RILO KILEY 3/7, SCHUBAS Saddle Creek's getting pretty broad-minded in its old age: new signees Rilo Kiley aren't from Omaha or even the midwest, but from Los Angeles, of all places. Still, there's no El Lay glitz on their second album, The Execution of All Things--this is diffident indie pop with the occasional organ line or fuzz guitar growling underneath to provide a dose of existential angst. Front woman Jenny Lewis's singsong voice has a deceptively innocent quality to it, but her eccentrically phrased screeds hint at apocalypse and alienation. Put one of these tunes on a mix tape for someone special, and get an icy "What exactly did you mean by that?" in return. This show is sold-out. SIN ROPAS 3/7, HIDEOUT Husband and wife Tim Hurley (Red Red Meat, Califone) and Danni Iosello recorded most of their haunting second album, Trickboxes on the Pony Line (due in May on Sad Robot), in Germany. The disc is full of guitar squeals, heavy chanting, and quiet percussive rioting, giving the loose and intuitive Perishable Records aesthetic a brittle European edge. Live the duo trade off on a huge array of instruments, the better to reproduce this swirling ectoplasm. Lanterna and A Whisper in the Noise open. WALTZ V 3/8, METRO Each year this all-star jam draws together even more unlikely bedfellows, and each year it takes in even more money for the Neon Street program for homeless youth. For the fifth edition many of the regulars are back: co-organizer Nicholas Tremulis, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin, Kelly Hogan, Alejandro Escovedo, Jon Langford (whose Joe Strummer homage will undoubtedly top the Grammys'), maverick composer David Amram, and Kurt Elling. First-timers include Mavis Staples, the reclusive Ian Hunter, David Johansen (performing a rare reprise of New York Dolls material), Graham Parker, Neko Case, bluesman Hubert Sumlin, and avant-punk icon James Chance. THE RACE 3/9, EMPTY BOTTLE This local band is building a healthy buzz on the strength of its second album, The Perfect Gift (Flameshovel), which wears its introversion like a badge of defiance. The affected norm for so many young bands these days is public glibness, private torment--and, like all fashionable affects past and present, it's produced some damn fine music and some dire crap. What places the Race closer to the former is partly their sense of space and partly Craig Klein's poignant voice--being able to sing really does help, kids. CALEXICO 3/10, ABBEY PUB Having built their reputation on unrelentingly lovely southwestern soundscapes, Joey Burns and John Convertino branch out again on their new album, Feast of Wire (Quarterstick). The horns and percussion that once were decorative now seem absorbed into the body of the music, and the vocals that used to lurk in the recesses of the mix now sometimes come to the fore. Recording in lil' ol' Tucson, the band has developed a sound that evokes all the lonely places of the world and not just its own little corner. Calexico is touring as a six-piece band; Nicolai Dunger opens (see Critic's Choice). FRUIT BATS 3/12, FIRESIDE BOWL This Chicago-based band, originally a side project of the late and underrated I Rowboat, released a sweetly sprawling debut on Perishable in 2001 in collaboration with front man Eric Johnson's sometime playmates in Califone. Two years later, and now signed to Sub Pop, Johnson, Dan Strack, and Brian Belval sound like they've been hit by the melody truck--or at least tapped gently by the bumper. Many of the songs on their second album, Mouthfuls, are infectious hootenannic clap-alongs, from the bloozy squat of "Rainbow Sign" to the cheerfully bitter "When U Love Somebody." But they also prove themselves capable of the fragile, late-Velvets guitar trill of "Magic Hour." I have a hunch this band will never be a side project again.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Emily Wilson.