Martin Dosh, Head of Femur | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Martin Dosh, Head of Femur

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Like lots of indie-rock bands these days, HEAD OF FEMUR seeks safety in numbers. Officially they're an octet, with a core of three Nebraska-bred Chicagoans: Mike Elsener, Ben Armstrong, and Matt Focht. But on their second disc, Hysterical Stars (SpinArt), nearly 30 musicians honk, saw, pound, tinkle, wail, clang, and generally make a jubilant noise. Most overstuffed collectives get compared to the Elephant 6 tribe, but Head of Femur's orch-pop arrangements are less zany and more immaculate--nary a horn, string, or glockenspiel is out of place. Nor is Hysterical Stars a Sgt. Pepper's imitation, though you could argue it's a similar project--a rollicking pastiche of childhood musical memories with all the openhearted corn and jumbled discontinuity such ambitions tend to produce. In a typical segue, the (sorta) fife-and-drum procession of "Born in the Seventies" evolves into the (kinda) Dixieland romp of "Easy Street." Still, their jump-cut arrangements sound more logical (if not more organic) than the Fiery Furnaces', and when they wear their hearts on their sleeves they still come off as less self-aggrandizing than Bright Eyes, in which Focht and Elsener have played. --Keith Harris

In one of the more inspired pairings of the year, Andrew Bird's avant-chamber pop will be augmented by MARTIN DOSH, the home-recording multi-instrumentalist who's released three CDs on the Anticon label over the past few years. Dosh will do a brief opening set of solo material--apparently just the "classics" though, and nothing from his new self-released Powder Horn--then join Bird on drums, Rhodes, synth, and loops for a full set. It's a shame he's neglecting his new stuff: Powder Horn is even stronger than his two 2004 releases, Pure Trash and the Naoise EP. The mostly instrumental album, recorded in his hometown of Minneapolis, sounds like a more illbient version of Fog (with whom he plays and records occasionally): a stone-groove kitchen-sink collage of piano, loops, real drums, and tape snippets of life at home and on tour. --J. Niimi

Bird headlines and Dosh plays second at both shows; Sam Prekop opens the early show and Head of Femur opens the late show. Sat 11/26, 6:30 and 10:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $15. All ages.

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