Sunday17UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA
CATHOLICS & THE PILL In less than three minutes, Catholics & the Pill suck the sunny disposition out of the girl-garage pop sound that's so trendy right now and replace it with the morbid atmosphere of late-70s Manchester postpunk. The minimalist melody and austere, haunting vocal harmonies of their first official song, "Cool Dick," made it a great choice to lead off a March mix from local cassette label Modern Tapes. The all-female four-piece from Carbondale, Illinois, will release their debut seven-inch on Modern Tapes in the near future; until then, the best places to hear more cool 'n' dark pop tunes like "Cool Dick" are the band's Facebook page (which has two other short, sharp, and sulky songs) and live shows. Catch these women when you can—Carbondale ain't exactly DeKalb, and Catholics & the Pill don't make the drive too often. —Leor Galil 9:30 PM, the Whistler.
CIBO MATTO The duo of Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda won over a lot of hard hearts with their kitchen-sink jumble of indie-pop, electronica, and world music between 1994 and 2001—though apparently fixated on food, they approached that theme from a new angle with every song, and many listeners couldn't help but feel that the lyrics woven in and around their friendly tunes and slinky beats were really about sex and fear and rejection and longing. The two stopped working together as Cibo Matto a decade ago, but reunited earlier this year in New York for two all-star benefit shows for Japanese disaster relief, where the other performers included John Zorn, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Mike Patton, and Yoko Ono—who appeared with son Sean Lennon, a sometime Cibo Matto member (as well as Honda's boyfriend) back in the day. In early May, the duo announced that the reunion wasn't to be a mere canape with no meal to follow; the second course is this "Yeah Basically Cibo Matto" tour, and the third will be a new album next year. They're already writing songs, and promise to play some of them at this show—along with their foodie favorites, of course, which manage to still sound fresh. —Monica Kendrick Tony Castles opens. 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, $20.
TOOTS & THE MAYTALS The soundtrack to The Harder They Come is still the best reggae compilation of all time—not to mention a long-standing high-ranking entry on my list of desert island discs. It's probably no coincidence that it contains not one but two contributions from Toots & the Maytals; they were among the steadiest hands on the wheel of Jamaican popular music as it evolved from ska into reggae, and eyewitness accounts make it seem like they were so good they inspired actual fear in other artists (which I can understand). Can you even imagine what it must have been like for a reggae band to hear "Pressure Drop" on the radio and realize that's their competition? It's never a bad time to revisit 1972's Funky Kingston (reissued by Universal in 2003), which provides (among other things) scientific proof that it's possible to draw a deeply funky groove out of a John Denver song. —Miles Raymer Matisyahu headlines; Toots & the Maytals and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real open. 7 PM, Congress Theater, $24.50-$80. 17+
NGUZUNGUZU & TOTAL FREEDOM The saddest fact of Diplo's success is that everyone rips him off so poorly. When DJs drop homemade Arcade Fire/soca mashups on you, they think they're blowing your mind with some outre shit. But as Americans with cash in hand, don't we deserve better? Is it really too much to ask for a DJ to turn your body out in a way that will have you running to the booth screaming, "OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THIS?!" It's unlikely that this summer will present a better opportunity than the Nguzunguzu/Total Freedom collabo set hitting the Empty Bottle over Pitchfork weekend. Skilled DJ-producer Total Freedom (aka Ashland Mines), whose tastes are so subterranean that he makes Diplo look like Tiesto, will combine forces with M.I.A.-approved progressive-electronic dance duo Nguzunguzu (aka Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof), who just released the chilly panglobal delight Timesup (Fade to Mind). Going by YouTube footage of their New York show last week, the set will be a panoply of equatorial funk, Top 40 R&B recast at very wrong speeds, and more synchronicity than you'd expect from an improvised set; the festivities for the evening will also include live drumming and sampling. —Jessica Hopper Gang Gang Dance (see page B11) headlines. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, $15.
THE PEOPLES TEMPLE While it's fun to imagine that these four young Michiganders from Lansing see their name as a comment on the state of spiritual questing post-Jonestown, it's a safe bet they probably just thought it sounded badass. But whether they're deep thinkers or not, on their debut LP, Sons of Stone (HoZac), the Peoples Temple display a deft and dexterous hand with psychedelia in all its incarnations: the epic shoegaze of the title track, the '66 fuzz bash of "Visions of the Sun" and "Starstreamer," the Sky Saxon groove-plea of "Where You Gonna Go?," the propulsive tambourine-and-floor-tom drive of "Keeper (Of Souls)." Nothing groundbreaking or innovative is happening here, but what these guys lack in terms of sounds never heard before they more than make up for with the solid foundation they've given themselves to build on. Most bands like this are good for maybe one decent LP or EP before breaking up, getting stuck in the limbo between the very new and the very old, or simply starting to suck because they only had that one decent LP or EP in them. The Peoples Temple seem to have left themselves a lot of room to evolve, though, and if they can keep it together for a few more years, I expect them to raise the bar and develop not just facility but originality. —Brian Costello White Mystery headlines; Mickey and the Peoples Temple open. 10 PM, free with RSVP at horismokumovie.com/cobrathree.
