AFFLICTIONS 9/13, BEAT KITCHEN I've only seen this band once, at Cal's--a comfortably skanky and ancient-feeling bar in the Loop--which was the ideal place for it. Garage and its ilk ought to be heard (if not in a garage) in a place like that, in the middle of a city that looks like a city, under a half-on, half-off neon liquor sign, with no stage of any sort to prevent a hyperkinetic front man like Jeremiah McIntyre from falling right into you. The Afflictions sound at times derivative (though I'm hard-pressed to say concisely of what) and at times just wildly disorganized, flailing toward a filthy Farfisa funk that's tantalizingly just out of reach. Organist Janet Emmert and drummer Philip Montoro are the not-so-secret weapons; Kelly Argyle's bluesy no-wave sax adds a delightful unpredictability. This show, at the veggie-wrap-servin' Beat Kitchen, is a release party for The Peotone EP (Captain Spazz); Happy Supply and the Ponys open. MARIANNE FAITHFULL 9/13, PARK WEST Being a true talent and being a good schmoozer are hardly mutually exclusive, and in fact most talents that get recognized do at least a little social climbing. But there was a time (you know, last week) when, if you were a certain kind of woman, it was hard to get anyone to recognize you as anything but a groupie. That might be one reason Marianne Faithfull reaches out to the spirit of her less fortunate contemporary Nico on her new Kissin Time (Virgin)--though maybe it's just the zeitgeist, since Angels of Light and the Warlocks have also recorded a "Song for Nico" in the past couple years. Unfortunately Faithfull's portrait isn't particularly insightful, more an incomplete laundry list of her subject's romantic entanglements...oh well. The album is a set of collaborations with famous boys; Jarvis Cocker coauthors the coldest and most biting track, "Sliding Through Life on Charm," Beck chips in on "Sex With Strangers," and French pop star Etienne Daho contributes the plangent "The Pleasure Song," in which the gravelly voiced Faithfull seems bound and determined not to be seen as sexless just yet. (If any of the men throwing flowers at her when I saw her five years ago were straight, she really needn't worry.) Sure, she's cruising on personality--Broken English this ain't; hell, it ain't even 20th Century Blues--but in doing so she insults the intelligence of her audience a lot less than certain of her exes I could name. CHRIS CONNELLY 9/14, DOUBLE DOOR Local musician, poet, and writer of pretty songs Chris Connelly has miraculously managed to maintain a fan base that met him through industrial icons Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, and Pigface. Not as odd as it might seem: the dark romanticism of industrial music (essentially mechanized goth) isn't that far a cry from the dark romanticism of the brooding folk pop Connelly now generates. Bowie comparisons are obvious, but that's more about the sound of his voice than his writing style. On his new Private Education (Invisible), recorded without his band the Bells, he shoots for Scott Walker's intimacy and Leonard Cohen's straining spirituality; what he lacks in melodic flexibility he compensates for with enchanting lyrics. From "About the Beauty of Laura": "Something waits to begin / when the beauty steps in / And the girls have a wonderful day capsizing the men." "DEMONS" 9/14, BEAT KITCHEN These Swedes' new Stockholm Slump (on Gearhead, new home of the Hellacopters and former home of the Hives) is hard to write about: such stuff either rocks or it doesn't. This album definitely does--and scrappy punk sensibility and tired garagey packaging notwithstanding, it rocks in a classic hard rock sort of way, tough and fast and sometimes wildly distorted. I hear the Stooges, sure, but also early Judas Priest or Nazareth if Nazareth had been good. HANDSOME FAMILY 9/14, ABBEY PUB There aren't many other bands for whom a live album would be such a wholly different animal from a studio recording. Former Chicagoans Brett and Rennie Sparks are a songwriting powerhouse: their best tunes (and that's a lot of them) are simple, stark, and archetypal and yet instantly recognizable as their work, no matter who's singing them. But in concert, they frame those songs with a full-fledged performance, sniping at each other like the married couple they are and leading the audience repeatedly down the garden path with carefully disjointed shaggy-dog stories. They've never set out to capture this vibe on an album, but in July the Digital Club Network released Live at Schuba's Tavern, culled from a December 2000 show. The set list draws heavily on Through the Trees and In the Air, arguably their best albums, and the audience is downright rapturous, engaging in the banter and blather like a hometown crowd--which for a few more months it would be. In April the duo also released Smothered and Covered, a collection of covers, outtakes, and demos; it's for sale only on their Web site and at shows. CREATION 9/17 & 9/18, BEAT KITCHEN Rock historians for as long as there have been rock historians have had a tendency to paint every development as natural and inevitable. And mainstream histories, in particular those of the 60s and 70s, often bear traces of a smug conviction that everything turned out exactly right: why naturally the people who sold the most records were the most talented! The cream always rises to the top, no? Of course there are holes in this notion everywhere you look, presuming you're looking, and the Creation fell through one of them. In their prime they were a tight, innovative, high-tension mod outfit that could hold their own with fellow mods the Kinks and the Who; guitarist Eddie Phillips was among the first to use controlled feedback, and in 1964 started sawing at his guitar with a bow, a trick Jimmy Page would later adapt. But squabbles between Phillips and singer Kenny Pickett destroyed the band, and they were out of the running by 1968. (The two apparently made peace--and an unreleased album--in the 80s, but Pickett died in 1997.) The lineup here features Phillips, Bob Garner (who started out on bass and took over on vocals when Pickett left), latter-day Buzzcocks bassist Tony Barber, and (from what little info I could sniff out) Kevin Mann, who's played recently with Alternative TV, on drums. Though they're said to be recording new material, the set list draws heavily on the oldies, including "Making Time," whose inclusion on the 1999 Rushmore sound track is in good part responsible for renewed interest in the band. Reportedly the band will spray paint a canvas during the set--something Pickett started doing while the band performed its biggest hit, "Painter Man," in the 60s. No word on whether they'll set it on fire afterward (the other half of the gimmick). LUNA 9/19, EMPTY BOTTLE Luna are the midcareer midlist author of indie rock: every work is consistent and reliable, and if you liked the last half-dozen albums, you'll probably like the forthcoming EP Close Cover Before Striking (due next month on Jetset). Dean Wareham's sweet chiming guitar makes them the perfect band for folks who find Yo La Tengo too noisy and weird. Can't argue with its flawlessness, but the only song I can remember when it's over is the cover of the Stones' "Waiting On a Friend."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.