Friday1Paul Cary & the Small Scaries
Wednesday6Devin Townsehnd Project
BORGORE Last year Israeli producer Asaf "Borgore" Borger released a pair of EPs called Borgore Ruined Dubstep. In reality, of course, jocks ruined dubstep—Borger, who sometimes drums in a deathcore group called Shabira, actually brought a little excitement to the stagnating style by dropping some of metal's aggression, noise, and neck-snapping rhythms into the mix. Unfortunately he also started rapping, and he's an utterly, unbelievably terrible rapper. Luckily his new EP, Delicious (Buygore), contains instrumental versions of each track, in case you don't care to hear about "haters" (a term that now belongs to teenage girls with vlogs) or about how all women are sluts, which appear to be the only subjects Borger knows. —Miles Raymer Nameloc, Chris Widman, and Alex Hendrix open. 9 PM, Metro, $21, $18 in advance. 18+
DIOGO NOGUEIRA Son of the great samba singer Joao Nogueira, 30-year-old Diogo Nogueira is already a star in Brazil and in 2008 earned a Latin Grammy nomination for best new artist. He clearly hopes to follow in his father's footsteps, but his second and most recent album, 2009's To Fazendo a Minha Parte (EMI Brasil), makes it plain that he's still got some ground to cover. Though Joao was a noted composer, Diogo only had a hand in writing a couple of the tunes on Minha Parte. And though the production favors a modern take on samba-cancao—an urbane variation on Brazil's national song form and one of the styles his father helped to perfect—Diogo seems to be using the album's contemporary arrangements and quasi-sophisticated strings as a kind of camouflage, beneath which he's just rehashing moves that other musicians mastered in the 70s. He's a fine singer, but he has yet to contribute anything to samba's future. This is his Chicago debut. —Peter Margasak Freshlyground opens. 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.
WHITE FENCE With last year's self-titled LP and this year's Is Growing Faith, White Fence has provided further evidence that the Bay Area is blessed with more than just the country's best "garage" scene—it's also home to the proverbial jingle-jangle mornings of dozens of four-tracked Mister (and Miss) Tambourine Men (and Women). And in that crowd, White Fence's stellar neopsych pop-folk stands out. The solo project of Darker My Love front man Tim Presley (who's also a sometimes member of tonight's headliners, the Strange Boys), White Fence is undeniably a band on Woodsist. (Lo-fi? Check. The aforementioned psych-pop jangle? Check.) What sets this project apart is the way Presley always seems to know what to do with his arrangements and when—his bread and butter are hypnotic guitar melodies and tasty vocal harmonies, but he's great with details like the "warm jet" glaze that briefly appears after the first verse and chorus of "And By Always," the fuzz-flange solo in the melodic stomper "Harness," and the maraca shimmy in the early Floydian slip-and-slide of "Get That Heart." He even finds a fresh take on Johnny Thunders's "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory," which has become a perennial cover in the trite-punk circuit. —Brian Costello The Strange Boys headline. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $8.
PAUL CARY & THE SMALL SCARIES Before a group of gothy, artsy British guys called themselves the Horrors, a group of scuzzball garage rockers from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, first used the name. The American band's front man, Paul Cary, has mellowed out and cleaned up quite a bit since then; he's also adopted a new sound, following garage's roots all the way back to the jazzy prewar blues that helped set the stage for the birth of rock 'n' roll. Last year's Ghost of a Man (released by Stank House and local free-download label Candy Dinner) faithfully reproduces those old-timey sounds, and its stark, gloomy mood keeps it from sounding like something that could safely be played on repeat at Starbucks. —Miles Raymer Terrible Twos headline; Paul Cary & the Small Scaries and the Runnies open. 10 PM, Hideout, $8.
