The Treatment | Essay | Chicago Reader
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Friday 25

GRAHAM COXON, GOLDEN REPUBLIC You can tell from Graham Coxon's solo work that he's the one who led Blur away from sly Britpop and toward the Pavement-y indie rock of albums like Blur (1997) and 13 (1999). On his latest record, Happiness in Magazines (Astralwerks), the guitarist ditches the lo-fi aesthetic but still sounds decidedly scrappy. Every now and again he delivers a pop gem as fine as anything he did in Blur, but his boyish, punky vocals too often sound tossed off, and his lyrics aren't ever as clever as Damon Albarn's.

The Golden Republic, a quartet from Kansas City, Missouri, melds glam-rock with the plastic shine of new wave--and does justice to neither. Most of the songs on last year's eponymous debut (Astralwerks) sound like calculated ploys to make it onto the sound track for The OC, and what few memorable melodies there are don't survive the overwrought caterwauling of front man Ben Grimes. Golden Republic opens; the 22-20s play second. Coxon also plays a free in-store at 6 PM at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark; call 773-477-5994. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15 in advance, $17 day of show. --Peter Margasak

MARSHALL CRENSHAW My eyebrows shot way up last year when I heard that underrated pop songwriter Marshall Crenshaw was hitting the road with a reanimated version of the MC5, but from all reports he was quite a highlight. Crenshaw's just that versatile; he's touring solo behind his plangent 2003 album, What's in the Bag? (Razor & Tie), which places songs reflecting a stoic, lonesome mood next to unlikely but successful covers of Prince and Bootsy Collins. a 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, sold out. --Monica Kendrick

LOS LOBOS The cover art for Los Lobos's new album, Live at the Fillmore (Mammoth/Hollywood), is a Mexican-flavored send-up of Grateful Dead art, which reflects the group's recent decision to emphasize feel-good jamming over the innovations that marked albums like Kiko (1992) and Colossal Head (1996); their last few studio efforts have sounded like little more than excuses to stay on the road. For what it is, though, the stuff is good, effortlessly mixing blues, cumbia, ranchera, soul, and folk rock. The first pressing of the album includes a bonus CD of three acoustic tracks, and for this tour the band's going largely unplugged, which suggests the set will showcase the Latin American side of their music, as featured on albums like Del este de Los Angeles (2000) and La pistola y el corazon (1988). 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $20-$50. All ages. --Peter Margasak

DEXTER ROMWEBER DUO A lot of recent press about Dexter Romweber attempts to draw a straight line from his old band, Flat Duo Jets, to the White Stripes, but that does a disservice to those mid-80s North Carolina terrors. There are certainly a lot of garage-rock bluesabilly Johnny-come-latelies who sound more extreme than Romweber's current duo does on last year's Blues That Defy My Soul (Yep Roc). But I'm hard-pressed to think of any who sound more committed. Johnsons Big Band opens. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 26

LUNGFISH Dischord bands aren't as easy to pin down as some people make them out to be, and that's certainly the case with this Baltimore quartet, which rarely tours: Lungfish's 2003 album, Love Is Love, still its most recent release, is a study in sweaty, dense indie rock gone psychedelic. There's a blue-collar manner in the way they try to keep their muscular riffs and hooks economical and pointed, but they also sound like they're ecstatically cracking the cosmic egg. The Eternals and Red Eyed Legends open. a 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $12. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

OZRIC TENTACLES Reviews of Ozric Tentacles often cite modern rave influences, but except for a few details, I'm not hearing anything by this English outfit that couldn't have been lifted straight from a Nektar or Guru Guru album circa 1974. And that's a very, very good thing. The fantastic stoner futurism that defines space rock has become hip again, though it still defies mass appeal; acidhead yammerings are much less market friendly than giggly, cuddly, ecstasy-fueled trances. You can sample it at its best on Ozric Tentacles' recent two-CD best-of, Eternal Wheel (Snapper). Tracks like "Wob Glass" sound weighed down by their dance beats, and it takes some serious rocket-ship guitar to boost them out of the stratosphere. But be patient: whether the band takes four minutes or eleven, it eventually gets to a different galaxy. Lotus opens. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $17 in advance, $20 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

