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MICK FARREN 8/6, EMPTY BOTTLE Mick Farren has written more than three dozen books, including a tall stack of sci-fi and horror novels, and published reams of music criticism in NME and elsewhere--he's the UK's unrecognized answer to Lester Bangs and Philip K. Dick, with the notable advantage of still being alive. But because he was there, man, as the charming hairy freak fronting protopunk acid rockers the Deviants in the late 60s, he's still thought of as a musician who's written some books rather than as a writer who's made some records. Between bands in the mid-70s, he cowrote a few songs with Lemmy Kilmister, who was still in Hawkwind at the time, and a mid-80s reincarnation of the Deviants featured the MC5's Wayne Kramer, a longtime collaborator. Lately Farren has been focusing on spoken word, often under the Deviants banner. For his Chicago debut, headlining night three of the Million Tongues Festival, he'll be backed by the Plastic Crimewave Sound--the local band most likely to have memorized his oeuvre. ROGUE WAVE 8/6, BOTTOM LOUNGE This Bay Area quartet's debut, Out of the Shadow, recorded two years ago and released in early '03 on the band's own label, was just picked up by Sub Pop. Leader Zach Rogue's delicate pop songs are wry and sentimental, a little like XTC's, and Rogue Wave has a bit of that band's playfulness too--"Sewn Up" nicks from Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle." At times the hazy vocals, sweet if bumpy backup singing, and layered rustic-sounding guitars hint at the underbrushy mystery of early R.E.M., but with these guys you almost never get the feeling there's a band hiding in there that's itching to rock. A.C. Newman (see Critic's Choice) headlines. BLACK CAT MUSIC 8/7, BOTTOM LOUNGE October November (Lookout) is the fourth album from these Bay Area rockers, and though their raw, simple sound is rooted in punk, their songs have ambitious, almost epic structures (two tracks actually break the five-minute barrier). You can certainly hear this stuff as an homage to other punk bands that tried to slow down and branch out, like TSOL and Social Distortion, but in its grander, more elegiac moments it has a posthippie, prepunk romanticism that hints at early Sabbath--and more than hints at Neil Young. The Hold Steady headlines this three-band bill and the Like Young plays second. THE LATEST 8/7, SUBTERRANEAN This local band is celebrating the release of its self-titled full-length debut, which you can pay to download whole or in part at disclexington.com. (The vinyl is out on Peer Pressure Zombie.) The Latest's delightfully rubbery countryish rock, topped with a twist of Beefheart, would sound right at home at a drunken barbecue outside Austin. It's neither garage nor front porch--most trailers don't have either. MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY 8/9, METRO Another "supergroup" with a smug and in-jokey name, like Dinosaur or the Firm. This one's led by Glen Phillips, formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket, who with Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins, and Chris Thile of Nickel Creek recorded the mix of originals and covers on Mutual Admiration Society (Sugar Hill)--plaintive, populist indie country with a touch of light fiddle swing and a gracious self-awareness that never turns into ironic distance. In a reversal of the usual, the touring lineup is more interesting than the one on the album: it includes drummer Pete Thomas from the Attractions and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones (yes, that John Paul Jones), reportedly an admirer of Thile's mandolin playing. MAE SHI 8/10, mutiny; 8/12, EMPTY BOTTLE For the past few days my boyfriend has been listening to King Crimson and occasionally complaining about the band's apparent unwillingness to stick with a groove for more than 30 seconds. LA's Mae Shi, who've just released Terrorbird (5 Rue Christine), has a similarly compromised attention span--but at least the quartet dispenses with the polite fiction that all the bits and pieces are part of the same song. The album has 32 tracks, none of which sound much alike--except the last five, which are all called "Repetition." The Pitchfork review says this straddles hardcore and no wave, but I don't know what got slipped into their jewel case. My copy sounds more like the Happy Flowers trying to write 80s Britpop hits--that is, when it doesn't sound like Dean and Gene Ween raised on cartoony Japanese girl pop and scratchy old Einsturzende Neubauten records. EMPEROR X 8/11, THRESHOLD MUSIC Onetime high school chemistry teacher Chad Matheny makes gently demented magic with a guitar and an array of rinky-dink vintage electronics. (A time line on his Web site, emperorx.net, lists the keyboards his grandparents gave him as Christmas presents in the 80s.) Mixing a little bit of electronica and a little bit of pop with a lot of singer-songwriter weirdness on Tectonic Membrane/Thin Strip on an Edgeless Platform (Snowglobe), he spins touching and funny snippets of inspired delirium (on "A Hole in the Earth's Spin Tone" he sings, "Wanna have fun but I don't wanna smell bad / Wanna take baths with the old-school showerhead"). This record-store gig in Tinley Park is his only local show; he also plays live on WLUW, 88.7 FM, at 5 PM on Tuesday, August 10. CRIME & JUDY 8/12, SCHUBAS This Milwaukee sextet's lineup includes three female singers, one of whom doubles on violin, and its new five-song EP, Vendetta Chants (Latest Flame), was recorded live last year in a 90-year-old movie theater that's been repurposed as a studio and rental venue. The music's jagged, trippy, jittery feel triggers all manner of late-80s and early-90s flashbacks (think Husker Du with chicks or Seven Year Bitch with fiddle), but despite the inevitable Sleater-Kinney comparisons occasioned by the powerfully buoyant double and triple vocal leads, what I'm hearing most of here is the orgasmic malice of early Siouxsie & the Banshees--particularly on the closer, "Lose Your Allusion."

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