KARAYORGIS/DIJKSTRA QUINTET, TREVOR WATTS & VERYAN WESTON Over the past five years or so, Boston-based Dutch reedist Jorrit Dijkstra has led a few bands that feature some of our city's best players. For his Flatlands Collective he recruited exclusively Chicago talent, and the octet on his recent Pillow Circles (Clean Feed) includes three locals: drummer Frank Rosaly, bassist Jason Roebke, and trombonist Jeb Bishop. The album was commissioned by the prestigious North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Chicago musicians play a crucial role in shaping Dijkstra's beautifully lyrical tunes, which balance postswing arrangements, terse rock grooves, and electronic noise (at one point the ensemble includes three crackle boxes) with thrilling exactitude. Those same three locals are also part of Dijkstra's new group with Pandelis Karayorgis, which makes its Chicago debut this weekend. The Boston-based pianist will contribute compositions to the Karayorgis / Dijkstra Quintet, which is excellent news judging by the quality of his writing on the new System of 5 (Hatology). He has a profound grasp of the complexities of post-Monk piano—jagged rhythmic patterns, tart harmonies, steeplechase melodic figures—and his restrained solos evoke not only Monk but also early Cecil Taylor. The rhythm section of drummer Luther Gray and bassist Jef Charland lays down a foundation of elegant, imperturbable swing, while reedist Matt Langley and trombonist Jeff Galindo sketch out muted counterpoint to Karayorgis's written parts and play crackerjack solos. It's easily one of the best jazz records I've heard this year. Roebke, Rosaly, Bishop, Dijkstra, and Karayorgis will all be present tonight, but for Sunday's concert bassist Nate McBride and drummer Tim Daisy will fill in for Roebke and Rosaly.
Veteran British improvisers Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston, both restlessly curious players, make their Chicago debut as a duo to open this show. Saxophonist Trevor Watts was a key early figure in England's 60s free-jazz scene, notably as a regular partner of drummer John Stevens, with whom he cofounded the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Over the years he's explored fusion and folk in groups like Amalgam (whose various lineups included Barry Guy, Harry Miller, and Keith Rowe) as well as Moire Music and the Celebration Band (which wedded searing improvisations to heavy grooves borrowed from funk and African music). Pianist Veryan Weston, who's played in many Watts-led projects over the decades, has developed his own mix of lyrical exploration and turbulent chaos in long-term partnerships, including a duo with radical singer Phil Minton and various bands with bassist Luc Klaasen (formerly of the Ex), among them 4 Walls and Sol 6. The bracing improvised duets on Watts and Weston's 2001 album 6 Dialogues (Emanem) show them at their most spontaneous, veering from brooding melodies over caustic harmonies to fleeting passages of austere calm. —Peter Margasak See also Sunday for the Karayorgis/Dijkstra Quintet. 10 PM, Heaven Gallery, donation requested.
CARLA MORRISON Singer-songwriter Carla Morrison took a big leap on last year's eight-song EP Mientras Tu Dormias (Cosmica); with production help from brainy Mexican pop star Natalia Lafourcade, she brought out the sophistication in her exquisitely catchy songs. A 25-year-old native of Tecate in Baja California, Morrison moved to San Diego at 13; she bounced between Mexico and the U.S. and went to college in Phoenix, Arizona, where she formed an alt-rock band called Babaluca. She started her solo career after returning to Tecate a few years ago, using looped keyboards, guitars, and vocals. On the EP Lafourcade brought in extra musicians to flesh out the sweetly melodic tunes—she loves doo-wop and 50s dream pop, and on some songs it's clear Morrison feels the same way—but the heart of the music remains Morrison's simultaneously gauzy and forceful Spanish-language singing. For her Chicago debut she'll perform solo and with drummer Carlos Maria. —Peter Margasak DJ Ron Solera and DJ Angelfuck open. 9 PM, Darkroom, $20, $15 in advance.
