The Treatment | Essay | Chicago Reader

Friday 8

THE SOUTHLAND It's hard to keep track of all the crimes against taste this LA quintet commits on its debut, Influence of Geography (Ruffworld), between the rampant AORisms ("They're neon, the signs, they're burning in your eyes") and "Radio," which uses drug addicts and homeless people as a lyrical backdrop for twentysomething drama. Those are actually kind of the good points, once you hold them up against the lifelessly competent and relentlessly innocuous pop on the rest of the album--though for all its cheesiness, there's a nice, swank cover of "I Only Have Eyes for You." I do indeed hear the influence of geography, but Jim Morrison or D. Boon would have a hard time recognizing this neighborhood of LA. Clyde Federal plays second and Crackpot opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 10

BOB DYLAN His vaults are apparently inexhaustible. Next month Starbucks will start peddling Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962, while even more rare and unreleased cuts from the same era, of sure-to-be-varying quality, will appear on the sound track to Martin Scorsese's upcoming PBS documentary, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. Yet while these releases, along with Dylan's surprisingly plainspoken 2004 memoir, seek to make his back pages legible, his live show aggressively reinforces his old inscrutability, as he and the sharpest roots-rock band going revitalize his catalog by often rendering it unrecognizable. Willie Nelson plays second and the Greencards open. 5:30 PM, Alexian Field, 1999 Springinsguth, Schaumburg, 312-559-1212, $49.50, free for kids 12 and under. All ages. --Keith Harris

SHELBY LYNNE Though she made some fine albums early in her career, Shelby Lynne has sounded like she's in retreat ever since Love, Shelby (2001), her miserable, irony-free play at mainstream success. On 2003's Identity Crisis she favored Nashville cliches and settings that were either stripped-down or nostalgic; on the new Suit Yourself (Capitol), which she produced herself, she takes great pains to demonstrate her authenticity, throwing in lots of behind-the-scenes audio verite. The opener, "Go With It," starts with her talking about how a specific part of the tune should go, while the half-finished "You and Me" clocks in at less than a minute because, um, it's not finished. A casual vibe can be appealing if it sounds natural, but it doesn't here, and the studio chatter just gets in the way of the songs. That's a shame, because there's some good stuff on the album, like the dialed-down blue-eyed soul number "I Cry Everyday," a lovely cover of "Rainy Night in Georgia," and the twangy folk rocker "You Don't Have a Heart." When Lynne is on, she's tough to beat--hopefully the live setting will eliminate any desire on her part to oversell listeners on how real she is. Raul Midon opens. a 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $22.50. All ages. --Peter Margasak

TELENOVELA I loved Shelly Kurzynski Villasenor's old band the Puta-Pons, and the guitarist and singer's current group, Telenovela, is pretty special too. Their 2004 debut, The Broken Heart Is New (Vinahyde), refined the dueling-vocals postpunk that earned the Puta-Pons membership in a class with Delta 5, Liliput, and Sleater-Kinney--though Telenovela put more of an emphasis on vocal harmonies (from bassist Amy Malick) and brambly pop guitar lines. Shellac headlines, Silkworm plays third, and the Douglass Kings play second. This show is a benefit for Jackson Presley Diamond; see Section 1 cover story. 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $20. --J. Niimi

TINARIWEN Much ink has been spilled over Amassakoul (World Village), the 2004 breakthrough album from this Malian group, and rightly so. Tinariwen's music is rooted in the traditions of the Tuareg people of the southern Sahara, but the way the band's electric guitars echo blues, pop, and reggae is simply mesmerizing: recurring call-and-response choral refrains gracefully rise out of delicately interlaced guitar grooves, creating a sound that's familiar to Western ears yet arrestingly unusual. Their PR firm reports that Mali is currently suffering from drought and an invasion of locusts, forcing one member's family to seek refuge; has more info and links to the relevant support agencies. Their set is part of the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival; for a complete schedule see page 38. a 6:30 PM, main stage, Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside, 773-728-6000, $5 donation. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

WOODEN WAND & THE VANISHING VOICE James Toth, the leader of this free-floating collective, moved to Tennessee from New York City last year, but I doubt that'll make much of a difference in his group's core sound: even though they're a city bunch, their intuitive, semi-improvised psychedelic folk is wispy and pastoral, full of windlike and birdlike sounds and moving at a seasonal pace. Their 2003 album, Xiao, recently reissued on Troubleman Unlimited, is replete with eruptions of flute, ghostly shamanish female vocals, and an unconventional sort of wilderness Christianity ("Caribou Christ in the Great Void," "Cobra Christ of the Cabbages"). If Toth's new habitat changes anything, we'll know soon: the band has four full-lengths set for release between now and February. The Castanets headline and I Heart Lung plays second. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 11

