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Friday 27

ARCHAEOLOGY On last year's self-released EP Slow and Gifted, this local four-piece seems to be actively dodging the question of what kind of indie rock it's playing. The band often starts a tune in a King Crimson state of mind, tracing wide epicycles of sound as though it were possible to play a guitar like a Spirograph; by the time you realize there are vocals, though, that momentum's been funneled into the type of screamo from back when that stuff was just called Bitch Magnet. These guys execute their evasive maneuvers with finesse, and I get the feeling they're underplaying big-time--which, besides being utterly anathema to all the varieties of indie rock they're hopping between, is also sorta charming, like finding out your favorite metal guitarist hates pot. You might peg this as math rock, but the math involved is the kind used to design skate parks and pleasingly abstract 80s video games like Q*bert and Conquest of the Crystal Palace. Q: Why do they call them slide rules? A: 'Cause they rule! This is a record-release show for Archaeology's new single. The Bound Stems and Van Allen Belt open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --J. Niimi

CALAVERA Cejas, the front man of this bone-rattling psychobilly monster, started living his rock 'n' roll dream in his hometown of Tijuana in the late 70s, then moved to LA to join up with the joyously eclectic Mexican-American punk scene there. He founded Calavera in 1995, and though the band isn't prolific in the studio it's constantly taking its gleeful Day of the Dead aesthetic on the road: hollow-body guitars, upright bass, and what sounds like a two-piece drum kit, all played fast and dirty. Calavera's third full-length, the new Plaga de Rock (Dr. Acula), features a guest appearance from Demented Are Go front man Mark "Sparky" Phillips. The Deadcats, the Massacres, the Boneyard Brawlers, and Rigor Fallus open. 7 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

COAL MEN This Nashville trio is heartland generica to a T, right down to its radio-friendly Traveling Wilburys twanging. But after repeated listens its first full-length, Nowhere's Too Far (Vaskaleedez), reveals some hints of a developing richness and maturity: front man Dave Coleman has a way with a smoldering ballad, and his poignant, flirtatious guitar licks rescue the songs from total blandness. Jason Benefield opens. 9 PM, Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood, 773-465-8005, $7. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

ORBERT DAVIS SEXTET When jazz fans around the world think of Chicago, they think of great bassists, grand pianists, and towering tenor saxists--but we haven't had a strong crop of trumpeters since Ira Sullivan and Lester Bowie left town back in the 60s. That's one reason Orbert Davis commands attention, but only one; you might also take note of his influence on younger players, who are already forming a solid pack behind him. On last year's self-released Blue Notes, he delves into his roots with a collection of classic tunes and several redolent originals, his hot-butter solos and swaggering arrangements evoking the seminal Blue Note hard bop of the 60s. Davis's current group consists of veteran saxist Ari Brown and four terrific younger musicians, including ferocious pianist Ryan Cohan. See also Saturday. 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10. --Neil Tesser

HEAD OF FEMUR The songs on Hysterical Stars (SpinArt), Head of Femur's second album, frequently sound fit to burst. This time around the three guys at the core of this Chicago orch-pop collective--singer and guitarist Matt Focht, keyboardist and drummer Ben Armstrong, and guitarist and bassist Mike Elsener--surround themselves with an even bigger crew of accompanists than they did on their 2003 debut, Ringodom or Proctor, setting their airless pop melodies to dense symphonic arrangements. Fortunately the band sounds more sure-footed, not just better staffed, and the songs are less indebted to stale indie-rock verities--but they still haven't learned to take a breath every now and again. Focht delivers his verbose lyrics in a sprint--even on ballads--and though the thick layers of brass and strings are meticulously placed and executed, they tend to gild the lily. It's hard not to admire Head of Femur's Brian Wilson-esque ambitions, but I wish I had an opportunity to hear these songs without the glitz. This show, a record-release party, won't be it: a 21-piece group will play the album in its entirety. Mark Mallman plays second and Devin Davis opens. 10 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Peter Margasak

