ANTENA Last year local label the Numero Group reissued the 1982 album Camino del sol by Antena, a short-lived French trio that put a gentle electronic spin on bossa nova; today, after Everything but the Girl and Stereolab, the band sounds remarkably prescient. Fronted by singer Isabelle Powaga, Antena mixed chintzy drum machines and washed-out synths with Latin-flavored hand percussion and faux-jazz guitar; the songs had a chill sophistication, but also a subdued, dark tone that put a damper on the stereotypical tropical shine. They were hampered by technical limitations and a lack of harmonic depth, but those shortcomings are exactly why the album sounds so distinctive--its lopsidedness makes it unsettling. The reissue includes a pair of revealing covers: "The Girl From Ipanema"--recast as "The Boy From Ipanema"--where a numb bass synth and robotic vocals transform the ubiquitous hit into something creepy, and a take on Michel Legrand's theme to Jacques Demy's 1967 film Les demoiselles de Rochefort that's bombastically cheery. After the band dissolved in 1983, Powaga launched a solo career as Isabelle Antena, shifting toward lightweight jazz-pop and straight bossa nova. Sylvain Fasy and Pascale Moiroud, the band's other founding members, won't be joining Powaga for this show; she'll play guitar and keyboards with a band handling programming and percussion. This is the first time she's played most of the Camino del sol material in more than two decades, and I'm curious to hear if she brings the slickness of her solo work to those wonderfully raw gems. 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $10. --Peter Margasak
AUTECHRE During the 90s no act did more to push electronic music from the feet up to the head than the British duo Autechre. On brilliant albums like Tri Repetae (1995) and LP5 (1998), they fractured and dissected synthetic melodies and beats, then cast them into increasingly complex and abstract shapes; by transforming the pounding, visceral pleasures of techno into vast chasms of sound and rhythm, their albums pleased the intellect as much as the body. But beginning with 2001's Confield, their music started sounding more like a masturbatory celebration of their programming prowess and less like something you'd actually want to listen to. They rein in some of those problems on the new Untitled (Warp): fractal beats still scatter like a piece of glass dropped on a floor, but there's a mix of formal rigor and floor-rumbling heft that's been missing from their recent work. Untitled still sounds regressive, though; instead of breaking out of their inward-looking slump with something original, they tried to replicate a classic Autechre album. DJ Rob Hall opens; SND plays second. 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $20, 18+. --Peter Margasak
MERCURY REV The Doves headline this show, but Mercury Rev is going to be the big deal for some fans--they're touring the U.S. for the first time in four years. This upstate New York band has flatlined more often than a Star Trek redshirt, but keeps coming back in a new and slightly refined form. The new The Secret Migration (V2) is an elaborate swirl of dreamy psych-pop crooning and suggestion that's both sad and seductive. "Black Forest (Lorelei)" aims for a nightmarish Teutonic landscape but instead conjures a rainy fairyland, and "Vermillion" conceals little indelible melodic flourishes under what sounds like a veil of bird sounds. In other words, it's what the Flaming Lips might sound like if they read more Romantic poets and fewer dadaist ones. 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, 18+, sold out. --Monica Kendrick
AACM 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION For this show, part of a series of events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, trumpeter Malachi Thompson pays homage to AACM cofounder Phil Cohran, 78, who played trumpet with Sun Ra, led the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, helped run the Affro-Arts Theater, and both fathered and taught members of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Thompson will be joined by reedist Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Harrison Bankhead, drummer Vincent Davis, and percussionist Kahil El'Zabar, whose kalimba playing in his Ritual Trio and other groups was directly inspired by Cohran. a 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $17, $15 students. --Peter Margasak
UNSANE, BLACKFIRE REVELATION Until this year's Blood Run (Relapse), punishment-rock trio UNSANE hadn't put out an album of new material since 1998. But a 2003 reunion and the subsequent release of a career-spanning retrospective, Lambhouse, must've lit a fire under these psychopaths. Plenty of posthardcore bands are more "extreme," but Unsane's hair-raising throb-and-scrape bubbles up through the thick crust of the New York grime and desperation that spawned the late-80s downtown scene (current drummer Vinnie Signorelli is a veteran of Foetus and the Swans, and original drummer Charlie Ondras played in Boss Hog). The Lower East Side's cleaned up considerably, of course, but the new disc still sounds like the product of many very bad trips involving mole people in the subways and improvised home surgeries.
Touring with Unsane is the New Orleans duo the Blackfire Revelation, whose EP Gold and Guns on 51 (Southern Reconstruction) is a sweaty object lesson in the meaning of "Keep it simple, stupid." They cover the Troggs and Blue Cheer fairly faithfully, and their own fuzzed-out, hallucinatory riffs have the wild-eyed doggedness of Tony Iommi and the visceral dirtiness of Iron Butterfly--the way these guys sound is the way the first caveman to get drunk must've felt. Volcano! opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick
LINK WRAY It's been 47 years since Link Wray's first hit, the menacing instrumental "Rumble," changed the face of rock 'n' roll by introducing the concept of intentional distortion. He's 76 now, and you could forgive the guy for kicking back and taking it easy, but when I saw him at the House of Blues in 1997 he was still bashing out his hits with an exultant savagery. At the Abbey Pub in 2002 his playing was just as raw, but the show took a strange turn when he started dishing out long, cranky rants about 9/11, presidential politics, and his Shawnee heritage. If nothing else it showed he's still unpredictable--no mean feat for a guy who's played "Rumble" thousands of times. The Silvermen open. 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $15. --Bill Meyer
BIRDS OF AMERICA, SAM FLAX KEENER A cross between Marc Bolan and a dove, San Franciscan Sam Flax Keener plays hippie glam jams with the dark, gentle serenity of a cult leader. Dressed like a gayer, more futuristic Freddie Mercury, he switches between guitar, saxophone, and keyboards in front of a backdrop of projected video--eyes crying prism teardrops, seedlings that sprout and then retreat back into the ground, an endless corridor of generic black-light op art. He also performs with Nat Russell in tonight's headlining act, Birds of America--Keener says their sweet, catatonic folk is based on "the eternal nature of life." Appropriate attire for this show: bonnet and glittery neckerchief. Sorcerybird opens. 8 PM, Diamonds on Archer, 3012 S. Archer, www.youngarcher.com, $5. All ages. --Liz Armstrong
CRACK PIPES This Austin band is justifiably famous--at least in certain circles--for its hairy and exhilarating garage blues, and on the brand-new Beauty School (Emperor Jones) they're still pounding out plenty of that. But they've always had a lot more to get off their chests, musically and otherwise (they've posted impassioned rants on their Web site from a "Baron Von Rock," with titles like "Why Every Night Is Saturday Night"), and on the new album there's a sweet and fragile croon of intimate anxiety ("I Was So Worried About You"), bits of rough, bouncing, off-kilter R & B, and even an old-school country-blues protest ballad ("Greensboro," about a 1979 demonstration in North Carolina where Klansmen shot and killed five activists). The Sunday Sinners headline; the Latest and Co-Co-Coma (a new band with members of Headache City and Stag Party) open the show. 10 PM, Cal's, 400 S. Wells, 312-922-6392, $5 suggested donation. --Monica Kendrick
MARS VOLTA It's startling to see an album like the Mars Volta's second full-length, Frances the Mute, appear on a major label like Universal: a deeply personal, idiosyncratic record with cosmic aspirations isn't the sort of thing I expect execs and A and R men to have the attention span for nowadays. The disc's overarching concept, based on a diary found by their late bandmate Jeremy Ward, has something to do with a search for family, but even if you're fluent in both English and Spanish you'll have a hard time teasing a linear tale out of the lyrics. Or the music: the band's balls-out stadium prog gracefully gives way to slightly stiff Latin-jazz grooves or spaced-out ambience, and you're never quite sure where in space you are during most of "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore." The music moves from one dream state to another until all of them run together on the massive closer, "Cassandra Gemini," which displays a meticulous, almost Can-like shamanism. See also Tuesday. 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
THEIVERY CORPORATION On its new album, The Cosmic Game (Eighteenth Street Lounge), this D.C. electronic duo takes the "and friends" route: guest stars David Byrne, Perry Farrell, and the Flaming Lips all get billing on the sticker. They acquit themselves just fine, but vocals have never been the point with these chill-out-meisters. Their metier is a nexus of languid trip-hop, romantic dance pop, and watery dub, but they're at their most wide-awake when they go Brazilian--if the berimbau is the new didgeridoo, it's about damn time. The really valuable guest stars on the record are Poi Dog Pondering's Frank Orrall and John Nelson, who play percussion. Those two will also play here, joining a horn section and guitarist-sitarist Rob Myers. 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $32.50, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
TIGHT PHANTOMZ Crazy When Wet (Southern), out May 16, is only the first full-length from this local power trio fronted by hyper guitarist Mike Lust. You'd never know it, though, from the band's well-developed rep, the product of last year's EP Nightfool and a relentless program of gigging. Aerosmith/ZZ Top-inspired Camaro rock like this never really gets old--except when it's played for winks by shucking-and-jiving mullet hipsters, and then it starts off that way. But despite Lust's oddly robotic cock-rock moves and the jokey titles, there's nothing too gimmicky or forced about Tight Phantomz' actual music: rolling car-radio licks propel "Hash Sisters" (a holdover from the EP) and "Stranded," and the fatalistic party anthem "Dancing on the Freeway" pairs well with the breathy, broody "Sorry, Baby." A dreamy instrumental cover (Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross") makes an especially nice final flourish. Bible of the Devil, Call Me Lightning, and Tornavalanche open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free. --Monica Kendrick
JOEY DEFRANCESCO TRIO It makes perfect sense that the final recording of the late Jimmy Smith should be under Joey DeFrancesco's name: though Smith invented the concept of organ jazz in the 50s, for the past several years DeFrancesco has been the undisputed exponent of that style--more so than Smith himself, whose failing health reduced his capacity. On the hard-swinging Legacy (Concord), released the week after Smith died in February, DeFrancesco had the good sense to avoid the circus atmosphere associated with dueling Hammond B-3s; instead, he mostly soloed on piano and left the organ spotlight to Smith. But the organ remains the instrument he was born to--he's the son of a locally prominent Philadelphia organist, "Papa" John DeFrancesco--and he plays with gusto, drive, and imagination that will thrill all but the most jaded fans of mainstream jazz. His trio, which includes guitarist Jake Langley and drummer Byron Landham, appears here in tribute to Smith. See also Wednesday and Thursday; the trio's run continues through Sunday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20. --Neil Tesser
MARS VOLTA See Monday. 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.
