CANASTA, HEADLIGHTS Canasta sounded like one of Chicago's best pop bands even before they made a record, and I loved their five-song EP, 2003's Find the Time. Their debut full-length, the new We Were Set Up (Broken Middle C), doesn't disappoint: leaning heavily on organ and strings, they work a melody the way a metal band works a riff, as both a signature and a weapon. The martial rhythm that opens the lead track, "Microphone Song," gives way to a gentler pace later in the album, with new melodic bubbles constantly rising up. --Monica Kendrick
The Enemies EP, HEADLIGHTS' first release, was a fine assemblage of snappy, flawless pop tunes--too bad you couldn't find it anywhere but the band's merch table. Polyvinyl Records, based in the band's hometown of Champaign, apparently agrees: the label reissued the album earlier this month, a year after it went out of print. Headlights' sound is more pensive and "adult" than the distorto-power-pop usually associated with the downstate burg, but they can muster plenty of esprit when it's called for. Their male-female vocals, airtight drumming, and palpable guitar hooks click particularly well on "Tokyo" and "It Isn't Easy to Live That Well." --J. Niimi
Canasta headlines, Headlights play second, and Palaxy Tracks open. 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10.
DIALS Flex Time (Latest Flame), the full-length debut from local power-pop band the Dials, bristles with stabbing guitars, lamp-shade-on-head Farfisa tickles, and petulant vocals from Rebecca Crawford (of the Puta-Pons) and Patti Gran (of the New Black). The album was recorded last year, before the tragic death of drummer Doug Meis in a traffic accident that also claimed the lives of Silkworm's Michael Dahlquist and Crawford's husband, the Returnables' John Glick. Chad Romanski (MirrorAmerica, Rockit Girl) will play drums for this show, a release party for Flex Time. Detholz!, the Avatars, and the Bitter Tears open. 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8, 18+. --J. Niimi
LAKE TROUT I've usually been pretty certain about what this Baltimore jam band was thinking. On Volume for the Rest of It back in '98 it was, "Hmm, Radiohead sure is popular, and electronica fans have better incense than hippies." Their 2002 album Another One Lost was similar--a little acid jazz, a little rock, a little techno--but at least they made it sound like hard work, laboring to corral their slick noodling into something like actual songs. I'm not quite sure what to make of the sound and fury on their new Not Them, You (Palm Pictures/Rx), though--it sounds like they're going for overprocessed stadium pop that alternates between faux triumphal and blandly sinister, but why would anybody do that? And I sure wasn't hankering for another cover of "Street Fighting Man," especially not one that's about as tense and urgent as stoners watching golf on TV. Kiss Me Deadly opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. --Monica Kendrick
LAUTARI On its self-released 2002 CD, Muzica Lautareasca Nova, this Polish trio beautifully synthesizes sounds from Poland's lowlands, the Balkans, the coast of the Black Sea, and other regions where Rom music runs hot. But though they draw from traditional melodies and rhythms, they utilize a unique chamber-jazz setting, playing piano, violin, and reeds as well as folk instruments and carving out plenty of room for improvisation. There's loads of beguiling interplay, and the players' solos reveal a strong familiarity with modern jazz thought; they prefer fluid and tonally sharp playing over the jagged bravado that marks authentic Gypsy music. Lautari's dark harmonies won't get anybody dancing in the aisles, but it's hard not to marvel at the sorrowful beauty of its songs. Tamburitza Rroma opens. 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15. --Peter Margasak
