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Eleventh Dream Day

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Ever since its disappointing run on Atlantic Records in the late 80s and early 90s, Eleventh Dream Day has been a strictly part-time project for its members. But they haven't treated the band like an opportunity to indulge in the occasional nostalgic getaway: albums like 1997's Eighth and 2000's Stalled Parade combined forward-looking, deeply introspective excursions into texture and mood with the volatile guitar dialogues that put EDD on the map. The band's classic debut, 1988's Prairie School Freakout, got the deluxe reissue treatment in 2003, which prompted a one-off reunion gig that included original guitarist Baird Figi. The new Zeroes and Ones (Thrill Jockey) is the band's first studio album since then, and though it doesn't sound like a throwback, front man Rick Rizzo seems to be reinvestigating the sound of the band's early days, when it took inspiration from the Velvet Underground, Television, and the Dream Syndicate. Rizzo no longer has a regular second guitarist as a foil, but Mark Greenberg's organ inspires him to lean into his solos with the go-for-broke intensity he's reserved for live shows for the past decade. His vocals, as well as Janet Beveridge Bean's, are much more polished and expressive now, and Douglas McCombs's muscular bass can either push the tunes along stealthily or step out front with a strong melodic presence. Continuing a recent trend, McCombs also contributes a couple of hot-shit guitar solos on the album. Eleventh Dream Day gigs are rare events these days, so the best thing about a new album is that it means there'll be a show to support it. The Red Eyed Legends open. Eleventh Dream Day also plays a free in-store at 3 PM on Saturday, May 20, at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark; call 773-477-5994. Thu 5/18, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

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