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Friday 24

DEADSTRING BROTHERS Starving Winter Report, the Deadstring Brothers' second album and first for Bloodshot, won't shock anybody with its originality--the Detroit combo plays raunchy roots rock that owes a heavy debt to Exile-era Rolling Stones. But the two singers, guitarist Kurt Marschke and percussionist Masha Marjieh, bring sass and vigor to the stripped-down and usually twangy stompers, and the band does equally well on booze-soaked ballads like the woozy "Lights Go Out," whose ambling groove is gilded by some aching pedal steel. They take a slight detour on "Talkin' Born Blues," a straight-up cop of Dylan circa Highway 61 Revisited, but they never seem to be playing a game of retro dress-up. The band also plays a free in-store at 4 PM at Reckless Records, 3161 N. Broadway; call 773-404-5080. Phil Rockrohr & the Lifters and Michael Morris open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. --Peter Margasak

DECIBATORS Across five years and a couple of self-released EPs, this local quintet got by on sheer energy, joyously flaunting a 70s boogie flair along with its prepunk blastings. As much as I respect bands that stick it out despite never becoming the next big thing, it's also good to know when it's time to end on a high note--or, in this case, a shrieking, feedbacky power chord. This is the middle gig in a three-show midwest tourlet during which the Decibators will bid their fans adieu. And may I say it's a tribute to our civilized times that bands can close shop with farewell concerts and toasts to the future--back in the 70s someone would have to choke on his own vomit. RPG, Shame Club, and Mexican Cheerleader open; DJ T Bux (the Decibators' Todd Uzel) spins throughout the evening. a 9 PM, Nite Cap, 5007 W. Irving Park, 773-794-1317, $8. --Monica Kendrick

TANGLEWEED You know you've found a good CD when you can't decide whether to wax more rhapsodic about its music or its liner notes. Liner notes first: Tangleweed's debut, Just a Spoonful and Other Folksongs of Rural Cook County (Squatney), includes some deadpan and brutal parodies of po-faced folk-geek annotation. (On the manifold hardships and hardscrabble lives so commonly endured by folk musicians: "Most were forced to leave college after graduation." On "Old Joe Clark": "There are lyrics for this tune, but I've never heard them sung by someone sober enough to be intelligible.") The music's a rough-and-ready, busy take on the squeaky, scratchy, lively brand of bluegrass, which I much prefer to the slick, hillbilly-fusion variety. Tangleweed also plays as part of Pictures and Sounds, a multimedia event presented by WHPK and the University of Chicago Film Studies Center; see Saturday for more info. Three on the Tree and Lost Ghost Lounge open. 10 PM, Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, 773-274-5463, $5. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 25

CURT KIRKWOOD The Meat Puppets staked out their turf a quarter century ago, playing meditative sunbaked underground rock for punks who wanted to like Neil Young & Crazy Horse but hadn't completely gotten over their hatred of hippiedom. Snow (Little Dog), Curt Kirkwood's first solo album, sounds like the band's messier, slicker 90s period never happened--his languorous sense of pacing meshes with a real delicacy in the songwriting and playing on guitar and pedal steel. On its more shining moments you might mistake the album for the work of a young man who hasn't gotten cynical about music yet, but it's actually something better than that: the work of a mature man who's outgrown his jadedness. Casey Meehan opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

MAPS AND ATLASES Trees, Swallows, Houses, the self-released, self-recorded debut from this local band, is impressively assured--maybe even overconfident. True to their PR, which cites the influence of objectivist poetry and surrealist games like the exquisite corpse, Maps and Atlases assert themselves in a fluttery, rattling prog style, like caffeinated young artistes getting paid by the note--tenuous melodies float atop an instrumental busyness that seethes and flickers like two drunk gamelans passing through each other in the night. A Tundra, the Skies We Built, and the Antenora open. 6 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $7. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

TANGLEWEED This show, Pictures and Sounds, features screenings of silent movies with live musical accompaniment. Tangleweed will play to H2O, a 1929 film by Ralph Steiner. Also on the bill: Mark Solotroff accompanying G.W. Bitzer's New York Subway and Stan Brakhage's The Dante Quartet, the LSDudes accompanying Jeff Hudson's Joystick, and Koura accompanying Larry Gottheim's Fog Line. 7 PM, Univ. of Chicago Film Studies Center, 5811 S. Ellis, room 307, 773-702-8596. Free. All ages.

