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Friday 1

JUNIOR BROWN On the new Down Home Chrome (Telarc), Junior Brown effortlessly peels off leads that range from guit-steel improvisations as stylistically voracious as anything laid down by Speedy West to conventional guitar pyrotechnics where he tips his ten-gallon hat to Jimi Hendrix--he even covers "Foxy Lady." But while he still uses his limited vocal range to ape the peerless baritone of fellow Texan Ernest Tubb, his singing has never sounded more soulless, and though it's not cookie-cutter Nashville, his music has become formulaic in its own way. He tosses a few wrenches into the works--the jump blues "Hill Country Hot Rod Man," where he makes like B.B. King, and a poky recitation of "Jimmy Jones"--but ultimately the album's aim is to provide vehicles for flashy solos. Junior's sound was refreshing in the late 80s, but now it's a bore. Scotland Yard Gospel Choir opens. 10:30 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $20 in advance, $25 day of show. --Peter Margasak

INOUK Inouk's front man, Alexander McMahon, doesn't have an especially good voice, but I love the trembly soul in his singing. Likewise the band isn't adding anything to the lexicon of melancholy rock, but it rejuvenates the fundamentals with an ear for beauty. Inouk's recent debut, No Danger (Say Hey), pulls together driving disco-via-Franz Ferdinand guitar, echoey 60s shoop-shoop backup vocals, angular, jazzy piano, and those sliding octave drops on the bass that seem to be one of Radiohead's tics. But the keepers are the simple songs--like the pretty, countryish "Somewhere in France," a sweet tale about a boy's first blow job. Hope of the States headlines. 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Ann Sterzinger

Saturday 2

FU MANCHU, ROLLING BLACKOUTS Stoner-rock mainstays Fu Manchu bring a streak of slick metallic alloy to their new Start the Machine (DRT), and on their Web site they seem more excited about contributing music to a Discovery Channel documentary on motorcycles--a parking-lot burnout's dream of flame-painted glory--than anything else. California's Rolling Blackouts, recently kicked off the Warped tour for inappropriate urination, pursue a crude banging-your-head-against-the-wall repetitiveness on their 60s-influenced garage distillation Black Is Beautiful (Record Collection), like a band that loves the Stooges but can't master the riffs. 11:30 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932, $15, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

MOUNTAIN GOATS John Darnielle and his fellow Goats are still touring behind We Shall All Be Healed (4AD). The album's producer, John Vanderslice, plays second, and Centro-Matic front man Will Johnson opens; on his new solo album, Vultures Await (Misra), he stares down rural desolation. 9:30 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $12. See also Sunday. All-ages. --Monica Kendrick

SCREAM CLUB Scream Club's gaysymmetrical supertwins, Cindy Wonderful and Sarah Adorable, sport matching floppy, platinum mullet-hawks and fantastically retarded ensembles that make it clear they're off in their own world and happy there. Together they bump, jump, and roll around onstage, talking dirty or rapping about feminism, politics, and the evils of capitalism over warbly electro-flavored hip-hop. Tough, hot, always soulful, and never mush-mouthed, MC Wonderful raps over crisp beats, dreamy synth lines, and cartoony samples while Adorable provides sultry backup vocals. They perform as part of Retro-Trash Electro-Clash's End of the World Dance Party, for which promoters Lora Chasteen and Pier Novikov of Medusa's Circle plan to decorate the Metro with garbage. With a DJ set by Novikov and spoken word by the Nihilistic Youth Federation. 11 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $10, 18+. --Liz Armstrong

DAVID SINGER & THE SWEET SCIENCE Smart popster David Singer celebrates the release of his new third album, The Stars Burn Out (recorded by Brian Deck), with a hometown crowd before heading off to the coasts. Lushly overgrown and self-consciously vulnerable, Singer's lyrics scale dizzying heights of rhyme-scheming, but his insights don't always reach a similar level: his take on the plight of single women ("The Rules of the Game") comes straight out of chick lit, and he raises denunciation of the obvious to an art form in the state-of-the-union rant "Is There Anyone Out There?" Clyde Federal and Palomar open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. --Monica Kendrick

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Obsessed with extinction, divinity, and everything nefarious or nasty--from creepy-crawlies to human greed--this Oakland quintet is one of those bands you have to be really committed to if you're going to like them at all. Their latest CD, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum of Natural History (Web of Mimicry), is gross and engrossing, a histrionic epic stuffed with ruffled-feathers prog-metal bass and guitar, Road Warrior scrap-yard percussion, Mordor rumbles, angelic end-of-the-world strings, evil imp jigs, and vocals that range from icky Neil Diamond impersonations to bug-eyed howls to slap-her-she's-hysterical wailing. Usually it's grating when a band tries to seem sinister and deranged, but these folks take it so far overboard that it works. Cheer-Accident and ZZZZ open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499. --Liz Armstrong

TAKING BACK SUNDAY, FALL OUT BOY Taking Back Sunday have dispelled rumors of their demise with a new album on Victory, Where You Want to Be. It's better than the last one: the band strikes an almost perfect balance between naked passion and coy shoegazing, threatening repeatedly to bust out with Jam-like schoolboy candor only to run hiding each time into a fog of instrumental flourishes and pools of gloomy melody. Rolling Stone and MTV buzz band Fall Out Boy (who have already been tapped for next year's Warped tour) are about as exciting as last night's pasta. Matchbox Romance and A Thorn for Every Heart open. 7 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, sold-out. All-ages. --Monica Kendrick

CHRIS WHITLEY Last winter Chris Whitley started selling a pair of solo-acoustic albums, Weed and War Crime Blues, at shows and online; now the Messenger label has released them in stores, and it's about time, too. War Crime Blues in particular is a harrowing blast of neo-Delta testifyin', the dogs of war rewhelped as Robert Johnson's hellhounds. Kelly Joe Phelps opens. Saturday 2, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000, $20, $16 for seniors and kids. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 3

ANTIGONE RISING Overpromotion always raises my suspicions, so you can imagine my reaction when the Reader office got snowed under with copies of a three-song sampler by this all-female, all-earnest heartland-rock act from Long Island. Note to Lava Records: at least send the whole damn album, just in case this band is doing something a zillion bar bands don't do better every weekend. Rich Robinson headlines; Steepwater Band opens. 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $13. --Monica Kendrick

DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA Two weeks ago the pioneer of Indian slide guitar, Brij Bhushan Kabra, performed at the World Music Festival, and this weekend one of his most accomplished and important disciples hits town. Debashish Bhattacharya studied with Kabra for nearly a decade, but unlike his master he's augmented his instrument with sympathetic drone strings for a sitarlike sound. He's a faithful exponent of the Hindustani classical tradition and a stunning technician, playing solos that seem to flow into the gaps in his rhythmic accompaniment like quicksilver, but he's not a purist: last year's gorgeous Mahima (Riverboat), which paired him with genre-hopping Hawaiian guitarist Bob Brozman, draws on spaghetti western sound tracks, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and even Malian blues. Here he'll stick to Hindustani classical music, joined by his brother Subhashish Bhattacharya on tabla. 3 PM, International House, University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th, 708-798-2025, $20, $10 for students and seniors. All ages. --Peter Margasak

SKY SAXON & THE SEEDS, BLACK LIPS Original Seeds lineup? Of course not. New album? Uh, no, though comps and collections abound, and leader Saxon has never completely stopped recording. But so what? The point is that those joyously monotonous garage riffs of old--precursor to everything from Deep Purple to the Ramones to the White Stripes--are a powerful form of hypnotherapy well worth a donation to the Sky Saxon Aging Musicians Fund. Playing second are the Black Lips, a young and greasy Atlanta barbecue-garage outfit whose stabs at trippiness are almost as freewheelingly crude as the Seeds' were, back in the day that neither the Lips nor Saxon are (for very different reasons) able to remember. Plastic Crimewave Sound opens. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 6

CHARLIE KOHLHASE & MATT LANGLEY Saxophonist Matt Langley is an integral part of the long-running quintet led by fellow reedist Charlie Kohlhase: on the recent Play Free or Die (Boxholder), Langley and the rest of the band expertly navigate the vibrant, contrapuntal Mingus-flavored tunes, demonstrating a nonchalant but razor-sharp musical rapport. Kohlhase and Langley's sax duo, a going concern for even longer than the quintet, foregrounds the telepathic connection they've developed over more than two decades of collaboration; on the 2000 disc You Start (Boxholder) the pithy, craggy tunes are built on intervals, not chords, which gives the two of them freedom to range far and wide, their tart lines pulling apart and then snapping back together. Kohlhase and Langley will open with a duet set, then join a quartet featuring cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $5. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 7

LILA DOWNS At a time when racial profiling is rampant in the name of security, singer Lila Downs uses the title track of her new album, Una sangre (Narada), to remind us that Americans are all of mixed blood. The daughter of a Mixtec Indian mother from Mexico and an Anglo father from Minnesota, she's built a career exploring traditional music from both sides of the border with a particular interest in preserving the folklore of her native Oaxaca. Unfortunately, on her latest she continues to overstuff the arrangements, and her awkward, overeager stylistic admixtures too often distract me from her voice--it's the rightful star of the show, with a stunning range and a throaty, deep-seated soulfulness. 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 312-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $25. All ages. --Peter Margasak

NATURAL HISTORY This trio (two of whom are brothers) approach pop like the Upper Manhattanites they are--arch but helplessly infatuated. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--the same slumming sensibility shows up everywhere in classic Britpop. It's just unusual to hear it coming from a bunch of Yanks, devoted as we are to a studied obliviousness to such indelicate subjects as class. On their debut LP, Beat Beat Heartbeat (Startime International) these boys dive into their greasy-spoon riffs and naked hooks with eager recklessness, reacquainting rock with its old sense of fear and desire. The M's and Dead Science open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick

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