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HIDEOUT WORKERS' COMP RELEASE SHOWS 11/14 & 15, HIDEOUT The new Hideout Workers' Comp, a collection of 24 tracks by some of the many musicians employed by the club, is as good an overview of the Chicago scene as anyone could want: there's dreamy, lovely alt-country and delirious alt-cabaret, aggressive garage and graceful art pop, opera and traditional Irish dance music, old-timey fiddling and mad beat sax blowing, dark-toned folk and freaky psychedelia. Imagining all these sounds rubbing shoulders in a space with so little elbow room reminds you that a spot like this provides some important elements of the creative life that get short shrift in traditional Great Man-centric accounts of scenes and movements--opportunities for collaboration, crosscurrents of inspiration and influence, and, above all, a way to pay the bills. This is a place and time that will be remembered decades from now; I'm glad the Hideout gang is aware of it. The two-night blowout features most of the performers on the album, including Kelly Hogan, the Drapes, Kelly Kessler & the Wichita Shut-Ins, and Can-Ky-Ree; see listings for each night's lineup. NEW MODEL ARMY 11/14, BOTTOM LOUNGE These British anthemic-punk veterans have been issuing their stirring calls to arms for two decades. They're a lot bigger in Europe; Americans get to see them less often but in rather more intimate settings. To plug Great Expectations: The Singles Collection (Superfecta), a career-spanning retrospective, they've stripped down to an acoustic duo. Judging from some tracks on the 1999 double live CD ...& Nobody Else (Attack Attack), this format works surprisingly well--it brings out the U2/Pogues-ish aspects of front man Justin Sullivan's bloodied-but-unbowed working-class heroism, and the lyrics hold up pretty well under the added scrutiny. This is an early show. 20 MILES 11/14, RECKLESS RECORDS ON MILWAUKEE, BOTTOM LOUNGE In this solo project Blues Explosion guitarist Judah Bauer shows us what he's got--which turns out to be pretty much the same stuff a lot of other shaggy-sounding indie dudes have got. On the new Life Doesn't Rhyme (Fat Possum) Bauer alludes constantly to his love of blues and R & B without ever actually coming off as particularly soulful--mostly he just knows how to use the power of suggestion. "Barely Breathing (for Hank Williams)" has a nifty driving-song rhythm that has nothing to do with its grim subject matter, and "Clover" feels like the litest and most radio-friendly of Southern rock. JACKSON 11/17, METRO Foo Fighter Chris Shiflett founded this band earlier this year with his brother Scott and Pete Parada of Saves the Day--they churned out a quickie EP and ran off on the Warped Tour. Things do go faster if you have the connections. The five-song EP (on Magnificent Records) has a likable energy about it despite its obvious flaws: it takes an arrested-adolescent pleasure in its own genericness as it marries the affected disaffection of 90s alt-rock to the sappy lighters-in-the-air romanticism of AOR. The current lineup loses drummer Parada and adds two guys from various also-ran bands, which probably won't make much difference. MIMINOKOTO 11/18, EMPTY BOTTLE A lot of the best Japanese psychedelia has even at its wildest an oddly polished quality to it--bands like High Rise, Acid Mothers Temple, and Fushitsusha are so wickedly precise that every chaotic note comes across with a composed I-meant-to-do-that smile. But Miminokoto go the other way on their second album, Miminokoto 2 (Austin): it's as rough and grimy sounding as a Velvets bootleg, with Broomdusters veteran Masami Kawaguchi struggling and howling in the universal language of pain. Also on the bill are Plastic Crimewave Sound and the wonderful Spires That in the Sunset Rise. FROM ASHES RISE 11/19, FIRESIDE BOWL Hardcore first erupted as a cry of rage in the face of impending doom, an adaptation of rock's basic live-fast-die-young aesthetic to something fierier and more global than a doper's quiet blink-out. Of course, nearly 25 years on, we and hardcore are still here (though its political urgency took a big hit during the Clinton years, as a nation of kids grew up assuming that a natural lifespan was part of their birthright), and the unforeseen longevity has required the genre to evolve. This may be a minority view, but I think the crossbreeding with indie rock that resulted in emo was largely a wrong turn; much more fruitful has been hardcore's confluence with metal, which has led to longer songs, better-developed imagery, more ambitious playing and production, and a more resonant sense of furious spirituality. On Nightmares (Jade Tree), the new album by the fierce Nashville quartet From Ashes Rise, all these virtues are in evidence, as are the accompanying pitfalls--a sweep so broad that the details get lost, for one. BON MOTS 11/20, SCHUBAS Nothing too promising in this local outfit's pedigree (unless names like Big Angry Fish, Emil Muzz, and Feedbag excite you a lot more than they do me), but some mysterious alchemy is apparently at work. Le Main Drag (Mellifluid), the debut from the Bon Mots, is pretty dazzling. It's a lush, mature, and audacious mix of heady guitar fizz and old-fashioned pop songwriting--a pinch of Zombies and Kinks here, a dash of Smiths and the Clean there, a splash of something slightly Soft Boys for spice. Though the lyrics, at their best in tales of goddesses both fleshy ("Glistening") and ethereal ("Nocturna"), occasionally drift into the vague or the quippy, a band that can casually drop lines like "I saw the skyline taking shelter in the clouds / And look less arrogant than proud / And all this poetry of finally moving on / Is much less poignant once you're gone" is definitely worth keeping an eye on. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY 11/20, EMPTY BOTTLE Yeah, I can see how it might've been a little tough to be a band of that name touring behind an album called Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die in the fall of 2001. But however the losses in bookings and college airplay may have hurt this Austin instrumental quartet in the short run, it's clearly benefited from the two years' touring and woodshedding since. Whereas the earlier record used noise to build up its slightly overwild momentum, the new one, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence), seems to have nothing to prove: its five long tracks, organically powered by dynamics and interplay, shimmer and flow like water.

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