ALIAS & TARSIER This bicoastal project is the work of producer Brendon "Alias" Whitney (of the Oakland post-hip-hop collective Anticon) and Brooklyn vocalist Rona "Tarsier" Rapadas. Whitney's 2003 solo debut, Muted, was a variegated and unpredictable instrumental collage, and his beats in Deep Puddle Dynamics were scandalously in-your-face--but on Alias & Tarsier's second release, the new EP Plane That Draws a White Line (Anticon), he lays down unassuming trax that groove more than glitch. Rapadas, who introduced herself to Whitney via e-mail after obsessively singing her own parts along to Muted for more than a month, adds her dreamy, textural vocals. Together they strike out for Portishead territory, but only get as far as Bowery Electric; though the vocals read as melodies thanks to their prominence in the mix, they would've fared better as just another layer. Maybe the Anticon sausage party (zero girls in the core crew of maybe a dozen, y'all) hasn't been such a good thing for Whitney--he doesn't seem to know what to do except shyly chaperone his partner. Astronautalis and Venus Hum open; Sid Delicious spins between sets. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --J. Niimi
Shooter Jennings The son of outlaw-country avatar Waylon Jennings, Shooter has done his papa's legacy proud, serving up a mix of hard-core honky-tonk and southern-fried rock that distinguishes him from most mainstream Music Row types. His latest album, Electric Rodeo (Universal South), is full of first-person tales of life on the road, where booze and drugs are constant demons that he doesn't always fight off, even while he references the lessons his father tried to impart. Shooter can howl like Bocephus or mewl like a wounded bird, and his crack band has no problem laying down both twangy, hard-hitting stompers and fragile ballads. The Randy Rogers Band opens. a 10 PM, Joe's, 940 W. Weed, 312-337-3486 or 312-559-1212, $15. --Peter Margasak
c TOMMY KEENE Nearly everything written about Tommy Keene since his mid-90s comeback has hinged on his bad luck with the record industry--the veteran singer, songwriter, and sometime sideman has become a symbol for a legion of gifted but commercially frustrated pop practitioners. But watching him play one perfectly realized song after another during a solo set at Schubas last June, it became clear to me that none of that matters--Keene's music has such a pure, incandescent quality that it's folly to consider him through the prism of his SoundScan figures. This has been his busiest year in a decade. He's played guitar on the road with former Guided by Voices kingpin Robert Pollard, and he's released two albums: Blues and Boogie Shoes (Rockathon), a polished collaboration with Pollard as the Keene Brothers, and Crashing the Ether (Eleven Thirty), a stylistically expansive solo CD. Keene labored on the latter in his LA home studio for nearly three years, and it's one of his best efforts: from the booming drum reports of the opening "Black & White New York" to the closing strains of "Texas Tower #4," it displays the peerless pop smarts and unabashed tunefulness that are his stock-in-trade. Keene will play with a full band here. Cracklin Moth opens. a 10:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10, 18+. --Bob Mehr
LESLIE & THE LY'S Iowa native Leslie Hall, who runs a traveling RV museum of at least 165 amazingly hideous plastic-jewel-encrusted sweaters, is like a magpie with an art degree--she's not attracted to just anything shiny. She is fond of glittery disco beats, though, and in her band Leslie & the Ly's she raps and coos over canned dance tracks like a deep-throated diva. Crowd favorites include "Zombie Killers," an uplifting ballad about shooting the undead, and "Gold Pants," a dated-sounding R & B ditty about her favorite trousers. Onstage the husky lady favors sci-fi jumpsuits, giant blond helmet hair, and 70s bank-teller glasses, but the show's about more than just "ha ha, look at the fat girl with the camel toe and the wicked dance moves." Hall is fearlessly original: cool and inspiring without being any less ridiculous and brilliantly entertaining without technically being any good. Snobs stay home. Lesbians on Ecstasy and Stinkmitt open; also on the program are the finals of the "B-Girl Battle" that began today at 5 PM in the Wicker Park field house. Hall and Lynne T (of Lesbians on Ecstasy) spin at an afterparty. This show is part of Estrojam; see page 34 for a complete schedule. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $14.50 in advance, $16 at the door, 18+. --Liz Armstrong
cDANIEL MENCHE, OLIVIA BLOCK Prolific Oregon sound artist DANIEL MENCHE uses often indeterminate source material--sometimes little more than thick drones and rhythmic pulsing--in an ongoing quest to convey intense emotion. For some recent releases he's focused on percussion in his harrowing soundscapes; Concussions (Asphodel), for example, is two relentless hours of primal beats manipulated and layered into a jagged, disorienting architecture. The brand-new Creatures of Cadence (Crouton/Longbox) is more kaleidoscopic: electronically enhanced strings and drums throb, thrum, and glide, shifting in vividness and density. This performance is his Chicago debut.