WISIN & YANDEL Wisin & Yandel are as well-positioned as any reggaeton act for crossover success: the duo appeared on R. Kelly's TP.3 Reloaded and recently scored seven Latin Grammy nominations, just three fewer than the genre's biggest star, Daddy Yankee. The production on last year's Pa'l Mundo (Machete Music) says a lot about how shrewdly they're angling for a broader audience: reggaeton's trademark dancehall-driven gallop pumps through many of the tracks, but the music's also sympathetic to American hip-hop. Even beyond Ja Rule's cameo on a remix of the smash hit "Rakata," the hooks, beats, and pop touches mix up the sound more than any reggaeton album I've heard. Inevitably that's gotten them dubbed sellouts by the faithful, but to my ears their musical choices work more often than not. Also on the bill is scene vet Hector "El Father"--formerly Hector "El Bambino," though I'm not hearing the creative development the name change suggests. Alexis & Fido, Xtreme, DJ Kassanova, and DJ Rico Suave open. 7 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, $35. All ages. --Peter Margasak

WOLF EYES, KEVIN DRUMM They used to be almost funny years ago, in a making-things-up-as-they-went sort of way, but WOLF EYES keep getting darker as they age. And I don't mean gothier or more macabre--I mean actually seriously fucking scary, like they're on a greased-rails descent into a bloody, hallucinogenic Hermann Nitschian theater of ritual sacrifice. As usual they've been putting out superlimited releases at a ridiculous rate on labels they run themselves--including a square seven-inch on AA Records with the grooves cut by hand on their own vinyl lathe--but the most recent disc you've got a prayer of finding anywhere is still 2004's Burned Mind (on Sub Pop, oddly enough), which sounds like something you buried in your backyard that's been resurrected with black magic. The album's full of throat-shredding vocals, thudding beats that are half evil throb and half drum track, and desperate, piercing electronic screeches, like the sound of a huge rusty gate swinging open--and what's outside is a vast stretch of dark rumbling clouds vomiting rivers of lava. Their pestilent-earth noise is beyond abrasive--it's physically sickening. Even better than a match put out in your eye. --Liz Armstrong

Since Jim O'Rourke blew town to be closer to Sonic Youth, Chicago's obvious go-to guy for highbrow experimental music has been KEVIN DRUMM. But though he regularly plays in museums and rocks an e-mail account hosted by the Austrian sound-art label Mego, this native of the south suburbs is still as self-effacing as he was when he used a guitar strap--he politely asked me not to write about this show, not because he's too cool but because he's worried he's going to suck. He wouldn't say what he's got planned for this set ("The boys in Wolf Eyes . . . convinced me it was a good idea"), only that it'll be 20 minutes max ("I blow my wad/get bored quickly . . . so instead of continuing the agony, I just stop"). But he would confirm that he won't be reprising the churning electronic conflagrations on his most recent release--a limited-edition split LP on Kitty Play with 2673, aka New Jersey sound artist Kevin Winter, with amazing cover art by Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))). With that in mind, I'd say it's a good bet we'll see some tabletop guitar--just make sure to show up early, so you don't miss the whole set while you're hunting through your pockets for your ID. --J. Niimi

Wolf Eyes headline, Macronympha plays second, and Kevin Drumm opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

Sunday 26

CHICAGO CLASSICAL ORIENTAL ENSEMBLE Led by Moroccan-born qanun virtuoso Hicham Chami, the outstanding Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble includes musicians hailing from (among other places) Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and Israel. Here they'll play music from their superb new album, The Songs of Sheikh Sayyed Darweesh: Soul of a People (Xauen Music). Darweesh's career was tragically brief--he was 31 when he died of a cocaine overdose in 1923--but he remains one of Egypt's most important composers. He radically modernized Arabic classical music by introducing Western instruments and harmony, and his lyrics blended working-class and patriotic themes (he composed Egypt's national anthem); anyone who enjoys Umm Kalthoum will recognize Darweesh's influence on the diva's repertoire. Opportunities to hear this kind of music are very rare in Chicago; this group brings a historical authenticity to the material and plays it with crackling precision. 8 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

MAVERICK ENSEMBLE One of the most accomplished classical outfits in the city, the Maverick Ensemble is dedicated to promoting contemporary work from around the globe; at this show it'll pay tribute to Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1945, by performing pieces written by a who's who of Chicago-based Latin American composers. Among those represented are jazz guitarist Fareed Haque, who's of Chilean and Pakistani descent, Uruguayan Elbio Barilari, whose work is steeped in tango, Argentinean reedist and improviser Guillermo Gregorio, and acclaimed Brazilian classical guitarist Sergio Assad. Actresses Rosario Vargas and Marcela Munoz will also read from Mistral's work. 3 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

SLACKERS This New York ska band was one of many that sprung up during the 90s feeding frenzy, but don't hold that against them: they've paid their dues and then some, and on their new album, Peculiar (Hellcat), they're firmly grounded in rhythm, melody, and righteous political rage. Their sense of humor's a bit wonky--no other third-wave outfit would name one of those suave-outlaw instrumentals "Sauron"--but their wariness about authority in "Propaganda" and "International War Criminal" puts them in a long tradition. So does the way they work to give you goose bumps on their intensely soulful reggae version of "I Shall Be Released." Flashlight Brown and DJ Chuck Wren open. 6 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $12. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 27

