cbattles This peculiar New York quartet radically revamps its sound for the upcoming Mirrored (Warp), expanding its palette, toning down the angular guitar licks, and putting more bounce into the beats. The first two instrumental EPs were fascinating if kind of formal, but the new stuff feels far less schematic and serious. Tyondai Braxton's surprisingly playful vocals, enhanced by electronics, zip, chant, and burp across the harmonic spectrum with the giddiness of Animal Collective. Riffing is pretty much out; the guitars of Ian Williams and Dave Konopka form nifty rhythmic patterns from skittery lines and isolated, effects-treated tones. Drummer John Stanier moves beyond rock to sculpt industrial-strength rhythms from beats he's swiped from the disco and forced to chug, shuffle, and march. Five or six years ago Battles would've been called a post-rock band (indeed, parts of "Race: In" sound like they could've been on Millions Now Living Will Never Die), but since they have fancy pedigrees (the various members' credits include playing in Helmet, Storm & Stress, and Lynx, among others, as well as being the progeny of Anthony Braxton) they're mostly just called a supergroup. Bruce Lamont of Yakuza opens with a solo set, Voltage plays second, and Battles headline. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Peter Margasak
cJOHN FEDCHOCK & PAUL McKEE John Fedchock and onetime Chicagoan Paul McKee first met in 1984, when they were two-thirds of the trombone section in the Woody Herman Orchestra. Herman led a galvanic big band that never stopped evolving, thanks to his use of younger musicians and the new arrangements he encouraged them to write. Fedchock was the star arranger for that last edition of the Herman band, and not long after Herman's death in '87 he assembled a juggernaut orchestra of his own, the New York Big Band; its brand-new Up & Running (Reservoir) shimmers with his vibrant charts. But Herman's legacy is audible in McKee's writing and arranging too, as demonstrated on his 1999 disc Gallery (for which Fedchock contributed liner notes). Such facility with work on the larger canvas helps these two even when they're painting miniatures--as in this weekend's shows, where they'll colead a quintet. That's partly because playing on a front line comprising two of the same instrument demands an arranger's attention to detail, and partly because Fedchock and McKee think like writers even when improvising on their horns: both display an unusual appreciation for texture, focus, and organization in pretty much every solo. Elegant pianist Jeremy Kahn heads the rhythm section. See also Saturday. a 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12. --Neil Tesser
chilary hahn Violinist Hilary Hahn entered the Curtis Institute of Music at age 10, appeared with the Baltimore Symphony at 11, received an Avery Fisher Career Grant at 15, and debuted at Carnegie Hall at 16. Now 27, she's played with nearly every major orchestra, making her CSO debut this weekend long overdue. A prolific recording artist, she's won numerous awards, but none of her releases yet top her Grammy-winning 2001 recording of the Brahms concerto. She seizes the opening bars with breathtaking fury, and as the music calms, her vibrato increases to a ravishing intensity. Consistently elegant--even during fiery virtuosic displays--her phrasing is particularly stunning in the second-movement adagio. For this concert Hahn's chosen Karl Goldmark's Violin Concerto in A Minor, op. 28 (1877), the most performed work of this otherwise forgotten composer. The orchestra's jagged rhythms precede an alluring, ever evolving melody that makes up much of the tenderhearted first movement, and a remarkably quiet, solemn adagio is followed by a dancelike allegro revealing strong Mendelssohnian influences. Also on the program are Wagner's overture to The Flying Dutchman and Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 6 (Pathetique), with its poignant finale. Charles Dutoit conducts; see also Saturday and Tuesday. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000, $23-$199. --Barbara Yaross
JON RAUHOUSE The fluid virtuosity of steel-guitar specialist Jon Rauhouse has made him a first-call hired gun in the alt-country world, but on his own records he covers a lot more stylistic ground. On the new Steel Guitar Heart Attack (Bloodshot), guests like Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms, and members of Calexico--all of whom Rauhouse has played for--pitch in on a typically diverse mix of tunes that includes western swing, honky-tonk, torch songs, jazz standards, and the theme from Mannix. Rauhouse's occasional turns at the mike only make him look smart to let his pals handle the rest of the singing, but when he sticks to the strings--and half the tracks here are instrumental--he can deliver old-school exotica as well as anybody. He'll open tonight's show, then stick around to back Case, who headlines. a 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, sold out, 18+. --Peter Margasak
cJOHN FEDCHOCK & PAUL McKEE See Friday. a 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.
chilary hahn See Friday. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000, $23-$199.
