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Friday 3

RICHARD BUCKNER Though Richard Buckner's recordings are indelibly gorgeous and uniformly brilliant, they lack the ache and vitriol of his live shows: his voice runs rawer, his southern accent is more audible, and there's a touch of holler that pitches his songs more toward bleak Americana, to some territory past insurgent country and just south of pissed-off old-timey hymns. On this tour he's road testing songs he's been working on in his newly adopted home of Brooklyn for his next album on Merge, and he'll be accompanied by former Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gilliard. Josh Malerman opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14. --Jessica Hopper

CAPTAIN YONDER This Minnesota duo first caught my attention a few years ago with its concept: all of its songs were supposedly the work of a mysterious American-primitive backwoods polymath, "Captain" Jack Yonder, who left hundreds of songs behind after he died. Now that they've put out their self-released third album, a self-titled disc recorded at Low's Sacred Heart studio, front man Ryan Pfeiffer is claiming Captain Yonder as only an "influence," and it's good to see him and his partner, cellist Esme Schwall, emerge from the shadow of their lovely fiction. Their songs are dreamy and sepia-toned folk in the Harry Smith vein, getting their modern flavor from lyrics that are contemporary versions of the traditional ghost story, the marine tragedy tale, the nostalgic childhood song, and the apocalyptic hymn. What Four opens. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick

KIERAN KANE & KEVIN WELCH WITH FATS KAPLIN Plenty of country hit makers have been handed walking papers by Music Row major labels in the past decade, but that's actually been a boon for listeners--90s stars like David Ball, Radney Foster, and Mark Chesnutt made some of their best, most interesting records only after they wound up on indies. Kevin Welch and Kieran Kane, who started their mainstream country careers in the late 70s, are trailblazers in this regard: in 1995 the two teamed up with fellow outcasts Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers, and Harry Stinson to launch Dead Reckoning, a label that's served as a sort of refuge for their ilk. Kane and Welch's most recent album, 2004's You Can't Save Everybody (Compass), has a spare, folksy sound that emphasizes camaraderie and front-porch intimacy; joined only by Fats Kaplin on fiddle, banjo, and accordion, the two deliver bluesy originals with lyrics that usually ruminate on contemporary rural life and more existential matters. But my favorite tune, the unabashedly topical "Everybody's Working for the Man Again . . . ," is a scathing attack on broadening corporate influence: "The broadcasters bought off the FCC / Big oil's got the EPA / Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton / What else do you have to say?" The two will be joined by Kaplin at this show. 9:30 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. --Peter Margasak

Saturday 4

THE BOMB Comparisons between the Bomb and singer Jeff Pezzati's legendary former band, Naked Raygun, are unfair, perhaps, but inevitable. The two share some key touchstones: buzz-saw guitar, "woah-oh-oh" backups, aggro drumming, and of course Pezzati's spine-chilling voice, which swings from destitute to furious to triumphant, sometimes within the same line. On Indecision (Thick) his lyrics lean more toward the bitter intimations NR adopted toward the end of their tenure--you think you're blah blah, well let me tell you something about blah blah--the flip side of which is they lack the goofy absurdity of NR's early years. And though there are a smattering of solid moments--"Hardly Shed a Tear," "Won't Apologize," "1000 Tons of Ice"--the Bomb could also benefit from a dose of NR's monstrous hook sense. But to be fair, is anyone today as good as Naked Raygun was in 1986? First person to say Fall Out Boy gets knocked out. The Methadones headline, the Bomb plays second, and the Unpretty Things open. 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $6 in advance, $8 at the door, 18+. --J. Niimi

JIM ELKINGTON Local singer-guitarist Jim Elkington got some well-deserved love last year for Dimmer (Thrill Jockey), the second album from his band, the Zincs: the record's loping songs never sank into a morass of diffident post-rock meandering, and Elkington doesn't withhold the pleasure of a melodic payoff. He's also kept busy as a sideman, making some tasteful and bittersweet guitar contributions to Freakwater's last album, Thinking of You, and he's just come off a short European tour with the band. He's about to hit the road again, opening for Edith Frost on a two-month U.S. tour; he's performing here as part of the "Sound Check" series of benefits for soundman Gary Schepers. Freakwater headlines and Deanna Varagona opens. 4 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $15. --Monica Kendrick

THE HONORARY TITLE I want to sleep with the Honorary Title's Jarrod Gorbel, and I'm not gay. (I'm not.) With his skinny arms and mussed bedhead and perfectly pit-stained T-shirt he is to indie-rock sex appeal what Ted McGinley briefly was to country-club studliness in the 80s. Chris Carrabba handpicked the Honorary Title to open for Dashboard Confessional on a 2002 tour, which led to a deal with the Get Up Kids' former home, Doghouse Records. By the time the band's full-length debut, Anything Else but the Truth, came out in 2004, Gorbel couldn't have been more perfectly positioned to take advantage of the randy discontent of emo nation. The album's opener, "Frame by Frame," is a rundown of the genre's stock-in-trade: jangly, insistent guitar, melodies that can sweet-talk their way into your house and/or blouse, and as soul-searching a voice as I can stomach before reaching for an anti-inflammatory like Generic Flipper. Limbeck, Koufax, and Jeff Klein open. 5 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $10 in advance, $12 day of show. All ages. --J. Niimi

