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Friday 7

RAMATOU DIAKITE Ramatou Diakite is every bit as powerful a singer as fellow Wassoulou wailers like Oumou Sangare and Nahawa Doumbia (if a bit sweeter), but she's undermined by the production on her U.S. debut, 2003's Maba (Second Moon). Some tunes retain the circular grooves that define Malian music, but most have slick, incongruous flourishes: "Dream" is saddled with noodly electric guitar leads and quasi-Asian accents, and the title track is a blues-pop confection featuring harmonica by Charlie Musselwhite and an awful cameo by New York singer Keith Paine. There's nothing inherently wrong with trying to nudge a musical tradition into a new context, but this feels more like a hijacking. Playing first is Markus James, a Virginia-born musician who joined traditional Malian players to record his 2005 album, Timbuktoubab ("toubab" is Wolof slang for "whitey"), on his own Firenze Records. 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. --Peter Margasak

EISLEY The best songs on Eisley's 2005 full-length debut, Room Noises (Reprise), are caught somewhere between indie-pop innocence and the menacing surreality of a dream that's curdling into a nightmare. Take, for instance, "Marvelous Things," with its anxious, prickly electric piano and lyrics like "I followed a rabbit / Through rows of mermaid-entwined shrubbery"--it sounds more like one of the bad-trippier passages from Alice in Wonderland than the paint-by-numbers heartbroken horseshit you get from Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, or any of the other Hot Topic emo-lite bands that Eisley usually gets filed with. The worst songs on the record are like teenage-girl poetry set to a Cranberries record, but even that's not as dire as it sounds--and one of the band members is still a teenage girl, so whatever. They're recording a new record after this tour, and 80,000 MySpace addicts are pumped for it. Simon Dawes and Brighten open. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $12. All ages. --Miles Raymer

JANA HUNTER For better and worse, Texan Jana Hunter has been pegged as a freak-folk protege: her first solo release was a split 12-inch with Devendra Banhart, and she was the first artist signed to Gnomonsong, the imprint run by Banhart and Vetiver's Andy Cabic. While the cracked, homemade feel of her full-length debut, Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom, its whispery tunes swimming in ambient noise and reverb, is enough to warrant the tag, in other ways the record defies expectations. The multitracked, ragged harmonies on "The Earth Has No Skin" and the cheesy Casiotone preset tracks on the hooky "K" position her more as a quirky pop singer with a penchant for naked arrangements and elliptical, feverish lyrics. Her brother John, who played with her in the band Matty & Mossy, will accompany her on guitar and bass. Rosie Thomas headlines, Luke Temple plays second, and Hunter opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Peter Margasak

PAS/CAL This Detroit indie-pop septet fetishizes the cosmopolitan counterculture of 1960s Paris like mad. The covers of their two EPs (both on Le Grand Magistery) are "candid" snapshots of the natty crew, perhaps discussing the new Gore Vidal book, a nude lingering in the margins. And wait until they start explaining themselves: "The spark that ignited Pas/Cal . . . was provided by [guitarist] Gene Corduroy's dubious dare to the group: improvise a pop song with the wit, charm and craft of a masterwork that had been labored over for months." I guess they decided laboring for months at a time was fun, because they ended up building their own studio in a converted garage to record their second EP, Oh Honey, We're Ridiculous, and so far they've spent a couple years recording their first LP. Honey bears no resemblance to a Michel Legrand film score--the five songs are richly arranged, carefree pop numbers. One of the band's earlier tracks, "The Bronze Beached Boys," recently turned up in a Saturn commercial, though I imagine they're more the Reliant three-wheel convertible type. Asobi Seksu headlines, Pas/Cal plays second, and Sleep Out opens. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --J. Niimi

Saturday 8

CENTRO-MATIC I like to be cynical about indie rock--I enjoy pointing out that most of the supposedly heartfelt stuff that gets cranked out today is just as played out and formulaic as anything the hair-sprayed hordes wrote back when Toto was taken seriously. I do this because I like to imagine I'm clearing the field a little for bands that can convince me, rock me, and sell me on it all over again. Listening to Centro-matic's new album, Fort Recovery (Misra), I'm willing to give myself up to its yearning, and I want to whisper to needy-voiced Will Johnson, "You really are special. You are not like the others. 'Calling Thermatico' is everything Green on Red should've been." The Great Lake Swimmers and Two Cow Garage open. 10 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10. --Monica Kendrick

