Portland singer and multi-instrumentalist Liz Harris, who performs as Grouper, opens the recent The Man Who Died in His Boat (Kranky) with two minutes of amorphous, undulating ambience called “6,” its buried vocals and feedback swimming in reverb. Its underwater murkiness feels like waking up after a long night’s sleep, still foggy in the head—except that in Grouper’s music the haze doesn’t clear up. Harris’s rudimentary acoustic strumming and narcotic, melodic vocals are comparably lucid and clear on the next song, “Vital,” but they’re likewise bathed in milky reverb, droning hiss, and atmospheric sounds (rain and thunder?). The 11 tracks on The Man Who Died in His Boat were cut at the same time Harris recorded 2008’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (recently reissued by Kranky), arguably the most direct, tuneful album in Grouper’s eight-year discography, and it seems like a yin to Dragging’s yang. The diffuse atmosphere is as crucial as the songs themselves, which are so simple they’d feel almost formulaic without all the effects. This concert is part of Kranky Records’ 20th-anniversary celebration, which begins Thu 12/12 at the Empty Bottle, continues Fri 12/13 and Sat 12/14 at Constellation, and ends Sun 12/15 at Lincoln Hall. —Peter Margasak Benoit Pioulard, Christopher Bissonnette, and Justin Walter open. $18
Sound artist Tim Hecker recorded his newest album, Virgins (Kranky), with live ensembles in Reykjavik, Montreal, and Seattle, but you’d never know three cities were involved—fragmentation due to varying settings and personnel is negligible. That is, there isn’t any. Hecker also traverses a lot of aesthetic ground on Virgins, orchestrating squirming soundscapes in one moment (“Virginal I” is like a thicket of swirling wind chimes just before a storm, backed by a distorted, catastrophic rumble) and summoning a celestial chorus in another (“Radiance”). Hypnotic repetition is the album’s siren song, captivating your attention at least until you get distracted when Hecker piles up creaks, grones, and drones on top of his loops all at once. And he knows how to make fear into a sound: on the chilling “Live Room,” for instance, a smattering of keyboard and tinny percussion acts as a loose framework, even as it’s being annihilated and ravaged by a growling low-end buzz. This concert is part of Kranky Records’ 20th-anniversary celebration, which begins Thu 12/12 at the Empty Bottle, continues Fri 12/13 and Sat 12/14 at Constellation, and ends Sun 12/15 at Lincoln Hall. —Kevin Warwick Pan-American, Keith Fullerton Whitman, and Ken Camden open.
Reedist Paquito D’Rivera first made his name as an improviser, helping forge the template for modern Latin jazz as a member of Cuban band Irakere in the 70s. Since defecting from his homeland in ’81 he’s broadened his repertoire, playing straight-up postbop, tango, and Brazilian regional and historical styles. He demonstrates a distinctive feel for Brazilian music on his latest album, Song for Maura (Sunnyside), a lively session cut with Sao Paulo’s spry Trio Corrente; it showcases the reedist’s fluidity with old-school chorro and the Pernambuco folk music called forro, among other forms. That pliability serves him well—in particular his smooth agility and clean tone on the clarinet are beyond compare. For this rare Chicago visit D’Rivera will be in jazz mode, working with a local rhythm section consisting of bassist Larry Gray, drummer Ernie Adams, and pianist Rick Ferguson, but it’s not just any pickup gig—the Kaia String Quartet, a Chicago group specializing in Latin American composers, will also be involved. This is the closing concert of 2013’s Chicago Latino Music Festival. —Peter Margasak $20-$30