PROCUPINE TREE Deadwing (Lava) is the first album of new material from this British outfit since 2002's In Absentia, and every time I listen to it I'm reminded of the days before "prog" became a swearword. It started out as a pretty innocent idea: an attempt to liberate rock 'n' roll from stifling, dumbed-down simplicity without sacrificing any of its energy. I'm all for simplicity in rock, believe me. But over ten lengthy tracks Porcupine Tree manages to restore the dignity of music that's ambitious in all the right ways. The songs unfurl like spreading wings, and gentle melodious flourishes lurk in the shadow of mountainous metal riffs--front man Steven Wilson must've learned a thing or two from his longtime working relationship with metal innovators Opeth. Gods help me, I don't hear a note anywhere that doesn't have some kind of beauty to justify it. Oh, and Adrian Belew guests on the record. 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $18.50 in advance, $20 at the door. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 28

ORBERT DAVIS SEXTET See Friday. 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10.

KIM HIORTHOY Well-known as the graphic designer responsible for the strikingly minimal and abstract covers that distinguish the releases on the Norwegian label Rune Grammofon, Kim Hiorthoy also makes electronic music--and it's considerably busier and denser than his visual art. On 2004's Hopeness (Smalltown Supersound) his whimsical music-box melodies resemble those of Boards of Canada and early Aphex Twin, but the ways he deliberately scuttles the proceedings are compelling and entirely his own. Sometimes his self-sabotaging approach is simple and abrupt--as when synth and piano melodies stop dead in their tracks and resume in a new direction--but there are also more satisfying moments when found voices, jagged clusters of programmed beats, short samples, or pleasant countermelodies enter the fray. Proswell headlines; Mark DeNardo and Tobias open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Peter Margasak

Sunday 29

GIRAFFES, THE BLUE VAN The Blue Van is a Danish band with a knack for re-creating a certain scruffy-but-sweet brand of 60s rock--think early Kinks or ? & the Mysterians--and their full-length U.S. debut, The Art of Rolling (TVT), driven by Soren Christensen's serpentine organ, has a savantish flair. New York quartet the Giraffes is solidly rooted in the music of a half decade or so later: its crunch-boogie fake-primitive hard-rock sound is inspired by Deep Purple and Mountain, though it's still pop inflected. (They're capable of using more contemporary metallisms when it suits them, but it rarely does.) They've been around since the late 90s, but on their self-titled fourth album (their first for Razor & Tie) they seem newly determined to expose their old dinosaur bones to the rapturous gaze of rock archaeologists--they're a delightful find. Local H headlines, the Giraffes play second, and Blue Van opens. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12. --Monica Kendrick

KISSINGER I know there are more bands out there than there are good names to go around, but jeezus, Mr. Power Is the Great Aphrodisiac is the last thing I want to think about while listening to trash rock, which this Austin quartet produces a swaggery, slightly affected but still-affecting version of. On their latest album, Me and Otto (WCI), the tug-of-war between faux-bitterness and indie earnestness is a bit distracting, but the band's slyly sardonic tone and narrative flair eventually won over. The Like Young headlines and Mike Downey opens. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

SPIRALING In an era of aggro rock, aggro rap, and aggro toothpaste, Spiraling's upbeat keyboard-and-harmony-driven pop probably won't move many units--or shift many paradigms, for that matter. On its latest release, the Challenging Stage EP, the New Jersey four-piece continues to build off the work of precursors like XTC and They Might Be Giants: the songs are well plotted, the arrangements are crafty, and the melodies are palpable. Nothing here is quite as catchy as the bouncy title track from their 2002 CD, Transmitter, or their juiced-up cover of "Bye Bye Love" from the recent Cars tribute Substitution Mass Confusion (Not Lame). But every time I hear another Cookie Monster hard-rock vocal on the radio, I'm grateful for anything a band like Spiraling decides to put out. Johnny Monaco headlines and the Renegades open. 8:30 PM, Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, 773-549-5549. $5. --J. Niimi