On her last few recordings--particularly the forthcoming Heave To (Sedimental)--local composer OLIVIA BLOCK has arranged field recordings and live instrumentation into extraordinarily dynamic and coherent pieces in which each element seems to spring organically from the others. Sounds of wind, waves, and thunder seethe amid shrill electronic tones, deep-sea drums, scraped strings, and surging horns. What's most striking about Block's work is its exquisite flow--she's like a good cinematographer who happens to use sounds instead of images. Here she'll be working with prepared piano and contact mikes.
Block performs first, Menche second. a 9:30 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $10 suggested donation. A --Peter Margasak
nina hagen, paradise island If you remember NINA HAGEN as the freakish and squeaky new-wave diva who helped establish the image of Berlin's cultural life in the 80s as a nonstop pansexual orgy of pomo cabaret and angsty performance art, you might be surprised to learn that her two latest albums, notably the recent Irgendwo auf der Welt ("Somewhere in the World," released overseas by Island), reimagine big-band music and pop standards made famous by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland. Or maybe you'd just take it in stride--maybe, like Hagen herself, you've figured out that the material she's working with matters less than the thousand-watt presence she brings to it. --Monica Kendrick
PARADISE ISLAND, aka Erase Errata's Jenny Hoyston, is America's finest one-woman queer-punk party band. PI records are lo-fi, wandering, and experimental, and onstage Hoyston's liable to be most anything, depending on her level of intoxication--folky, silly, shambling, but almost always funny and fun. --Jessica Hopper
Hagen headlines, Paradise Island plays second, and the Jagged Tulips, formed at this summer's Girls Rock! Chicago camp, open; also on the program are appearances by the Oracle Aerial Dance Troupe and the Chi-Town Sirens roller-derby team. This show is part of Estrojam; see page 34 for a complete schedule. a 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $21, 18+.
damien jurado Sufjan Stevens made it OK for secular hipsters to like Christian indie rock, but the list of approved artists rarely includes Damien Jurado, who's one of the best going--awareness of his music seems to have flatlined since he was on Sub Pop in the late 90s. His seventh full-length, the forthcoming And Now That I'm in Your Shadow (Secretly Canadian), is earnest, moral, and gorgeously plain in a way that's not dissimilar to the work of David Bazan, his friend and onetime bandmate. Jurado's lyrics are by turns bleak and heartrending; "Shannon Rhodes" is about a woman murdered by her lover, and death and longing are persistent themes. Pretty dark for a kindergarten teacher. Amy Millan of Stars headlines and Casey Dienel opens. a 8:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $15, 18+. --Jessica Hopper
rye coalition It's hard to believe that people still wear faux-vintage AC/DC shirts and act like they give a shit about bands like Wolfmother--the 70s revival may last longer than the actual 70s did. At this point I'm bored and annoyed enough with it all that I've developed my own late-80s disdain for the whole decade. But Rye Coalition gets a pass. They started playing Camaro rock before it was even close to being cool, pumping up the heavy riffs with enough unhinged energy--as on the recent Dave Grohl-produced Curses (Gern Blandsten)--that I'd sign off on whatever bad idea they came up with. They open for Priestess and Nashville Pussy. a 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15. --Miles Raymer
SKULL DEFEKTS This Swedish collective specializes in oppressively minimalist stretches of trudging low-end noise. On last year's Rotating Feedback & Save the Skulls (Ideal/AA), a feedback drone rumbles and undulates, its pitch shifting like a slithering snake. Minute details emerge from the floor-rumbling oscillations--a helicopterlike ripple, siren wails, staticky debris--but the emphasis is on the grinding, sludgy tone. Skull Defekts' Web site lists four members, but only two, Henrik Rylander (who played drums in the rock band Union Carbide Productions) and Joachim Nordwall, are playing this show, the group's U.S. debut. They'll each play new solo works, then join for a piece called "The Sound of Defekt Skulls and Intense Cranium Contact (Feedbacking Gothenburg & Chicago)" that incorporates found sounds collected in Sweden and Chicago in the days prior to the show. a 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 773-227-3617, $12. A --Peter Margasak
