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Friday 3

AKIMBO Partly a team of Melvins-esque sludge sculptors, partly a lean-and-mean pan-metal outfit, this Seattle power trio churns and surges through Forging Steel and Laying Stone (Alternative Tentacles), its fifth album, with a carnivorous glee. With just a pinch of droll wit, too--for all of Akimbo's Mastodon-ish modernity, a couple of licks on "Tina, Bring Me the Axe" sound like no one so much as Leslie Fucking West. And don't tell me you wouldn't be predisposed to like a band this heavy that's not afraid to come up with titles like "Rockness Monster" and "Ground Control to Major Bummer." Sweet Cobra headlines and Akimbo plays third; Indian and Nude Celebs open. 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

AUDION Matthew Dear, aka Audion, started out as a Detroit club and party DJ, making the jump to production with the 1999 12-inch Hands Up for Detroit--the debut release of Ghostly International, a label started by a friend from his Ann Arbor college days. He continued shaping his own brand of microhouse for Ghostly offshoot Spectral Sound in the early aughts, later releasing several more 12-inches for Plus 8 (an imprint co-owned by Richie Hawtin) as False, followed by a 12-inch for the Berlin-based Perlon label in 2003 as Jabberjaw. Returning to Spectral later that year, Dear released (under his birth name) his breakthrough full-length, Leave Luck to Heaven, a fresh techno-pop fusion of minimal house pulse, melodic synth candy, and Dear's own vocalizing. He returns to Smart Bar under his latest moniker, Audion--a harder, heavier, grittier entity, based on last year's Suckfish (Spectral Sound)--in advance of his mix CD Fabric 27, due out in April. Sassmouth opens. 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-4140 or 312-559-1212, $10. --J. Niimi

Saturday 4

EXPLODE AND MAKE UP Local quartet Explode and Make Up is a hardcore supergroup of sorts, featuring members of 88 Fingers Louie, the Bomb, the Methadones, and others. They make much of being "old" (i.e., thirtysomethings) and seem to embrace the notion of hardcore becoming another genre of old-man music with a tradition, like the blues. Fine by me, if the songs are as raw, tight, and passionate as the ones these guys play. Holy Roman Empire and the Holy Fire open. 7 PM, No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 773-743-3355, $6. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

JUICE In an interview with Soundslam.com last year, this local freestyle legend laid out his concerns about the lack of reliable ways to develop and promote local talent in Chicago's hip-hop scene, and said that he wanted his own label, the Conglomerate, to fill that gap. "If we go platinum with my record but we don't use the money from that to build infrastructure, then we really don't have power," he said. That album, All Bets Off, didn't go platinum, but it musta done OK because this show is a release party for his follow-up, New Money. The tracks I've heard feature lusher production that draws more on soul and gospel, and Juice's delivery is more calm and collected. Mass Hysteria, Que Billah, and Zoser open. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $15 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

LEZ ZEPPELIN Surprisingly enough, the members of this all-female Led Zep tribute band have been known to dodge the question of whether they're really all lez. But zep-wise they're going for the total package, from the art nouveau mysticism on their Web site to the nice rack on their version of the Icarus Swan Song logo to the costuming and merch--the band wisely realizes T-shirts are gonna be in high demand. Can they play, though? Oh yes, they can--maybe well enough to drown out any reminiscence about how far we've come since those days when the arguments about whether a feminist could even be a Led Zeppelin fan were personal, melodramatic, and nasty. But probably not well enough to drown out all the jokes about bustles in hedgerows. Rock Star Club and the Goodyear Pimps open. 9 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison, 773-327-1662, $10. --Monica Kendrick

VIVA LA FOXX This trio from Covington, Kentucky, named itself after a local strip club and generally does its damnedest to reinforce the town's historical rep as a home for vices you can't indulge across the Ohio River. Their debut, I Knew It Wasn't Love But . . . (Shake It), plays up their two-girl-one-guy tension in a post-post-riot-grrrl, Nashville Pussy-goes-to-art-school kind of way--their self-consciously trashy songs ("Fake It," "Fuck You Pay Me") are slathered up in garagey, sleazy riffs. Nothing earthshaking, but good dirty fun. The Camaro Rouge headlines; American Pringles and DJ Norah Utley open. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 5

AM SYNDICATE This Austin band's six-piece touring lineup includes members of . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Rhythm of Black Lines, and in the studio half a dozen more folks join in. But their new Empire (on the local Sickroom label) doesn't suffer from too-many-cooks blandness: its elaborate, slightly frenzied, and oddly romantic set of squirmy and serpentine indie prog is informed a bit by world music, jazz, and the band's dark rock roots, and gets safely swept away on its own current, with the drums as a rudder. A Light Sleeper and Death Ships open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 7

