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Friday 11

DJ A-TRAK, DIPLO DJ A-Trak has been spinning, scratching, and beat-matching almost as long as he's been able to wipe his ass. In 1997, at 15, he won the DMC World DJ championship and scored an invite to join the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. Three years and a closet full of trophies later, he retired from battle DJing, and last year he took a semester off from McGill University to DJ for Kanye West on his tour with Usher. A CD/DVD titled Sunglasses Is a Must (Audio Research) comes out later this year. Opener Diplo masterminded the mix of funk, electro, and mashups on last year's Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1 (Hollertronix), a collaboration with UK-by-way-of-Sri Lanka rapper M.I.A. 10 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $7. --Liz Armstrong

CALLA I'm sure there are plenty of people still waiting for Kevin Shields to resurrect My Bloody Valentine, but it would be too bad if those folks missed the sensuous, lush, textured guitar noise that Calla has been creating for years--without any cult of personality getting in the way. Started in Texas but now based in New York, they create trippy sound-weavings with a homegrown feel. Their 2003 album, Televise (Arena Rock), earned them some well-deserved raves and an opening slot on tour with Interpol; their new album, Collisions, is slated to come out in early summer. The French Kicks headline; the Natural History opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

CARLOS D If you didn't care to shell out almost 30 bucks to see Interpol play the "happier" material from last year's Antics at tonight's sold-out Aragon show--or hell, even if you did--head to Smart Bar afterward, where the band's dapper, diagonally coiffed bassist, Carlos D, will host an afterparty and spin some of his favorite vinyl. Herr D prefers 80s goth-industrial stuff like Nitzer Ebb, Clan of Xymox, and Ministry, but don't be surprised to hear party tunes like Trans-X's "Living on Video" or Laid Back's "White Horse" (his sure shot). Maybe if you behave yourself and don't request any Joy Division, he'll let you touch his holster. Brad Owen spins an opening set. a 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-4140, $10. --J. Niimi

CENTRO-MATIC The last full-length from Austin roots rockers Centro-Matic came out in 2003, but front man Will Johnson has kept busy. He released his second solo album, Vultures Await, last fall, and his other band, South San Gabriel (Centro-Matic with four additional members), will release its new album, The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until the Operation's Through (Misra), in April. It's a concept album told from the point of view of a cat, and if that sounds a little precious to you already, the music and songwriting won't change your mind. To my ears the clinking pianos, attention-seeking clatter, and slightly wailing harmonies come pretty close to achieving the band's objectives--though a feline critic might argue differently. The Baptist Generals and Lovers on 3rd open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. --Monica Kendrick

TITO JACKSON As the guitarist in the Jackson Five, Tito Jackson laid choppy chording behind brother Michael's ebullient soprano vocals, though in their 70s heyday you had to catch the group live to actually hear him play--Motown used session musicians on the group's hits. Since the Jacksons finally collapsed as a musical group in the late 80s, he's quietly kept busy with session work, including contributions to his sisters' recordings. But he seems to be attempting a reemergence; in recent years he's shown up at nightclubs, festivals, and blues cruises, and he's reportedly at work on a solo album. The one song of recent vintage I've heard is a sparse, medium-tempo 12-bar lope called "Big Leg Woman," a tune that sometimes threatens to dissolve into hotel-lounge tepidness. Tito's strained, breathy vocals make him sound terrified in the presence of said woman's erotic power, but he redeems himself on the fiercely physical guitar solo. Big James & the Chicago Playboys open. 9 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash, 312-427-0333. 21+, $15. Jackson also opens for Otis Clay on Friday 3/18 at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; call 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212. --David Whiteis

THE NEIN This band from Durham, North Carolina, released an intriguing self-titled six-song EP last fall on the Canadian label Sonic Unyon, a chilly, eerie disc of darkly chiming postpunk that sounded alternately furious and dreamy. They were a trio for that record; since then they've added Dale Flattum, a sampler and tape artist late of Steel Pole Bath Tub. Their first full-length, Wrath of Circuits, is due in May. Taking Pictures headlines; Nonagon opens and Zombi plays third. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 12

ALL NATURAL When David Kelly--aka Capital D of the Chicago duo All Natural--converted to Islam in 2000 and renounced the sexism, violence, conspicuous consumption, and hollow boasting central to so much hip-hop, I feared his records would turn into sermons on tape. I couldn't have been more wrong: between last year's politically charged solo album Insomnia and All Natural's brand-new Vintage (both on the group's own All Natural imprint) he's making the best music of his career. Longtime partner Tone B. Nimble is back on the decks, and a host of producers--from vets like Panik of the Molemen and Dug Infinite to up-and-comer Kenny Keys--provide a wide range of beats and textures to back Cap D's ruminations. "When I See You" is a jazzy, poignant appreciation of his wife; on "Queens Get the Money Part II," a critique of the idea that dressing scantily is an expression of liberation, he does come close to proselytizing, but acknowledges he has no right to tell women what to do. Guest spots from the likes of El Da Sensei, Jungle Brothers, and Family Tree regulars Iomos Marad and Spotlite add variety, but Kelly really doesn't need the help. Little Brother, Daily Plannet, the PACIFICS, Dynamic Vibrations, Tone B. Nimble (DJ set), and Intel open. 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, 18+, $15 in advance, $18 day of show. --Peter Margasak