PRINCE PO During the 90s MCs Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch made up the brilliant Queens underground duo Organized Konfusion, which broke away from the easy-flowing rap of New York's Native Tongues set with smart, hectoring rhymes. Monch enjoyed some mainstream success with 1999's Internal Affairs, but Poetry, now Prince Po, hasn't had the same luck with his own solo debut, 2004's The Slickness (Lex). Still, it's a satisfying return to action, with some forward-thinking tracks by the likes of Danger Mouse, Jel, and British electronica producer Richard X. When Po name-checks rock bands on the opener, "Hello" ("I used to be a Radiohead, now radio's dead . . . Can't compare my Jane's Addiction to crack addicts"), it's hokey as hell. But when he riffs on institutionalized racism in "Be Easy," his punches land square: "So many crooked cops pull cards, and they hate spades." Treologic, Modill, and Profound open. DJs Copperpot and Overflo spin after the show, which is hosted by Psalm One. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Peter Margasak
DAVE SCHUMACHER-JERRY WELDON QUARTET More than 20 years ago baritone saxist Dave Schumacher left his native Chicago for New York, where he's found--well, not exactly fame, but at least the heartfelt respect of his peers, anchoring the reed sections in big bands led by Tom Harrell and Harry Connick Jr. He's also crafted a vibrant solo style that's not beholden to the usual exemplars on the instrument, and his upcoming third album, Endangered Species, should raise his profile; due early next year, it's his first on a nationally distributed label, Summit Records. This weekend Schumacher leads a modified version of the organ band that dominates the disc, trading riffs with tenor saxist and Connick bandmate Jerry Weldon. They'll be backed by locals Dan Trudell and George Fludas on organ and drums. With any luck Schumacher will also present some of the album's offbeat poetry; his neon-lit introspections might've pleased another poet-musician, Charles Mingus, whose brawny group sound influenced Schumacher's own band concept. See also Saturday. 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10. --Neil Tesser
ANNIE HAYDEN On her recent sophomore release, The Enemy of Love (Merge), the former lead singer for the late-90s indie band Spent follows in the footsteps of wistful pop Ophelias like Beth Orton and Aimee Mann--but her record is scaled down, without the five-figure production or compulsory confessionalism. (The tune "Your Carnival" opens with "I wonder how to look like an ice cream cone.") This refreshingly modest approach sometimes compromises her expressiveness as a singer, most glaringly in her indifferent cover of the Replacements' "Swingin Party"--she can't muster one-tenth the exhaustion and desperation in Paul Westerberg's voice. Still, on tracks like "Cara Mia," "Boos," and "Wait for Returns," the cozy, concise pop arrangements fit her sweet melodies like warm mittens. The Clientele headlines, Hayden plays second, and Saturday Looks Good to Me opens. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door, 18+. --J. Niimi
MR. RUDY DAY This local trio has been a fiery live attraction for years, and though its members are hardly celebrities they've got solid credentials--guitarist and front man Andy Hopkins has worked with Andrew Bird, for instance, and drummer Mike Bulington also plays in Grimble Grumble and Clyde Federal. But after two albums I'd begun to despair of them ever capturing their blend of slow-hand soul, sexy glam, and old-fashioned hard rock on disc. Their new Duty, though--now that's the goods. Producer Mike Lust doesn't wipe any of the garage grease or barbecue drippings from the sweet ballads and rowdy stompers, and "Duty #2" spends a long layover in the designated smoking area at Funkytown International Airport. The band's playing every Saturday in November at the Hideout to celebrate Duty's release. Illinois First! and the Life During Wartime DJs open this show. 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick
DAVE SCHUMACHER-JERRY WELDON QUARTET See Friday. 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $10.
