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Friday 15

RICHARD BUCKNER Richard Buckner has released six albums in the past 11 years while bouncing from city to city and label to label. He's based in Brooklyn now, and I hope he's found a stable stable at Merge Records, which last fall released his wonderful Dents and Shells, a brief but intense album showcasing his singularly dark brand of Americana. Buckner's sensibility is somewhere between Townes Van Zandt's and Simon Joyner's, but he's also studied the way John Fahey created atmosphere by letting his guitar strings resonate and adding a dose of abstraction to his songs. Buckner's one of the few acoustic-guitar-toting folkies who lets sonic textures speak as loud as his lyrics and melodies. Anders Parker opens. 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. --Monica Kendrick

MAYDAY Ted Stevens formed this band a few years after the demise of his late-90s outfit, Lullaby for the Working Class. On Mayday's third album, Bushido Karaoke (Saddle Creek), the chamber pop of his old MO gives way to tunes defined more by 60s spaghetti westerns and 50s rockabilly. Songs like "Standing in Line at the Gates of Hell" have enough artful, black-velvet campiness to make you think Stevens hails from LA and not Omaha, but I don't believe he's being willfully ironic; it's just that there's something stiff and stage-managed about his delivery, as if he's been cast as Stan Ridgway's understudy. Neva Dinova headlines and Canasta plays second. 10:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. --Monica Kendrick

HOLCOMBE WALLER Portlander Holcombe Waller has a unique biography--I can't think of another singer-songwriter who's studied advanced physics at Yale--but it's his God-given voice that sets him apart from his peers. It's a distinctively rubbery, stretchy, octave-challenging thing, and on his new album, Troubled Times (Napoleon), he wraps it around his odd, off-center songs in a way that's sometimes affecting a la Tim and Jeff Buckley and sometimes just downright distracting. It's occasionally better that you don't catch the words--"No Enemy" is an unconvincing appeal to Condoleezza Rice, and I'm not quite sold on the fishily regretful Jesus of "Literally the End of the World." But the album wraps up with some lovely benedictions, including "Hope Is Everywhere," which features a guest appearance by Mia Doi Todd. Pearly Sweets headlines and Willis P. Jenkins opens. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 16

BLOWFLY I don't know if Blowfly, also known as R & B songwriter Clarence Reid, truly is the "original dirty rapper" (surely that's an honor lost to the mists of time), but his long-running act certainly is blue enough--hell, it's practically ultraviolet. Fahrenheit 69, just out, is his first set of new, original material since 1988's Blowfly for President, and apparently he's made some indie friends in the meantime: the CD was released by Alternative Tentacles (or "Testicles," as his liner notes have it), the artwork is a hilarious send-up of a Bad Brains album cover, and foulmouthed young 'uns Gravy Train!!!! are among the guest stars. While joyously raw funk romps like "Your Precious Cunt" and toe-jam slow jams like "I Believe My Dick Can Fly" establish the baseline of Blowfly's concerns, you can also expect scatology, ugly-ology, booger-ology, and snide takedowns of the Oval Office and its occupants ("Cracker Yakking" parts 1-4). Depending on the type of people you invite, this record can either really get a party going or end it decisively. Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band, Jagoff, and DJ John Ciba open. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

LOVE AS LAUGHTER, OXFORD COLLAPSE Sam Jayne, the front man of New York's Love as Laughter, used to wreak havoc in the Olympia band Lync, collaborated with Beck on 1994's One Foot in the Grave, and sometimes helps out Modest Mouse--oh, what a fine indie-rock pedigree he has. And if his band's new album, Laughter's Fifth (Sub Pop), had come out a decade ago you might've been fooled into thinking he was onto something. But today the record just comes across as a rambling, sloppy hodgepodge of Neil Young dirges, shaggy pop, and classic-rock rewrites--"Dirty Lives" sounds an awful lot like the Who's "Substitute" with Stephen Malkmus at the mike.

Perhaps because Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse reaches back further--they're inspired by the kind of spazzy 80s art pop that for better or worse became the roots of indie rock--they sound refreshing, especially compared to Love as Laughter. The trio's new album, A Good Ground (Kanine), is front-loaded with splashy, out-of-control drumming, blurry yet hefty guitars, and vocals that remind me of the Verlaines' Graeme Downes at his most dissolute. If it had come out a decade ago you might've been fooled into thinking it was played out and unoriginal. But between their talent and good timing it's one of the most beguiling rock albums I've heard this year.

The Constantines headline, Love as Laughter plays second, and the Oxford Collapse opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $12. --Peter Margasak

Sunday 17

CAESARS Despite their obvious garage-rock influences, Sweden's Caesars are first and foremost a pop band, and they're enjoying a pop moment these days. The organ-stoked "Jerk It Out," which you've no doubt heard in a ubiquitous iPod commercial, actually dates back to 2002, first surfacing in the U.S. on the 2003 compilation 39 Minutes of Bliss (in an Otherwise Meaningless World). To capitalize on their recent exposure, they've put it on the new Paper Tigers (Astralwerks) too, mildly remixed. On the rest of the record, though, the band's backing out of the garage but not entirely sure where to go; the melodies are pleasant but rarely distinctive. The Caesars aren't slick, but in creeping toward a less idiomatic roar they sound increasingly average. The Sights and the Golden Republic open. 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12. --Peter Margasak

