ELLIOTT 4/25, FIRESIDE BOWL For its third album, Song in the Air (Revelation), the Kentucky quartet Elliott scrubbed away the last trace of its punk past, then invited Christian Frederickson of the Rachel's to drape a lofty string arrangement atop its overwrought homage to a quarter-life crisis. At least back in the 70s they could blame hyperemotive onanism like this on cocaine abuse. MR. AIRPLANE MAN 4/25, BEAT KITCHEN Guitarist Maggie Garrett and drummer Tara McManus have constructed something slinky and kinda subversive out of their shared fascination with African percussion and Howlin' Wolf (they named themselves after one of his songs and cover at least two others). These cuties are fresh-faced enough for American Idol, but the raw blues they devote themselves to was born in places fresh-faced cuties would never have frequented way back when. Yet as irresistible as their raunchy guitar boogie can be--Garrett's fuzzy slide guitar is first-class--the highlight of their second album, Moanin' (Sympathy for the Record Industry), is a spare, spooky version of the traditional "Jesus on the Mainline," in which the duo's voices overlap in a pining, trembling, mountain-gospel sort of way. DEAD TO FALL 4/26, FIRESIDE BOWL Local label Victory Records doesn't discriminate against any loud-fast-rules subgenre--pop punk, hardcore, thrash, you name it, it's all good. They've even put out Everything I Touch Falls to Pieces, the debut from Dead to Fall, a local quintet that, despite its affection for the hardcore scene, has never claimed to be anything but metal. There's a Scandinavian touch to the band's drear-toned, mordant guitar harmonies and delicate acoustic instrumentals, and the lyrics are delivered in a glottal growl that belies the band's suicide-note fatalism. New Jersey's Shattered Realm share the bill. MIDSTATES 4/26, PRODIGAL SON Just a couple years ago I was kvetching about the dearth of good psychedelic rock in Chicago--the excellent Grimble Grumble seemed to be about it. That situation seems to be remedying itself, and it's not even all Steve Krakow's doing. The local band Midstates released their first full-length, Shadowing Ghosts, this past January, and in a town more amenable to trips the soaring rushes of guitar that rise out of their chamber pop would flourish. SHOES 4/26, ABBEY PUB Forever associated with the heyday of power pop (around the time many of its current practitioners were born), the home-state heroes Shoes were releasing new material on their own Black Vinyl label (an early and long-lived example of DIY) as recently as 1995. But concerts were always few and far between, though the core of the band--Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, and Gary Klebe--reunited for an LA show under the auspices of International Pop Overthrow back in 1999. For this show, part of the current IPO festival, the quartet shares the bill with, among others, the Shazam, who appeared on the 2001 Parasol tribute comp Shoe Fetish, covering the classic "Hangin' Around With You." MIKE DOUGHTY & DAN WILSON 4/27 & 4/28, SCHUBAS Former Soul Coughing front man Mike Doughty has been working slowly and carefully on his second solo album, and he's using this tour to try out new material for it. The two cuts I've heard on a sampler demo, particularly "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well," are funky in a rootsy sort of way, and they're put across with the laid-back confidence of an established pro. Dan Wilson of Semisonic, who's coproducing Doughty's record, is working on a new solo album of his own. The melancholy of the piano-driven Wilson songs I've heard should serve as a nice counterpoint to Doughty's new stuff. These concerts are part of a series celebrating Schubas' 14th anniversary. +/- 4/27, ABBEY PUB James Baluyut of Versus played all the instruments on this project's eponymously titled debut, but +/- is a real band now, with Chris Deaner on drums and Baluyut's old bandmate Patrick Ramos on guitar. The new EP, Holding Patterns (Teenbeat), is subtler and more delicate, though a quiet tension vibrates beneath the surface, and the band lets out an occasional roar. A full-length is scheduled for a fall release.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brian SantoStefano.