BILL FOX The music world has a fascination with artists who pull a Rimbaud—that is, create a small amount of concentrated awesome and then just, well, stop. Conventional wisdom says it's not supposed to happen that way; musicians are supposed to die with instruments in their hands, and even if they run out of things to say they're expected to flog that dead horse till everyone's cringing at the rotten smell. Singer-songwriter Bill Fox fronted Cleveland indie-pop trio the Mice before releasing his wonderful 1997 solo debut, Shelter From the Smoke (reissued by Scat in 2009), and he hasn't made a new record since 1998's equally lovely Transit Byzantium. A lengthy 2007 profile in the Believer revealed that he's a moody recluse who mostly disavows his musical past. Fox just doesn't care how many fans he's earned with those two beautiful, jewel-like folk-pop records, filled with echoes of Alex Chilton, Bob Dylan, and early Simon & Garfunkel. He may not pass this way again—and unfortunately, I mean that literally. —Monica Kendrick Zapruder Point headlines. 10 PM, Uncommon Ground, $7.
- Daniel Boud
- Fucked Up
FUCKED UP, JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD Though Fucked Up are definitely a hardcore band, they like to dabble in things commonly associated with the type of bloated classic rock that hardcore was invented to rage against—massively stacked overdubs, string sections, seven-minute songs. So obviously it was only a matter of time till they did a concept album. The new David Comes to Life (Matador), set in the imaginary British town of Byrdesdale Spa in the late 70s and early 80s, is the story of a guy who works at a lightbulb factory and has a girlfriend and then doesn't; apparently it embodies some macro ideas about the world, or something. Honestly I really don't know—front man Damian "Pink Eyes" Abraham tends to shred lyrics beyond recognition with his burly howl. But you don't need to be able to follow the album's plot to enjoy its gorgeous, anthemic songs, which ought to appeal to a whole lot of fans who don't normally listen to hardcore. A companion compilation, David's Town, consists of songs by the fictional punk- and pub-rock bands that the fictional David enjoys—just in case you didn't already think Fucked Up were totally brilliant. —Miles Raymer
The title of Jeff the Brotherhood's new album, We Are the Champions (Infinity Cat), seems mostly tongue-in-cheek. I mean, it's just straight-up silly for a couple brothers from Nashville most people haven't heard of to call themselves "champions," their recent deal with Warner Brothers notwithstanding—after a decade as a band they still play their share of dinky DIY spaces, and they're probably best known for having been in much-hyped garage act Be Your Own Pet. But Jeff the Brotherhood's scuzzy mix of 70s classic rock and hyperactive punk makes it clear that the duo is at the very least sincere about invoking Queen, and on We Are the Champions they crank up the bombast and dial back the tempos. Compared to 2009's Heavy Days, the new album is thick with unhurried, riff-centric jams like "Hey Friend"—and there's even a sitar-assisted acoustic freak-out called "Health and Strength." The brothers won't be selling millions of records anytime soon, but that's not the only way to be a champion. —Leor Galil Fucked Up headlines. 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, $15.
BILL CALLAHAN Bill Callahan has had a wicked sense of humor, but where the jokes in his music used to seem like a shield, now they're the cracks in the armor where his humanity shows through. His new Apocalypse (Drag City) opens with "Drover," a stunning tune about a cattle driver, where Callahan both embraces and tweaks the hard-bitten solitude of his character, snapping, "I set my watch against the city clock / And it was way off!" The tune "America!" is a conflicted indictment of our country, mixing the cynicism of Randy Newman with heartfelt admiration: "Afghanistan! / Vietnam! / Iran!" he belts out, as if they were players on a team, and then sings, "Everyone's allowed a past they don't care to mention." It's so spot-on it almost hurts to hear. Callahan's music gets stronger with every new record, as does his singing; his timing on Apocalypse is remarkable, and he guides listeners through the unfolding of his lyrics by giving some lines clipped readings followed by pregnant pauses while stretching out and repeating others. Though it's clear that Callahan's band didn't get a lot of time to rehearse, the players are agile enough to make the tunes work, delivering an accompaniment that's sometimes as elastic as his phrasing; on "Baby's Breath" they accelerate and decelerate like a racing heartbeat. —Peter Margasak Hidden Ritual opens. 8 PM, Lincoln Hall, $20.
