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ENON 5/16, METRO Brainiac guitarist John Schmersal took a break from music after the band's front man, Tim Taylor, was killed in a car accident in 1997, but he reemerged two years later with a new project, Enon, named after a small town in his native Ohio. Begun as a solo affair, Enon developed into a full-fledged band once Schmersal moved to New York and hooked up with two members of Skeleton Key; the resulting albums were full of crunchy electronic postpunk. The group's current lineup, which features bassist Toko Yasuda (formerly of Blonde Redhead) and drummer Matt Schulz, crafts much smoother and cooler electropop on the new Touch and Go EP In This City. (The enhanced CD features a remix of the title tune by Dalek, a definite high point.) But while Yasuda's serpentine bass lends a human touch, the band sounds like it spends all its time amid brushed aluminum, blue neon, and smart drinks. I suggest a road trip (not a flight) back to Ohio and an extended period of drinking beer out of cans. The Faint headlines; Schneider TM (see Critic's Choice) opens. This show is sold-out. FLIN FLON 5/17, EMPTY BOTTLE Flin Flon is one of the many musical projects spearheaded by Mark Robinson, head of Teenbeat Records and late of Air Miami and Unrest; the trio had a mad burst of productivity from 1998 to 2000 and has been coasting ever since. Those old albums are pretty sweet though, particularly A-OK (whose songs are named after northwestern towns), which mines all the obvious possibilities of arpeggiated guitar chiming. And though there's less of it, the newer stuff is just as strong: on the 2002 compilation Chicoutimi, they disguise their uneasy clatter as pure pop, but the results are as hard to get used to as any openly "experimental" creation. IMMORTAL LEE COUNTY KILLERS II 5/17, SUBTERRANEAN On their 2001 debut, The Essential Fucked Up Blues, the Alabama-based Immortal Lee County Killers--Chetley "El Cheetah" Weise on guitar and vox and Doug "the Boss" Sherrard on drums--cranked out a version of Delta blues that somehow remained true to its red-clay and steel-guitar roots no matter how violently the amps distorted. The Immortal Lee County Killers II (El Cheetah plus one J.R.R. Token on drums and vox) made their bow this February with Love Is a Charm of Powerful Trouble (Estrus), which generates the same fierce rhythmic clamor as the previous disc but adds some of the supernatural trappings of its old-time influences. And the new single on the Spanish label Safety Pin, a live version of "Sympathy for the Devil" with Nebula's Eddie Glass on guitar, hints at the possibility of making blues-based rock 'n' roll the devil's music once again, freed of all that family-festival museum-quality baggage at last. TSURUBAMI 5/20, SCHUBAS; 5/21, EMPTY BOTTLE At the invitation of local zine and label Galactic Zoo Dossier, Makoto Kawabata (probably best known as the guitarist at the center of Acid Mothers Temple, though he's also done time with Mainliner) brings a few of his bandmates, including keyboardist Cotton Casino and drummer Hiroshi Higashi (and their own band, the Pardons), to town to jam with various Chicago tripmeisters. On Tuesday, Stinking Lizaveta and the Plastic Crimewave Sound share the bill; on Wednesday the opener is evocative noise-folk trio Spires That in the Sunset Rise, which is about to release its eponymous debut on GZD. As with much such tranced-out, body-painted, open-field deep psych, these musicians are playing for their own edification, following paths toward a destination they're as unsure of as anyone. But I find that with this lot, the trip is generally worth it. JUDAH JOHNSON 5/21, DOUBLE DOOR The spacey, progressive pop meditations of this young Detroit quintet are a bit out of step with the prevailing sound of its hometown. There are so many lush details flying from all directions on the band's first full-length, Kisses and Interrogation (Flameshovel), the sensory overload had me wondering if the music was really moving forward at all or if that was just an illusion caused by aural vertigo. MASTODON, CEPHALIC CARNAGE 5/21, FIRESIDE BOWL With their 2002 full-length, Remission (Relapse), Mastodon (made up primarily of Today Is the Day veterans who relocated from Rochester, New York, to Atlanta) deliver on the promise of the previous year's EP, Lifesblood. In fact, if they keep at it, the way they're going they could someday unite every subfaction of metal that's ever existed into some kind of supernoval apotheosis. Well, almost every subfaction--speed is not the point with these guys, and there's no nu-metal bluster either. At their mathier moments they still contain elements of Maiden and Metallica, and the guitar trill on "Crusher and Destroyer" even suggests Chuck Berry; gorgeous double leads diverge and reentwine on the lovely "Ol'e Nessie," and the bestial breakdown on "Where Strides the Behemoth" chugs along at a nearly subsonic depth. The veterans on this bill, part of the Relapse Records North American Contamination tour, are the Colorado-based Cephalic Carnage, who've been at it off and on for ten years, and whose third full-length, Lucid Interval, released last year, is as cerebral as it is brutal; this could be the work of a prog band that fell off a plane into the ugly forest, hitting every tree on the way down, and front man Lenzig sounds like he's singing at 16 rpm while the band plays at 33. Rounding out the package are Dysrhythmia, whose jagged, Albini-recorded Pretest came out in March, and Uphill Battle. DAMIEN RICE 5/21, SCHUBAS Young Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice has picked up quite a following in his native land, billed second only to Coldplay at a recent festival and scoring an Irish gold certification for his debut album, O (released in the U.S. this spring on Vector, around the same time his new EP, Woman Like a Man, came out in the UK). Now on his first U.S. headlining tour, he'll present his exquisitely fragile songs (which contrast nicely with a friendly and unprecious persona) in a suitably naked format: just him and his guitar.

SOLACE 5/21, THE NOTE Solace were once known as Godspeed, a garden-variety major-label metal band straightforward enough to open for Dio. But they renamed themselves in 1997 and emerged as a powerful stoner-rock force. Their second album, 13 (Meteo

City), is respectably deep and rich and unexpectedly hooky, though I wouldn't call them standouts in the field just yet. Cuts like "Theme" evoke the quiet, deeply spaced-out side of Sabbath, and the band covers both Pentagram ("Forever My Queen") and Agnostic Front ("With Time"). Headlining are the Rubes, weird and restless jazz-thrashers generating much buzz with their first album, Hokum (Underdogma); this tour finishes up at the Emissions Festival in Youngstown, Ohio. BEN HOLLIS 5/22, FITZGERALD'S; 5/23, HEARTLAND CAFE Ben Hollis--of Wild Chicago, 190 North, and Ben Around Town--dips his fingers in the blues-pop pie with his debut album, Live Your Life (Beachaus). Unsurprisingly, it sounds like a TV guy with a band workhorsin' around, with some nice instrumental moments that don't add up to a whole lot. But music is hardly the point with this collection of wordy zingers and melodically arranged patter on marital strife, liberal angst, dating, and paranoia. (The most emotionally wrenching ballad is about a woman who's cut her pretty hair.) Either you enjoy Hollis as a "personality" or you don't. But at least he can sing. These are release parties.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Scott Kinkade.

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