john hammond jr. John Hammond Jr., heir to the legendary Columbia Records A and R man, hasn't really done much with his family connections--except for that time in the 60s when he scored both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix for his band, if only for a few days. Instead he does pretty much what you'd expect of a talented but unambitious folk-blues journeyman: he worships at the altar of guys like Robert Johnson. One of his best efforts, 2001's Wicked Grin, is just renditions of Tom Waits songs. Yet on his new album, Push Comes to Shove (Back Porch), a collaboration with Philadelphia producer and singer G. Love, Hammond does stretch a little, updating his sound with a sweet, soulful hip-hop flavor that seems unlikely on paper but inevitable on record. a 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $20. --Monica Kendrick
k'naan This Toronto-based MC was 13 when his family left Mogadishu in 1991, but memories of that past life make his debut, The Dusty Foot Philosopher (BMG, 2005), one of the most startling hip-hop albums in years. There are hints of African string instruments on a couple tracks, but it's not the production that makes it special--it's the combo of K'naan's rhymes and post-Eminem flow. On "What's Hardcore?" he uses war-ravaged Somalia to turn the been-there, done-that attitude that's so prevalent in gangsta rap on its head: "If I rhymed about home and got descriptive / I'd make 50 Cent look like Limp Bizkit." But K'naan doesn't just flex, he also gets nostalgic: "My old home smelled of birth, boiled red beans, kernel oil, and hand-me-down poetry." I'm curious to see how he applies his skill and charisma to subjects beyond Somalia. K'naan opens for Stephen Marley featuring Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley.
a 8:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $23, 18+. --Peter Margasak
cponys, black lips I've watched so many coulda-been-contenders come and go in Chicago, throwing in the towel after a promising debut, that it's always refreshing to see a worthy band go the distance. After two records for In the Red, the PONYS have signed to uber-indie Matador and released the long-awaited Turn the Lights Out, and I'm pleased to report they're still in top form. This is their first disc since Ian Adams decamped, taking his jangly 12-string and wry Britpop sensibilities with him, and with his replacement, guitarist Brian Case, they sound in some ways less exuberant--they put their heads down and gallop through an obstacle course of clanging fuzz, counting on their expert knowledge of garage rock's pleasure principle to see them through. And it does: "Small Talk" is deceptively tender, "Turn the Lights Out" takes a chance on organ-swirled whimsy, and "Double Vision" is destined to be the iPod antihit of the summer. --Monica Kendrick
On the new Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo (Vice), the BLACK LIPS go south of the border--America's finest party band allegedly recorded the album live in Tijuana. Greasy, bratty, bleating rock 'n' roll is what they do, and they do it very well. They wear their love of the Troggs on their sleeves, but there's a shade of punk influence too--most evident in Jared Swilley and Cole Alexander's strained howls and in the ephedrine hop that sometimes replaces their usual stumble. And with a massive layer of hiss and fuzz coating everything, the album sounds like it came off a reel of tape that's been rotting in a basement for 35 years. The Georgia boys have earned a rep for a live show rife with drunken abuse, fire, vomit, and other personal fluids, but word has it they've toned things down--Swilley recently told the Georgia Straight that Alexander has stopped swilling his own piss and spitting it at the audience. --Jessica Hopper
The Ponys headline, the Black Lips play second, and Mannequin Men open; the Get Drunk DJs spin between sets. a 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. A
cprichard I've always thought that in a more perfect world Prichard would be king. But this is their first show after a hiatus of nearly eight years, so if that's in the cards, they're getting an awfully slow start. The words "power trio" take on new meaning here--not because the unholy maelstrom the band whipped up onstage didn't fit the description, but because questions of social and economic power (or more often powerlessness) were at the center of their ethos. During Prichard's heyday in the late 90s, singer-guitarist Neil Hoying (also of Star Vehicle) worked with disadvantaged youth, breaking his knuckles against the West Town machine. His experiences wrangling with gangbangers and bumping heads with ward operatives lent authority to his delivery of the band's Situationist-inspired lyrics, written by drummer Mike Bulington (also of Clyde Federal, Grimble Grumble, and tonight's headliners, Mr. Rudy Day). Six foot seven, frequently shirtless and clad in overalls, Bulington manhandled the drums like he was driving a tractor up the side of a barn, and his words provided an outlet for the band's blue-collar social conscience, embodied in the everyman character Prichard, who navigated an existential universe in songs like "Prichard's Lament" and "Prichard's Crossroads." And violinist Seamus Harmey, raised in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, pumped the narratives full of vigorous soul with his jagged, atonal Celtic-modernist fiddle and guitar, abetted by truckloads of wattage. He's moving back to Dublin soon, so Prichard won't be playing many more gigs, if any, but they're shopping a slew of old recordings--they only put out two singles during their lifetime. Full disclosure: I engineered some of those recordings, back in the summer of '96; they can be heard online at a blog I contribute to: evil-wire.org/-thisline/?p=19. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $8. --J. Niimi