HAIR POLICE A few years ago a set by noisemongers Hair Police felt like a single pinpoint of spastic angst focused right in your face, but since last year's Obedience Cuts (Freedom From) they've more often evoked the dazed moments after a particularly intense burst of anger. They headline here; playing earlier, Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice features James Toth from psych-improv outfit the Golden Calves and Tovah O'Rourke, who recently married John Olson of Wolf Eyes. Dead Machines, O'Rourke and Olson's side-project duo, performs as well. I haven't heard these last two bands yet, but I can guarantee it's gonna be a night of blood, sweat, and tears. Right Arm Severed, Panicsville, and Bloodyminded open. 9 PM, Orphanage, 643 W. 31st, geocities.com/bloodlustchicago, $8 donation. All ages. --Liz Armstrong

STARS One of the many bands featuring members of the Canadian art-rock collective Broken Social Scene, Stars has just released its third album, Set Yourself on Fire (Arts & Crafts), which shifts away from the relentlessly romantic themes of its predecessor, Heart (2003). Full of electronics, wavelike guitar swells, and male-female vocal sparring, it has a vividness and density that suggests what the Human League might've sounded like if they'd spent more time on guitars than synths and stylists. Apostle of Hustle, a side project of Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman, opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

C.M. VON HAUSSWOLFF Since it hosted its first concert in 1997, local nonprofit Lampo has brought in a who's who of international artists for premieres or otherwise unique performances of experimental music. This year it's made its first foray into releasing records, commissioning work by Swedish sound artist C.M. von Hausswolff and putting it to disc. In August 2003 von Hausswolff recorded sounds on the open-air observation deck of the Hancock Center. He also photographed abandoned buildings around the city, flooding the structures in bright red light. These provided the raw material for the CD There Are No Crows Flying Around the Hancock Building and an accompanying art book, Red Empty (Chicago 2003), a coproduction of Lampo and local art publisher WhiteWalls. For his first performance of the piece, a melange of churning low-end electronic sounds flecked with uncut audio verite (tourists marveling at the view, gusts of wind, hums from the building itself) Hausswolff will use red lights and a quadraphonic sound system designed to bathe the room in low frequencies; he claims both provide a feeling of warmth. According to Lampo, "red refreshments" will also be available. 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 773-227-3617, $12. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Sunday 13

LOU BARLOW The official word from Merge Records is that Lou Barlow's new album, Emoh--that's supposedly "home" spelled backward, not some extra-twee spelling of "emo"--is the first proper solo album by the Sebadoh and Folk Implosion veteran. There have been other discs released under his name, the argument goes, but they weren't intended to create the totality of a coherent solo project. Emoh unmistakably is. It's a collection of sweet, longing, archly romantic acoustic songs, with a slightly loopy edge that suggests Barlow aspires to be a folk eccentric like Michael Hurley when he grows up. Yes, "Round-n-Round" is an unplugged cover of the Ratt hit, and yes, "The Ballad of Daykitty" is about a cat. Darren Spitzer opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

JUST A FIRE Bassist-singer Fred Erskine (June of 44) and guitarist Chris Daly (Sweep the Leg Johnny) joined forces with drummer Scott Adamson a couple years back to create this politically focused local band, which mixes up punk, ska, and reggae--in other words, stuff that's provided the sound track for young protesters for a quarter century. Despite its third-generation sound, Light Up (Asian Man) is a strong debut, even though the players' skills don't always match their ambitions. Victory at Sea headlines; Archaeology opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 14

BLACK SPOONS This New York City trio's hawking its self-released debut, My Dear Radium, a seductive album of unabashed, straightforward jangling indie rock. Though they're slightly enamored with their own schoolboyish lyrics, they lured me in with lines like "You turned me on to things I thought I'd never do / Holy shit, she loves me, maybe I should love me too." Kerosene Kondors headline; the Gnomes open and Long Distance Runner plays third. 9 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $5. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 15

WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY This sprawling Brooklyn punk band sounds like it might once have been the pit orchestra from some sly Brechtian off-Broadway musical. Recent head counts have gone as high as 13, and those extra folks aren't there just to look pretty: the lineup includes saxophone, clarinet, keyboard, accordion, and glockenspiel. The group's most recent full-length is still 2002's Just the Best Party, but last year it put out a three-song EP, Speak of Brave Men (Gern Blandsten), and a tune called "The Expatriate Act" (on Fat Wreck Chords' first Rock Against Bush compilation). Front man and master of ceremonies Jack Terrycloth, never without a dark suit, fedora, and glass of red wine, can pronounce every syllable of a line like "I have always been very articulate about things that I will decide to change my mind about later" at a tempo you can skank to--and he demolishes hecklers with a suave confidence that'd make Steve Albini green. New Model Army, touring behind a best-of collection, headlines. 7 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $15, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 16

TOMASZ STANKO QUARTET With a career spanning four decades, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is the eminence grise of Polish jazz. On his most recent album, Suspended Night (ECM), released last year, his meticulously calibrated music sometimes gets gummed up by his young backing trio. Stanko's worked with this band--pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and drummer Michal Miskiewicz--for more than a decade, and they clearly have a strong rapport. But Trio (ECM), the debut album by Wasilewski, Kurkiewicz, and Miskiewicz, is what gives me the idea they might be the source of the torpor; without Stanko, their music constantly threatens to drift away. On Suspended Night they create graceful but moody and strangely motionless frameworks for Stanko's quirky sound, which is plush but highlighted by serrated flourishes. Stanko has a gift for melodic improvisation, but the songs don't end so much as disappear. 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15. --Peter Margasak

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More by Liz Armstrong, Monica Kendrick, Peter Margasak, J. Niimi, David Whiteis

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