The List: November 11-17, 2010 | Soundboard | Chicago Reader

The List: November 11-17, 2010 

Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Aloe Blacc, Clinic and the Fresh & Onlys, Luisa Maita, the Soviettes, Dimmu Borgir, Bosco Delrey, and more

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Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc

Thursday11

Brenmar
>Critic's Choice<Clinic, Fresh & Onlys

Friday12

>Critic's Choice< Aloe Blacc
Delicate Steve
>Critic's Choice< George Lewis, Alexander Von Schlippenbach

Saturday13

>Critic's Choice< Luisa Maita
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Slink Moss & the Flying Aces
>Critic's Choice< Soviettes

Sunday14

>Critic's Choice< Dimmu Borgir
Katinka Kleijn

Tuesday16

>Critic's Choice< Bosco Delrey

Wednesday17

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Tunng

thursday11

BRENMAR In 2007 former Chicagoan Bill Salas joined Brooklyn avant-power trio These Are Powers, animating the band's self-described "ghost punk" with the same bent for rhythmic experimentation he displayed in his solo work as Brenmar Someday. At the time the group was dealing in art-damaged noise rock, but since then they've started exploring electronic styles like dubstep and grime—and along the way Salas has evolved from kitchen-sink drum-kit basher to legit dance-music maker. He recently left the band to pursue his own productions full-time, and any day now he's due to release an EP, At It Again, on the digital label of tastemaking blog Discobelle. It's rooted firmly in house music, specifically vintage hip-house and R&B-inflected vocal house—but Brenmar tweaks those familiar forms in satisfying ways with polyrhythms from kuduro, UK funky, and other Africanized styles. Starfoxxx opens. 10 PM, Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, 773-348-4975, $5. —Miles Raymer

CLINIC, FRESH & ONLYS On their 2000 debut, Internal Wrangler, Clinic seemed to emerge from out of nowhere with a formula that didn't need any tinkering: garage rock splashed with dubby melodica and played with the dispassion of the most robotic Krautrockers. Their four subsequent albums sensibly offered only the slightest variations on that blueprint, but now, after ten years, the group has suddenly gone far past anything you could call tinkering. If it weren't for the distinctive nasal mumblings of front man Ade Blackburn, the new Bubblegum (Domino) would hardly be recognizable as a Clinic album. They've stopped writing every song to a motorik beat—some of them actually swing, which seems almost blasphemous coming from this lot. And not even the warmest moments in Clinic's back catalog hinted that they'd ever dive into DayGlo territory and groovy, wah-wah-guitar jams, but a few tracks on Bubblegum would fit nicely next to Os Mutantes' more acid-fried pop excursions. —Miles Raymer

Prolific San Francisco garage-rock combo the Fresh & Onlys stepped inside a proper recording studio for the first time to make their recent third album, Play It Strange (In the Red), with Tim Green of the Fucking Champs behind the board. Tim Cohen's voice remains a ghostly presence, and the guitars and organ float as if in thick soup—but despite all this the music is remarkably melodically generous, full of hooks that leap out at you like beams of light piercing a dense fog. Among the denizens of the Bay Area's potent garage scene, the Fresh & Onlys are on the stylistically ambiguous side, combining bubblegum melodies, surf twang, Byrdsian folk-rock jangle, punk drive, and psychedelic murk; they seem to be doing for hooky pop what Greg Cartwright's Reigning Sound has done for blue-eyed soul. —Peter Margasak

click to enlarge Clinic
  • Clinic

Clinic headlines and the Fresh & Onlys open. 9 PM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, 773-525-2501, $15.

friday12

ALOE BLACC I enjoyed the warped but organic electronic/acoustic arrangements and sprawling hodgepodge of hip-hop, neosoul, Brazilian pop, and salsa on Aloe Blacc's 2006 debut, Shine Through, so at first the streamlined approach this LA singer, producer, and MC takes on his recent second album, Good Things (Stones Throw), put me off. This time out the man born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III embraces socially conscious 70s-style soul, with a particular affinity for Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. The album is a collaboration with Truth & Soul Productions—aka Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, who also worked on Lee Fields's killer My World—and their punchy horn and string charts help cover for the lack of range in Blacc's reedy voice, allowing him to concentrate on his agile, expertly expressive phrasing. The elegant, hooky tunes are based on deep, simmering midtempo soul grooves, with touches of reggae and funk here and there, and though the lyrics aren't especially profound, they're timely—the lead track, "I Need a Dollar," is the theme song of HBO series How to Make It in America. Blacc also gets extra points for his cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale," turning it into a portrait of a wounded man who's had a brush with the woman in question. He'll be backed here by his band, the Grand Scheme; Maya Jupiter and DJRC open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. —Peter Margasak

DELICATE STEVE Delicate Steve and his boys are young. So young that they think using the phrase "as delicate as the wings of a butterfly with AIDS" in their press bio is funny. This band of New Jersey bros is fronted by 23-year-old bedroom rocker Steve Marion, and his music reminds us that it's Pitchfork's world we live in. His forthcoming debut, Wondervisions (Luaka Bop), is a rainbow of familiar influences: Ratatat-via-Animal Collective psychedelic rave, secondhand Afropop guitar slinging borrowed from Vampire Weekend, and all that major-key cutie-pie shit from Passion Pit. It's a veritable real-time mashup of indie rock's top pop albums of the past few years—rendered in a series of instrumental meditations, no less. Despite being wholly unoriginal, it's a pretty good effort for a bunch of ignorant pussies. Fang Island headlines; Delicate Steve and Gypsyblood open. 7 PM, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, 773-525-2501, $12. —Jessica Hopper

GEORGE LEWIS, ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH George Lewis has come home, but not for long. An improvising trombonist, computer musician, composer, and scholar, he was born and raised here, but he hasn't been a full-time Chicagoan in decades; since 2004 he's been a professor at Columbia University in New York. This fall he's teaching a graduate seminar with philosophy professor Arnold Davidson at the U. of C., which means he'll be in town for next weekend's celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a group he joined in 1971. Tonight's event brings together his work as an adroit improvising trombonist, a pioneer of computer music, and a student of the links between musical and philosophical practice. Lewis, 58, came of age as a member of the AACM, but he also has enduring connections in New York (Hatology recently reissued More News for Lulu, a 1989 recording by the revisionist bebop trio of Lewis, John Zorn, and Bill Frisell, for which I wrote liner notes) and in Europe (he's been part of the Globe Unity Orchestra, founded by German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, for more than 20 years). Schlippenbach is from Germany's first generation of free-jazz musicians, and his recent activity has included a reconciliation of improvisation and 12-tone composition, leadership of large improvising orchestras, and plenty of small-group work—his astounding trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens has been a going concern since 1970, and a few years ago he recorded with Lok 03, a very different trio with his wife, pianist Aki Takase, and his youngest son, who performs as DJ Illvibe. Kicking things off tonight will be a virtual trio with Lewis, Schlippenbach, and an interactive music system of Lewis's design—basically software that can play a Yamaha Disklavier, engaging in independent actions as well as real-time analysis and response. Next the two musicians will join Davidson for a discussion of improvisation as a way of life. Finally, Lewis and Schlippenbach will perform with the AACM's Great Black Music Ensemble. 7:30 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th, 773-702-8974, $20, $5 students. —Bill Meyer

click to enlarge Luisa Maita

saturday13

LUISA MAITA Luisa Maita is one of three sisters named after songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Ana Luisa," in her case), and perhaps predictably, samba and bossa nova figure into the music on her recent solo debut, Lero-Lero (Cumbancha). But this young singer from Sao Paulo draws just as much inspiration from rhythms and forms much less familiar outside Brazil's borders—the elemental baiao from the northeastern state of Bahia, for instance, or the musical martial art of capoeira. She might add dub effects or funk accents and incorporate folkloric touches like the grainy rabeca Siba contributes to "Fulaninha," but her gently insinuating voice is worlds away from the declamatory style of those lesser-known traditions—it's much easier to imagine her finessing the Jobim songbook. And when she does write a samba, she fiddles with the formula; on the title track, which recalls vintage Tom Ze, she creates an infectious syncopated pattern from staccato stabs of acoustic guitar and cavaquinho and turns the familiar rhythm inside-out. Maita draws on an incredibly wide palette, and she's used it to make one of the best Brazilian records I've heard this year. 9 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179 or 800-838-3006, $15, $12 in advance, 18+. —Peter Margasak

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM It's a long trek through the first two acts of Lyric Opera's A Midsummer Night's Dream, even in the company of a mob of winged moppets and Benjamin Britten's moaning, tinkling orchestral score. Not everyone in the opening-night audience made it back from intermission for the entertaining high jinks of act three. Britten's 1960 take on Shakespeare uses the Bard's own words (abridged by two-thirds) to tell what happens when fairies, mortal lovers, and actors mix it up in an enchanted wood. This production, conceived by the Aussie team of director Neil Armfield and designer Dale Ferguson, has a hypnotic sylvan set that creates most of its effects with drapes, motion, and light. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong and baritone Lucas Meachem shine as two of the befuddled lovers; bass Peter Rose steals the show as the irrepressible Bottom. Countertenor David Daniels looks majestic as the fairy king, Oberon, but on opening night at least he sounded nearly as faint as his pint-size subjects. Local kids from the Anima chorus are the fairies; guest conductor Rory MacDonald leads the Lyric Opera orchestra. See also Wednesday; this production closes Tuesday, November 23. 2 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, lyricopera.org or 312-332-2244, $93-$227. —Deanna Isaacs

click to enlarge A Midsummer Night's Dream civic opera

SLINK MOSS & THE FLYING ACES Underground rockabilly star and cartoonist Slink Moss left Chicago for New York in 1997, but his comic strip The Rockin' Ace continues to appear in the pages of Roctober, where it's run on and off since '93. The title character, a sort of cross between Gene Vincent and a young Johnny Cash who deadpans his way through all sorts of intrigues and adventures, has by now done pretty much everything a cool cat ought to, except the obvious—release a record. Hence the new single "Hello Rock 'n' Roll" b/w "Light a Fire With Desire" (MassPike), his long-overdue debut. For this show, Moss and his band the Flying Aces will play a set of their eerie, nocturnal twang, and the Rockin' Ace himself has promised to make an appearance, presumably performing his new hits to the sound of much excited squealing. The Waco Brothers headline; Moss, Illinois First!, and the Blind Staggers open. 9:30 PM, Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, 312-666-6775 or 866-468-3401, $10, 17+. —Monica Kendrick

SOVIETTES In the early aughts Minneapolis pop-punk band the Soviettes released three exceedingly listenable albums full of fiercely efficient guitars, sucker-punching drums, and gleeful group-shout vocals. The band's endearing lack of pretension (their albums were simply called LPI, LPII, and LPIII) and willingness to turn any song into a party ("Roller Girls" enlisted members of the Minnesota RollerGirls for backup-singer duty) earned them such a devoted audience that when they went on hiatus in 2005 fans were more than willing to follow the members' many side projects. (My personal favorite: guitarist Annie Holoien formed Awesome Snakes, a band devoted to songs about the awesomeness of snakes.) Last spring, Red Sound Records released Rarities, a career-spanning collection of rough drafts, outtakes, alternate versions, and forgotten oldies—or, as an online note from the band put it, "You can hear us learning to sing and play our guitars on the early tracks, and maybe start to take ourselves too seriously on one or two of the later tracks, haha." To celebrate the release, they played a few reunion shows earlier this year, and now they've reunited their reunion; after traveling down to Gainesville, Florida, to perform at last month's Fest 9, they're bringing their charms back to the midwest for a couple of shows. The Methadones headline; the Soviettes, the Copyrights, and the Jetty Boys open. 8 PM, Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State, 312-949-0121 or 866-468-3401, $10, 17+. —Monica Kendrick

sunday14

DIMMU BORGIR Breaking up with a lover via text message is beyond gauche, and sacking a longtime bandmate that way is just as bad. That's how Mustis, now the former keyboardist of Dimmu Borgir, found out last fall that he was out of the band; bassist and clean vocalist ICS Vortex also fell victim to the ax wielded by Dimmu vocalist Shagrath, though his dismissal was reportedly handled via e-mail. Yet Dimmu Borgir's ninth album, Abrahadabra (the title is a word that first appeared in Aleister Crowley's Book of the Law), doesn't sound like the work of a skeleton crew or a band in turmoil; choral wailing and orchestral sweep fill in the gaps left by the departed members, and clean vocals from guests Snowy Shaw, Agnete Kjolsrud, and Garm (of Arcturus and Borknagar) provide welcome counterpoints to Shagrath's growl. Dimmu Borgir wield their power with an easy confidence that doesn't quite feel like autopilot, though they've certainly lost some of their feral fury over the years—the band's stylistic drift has resulted in a sound less rooted in black metal and more in a postindustrial, gothic romanticism that's best rendered in shades of gray. Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, and Dawn of Ashes open.  5:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 866-448-7849, $25, $21 in advance. —Monica Kendrick

KATINKA KLEIJN Dutch-born cellist Katinka Kleijn plays with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the upstart International Contemporary Ensemble, and local prog-rock band District 97, among other groups—during the decade and a half she's been in Chicago, she's engaged passionately with all kinds of music, instead of treating her classical career as her only legitimate outlet and everything else as mere "fun." Today she performs the premiere of Oil-Free Blush, a solo work she commissioned with help from the Chicago Humanities Festival (of which this concert is a part). Seven young, forward-looking composers, most of them local (Marcos Balter, Megan Beugger, Phyllis Chen, Pablo Chin, Nomi Epstein, Sebastian Huydts, and Du Yun), wrote its component pieces, each of which refers to an ingredient in the titular cosmetic—"Esters (of Para-Hydroxybenzoic Acid)" and "Persona With Parabens," for instance—and Kleijn's program notes draw attention to those chemicals' potential health effects. 2:30 PM, Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium, Francis W. Parker School, 2233 N. Clark, 312-494-9509, $15, $5 students and teachers. —Peter Margasak

click to enlarge Bosco Delrey
  • Bosco Delrey

tuesday16

BOSCO DELREY In the 1970s Leonard Cohen's cocktail of choice was the red needle, a recipe of his own devising that combines tequila, cranberry juice, and fruit. It's delicious—I prefer mine with lime—but when I tell people about it, a lot of them can't get their heads around the tequila/cranberry combination. Likewise people often seem put off when I recommend Bosco Delrey for his strange hybrid of rockabilly and dancehall, which I'll admit sounds guaranteed to suck. But Delrey's taste in rockabilly runs more toward Suicide than Brian Setzer, and his interpretation of dancehall is more in line with skeletal early-80s King Jammy productions than the glossy stuff that occasionally crosses over onto pop radio. That said, he doesn't seem interested in Suicide's heavy moods or dancehall's machismo; the couple of singles he's released are bubblegum-catchy, lo-fi treats that sound like a dude on a couch smoking a hitter and cracking himself up about the weird stunt he's pulled off. The Magic Kids headline; Bosco Delrey and Very Truly Yours open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. —Miles Raymer

wednesday17

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM See Saturday. 2 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, lyricopera.org or 312-332-2244, $75-$194.

TUNNG The first three albums from London's Tunng were frequently saddled with the unfortunate "folktronica" tag, but the band's latest effort, And Then We Saw Land (Thrill Jockey), definitely doesn't deserve the term. The music lacks the darkness and melancholy of folk, I suspect due to the departure of cofounder Sam Genders since Tunng's previous record—it's much brighter and poppier than anything they've done before, with a greater emphasis on giddy English music-hall melodies. Former harmony singer Becky Jacobs now shares lead-vocal duties with the band's other founding member, Mike Lindsay, and though there's still plenty of banjo and fingerpicked acoustic guitar, those instruments no longer impart much of a rustic feel to the earnest unison singing—or to the songs' fussy froth of keyboards and electronics. Cheyenne Marie Mize opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. —Peter Margasak

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