Wednesday29Tareq Abboushi & Shushmo
ARRIVE Reedist Aram Shelton founded his quartet Arrive in Chicago, and though he moved to the Bay Area in 2005—the rest of the band still lives here—the group has only gotten better throughout this period of forced long-distance collaboration. Arrive's recent second album, There Was . . . (Clean Feed), sounds more assured, focused, and unified than their 2005 self-titled debut. Granted, the group has been playing most of the album's six tunes on and off for several years, and they cut the record right after completing a U.S. tour—but Shelton has also grown as a composer. The rhythms are less jagged and more fluid, the melodies are more elegant, and in the hands of Shelton (on alto sax) and his front-line partner here, vibist Jason Adasiewicz, the arrangements sound more thoughtful and rich. Shelton's playing is intense but not overloud, and I hear a shift from the more buoyant sound of Ornette Coleman toward the tightly coiled style of Eric Dolphy (sans his trademark intervallic leaps). The pairing of an astringent alto with vibraphone inevitably evokes late-60s Blue Note sessions with Bobby Hutcherson, who worked with Dolphy and with brilliant altoist Jackie McLean. But Shelton sounds more like himself than ever, and with empathetic support from the agile rhythm section—bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy—so does Arrive. —Peter Margasak The Aram Shelton Quartet opens. 8 PM, Elastic, $7.
IDIOT GLEE Lexington native James Friley, aka Idiot Glee, sounds almost like a chillwave artist—just replace a taste for 80s synth-pop with a love for the Four Seasons and classic Motown soul. He combines a lo-fi, minimalist bedroom-recording aesthetic with sprightly doo-wop singing, sunny synths, and no-frills electronic beats. Some of the songs on Idiot Glee's debut full-length, Paddywhack (Moshi Moshi), are a bit thin, but in most cases Friley's soulful, layered vocals help them spring to life anyway. Though he's hardly the only musician these days leaning on vocal-based 60s pop—see Cee Lo's midcareer reinvention as a neosoul singer and Grizzly Bear's love of Beach Boys-style rock—he puts such a strong individual spin on these styles that even a mediocre melody can be interesting. —Leor Galil Close Hits, Learner Dancer, and Bigcolour open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $8, free with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LL COOL J I'm not going to begrudge anyone a highly lucrative but artistically unsatisfying second act to their career. Eventually people end up financially responsible for loved ones, and how can you really judge someone for taking crazy easy payouts to be in terrible action movies unless you've had an actual acting contract dangled in front of your face? That said, if LL Cool J had died (accidentally and painlessly, of course) right after Mama Said Knock You Out dropped in 1990, he wouldn't be doing shit like writing songs about his character on NCIS (2009's "NCIS: No Crew Is Superior") or playing shows at casinos. In fact, he'd probably have his face on more T-shirts than Biggie or Tupac, instead of just being that guy from Deep Blue Sea who happened to make some brutally good rap music a long time ago. —Miles Raymer DJ Z-Trip opens. 8 PM, the Venue at Horseshoe Casino, $39.50-$95.
SEXTETO TABALA Formed in the 1940s in San Basilio de Palenque on Colombia's Pacific coast, Sexteto Tabala is among the longest-running groups playing traditional Afro-Columbian percussion music. The band's home is one of the oldest surviving villages founded by freed and escaped African slaves, and the rhythms of that community's music have become integral elements of cumbia and (after the influx of African pop records in the 70s) champeta. Sexteto Tabala uses only percussion and voice, much as the village's music has for centuries, but it takes inspiration from a relatively modern source: the pioneering Cuban son groups of the early 20th century (which featured tres, bass, and later trumpet). Colombian son retains the clave pattern as its bedrock and also draws heavily from local funeral rituals called lumbalu, borrowing rhythms like chalupa, bullerengue, porro, and mapale. On the recent Con un Solo Pié (Palenque), the nine-piece "sexteto" creates a thick blanket of polyrhythms, accelerating and decelerating smoothly and easily, while ebullient group chants answer the coarse, avuncular lead vocals of Rafael Cassiani Cassiani. Throughout each song, one or another of the eight percussionists zips into the spotlight to make a terse solo statement on congas, bongos, or coros, stepping out and then blending back in without causing the slightest hiccup in the ferocious grooves. Colombian music is in the midst of an international renaissance, and Sexteto Tabala provides an exciting opportunity to hear its roots. —Peter Margasak Diblo Dibala headlines. 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.
