ELF POWER Elf Power's most recent album, last year's Walking With the Beggar Boys (Orange Twin), disappointed a few listeners. The band's trademark orch-pop whimsy got stripped down and a front-porch southern sensibility started to appear like old wood under peeling psychedelic paint. A guest appearance by Vic Chesnutt made things sound even more earthbound. But I thought it was an interesting move, and apparently they've made another: reports from the road say their new material has a Balkan/Middle Eastern feel. So if they're settling into comfortable middle-aged countrydom, they may not have decided on a country yet. The Living Blue and Moxie Motive open. 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick
JIMMIE DALE GILMORE On his new Come On Back (Rounder) Jimmie Dale Gilmore performs songs loved by his father, Brian, who died in 2000. Jimmie's own tunes tend to drift like so many tumbleweeds into metaphysical territory, so the honky-tonk classics he's assembled--Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan," Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On," Thomas Dorsey's "Peace in the Valley"--make for a more modest and prosaic effort. But he's clearly inherited his father's affection for these numbers, and his delivery serves as a reminder that he's always rooted in Texas soil no matter how spacey his music gets. Joe Ely's lean production helps make Come On Back the breeziest and most direct record Gilmore's made since the late 80s--the emphasis is on the efficient leads of guitarist Robbie Gjersoe and Gilmore's singular warble. Gilmore's son Colin opens. 7 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20. --Peter Margasak
THE MAE SHI, THE SHOW IS THE RAINBOW A review in the Austinist called LA band The Mae Shi a bunch of "dilettantes" and meant it as a compliment. It's as fair a summation as any: their latest hit-and-run album, Heartbeeps (5 Rue Christine), is as short (ten songs in just under 16 minutes) as their attention span, but almost every note they hit is golden, or at least glittery. "The Meat of the Inquiry" has a demented bluesy lope, "Spoils of Injury" is shiny new-wave pop, and "Eat the Prize" begins and ends with a guitar riff that reminds me, inexplicably, of Blue Oyster Cult's "Buck's Boogie," but turns into art pop with droning organ along the way. --Monica Kendrick
Tubby, bearded redhead Darren Keen (aka The Show Is the Rainbow) shouts and coos and prances around onstage until he's having a full-on panic attack while canned, discordant, fist-pumping tracks blare behind him. Like Gil Mantera's Party Dream, it's so ironic it's almost scary--this shit goes deep. --Liz Armstrong
The Mae Shi headlines, the Show Is the Rainbow plays second, and I Need Sleep opens. 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8. All ages.
MAGIC NUMBERS On Magic Numbers, released stateside last month on Capitol, this London quartet imagines what the Mamas & the Papas might've done if they'd heard the Polyphonic Spree. At first the luxurious three-part harmonies and lush folk-pop melodies sound just that great, but the songs ultimately fall flat, like half-baked Bread. Tommy Ginoza opens. 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, sold out. --Monica Kendrick
ARTURO O'FARRILL TRIO The son of the great Cuban bandleader and composer Chico O'Farrill, pianist Arturo O'Farrill initially tried to shake off his father's musical legacy: he spent the late 70s and early 80s playing more progressive jazz, including a three-year stint in Carla Bley's big band. But eventually the clave rhythms at the heart of Chico's music found their way into Arturo's, and in the past decade he's helmed both the Chico O'Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra and Jazz at Lincoln Center's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. On his recent trio album, Live in Brooklyn (Zoho), it's clear that he's still a superb, forward-thinking player, subtly weaving Afro-Latin rhythms into steely improvisations steeped in modern harmony. Only the opening track, "Vieques," is recognizably Afro-Latin, but he locates Caribbean rhythms in tunes by the likes of Bley, Wayne Shorter, and Thelonious Monk. Anchored by bassist Andy Gonzalez--a member of the Fort Apache Band led by his brother Jerry Gonzalez (see Sunday)--O'Farrill inserts dazzling montuno passages into the music in natural, logical ways instead of as calculated bits of ornamentation. Hotshot Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto drives the music with fiery rhythms and colors it with deftly formed constellations of texture. For this performance O'Farrill is joined by bassist Ruben Rodriguez and drummer Vince Cherico. The Paquito D'Rivera Quartet featuring Fareed Haque headlines. 8 and 10:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $40. --Peter Margasak
OHMEGA WATTS Portland MC and producer Ohmega Watts, aka Milton Campbell, combines old-school hip-hop and soulful, jazz-flavored grooves on his debut album, The Find (Ubiquity). He's adept as both a rapper and a producer, building tracks out of samples of his own live playing, but it's easy to drift off when the songs on the second half of the album veer into neosoul chill-out territory. Rjd2 headlines, DJ Relm plays third, and Glue plays second. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $20, 18+. --Peter Margasak
CHILDREN OF BODOM Finnish metal band Children of Bodom (who take their name from an infamous unsolved child-murder case) pissed off a number of longtime fans with Are You Dead Yet?, their first album in two years. Rather than let their epic power metal of old evolve into something more intricate and elaborate--a road that often leads to making an album with an orchestra somewhere down the line--they went in the other direction: their latest is stripped-down and devoted to the riff, the whole riff, and nothing but the riff, with a nearly industrial-rock feel on a few tracks and several feints toward straight-ahead thrash. It's not an improvement, especially since the new direction puts them in a glutted market where they don't stand out. Trivium and Amon Amarth open. 6:40 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
