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The new album from these locals, Future Women (Polyvinyl), reinforces the lush, perfectionist home-recorded retro rock of their 2004 debut with the added maturity you'd expect from a band that's since hit the road for real. Their playing is more assured, from the loose-limbed, confident drumming of Steve Versaw to the almost psychedelic guitar interplay of Josh Chicoine and Robert Hicks--a dazzling but unflashy blend of carefully manipulated feedback, terse fuzzed-out riffs, and squealing single-string lines. The arrangements are likewise more ambitious, sometimes accented by glockenspiel, keyboard, or harmonica and sometimes by multilayered but unobtrusive horn and string charts. The band left the apartment above their old basement studio last summer, but though they recorded Future Women in the relatively professional environs of Semaphore it's thankfully no more polished than the debut. (Versaw engineered both discs.) The tunes no longer sound so much like T. Rex and the Kinks, which is not to say you can't tell anymore that these guys love 60s rock--it's especially obvious in the slightly nasal vocals, with their soaring hooks and exquisite, quavering three-part harmonies. But for better or worse the music feels more like contemporary indie stuff. Fortunately everyone involved has an uncommon ear for detail: Joey King's casually loping bass lines are an ideal counterweight for the baroque, high-octane funk rock of "Trucker Speed," and the playful singsong vocals of "Shawnee Dupree" perfectly complement its syncopated groove, which manages to be both laid-back and bowstring tight. Little touches like that--along with the band's genuine knack for catchy melodies--easily distinguish them from the teeming masses. Archer Prewitt and DJ LA Jesus open. Fri 2/24, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Strong.

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