50 CENT I wanted so badly to hate 50 Cent's new album. I mean, there are so many things to dislike about the guy: his lyrics are lazy, he raps like he's half asleep, his club singles are more slimy than sexy, and to whip up press for The Massacre (Interscope) he publicly laid into labelmate the Game right before its release. But I've got to admit that I've fallen under 50's spell, along with about a bazillion other people who thought they knew better. Despite all his limitations as an MC, he transforms cartoonish arrogance, a supreme sense of entitlement, and a smug aura of invincibility into real charisma--I guess I sorta understand now how so many folks can still think Dubya's a good president. Plus the new album's production is consistently excellent, with thundering, symphonic beats from the likes of Dr. Dre, Eminem, and DJ Hi-Tek. In fact, the only skippable tracks on this 77-minute monster are two of its lead singles, "Candy Shop" and "Disco Inferno." Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, D12, G Unit, Obie Trice, and Stat Quo open; Eminem headlines. 7 PM, Tweeter Center, I-80 & Harlem, Tinley Park, 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212, $52.50-$82. All ages. --Kabir Hamid

ZELIENOPLE, ODAWAS File Zelienople a few spaces away from Zoviet France, and not just alphabetically: like those cryptic British experimentalists, this local quartet is fond of drones, disembodied sounds, live-to-tape recording, and looming ambience. This show is a release party for its latest CD, Ink, on the Finnish label 267 Lattajjaa; the group employs guitars and tuned suspension cables among other instruments on the album, but damned if I can tell which is which. Get it while it's hot: Ink has been released in a numbered edition of 100, with spooky cover art to match the music inside. --J. Niimi

I don't know much about Odawas, but I wasn't shocked to learn that The Aether Eater (Jagjaguwar) is their debut recording: the album has the kind of sprawling stylistic ambition that usually comes from people who don't know any better. But though this Bloomington duo don't pull off everything they try, the record's fairly astonishing: the mostly acoustic tunes flutter gracefully from mood to mood, style to style, instrumentation to instrumentation. You get winsome Neil Young-ish ballads, Felliniesque soundscapes, swirling layers of psychedelia, and delicately warbled pop tunes, among other atmospheric confections, and the lyrics--whimsical little tales that mash up sci-fi and medieval themes--complete the mind-altering vibe. --Peter Margasak

Zelienople headlines, Odawas plays second, and White Light opens. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free

Tuesday 12

NEED NEW BODY, PIT ER PAT I'm sure the Philadelphia-based sextet Need New Body could be dangerous if they ever settled down, but they clearly don't want to: Why focus when you're rewarded for flinging around bits and pieces of pop tunes like a kindergartner who's had too many cupcakes? Their new album, Where's Black Ben? (5 Rue Christine), has a little bit of everything, not enough of any one thing, and overall feels like too much. Hopping arpeggiated prog parts, trilling banjo interludes, and faux-naif songs like "So St Rx," a tribute to Philly's South Street, may make for a great live party experience, but the songs don't hold up too well once the holy-shit factor is gone. Opening tonight's show (and closing tomorrow's) are the local trio Pit Er Pat, selling a new limited-edition four-song tour EP, 3D Message (Thrill Jockey). They use just electric piano, bass, and drums, but their music is far warmer and weightier than Need New Body's--they cradle and soothe you before pulling the rug. See also Wednesday. 9 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 13

NEED NEW BODY, PIT ER PAT See Tuesday. Pit Er Pat headlines and Need New Body opens. 9 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. All ages.

SPARROW The Zombies-worshipping outfit Zumpano is probably best known today as the band New Pornographers front man Carl Newman started out in. But Jason Zumpano, who played drums in the group that bore his name, hasn't lost his taste for classic 60s pop. Sparrow takes its cues from the Left Banke, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and other usual suspects from that era, and on its recently released third album, The Early Years (Absolutely Kosher), it dishes out lush orchestral arrangements, sweet vocal harmonies, and pleasant, pretty melodies. It's all perfectly nice, but I find it impossible to care. Zumpano never manages to eclipse his influences, and his nasal, watery singing style is the only element here that doesn't seem decades old--it's unmistakably a bad habit he picked up from indie rock. Plane and Get Him Eat Him open. 9 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $7. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 14

BOSSACUCANOVA Bossa nova has been electronicized and remixed for years, but few do it as well as this Brazilian trio: on its third album, Uma batida diferente (Six Degrees), Bossacucanova combines the best of 60s Brazilian pop with modern club sounds, making the melodic, smoky songs burble and bubble. These guys are a bit lacking in the soul department, but they have a light touch and don't insult your intelligence the way so many of these projects do. It must help that they get an assist on the album from veteran musicians like bossa nova songwriter Roberto Menescal, father of Bossacucanova bassist Marcio Menescal. The band performs as an eight-piece at this show, and Chicago Samba plays a "special after set." 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15. --Monica Kendrick

ROYALCHORD If all the alarm clocks in the world played Royalchord it probably wouldn't end war, but it might at least quash some morning road rage. I happened to hear "Sweet Satisfaction," a song on their self-released 2001 debut, I Gave You a Mountain, drifting from my clock radio one morning, and whatever the opposite of a rude awakening is, that tune provided it. Tammy Haider and Eliza Hiscox make up the core of this Melbourne band, but they're joined by other members in the studio and at live shows on their home turf; on last year's full-length, Nights on the Town (Cavalier), the group sounds like a swoonier, less shambolic version of the Cannanes. In fact, former Cannane David Nichols called them "scintillating, melodic, adventurous . . . the Go-Betweens of [today]," and he liked the Go-Betweens so much he wrote a book about them. 8 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $6. --J. Niimi

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