If you don't like a Sparklehorse song, wait a few seconds and it'll change. The "band," which actually consists of Mark Linkous and whichever friends happen to be on hand, has just put out its second full-length, Good Morning Spider, and from the very first track it's hard to hum along with: "Pig" comes on slow and sweet, suddenly shifts into fast and noisy punk, then subsides into a staticky organ loop. But Linkous's wispy voice is a welcome constant, and he has a genius for marrying those disparate pop snippets, which are punctuated by hiss, distortion, and Speak & Spell noises for good measure. It's not all fun and games, though; on the leisurely "Saint Mary" he sings, "Blanket me, sweet nurse, and keep me from burnin' / I must get back to the woods"--a reference to the London hospital where he spent 12 weeks in a wheelchair after accidentally OD'ing on antidepressants and Valium while touring with Radiohead in 1996. ("The woods" no doubt means the small Virginia farm where he lives with his wife, pets, and recording studio.) Now, after a well-received European tour, Linkous is traveling the States with a three-piece band that includes Jonathan Segel (from Camper Van Beethoven) on violin, guitar, and keyboards, Dave Drewitz (who's played with Ween) on stand-up bass, and Scott Minor on drums. Varnaline and the Candy Butchers open. Friday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. CARA JEPSEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Danny Clinch.