Pan-American, Grandaddy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pan-American, Grandaddy


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On his second album as Pan-American, 360 Business/360 Bypass (Kranky), Labradford guitarist Mark Nelson shakes off the superficial dub production of the debut in favor of a beautiful pulse-driven minimalism. Spare clicks, muffled bass-drum kicks, and fractured cymbal patter pump life into narcotic bass tones, heavily manipulated electric-piano riffs, and electronic bleeps. Nelson and Casey Rice--who mixed the album and did some of the electronic processing--conduct some interesting experiments in dynamics, dropping out the beats for a few bars here and isolating some pedal-steel drift there, but the music is best experienced by letting it wash over you. A few tunes on the record feature guest turns by other musicians (Low's Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sing like pretty zombies on "Code," and Rob Mazurek contributes brittle cornet to "Double Rail" and "Both Ends Fixed"), but for this gig, which he headlines, Nelson will perform his hypnosis solo. The second band on this four-act bill is Grandaddy, the indie-rock group most likely to spark an Electric Light Orchestra revival. On their new album, The Sophtware Slump (V2), the California quintet scales down ELO's orchestral glop for its more modest purposes, adding symphonic synth swells and gurgling electronics to catchy strummed guitars and stupefyingly simple drumming. Front man Jason Lytle sings in a fragile whine somewhere between Neil Young and Wayne Coyne, though on "Jed's Other Poem" he admits, "I try to sing it / Funny like Beck." As superfluous as it is pleasant. Brokeback also performs; the DJ collective Revolutionary Artificial Head System opens. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Gary Simms/Annie Feldmeier.

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