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Friday 29

AQUALUNG Matt Hales, a former member of the Britpop band the 45s, now operates under the moniker Aqualung, collaborating with his wife, Kim Oliver, and his brother, ex-45s guitarist Ben Hales. Their American debut, which culls tracks from two UK releases, is titled Strange and Beautiful (Red Ink/Columbia). Hales's sweeping and moody orchestral pop certainly sounds beautiful in a dreamy, sad-boy, piano-laden way, but the lyric sheet will shatter any illusion that he's up to something intense and profound. And I could certainly do with a lot more strange. The Cary Brothers open. 10 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $12. --Monica Kendrick

SHIPPING NEWS This band, whose members live in Louisville and Chicago, operates like a creature from the deep, surfacing impressively every couple of years. The 2003 release Three-Four compiled songs from three solo EPs the members recorded individually, which hardly seemed like a promising statement about the band's ongoing cohesion. But since then they've reeled in a fourth member, bassist Todd Cook (recently seen temping with Slint), to record their new Flies the Fields (Quarterstick) with Bob Weston in Atlanta. It's a rich, pulsing record with an eerie consistency; its jewel-toned guitar colors are bolstered by lurking rhythms that suggest a locomotive that moves by stealth. Blesses/Curses opens; Second Story Man plays second. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Saturday 30

GOURDS This Austin quintet has positioned itself as a contemporary incarnation of the Band, and indeed its grasp on the full spectrum of American roots rock has grown more assured over time. But the Gourds have also become seemingly less intent on taking themselves seriously. The Gourds have always demonstrated an ironic, shaggy-dog sense of humor, recasting "Gin and Juice" as a rural ode to self-obliteration or retelling "The Three Billygoats Gruff" using members of James Brown's band as characters. But on their most recent album, Blood of the Ram (Eleven Thirty), their silliness becomes an annoying distraction, from Kevin Russell's absurdist wordplay to the exaggerated southern drawl Jimmy Smith uses to spit out lines like "I was loogin' at the tackle / I came to buy a lure / I saw two bratty chillurn / Ain't you s'posed to be in school?" And the last time I saw them, they seemed content to play up their goofiness at the expense of their rich musicality. 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $15. --Peter Margasak

NICKY JAM, N.O.R.E. Veteran New York gangsta rapper N.O.R.E. rejuvenated his career last summer with the smash "Oye mi canto," a frothy chunk of reggaeton that introduced the Puerto Rican variant of Jamaican dancehall to the mainstream. The song featured cooed R & B vocals by Nina Sky and furious Spanish-language rhymes from Danny Yankee, Tego Calderon, and Gemstar-n-Bigmato--some of the biggest stars of a genre that's become one of the most popular Latin American pop styles of recent years. N.O.R.E. has subsequently played up his Puerto Rican heritage and helped lead the growing interaction between hip-hop and reggaeton; several leaked tracks from his long-delayed Roc-a-Fella debut, like "Niggarican," build on that crossover. He coheadlines this reggaeton showcase with a singer from the Dominican Republic, Nicky Jam, who's yet to make inroads here; his most recent album, Vida escante (Pina), is sweetened with female vocal hooks and chintzy keyboard licks, but his booming voice, riding big stuttering beats, is what should take him to the big leagues. Gemstar-n-Bigmato, Lito & Polaco, Rakim & Ken-Y, and Platano open. 8:30 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 733-252-4000 or 312-559-1212, $42.50. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Sunday 1

MANDO DIAO This bunch comes straight from the Swedish office of central casting, sporting a wholesome dirty-faced-angel look and playing moddish rock with just enough garagitude. Lines like "And the tilted bodyguards took your wife and your dog / Life is better when you own every tree on every yard" (from "Kingdom & Glory," on the recent Hurricane Bar) remind you they've got pretensions, er, ambitions to something beyond simple white-knuckled gratification. For all the reasons to be skeptical of heavily hyped handfuls of pretty young things, there's reason to remain open to them too: it's a really good thing to see this music become actual pop again, enjoyed by actual horny and short-attention-spanned teenagers rather than just vinyl-collecting dust sniffers. Danko Jones plays first; the Comas play second. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

JAMIE O'REILLY & THE ROGUES The promo sampler hawking this reunion concert is made up mostly of live tracks from the band's late-80s heyday, and the CD makes it clear that this was probably one of the best Irish ensembles Chicago ever produced. They made no concessions to pop-Irish sensibilities, playing melodies with instrumentation that sounded by turns vigorous and ghostly. If there's any hybridization going on at all, it's with operatic and cabaret performance (which makes sense, given that cofounders O'Reilly and Tom Amandes both have theater backgrounds). This show--a benefit for the African Refugee Resettlement Committee of Chicago--brings the original members together for the first time in 15 years, but don't go for the nostalgia trip. Go because O'Reilly can make you think you've never really heard "Danny Boy." 7:30 PM, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, 312-458-0822, $20, $15 for students and seniors. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 2