NEW YORK DOLLS Apparently David Johansen and Buster Poindexter really were two different people, because Buster claimed he'd never play a Dolls reunion show. Or maybe times have changed enough that the check-in/cash-in/peel-out game is no longer taboo, even for once aggressively outsider rockers. Besides any leftover scruples, the biggest obstacle to the New York Dolls' reappearance on the reunion circuit would seem to be that so many former members have gone on to the Great Makeup Counter in the Sky--four all told, most recently bassist Arthur Kane, who died only weeks after the group first re-formed at Morrissey's invitation for the Meltdown Festival in London last summer. That leaves just Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, who are now touring with guitarist Steve Conte (of Company of Wolves), bassist Sam Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks), drummer Brian Delaney, and some new material. The Living Blue opens. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $31. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
JOEY DeFRANCEScO TRIO See Tuesday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.
KATHLEEN EDWARDS, MARY GAUTHIER If you need proof of the continuing influence of Lucinda Williams--who made it OK for female roots singers to sound strong in a way that wasn't sassy--look no further than this bill. There's a bit of Williams's clenched rasp in Kathleen Edwards's otherwise delicate voice; on her 2003 debut, Failer, she was an assured practitioner of twangy folk rock, but she's toughened up on her new follow-up, Back to Me (Zoe). Edwards's lyrics lack William's precision and hardscrabble poetry, but whether she's fulminating over failed romances or asserting a steely independence, she delivers her homey melodies with raw conviction.
Mary Gauthier (pronounced "go-SHAY") wrote her first song at 35 after years of battling addiction, and her maturity might explain the poignancy in her lyrics, which tackle themes of troubled domesticity; her boldness sounds genuine. On her fourth album, Mercy Now (Lost Highway)--produced by former Williams collaborator and guitarist Gurf Morlix--she spends a lot of time confessing her old flaws ("I Drink") or wishing that people would forgive each other's, as on the title track. She has a tendency to speak-sing, which gives a dime-store melodrama to lines like "It's a cheap hotel, the heat pipes hiss / The bathroom's down the hall, and it smells like piss." But when she actually sings, the cracks in her weathered voice convey all the emotion you could hope for. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15. --Peter Margasak
JOEY DEFRANCESCO TRIO See Tuesday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.
FEVERS, HUMAN EYE The folks at Horizontal Action magazine like to start their weekends early, so this year's Blackout--three nights of garage rock and punk trash at the Empty Bottle--gets under way Thursday with a five-band bill capped by the fevers. (The Reigning Sound anchors Friday's lineup and the Pagans headline Saturday, but if you don't have tickets for those two shows already you're out of luck.) This Saint Paul power-pop trio recently released its second full-length, Love Always Wins (on the German label Alien Snatch), fresh off a fall tour with the 188.8.131.52.'s. For the most part the album is shamelessly bouncy and open-armed boyish bubblegum, but despite that superficial innocence these guys do sound like their grown-up teeth have come in. --Monica Kendrick
Detroit's Clone Defects broke up in 2003, and honestly I think that was a good idea--when Mitsubishi puts one of your songs in a TV commercial, it's time to take that money and do something so weird with it that a car company won't get within 30 feet of you. Clone Defects front man Timmy Vulgar now leads what he calls an "alien punk" band, human eye. Garage-rock guitar, fuzzed-out bass, and battered pop hooks are transmogrified by an injection of unhinged sci-fi garbage: overdriven keyboards, toy space-gun zaps, what might be a glockenspiel, and at one point a horrific squealing noise that sounds like the Sarlacc losing a battle with a bad gordita. Though the fun-house time changes and jerky, neurotic bass lines put Human Eye pretty far into Residents territory for garage rockers, the band pulls it off with its reckless speed and psycho creativity. --Ann Sterzinger
The Fevers headline and Human Eye plays third; Kajun SS, a quartet with King Louie and Jason Craft of the Persuaders, goes fourth, and the Shop Fronts and the Busy Signals open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15.