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Friday 4

MATES OF STATE It's almost magical what Mates of State can do with just a small trap kit, an ancient Yamaha Electone organ (think of a Farfisa on meth), and two pairs of lungs. The same synergy that gives the Mates' simple music its surprising punch also seems to carry over to the rest of their lives, which are more full than they have any right to be: since 2003's Team Boo, Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have released a live EP, a DVD, and another fine album of gleefully manic pop, Bring It Back (their first on Barsuk), all while touring almost constantly--lately with their daughter, Magnolia, who's now two. They play the first day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. 5 PM, AMD Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --J. Niimi

MIDLAKE I keep finding reviews of Midlake's second album, The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union), that refer to Steely Dan and Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. Either this Texas quintet has a great publicist or a lot of those critics didn't grow up in the 70s. The group does share the slick perfectionism of those two bands, but Bread and America would make better points of reference, especially when it comes to the toothless harmony vocals. And judging by the stilted, romantic lyrics, front man Tim Smith has taken inspiration from "A Horse With No Name." Midlake performs on the first day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. Noon, PlayStation Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Saturday 5

BUILT TO SPILL Turns out Built to Spill's lackluster Ancient Melodies of the Future, the group's sole studio effort from the past half decade, was indeed a fluke--it may have been a gasp, but it certainly wasn't their last. On the new You in Reverse (Warner Brothers) Doug Martsch sounds reenergized, having sharpened his low-level, late-night paranoia into something more tense and clear-eyed while still leaving room for cosmic gags like "When I was a kid I saw a light / Floating high above the trees one night / God was an alien / Turned out to be just God." If hooks come up short sometimes, that's probably 'cause he saves some of his best melodies for his brambly solos. Built to Spill plays the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. 2:30 PM, Bud Light Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Keith Harris

DITTY BOPS Given how noncommercial the Ditty Bops seem, it's amazing they've just released their second album for Warner Brothers, Moon Over the Freeway. These two LA-based ladies, who play charming old-timey parlor music by way of fey indie pop, are more caught up in circus tradition than the conquest of cool: their live show includes skits, multiple costume changes, juggling, and plenty of audience participation. They also happen to be conducting their current three-month tour by bike--though how do you ride from Cleveland to Pittsburgh in one day? You can follow their progress at thedittybopsbiketour.blogspot.com. Dance troupe Read My Hips opens. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, sold out. All ages. --Jessica Hopper

DRAMS This Texas group combines three members of Slobberbone (still the worst band name this side of Whitesnake) with two members of Budapest One to create an inoffensive mush: the slightly heartland-ish anthem rock on its debut, Jubilee Dive (New West), sounds like it's aimed at hipsters who, when drunk, will claim that Journey really was a great band. The earnest, oily glossiness of the songs makes them easy to sneer at, but also hard to resist--mechanically assembled tunes like these do require a certain level of competence. Big Buildings and For All the Sweet Children open. 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

GNARLS BARKLEY The breakout success of this collaboration is a surprise not just because neither vocalist Cee-Lo nor producer Danger Mouse has ever really transcended cult status on his own, but because their album, St. Elsewhere (Downtown), is so weird. Not just on the hit "Crazy" but again and again Cee-Lo takes his feelings of uncertainty, disillusionment, and romantic wanderlust and amplifies them to the level of out-and-out mental instability; "Just a Thought" is about contemplating suicide, while "Necromancer" drags old murder-ballad tropes (playing up the kinkier aspects, of course) into the realm of hip-hop soul. He relies more on his sublime gospelized croon than on his mellifluous rapping, and Danger Mouse crafts slick, richly textured jams that are closer to radio pop than B-boy beatscapes. Gnarls Barkley plays the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. 4:30 PM, AT&T Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Peter Margasak

THE GO! TEAM Listening to this six-piece from Brighton, England, is like eating a gut-busting ice cream sundae in the park at the end of a really hot day--there's enough sugar to make you dizzy, but somehow it's just right. The Go! Team heaps sampled cop-show orchestration and Peanuts-style keyboards atop chiming 60s guitar melodies and clattering hip-hop beats, and when MC Ninja proclaims "I'm here to rock the microphone" she sounds less like a rapper and more like a cheerleader besotted with old-school girl groups. The band plays the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. 1:30 PM, Q101 Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Bill Meyer

