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Friday 20

AD ASTRA PER ASPERA Cubic Zirconia (Big Brown Shark), the 2004 EP from this Kansas band, isn't really as difficult as some reviewers seem to think. The pop surfaces that cushion its bendy turns and sudden springs are comfy, friendly, and familiar, like an heirloom sofa with big cabbage-rose upholstery--the metaphorical couch in question just happens to be flying through space. The music doesn't do much to expand the scope of indie art-rock, but touches like the chiming harmonies on "The Sun Sets on the Chalk Pyrmanids" are quite evocative. The Narrator opens, Yah Tibla La Blu plays second, and 7 Inch Wave plays third. 9:30 PM, Buddy, 1542 N. Milwaukee, 773-342-7332, $6-$10 donation. --Monica Kendrick

BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET Though he was always in the long shadow of his brother Wynton, saxophonist Branford Marsalis was one of the few high-profile jazz players during the 80s who hadn't been around since the 50s. He got attention for playing with Sting, serving as the first musical director of the Jay Leno-era Tonight Show, and dabbling in hip-hop. But the way he's focused his craft in recent years is more notable: since 1999 he's led a superb quartet with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, and the explosive drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, his regular collaborator for a quarter century now. They don't radically push the tradition forward--in fact, their latest release is a CD-DVD package built around a 2003 performance of Coltrane's A Love Supreme in Amsterdam, and their 2002 disc, Footsteps of Our Fathers, was repertoire-oriented. But those albums prove how deeply connected they are; few bands operate so intuitively and at such a high level. Typical sets mix Marsalis's stealthy originals with well-chosen jazz standards that go beyond the familiar Monk-Ellington-Parker songbook. 8 PM, McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, Park and Fawell, Glen Ellyn, 630-942-4000, $48. All ages. --Peter Margasak

MELK THE G6-49 Listening to Melk the G6-49's Glossolalia (Joyful Noise), it's almost impossible to believe that there are only two musicians in this Indianapolis band, playing bass and drums. Somehow they've found a way to get all the power of a quartet, complete with a resident guitar hero and a mad-scientist electronicist, without having to deal with two extra guys in the van. I suppose it's fair to peg them as another abstract-noise-rock outfit in the vein of the Melvins, Thrones, or Godheadsilo, but that's a bit like saying all sculptors who work in marble are alike. It's not the material, it's how you shape it, and Melk the G6-49 creates a terrible beauty with their up-and-down, quiet-yet-menacing dynamics. On (take a deep breath) "The Instantaneous Mobilization of All the Resources in the BURROW and All the Forces of My Body and Soul," the extended build-back-up-and-fade that closes the track takes you somewhere fresh and cold where the grass is the wrong color. Behold! the Living Corpse headlines; Conifer plays third, Melk the G6-49 plays second, and American Heritage opens. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $5. --Monica Kendrick

MIC ONE WITH DJ RISKY BIZNESS & THE BAND The liner notes to This Is Me (Liberte), the 2003 album by local MC Mic One, say his songs reflect "my thoughts, my experiences, my feelings." But he has a habit of recycling other artists' concepts: his personification of hip-hop as a woman on "Why U Wanna?" is a nod to Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R."; "Chemically Enhanced," his celebration of drugs and excess, is reminiscent of Eminem's "Drug Ballad"; and "Suicide Note," the morbid penultimate track on the disc, echoes Notorious B.I.G.'s self-loathing "Suicidal Thoughts," the finale of Ready to Die. And his appearance--blond locks, blue eyes, carefully sculpted facial hair--is more Backstreet Boy than B-boy. But his punch line-heavy lyrics ("Mic's so def I come equipped with closed caption") are more entertaining and have more irreverent wit than most commercial hip-hop, and he reportedly shifts into other genres onstage, scattering Radiohead and CSNY covers among his own tracks. The band for this show includes a drummer, guitarist, bassist, and violinist performing alongside DJ Risky Bizness; Mic One also plays acoustic guitar. Cefore X. Plosives opens, the Cankles play second, and Reap plays third. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. --Kabir Hamid