CHEER-ACCIDENT Buzz bands come and go in the blink of an eye; long-term survivors usually have much richer stories to tell. Chicago's Cheer-Accident celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, and for all that time, they've been as reliable as—and a good deal more enjoyable than—death and taxes. Unsurprisingly the band has undergone quite a few lineup changes over the years, and almost broke up in 1999 when guitarist and producer Phil Bonnet died, but Cheer-Accident's vital essence—anything-goes inventiveness combined with cheerful surrealism—has retained its distinctive character through every upheaval. On their 17th album, No Ifs, Ands or Dogs (Cuneiform), the core group is a five-piece, augmenting the trio of founding drummer Thymme Jones, guitarist Jeff Libersher, and bassist Alex Perkolup with keyboardist D Bayne and vocalist Carmen Armillas (whose presence makes this the first Cheer-Accident record to feature a regular lead singer). They're more of a joy to hear than ever—Armillas lends their intersection of pop and prog a smooth, earnest tenderness, and the band's harmonies (always sweeter than they had any right to be) do justice to their pop side, which has an idiosyncratic richness worthy of Van Dyke Parks. But their technical, hard-prog side comes out in force too, especially on the rigorous "This Is the New That." On No Ifs, Ands or Dogs they integrate these two personalities more thoroughly than ever, particularly on the diptych "Life in Pollyanna"/"Death by Pollyanna." I sometimes miss the way Cheer-Accident used to derail their live sets with a baffling segue into deadpan performance art—back in the 90s, it seemed like they barely spent half their time onstage playing songs—but I guess these days they've decided they've got too much great music to get to. —Monica Kendrick Miracle Condition opens. Sat 6/25, 9 PM, Hideout, $10.
KEVIN SECONDS You couldn't have blowtorched the grin off my face as I watched immortal youth-crew superheroes 7 Seconds tear through their 30-year-deep catalog of hardcore punk last month. The setting was the resurrected Krazy Fest in Louisville, which proved to be a shell of its former self, but hearing a 50-year-old, out-of-shape Kevin Seconds belt out "I'm gonna stay young until I die!" (from their 1984 debut LP The Crew) made the whole weekend worth it. Though the band rarely plays out these days—the Krazy Fest show was its first in six years—Seconds has a prolific solo career, often sharing bills with popular punk front men turned solo singer-songwriters, all of whom likely bought a 7 Seconds record or two in their younger days (Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music, Tim Barry of Avail, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio). He's made relatively poppy, melodic music since setting out on his own in '89, on the heels of 7 Seconds' Soulforce Revolution—a record that alienated some loyalists by deviating from the band's hardcore roots. His latest album, 2010's Good Luck Buttons (Asian Man), is mostly catchy acoustic yarns tinged with alt-country. —Kevin Warwick Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms headlines. 10 PM, Pancho's, $10. 18+
LES SAVY FAV A quick listen through last year's Root for Ruin (Frenchkiss) makes it pretty clear that Les Savy Fav haven't really messed with the formula they perfected on their 1999 breakout, The Cat and the Cobra. Still very much in evidence are the jagged rhythms and spastic shouted vocals of the posthardcore of yore, as well as the startlingly effective hooks, which despite the group's attempts to weird them up remain evocative of Camaro rock. Though the album's a little more melodic and a little less aggro than past efforts, that's probably just a natural byproduct of being in a band in your 30s. I don't see much reason to dig deeply into the disc, and I bet a lot of people feel the same—it sounds fine coming through your speakers, but it can't compare to hearing the same songs hurled from the stage by hyperactive, frequently unclothed front man Tim Harrington and the tightly wound machine behind him. I mean, did anyone ever give a shit about Phish's studio records? —Miles Raymer See also Sunday. Big Science opens. 10 PM, Subterranean, $15. 17+
JOHN MAUS Things are looking up for Minnesota's John Maus, whose dark synth-pop has been an object of obsession (his loyal micro fan base) and revulsion (most critics) since the early aughts. His new third album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (Ribbon), arrives just in time for the world to catch up with what he's been doing. Perhaps now that Pitchfork et al have primed the goth-revival pump, Maus's brand of darkwave can catch a few more ears that will be enchanted—rather than put off—by his deep, Halloweeny voice, which sounds like Lurch on a liter of purple drank. —Jessica Hopper Puro Instinct headlines; John Maus and Geneva Jacuzzi open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, $10.
