KEVN KINNEY 1/16, SCHUBAS Most of the players on Kevn Kinney's Broken Hearts and Auto Parts (Evil Teen, 2002) come from the current lineup of his long-running Athens group Drivin' n' Cryin', but don't be fooled: this is definitely a solo act. Though he's fallen in with a jam-band crowd (his last two records were produced by Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule, for whom he's opened a lot of shows), Kinney plays down-home singer-songwriter music so sparse and unpretentious it's practically needy--like he's ensuring that you appreciate him for himself by removing everything else from the picture. THE KINISON 1/17, FIRESIDE BOWL They once cut a demo called I Hate Black Sabbath, but these Illinois-born, LA-honed shriekers don't see anything wrong with blatantly ripping off Brian Johnson-era AC/DC on much of their untitled debut EP (on Fearless). The remainder is that aggro-proggo stuff acts like At the Drive-In play--both reasonable enough style choices for a band that can't seem to think of its own ways to rock. THE LIKE YOUNG 1/16, FIRESIDE Husband and wife Joe and Amanda Ziemba, who've played together in Wolfie and Busytoby, strip it way down for their new project's debut, Art Contest (Parasol). While their previous outfits had some cloying moments (hours, in Wolfie's case), the Like Young's power-pop sound is lighter than air, unadorned and almost innocent--it's as though they've gone back in time to rejoin their first band. And if titles like "Even if It's Getting Late," "Snobs and Slobs," and "I'm Old Fashioned" hint at a creeping curmudgeonliness, that in itself's a welcome change in such a Peter Pan genre. NOE VENABLE 1/17, CHICAGO THEATRE Though touring with Ani DiFranco (tonight's headliner; see Critic's Choice) and They Might Be Giants, among others, has raised this Bay Area songwriter's profile some, she seems committed to the DIY path. The World Is Bound by Secret Knots, her fifth album all told, is the third on her own Petridish label. It's marketed via word of mouth and available through her Web site (noevenable.com), and it's pretty great. At first Venable comes on a bit waifish--ghostly Sally singing frail love songs to Jack Skellington in the moonlight--but her limber voice and surprisingly sturdy melodies make a strong, flexible frame for her ethereal pagan poetics. PIT ER PAT 1/18, FIRESIDE BOWL This local trio released an EP last year as Blackbirds, but it turns out the copyright for that name belongs to Joan Jett. So it's as Pit Er Pat that they've signed with Chicago's Overcoat label. Their sneaky, meter-shifting art-pop sound is built around the singsong voice and mordant electric piano of Fay Davis-Jeffers. The Unicorns headline (see Critic's Choice). METRO NIGHT SCHOOL 1/20, METRO This Tuesday-night series, sponsored by college radio stations WHPK, WRDP, and WLUW, dangles a $2 cover and $2 drinks in front of the broke-ass student market, so don't expect everyone in the crowd to be able to tell you who's playing. This week's bill features front people from a bunch of well-liked indie bands--Elizabeth Elmore of the Reputation, Bob Nanna of Hey Mercedes, Alkaline Trio's Dan Andriano, Motion City Soundtrack's Justin Pierre, and Darren Spitzer of the Changes--playing short solo sets. MAYBE CHICAGO? RELEASE PARTY 1/22, DOUBLE DOOR This show, sponsored by WLUW and the Criminal IQ and Proto-Mersh labels, is a bash for the latter's new comp, Maybe Chicago?--a title that reads nicely as a faux-tentative challenge to Detroit's garage-rock supremacy. We've got the mighty Baseball Furies (who headline here), after all, and also the Functional Blackouts, who've just released a killer dump of crashing trash on Criminal IQ. It's the real thing through and through, from the metallic sludge of "Bombs Away" to the very-early-Cramps homage "Doin' the Dog" (which sounds dirty enough to actually be about bestiality) to the jackhammery "Stamp Out Techno." Also on this bargain of a bill are Vee Dee, Miss Alex White, and the Manhandlers; experts from Horizontal Action magazine will DJ.