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Speaking of live performances, here are a few happening in the next couple of days that you should consider checking out. And as always, there are lots more shows on Soundboard:
In the 90s singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek built a small but devoted fan base of emotional masochists while fronting extremely bum-out-inducing slowcore group Red House Painters. He's continued on in a slightly warmer vein since then, leading the group Sun Kil Moon, but Leor Galil says they sound "stretched a bit thin on this year's Among the Leaves." On the standout cut "Track Number 8," though, Kozelek redeems himself—his "willingness to bare his broken creative process to the world ends up turning a song about his failure to write great songs into something intimate and bittersweet."
They're best known as the weirdo beardo old guys who unexpectedly dominated MTV for a good chunk of its early days, but ZZ Top are also one of the most consistently experimental and boundary-pushing acts in blues rock, a genre known for its eager willingness to stay well within a narrow set of constraints. The reason, I suspect, is that front man Billy Gibbons "just doesn't give a fuck: he'll cover an obscure rap song or turn a crusty old blues-rock band into a synth-heavy MTV phenomenon or use a $40,000 guitar as a doorstop."
Former Concretes vocalist Victoria Bergsman, as Peter Margasak points out, probably remains best known for her vocal cameo on the Peter Bjorn & John favorite "Young Folks," but the Swede's new Other Worlds is somewhat improbably an album-length tribute to a stay in Hawaii. "She clearly had a relaxing vacation on the islands," he writes, "because the heavy-lidded drift of her modest but pretty melodies makes it sound like she's high as a kite or about to doze off. . . . Fortunately there are some sharp pop tunes mixed in ('Only You,' 'In Other Words'), and even the sleepy stuff has an amniotically calming charm."
Former Nation of Ulysses and Make-Up front man Ian Svenonius has invented a number of weird microgenres over the years—Situationist posthardcore, "gospel yeh-yeh"—and in my preview of his show in possibly the best venue Logan Square has to offer I note that Chain & the Gang's recent In Cool Blood proves he's still at it. It's "built around stomping garage rock (see the Nuggets-worthy title track), but Svenonius has added second vocalist Katie Alice Greer to his rotating support cast of underground pop all-stars, and in spots they slow down and space out to explore groovy psych-soul."