ATTIC RECORDINGS Like "Comedy Tonight," the Attic Recordings' newish Village Down Below EP (Mission Label) has something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone--at least everyone who's paid attention to indie guitar rock since the late 80s. These locals, previously known as Black Giraffe--they changed their name after replacing a drummer in 2004--make a strong statement with their seven-song, 36-minute debut, beginning with its eye-catching, screen-printed gatefold sleeve. They're equally adept at muted guitar pop, shoegazer reveries, hypnotic grooves, and the occasional psychedelic flourish, sometimes pulling it all off in the same song. The opener, "Close My Eyes," is a breezy pop number with an imploring bass line and some great guitar interplay; other tunes, like "Introduction" and "Into the Salt," showcase the band's pensive and mesmerizing side. They're currently working on a full-length to be released in late summer. Notes and Scratches and Alexis open. 9 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $5. --J. Niimi

CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO I can't deny Cyrus Chestnut's appeal, but I hold my breath when he launches into a fast run or tricky passage. That's because the pianist's live performances regularly contain enough fumbles to justify such trepidation, and to at least suggest that his substantially cleaner, clearer albums--such as the enjoyable new Genuine Chestnut (Telarc)--reflect a fair amount of postproduction editing. In any case, the 43-year-old Chestnut does a fair enough job representing his generation in the soul-jazz lineage, which grew from jazz's blues roots and evolved into a vital subgenre in the mid-50s. He taps into the bedrock laid down by such keys men as Horace Silver, Bobby Timmons, and Ray Bryant and updates that sound, expanding the repertoire with gospel hymns and adding light funk riffs a la Vince Guaraldi, another obvious influence. Chestnut's music is continually welcoming, even when the host fails to keep the place as spiffy as you'd like. See also Wednesday and Thursday; the group's run lasts through Sunday, March 12. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20. --Neil Tesser

Wednesday 8

CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO See Tuesday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC ENSEMBLE AND PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE Northwestern University's Contemporary Music Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble--with guest Steven Schick, a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars--are combining forces for three industrial-strength 20th-century works and an exciting contemporary pick. The highlight is Edgard Varese's Ionisation (1931), regarded as the first chamber piece written entirely for percussion. Born in Paris, Varese moved to New York in 1915 and was enthralled with the noise of the city; he began to draw on it for inspiration as he made his split from "mummified European music." Likened to a "sock in the jaw" at its premiere, Ionisation calls for 13 musicians and 37 instruments--among them, famously, two sirens. Workers Union (1975), by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, calls for "any loud-sounding group of instruments" in its partly indeterminate score, provided it sound "dissonant, chromatic, and often aggressive." The final work on the program is Iannis Xenakis's Persephassa (1969), a composition for six percussionists. Opening the concert is Altar de Neon by Gabriela Ortiz Torres, a Guggenheim fellow who's considered one of the best young Mexican composers today; Schick will perform a solo work as well. 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 847-467-4000 or 847-491-5441, $6.50, $4.50 seniors. All ages. --J. Niimi

CZARS The languid, thickly melancholic mood of the Czars' Goodbye is something you'd expect from a continental band, not one from Denver; Americans' first reflex seems to be to deliver such sad, lush music sardonically. I figure the Czars picked up at least some of their sensibility through their long association with the Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde, who coproduced their previous two albums and released Goodbye in the UK in 2004 on Bella Union, the label he runs with former bandmate Robin Guthrie. (The U.S. version is finally due out this Tuesday on World's Fair.) With tight, unflagging focus, the Czars channel their varied arrangements and broad range of influences--country, electro-pop, jazz--into one nearly flawless bummer of an album. On the title track a gentle, jazzy techno throb opens into a majestically slow piano refrain: "Love to see you fade and die / I'd love to see you kicking and screaming / As you try to reach the sky." Depending on your temperament, their single-mindedness might seem oppressive, but for me and the rest of Lexapro Nation it's good news. Ester Drang headlines, Minus Story plays third, the Czars play second, and Dark Country opens. 9 PM, Empty Bpottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --J. Niimi

Thursday 9

CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO See Tuesday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

RAHIM When I reviewed Rahim's Jungles EP in these pages last summer, I made some snarky rock-crit crack about it sounding like the headphone mix from a Gang of Four session. But on Ideal Lives (Frenchkiss), the forthcoming debut full-length from these New Yorkers, they've redeemed themselves--and forced me to redeem myself for being so quick to dismiss them (and for being a jagoff). They're obviously smack-dab in the middle of the kind of creative deluge that only the luckiest bands ever manage to cultivate; their songs are overflowing with ideas as well as the energy needed to glue them all together. "KlangKlangKlang" opens with a basic postpunk three-ring circus, with each instrument's rhythmic figure straining against the others, but it ends with a surprising variation on "trading eights": one break features guitar and intimate fingertips on hand drums, another sounds like it was recorded with a mike placed down the hall, and so on. Plus their remake of "Enduring Love" (from Jungles) reinforces its latent pop qualities without dampening the high-strung vibe. Thunderbirds Are Now! headline and Call Me Lightning opens. 7 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $10. All ages. --J. Niimi

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