuating hellfire holler. This album could barbecue pork on the hoof at 50 paces. Baroness, Lionize, U.S. Brass, and the Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars open; the music starts at about 2 PM and Clutch is tentatively scheduled to go on at 6:30. Admission is free and so is the food, but the drinks will cost you. a Noon, Kuma's Fourth Anniversary Block Party, Francisco between Belmont and Elston, 773-604-8769. F A —Monica Kendrick

cFIERY FURNACES See Thursday. This set is part of Great Performers of Illinois; see Fairs & Festivals for more. a 4:45 PM, Wrigley Square Stage, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph, 312-742-1168. F A

JULIAN LAGE See Thursday. a 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth, 312-360-0234, $20.

Magnolia Electric Co. - WILL CLAYTOR
  • Will Claytor
  • Magnolia Electric Co.

cMAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. Given how prolific Jason Molina is, it's almost strange that his work is so consistent. You'd think that in a career well over a decade long, with nine full-lengths and three EPs just in the past six years (counting everything in the 2007 box set Sojourner), he'd have dropped at least a few duds. Instead he just gets more and more original. Not that I didn't enjoy those early years, when he took after Will Oldham a bit, but I'm glad the strangulated tic in his voice is gone—Molina sounds like himself now, authoritative and comfortable. The melancholy countrified gentleman's indie rock on Magnolia Electric Co.'s forthcoming Josephine (Secretly Canadian) is pretty much flawless, its front-porch Americana rounded out with downer bar rock and trilling Hammond organ. It's a little morose and plodding, with a kind of Tonight's the Night vibe, and Molina's favorite lyrical themes are holding steady: the moon, road life, love, death, mourning, more death, less love, lather, rinse, repeat. The Donkeys and Andy Cohen open; see also Sunday. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14, 18+. —Jessica Hopper

MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND The Mexican Institute of Sound, masterminded by EMI Mexico executive Camilo Lara, makes cross-cultural dance music so packed with stylistic signifiers it's impossible to decide what it's hybridizing: on the recent Soy Sauce (Nacional) they include hip-hop beats, mariachi horns, rockabilly guitars, and reggaeton rhythms. If there's a specific message in the melange—and in the era of Lou Dobbs, audiences tend to assume there's a subtext when artists combine elements of Mexican and American culture—it doesn't seem to be much deeper than "Can't we all get along and maybe also have a booming house party?" Not every element justifies its presence—the rapping especially sounds pretty generic—but on the whole the package has a happily hedonistic vibe that's hard not to love. The Nortec Collective headlines; the Mexican Institute of Sound, Silverio, Saber, and Willy Joy open. a 7 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 773-276-1235 or 312-388-7625, $17. A —Miles Raymer


cHERCULANEUM Solid, consistent connections between Chicago's indie-rock and free-jazz communities have existed for nearly two decades now, and no group embodies them like Herculaneum, a jazz band led by drummer Dylan Ryan—whose other projects include Icy Demons, Bronze, and Michael Columbia. Saxophonist Dave McDonnell, Ryan's bandmate in Michael Columbia, also cofounded Bablicon; flutist and reedist Nate Lepine, a recent addition to the group, has played for Cursive, Manishevitz, and Head of Femur, among others. But they're not just farting around with jazz when they don't have rock shows to play, and they prove it with the superb new Herculaneum III (Clean Feed). Ryan's tunes have never been more elegant, and his resourceful arrangements make the band sound much larger than it is—which is saying something, since the current lineup is a sextet, rounded out by trombonist Nick Broste, trumpeter Patrick Newbery, and bassist Greg Danek. The four front-line players all make excellent use of their solo space—particularly the hot-blowing McDonnell, who's something of a wild card, and Broste, who's got a fat tone, a lyrical style, and a broad knowledge of the instrument's history in jazz. But just as rewarding (and more impressive) is the dense ensemble writing, which not only helps propel the soloists but gives each piece a multifaceted richness, with different sections in the same tune drawing on traditions as disparate as postbop and contemporary classical. a 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested. —Peter Margasak

JULIAN LAGE See Thursday. a 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth, 312-360-0234, $20.

cMAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. See Saturday. Sally Timms with Mar Caribe and Elephant Micah open. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $14.


cHUMAN QUENA ORCHESTRA The evolution of metal from thrash to death to grind can make it look like a glorified contest to see who can play the fastest, but going all the way back to Sabbath's viscous blues the genre has had a sludgy streak, and in the 90s a number of bands—most notably Sleep—apparently began a parallel contest to see who could play the slowest. These crawling tempos have an effect even more perverse than blinding blastbeats and warp-speed shredding, distending the songs until whatever melodies they might have are nearly impossible to parse unless you've got an attention span that can handle geological time frames. San Francisco doom duo the Human Quena Orchestra—two former members of Creation Is Crucifixion—have taken this approach so far that they've dispensed with melodies almost entirely. Their recent The Politics of the Irredeemable (Crucial Blast) is 52 minutes of droning, whistling, scraping feedback and nearly buried black-metal shrieks, punctuated by isolated guitar-and-percussion impacts that sound like intermittent artillery shelling. The album's slate-gray atmospherics and expanses of negative space make it something like dark-side ambient music—a variation I doubt Eno could've predicted. Locrian headlines; Anatomy of Habit, the Human Quena Orchestra, and Pharmakon open. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600. F —Miles Raymer

cMICACHU & THE SHAPES The recent debut from British trio Micachu & the Shapes, Jewellery (Rough Trade), gives us the anti-irony: playfulness. The band's deconstructed but way-listenable dance music is a rattling, melodically double-jointed dose of art-school found-sound fun where household items, sometimes sampled and sometimes played, shudder and hiss like they're coming alive. (Whether this penchant for appliances is a conscious aesthetic choice or a product of low-budget resourcefulness remains to be seen—they haven't really had a budget yet.) Viscerally real and as sweet as it is silly, Jewellery sidesteps the old authenticity debate with kidlike earnestness. Questions about purity of influence and intention just don't apply to musicians in their righteous early 20s who are thudding and clunking ceremonially or cooing out unfashionable fears ("I won't have sex/ 'Cause of STDs," sings front woman Mica Levi on "Just in Case") while playing a vacuum. Playing a vacuum is a rejection of glamour, a way of saying that filth is undeniable, that the mess can't be separated from the show—and we can keep on dancing all night long. Anni Rossi opens. a 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. South­port, 773-525-2508, $8. A —Jessica Hopper


DEER TICK When Deer Tick started attracting serious blog hype for 2007's War Elephant—essentially a solo record by group mastermind John McCauley—it had only just become a proper band with a stable lineup. The heightened expectations whipped up by that early buzz, combined with the fact that nobody in the group was too far past drinking age at the time, seemed like a surefire recipe for a quick flameout. But last month's Born on Flag Day (Partisan), recorded with all four members aboard, proves they've weathered the storm. Deer Tick's ramshackle retro-Americana has mostly outgrown its awkwardly studied feel—they've started to sound like an actual country combo, instead of Providence hipsters pretending to be a country combo—and McCauley seems to have learned exactly how nasally and raspy he can make his vocals before they seriously get on peoples' nerves. Dawes and State Champion open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. —Miles Raymer

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