BRENDAN MURRAY, DAVID GROSS On his most recent album, Resting Places (Sedimental), Boston-based computer musician brendan murray constructs beautifully haunting soundscapes that reconcile droning, bell-like tones and industrial hums with snatches of disruptive found sound: hazy metallic clangs, dark-alley rumblings, and what seems to be muffled heavy breathing. His pieces aren't linear, but they have a loose structure; placing the treated found sounds over the streaming electronic tones, Murray isn't creating conventional harmonies, but he takes pains to ensure that the parts don't contradict one another. Fellow Bostonian and Sedimental labelmate david gross is a saxophonist who improvises to create the same kind of microminimalist sound as another Bostonian, Bhob Rainey. Although Gross comes from a jazz background, these days his music rarely sounds recognizably saxophonic; he prefers to use the components of the instrument as unlikely sound makers. It seems like Gross blows air over the instrument, in addition to yelping through its metal tubes and making crumpling, scraping, padding, and lip-popping sounds. Robb Drinkwater opens. 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $5-$10 suggested donation. All ages. --Peter Margasak

OPEN HAND The kind of thick, polished guitar rock purveyed by this LA quartet always makes me think of airplane hangars: built on an awesome scale but drafty and usually empty. On their latest album, You and Me (Trustkill), the occasional interesting idea passes through--like the mildly trippy "Newspeak," with its whispery melody laid over chugging riffs--but even those are less sexy Concorde than FedEx cargo plane. Idiot Pilot opens and the Kinison plays second. 6 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

PLEASEEASAUR It's OK if you don't get Neil Hamburger, who headlines tonight--this Seattle act will all but assault you with audiovisual fancy you really, really can't miss. More extravaganza than band, Pleaseeasaur is J.P. Hasson's very closely guided tour of his own profligate imagination, rendered with video projection, costumes (the yeti suit gets a lot of stage time), and a DAT player full of music. DNA is extracted from pop songs, commercial jingles, and sitcom themes, then deliriously recombined in numbers like "Warning: These Cobras Are Totally Cool" and "Beef Flavored Island"; it's free-range delight Hasson's trying to sell you, and yes, you will buy. The new Pleaseeasaur live disc, Action Spectacular (Imputor), is a DVD--maybe the only format that can do this stuff justice. See Critic's Choice on Hamburger in Comedy, Section 2. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 21

QUEER IS FOLK FESTIVAL Underrated local singer-songwriter Scott Free hosts this annual pre-pride month celebration of queer boys and girls with guitars. Two highlights: Nedra Johnson adds a richly orchestrated hip-hop flourish to the traditional wry-angry-political lesbian confessional, and on The Billy White Acre Sessions (Fang), Dudley Saunders brings an eerie, smoky, hallucinatory mountain air to his hard-bitten songs of struggle and recovery. Jill Sobule headlines. Also on the bill: Shelley Miller & Anthony Whitaker, Coat with Libby Reed, and Namoli Brennet. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20 in advance, $22 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 22

BARBEZ These New Yorkers are most easily filed in the art-rock bin, though they prefer to call themselves a "punk chamber ensemble," and that seems more apt. There's not much Barbez couldn't play if they wanted to: the six members have worked with Brian Eno, the Boredoms, Bang on a Can, and Arnold Dreyblatt, among others. Devastatingly good theremin soloist Pamelia Kurstin plays that much-admired, much-maligned instrument like a sci-fi violin, with an almost classical tone and seriousness; Russian-born dancer and singer Ksenia Vidyaykina has powerful pipes and a sort of eerie superfeminine presence. Their third album, Insignificance (Important), forthcoming in August, hones their previous all-over-the-placeness into a hair-raising force: they harness the elements of the Brechtian declamatory style and bursting-at-the-seams Gypsy frenzy to create a sharp-angled sound that's also capable of sinking into a haunting quietude. Spires That in the Sunset Rise headline and Dylan Posa plays second. 9 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $5 in advance, $7 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

DAUGHTERS This booze 'n' tattoos hardcore gang was supposed to put out a split release with the Chinese Stars--another aggro Rhode Island band, with former members of Arab on Radar and Six Finger Satellite--but that plan fell apart thanks to "personal matters," according to the Daughters' Web site. Back at the drawing board, they're working on a follow-up to 2003's Canada Songs (Robotic Empire), a bag of flaming hot shit flung on your porch--rude, juvenile, and in-your-face in a way you can't ignore. HeWhoCorrupts plays third, Doomriders play second, and Torche opens. 5 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages. --Liz Armstrong