Fourth-wave emo will be outgrowing its DIY roots soon, if the debut of local three-piece Their/They’re/There is any indication. They played their first show on Record Store Day this past April at Reckless Records in Wicker Park—it was also a release party for their self-titled debut EP—and a swarm of kids suddenly flooded the already busy shop just before the band’s set, bypassing a line of RSD customers that stretched out the door. The shop got so packed that I felt claustrophobic after a couple songs and listened to the rest of the show from the sidewalk. T/T/T’s pedigree in midwestern emo helps explain why they had such a draw, even though they’d announced their existence just a month before: singer-bassist Evan Thomas Weiss is the main man in Into It. Over It. and plays in Pet Symmetry, guitarist Matthew Frank is in Loose Lips Sink Ships and Lifted Bells (alongside Bob Nanna of Braid), and drummer Mike Kinsella has been performing as Owen for more than a decade (plus he’s been a member of American Football, Owls, Cap’n Jazz, et cetera). Weiss has told me he thinks of T/T/T as a “fun outing,” and the group’s new EP, Analog Weekend (Polyvinyl/Topshelf), is a blast: Frank’s knotty but nimble riffs on “Travelers Insurance” sound almost as rambunctious as Angus Young’s guitar solos—but because this is fourth-wave emo, they do without AC/DC-style lewd-and-crude lyrics. —Leor Galil Mansions open. $14
In the early 90s, San Francisco singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek established his mastery of the territory where resplendent and woebegone overlap: his band Red House Painters, as memorable for wistful make-out epics as for imaginative Kiss covers, led the decade's wave of dreamy, navel-gazing slowcore. Kozelek released a string of solo records before that group split up, and once it had he immediately formed Sun Kil Moon, an indie-folk troupe responsible for his best-selling studio effort to date, Ghosts of the Great Highway. Its success would prompt him to start his own label, Caldo Verde Records, through which he's released at least one solo, live, or collaborative album every year since 2005 (though he’s also put out LPs via Vinyl Films, an imprint run by his buddy Cameron Crowe). Kozelek is a virtuosic storyteller and musician, as influenced by classical guitar as he is by 70s arena rock, and today, at 46, he's as pensive and hilariously self-aware as ever. On "Sunshine in Chicago," from the 2012 Sun Kil Moon "album Among the Leaves, he laments, "My band played here a lot in the 90s when we had / Lots of female fans, and fuck, they all were cute / Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes." Kozelek released three studio LPs in 2013: a collaboration with the band Desertshore (which includes former Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney), an album of acoustic covers titled Like Rats (named after a song from Godflesh's Streetcleaner), and Perils From the Sea, a collab with Jimmy LaValle of the Album Leaf. New material will form the foundation of his sets on this tour, but one of the great things about a Kozelek show is his willingness to indulge fan favorites—my fingers are crossed for the piano version of the Red House Painters slow burner "Mistress." —Erin Osmon
Rescheduled from 10/22. For the past ten years Justin Broadrick has made music as Jesu, combining warm shoegaze with wall-of-sound postmetal. Jesu records are so lush and beautiful that it’s easy to forget you’re listening to the same guy who spent the late 80s and all of the 90s fronting pioneering industrial-metal act Godflesh, one of the most brutal bands ever to exist. Streetcleaner, the Birmingham group’s 1989 debut LP, is a frightening, powerful mess, propelled by a clangy, mechanical drum machine and crunchy, earth-rattling bass. On subsequent records the duo grew a bigger lineup, with live drums, another guitarist, even keyboards, but for their 2010 reunion (really just a handful of festival dates) the band was once again just Broadrick, bassist G.C. Green, and that drum machine. Now Godflesh has finally booked a full-fledged North American tour, which will bring them to Chicago for the first time in more than 15 years. They’ve also announced plans to record a brand-new album, A World Lit Only by Fire—the follow-up to 2001’s Hymns. There’s nothing from that LP to hear just yet, but they did release a single last month via Decibel magazine’s monthly flexi series—a cover of “Fuck of Death” by Canadian extreme-metal band Slaughter. With its pounding drum machine, violent vocals, and shrill, dissonant guitar, it might as well be a Streetcleaner B side. —Luca Cimarusti One of our music recommendations for fall. $23, $21 in advance