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The Treatment

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BON MOTS People give a lot of lip service to the arsenal of vintage gear this Chicago band has stockpiled. I guess when it takes you four years to release the follow-up to an acclaimed debut, the fans have to find something to talk about. But the new album, Forty Days and Forty Nights With the Bon Mots (Mellifluid), sure was worth the wait. The two principal songwriters, Mike Coy and Eric Chial, deliver 13 songs of sensuous Rickenbacker 12-string and flirtatious organ that sound like they were frozen in amber and polished until they could all but emit their own light. This is a record-release party; Welcome to Ashley opens. a 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick

cMEKONS To record the new Natural (Quarterstick), this 30-year-old transatlantic combo convened in a farmhouse in the English countryside. The pastoral surroundings seem to have rubbed off on the wonderfully ragged, mostly acoustic music, but the album is hardly idyllic: darkness and doom lurk everywhere, and the lyrics return again and again to our powerlessness in the face of nature and the ultimate insignificance of our desires. It's the best Mekons record in more than a decade, reconciling the American hillbilly adaptation of British folk with the real deal and applying the band's rich mix of sounds--Susie Honeyman's rustic violin, Jon Langford's sorrowful guitar, and Rico Bell's boozy accordion, plus Lu Edmonds's oud and saz and the occasional bit of banjo, harmonica, or kalimba--to everything from crawling folk-rock to hijacked reggae. The emotional focus is the group singing, the resigned, weary voices given profound force by their number--we may all be going to hell, they seem to say, but we're not going alone. For the first of these two shows, with opener the Horse's Ha, the Mekons will focus on Natural; for the second, with opener Danbert Nobacon, they'll revisit their 80s stint with the Sin label, when they thought they were honky-tonkers. a 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 kids and seniors. A --Peter Margasak

cEmile naoumoff Faure's 13 nocturnes for piano span most of his life as a composer, straddling the 19th and 20th centuries. In an impressionistic current with eddies of romantic turbulence, they depart from Chopin and Schumann, heading toward Debussy and Ravel. Pianist Emile Naoumoff, here playing Nocturnes nos. 2, 6, 7, and 13, approaches them as a progression: in his hands the uneasy tenderness of the First Nocturne's opening is a premonition of the last's desolation. Naoumoff, so persuasive in this neglected music, can trace his affinity back to one of the 20th century's musical forces, Nadia Boulanger--a student of Faure--who took him on as a student when he was eight. Also an accomplished composer, he's recorded his striking transcription for piano of Faure's Requiem. This 45-minute concert, broadcast live on WFMT, will include commentary by the pianist. a 12:15 PM, Pianoforte Chicago, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan #825, 312-291-0291, reservations required. F A --Steve Langendorf

cQUI, LESLIE KEFFER Though they've been acquitting themselves admirably since 2001 as a crungy guitar-and-drums duo, I bet QUI wouldn't have landed this gig if they hadn't bitten the bullet last year and added a lead singer--specifically the Jesus Lizard's lead singer, David Yow. These LA guys are doing Yow a favor too, of course, by taking him out of the "what have you done for us lately?" column. What they've done for us together is Love's Miracle (Ipecac), a dirty, sweaty, fantastically tasteless train wreck of an album. The lyrics are nasty and make no sense, and yes, that's Zappa's "Willie the Pimp" and Pink Floyd's "Echoes." (The latter sounds past its sell-by date, but I'm pretty sure that's intentional.) Thankfully this stuff is more fun than annoying--quite a feat, since it's annoying as fuck. Yow is in fine form, digging up the bluesy part of his dirt-track howl and strangling the shit out of it--think Bon Scott emceeing a demolition derby in hell--and his comrades are a colossal riff machine, especially drummer Paul Christensen, whose sound is as thick and bubbly as boiling asphalt. --Monica Kendrick

A smoky-eyed bruiser from Nashville by way of Athens, Ohio, LESLIE KEFFER is the ultimate noise babe. Fond of weird, sparkly frocks, she carries herself with the tranquil aloofness of a siren--and she sings like one too, in a gentle, plaintive coo meant to ruin you, to draw you in and dash your ship against the mountainous shores of rumbling, crackling static she's offhandedly placed in your path. Her celestial death-drone is invigorating and sad, like a shooting star sizzling across a dark country sky, gone before you can even make a wish. --Liz Armstrong

This show is part of Adventures in Modern Music (full schedule, page TK); Qui headlines and Excepter, Thomas Ankersmit, and Keffer open. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15, $70 for a festival pass.