DIRTY PROJECTORS New Attitude (Marriage Records), the fifth and newest release from David Longstreth under the Dirty Projectors moniker, is a seven-song EP filled with dark, swirling, and eruptive charms. While Longstreth has been playing songs from it on his current tour, the main attraction is the material from the previous Dirty Projectors full-length, The Getty Address, a "glitch opera" involving Don Henley and Sacagawea. James Sumner, the man behind Vs. Anna Films, has turned the record into an animated movie, excerpts of which have been fully integrated into the set. The Dirty Projectors are performing as a quartet featuring bassist Nat Baldwin, who's also playing solo on select dates, including their show Monday at the Hideout. The Thin Man and Franklin Delano open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick

NO THINGS In the wacky world of rock writing, hyperbolic language gets pitched around like hay on a farm. As far as capturing the quality of a piece of music with anything approaching accuracy, however, I've met my match in "Trees," the virtually indescribable B side of a 2004 single by the NYC trio No Things. (The group has released only two seven-inches, but just recorded a full-length with Ivan Julian of the Voidoids.) You could call it postpunk noise rock, but these fellows, being former members of Him and the Liars, are pretty adept at eluding genres, which makes "Trees" all the more difficult to pin down. It's cacophonous but structured, with lots of sonic detail crammed into a short amount of time, blurring the structure to the point of opacity. Knife Skills open. 8 PM, South Union Arts, 1352 S. Union, 312-850-1049, $7. All ages. --J. Niimi

Sunday 9

NINE BLACK ALPS See Monday. 3 PM, Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark, 773-477-5994. Free. All ages.

Monday 10

DIRTY PROJECTORS See Saturday. The Singleman Affair and Nat Baldwin open. 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8.

NINE BLACK ALPS If a grunge revival has to happen there's no reason why the UK can't be ground zero, and this Manchester band brings a bit of polish and hookiness to those big, blustery angst bombs. Some Britpop melodicism sneaks in between the riffs on their U.S. debut, last year's Everything Is (Interscope), and the production is crisp--there's nothing sloppy or hairy here, just tightly controlled, well-orchestrated emulations of rage, as stylish and stylized as a murder in a Tarantino flick. Nine Black Alps also plays a free in-store at Tower on Clark; see Sunday. Twin Wrecks the Memory opens. 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 11

LE TRIO JOUBRAN Last year Samir Joubran told a reporter that he got the idea for this oud trio, comprised of him and his two brothers, when he heard the guitar trio of Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco De Lucia. "Why can't the oud be shiny like that?" he asked. Fortunately these Palestinian siblings don't put a premium on flash; the playing on their debut CD, Randana (Fairplay/Sheer), is undeniably incendiary, but you never wonder if they're getting paid by the note. Instead they use traditional Arabic improvisational modes as launchpads for episodes of stirring but thoughtful interplay that showcase their intimate attunement to one another. 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Bill Meyer

TINARIWEN So your ancestors were nomads who drove camel caravans across the Sahara, but modern nations chopped up their routes with borders and now you're stuck in a refugee camp in Libya. What else can you do but start a band? Many of the Kel Tamashek (widely known as Tuaregs) took up arms in such camps, hoping to reclaim by force what they'd lost by opting out of Africa's colonial and postcolonial governments, but the members of Tinariwen picked up electric guitars too. They've been playing together since the 80s, when their revolutionary songs were banned in Algeria and Mali, but they didn't release an album outside North Africa until The Radio Tisdas Sessions in 2001. Both on that record and its successor, 2004's Amassakoul (World Village), the politics are more personal, animated by a determination to persevere in the face of civil war, drought, and cultural decline. Using anywhere from two to four guitars, an electric bass, and a collection of hand percussion, Tinariwen suspends call-and-response singing over braided, droning leads and clip-clopping grooves that get more hypnotic the deeper the band gets into its set. High Hawk opens. 8 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $15. --Bill Meyer