PHIL RANELIN & TRIBE RENAISSANCE Back in the 70s trombonist Phil Ranelin was a key figure in Detroit's Tribe--a diverse collective, akin to the AACM and Saint Louis's Black Artist Guild, that operated as a band, record label, and magazine publisher. Recent reissues on the British label Soul Jazz and Chicago's Hefty Records have cast new light on Tribe's music, a freewheeling mix of postbop and funk that takes its cues from Miles Davis's early electric period as well as the controlled free jazz of the AACM. Tribe disintegrated in the late 70s and Ranelin moved to LA, where he became a regular sideman for his childhood friend Freddie Hubbard. Fast-forward to 2000, when he began making some unlikely connections in the electronic-music world: Hefty owner John Hughes III hired him to play on his score for the film Scarlet Diva, which led to a pair of reissues and a 2001 remix project featuring Prefuse 73, Morgan Geist, and Jan Jelinek, among others. The new audience has obviously benefited Ranelin's career, but it hasn't changed his swinging aesthetic. On his most recent album, 2004's Inspiration (Wide Hive), he leads his own group of young players, along with guests like Pharoah Sanders and old Tribe reedist Wendell Harrison, for a solid session of post-Coltrane hard bop distinguished by Ranelin's dark, rich arrangements. Hefty was instrumental in organizing this gig, Ranelin's first in Chicago in 15 years; he'll front his LA sextet, Tribe Renaissance. Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble and DJ Supreme Court open. a 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $20. --Peter Margasak
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS This Welsh band's seventh album, Love Kraft (XL/Beggars)--which is in English, unlike their landmark 2000 release, Mwng, and front man Gruff Rhys's recent solo album, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth--goes to so many happy places in so short a time even the Google satellite can't keep up. There's the soulful spaciness of "Walk You Home," the stadium-rock grandeur of "Atomic Lust"--which is bluesy in a Deep Purple kind of way--and the sci-fi density of "Laser Beam," which suggests midperiod Roxy Music covering Parliament-Funkadelic. It's always a joy when it takes several listens to absorb just how good a band has become. I'd warn them not to get cocky, except I suspect that's exactly what's gotten them this far. Caribou opens. 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $19.50, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
SHOPPING The visitor counter on their MySpace page hasn't topped 400 yet, but Shopping are far too good to stay that unknown for long. A local power-trash trio hopped up on vicious teen angst, the band is low in both fidelity and concept: they just want to burn the garage down. Singer-guitarist Lucas Sikorski slurs and yelps in a garbled, nearly unintelligible girly whine that's somewhere between Darby Crash and Christopher Applegren of the Peechees. The lyrics are fixated on the usual stuff--parties, jobs, and dancing--with baby and fuck you used like punctuation. And everything else about their barely harnessed punk pummel, with its joyous pounding and tuneful blare, is just as perfectly artless. The Bird Names and Safety Pin open. 9 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton, 773-486-2700, $5. --Jessica Hopper
SMALL TOWNS BURN A LITTLE SLOWER You can't get very far into Mortality as Home Entertainment (Triple Crown), the first full-length from this Minneapolis quintet, before realizing you've heard a lot of it before. It's like watching the Weather Channel: infinite permutations of sameness. There's a cloud cover of pop-punk melody keeping the temperature of the post-hardcore riffage stable, and an 80 percent chance of front man bluster. Tokyo Rose, the Higher, and Punch Drunk open. 5 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
WHITE/LIGHT Matt Clark (Pinebender, Joan of Arc) and Jeremy Lemos (Lacerati) come up with seemingly endless variations on guitar drone as White/Light--and though the band's name was inspired by the Velvets' feedback-drenched White Light/White Heat, they also claim as influences Earth 2, Fripp and Eno, and the guitar solo on the title track from Maggot Brain. The drifting, ambient pieces on the duo's self-titled debut on Rebis Records are at once graceful and harrowing, and while they don't adhere to conventional song forms they do develop according to a certain logic. Clark and Lemos layer low-end rumbles, high-frequency sine waves, and lacerating bursts into constellations of sound that reward close listening, and even though the tone of each piece is essentially fixed, the two constantly rejigger details to keep the record full of surprises. On the brief "01:43" an organlike tone oscillates in and out, sounding like a spinning coin coming to rest, while the epic "28:43" is filled with ominous, billowy hums and sharp slashing gestures that slowly grow denser and more claustrophobic. The music has an almost orchestral depth, awash in the sort of resonant glow that comes from a love of sound for its own sake. The Cairo Gang and Mysteries, a new group with Jason Ajemian, Robert Lowe, Tim Kinsella, and Ben Vida, open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free. --Peter Margasak