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Friday18

COMAS Conductor (Yep Roc), the third album by the Comas, is a record about heartbreak, and the inclusion of a song titled "Tonight on the WB" initially suggests it's not a very substantial one; anybody who's suffered through twentysomething shadow-puppet theater and lived to snark about it won't want to hear its aural analogue. But this North Carolina band transcends its soap-operatic thrashings by mixing up its sound: knowing when to pop and when to rock out is the key to maintaining interest across a whole album. Vietnam and Parker & Lily open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick

TUEY CONNELL I'm not sure what possessed Tuey Connell, who's best known as a banjo virtuoso, to cut a record like Under the Influence (TuConn Music), a respectable collection of mostly piano-bar jazz standards meant to showcase his pleasant but nothing-special vocals. Levee District opens. 9:30 PM, Hog Head McDunna's, 1505 W. Fullerton, 773-929-0944, $6. --Monica Kendrick

ALVIN YOUNGBLOOD HART Critics peg Alvin Youngblood Hart as a rootsy bluesman, but rootsiness can be a complex thing. Robert Johnson spiced his performances with everything from polkas to pop tunes, and Hart's oeuvre accommodates western swing, electric urban blues, and covers of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Captain Beefheart. An inventive guitarist, he regularly improvises on blues chord structures and scales, and as a singer he's capable of shifting away from the swampy sensuality of down-home tradition. On his most recent album, 2002's Down in the Alley (Memphis International), he returned to the Mississippi Delta, attacking blues and folk chestnuts by Charley Patton, Son House, Leadbelly, and others with a blunt urgency that makes them sound like modern-day dispatches. Rory Block headlines. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $22, $18 seniors and kids. All ages. --David Whiteis

LES GEORGES LENINGRAD The purposely half-baked ideas on this Montreal outfit's previous record, Deux Hot Dogs Moutarde Chou, made it tough to swallow, and their charmingly retarded "petrochemical rock" fell a little flat last time they were here. On the new Sur les traces de Black Eskimo (Alien8), fuzzy bass, shimmery keyboards, and spacey ringlets of tart 'n' twangy guitar surround Poney P's vocals, which have three distinct modes: pained yelling, tortured screaming, and bobcat-in-a-cave howling. But overall the album is less rickety and more dancey than its predecessor, with its standard-issue disco beats either ridiculously blown out or so dead and muted they sound like they're being played through a pillow--the band shouldn't have trouble keeping the crowd moving this time. The Dirty Things open. 9 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages. --Liz Armstrong

SANDRA LUNA The world recognizes a lineage of tango instrumentalists, from Juan D'Arienzo through Astor Piazzolla, to Juan-Jose Mosalini, but the best-known tango singer outside Argentina remains Carlos Gardel, who died in 1935. Sandra Luna is poised to change that: her album Tango varon (Times Square) earned a Grammy nomination last year, and its title alone ("male tango") indicates that she's not content to merely preserve the tradition. Her singing can be throaty and dramatic as well as diminutive and lyric, and she nails a combination of classics and new compositions--both traditional and progressive a la Piazzolla--backed by bandoneon, guitar, and well-deployed orchestral swells. This gig marks her Chicago debut. 7 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $25, $15 students. --Peter Margasak

Saturday 19

BRAZILIAN GIRLS Neither Brazilian nor all girls, this New York quartet creates melanges of international sounds that prove you don't have to live in Europe to be Eurotrash. But their self-titled debut (on Verve Forecast) has a textured density that makes for more rewarding listening than most albums of this sort. It seems to help that they defined their sound during a lengthy residency at an artsy downtown New York club; instead of merely assembling tracks, they prioritize a spirit of collaboration. Preston Klik's Ritual and DJ Madrid open. 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $11, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

I LOVE YOU BUT I'VE CHOSEN DARKNESS I imagine this Austin group, in picking their name, is either competing for some sort of prize with their neighbors . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead or riffing on the old, sad Jonathan Richman song "Let Her Go Into the Darkness." A self-titled 2003 EP, produced by Spoon front man Britt Daniel, was a dark, moody bit of reconstructed dance-rock that relied more than a little on the trilling, stretchy guitar sound the Edge would be struck dumb without. A new 12-inch single comes out later this month. Grizzly Bear and L'altra open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 22

KINGS OF CONVENIENCE The Kings of Convenience's first album, Quiet Is the New Loud (2001), blatantly advertised the intentions of this Norwegian duo, whose mission is to master every sweet pop genrelette that's best heard at low volume. That album and the new Riot on an Empty Street (Astralwerks) have some pretty chamber pop as well as some awfully Nordic-sounding attempts at bossa nova, but the Kings do best with poetic, evocative folk. When they deliver lines like "Love comes like surprise ice on the water / Love comes like surprise ice at dawn," the similarity to Simon & Garfunkel is uncanny. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, sold out. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 23

PANDELIS KARAYORGIS TRIO Boston-based pianist Pandelis Karayorgis rarely performs in Chicago, but perhaps that will change now that Nate McBride, his longtime bassist, has moved here; he's in town now to record with McBride and the superb drummer Randy Peterson. On that trio's most recent recording, Blood Ballad (Leo), released in 2001, Karayorgis synthesizes the styles of Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano, and Andrew Hill in wonderfully dense and dark improvisations, melding carefully burnished, sorrowful melodies and mile-deep harmonic movements. Thanks to the nimble rhythm section, songs collapse and resurrect themselves with striking fluidity, gracefully swinging one moment and splattering in free time the next. But the trio never loses its control of the music. Karayorgis also plays an all-ages show Thursday with saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Frank Rosaly, 9 PM, at Lux Gallery, 3036 N. Lincoln, 773-857-6141, $5 suggested donation. 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118. Free. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 24

HEARTLESS BASTARDS On its debut, Stairs and Elevators (Fat Possum), this Ohio trio specializes in a raucous, molasses-thick, garage-boogie crunch. Front woman and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom has the kind of voice that deserves to be described in language employed by single-malt-scotch nerds, and it's the band's best asset; the songwriting isn't distinguished yet, though Wennerstrom's willingness to go it alone on piano for one song on the album is a good sign. Living Blue (formerly the Blackouts) and Addison open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

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