Wednesday 12

GIRLYMAN If this Brooklyn-based New Queer America folk trio didn't exist, Daemon Records would've had to invent it. (Amy Ray's label rereleased Girlyman's DIY debut, Remember Who I Am, in 2004, and put out last year's Little Star as well.) The group cultivates a playful, queer-positive vibe in interviews, blogs, and occasionally its songs, but what sells its pan-folk fusion are the tight and sunny three-part harmonies--they're giddy and seamless, with bright eyes, perfect teeth, and an earnestness worthy of A Mighty Wind. Scott Free opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

IMPERIAL BATTLE SNAKE This evil quartet, whose members give themselves names like Mlodzilla Mlodzinski and Doom Wop Costanza, has the longest list of influences I've ever seen on a MySpace band page, though that's not a marker of artistic complexity: they play timeless, unadorned booze metal that's slightly political and menacing at first but actually rather friendly and goofy once you get to know it. This is a release party for their new album, the self-released Attack. Bible of the Devil headlines, the Nerds play third, Imperial Battle Snake plays second, and Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band open. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $7. --Monica Kendrick

GORAN IVANOVIC & ANDREAS KAPSALIS The source material for guitar duos can come from just about anywhere, from the Baroque to avant-garde jazz, but folk musics are an especially large influence, for an obvious reason: the guitar, or something like it, exists in virtually every culture. Goran Ivanovic was born in Croatia and Andreas Kapsalis is a local of Greek descent, and both draw from their heritage for their music. In his terrific quartet, Ivanovic applies his wizardly technique to a viable fusion of jazz and Balkan traditions, but his guitar duos with Fareed Haque (captured on two discs) provide a better idea of what might happen at this gig: the two create explicitly arranged, finely wrought frameworks that withstand sudden explosions of individual improvisation. Kapsalis's own technique makes him a well-matched sparring partner, though it came at a cost. While in his teens, he severed a tendon in his left hand--shades of Django Reinhardt there--and while it healed he relearned to play the instrument by tapping the strings with his right hand only. When he regained command of his left one, he ended up with a helluva combination punch. 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $10 students. --Neil Tesser

SIA Sia Kate Isobelle Furler's stock surged last year when her song "Breathe Me" appeared in the closing montage of Six Feet Under's series finale. That bittersweet tune, with its mewling vocals, sound-tracky strings, and downtempo groove, first appeared on Sia's second album, Colour the Small One (Astralwerks), which is now getting an American release two years after it came out in her native Australia. The opening songs are appealing and pretty, if consistently mopey--her artfully mumbled vocals weave through the rhythms like a drugged snake. But too often she combines the worst kind of coffeehouse platitudes with backdrops that are long on atmosphere and short on melody. Eagle and Talon open. 9 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, sold out. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 13

AKWID In 2003 this Latino hip-hop duo from LA made a splash with Proyecto Akwid, setting gangsta-leaning Spanish-language rhymes to snippets of banda, the Mexican brass music that sounds like an army of vodka-sloshed mariachis pumping out high-speed polkas. The puffing horns worked like a charm on the record's biggest hit, "No Hay Manera," which stacked tight trumpet riffs over thumping breaks and the occasional timbale explosion. But on their latest album, last year's Los Aguacates de Jiquilpan (Univision), the brass sounds are largely limited to the track "Akwid"--maybe these guys were trying to avoid getting pegged as a novelty act, but now they just sound generic. The new songs are rooted in standard-issue funk and soul samples, and the two MCs don't have enough personality to compensate. Rico Suave, Cesar Perez, and Catrachoman spin. 8 PM, Volkan, 2501 S. Kedzie, 773-247-2400 or 312-559-1212, $25, 18+. --Peter Margasak

METRIC The twitchy new-wave agitpop of Metric's 2003 debut, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (Everloving), failed to change the world, so it's understandable that these Toronto art punks sound less hopeful and more heels-dug-in on the follow-up, Live It Out (Last Gang). The hooks are less immediate and Emily Haines's sloganeering is more desperate, but her lines are still just as dead-on: "Buy this car to drive to work / Drive to work to pay for this car" and "I fought the war but the war won" pithily encapsulate recognizable frustrations. And "less immediate" doesn't mean "less tuneful"--the songs just need a little more time to nab you. The Elected and From Fiction open. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $12. All ages. --Keith Harris

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