Many pop bands strive to transcend their daily trials and tribulations, but not the Shadow Ring. Instead the trio from Folkestone, England, magnifies life's most mundane details until they distort into something strange and sinister. (Even the band's name, which seems to suggest some malevolent cabal, is really just a term for the stain left in an unwashed coffee cup.) A recurring theme of its recent Wax-Work Echoes (Corpus Hermeticum) is household pests, but by the eldritch presentation you'd think you were hearing ceremonies enacted to avert a plague. On the very new Hold Onto ID (Siltbreeze), the Shadow Ring turns the same weird-angle lens on the travails of the recording process: in "Like When" vocalist Graham Lambkin laments, "The mikes must belong to a trade union / And they call a strike so that no Shadow Ring work gets done." The Shadow Ring's rickety arrangements are built from rudimentary two-note guitar parts, squealing secondhand electronics, stark, bring-out-yer-dead drumbeats, and solemn vocals that are often recited through a walkie-talkie. The group's early records smudged the line between artful simplicity and fumbling ineptitude, but last year's appearance at Lounge Ax was quite compelling, and the two recent albums are even more so. The Shadow Ring opens for local space rockers Grimble Grumble and the always enjoyable Run On (see Spot Check). Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620. BILL MEYER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Richo.