HEADPHONES A side project of Pedro the Lion's David Bazan and Tim Walsh, Headphones is quite a departure from that band: using only simple synth melodies and live drums from Starflyer 59's Frank Lenz, on their self-titled debut (Suicide Squeeze) they drip prettiness all over an awfully bleak worldview. The lyrics are dour and almost casually cruel, describing both love affairs and whole cities as equally ephemeral and expendable; I think my favorite is "Hello Operator," which reprises the conceit of "Memphis, Tennessee" and turns it into an almost cheerful fantasy of telecommunicative murder. Lenz is sitting out this tour; Walsh will play drums. Gray opens and the Crystal Skulls play second. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

MICHAEL J. MILES Local musician and educator Michael J. Miles is a walking repository of music history with a knack for drawing odd but illuminating connections. He's written and performed theater revues on such topics as the influence of Africa and Ireland on American song, propaganda and rhetoric (using examples from the likes of Big Bill Broonzy and Stevie Wonder), and how Chicago is reflected in music. His latest album, New Century Suite (Right Turn on Red Music), features collaborations with jazz singer Jackie Allen and banjoist Bela Fleck, among others; the record also includes studies of bottleneck guitar and the 19th-century banjo and renditions of pieces by Bach and Richard Thompson. a 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 23

MARY TIMONY Retreating from the Middle-Earth ditties that marked her 2002 disc, The Golden Dove, Mary Timony toughens up her act on her latest, Ex Hex (Lookout)--a stripped-down duo recording filled with songs where she grapples with broken connections and relationships that linger too long, it recalls her early work in Helium. The tunes are powered by the busy drumming of Devin Ocampo, which leaves Timony free to range widely on guitar, unleashing stinging riffs that at times sound like distilled Sonic Youth. That approach doesn't always enhance her drifty melodies--they get smothered on the more ferocious, stomping numbers--but "In the Grass," which replaces guitar with keyboards, has a lyrical glow. And on the best songs, like the jagged "On the Floor" or the ebbing and flowing "Return to Pirates," the combination of delicate melodies with aggressive guitar and drums makes for some nice tension. Telenovela opens and the Medications play second. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 24

DOVE This Florida trio has an unassailable heavy-music pedigree: singer-guitarist Henry Wilson used to play drums with 90s sludgecore pioneers Cavity. Dove's most recent release, a self-titled full-length from 2003, is head-spinning--the herky-jerky riffage sounds like High on Fire would if they never stuck to a chord or beat for more than two seconds. New Jersey bong rockers Solace headline this show, part of Chicagostonerrock.com's Premature Emissions festival; also on the bill are Ocean, who play third, and openers Test-Site, a Milwaukee band whose sound channels both Ride the Lightning-era Metallica and Black Flag. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $5. --J. Niimi

Wednesday 25

LOUIS XIV I think I'm supposed to find Louis XIV's The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (Atlantic) really, really sexy. But musically the band's smarmy glam pop, equal parts T. Rex and 70s Stones, is strictly snoozeville, and the incessant racy wordplay makes the boys sound like they're trying way too hard--which as everyone knows is the death of sexiness. So as a turn-on, this is up there with fraternity drag parties, that 90s trend where women started smoking cigars, and the cover of Loverboy's Get Lucky. On the title track of the previous Louis XIV release, the Illegal Tender EP, singer Jason Hill manages some of Bon Scott's greasy foppishness--except that when Scott sang about statutory rape he at least sounded convincingly pathological (not to mention hilarious), while Hill has his hands full just trying to sound legal himself. Ladies and Gentlemen open; Caviar plays second. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $11 in advance, $13 day of show. All ages. --J. Niimi

PINATALAND Local accordionist David Wechsler and Brooklyn-based guitarist Doug Stone, who sing and write Pinataland's songs, have staked out territory in an almost unpopulated genre--historical rock. On Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 1 (Mekkatone), the first Pinataland album, they commemorate the 1929 stock market crash; a hapless Congolese Pygmy named Ota Benga, who in 1906 was put on display in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo; and Mathias Rust, the teenage West German pilot who landed a Cessna in Red Square in 1987. Wechsler and Stone could easily have hit you over the head with the comedy and tragedy inherent in this material; instead they opt for a restrained gentility that dovetails with the nonspecific antiquity of their arrangements, which augment rock instrumentation with pedal steel, tuba, and violin. 8 PM, Chicago Dramatists Theatre, 1105 W. Chicago, 773-458-4555, $10. All ages. --Bill Meyer

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