cprurient Violence that arises from despair is the worst kind. There's no rage, no fear, no anger, nothing to expend or exhaust--the violence might as well go on forever, and it doesn't matter to you whether you end up with a bloody nose or dead in the street. Noise artist Dominick Fernow, aka Prurient, commits himself so thoroughly to this breed of detachment that the absence of feeling becomes a kind of perfectly pure passion, a Zen nihilism. On the recent Pleasure Ground (Load) he threads together streams of crackling electrical pulses into an overwhelming torrent that, like a storm hammering against your windshield on the highway, starts out as terrifying chaos and eventually comes to sound like a vaguely soothing pattern. This flash flood of fuzz engulfs everything in its path--distorted clicks, indecipherable yelling, sweat-lodge drums--and then Fernow cuts through it with a sickly low hum, like an ice-cold laser trapping his already doomed landscape in a deep freeze. This is beast noise, a great dumb ox dragging a coal car of collapsed stars through the abyss. It gets so dark the shades of black seem to shimmer. Carlos Giffoni headlines; Prurient, Burning Star Core, and Bloodyminded open. a 9 PM, Flowershop, 2159 W. 21st, buskerchicago.com, $6 suggested donation. A --Liz Armstrong
pussy pirates If you can get past their name, these five women (four from Ann Arbor, one from Chicago) might just charm your socks off. They all play the part of the tough girl, with stay-the-hell-away hairdos and curled upper lips, but their punchy doomsday horn punk brims with love, spirit, and humor. The two lead singers growl and shout about demons, jailbait, a half-eaten nun--even when they coo it's full of shrapnel--and between lines they deliver ska-tinged stings and hyperventilating solos (one doubles on tenor sax, the other on alto and trumpet). Meanwhile spooky tendrils of surf guitar dart in and out of the choppy, hectic stomp of the rhythm section. It's rousing, painful, and over with quick, like a bar fight. This is a release party for the Pirates' first full-length, Eat My Brain. Call It Art; Mommy Can Wait, Melting Moments, and Western Civ open. a 8 PM, Reversible Eye Gallery, 1103 N. California, 773-862-1232, $6. A --Liz Armstrong
ctodd, racebannon The London four-piece TODD works a tricky kind of reverse ambush on its second full-length, last spring's Comes to Your House (Southern). The album is front-loaded with screaming evil, and at first you think you understand exactly what kind of maniacs you're dealing with--front man Craig Clouse used to play guitar in Hammerhead, after all. But as the numbing tide of riffage and bellowing continues to roll over your head, you start to notice there's a bunch of songwriters swimming around in there. They've got a cunningly melodic rock 'n' roll sensibility that's too strong to fully disguise, and they're no doubt watching the exciting developments in underground metal from their skanky little peephole as well. I expect great things from these folks in the future; this is their first U.S. tour.
Indiana's RACEBANNON shouldn't need much of an introduction so close to home, but since these hairy, fake-gore-spattered louts haven't released a record since 2002, a refresher might be in order: think hardcore-inflected, meat-grinding Jesus Lizard rock with a stuttery, slightly Beefhearty delivery and a deliriously trashy sense of showmanship. A split LP with Funeral Diner is due soon, as is their new album, IV: Acid or Blood; if the preview track on their MySpace page isn't appetizer enough, the Alone Records compilation The Inevitable may help.
Todd headlines, Racebannon plays second, and FT
(the Shadow Government) opens. a 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $8,
18+. --Monica Kendrick
skeletons & the kings of all cities Matt Mehlan has always subscribed to the magic-realist school of art-pop. His variously named bands--Skeletons, Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys, etc--reliably sound as though they're wandering in a strange, lush landscape only they can see, superimposed on the topography of wherever they actually are (once Oberlin, now Queens). On the forthcoming Lucas, Mehlan piles up the instrumentation to new heights (two drummers, no waiting), and while his sensibility is as militantly abstract as ever--I'm convinced he writes his lyrics with a magnetic poetry kit and a martini shaker--the newfound richness of the guitars alone gives the music something resembling focus. Baby & Hide, the Dolphin, and Chicken & the Chick Flicks open. a 9 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. A --Monica Kendrick
chilary hahn See Friday. a 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000, $16-$199.