Monday 30

BANDA EL RECODO This group from Mazatlan, Mexico, is the 800-pound gorilla of banda, the wild, brass-driven dance music you're sure to hear if you stand on any corner in Pilsen long enough. Banda has influenced countless groups of all stripes: alt-rockers Cafe Tacuba have dabbled in it, the club auteurs in the Nortec Collective have sampled it, and the popular LA hip-hop duo Akwid have surrounded their tracks with it. Founded by Don Cruz Lizarraga in the 50s, Banda el Recodo expanded the genre by assimilating all sorts of regional Mexican and Latin American styles, like norteno, polka, merengue, and even salsa; played on a truckload of brass instruments, the songs are propelled by spastic drumming and unwieldy tuba bass lines. The genre gained widespread popularity in the 90s, and though Lizarraga died in 1995 while on tour in Europe, the group's soldiered on, bringing new pop styles into the mix. They're not the juggernaut they once were, but their fleet, high-energy music is still like little else out there. The group headlines a Memorial Day celebration with Los Morros del Norte, Alacranes Musical, Dinastia de Tuzantla, and Grupo Canaveral. 1 PM, Plaza Garibaldi, 2600 S. California, 312-559-1212, $26. All ages. --Peter Margasak

VERTONEN The drone's the thing for local Blake Edwards, who performs and records as Vertonen. His 2004 album Return of the Interrobang (CIP) was fittingly packaged with all-black artwork--a persistent sense of dread lurks in his hovering electronic 'scapes. "Toroidal Circulation 1 & 2" rolls slowly; crystalline layers of low-end rumble and suspense-film hum create a delicious tension that Edwards refuses to resolve. The more aggressive "Burn the River" plasters rhythmic sequences of sirens, harsh squelches, and splattery white noise over another floor-rattling foundation. This show, which opens a two-week tour, was supposed to coincide with the release of Edwards's third full-length, but the album isn't finished yet. He says this performance will likely favor the sound of "Burn the River" and take advantage of the Bottle's PA to amplify the stomach-churning bottom end. Jason Talbot headlines, Bloodyminded plays third, Vertonen plays second, and Insect Deli opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 31

THE DUDLEY CORPORATION On its second album, In Love With the Dudley Corporation (Absolutely Kosher), this Dublin trio perfects its formula: songs start out suggesting that what you've got here is a group of mellow, poetic, fragile types, then wallop you with a wall of power chords. The 14 tracks on the album are tightly structured, making their romantic and hooky points and skedaddling on, usually in less than three minutes. That zippiness is surprising and impressive, considering how the lyrics linger on details: "What a Human Does" opens with "The little reflexes in your eyes when you laugh / The way your iris expands, it takes a second for me to adjust." Pinback headlines and Pit Er Pat plays second. 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $13 in advance, $15 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 1

AVRAM FEFER & BOBBY FEW Reedist Avram Fefer and pianist Bobby Few have just released two albums: Kindred Spirit focuses on tunes--most of them by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, along with some Fefer originals--while Heavenly Places (both are on Boxholder Records) features three extended improvisations. But despite their different concepts, the records share a tender tunefulness and structural rigor. Few, a Cleveland native, played with Albert Ayler and Booker Ervin before moving to Paris in the late 60s. There he began a long collaboration with soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, and though Lacy often worked in abstract territory, he provided the perfect context for Few's melodic voice and arrestingly deep harmonic palette. He plays in the U.S. rarely, so these performances with Fefer shouldn't be taken for granted. a 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630, F A; and 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, with openers Trevor Watts & Jamie Harris, $15, $12 for students. --Peter Margasak

GLASS CANDY This trio from Portland, Oregon, got off to a good start with its 2003 debut, Love Love Love (Troubleman), a sneering and sexy deconstruction of glam and new wave, but the album ultimately suffered from a touch too much pomo pretension. They haven't released much since, so it's hard to tell if they've matured. But "Life After Sundown," a disco remix of a track from their upcoming full-length, is a promising stopgap. A new drummer joins singer Ida No and guitarist Johnny Jewel on this tour; they've habitually sold limited-edition CD-Rs on tour and they plan to do it again this time around. Plastic Crimewave Sound, Far Rad, and Libre Non-Stop open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $8, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

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