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Tue 4/23: Zomes at Burlington Bar
"Asa Osborne of Zomes approaches music repetition with a mixture of religious fervor and scientific curiosity," writes Leor Galil. "As guitarist for Baltimore band Lungfish, he helped mold the raw, angular posthardcore of the late-80s D.C. scene into hypnotic slow burners—the group succinctly described its sound with the title of its final album, 2005's Feral Hymns." He adds, "The brand-new Times Was (Thrill Jockey) is the first Zomes release recorded in a proper studio (previously Osborne has mostly used a cassette deck) and the first to feature a duo lineup. Swedish singer Hanna (no last name please) alternates between English and Swedish, but some of her best performances use no words; on 'Monk Bag' her enraptured gasps and pained incantations perfectly fit the dirgelike oscillation of Osborne’s distortion-damaged organ."
Tue 4/23: Sweet Talk at Bar DeVille
"On its debut album, Glitter Bomb (due April 30 from Prom Night Records), this young New York trio balances churning intensity with clear-eyed lyricism," I write this week. "Trumpeter Jake Henry, the group’s leader and primary melodic voice, butts sweet-toned melodies up against strident, unpitched squalls a la Axel Dörner. During the epic 'Wonderous,' Henry keeps cutting himself off midnote so sharply it’s as though someone unplugged his mike, then picking right back up like it got plugged back in—it’s surprises like this that keep Sweet Talk’s renditions of its tuneful compositions from ever feeling predictable."
Wed 4/24: Clinic at Lincoln Hall
On last year's Free Reign veteran Liverpool band Clinic convinced me that even though they still wear the same silly surgical masks when they perform, their music hasn't gotten stuck in a rut. The new record also prompted me to check out the records I’d missed, including 2010’s terrific Bubblegum, where Clinic tweaked their tightly coiled hybrid of garage and Krautock by playing with relatively poppy elements—sweeter melodies, gentler rhythms, lusher arrangements. That stuff’s almost entirely gone on Free Reign, but returning to the stark aggression of earlier records suits the band well—austere settings for the spooky voice of Ade Blackburn’s spooky voice all but cries out for an austere setting, whether it’s the Troggs-primitive 'See Saw' or the misty monotone ballad 'For the Season' (which includes one of several nails-on-a-chalkboard clarinet solos).
Wed 4/24: Maria de Buenos Aires at Harris Theater for Music and Dance
This tango "operita," staged here by Chicago Opera Theater and written by the great Astor Piazzolla, occurs amid Argentina's political oppression in the 70s, when regimes ruled with an iron fist and tens of thousands of citizens were disappeared. Deanna Isaacs writes, "That's an intriguing choice—not because Piazzolla’s music, an impressive blend of traditional tango with elements of classical and jazz, needs any help holding your attention, but rather because Horacio Ferrer’s heated, agonized, and darkly poetic libretto could benefit from an anchor in the world we know. The original story, told in flashback by a nonsinging narrator, follows a doomed prostitute (symbolic of the Argentine people) from the streets of Buenos Aires to hell and back; in this version, she and her husband are revolutionaries, captured and tortured by the brutal regime."