Christopher Adler Christopher Adler not only writes fully notated modern classical music for Western and traditional Asian instruments, he's also a free-jazz improviser and a noted performer on the khaen--a free-reed mouth organ from Laos made of 16 bamboo pipes. His gorgeous 2004 release, Epilogue for a Dark Day (Tzadik), demonstrates his range: on several pieces he takes the drone and fast rhythmic melody of traditional khaen music and cranks up the tempo, while on "Signal Intelligence" he uses tuned percussion a la gamelan to generate melodies based on complex algorithms. Tonight he performs with members of the Thai group Wong KraukThet as well as Western musicians like violinist Carmel Raz; he also debuts the solo piece "Telemetry
Lock II" for five-string electric viola. On Friday, April 6,
the Van Buren Quartet will perform works by Adler, Raz, and Gene Coleman at 7 PM at the University of Chicago's Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. a 7:30 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F A --Peter Margasak
dark tranquillity When these Swedish veterans roll into town, the release date for their eighth album, Fiction (Century Media), will still be nearly two weeks away. And given that many of the record's more interesting flourishes would be tricky for these guys to pull off live--industrial-inflected club mixes, vocal duets with actual females--the virgin ears in the audience are to some extent gonna stay that way. Still, they should be plenty happy with what they hear: Fiction is an elegant tapestry of growling, melodic metal. There are a few wobbly patches, but depending on your taste, you might just say they add texture. The Haunted headline and Into Eternity and Scar Symmetry open. a 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $18, $16 in advance. A --Monica Kendrick
DEERHUNTER, NUDGE Deerhunter's new record, Cryptogram (Kranky), couldn't be more aptly named: it doesn't make much sense. But to the band's credit, it's still stunning. Alternating between texture-rich drones that recall Spacemen 3 and effects-laden rockers with the heavy kick of a motorik beat, it's the sort of record that in other hands would be a formless mess. But there's a weird clarity and ugly beauty here, despite the instability; if you're willing to let Deerhunter's musical d.t.'s play out, it's ultimately worth it. Opening the show is Nudge, a mostly electronic project dealing in underwater beats, twitchy riffing, and sullen melodies. Brian Foote, the group's lone constant, will be joined by Marc Hellner (Pulseprogramming) and Franz Bucholtz (Signaldrift). a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Peter Margasak
cwilliam parker quartet William Parker is one of the greatest bassists ever to play free jazz, but a lifetime in the avant-garde hasn't dimmed his opinion of the giants of the mainstream. As a child he pretended his toy pistol was a horn so he could jam along with Paul Gonsalves's legendary 27-chorus solo on Ellington at Newport, and 2006's For Percy Heath (Victo), the latest effort by his big band, the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, is dedicated to the Modern Jazz Quartet's longtime bass player. His quartet, which includes Lewis Barnes on trumpet, Rob Brown on altosax, and Hamid Drake on drums, reconciles his outside and inside impulses. The bright, sturdy melody that introduces "Purple," the first tune on their debut, O'Neal's Porch, could have come from a Lee Morgan record, and "Wood Flute Song," from the 2005 follow-up Sound Unity (a third album, already recorded, is due out on Aum Fidelity in the fall), echoes the gloriously ragged unison lines Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry played on those marvelous old Atlantic LPs. But the horn men, especially Brown, depart from time-tested forms with their pungent, unpredictable solos, and Parker and Drake shift mercurially between Indian, North African, and Jamaican rhythmic elements--all the players tend to the roots, in other words, but they're glad to branch out. a 7:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. --Bill Meyer
csonic boom Spacemen 3 veteran Sonic Boom--Peter Kember to his mum--may have stopped releasing rock records on a regular basis, but he certainly hasn't retreated. He divides most of his attention between two ongoing concerns: New Atlantis Studios, where he produces and mixes groups like Dean & Britta and keeps his enviable arsenal of vintage synths and esoteric noisemakers, and the band-slash-solo project Experimental Audio Research (E.A.R.), which has at points featured Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine and Eddie Prevost of AMM. The most recent E.A.R. full-length, a solo affair from 2005 called Worn to a Shadow, consists of four long tracks of hallucinatory synth pulses that arrive in endlessly obsessive permutations. When you listen to this stuff on record it almost sounds arbitrary, like footage of animals on the African savanna that just happened to pass by a camera, but live it's clear that Kember is an occultist leading some delirious rite dedicated to the worship of the almighty tone. And if past Sonic Boom shows are any indication, it wouldn't be surprising to hear him dip into his back catalog while he's at it. Dreamend opens. a 9 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. A --Monica Kendrick
cjoao donato Brazilian pianist Joao Donato never stuck with any single bag long enough to get famous like his old cohorts Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Although he was a key architect of bossa nova, he was also a huge fan of the west-coast jazz of Stan Kenton, propulsive Afro-Cuban music, and older Brazilian forms such as choro (he got his start playing accordion with flutist Altamiro Carrilho). His reputation for experimentation with rhythm and harmony lost him gigs at home, so in 1959 he moved to the U.S., where he lived for 14 years, working extensively with folks like Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente. His discography, which spans nearly six decades, touches on everything from psychedelic-tinged funk to sophisticated pop and straight jazz--the classic 1975 album Lugar Comum (Dubas Musica) with Gilberto Gil sounds like the work of a Brazilian Shuggie Otis. This show celebrates the 50th birthday of bossa nova; Donato will lead a trio with bassist Luis Alves and drummer Robertino Silva, and I'm expecting a sleek program of classics highlighting the pianist's singular rhythmic skill. a 7 and 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $30, $25 in advance. --Peter Margasak