SOUND ON SURVIVAL 4/22, 23, VELVET LOUNGE In the early 80s alto sax player Marco Eneidi left the Bay Area for New York, where he found his fortune on the free-jazz scene; opportunities to learn from Jimmy Lyons, Bill Dixon, and Cecil Taylor are nothing if not golden, and Eneidi developed a trusting, confident touch with a Coltrane-ish heft and solidity. He's been back out west for about ten years and appears in Chicago extremely rarely; this group is his trio with bassist Lisle Ellis (also a Taylor veteran) and drummer Peter Valsamis, who has a background in Mills College electronic music of the Pauline Oliveros/William Winant sort--meaning he's ready to push the role of the drums farther forward and farther out. LOW FLYING OWLS 4/23, BOTTOM LOUNGE These Californians went over well at South by Southwest, and I'll bet they've fit right in on bills with bands like the Warlocks and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Their second album, Elixir Vitae (Stinky), is lush and languid (if a bit earthbound) in its Syd Barrett aspirations, occasionally ramping up to a promising post-My Bloody Valentine feedback-and-organ roar. The reviewers who've compared them to the Stooges need to get out more, though--there's "wild" and then there's wild. OLD BLIND DOGS, JOHN RENBOURN 4/23, OLD TOWN SCHOOL Legendary fingerstyle guitarist John Renbourn went through the UK's compulsory postwar musician-training program--skiffle group, art school--before cofounding Pentangle, the jazziest and weirdest of the grand old British folk-rock bands. Playing largely solo over the many years since, he's developed a dense, almost rococo sound. Scottish folk musicians have been joining and quitting the Old Blind Dogs almost constantly since the group formed in the early 90s; this essentially trad act isn't so trad that percussionist Fraser Stone won't play a lot of djembe onstage. MARK E. SMITH 4/25, EMPTY BOTTLE In addition to the Fall's unceasing output over the past quarter century, front man/social critic/bullshit artist Mark Smith has also made a couple of spoken-word albums, Post Nearly Man and Pander! Panda! Panzer! As with his songs, you can't always make out what he's saying, but you know something good is going on in there. Smith broke his leg in February and canceled a good part of the band's UK tour, but the American dates are seemingly unaffected--if he's still in a cast for this spoken-word performance, be extra careful not to get kicked. The Fall proper plays Metro on the 24th. SNOW PATROL 4/25, EMPTY BOTTLE This Glasgow-based quartet should be ready to go from buzz to boom on its third album, Final Straw (A&M): the vaguely Pixiesish hard-pop songs have been tuned up to modern tricky-production specs, with Gary Lightbody's romantic croon draped over the top. But there's something unmistakably tentative here, too--the foot on the accelerator seems uneasy. CANASTA 4/26, EMPTY BOTTLE These locals get the most out of the unprepossessing songs on Find the Time, their self-released debut EP: they emphasize each melody as though nothing else matters, then use keyboards and violin to make sure no flourish or fill possibility goes unexplored. It makes for a lovely, lilting sound, and numerous local references place this chamber pop in the city we actually live in, not some idealized upper-crust bower. But even 17 years after Big Black got through with it, Kraftwerk's "The Model" is still in no shape to be covered. SEACHANGE 4/26, BOTTOM LOUNGE Matador's new UK catch, a six-piece from Nottingham, generates some compelling drama on Lay of the Land--lots of chiming and pulsing, with violin adding an otherworldly folkish undertow. Think Mekons meet Daydream Nation: lyrical, lusty, and literate. Some of it clicks instantly; elsewhere, a tantalizing hint of narrative helps ensure the repeated listening the songs require. TERMINAL BLISS 4/27, DOUBLE DOOR The Art of Seduction (Cloud), the first full-length from these Chicagoans, is a straight-up Depeche Mode-style clubbing 'n' crying sound track, and they hit all their marks flawlessly, like an impeccably made-up aging goth chick who's been doing the same funereal dance moves since Ian Curtis was alive. Except these guys are young, so they're more like the goth chick's adoring niece who dances like that too but doesn't know why. ELECTROCUTE 4/29, FIRESIDE Bowl Why settle for Brooklynites posing as Eurotrash when you can have the real thing? Nicole Morier, the American expat half of this Berlin-based team (which is coming off a tour with Peaches), is the daughter of a minor 60s cheese-pop songwriter, and the gene for catchiness turns up all over their debut EP, A Tribute to Your Taste (Emperor Norton). Yes, the duo's lascivious Casiobilly shtick can be basket-weavingly repetitive at times, but it's slinky and nasty and sticks to you like your shoes to the peep-show floor. If you've got a thing for bio-girls who can outdrag real queens, skip that Nia Vardalos movie and try this.