ANATOMY OF HABIT It's kind of mind-blowing that a band whose lineup includes both Greg Ratajczak, guitarist for cyber-grind maniacs Plague Bringer, and Mark Solotroff, vocalist for harsh-noise collective Bloodyminded, would end up as pretty as Anatomy of Habit. Their sprawling progressive-metal jams, which often top ten minutes, are hardly gentle—unsurprisingly these guys don't shy away from volume—but they're introspective and icily delicate as often as they're punishingly huge, and Solotroff sings in an Ian Curtis deadpan as well as a bloodcurdling scream. The loud-soft-loud postrock thing is a little overdone, but Anatomy of Habit stand out from the pack with their stark and honest sound. The band—which also employs former Cheer-Accident bassist Dylan Posa on drums, Blake Edwards of Vertonen on metal percussion, and Kenny Rasmussen from the defunct No Funeral on bass—just put the finishing touches on its debut album with Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service, and it's due before the end of the year. —Luca Cimarusti Cages headline. 7 PM, Empty Bottle, $5, free with Pitchfork wristband.
CULT OF YOUTH Love as Laughter has been cultishly adored for years for its truly trippy psychedelic pop and an overall sorta goofy stoner vibe—but none of those things are apparent in Cult of Youth, the new project from former Love as Laughter bassist Sean Ragon. Originally a solo home-recording endeavor exploring the postindustrial neofolk movement, Cult of Youth has become a full-fledged band, and the amount of attention it's attracting makes it sound like a Williamsburg neofolk revival is entirely possible. Their self-titled debut album (recently released by Sacred Bones) does a great job re-creating the slate gray sounds of Death in June and Current 93. Unfortunately Ragon also dredges up the genre's fascist imagery, despite being an avowed nonfascist—that could kill the buzz for some listeners. —Miles Raymer Austra headlines; Cult of Youth and Project Film open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, $10.
TERRIE HESSELS & KEN VANDERMARK Dutch punks the Ex have been visiting Ethiopia for nearly a decade, and in 2008 founding guitarist Terrie Hessels helped launch a cultural exchange program—he visits the country regularly, performing with his bandmates and other foreign guests, collaborating with locals, giving workshops, and even bringing in repairmen to mend broken instruments and train their Ethiopian counterparts. Earlier this year Hessels released Addis (on his own Terp imprint), an improvised duet with French clarinetist Xavier Charles, who participated in the program in May 2009; they recorded it in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, both in a hotel room and in the garden of a bar, leaving in ambient sounds like barking dogs and background conversation. The bulk of the pieces are quiet, in keeping with those settings—on the opening track Hessels mostly scrapes the strings of his electric guitar with his amp turned all the way down. Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark, who made the trip to Ethiopia in December 2009, has worked with the Ex increasingly in recent years—he was part of the band's Brass Unbound project, alongside Mats Gustafsson, Roy Paci, and Wolter Wierbos—and he plays with Hessels in Lean Left, a hard-hitting improvising quartet with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and Ex guitarist Andy Moor. On the recent The Ex Guitars Meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo: Volume 2 (Smalltown Superjazzz) they kick up some serious dust, and Hessels displays scrappy rhythmic creativity throughout. When Vandermark was in Addis Ababa, he gave workshops, played with saxophone great Getatchew Mekuria, and took lots of photos—pictures that later inspired painter, singer, and former Chicagoan Adrienne Pierluissi (she runs the Sugar Maple and Palm Tavern in Milwaukee with her husband, Okka Disk owner Bruno Johnson) to create new work, using them as creative seeds. An exhibit of Vandermark's photos and Pierluissi's paintings called Addis Experience opens tonight at 5 PM; at 7 PM the venue will show video footage of Addis Ababa by Emma Fischer, an artist and filmmaker who started the cultural exchange with Hessels, and at 8 PM Vandermark and Hessels will perform as a duo. The two musicians will spin Ethiopian records after their set, and the exhibit will stay up through the end of July. —Peter Margasak 5 PM, Co-Prosperity Sphere, donation requested.