SA-RA CREATIVE PARTNERS The members of this three-man hip-hop production team have impeccable credentials--they've recently worked with the likes of Dwight Trible, Jurassic 5, and Goapele--but have released only a handful of singles under the Sa-Ra name. Last year's double 12-inch, The Second Time Around (Sound in Color), includes cameos from Pharoahe Monch and the late J Dilla as well as some strong instrumental cuts. They have an early slot at Lollapalooza, but with an album due on Kanye West's GOOD Music label later this year, they won't be obscure much longer. Sa-Ra Creative Partners perform on the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. Noon, PlayStation Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus and Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Peter Margasak

WOLFMOTHER These Australians play 70s hard rock utterly straight, for which they're both beloved and reviled, but they crank it out like they don't care one way or the other. Theirs is the slightly artsy, proggy, and mystical form of the music, not the detailed-Camaro version; my love for Andrew Stockdale's shameless Jimmy Page worship and crispy guitar sound is entirely unironic, my appreciation for his forced rhymes and pants-so-tight-they're-squeezing-my-lemons vocals rather less so. Wolfmother plays the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. 3:30 PM, Q101 Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 6

DIRTY THINGS "Sounds Like: if the 90s never happened," says the Dirty Things' MySpace page, and that's true enough: on its second disc, the self-released The Blue Sessions EP, this local trio twitches, spasms, pogos, dabbles in fake British accents, and otherwise parties like it's 1982. Those metaphorical skinny ties hang on them like albatrosses, though--I'd ding them for using hyperactivity and forced conviction to compensate for a lack of fresh ideas, but all they're really doing is being faithful to lots of also-rans from the period. The Record Low opens and the Life During Wartime DJs spin throughout. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 7

WOLF PARADE With age comes the comforting knowledge that (a) not every worthwhile rock band rends the very fabric of existence and changes your life forever and (b) you wouldn't really want them to. So while Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary (Sub Pop) did not strike me down as a thunderbolt from on high, it did contribute two great songs to my mental jukebox. And if the Strokes-ishly pulsing "Shine a Light" was all Dan Boeckner had in him, if Spencer Krug never tops the demented stagger of "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son," it'll be OK with me. Honest. Holy Fuck and Frog Eyes open; see also Tuesday. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $18. All ages. --Keith Harris

Tuesday 8

KYLE EASTWOOD Clint's son Kyle appeared in a handful of his father's movies growing up, most notably the 1982 country-music melodrama Honkytonk Man. But after a brief stint in film school he devoted himself to another of his dad's passions, jazz, and he's gained a following as a bassist in Paris. On his second CD, Paris Blue, released last year on Dave Koz's Rendezvous label, Eastwood slots the smoky club grooves of 20s jazz alongside tracks with more adventurous 70s fusion themes. The show is free, but you must RSVP to chihappenings.rsvp@whotels.com. 7 PM, W Hotel Chicago City Center, 172 W. Adams, 312-332-1200. Free. --Bob Mehr

WOLF PARADE See Monday. Frog Eyes and Holy Fuck open. 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $18, 18+.

Wednesday 9

SLAID CLEAVES The 13 tunes on Unsung (Rounder), the new album by Austin folk rocker Slaid Cleaves, were almost all written by relative unknowns--David Olney is the only one in the batch I've heard of. Cleaves either knows them from Austin or has performed with them on the road, and with any luck his show of support will earn them some attention. The album demonstrates Cleaves's flexibility as an arranger and performer, and his wonderfully reedy voice brings some warmth and melodic grace to each number. Even though it's not a collection of his own songs, in its own way Unsung cements his position as one of the most distinctive folkies around. 9 PM, Side Bar, Fitzgerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $12. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 10

DR. OCTAGON The tone of the Web chatter regarding the alleged resuscitation of Kool Keith's best-known alter ego has been understandably dubious. The dreadful 2004 bootleg Dr. Octagon Part II, assembled and released without Keith's consent, is the biggest reason--and then of course there are the (perfectly plausible) rumors of his mental instability. But while the diced-and-looped vocal tracks on The Return of Dr. Octagon (OCD International) certainly sound like they could've been mailed in and then edited to fit the beats--crisp, muscular electro-funk from the Berlin-based trio One Watt Sun--that's apparently not how it went. And this year's other Octagon disc, the similarly slick but slower-jamming Nogatco Rd. (produced by MF Doom collaborator Iz-Real and released on Insomniac), seems to be on the level too. Both albums are too slight to convert the purists who won't rest till Keith's back with Dan the Automator, but with a handful of solid tracks apiece they're more than cynical cash-ins--and IMHO even a 20-second skit starring the Doctor is like desert rain. The Opus, Robust, Rift Napalm, Skech 185, and Royce open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $20, 18+. --Brian Nemtusak

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