GROUP DOUEH Thanks to the likes of Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa, the West has recently developed an appetite for the trance-inducing guitar music of the Sahara and environs. The sound has been around for decades, and over the past few years Sublime Frequencies has introduced several bands with a much rawer and more bracing approach to the style, including Group Doueh from Dakhla, West Sahara. So far the label has put out two albums compiled from the group's ultra-lo-fi cassettes and two subsequent discs cut by label producer Hisham Mayet—including the new Zayna Jumma—and across those releases singer and guitarist Salmou "Doueh" Bamaar has emerged as a ferocious, soulful front man. His music combines a rudimentary but delightful pop sensibility with influences from around the region—hypnotic Moroccan rhythms, melismatic Arabic singing, and especially the nasty, stabbing guitar sound developed in neighboring Mauritania. On guitar and sometimes on a lute called a tidinnit, he plays with as much incendiary fury as anyone on the continent, recalling the potent and emotional soloing of American blues even though the songs only hint at that genre (unlike similar music from nearer to Mali). On past albums Group Doueh has incorporated chintzy keyboards (probably due to limited resources, not an actual aesthetic preference), and the new album adds a female chorus and often a full-kit drummer—but even when the band imports conventional Western pop or rock gestures, it doesn't do a thing to dilute Bamaar's messianic intensity. This is Doueh's Chicago debut. —Peter Margasak 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $20.
HALL & OATES If there's anything as painful as seeing Prince roped into the facile but unkillable #LOL80s quasi appreciation that still holds America's nightlife institutions in its ironic grip, it's seeing Hall & Oates in there too. Yes, the pair had some unfortunate ideas about fashion and synthesizers, and yes, John Oates had that mustache—but scratch the plastic sheen off their most overproduced singles and you'll find deep roots in a Philly scene that in the 70s and 80s produced some of the best soul music ever committed to tape. The duo's 2009 four-disc retrospective, Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates (U-Watch/Sony), digs all the way back to their first collaborations in the late 60s, where they greased up Philly soul with dollops of hippie funk; it'll be an eye-opening experience for anyone who thinks their catalog begins and ends in the early MTV era. —Miles Raymer Company of Thieves open. 7 PM, Ravinia Festival, $80 reserved, $27 lawn.
LES SAVY FAV See Saturday. Les Savy Fav headlines the second and final day of the Green Music Fest. The Thermals, Tight Phantomz, Soft Speaker, Musikanto, and Blane Fonda open. 1:45 PM, Damen between North and Schiller, $5 suggested donation.