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA The Unknown Mortal Orchestra makes ridiculously accessible music that could easly find a mainstream audience; the group's self-titled debut, recently released by Fat Possum, is loaded with hooks and benefits from the highly listenable falsetto of front man and mastermind Ruban Nielson (a native of New Zealand now based in Portland, Oregon) as well as a punchy rhythmic backbone that frequently nods to sunny-day hip-hop beats. But there's something totally strange about the whole arrangement—it's not at all clear what Nielson thinks he's doing combining influences as disparate as Krautrock and lite AM radio pop, or how he makes them fit together so naturally, or whether he's trying to tell us something by doing it. Whatever it is, the band is good—they're one of those rare acts that makes a high degree of musical proficiency seem fun rather than stifling—and the fact that they aren't doing anything remotely similar to anyone else is a real pleasure. You should definitely figure out a way to play their psychedelic sugar-funk jam "How Can U Luv Me" at every cookout you go to for the rest of the summer. —Miles Raymer Yuck (see page B14) headlines. 10:30 PM, Schubas, $14, $7 with Pitchfork wristband. 18+
SOURVEIN North Carolina doom quartet Sourvein knows how to leave fans wanting more—the split CDs and EPs are generous, but the full-lengths are slow in coming. The new Black Fangs (Candlelight) is only their third since forming in 1993, and their first in almost nine years. Anything that comes after a wait like that always risks anticlimax, but Black Fangs delivers—down-tuned and dirty, slower than most human bodily rhythms (with the possible exception of bipolar cycling), the album simmers with a buried aggression that threatens revenge served cold. Though the album works just as well as background music as it does full-volume foreground, I never once got the feeling that the band had just set the cruise control and gone for a nod; T-Roy's unsettling vocals suggest a lurking, reptilian intelligence even when swamped in the mix. Who knows when Sourvein will muster up this kind of energy again, so catch them while they're hot. —Monica Kendrick Nachtmystium headlines; Sourvein, Batillus, Lord Mantis, Mutilation Rites, and Hour of 13 open. 8 PM, Empty Bottle, $12, $10 in advance.
ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER Eleanor Friedberger sets aside the dizzying complexity and density of Fiery Furnaces in favor of something simpler and more direct on her terrific new solo debut, Last Summer (Merge). These undeniably catchy songs read like diary entries, often evoking failed and failing relationships (or possibly several stages of the same one) with vivid, place-specific memories: "I brought my camera and I have a shot of us / You and that guy who died down in Philly / On the beach / The Cyclone made you sick," she sings on "Roosevelt Island." The tone is generally melancholy, even when it's hard to tell where the sadness is coming from, but Friedberger matches her sweetly nostalgic lyrics with hooks that sound customized for outdoor summer listening, from the graceful, pretty melody of "Heaven" to the brisk bounce of "Early Earthquake." There are plenty of ear-catching instrumental flourishes—the neo-70s saxophone solo on "My Mistakes," the nifty clavinet line that flows through "Roosevelt Island"—but the lean arrangements seem to exist mostly to set up Friedberger's distinctive phrasing. She races through certain words and elongates others—holding notes, dropping them, adding extra syllables—with a clipped, authoritative delivery and a nonchalantly plush timbre that recalls Debbie Harry. —Peter Margasak 8 PM, Hideout, $5.
PSYCHIC PARAMOUNT With their theatrical, practically cinematic big-gesture aesthetic—one favorite gesture being an inexorable progression from drowsy noodling to ominous tension to mega crescendo—bands like Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have sketched a reliable blueprint for indie instrumental outfits. But a little coloring outside the lines now and then helps keep any genre honest, right? Almost six years after their previous studio full-length, Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural, Brooklyn's Psychic Paramount are back with II (No Quarter), and it's likewise a triumph of grotty, distorted grooves, chugging Krautrock rhythms, and psych-infused guitar trails that can remind me of Comets on Fire (reminding me of Comets on Fire is always a good thing), often wrapped in a tattered sheet of cosmic noise and scuzz. The trio, which includes two former members of Laddio Bolocko, maintains a creepy sense of urgency throughout its mood shifts, and when the dudes break out the mind-melting firebombs of fuzz the album gets straight-up chilling. The nine-minute tour de force "DDB" is—I'm about to get all kinds of hyperbolic here—one of the best jams I've heard all year, and would make a perfect template for structuring an instrumental. Begin with jazzy, mathy drumming and heavily delayed guitar, quickly upshift to freak-out mode, pull the fucking ripcord to topple some massive pillars of noise, rock it strange with looped riffs, and end with a disjointed mess of instruments smashing into one another. There, patent it. —Kevin Warwick White/Light, Implodes, and Andy Ortmann open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $8.