JAI-ALAI SAVANT Artsy name? Check. Prominent cred-enhancing appearance by obvious influence? Check. Damon Locks of the Eternals coproduced a tune on this local trio's debut EP, Thunderstatement (Gold Standard Laboratories), as well as contributing the artwork and a show-stealing vocal cameo. (Though I'd say the music owes more to Locks's old band Trenchmouth than to the Eternals, by a hair.) Pop-culture name dropping? Check. The first song is called "Scarlett Johansson Why Don't You Love Me"--didn't Bree Sharp try that with David Duchovny in the late 90s? But while Thunderstatement may at first glance look target marketed to the white-belt-and-bedhead set, if you give it a chance it's actually pretty hard to resist--its buoyant, aggressive art-pop tosses together dub-lite, giddy melodies, and roiling percussion like confetti. Like the Police, whom they frequently take after, they're not so much innovators as gifted pop synthesists. And also like the Police, they'll probably be able to ride that pony pretty damn far before the singer--in this case Ralph Darden, aka DJ Major Taylor--starts getting on people's nerves with his reedy voice. Gogogo Airheart and Subtitle open; this is a showcase for the Gold Standard Laboratories label. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600. Free. --Monica Kendrick

YEAH YEAH YEAHS Show Your Bones (Interscope), the long-awaited follow-up to 2003's Fever to Tell, won't be out until the end of March, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are throwing their fans a couple bones now. A new single, "Gold Lion," which starts with an "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" beat and acoustic guitar (!) before blooming into an honest-to-God pop tune, is available now from the iTunes Music Store. (Click "buy album" instead of "buy song" and get the free bonus track, "Let Me Know," a catchy non-throwaway they demoed last spring.) Chicago's one of the lucky ports of call on the band's current eight-show minitour; the fat daddy starts in April, and includes appearances at Coachella and All Tomorrow's Parties (one day of which they're curating as well as playing). Imaad Wasif--of Lowercase, Alaska, and the New Folk Implosion, and whose first solo release is due out on Kill Rock Stars in April--has joined the band on guitar for at least this tour; he'll also open this show. The Ponys play second. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600, advance tickets sold out, limited $20 tickets available at the door. All ages. --J. Niimi

Tuesday 28

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO On last year's stellar At the Center (Thirsty Ear) Jack Dangers sounded more like late-period Spring Heel Jack than the breakbeat-slinging shaman of "Radio Babylon" fame, but the album wasn't a complete departure--as with most Meat Beat Manifesto, there was a deep well of dub bubbling underneath its black-lit ice-water licks. The career-spanning set and obligatory accompanying video mindfuck that he brought to the Metro in June made for the best concert I saw in 2005, hands down; two cuts from that very show close last fall's follow-up EP Off-Centre, and a limited-edition recording of the whole thing will be on sale here. Dalek opens and DJ Scary Lady Sarah spins throughout. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $18 in advance, $20 at the door, 18+. --Brian Nemtusak

Wednesday 1

MOGWAI No one seems to have figured out what's supposed to follow post-rock--either sonically or Simon Reynolds-istically--and Mr. Beast (Matador), the fifth album from Mogwai, isn't much help. (It's also the eighth record I've encountered this year with cooler typography than music.) Fine, their production's clearer and heavier now, but that only makes it more disappointing when Stuart Braithwaite interrupts the album's instrumental trajectory with his vocals on "Acid Food" and you barely even notice. The early-to-mid-90s were the thrillingest time to be a music nerd since punk's heyday 15 years earlier: on album after album, bands like Tortoise and Gastr del Sol leveraged more and crazier things in the context of a small electric combo. The challenge now is to reach back and find the soul in those sounds, because a song like "Team Handed," with its sparse somber piano, will never be wondrously melancholy without it. All post-rock left us with are some really rare letterpressed 12-inches and formalist ears, and the latter can't restrain me from hearing the Autumn Moods tape bleeding through Mogwai's Slintastic drums. These folks have proven they can handle nuance--it's time for the paradigmatic leap. Growing opens. 9:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600, advance tickets sold out, limited $20 tickets available at door. All ages. --J. Niimi

Thursday 2

KISS ME DEADLY Misty Medley (Alien8) is the first full-length from Montreal quatuor Kiss Me Deadly, which according to its label began as an "emo/math rock" group. Somewhere along the line they were bitten by the BPMs and decided you can't really cut loose when you've got both arithmetic problems and sexual-identity problems to work out. So now they've arrived at a fairly enticing (and much more straightforward) electro-rock sound--the album recalls the moment when New Order realized it had changed from a rock band with electronic equipment to an electronic band with human equipment. The band alternates male and female lead vocals; when Emily Elizabeth sings she often punctuates whatever needs punctuating with an amusical screech, which gets annoying quick, but elsewhere (as on "Dance 1") her breathy, overheated drawl conjures up a Missing Persons vibe. (And when the dude sings? Duller than a food court in Hamilton, Ontario.) Regardless of whether they're leaning on the electro or the wood and wire, almost all their songs (particularly "Dance 2" and "Pop") have a wicked momentum, which whisks you through the unsavory parts like a bodyguard. Film School headlines and Lying in States opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --J. Niimi

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