cTWO GALLANTS The members of this San Francisco duo were only in their early 20s when they released their 2004 debut, The Throes, which made their scary-old-man Americana act seem a bit presumptuous. But halfway through the second song I gave in and just let myself be impressed by the prodigiousness of their talent. Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel sound a hundred years older on Two Gallants' second album, What the Toll Tells (Saddle Creek)--their ever intensifying murder ballads, prison songs, and heartbreak howls are so convincing the two could be mediums possessed by hungry ghosts. They get favorably compared to labelmate and mentor Conor Oberst, which I think is damning with faint praise; I'll give 'em some real praise and say their songs scare me almost as much as 16 Horsepower's did. Langhorne Slim and the Trainwreck Riders open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick
busdriver The hyperbolic press release for Busdriver's new single, "Kill Your Employer," calls it "club-banging," but stylistically it's no different from anything else he's done lately--same fast, hypermelodic rapping, same straight-from-the-backpack production. RoadKillOvercoat, out January on Anti-, is all over the place, which makes it as frustrating as it is dazzling. Busdriver has been one of the defining MCs of LA's post-Project Blowed, post-Freestyle Fellowship scene, but his records often sound like Blackalicious filtered through early Modest Mouse by way of a dissertation defense delivered on Adderall. Which is why you'll read about RoadKillOvercoat in the Wire and not Murder Dog. Pigeon John headlines; Akrobatik, Caural, and Haiku with DJ L-Train open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door, 18+. --Jessica Hopper
marianne dissard This breathy French-born singer lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she's collaborated with the likes of Giant Sand, Calexico (that's her voice on their 2000 single "Ballad of Cable Hogue"), and her husband, fellow French transplant Naim Amor. Calexico's Joey Burns wrote most of the music for Dissard's songs; a studio full-length is forthcoming, but she's released demos on vinyl and online, and the spare, all-acoustic songs take elegant, lyrical washes of French chanson into wide-open spaces that evoke her current home. Tim Lowly headlines and Amor plays his own set before joining Dissard; Figment's opens. a 8:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $7. --Peter Margasak
cmew A new album from this Danish quartet, now based in London, is always a real occasion. Their fourth full-length, And the Glass Handed Kites (released in the States by Columbia), further perfects the rarefied pop of 2003's Frengers: the music is icy and prismatic, like crystals growing in a time-lapse film. It's hard to say just what differentiates Mew from groups like Radiohead and Sigur Ros, which shoot for similar effects by similar means. (Singer Jonas Bjerre has that same sort of glassy, otherworldly voice.) The word I keep coming back to is refinement: Mew coaxes its songs into sublime symphonic realms without self-conscious artsiness or cheap signifiers like string sections, and there's never the telltale whiff of experimentation for its own sake. It probably helps that the production on Glass Handed Kites is interstellar: it sounds like it cost $30 billion to record. The densely articulated studio sheen was what hooked me first, but the entrancing vocal harmonies would've wormed their way into my brain even without it--in the age of the earbud single, Mew makes headphone albums. Kasabian headlines and One Thousand Pictures opens. a 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $15. A --J. Niimi
cmoha!, wooden wand The two members of Norway's MOHA!--guitarist Anders Hana and drummer Morten Olsen--have kept busy with a host of projects on the bustling Oslo scene, but they bring a visceral intensity to every one. They're the foundation for improvisational noise combo Ultralyd, and they've backed veteran Norwegian saxist Frode Gjerstad and New York reedist Andrew D'Angelo. On MoHa!'s recently released debut, Raus Aus Stavanger (Rune Grammofon), you can hear the duo's aesthetic tendencies in their purest form. Hana and Olsen generate some of the lean brutality of power duos like Lightning Bolt and Ruins, but the music isn't postprog wankery so much as a fiery collision of free improvisation and unhinged noise rock. Olsen is a powerful presence, dropping bomblike splatters and blurring the line between propulsion and ornamentation, while Hana sends the pieces on roller-coaster rides with feedback flip-outs, jagged, detuned string bending, and post-Derek Bailey note tangles, staying in sync with Olsen's wide-ranging rhythms all the while. This is MoHa!'s Chicago debut. --Peter Margasak
