CLARICE ASSAD 4/16, LaS MANOS GALLERY I hope all the circulating copies of this Brazilian piano prodigy's demo tape aren't marred by the dense buzz that nearly drowns out her playing on mine. Because even when it's hard to hear, it's very much worth the effort--Assad negotiates the line between classical music and chamber jazz with liquid grace and the subtlest applications of her native rhythms. Her talent is obviously hereditary: her father and uncle, Sergio and Odair, comprise the classical guitar duo the Assad Brothers, and her aunt is acclaimed guitarist and singer Badi Assad. Clarice, who's 21, has studied jazz at Berklee, and like many pedigreed young players has yet to discover the rebellious streak that could make her great--but the odds sure look good. This is her first Chicago appearance, but as she's currently studying composition at Roosevelt University, it certainly won't be her last. COMPULSIVE GAMBLERS 4/16, EMPTY BOTTLE Here's a band that doesn't know when to quit, and thank God. The Compulsive Gamblers--guitarist-organists Greg Cartwright and Jack Yarber and drummer Rod Thomas--tried to break up in 1993, when Thomas and fiddler Greg Easterly moved to New Orleans. But Cartwright and Yarber kept right on playing, emerging as the esteemed garage-punk-soul powerhouse the Oblivians, who toured even as the rumors of their demise were being greatly exaggerated. Now Cartwright, Yarber, Thomas, and bassist Jeff Meier (formerly of Rocket 455) have started up again under the old name. The music on their forthcoming CD, Bluff City (Sympathy for the Record Industry), is more or less a restoking of the Oblivians' smelly, smoky bacon-grease fire--but just you try to put it out. NOISEX, HOLOCAUST THEORY 4/16, FIRESIDE BOWL The Chicago-based electronic-music magazine Interface is sponsoring this all-ages gig by the German band Noisex, which suggests the coinage "drum 'n' noise" for its relatively spare, Teutonic take on post-Wax Trax grind-groove. (You can listen to and/or download its entire latest album, Ignarrogance, at www.ant-zen.com/noisex.) Tourmates Holocaust Theory, from San Francisco, lay on the noise and vengeful-ghost-in-the-machine bombast far thicker--"As Death Approaches," from their Inception of Eradication (Possessive Blindfold), is the kind of good old megamonotonal techno-caveman throb that makes Laibach sound subtle. r606 4/16, BIG HORSE Proof that just about everyone in Chicago eventually gets the urge to drop the complicated stuff and rock out (even if some of them only do it at home in their underwear in front of the mirror when nobody's looking). Most recently bassist and guitarist C.J. Bani, a veteran of the hippie-funk outfit Uptighty and various Bop Shop house combos, has joined the duo of singer-guitarist Ed Stahurski and drummer Jack Jerozal to play fuzzed-out Black Sabbath-meets-Modern Lovers riff rock. Their demo is booty-quaking if not earthshaking. JOLIE CHRISTINE RICKMAN 4/17, HEARTLAND CAFE Native Chicagolander Jolie Christine Rickman has made a name for herself in the university-town hothouse of upstate New York, performing on the radio and at coffeehouses, hosting open mikes, and giving workshops on women's political music, conflict resolution through the arts, and "the creative process." Not surprisingly her own creative process puts too much weight on the music's potential social impact--though on her third album, Sublime Detonation, only "Love Song for Newt" is close to Holly Near insufferable. Rickman lightens the load with skittering vocals (like Joni Mitchell without the California snideness) and bubbly folk-pop backing by a mandolinist, a drummer, and bassist Mike Brandt, who will accompany her at this gig. MEZODIGM 4/22, EMPTY BOTTLE This local band's five-song CD, With a Bullet, might turn out to be the sleeper of the year: recorded in a rehearsal space and released last fall, just before original drummer Andrew Martin moved to the west coast, it's a relaxed but dense piece of dark, dreamy country prog played on guitars, bass, harmonium, dobro, and drums. There are some lovely moments (the droning, sweeping instrumental "Dustbin," with its slight aftertaste of "Moonlight Mile") and some overbearing ones ("Wax Curtains," on which front man Chris Estrada reads "poetry" in a seemingly unintentional David Grubbs parody). But music like this is supposed to change moods as if it's forgotten to take its meds, and you know it's just a matter of time till something beautiful comes around again.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Jolie Christine Rickman uncredited photo.