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Nick Cave and three of his Bad Seeds--drummer Jim Sclavunos, bassist Martyn Casey, and violinist Warren Ellis--started Grinderman as a raw alternative to their meticulous main band. My colleague Jessica Hopper has called their self-titled debut a midlife-crisis record, but it's not pathetic, as that might imply--in fact it's one of the year's best rock albums. Cave laces his lyrics about aging, impotence, irrelevance, and loneliness with morbid wit. "I must above all things love myself," he sings on "No Pussy Blues," but sexual frustration drives him to self-emasculation: "I bought her a dozen snow white doves / I did her dishes in rubber gloves / I called her honeybee, I called her love / But she just still didn't want to." Cave frequently hangs a mask of feeble machismo over this sort of desperation and bitterness, and the inarticulate aggression of his guitar work--he taught himself to play just months before making the record--reinforces that notion of masculinity as hollow display. But his noisy, ugly playing also works musically, slotting perfectly into the stripped-down songs--nobody here wastes a note. Opening are Digital Primitives, a trio of drummer Chad Taylor, reedist Assif Tsahar, and diddley bow master Cooper-Moore. a 8 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $26, 18+. --Peter Margasak

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