Marked Men | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This Texas quartet--which features three members of Rip Off Records vets the Reds--still flies under most radar systems, but so far everyone who's picked up their signal has been borderline mad at how good it sounds. As Mike Wiebe of the Riverboat Gamblers puts it, "The Marked Men don't have fans, they have followers. I count myself as one of the cult. Be prepared for the jealousy that arises from their greatness." Their last album, 2004's On the Outside, was one of the funnest-but-hardest punk-pop slabs to come down the pike since the early days of the Beatnik Termites, and if it lacked some of that band's Beach Boys-esque appeal, the snarling seat-of-the-pants attitude more than compensated. But on their newest, Fix My Brain (Swami), the Marked Men put a choke hold on pop fundamentals--bubblegum bounce, purty-boy backing vocals, and shout-along choruses--without letting an ounce of their frantic soul fall by the wayside. If there are summer barbecues in punk rock heaven, here's the sound track for the ambisexual wet T-shirt contest. Awesome Color, Dark Fog, and M.O.T.O. open. Fri 7/21, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.

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