When: Sat., Jan. 7, 5 p.m. 2012
It's been a little more than two years since Sweet Cobra paid tribute to departed guitarist Mat Arluck, who'd passed away just weeks before, with a somber set opening for Russian Circles and Young Widows at Lincoln Hall. These local metal dudes soldiered on as a trio following Arluck's death, and judging by their headlining set at American Heritage's album-release show at Beat Kitchen this March—where a freakishly warm end-of-days windstorm caused a power outage, prompting an unplugged jam—they're comfortable as a three-piece and nowhere near ready to pack up their thumpingly heavy deep-groove metal riffage. Last year's Mercy (Blackmarket Activities), on which Arluck appears, is Sweet Cobra's best-designed album to date, with a barrage of epic-length bangers that maintain a tightly wound feel through all their transitions. Dark, sludgy slow burners like the title track and "Silvered" prickle with quirks borrowed from Helmet, Baroness, and Neurosis, evolving across several subgenres in as many minutes. And speaking of dark and sludgy, Sweet Cobra recently released a live ten-inch recorded during this year's Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds. Out on Hawthorne Street Records, run by drummer Jason Gagovski, the pink vinyl limited-edition records are very available at tonight's show. —Kevin Warwick
There must be a dark cloud hovering over Carbondale—so many of the city's bands seem to be adopting the doomy, gloomy aesthetic of early goth and Manchester postpunk. But even in a scene that includes downcast up-and-comers like Staring Problem and Catholics & the Pill, scraggly postpunk collective Autonomy stands out—not only is the band nakedly morose, but it has also (like many wet-behind-the-ears groups operating under the rubric of "punk") written a contrarian, nihilistic manifesto. ("We care because we don't," reads a typical passage. "We don't because we do.") Fortunately ideals like those sound a lot less silly as song lyrics—splattered onto the haunting, angular din of the band's 2010 self-released demo, they can even be thrilling. —Leor Galil
There were always good reasons to hang around the unapologetic spaz in every high school class. Wearing mismatched argyle socks and They Might Be Giants T-shirts in seemingly endless combinations and snorting rails from Pixy Stix off his homeroom desk, he was off-center, self-aware, and just plain fun. Local postpunk trio Paper Mice is that same breed of spaz. The band's 2009 debut, Paint It Pink (Cassette Deck), is a jagged, stop-start mess of rhythmic tics and awkward face-plants—most of the 16 songs are just over a minute long, probably because any more at once would give somebody a seizure. It's peculiar and all over the damn place, but Paper Mice have the talent to make good on their ambition, bouncing X-treem angular guitar and twangy bass back and forth off each other in a sort of jerky yet choreographed disco groove. It all gives me that familiar feeling I get when I don't know what the hell is going on with a band but I'm pretty sure it's mind-meltingly bizarre and awesome. Paper Mice are currently wrapping up their sophomore album, tentatively titled The Funny Papers, which they plan to release in March. —Kevin Warwick This show is part of a three-day, two-venue festival called Ian's Party; see facebook.com/iansparty. The House That Gloria Vanderbilt headlines; Sweet Cobra, Sivini, Autonomy, Hot Garbage, Paper Mice, Werewolfs, Straight As, Bird Sounds, and Meat Wave open.