You might think you have the very latest release by James Toth, aka WOODEN WAND, but I'll wager that by next week you'll be wrong; he's said that being a musician and releasing a mere ten songs a year is like being a carpenter and spending a decade making a birdhouse. No one label can keep up with his output, but Kill Rock Stars has stepped up to release the new (as of this writing) Second Attention, recorded with his Sky High Band. Despite the hairy communal freak-folk vibe that radiates off him like so much hash smoke (the "info" page of his Web site is either a brilliant parody of hippie lit or the real thing, I can't tell), the music is actually straightforward, timeless folk rock. Toth's religious imagery and ever-so-slightly maniacal delivery are just signposts of the genre--the road ahead is fairly safe. He's joined here by singer Satya Sai from his group the Vanishing Voice. --Monica Kendrick
MoHa! headlines, Wooden Wand plays second, and Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten opens. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.
cschnee, los glissandinos Viennese musicians Burkhard Stangl (guitar) and Christof Kurzmann (computer), who together form SCHNEE, were among the first practitioners of what's now usually called electroacoustic improvisation--a gestural, texture-oriented music in which an instrument's traditional sound is often obscured and subsumed. (In particular, Stangl was a founding member of the paradigm-shifting group Polwechsel.) But Stangl has never been shy about letting his guitar sound like a guitar: on Schnee's self-titled 2000 debut he complemented Kurzmann's hovering, abstract sound sculptures with the occasional strummed chord or damped-string scrape, enhancing the music's gorgeously meditative flow. Last year's Schnee Live (ErstLive) adds spoken word, singing, and actual chord progressions, but the duo's music is still built around subtle interaction and patient resolution.
LOS GLISSANDINOS, the duo of Berlin clarinetist Kai Fagaschinski and Viennese sine-wave manipulator Klaus Filip, dissolve the distinctions between acoustic instruments and electronics on their superb debut, last year's Stand Clear (Creative Sources). Fagaschinski plays with stunning control, climbing into the clarinet's extreme upper registers to meld with his partner's pure electronic tones or using unpitched, striated breath streams to contrast with them. More than just noisemakers, these two engage in high-level give-and-take. This is their Chicago debut.
Schnee headlines and Los Glissandinos open. a 8 PM, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. F A --Peter Margasak
covenant These three Swedes have been working together since 1986 but didn't really get a reasonable release schedule going till the mid-90s--Skyshaper (Metropolis), which came out in March, is only their sixth full-length. They're a big singles band in Europe and Australia, playing a chilly yet graceful electro-pulse pop that's mildly melancholy and reliably danceable. Imperative Reaction and Rotersand open; Scary Lady Sarah spins. a 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $18 in advance, $20 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
TRIO-X Jazz players typically treat an original voice as the highest of virtues, but even in that context Poughkeepsie's Joe McPhee stands out for his rugged individualism. Never aligning himself with any one school or sound, he's built an astonishing body of work over the past four decades, displaying mastery of a full range of reed and brass instruments while developing a distinctive style that sees nothing incompatible about aching lyricism and bristling free jazz. Trio-X, with the roiling, clattery rhythm section of bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen, is the closest thing he's got to a working group--they've made four albums together for the CIMP label--but it's impossible to know what McPhee will bring to the table on any given date. Dave Rempis spins. a 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10. --Peter Margasak
