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Fulks continues his weekly residency at the Hideout, this time teaming up with fiddler Liz Carroll. Peter Margasak has never been shy about his admiration for Fulks, and reliably finds a way to include him in our Best of Chicago issues—Fulks was 2009's "Best Folk or Country Act" and performed 2010's "Best Michael Jackson Cover." Last year, Margasak declared Fulks's Hideout stint "Best Weekly Live-Music Gig": "Robbie Fulks certainly gets paid for his Monday-night sets at the Hideout," he wrote, "but he invests them with a kind of energy and creativity most musicians can't even summon for their most unique or important gigs."
Guitar-drums rock duos typically don't cut it for me, mainly because I've lived most of my life as a bass player—I know you can't underestimate the thick backbone of a Fender P-bass stabilizing some jangly guitar chords. But Luca Cimarusti still thinks the duo of Zach Hebert and Andrew Mosiman, aka the Hecks, are more than worth your attention. He called them the "Best New Rock Duo" in our most recent Best of Chicago issue, writing, "The music's simplicity and obtuse melodic bent remind me of Wire's quieter moments, and the eerie vibe Hebert can conjure with a maraca-struck snare drum just screams Sonic Youth." Estrogen Highs headline.
And while we're on the topic of rock duos, I'm gong to go ahead and back over my own words a bit and recommend the Hussy, a Madison band that I unfortunately missed last time they came through town due to obligations at Pitchfork and its afterparties. The guitar-and-drums duo layers all kinds of nonsense into its songs to fill things out, making the sound much more expansive than you could believe two people could or ever would. It's incredibly loud and catchy, with fuzzy, hooky licks and melodic backup vocals from drummer Heather Sawyer. Yet another duo, White Mystery, headlines.
Influenced by the likes of PiL, Killing Joke, and Depeche Mode, Claw Toe demonstrates allegiance to its elders while using what Miles Raymer describes as "bits of psychedelia, industrial, and garage to build something unique from a well-worn set of blueprints." Originally a home-recording project for Criminal IQ head honcho Darius Hurley, Claw Toe now includes members or former members of the Mac Blackout Band, M.O.T.O., and Ratattack.