One could reasonably argue that MICE PARADE belongs in the post-rock heap, but the band's driving, hypnotic grooves are warmer, hairier, folkier, and considerably more melodic than the euclidean Tinkertoys that dominate the genre. Originally a solo project of drummer Adam Pierce, who recorded all the instruments himself--the band's name is an anagram of his--Mice Parade now features contributions from other luminaries in the field of atmospheric rock. On the group's fifth album, Bem-Vinda Vontade (on Pierce's Bubble Core label), returning notables include Doug Scharin of Him and June of 44, who plays guitar and a second drum kit on a few tracks here, and Kristin Anna Valtysdottir of Mum, who lends her elfin, otherworldly voice to songs like "Nights Wave" and the funky, pensive "The Boat Room." (They're both on the road with Pierce, too, along with vibist Dylan Cristy of the Dylan Group.) Like its predecessor, 2004's Obrigado Saudade, the new disc is seductive ersatz exotica, brimming with dramatic nylon-string flamenco guitar, slinky tropicalia-tinged percussion, and twinkling xylophone and vibraphone. Pierce weds these elements to a post-rock framework with playfulness and ingenuity, creating a milieu that's at once familiar and alien--like the sidewalk in front of your house glimpsed through a kaleidoscope. --J. Niimi
Back in 2000 Bryan Hollon, aka BOOM BIP, made his mark collaborating with Anticon nutjob Doseone on the sample-heavy Circle, but the new Blue Eyed in the Red Room (Lex) has only an abstract connection to hip-hop. Nobody raps on this disc, and though Hollon still relies on elaborate drum programs, almost everything else is played live on real instruments--a serene, minimalist blend of guitar, keyboards, and even hammer dulcimer that contains bits of prog and folk rock. Despite the occasional Vangelis-worthy synth lick and an overall toothlessness, Hollon's grooves never become just pretty wallpaper: the textures, tempos, and melodies constantly shift and morph. Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals contributes an ethereal multitracked chorus to "Do's and Don'ts" and Nina Nastasia does some austere, folky singing on "The Matter (of Our Discussion)"--the only two tunes with vocals, they're the most compelling material on the disc. Hollon's touring as part of a live quartet, and with luck that'll inject a bit more snap and personality into this music. --Peter Margasak
Mice Parade headlines, Boom Bip plays second, and Squirm opens. Fri 5/6, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.