cNO AGE There's a portal inside a garbage can that leads to Shangri-la via hell, and No Age are hanging out there eating grapes. Or at least that's the only scene I can imagine where this LA duo might make any sense. They get their jazzy swagger from a silly little hi-hat, their scary gutter-punk vibe from the biggest cement-mixer guitar riffs ever, and right when it all starts to click, the bottom drops out and shit gets sadistic. No Age can go from zero to bitch in less than a minute: bumbling clouds of guitar coalesce into anthemic Armageddon fuzz while the drums get booted down the stairs. And when it's all over they leave you like a jewelry-box ballerina, still spinning even after the music stops. This show is part of Adventures in Modern Music (full schedule, page TK); the whole bill, headliner first, is Deerhunter, Daniel Carter with Mike Reed and Ben Vida, No Age, and Jim Becker & Sin Ropas (accompanying the films of Brent Green). a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15, $70 for a festival pass. --Liz Armstrong

perry robinson By the time Perry Robinson started playing professionally, in the 1950s, modern jazzers had forsaken the clarinet in favor of the saxophone. But there's never been anything fusty about his playing. On everything from his early recordings with 60s free-jazz warriors like Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden, and Archie Shepp to The Soul in the Mist (Ictus), culled from two dates with percussionist Andrea Centazzo and pianist Nobu Stowe late last year, Robinson revels in the instrument's versatility. He switches effortlessly from playing patient, wistful melodies over a swinging pulse to drawing fleet, frantic figures in the midst of a free fall. Robinson hasn't played Chicago since the mid-70s, when he came here with Two Generations of Brubeck; tonight he leads a trio with local bassist Matthew Golimbisky and drummer Jimmy Bennington, and tomorrow he joins Bennington's band for a couple shows. See also Sunday. a 9 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15. --Bill Meyer

TWO GALLANTS This California duo has spent a good part of the past year dealing with the fallout from a near riot during a show with Langhorne Slim in Houston last fall, when a lone Taser-happy cop showed up to enforce the city's noise ordinance. (Singer-guitarist Adam Stephens got a jolt and drummer Tyson Vogel spent the night in jail; charges against him were dropped in April.) Guess that's one way to earn your blues. Bloodied but unbowed, they've just released their self-titled third full-length on Saddle Creek, and as before they've channeled modern-day terrors into artfully anachronistic forms. It's music for a postapocalyptic world where even the cockroaches are zombies and the only people still alive are hanging on to a lifeline of stark 78 RPM folk and haunted Delta blues. Songs for Moms open the early show (all-ages), Blitzen Trapper the late show (21+). a 7:30 and 10:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. --Monica Kendrick


cBORIS, MICHIO KURIHARA, PEOPLE Though BORIS have been hosanna'd loud and long--and rightfully so--for the devastating heaviness of their rocking, I think they still deserve a little more praise for their flexibility. Last year this Japanese trio released Altar, a sprawling, entrancing collaboration with Sunn 0))), and in May the local Drag City label gave a stateside release to Rainbow, their much more song-oriented but still pretty spacey album with Ghost guitarist MICHIO KURIHARA. Rainbow is absolutely gorgeous, moving with fluid confidence from elegiac, grandiose post-Hendrix pyrotechnics to insinuating Amsterdam-dope-cafe lounge folk; its dizzying dynamic range encompasses sky-lifting guitar-shaman psych rock, rattled by thunderous drums and shimmering with sheets of wah-wah, and patient, delicate atmospheric pieces that sound perfect for summoning skittish spirits. Boris and Kurihara are touring with Damon & Naomi, with whom Kurihara has collaborated in the past (Naomi Yang designed Rainbow's Drag City artwork), so this bill could turn into a real swingers' party--Kurihara will definitely be playing with both bands and may do a set of his own, and I'm hoping to see Yang and Boris guitarist Wata onstage together. --Monica Kendrick