JERRY GONZALEZ & THE FORT APACHE BAND Bronx-bred trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez made a big splash 25 years ago with his debut album, Ya Yo Me Cure, which was one of the first records to put hard-charging bop and intense Afro-Caribbean rhythms on equal footing. He's continued down that path since then, inspiring devotees like Danilo Perez and David Sanchez, with the occasional detour; after moving to Madrid in 2000, for instance, he launched a fascinating project exploring the intersection of jazz and flamenco. On his new album, Rumba Buhaina (Random Chance), he's back in Latin-jazz territory, doing for drummer Art Blakey what his 1989 breakthrough album, Rumba Para Monk, did for Thelonious Monk. The album offers no surprises, but it's a solid addition to his catalog, with his crack band finding the clave patterns in tunes by Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and Benny Golson, among others. At this show, part of HotHouse's annual Jazz en Clave festival, Gonzalez will be joined by longtime bandmates pianist Larry Willis, drummer Steve Berrios, saxophonist Joe Ford, and bassist Yunior Cabrera (replacing Gonzalez's brother Andy, who plays on the album). Their set will be followed by a jam session with members of the Fort Apache Band, reedist Paquito D'Rivera, percussionist Paoli Mejias, and others. 7 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $40. --Peter Margasak
NAUTICAL ALMANAC, SSEEPAGE The former Chicagoans in NAUTICAL ALMANAC, who moved to Baltimore four years ago, have developed their thoughtfully constructed mayhem across two dozen releases in a little more than a decade. They're no children's-strength noise band, satisfied with merely annoying the neighbors: they seem to enjoy challenging themselves just as much. Rooting for the Microbes (Load), released last year, sounds a bit like the electroacoustic tape music of 1960s experimentalists like Ilhan Mimaroglu or Luciano Berio, only minus the "electro" part--the only thing electrified during the recording sessions for the album were microphones. Carly Ptak and Twig Harper constantly cannibalize their own instruments--hacking effects pedals, Frankensteining cheap electronic gadgets, bending vacant-lot rubbish like springs and sheet metal to their musical ends--and if they start to feel remotely proficient on a particular jury-rigged noisemaker they head back to the workshop and fuck it up again.
Locals SSEEPAGE are a new noise-rock band fronted by Blake Edwards, aka Vertonen, who released a split LP with Nautical Almanac last year; Brent Gutzeit of TV Pow plays bass, though it sounds like he's using guitar strings, and a gentleman identifying himself only as B., a veteran of a cappella hardcore group Jud Jud, plays drums.
Nautical Almanac headlines, Little Howlin' Wolf (see the Meter) plays third, Sseepage plays second, and Pommel opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. --J. Niimi
RODNEY CROWELL & THE OUTSIDERS The title of Rodney Crowell's new album, The Outsider (Columbia), could almost apply to Crowell himself: after a successful run in mainstream Nashville during the late 80s and early 90s, he's spent the better part of the past decade proudly working at its fringes. But the standards for Nashville outsiderdom aren't what they used to be, and this rock-driven album's about as subversive as a Henry Rollins Gap ad. The problem isn't with Crowell's easygoing voice or his incisive lyrics, which convey his disillusionment about America's direction: "The Obscenity Prayer" is a withering portrait of an ugly American ("Give to me my Aspen winter, sorry about the World Trade Center / I can't help the ones in need, I've got my own mouth to feed"), and the narrator of "Don't Get Me Started" is so overwhelmed by the country's (and world's) problems that he knows he'll end up sinking into an incoherent diatribe if he tries to talk about them. What defangs The Outsider is that Crowell borrows so heavily from familiar tunes: "Say You Love Me" sounds suspiciously like John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," and "The Obscenity Prayer" nicks its towering beat from Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." Will Kimbrough, a guitarist in Crowell's band, opens. 8:30 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20. --Peter Margasak
MATISYAHU Matisyahu, known to his mother as Matthew Miller, is the world's first Hasidic reggae star, but not too long ago the 26-year-old was just a wayward hippie dude who followed Phish on tour. A budding spiritual curiosity led him to Israel and an eventual conversion to Lubavitch Hasidism, the religion that runs through every song on Live at Stubb's (Or Music), released this spring. The music may seem like a novelty--fiery kabbalistic mysticism preached by a dancehall toaster who occasionally dips into Hebrew and Yiddish--but with his sharp, idiosyncratic vocal style and inspired linguistic flights, Matisyahu sells it completely. A new album is in the works with Bill Laswell producing, which surprisingly makes me more excited than afraid. Pigeon John opens. 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $19 in advance, $21 at the door. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
MAZARIN It's taken this Philadelphia quartet four years to follow up on its second release, A Tall-Tale Storyline; front man Quentin Stolzfus, formerly the drummer in experimental psych group the Azusa Plane, took a breather and reshuffled the lineup after a 2002 European tour. But on Mazarin's third record, We're Already There (I and Ear), it sounds like he's picked up right where he left off. The songs are shimmering, gleaming, unabashedly romantic indie-pop ear candy, though sometimes they're so airy they make me wonder whatever happened to the Dream Academy. Sound Team and A Tundra open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick