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RATATAT 5/14, ABBEY PUB The straightforward instrumental dance music on this New York duo's self-titled debut (on XL/Beggars) sounds very homemade: guitar licks, keyboards, and simple programmed beats. Leaving out the endlessly proliferating layers of percussion that usually come with the territory is a good idea, and I don't know why more people haven't tried it--maybe bands that do without vocals feel they have to compensate with complexity. But this stuff is less artfully primitive than just plain clunky, and its unfinished quality always leaves you waiting for something (which doesn't make for a very satisfying full-length). Plus their drum machine seems to be stuck on the "stoned zombie" preset. Clinic headlines. ANDREW W.K., THE LOCUST 5/14, BOTTOM LOUNGE Maniacal party clearers the Locust (there's five seconds of something for everyone on last year's Anti- release Plague Soundscapes) are on their way up, but maniacal party dude Andrew W.K. seems to be on his way back down--so this show's been moved from the Vic to the Bottom Lounge. THE REPUTATION 5/14, DOUBLE DOOR On To Force a Fate (Lookout), the second album from Elizabeth Elmore and her post-Sarge band, the Reputation, she seems to be feeling fidgety, trying out and rejecting a closetful of post-emo and alt-rock styles with maddeningly methodical efficiency. But throughout there's a painful, labored thickness of phrasing in the vocals and guitars (see "The Ugliness Kicking Around") that's more dramatic than a whole Metro full of straight-ahead thrashing. This is a CD-release show. ILLINOIS FIRST! 5/15, HIDEOUT This local "supergroup" (guitarist John Greenfield, drummer Mia Park, accordionist Rob Cruz, and bassist Brent Olds) is celebrating the release of Songs About the Land of Lincoln, as literal-minded a concept album as you're likely to hear this year. Many of the lyrics were borrowed more or less intact from a 1986 grade-school textbook on Illinois history, and Greenfield delivers them in an earnest, teacherly tone enlivened by the occasional quippy aside or funny forced rhyme ("moratorium" / "Santorum"). Song topics include the voyages of Marquette and Joliet; Lincoln himself, of course; and the tragedy that gave Starved Rock its name. See the calendar sidebar in Section One for more. PUNSAPAYA 5/15, DOUBLE DOOR This local indie-space-funk band won a high-profile slot opening for Bernie Worrell & the Woo Warriors last year, and in March the quartet released Prepare to Qualify (Sideways Eight). They've shared stages with a bizarre range of musicians (from Phantom Planet to the Wailers), probably because their music is inoffensive to just about everyone. There's a nice burble to the beat of "No More," and the evil bass intro to "Malavan" lured me in with its promise of wickedness--though the tune turns out to be little more than a short stroll down a pretty garden path. COSMIC ROUGH RIDERS 5/18, BOTTOM LOUNGE This Glaswegian trio has been mopping up in the UK, largely on the strength of an ageless Byrds-ish sound that sells well to at least three different demographic groups. Last year's Too Close to See Far (Measured) is finally being released in North America this month. DETACHMENT KIT 5/18, EMPTY BOTTLE The core members of Detachment Kit, guitarists Ian Menard and Charlie Davis, pulled up their not-terribly-deep Chicago roots recently and moved the band to New York. But they came back to record the new Of This Blood (Frenchkiss) at Electrical Audio, and tonight they'll celebrate its release here. Relative to the band's 2002 debut, the new album has a laid-back, urbane quality to it--they're not so much playing indie rock as casually walking four steps behind it. But this just makes it all the more dramatic when they lose their cool: on "Vanish or Vanquish" and "The Race," the desperate post-post-hardcore histrionics sound refreshingly well earned. Menard and Davis play most of the instruments on the record themselves, but onstage they're joined by drummer Michael Hamilton and bassist Bryan Mayer. MARMOSET 5/19, DOUBLE DOOR At one point his biggest claim to fame might have been that his dad spent two decades driving a tour bus for Rush, but Jorma Whittaker has made his own name with Marmoset. The wicked monkeying about on this Indianapolis band's second album, Record in Red (Secretly Canadian), is the perfect antidote to faceless, blandly agreeable indie pop--the oddly placed climaxes, slowdowns, and showdowns in these 13 concise tunes are seriously unsettling, sometimes making the band sound like a lunatic Cure or a deeply evil Donovan.

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