DISNEY & THE MUSLIMS In 2002 Woody Sullender invited three fellow local improv musicians--electronicist Jim Baker, double reedist Kyle Bruckmann, and percussionist Michael Zerang--to play a show he was organizing at 6Odum, with the specific request that they skip "pointy-headed improv" in favor of "something with some rock energy." The trio, which later named itself Disney & the Muslims, responded with an in-your-face blend of ill-tempered snake-charmer melodies, Middle Eastern dance rhythms, and withering blasts of off-the-air TV static. They only played three gigs before Bruckmann moved to the Bay Area in 2003, but their appearance that year at the Empty Bottle was one of the highlights of the Wire's Adventures in Modern Music Festival. This is the group's first performance since that gig, part of a run of shows Bruckmann is playing with his old Chicago bands, including EKG; see Wednesday. Also, the Kyle Bruckmann Group opens for the trio of Jason Adasiewicz, Nate McBride, and Dave Rempis on Thursday at 9:30 PM at 3030, 3030 W. Cortland; call 773-862-3616. Pedal Steel Transmission headlines the Disney & the Muslims gig; JG Everest opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free. --Bill Meyer

RASPUTINA This long-running cello-driven trio--led by Melora Creager, who still looks great in a corset--continues to operate from a sardonic-gothic, bitterly romantic perspective. On last year's Frustration Plantation (Instinct), they skitter across folk balladry, hard rock, goth pop, pseudoclassical, and cabaret as easily as a bow slides across strings. Their latest, A Radical Recital, a self-released live album recorded in Pittsburgh last Halloween, will be available at shows. The Hazard County Girls open. 7 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $13.50-$15.00. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

MARTA TOPFEROVA TRIO Singer Marta Topferova was one of the most pleasant surprises of last year's Chicago World Music Festival: she glided elegantly through a set of pan-Latin nueva trova originals that belied her Czech heritage, accompanying her restrained, husky vocals on a Venezuelan four-string cuatro. But Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda stole the show: playing with a beguiling rhythmic snap, he simultaneously provided pulsing bass lines and gorgeous melodic embellishments. The harp dominates Topferova's fine new album, La marea (World Village), on which Castaneda gilds her sultry vocals with plush chords and spindly single-note flourishes and unreels an endlessly satisfying string of solos. Some of the tracks use chamber-music-like arrangements and instrumentation (violin, French horn, accordion, flute), but Castaneda, drummer Chris Eddleton, and Topferova--the trio performing here--anchor the proceedings. See also Wednesday. 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 3

NEW ORDER Few truly great bands have spawned as many yawner side projects as these legendary Mancunians. Barney Sumner and company frittered away the 90s in Revenge, Monaco, Electronic, and the Other Two, releasing only one album all decade as New Order, 1993's lukewarm Republic. In 2001 they re-formed for Get Ready, which stood up well against the competition in the nascent neo-new wave, though it didn't blaze any new trails. Their first album since then, 2005's Waiting for the Sirens' Call (Warner Brothers), doesn't either--but it does combine the plaintive gray wonderment last heard on Low-life with the big bright sound they've swum around in since Technique, which makes for a fairly pleasant listen. The disc is marred by some typically clumsy moments--like "I Told You So," which carries a nasty whiff of Ace of Base, and "Morning Night and Day," a needless retread of Roxy Music's "Both Ends Burning"--but even these tunes are better than the sum of the members' outside efforts, and the rest are on the whole good fun from a band with nothing to prove. The Assassins open. New Order bassist Peter Hook also DJs Monday, May 2, at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; call 773-549-4140 or see the listings for more. 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Brian Nemtusak

Wednesday 4

MARTA TOPFEROVA See Monday. 7 PM, Borders, 4718 N. Broadway, 773-334-7338. Free. All ages.

Thursday 5

ELECTRIC SIX Detroit's Electric Six may have lingered an unstrategically long time over their sophomore album--the 15 minutes allotted to "Gay Bar" ran out about a year and a half ago--but I can't imagine this stuff is really all that easy to put together. Señor Smoke improves upon the debut's gloriously headache-inducing melange of 70s stadium rock and disco, camped up a few notches past the original specs (believe it or not) and given an extra twist of that irony thing. For those wondering why we need this when we've already got Bobby Conn, the Electric Six are working an entirely different angle: with Conn you're supposed to feel afraid you'll never get the joke, but the Six make you afraid you already have. I wish more of the songs were as hooky as they really ought to be, and the payoff on a cover of "Radio Ga Ga" is pretty slim, but for spectacle alone this parade is too good to rain on. VHS or Beta opens. 9:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

ADAM GREEN Three albums into his solo career, the cofounder of the Moldy Peaches seems to be hitting his stride. Gemstones (Rough Trade), released in February, sounds slightly slick and simple, but it has a comfy coffeehouse feel; it's as if he's determined to reinvent 60s Greenwich Village folk pop, but with lots of language that nice turtleneck-clad boys couldn't get away with back then (the Fugs notwithstanding). And the layer of vulnerability that clashes so charmingly with his rude sexual bravado seems no more a put-on than, say, Paul Simon's. Playing second is the Brooklyn quartet the Gnomes--not the up-and-coming local indie-pop band of the same name. Devin Davis opens. Green also plays Friday 5/6 at 10 PM at Schubas with openers the Gnomes and Stag Party. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12, 18+. --Monica Kendrick


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