LOOSE DUDES No, Loose Dudes aren't reinventing the wheel, but they're refreshing, exhilarating, and frequently hilarious—there's nothing like a Four Loko'd skateboard thwack to the solar plexus to make self-consciously "innovative" artistes seem irrelevant. You could easily fool your less-informed friends into thinking the band's five-song EP Nothing to Live For (Hated) is vintage Orange County punk rock straight from the early years of the Reagan administration, but the feeling that you've been here before isn't the important part—like the hardcore warriors in Off!, Loose Dudes give you a powerful sense of directness and immediacy, clearing the air of pretentious, middling mediocrity. Live, lead vocalist Nick Rouley carries himself with the gravitas of a big lug who's tipsy enough at 3:30 AM to do some karaoke, and the band delivers reliable bursts of cacophony built from three to four barre chords apiece—a sound that has pretty much owned the Chicago house-party circuit for the past couple years. As Gossip Wolf pointed out last month, this will be Loose Dudes' last show; what they're telling the press is that guitarist Maggie Iwanicki is going to medical school, but I prefer to believe that they just want more time to shotgun Cool Ranch Doritos and study the director's cut of Thrashin'. —Brian Costello Running and Empty Heads open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle.
SACRED REICH Chicago should be proud to snag such an extremely rare show. Borderline legendary speed-thrash outfit Sacred Reich, which formed in 1985, had a period of nonexistence from 2000 to 2006 and currently plays live only—that is, these guys have no plans to return to recording. They gig pretty much exclusively in their home base of Phoenix, Arizona, and overseas—this is their only scheduled U.S. date for 2011, and bassist-vocalist Phil Rind tells me via e-mail that he's pretty sure they haven't played Chicago since 1996. The Reich is still best known for the late-80s classics Ignorance and Surf Nicaragua, which wedded the wicked political barbs of the Dead Kennedys to the fury of Slayer. Thrash metal needs rage to achieve liftoff, and on those records the band fueled it with war, exploitation, and poverty—a trajectory they rode into the stratosphere on 1990's savage The American Way. Bursts of brilliance generally aren't sustainable, and Sacred Reich didn't sustain that one; they released their last studio album in 1996, then went on hiatus four years later. This reconstituted lineup is the same one that appears on Ignorance, and on video at least it seems to have recaptured the hunger of the band's early days. Rind promises they'll dig deep into the back catalog for this show. —Monica Kendrick Jungle Rot and Cross Examination open. 7 PM, Reggie's Rock Club, $25. 17+
TAREQ ABBOUSHI & SHUSMO Palestinian buzuq player Tareq Abboushi formed this New York-based band to bridge the gap between Arabic pop, with its glitzy surfaces and jacked-up club beats, and Arabic classical music. On Shusmo's new self-released album, Mumtastic, stately compositions, traditional instruments, and buoyant, backbeat-driven rhythms collide to create elastic, heavily acoustic music with a strong jazz-fusion feel. Abboushi and Palestinian percussionist Zafer Tawil are part of a pan-Arabic musical community in New York whose members use improvisation to stitch together disparate international styles, and both have worked with folks like Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and Syrian singer Gaida Hinnawi. (Shusmo's five-piece lineup also includes Greek clarinetist and zurna player Lefteris Bournias, Peruvian percussionist Hector Morales, and American electric bassist Dave Phillips.) Though the band's recordings are a little on the slick side, its heady improvisations and fluid, hard-hitting grooves borrow an impressive range of ideas from around the globe. —Peter Margasak 8:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $5 suggested donation.
JAGA JAZZIST Veteran Norwegian group Jaga Jazzist is up-front about its stylistic debt to Tortoise, but when I first listened to 2010's One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune), that debt was practically all I could hear. The record was mixed in Chicago by John McEntire, and some of its elaborate R&B-spiked jams seemed to use songs from Tortoise's Standards as literal blueprints. Since then, though, I've learned to appreciate Jaga Jazzist's rigorous, meticulously arranged tunes on their own terms—something that's pretty easy to do, given how much there is to drink in. Their dense sound builds on a hybrid of 70s jazz-rock fusion and prog, adding touches of everything from electronica to funk to Steve Reich-style minimalism, and the performances bustle with peripatetic counterpoint, adventurous harmonic movement, and shifting tone colors. Jaga Jazzist will be a nine-piece on this tour. —Peter Margasak Ken Camden and the Abstract Science DJs open. 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, $14. 18+