DECEMBERISTS Colin Meloy, a doof in a prep-school blazer who's compelled to warble polysyllables like "palanquin" and "chaparral" over lush strings and funkless horns, has improbably transformed drama-club rock into a thing of beauty. Amply gifted with wit in several senses of the word, he spins illusions so gorgeous that charges of hucksterism are beside the point. Of course no reasonable person wants to sing along to a song called "The Chimbley Sweep." But you will--oh believe me, you will. This show is part of the Intonation Music Festival; for a complete schedule see page 40. 8:30 PM, Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, www.intonationmusicfest.com, $15. All ages. --Keith Harris

OLD 97'S As the Old 97's steered their sound from country rock to power pop over the past decade, the tight and tuneful plaints and promises by swoony, inconstant heartthrob Rhett Miller remained the core. And that's true also of last year's Drag It Up (New West), the band's return to alt-country. The biggest change comes courtesy of guitarist Ken Bethea, who chooses to twang out brawny riffs rather than jangle out arpeggios. The Old 97's perform at Rock Around the Block; for a complete schedule see Fairs & Festivals. 8:15 PM, North Stage, Rock Around the Block, Lincoln and Addison, 773-665-4682, $5 donation before 5 PM, $10 after. All ages. --Keith Harris

PEPPERMINTS If you grew up thinking of the Fall and Melt-Banana as classic rock and dreamed of doing something similar but more out-there, you're not alone: San Diego's Peppermints had the same notion, and though they often fall short of their ambitions, they sound like they're having twice as much fun as most bands. The 18 tracks on their second full-length, Jesus Chryst (on Animal Collective's Paw Tracks label), buzz in and out like giant stinging flies: some are invigorating and inventive, some are slinky and slimy, some are little more than bashing and shrieking, and nearly all of them are gone just when you start getting used to them. The Gallows headline, the Peppermints play third, the Street plays second, and Careful opens. 10 PM, the Mutiny, 2428 N. Western, 773-486-7774. Free. --Monica Kendrick

Thursday 21

ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY These guys are sometimes taken for a straight-up southern-boogie revival band, and they could certainly be one if they wanted to. But they're so much more: they've grown weirder and deeper with each passing album, and last year's fantastic Fulton Hill (Relapse) is the apotheosis of bluesy space metal, a perfect fusion of Skynyrd and Hawkwind (particularly on "Struggling for Balance," the ecstatic 13-minute closing track). Their current tour with onetime hardcore band Corrosion of Conformity represents a truce between fan bases that used to beat the shit out of each other 20 years ago. Would that it were more peaceful, though: a brawl at the Tampa stop in June resulted in a man stabbing four people in the crowd--one of whom, Thomas Laskas, later died. Corrosion of Conformity headlines, Fu Manchu plays third, and Supagroup opens. 6 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $13.50 in advance, $15.50 at the door. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

EVA AYLLON Following three performances at last year's World Music Festival, the great Peruvian singer Eva Ayllon returns, still supporting 2004's Eva! Leyenda Peruana (Times Square/World Connection), the first major American release in her 30-year career. Susana Baca is the popular face of Afro-Peruvian music here, thanks to the savvy marketers at Luaka Bop Records, but Ayllon is a much bigger star in her homeland; while Baca mostly focuses on recording obscure historical songs, Ayllon has a broader repertoire. She can sing salsa and lusty boleros as well as anyone, but it's her sanguine take on rhythms like the festejo, vals, and lando that makes her a real treasure. 7 and 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $25 in advance, $30 at the door. --Peter Margasak

CAITLIN CARY & THAD COCKRELL With his solo albums and pompous stage antics, Ryan Adams has long overshadowed his former Whiskeytown bandmate Caitlin Cary, though until recently that wasn't much of an injustice: both were making mediocre records. But I was pleasantly surprised by the low-key country disc she released with some pals last year as Tres Chicas, and the country-rock songs on her new album with singer-songwriter Thad Cockrell, Begonias (Yep Roc), are even better. Their voices are gorgeously empathetic, achieving a nice Gram-Emmylou blend amid Pete Finney's lovely pedal steel caresses, and though their romantic originals don't depart from familiar country themes, they add a pretty, subtle strain of blue-eyed soul--without the cloying alt-country aftertaste. As a bonus, they give Percy Sledge's soul hit "Warm and Tender Love" a terrific twangy transformation. The Stone City Stragglers open. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Peter Margasak

DRESSY BESSY This Denver band plays up the mod shtick like it's, uh, going out of style--the far-out record cover, the CD printed to look like an old 45, the natty vintage threads. (Singer Tammy Ealom is pretty darn sassy in an A-line minidress and go-go boots, I admit, and the stubbly, Greg Brady-looking goobs behind her are . . . well, yeah.) Despite all this careful packaging, though, the tunes actually have a closer affinity to early-80s new-wave party pop like Holly & the Italians or Scandal (minus the keyboards). On the new Electrified (Transdreamer), the band's fourth full-length, they crank up the guitars and drown out some of the hooks, and Ealom vocalizes more often than she sings--but there are still a couple tasty transistor-radio nuggets, like the coy three-chord romp "She Likes It." Nine Black Alps, Say Hi to Your Mom, and Elizabeth Elmore open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --J. Niimi

KID KOALA Canadian turntablist Kid Koala made his name--and reached an indie-pop crossover crowd--thanks to a playful sensibility and a talent for building hooks out of whatever seemed to be handy at the moment: jazz, Hawaiian music, bluegrass. His latest release, Live From the Short Attention Span Audio Theater (Ninja Tune), is a CD-DVD set drawn from a recent tour; the CD is all of 16 minutes long, and the DVD compiles live footage of the same songs with a few short films. The packaging is lively and the performances are solid, but come on--I can pay attention for longer than that. DJ Relm and DJ Intel open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

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