It's hard to tell if PEOPLE are trying to put a distinctive spin on pop rock or just slaughter it. On the New York duo's recent debut, Misbegotten Man (I and Ear), guitarist and singer Mary Halvorson, known for her work with Trevor Dunn, Anthony Braxton, and Jessica Pavone, plays with a clean tone and sings in an almost jazzy croon--which she can't quite pull off. But the songs take beguiling twists and turns, plunging into thorny harmonic tangles or making counterintuitive leaps in tempo or mood. Granted it's easy to miss some of the subtleties in her parts, because drummer Kevin Shea (formerly of Storm and Stress) keeps up a chaotic, skittering clatter that obscures the pulse and creates a wonderful tension with her relatively straightforward lines. (The lyrics, which Shea writes, are hard to follow too--they mostly read like the product of an excited tussle with a thesaurus.) The music sounds disjointed and messy at first, but over time it becomes clear that everything is precisely thought-out--I'm not entirely sure what the big idea is, but I'm hooked anyway. --Peter Margasak

This show is part of Adventures in Modern Music (full schedule, page TK); Boris, Michio Kurihara, and Damon & Naomi headline with a collaborative set and People open. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $20, $70 for a festival pass.

perry robinson See Saturday. Tonight the clarinetist joins Jimmy Bennington's Colour and Sound for two shows. The Morseland show is free and all-ages; the Hungry Brain show is 21 and up, and a donation is requested. a 8 PM, Morseland, 1218 W. Morse, 773-764-8900; 10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118.

SUZANNE VEGA While it might seem like Beauty & Crime (Blue Note), Suzanne Vega's first record in six years, is entirely about New York in the aftermath of 9/11, turmoil of a much more personal nature lurks right beneath the surface. For Vega, the period surrounding the attack was marked by divorce, a split with her longtime label, and the death of her brother, and here she tries to come to terms with all of it at once. Her way with words is so precise that the little observations speak volumes, whether they're of a Ground Zero policeman shedding his sooty uniform before entering his home or her and a friend of her brother sharing memories of the city. The melodies are characteristically modest, but Jimmy Hogarth's production, with its bright marriage of electronics and acoustic instruments, is certain to sound dated down the road. Richard Julian opens. a 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $28. A --Peter Margasak


cTHE BLOW Khaela Maricich, aka the Blow, wrote a blog entry a couple weeks ago explaining why her next record needs to be different from her last. "Nobody," she said, "needs to hear another song about how it felt to get overwhelmed with love and get dumped and get over it." Try telling that to the heartsick indie kids who've treated her like an icon since the release of Paper Television (K Records) in 2006. Like her friend Miranda July, Maricich spins charmingly neurotic narratives about kooky girls high on ideas who long to be included, and on Paper Television she pumped them up with steppable beats crafted by collaborator Jona Bechtolt (aka Yacht, the Timbaland of the ultranerds). Plenty of people have tried their hands at the lo-fi dancetronic formula--blame the Postal Service, dude--but unlike most of them Maricich can actually sing. Her voice is pure Portland soul, vulnerable and urgent even when it sounds like it was recorded in a closet. Videohippos and High Places open. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12. --Jessica Hopper

sofia jernberg See Wednesday. Jernberg performs in a duo with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. a 7:30 PM, Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, 773-862-4882. F A


sofia jernberg Vocalist and composer Sofia Jernberg, born in Ethiopia, was raised in Vietnam and now studies in Stockholm, so it's no surprise her music isn't bound by a single tradition. On the eponymous debut of Paavo, the octet she leads with pianist Cecilia Persson, her pretty yet eccentric melodies--part Joni Mitchell, part arty cabaret--bounce around elaborate arrangements that combine the technical rigor of prog rock with extended free improvisation. That may not sound so promising on paper, but the songs bring their disparate elements together in a way that makes any argument against their compatibility moot. Jernberg sings the melodies with stunning clarity and warmth, and when she embarks on a wordless improvisation she's obviously guided by a sense of adventure. Tonight she'll perform with Fred Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox Orchestra, which headlines the show, and improvise with Lonberg-Holm, Keefe Jackson, Jason Roebke, and Jason Adasiewicz. Robert Lowe spins. See also Monday. a 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $7. --Peter Margasak

raul malo Raul Malo has never played the hardscrabble country singer, not when he was fronting the Mavericks and not on his own. He's more of a romantic born in the wrong era. On his latest solo effort, the nostalgic After Hours (New Door), he imagines a past where twang was crushed by swing, ditching the cornpone flavor of country in favor of the sophisticated sound of postwar big-city crooners. In his gorgeous tenor, Malo sings songs associated with Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Roger Miller, and Dwight Yoakam, picking up where Ray Charles left off when he put his soulful, big band spin on country standards in the early 60s. But here the arrangements are leaner and--cut live in the studio--more direct. The Magnificent Trio opens and then backs Malo for his set. a 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $30, 18+. --Peter Margasak

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