cchicago symphony orchestra with matthias goerne Gustav Mahler saw the poems in the German folk collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn as expressing the essence of nature and life, and he found the perfect musical language for many of them. Eleven of the songs he loosely grouped into a cycle under the same title will be performed here by German baritone Matthias Goerne, who's ideal for this music. A student of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, he has a stunningly beautiful voice and great artistry, delivering interpretations that have made him one of the top lieder singers of our time. All of his expressive range will be on display, as the emotional spectrum of these songs runs from playful innocence to tragic bitterness. A high point should be "Urlicht" ("Primeval Light"), the pleadingly radiant song given to a mezzo on his superb recording of the cycle. Paavo Jarvi will also lead the orchestra in Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, whose first movement is one of the pinnacles of the composer's orchestral writing: from the dark, foreboding opening to the resigned ending, it's powerful yet intimate--at times like chamber music for orchestral sections. The same program will be performed on Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $19-$119. --Steve Langendorf
mark kozelek, corrina repp On her fifth release, The Absent and the Distant (Caldo Verde), Oregon songstress CORRINA REPP has loudened up a touch--her vocals are now somewhere between a hush and a lullaby. She's told interviewers that she got used to playing her music quietly in order not to bother the neighbors, but her voice is so gentle it's hard to imagine her sounding any other way. The album is dark, soft, and glacially paced, with small swells of piano, organ, brushed drums, and guitar interlaced with Repp's dulcet, unadorned croon. She's been a Portland secret for the past decade, but with any luck the new album, which follows some recent boosterism from the Decemberists, will change that. --Jessica Hopper
For this intimate appearance, singer-songwriter MARK KOZELEK will draw from his entire discography, which includes a half dozen Red House Painters albums, Sun Kil Moon's outstanding 2003 debut, Ghosts of the Great Highway, last year's Modest Mouse tribute album, Tiny Cities (Caldo Verde), miscellaneous solo works, and (according to Kozelek's camp) "some other odd covers." Caldo Verde is Kozelek's label; Repp is his first signing. --J. Niimi
Kozelek headlines and Repp opens. a 8 PM, the Black Orchid, 230 W. North, 312-944-6200, $20.
motley crue I think Tommy Lee Goes to College finally ruined Motley Crue for me. I'd been able to deal with the racist comments, the rap-metal side projects, and Vince Neil's face bloating up like a dead raccoon, but sitting through another round of Tommy Lee promotional appearances finally did me in. Yeah, you guys made Too Fast for Love--which is close to perfection--but you basically have Anna Nicole Smith on drums. Aerosmith headlines. a 7 PM, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, I-80 & Harlem, Tinley Park, 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212, $45-$128. A --Miles Raymer
mute math I hadn't yet gotten around to listening to last year's self-titled Mute Math CD when a new one showed up the other day, also self-titled and with virtually the same songs. Turns out the band sold 14,000 copies of the first version, mostly on tour, after severing ties with Warner Brothers for marketing them as Christian; that taste of success was apparently enough to tempt them back into the major-label fold, because Warner's name is all over the reissue. I'm still trying to figure out why so many people took this thing home in the first place. Maybe they figured they'd need it later on to help them remember what they'd just heard: an electronically ornamented Bush fronted by a Family Dollar Bono knockoff. Shiny Toy Guns and Jonezetta open. a 7 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $12. A --J. Niimi
cyo la tengo High-profile outdoor festivals rarely bring out a band's adventurous side; even the Didjits, who were plenty obnoxious at Touch and Go's shindig a few weeks back, seemed like they were just giving the people what they wanted. But Yo La Tengo one-upped everybody at this July's Pitchfork fest by raining on the prevailing summer-barbecue vibe. Instead of serving up the requisite set of old favorites and typically witty cover tunes, the trio opened with a ten-minute feedback jam and proceeded to play nothing but songs from a record that wasn't out yet. That polarizing move exemplifies the attitude that pervades the record in question, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, which just came out on Matador; the way they mix light, piano-driven pop, garagey rave-ups, and a Suicide-like feel-bad groove, you get the feeling they're out to please nobody but themselves. That's not to say the record lacks songs that'll wind up on future fave lists; "The Race Is On Again," a graceful 12-string excursion, is one of the loveliest things they've ever done, and "Mr. Tough" is an ingratiating disco goof reminiscent of Marvin Gaye. Why? opens. a 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $23.50, 18+. --Bill Meyer