WILLIWAW ENSEMBLE Outwardly Bill Whitmer is pretty aw-shucks about his work as an improviser--he plays the electric ukulele, a choice of instrument that would seem to dictate humility, and song titles like "What Good Waffles Do" and "Pit Stop--Pissing My Life Away" are certainly not the handiwork of a Serious Artist. But if you underestimate him, it's your loss. Over the course of many years and many self-released albums he's nimbly piloted his unlikely vehicle into uncharted territory again and again, making pulsating, variegated, beautiful noise--and when I imagine him returning from one of those wild flights, there's nothing self-effacing about the radiant grin he's wearing. Like many improvising groups, the Williwaw Ensemble is more a loose collective than a regular working band; Whitmer says that this time it'll probably be at least a six-piece, including mandolinist Kenneth "Kip" Rainey from Tangleweed and guitarist Nathaniel Braddock from the Ancient Greeks. 10:30 PM, Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton, 773-772-9970, donation requested. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 6

JASON MOLINA Though he's better known by the names he's traveled under--Songs: Ohia and more recently Magnolia Electric Co.--singer-songwriter Jason Molina still likes to come out from behind them from time to time and play as himself. He's hardly reluctant to get personal when he's got a band, but on solo albums like the forthcoming Let Me Go he strips down even further than usual: forget clothing, he's taking off skin. For this every-Monday-in-February residency, Molina is playing curator, picking opening acts to best complement his own alarmingly naked music. This week he's invited Bottomless Pit, a new four-piece starring former Silkworm members Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen, and the local art-pop band Lacona. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $6, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

JAVIER RUIBAL Self-taught singer-songwriter Javier Ruibal grew up in Cadiz, a historic coastal city in southern Andalusia, but his music draws only sparingly on the rich flamenco traditions of that region. His pretty voice doesn't have the raw rasp that's de rigueur in flamenco, his lyrics are more often romantic celebrations of female beauty than expressions of emotional pain, and as a guitarist he usually favors placid strumming and lyric arpeggios instead of the furious, choppy rhythms that typically define the genre. He also borrows from Latin American styles--hints of bolero or samba give his performances their distinctive smoothness--as well as from rock, jazz, and the Arabic music of Spain's neighbors across the Mediterranean. His records are too slick and tasteful for me--they lack flamenco's essential fire--but he might sound more earthy at this show, his Chicago debut, where he'll be joined only by second guitarist Antonio Alcedo Gil. 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 7

VICENTE AMIGO In the past decade Vicente Amigo has emerged as the best flamenco guitarist still playing: he's collected a pile of awards in his native Spain, won a 2001 Latin Grammy for Best Flamenco Album, and worked up enough star power to share stages with the likes of Paco de Lucia and Keith Richards. Spend some time with his records and it's clear he deserves all the attention--Amigo's a dazzling technician who understands flamenco's emotional intensity as well as its stylistic building blocks, and though he's willing to experiment he's careful never to compromise the music's traditions. I tend to dig my flamenco uncut, so I appreciate Amigo's fifth and latest album, Un Momento en el Sonido (BMG Spain): despite some unfortunate synth washes, his instrumentals balance lyric piquancy and rhythmic explosiveness, and on a few tracks he provides simpatico support for singers Antonio Villar and El Potito. For this show he fronts an octet including a dancer, a second guitarist, a bassist, two percussionists, a keyboardist, and singer Blas Cordoba. 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $15-$55. --Peter Margasak

Wednesday 8

ELEFANT, MORNING AFTER GIRLS Diego Garcia, singer for New York's ELEFANT, recently told a college newspaper that his band wanted the songs on their forthcoming album, The Black Magic Show (Kemado/Hollywood), to "capture the feelings of late nights in New York City." That's strange, considering he wrote most of them while roaming South America with a classical guitar he bought on a whim. But with the additional influence of melodic 90s Britpop, Elefant have become one of those rare pop-rock bands--New Zealand's like-minded Veils being another--whose sound is hard to locate on a map. Their confident, engaging tuneage also shares the Veils' penchant for Robyn Hitchcock-like melodic contours--the kinds of melodies that forgo the shortest distance between two points in favor of the more scenic route. All the better to get lost. --J. Niimi

The MORNING AFTER GIRLS have generated enough buzz to set off a backlash in their current home of Sydney (where they moved from Melbourne), but they're still fresh to us here: the quintet recently released an eponymous compilation of their Aussie EPs, and their first trip to the U.S. was less than a year ago. Their sound isn't shockingly original--spiraling, churning, sometimes triple-guitar-part Velvet Underground worship--but there's a certain audacity in its faithfulness, a joy in their chapter-and-verse-quoting fervor, that might wind up taking some bitter ol' cynical bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Warlocks right back to the church where they learned the gospel in the first place. --Monica Kendrick

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club headlines, Elefant play second, and the Morning After Girls open. 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $20, 18+.

Thursday 9

HAIR POLICE No disrespect to Hair Police, but they haven't been the same since they caught their big break and toured with Sonic Youth. Yeah, they're still cranking out the car-crash noise, but where it used to come off as a pure expression of young male rowdiness onstage, now it's humorless and somehow slick--it's like they think they're shooting a hardcore video. But this show's still worth seeing for the all-star midwestern bill, even if it is something of a noise-nerd circle jerk. Hair Police headline the five-band lineup, and Burning Graveyards (featuring Spencer Yeh from Burning Star Core and John Olson from Wolf Eyes) play fourth; also opening are Lambsbread, local power-electronics group Bloodyminded, and the re-renamed Reluctant Sseepage (a "hardcore" band with Brent Gutzeit from TV Pow and Blake Edwards from Vertonen). 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Liz Armstrong

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