In the late 80s Scott Miller's band Game Theory threatened to surface in the mainstream with its dreamy Big Star-inspired pop, but personnel instability and Miller's penchant for throwing songs out of whack with blasts of noise kept it underground. Game Theory made its last album in 1988, and Miller didn't show up again until 1993, leading the Loud Family, which despite different players and new songs sounds an awful lot like its predecessor. Over the course of the four albums since, Miller has settled into a creative groove, applying his high-pitched nasal whine to some of the catchiest pure-pop melodies since the 70s. The group's new album, Days for Days (Alias), doesn't alter the formula, even bringing former Game Theory drummer Gil Ray back into the fold to propel tunes like the monstrously hooky "Cortex the Killer," the grinding "Deee-Pression," and the gentle, pretty "Way Too Helpful." At this point Miller's lyrics are a bundle of clever self-referentiality--what else to make of a song called "Why We Don't Live in Mauritania"?--and I could've done without the untitled instrumental bits that separate the songs. But I'm more than willing to cut this band some slack, because if it doesn't keep churning out these twisted pop gems, nobody else will. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Fiona O'Connor.