Spot Check | Spot Check | Chicago Reader

Music » Spot Check

Spot Check


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


DISMEMBERMENT PLAN 11/3, EMPTY BOTTLE Jittery indie rock for people with nervous twitches and short attention spans, the music on ! (DeSoto), the debut album from the Washington, D.C., group Dismemberment Plan, favors skittering riffs and quickly shifting tempos. The spastic vocal machinations of Travis Morrison have little to do with the music churning behind him, instead leaping about without logic like the meaningless rants of a broken-down panhandler. The optimist would say this foursome cram lots of ideas into their music, but my gut sez they just don't know what the fuck they're doing. BOBBY PARKER 11/3 & 4, B.L.U.E.S. ETCETERA Supporting his new album Shine Me Up (Black Top), veteran D.C. bluesman Bobby Parker, best known for his 1961 hit "Watch Your Step," returns to town with his stinging guitar, soulful vocals, and funky tunes in tow. Whereas most contemporary blues records polish up the music in a rock sheen, Parker's new album plays it straight, retaining much of the rawness and urgency that the best of his music exudes live. A forward-looking mainstay of his city's club circuit, Parker remains open to new sounds, claiming a go-go influence as well as incorporating chunks of mod vernacular--witness the song "Skeezer"--into his originals. SIMON & THE BAR SINISTERS 11/4, BEAT KITCHEN Raw, surf-inflected rock 'n' roll from New York City, the stomping sounds on Simon & the Bar Sinisters' debut album, Look at Me I'm Cool! (Upstart), suggest that the raucous trio don't see lines dividing the varied styles they so recklessly purvey. I don't hear anything particularly original apart from their manic energy, but it seems like it'd all be quite a hoot live. JIMMY LaFAVE 11/4, FITZGERALD'S On his recently released third album Buffalo Return to the Plains (Bohemia Beat), Austin's Jimmy LaFave continues to streamline his post-Dylan proclivities into an engaging mix of bluesy barn burners, roadhouse rockers, and twang-burnished ballads. While he lacks the formalistic diversity and daring of his neighbors Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo, his skillful navigation of the familiar ably represents Austin's ease at having a good time. SHAHID PARVEZ KHAN 11/4, CHINMAYA MISSION CHICAGO Part of a new generation of young Indian sitar players, Shahid Parvez Khan performs with a gorgeous, fluent improvisational alacrity. On the recordings I've heard, his confident navigation of the alaap--the lengthy, percussion-free introduction to a raga--exudes a restrained finesse and assured emotional expression, and his ability doesn't waver when the tabla joins in. He'll be accompanied by frequent tabla cohort Vijay Ghate. WOLVERTON BROTHERS, SHRINE 11/4, EMPTY BOTTLE Sadly and consistently overlooked, Cincinnati's mighty Wolverton Brothers offer a vibrant pomo take on chooglin' boogie rockology. Unfortunately, their new EP Glad (Atavistic) reconfirms that as fine as their spaced-out recordings are, they fail to convey the combo's jaw-dropping live alchemy. It wouldn't be a bad idea to let them prove it to you. Shrine carry on LA's inimitable cookie-cutter musical tradition, mechanically (and probably demographically) cloning alt-metal-goth genes inside a coke-snorting record exec's dream, which, of course, would be a nightmare for anyone with sense. NO DOUBT, SKUNK ANANSIE 11/8, METRO No Doubt: Lene Lovich in Debbie Harry's hair fronting the Cars playing forgettable metallic ska-tinged pop tunes. Somehow it's actually worse than all that sounds. Whereas San Francisco dyke rockers Tribe 8 emasculate cock rock with their self-conceived brand of "clit rock" and no shortage of humor, England's flavor-of-the-moment Skunk Anansie possess little beyond their cliched hard rock and nearly laughable lyrical seriousness. Fronted by the striking bald black lesbian Skin--the other members are white men--they also include plenty of antiracist rants ("Intellectualize My Blackness"). While it would be hard to disagree with their sentiments, the bad hard rock setting turns their debut album, Paranoid & Sunburnt (Epic/One Little Indian), into a silly joke that's very hard to take seriously, let alone actually listen to. JULIAN DAWSON 11/8, PARK WEST Veteran British popster Julian Dawson pens unusually literate, catchy tunes in a way that situates him squarely with artists like Jules Shear, who lent some backing vocals on Dawson's recent Travel On (Watermelon). His music suggests a less rootsy Nick Lowe; it's lean, laced with modest hooks, and undergirded by a relaxed muscularity. He opens for Jane Siberry. MAURA O'CONNELL 11/9, SCHUBAS Starting her career with the traditional Irish group DeDanann, singer Maura O'Connell was so taken with the modern bluegrass sound of America's New Grass Revival that in 1987 she relocated to Nashville, where she's subsequently recorded five solo albums. Her latest is the Jerry Douglas-produced Stories (Hannibal), which finds her joined by some of Nashville's finest musicians in traversing a widely varied selection of tunes. O'Connell is a true interpreter of song; while she doesn't write her own music, she picks the material herself--songs by writers like John Gorka, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Hal Ketchum, and even Lennon and McCartney--injecting the music with her distinctive personality rather than succumbing to the formulaic whims of a hit-seeking producer. Not only is the result elegant, but O'Connell's significant investment in each song is clearly palpable.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →