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Friday 15

ADEM Kieran Hebden and Adem Ilhan both started solo projects while their main gig, Fridge, was on hiatus: Hebden does field-recording sampladelia as Four Tet, and Ilhan writes intimate folk-pop that's rich in instrumental detail. The recent Homesongs (Domino) was recorded mostly in his bedroom, but it's no slapdash lo-fi affair--his warm acoustic guitar playing is ornamented with low-key percussion loops, harmonium, flute, harmonica, and glockenspiel, among other sounds. In a delicate, finely cracked voice, he sings melodies that alternately recall Nick Drake, Sparklehorse, and, on the rangy closer "There Will Always Be," even Bjork. The strength of his writing suggests he wouldn't need all the bells and whistles to make it work live, but he'll have them anyway--Ilhan and three confederates will play a stageful of instruments. Explosions in the Sky headlines, the Motion opens. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2359 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. All ages. --Peter Margasak

BOXCAR SATAN Upstanding and Indigent (DogFingers) is the third full-length from this Texas band, which propagates a righteous, too-little-heard strain of sounds from the "new weird America." Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan have their proper place among the influences here, but so do Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, and Pere Ubu (as well as the Birthday Party, honorary Americans for this purpose). Jarring, swampy strangeness is the dominant mode--death-rattle saxophone, bloodhound-howling slide guitar, fiddle and dead-drunk-Cajun accordion--but the band also seems more than comfortable playing it (almost) straight on a fervent gospel tune, "Drunk on the Blood of the Lamb," and a frenzied version of "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" Loraxx headlines and Acshen opens. 10 PM, Cal's, 400 S. Wells, 312-922-6392. Free. --Monica Kendrick

MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. Critics were already comparing Jason Molina to Will Oldham before Molina started playing under a bunch of different names. In March 2003 his group Songs: Ohia put out an excellent and atypically rocking album called Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian), and he's since appropriated its title as the name of his full-blown rock band. (He also released an album earlier this year under his own name called Pyramid Electric Co., but let's not get into that.) Whatever you alphabetize it under, the Magnolia record is his most transfixing work, giving his often excruciatingly insular moodiness some breathing room. Molina clearly thinks well of the approach, as a live Magnolia Electric Co. album is slated to come out next year; copies will be available at this show, along with vinyl rereleases of early Songs: Ohia discs. Palliard and Viza-Noir open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Mark Athitakis

POSTER CHILDREN With the Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD sitting pretty in the Amazon sales chart's top ten and the Vote for Change tour battering the swing states with high-firepower stars (including the guy who wrote "Fortunate Son"), there's no shortage these days of protest art aimed at the mainstream. But the Poster Children's new covers EP On the Offensive (Hidden Agenda) is preaching to the choir: I can't see anyone being motivated to change a vote by this downstate band's reverent renditions of the Clash's "Clampdown," Heaven 17's "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang," Fear's "Let's Have a War," and X's "The New World." On the other hand, this collection is a nice reminder that not everyone worshipped Ronald Reagan in the 80s. Headlights and the Idle Hours open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 16

LADYKILLERS These Californians are touring behind their second album, Welcome to Rock 'n' Roll, Kid (Number 3), and their tight, fast, and streamlined take on every single El Lay punk cliche you've ever heard--the sing-alongs, the hooks, the guitar solos that aren't, the classic-Chevy-with-flames-on-it-tattoo sound--brings a dementedly robotic quality to this theoretically visceral music. Great fun when you're drunk, for sure, but so determinedly unpretentious that the stance itself starts to reek of pretension. And is that a fake British accent I hear Adam Levine coughing up from time to time? It only reinforces the impression of a bunch of fame-aspiring buskers who learned to rock phonetically. They open for Suffrajett, Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band, Tijuana Hercules, and the Brought Low. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $5 in advance, $7 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

ORSO The most recent album from these locals, My Dreams Are Back and They Are Better Than Ever (Perishable), credits all but one of its "song shells" to leader Phil Spirito. Song shells? Makes sense. The seven musicians here (who include percussionist Doug Scharin) are given freedom to wander all over these leisurely, dreamy, rural-toned pieces, and they often defy conventional wisdom about improvisation rarely yielding anything too traditionally melodious. The music sways as slowly--and as unchangingly--as reeds in flowing water. The Reader's Peter Margasak opens with a DJ set; Tim Rutili plays second. 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 17

CRAIG TABORN Craig Taborn is one of the few keyboardists on the New York scene who can play it both straight-ahead and abstract. On his recent Junk Magic (Thirsty Ear) he uses acoustic piano, synth, programmed textures, samples, and live processing to create rich, constantly changing sound environments that tenor saxophonist Aaron Alexander and violist Mat Maneri populate with spooky unison lines and harmonically ambiguous counterpoint; drummer David King of the Bad Plus supplies funky backbeats for the leader to cut up and recombine. At the opening night of the Hungry Brain's fourth annual Phrenology Festival, he'll play with Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver in a trio led by Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker. Rolldown plays first, followed by the Ron Perrillo Trio. For a complete festival lineup see the venue's listing in Jazz Clubs. 9 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested. --Peter Margasak

Monday 18

FEDERICO AUBELE On his trip-hoppy debut, Gran Hotel Buenos Aires (ESL), Argentinean producer and guitarist Federico Aubele sounds less interested in tango than in Jamaican dub--the album's full of big, loping bass lines and drifting melodica licks. His acoustic noodling borrows heavily from flamenco and jazz, but the influences are too watered-down to add much flavor. Ultimately it's the kind of suave but shallow modern lounge music made fashionable by Thievery Corporation (not much of a shock, since they own the label and produced the record). Aubele's touring with a live band, though, which includes Poi Dog Pondering's Frank Orrall, and with any luck it'll give his sample-dependent music a kick in the ass. This concert is part of "Ruido II: Latin Alternative Music on the Edge"; a fellow Argentinean, willowy singer Juana Molina, opens. 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 19

BLOOD BROTHERS On their fourth album, Crimes (V2), these Seattle art-rockers remind me of a cat chasing a bug only it can see: damned if I can tell what these guys think they're accomplishing, but they're sure having a ball. Thick, spiky new-wave guitar riffs underline feminine screeching and skeevy reptilian trip-babbling, and the songs all have titles like "Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck" and "My First Kiss at the Public Execution." I don't know if the world is ready for it, but I'd be happy to see music like this become part of the basic vocabulary of rock bands everywhere. Against Me! headlines and True North opens. 7 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $10. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

DEARS This Montreal pomp-pop collective has been systematically upping the ante since its audacious 2000 debut, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story. With the group's brand-new album, No Cities Left (SpinArt), self-styled musical auteur Murray Lightburn (he's credited as the album's writer, director, and producer) has shaped his own widescreen epic--a surging apocalyptic saga loaded with enough electric moments to power a small cineplex. Despite a sometimes distracting fixation with Britpoppers like Morrissey and Blur, Lightburn knows when to leaven his downcast Anglophilia with shots of Gallic warmth, summoning the louche spirit of Serge Gainsbourg at the drop of a filterless Gitane. Airiel headlines; Magnus and the Arks open. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $5. --Bob Mehr

PERU NEGRO To audiences in the States, Susana Baca is the face of Afro-Peruvian music, but while she's worked hard to preserve the sounds of this culture, she's hardly their only exponent. Last month Eva Ayllon, who's far more popular in Peru than Baca, played at the World Music Festival, and this week Peru Negro, a music-and-dance troupe founded by Ronaldo Campos back in 1969, comes to town; both had tracks on Luaka Bop's 1995 compilation Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru, the CD that introduced Baca to the world. On Peru Negro's recent Jolgorio (Times Square) singer Monica Duenas proves herself the equal of Baca or Ayllon, but the emphasis here is on the beat: a squad of percussionists, dominated by several players of the box drum called the cajon, sculpt dense, elaborate rhythms like the festejo, lando, and alcatraz. 7:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707. Free. --Peter Margasak

Wednesday 20

DO MAKE SAY THINK This Toronto band hasn't released an album since last year's Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn (Constellation), but that's all right--its dreamy, elaborate instrumental excursions need that long to sink in. I just wish I had the three-sided double-LP version, which is structured to reinforce the three distinct movements in the music. The Mobius Band and Sainte Chapelle open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick

PUERTO MUERTO Local act Puerto Muerto, known (though not as well as it should be) for two dark, romantic albums released in the past two years, has spent several months working on its latest project--a score for the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The sound track is unexpectedly tender, which I imagine could humanize Leatherface's victims, and creepily off-kilter. Listened to alone, it sounds not so much like a film score as like an album that might happen to line up with a film at weirdly fitting angles--as The Dark Side of the Moon does with The Wizard of Oz. Here the band will perform the score live as the movie plays. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. --Monica Kendrick

Thursday 21

NATE WOOLEY'S BLUE COLLAR New Yorker Nate Wooley belongs to a growing school of improvising trumpeters who're radicalizing their technique to focus on unpitched streams of air and thread-thin, whistlelike tones. But those are far from the only weapons in his arsenal. On _____ Is an Apparition (Rossbin), the new album by his trio Blue Collar, he uses puckered curlicues, vocalizations distorted by the horn's tubing, sputtery stammers, quiet half-valved passages that turn his sound into a fluid whisper, and even some clear, straightforward long tones. Trombonist Steve Swell touches on Radu Malfatti's minimalism and the sort of multiphonic tricks pioneered by Albert Mangelsdorff, but elsewhere he sounds like his usual brash self. And percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani brings an almost ritualistic precision both to his ringing bowed cymbal textures and his occasional bursts of clatter--his contributions broaden the dynamic range beyond what you can usually expect from this kind of free improv. 9:30 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $5-$10 suggested donation. All ages. --Peter Margasak

HAR MAR SUPERSTAR Three albums in, Sean Tillman shows no sign that the joke is wearing thin for him. In fact his music gets more perverse and schmoozy (his latest album, The Handler, includes a breathy cameo by Karen O on the duet "Cut Me Up" and an appearance by the Northern State ladies) the longer he works his nom de suave. Still padding his lite hip-hop, electro-disco, and pink-eyed soul with cotton-candy synth grooves and Casio-rific beats, and still militantly asserting the rightness of public displays of horniness even for--nay, especially for--the pasty and pudgy, he achieves nothing less than a proud reclaiming of pop's fuck-me genre, once exclusively practiced by the likes of Vanity and Apollonia, in the name of the ordinary-looking kids. Codebreaker and the Life During Wartime DJs open. 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Steven Gullick.

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