ORIGIN The new Entity (Nuclear Blast) is the fifth album from this 14-year-old Topeka-based tech-death band, who remain much buzzed about for their, well, buzz—they accelerate the chugging guitars and hammering double kick of death metal into an intricate blur that sounds like a tightly choreographed formation of lethal robotic wasps. This is Origin's first outing with front man Jason Keyser, and the vocals stick mostly to the standard full-bore growly howl, straying only occasionally into a Donald-Duck-in-the-electric-chair squawk. Keyser puts the lyrics across as well as you'd expect, but nobody comes to an Origin record for the vocals—they come for the grinding warp-speed riffs in a pleasing diversity of odd time signatures and for the utterly sick rhythm section. Drummer John Longstreth creates a wall of sound all by himself, though it's less the Phil Spector variety and more a constantly morphing fractal fortress of self-organizing scrap iron, charging across a barren alien moonscape like an armored column. Entity is brutal throughout, but not monolithic: "Conceiving Death" has a gothic grandeur, and tracks like the aptly named "Swarm" assault your ears from all directions at once. The band's insane chops and ferocious technical complexity never get in the way of the music's physical force, which you'll especially appreciate if you're math-impaired like me. In many cases my reaction to this kind of metal is, "OK, you can play fast, I get it," but my eyes didn't glaze over once during Entity, not even on my second listen—which is higher praise than it sounds. —Monica Kendrick Hate Eternal headlines; Origin, Vital Remains, Abysmal Dawn, and Cardiac Arrest open. 7 PM, Reggie's Rock Club, $18, $16 in advance. 17+
HEX MACHINE Richmond's Hex Machine have been playing since the mid-aughts, but they've only put out one album, 2009's Omen Mas (Minimum Underdrive)—which they've just released again in a fancy vinyl edition. It's strong enough to give the impression that the band sprang fully formed out of someone's forehead, or more likely out of a sweaty thigh like Dionysus. Their greasy, heavy, hot-oil-fried riffs sit somewhere on the line between stoner metal, the Melvins, and straight-up 90s grunge. (If you can pinpoint exactly where that line is, let me know.) Omen Mas sounds like it was recorded in a very small cave littered with trash and old bones, which is just the most obvious of the many cues that this is a band that's best in a live setting, preferably a dark one. The eight-plus minutes of "Godheads Full of Candy," a shotgun wedding of severe Shellac-style angularity with trippy Bauhausian ooga-booga, are alone worth the price of the album. I also really love the arpeggiated ooze of the doomy "Peristalsis Hilton"—it just sounds satisfyingly rotten, which is as good a description of the album as a whole as any. —Monica Kendrick Rabid Rabbit and Backs open. 8:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, $8.
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT One is advised to take a deep breath before attempting to describe the achievements of guitarist, vocalist, producer, and supragenius Devin Townsend, or else it all might tumble out as one big run-on sentence. Townsend, late of Strapping Young Lad, not only plays like he has the hands of a Hindu god, he's developed a remarkable production style that accomodates his profligate playing with taste and grace—not one note goes to waste in his dense, elaborately multitracked heavy prog. It's a tall order to make one record like his in a year, but Townsend has just completed a tetralogy. In 2009 he released Ki and Addicted a few months apart, both on his own Hevy Devy label; they're concept albums about addiction and redemption, though it's hard to believe Townsend ever had time for a drug problem. This year's brand-new simultaneous releases, Deconstruction and Ghost, are just as rich and varied—and just as "wildly uncool," to quote one of Townsend's recent tour videos. Deconstruction is darkly funny, like Dante's Inferno rewritten for the Adult Swim crowd, and swings shamelessly from crushing and symphonic to silly and adolescent; Ghost is soulful and beautiful, and almost sounds like the new age album that its cover art would lead you to expect—it's just not quite actually soothing. Plus both records have a sexy, almost industrial throb that marks them out as rare specimens of prog metal that exist below the waist. —Monica Kendrick Children of Bodom headline; the Devin Townsend Project and Septicflesh open. 5:30 PM, House of Blues, $30, $27 in advance.