SOVIETTES What the Minneapolis-based Soviettes lack in originality they make up for in energy, fun, and brevity, which befits a band that records for a label cofounded by Billie Joe Armstrong. The title of their second album, LP II (Adeline), is somewhat ironic: only three of the fourteen songs on the EP-length disc crack the two-minute mark. But that means that none of their punk-pop rave-ups wear out their welcome, and the quartet constantly changes up its vocals (both male and female), and shuffles songwriting duties. The Methadones headline; the Arrivals, the Phenoms, and the 4-Squares open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. --J. Niimi

UMPHREY'S MCGEE The fourth studio album from Chicago's most successful jam band, 2004's Anchor Drops (SCI Fidelity), shows off their main flaw and main talent: their pacing is shit, but their rambling is ace. Check your backpack for remnants of last year's festivals before you go in: they devote a lot of real estate on the news page of their Web site to their anti-glowstick crusade. Rjd2 opens. 6:30 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, $25. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 29

WILLEM BREUKER KOLLEKTIEF Saxophonist and composer Willem Breuker was arguably the first ambassador for madcap Dutch jazz in America. His Kollektief, which began making regular trips here in the mid-80s, is a well-oiled machine, deftly mixing visual gags with deep swing, free jazz, Weimar-era cabaret, and classical themes. Any version of the loose ensemble usually contains nearly a dozen players, but Breuker's arrangements make it sound even bigger, and most of the members are killer soloists. Unfortunately his recent affinity for more serious, compositional writing has reduced the improvisational elements in his music, which has resulted in a growing number of torpid recordings. Their shows are still vaudevillian, but Breuker hasn't done much to update his live approach, and the last few times I've seen them, the shtick felt tired. Still, with the amount of firepower they have there's bound to be a surprise or two. Day Dream Full Lifestyles open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Peter Margasak

Wednesday 30

APPLESEED CAST This unusually artful band--no emo act has ever had more Pink Floyd in it--has been in something of a holding pattern since the 2003 release of Two Conversations (Deep Elm). But they've got a new drummer, Nathan Richardson of the now defunct Casket Lottery, and are reportedly working on new material. Chin Up Chin Up and Sybris open. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

TONY BUCK ENSEMBLE Berlin-based drummer Tony Buck loves to toy with sound, whether he's extracting ominous gonglike tones from his cymbals, dragging a string of shells across his kit to create a gentle stream of soft-focus crackles, or treating his percussive thwacks with electronic fuckery. But no matter how abstract things get, Buck rarely surrenders the pulse. Last year's superb duo album Durch und durch (TES), recorded with German trumpeter Axel Dorner, is determinedly amorphous--a milky haze of sibilant breath, electronic sputtering, and metallic clatter--but a distinct heartbeat persists. Rhythm takes center stage when he plays with his best-known project, the Australian trio the Necks, who reduce jazz to hypnotic minimalist grooves that Buck's drumming holds together. For his first Chicago performance Buck is joined by local bassists Kent Kessler and Nate McBride. He also performs solo and with Jim Baker (see today's Treatment item) Thursday 3/31, 9 PM, at 3030, 3030 W. Cortland; call 773-862-3616. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 31

MONO There's an implicit divide in the noise-music community. On one side are those who hear abstracted sounds as acts of provocation, hostility, and nose thumbing; others believe those same sounds are beautiful, harmonious, and capable of expressing all sorts of ineffable but powerful notions. I mostly side with the latter camp, and I'm pretty sure the Japanese band Mono does too. Last year's Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (Temporary Residence Limited), recorded here with Steve Albini and a local string section, is almost neoclassical: the tracks are intricately arranged and more than a little funereal. Mono rarely tours North America, but happens to be back in town working on a new disc, a split with Pelican slated for release this summer. Eluvium and No Funeral open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

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