Schramms | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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SCHRAMMS

Several alt-country figures--including Richard Buckner, Syd Straw, and Jeb Loy Nichols--make cameos on One Hundred Questions (Innerstate), the fifth and latest album by the Schramms, but when it comes to stealing the show on someone else's record, none of them is as good at it as Dave Schramm. The singular guitarist was an early member of Yo La Tengo, and in subsequent years his piercing, compact solos have improved recordings by Freedy Johnston, Kate Jacobs, and Buckner, among others. It's easy to identify his sound--a quavery, muscular, meticulously controlled squall--and his crystalline melodies, which glide over choruses like a sled hugging a snow-covered hill. They stand out a bit less dramatically on his own country-tinged rock songs, where his nasal, mush-mouthed yawping takes center stage, but paying attention to them is always rewarding. On the new album, producer JD Foster (who's also done good work for Buckner) can't do much to spice up the vocals, but the band's never sounded punchier. Over tempos and grooves that suggest an affinity for Neil Young's trademark stomp, Schramm meditates on fading, lost, and unrequited love with a misty-eyed reflectiveness nicely balanced by those agile guitar solos. Wednesday, February 7, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

PETER MARGASAK

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