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Friday5

CLOGS On their latest album, Lantern (Brassland), the Clogs pull away from the exciting minimalist chamber music of 2004's Stick Music and go back to playing ambient-classical songs for indie-rock kids, a la the Rachel's. The predominant elements are Thomas Kozumplik's circular drumming and electric-guitar arpeggios played by Bryce Dessner (who's also in the National), and though there's some lovely harmony and counterpoint on the new album, especially between Rachael Elliott's bassoon and Padma Newsome's strings, the rock rhythms make most of the compositions sound tediously simple. Newsome's tepid singing on the title track doesn't help either. Bell Orchestre headlines and Snailhouse opens. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. All ages. --Peter Margasak

MARY GAUTHIER At first Mary Gauthier seems like too much of a late bloomer to be a new-Nashville cause celebre--she didn't start writing songs until she was 35, spurred in part by her heartbreak over another woman. But her hardscrabble life fits country tradition just fine; she's been a runaway, an alcoholic, a drug addict, and had run-ins with the law and homelessness. She sounds ragged and world-weary, but her lyrics have the glint of hope unique to those who've seen the other side and battled their way back. The dark Americana on her latest album, last year's Mercy Now (Lost Highway), is masterfully subtle, distilling back-porch country through southern folk. Gauthier's tear-in-your-nonalcoholic-beer songs are largely survivors' testimonials: on "I Drink" she sings about alcoholism as the tie that binds her to her father, but her voice carries no resentment, just bitter truth sweetened by her warm, compassionate, aching drawl. See also Saturday. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $20. --Jessica Hopper

RUPAYAN This group of musicians and dancers from India's Rajasthan region hasn't released any records, but its concept alone--a mixture of traditions from the area's Langa and Manganiyar castes--is reason enough to recommend it. The two peoples were court performers centuries ago, playing a spare, deeply soulful music in which chanted call-and-response vocals undulate over richly droning strings. That sound is far removed from the formal constraints of Indian classical music; in fact, Rajasthan is generally considered to have been the starting point for Gypsy culture, and its influence can be heard on the nomadic path Tony Gatlif retraced in his powerful documentary Latcho Drom, which features a number of Rupayan's musicians. This performance, Rupayan's Chicago debut, is part of the opening night of Along the Gypsy Trail, a three-day festival featuring music, dance, and food from India, North Africa, eastern Europe, and Spain; see Fairs & Festivals for a complete lineup. 7 PM, International House, University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th, 773-472-1105 or 773-753-2274, $30, $20 students and seniors; three-day passes are $60, $40 students and seniors. --Peter Margasak

Saturday 6

KIRAN AHLUWALIA Indian-born, Toronto-based singer Kiran Ahluwalia has made it her mission to revitalize the ghazal, an ancient style of love song that originated in Persia in the tenth century and was later institutionalized in India. She learned the music from her parents, and after a brief stint as a bond trader she decided to pursue it full-time, traveling to her birthplace in 1990 to study with ghazal master Vithal Rao. Ghazal performers usually adhere to a repertory of songs that are hundreds of years old, but Ahluwalia focuses instead on original material, setting contemporary Urdu and Punjabi poetry to her own music and arrangements. Her 2005 self-titled album on Triloka repackages tunes from her first two indie discs and adds new tracks featuring Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. The album mixes her originals with Punjabi folk tunes, and the addition of non-Indian influences gives Ahluwalia's lively melodies and airy vocals a subtle pop accent--she's found a way to advance a tradition without diluting it. Ahluwalia also plays a free in-store at 3 PM at Borders, 4718 N. Broadway, 773-334-7338. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. All ages. --Peter Margasak

MARY GAUTHIER See Friday. 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $20.

JEAN-LUC GUIONNET & DAVID CHIESA WITH MICHAEL ZERANG For the sort of improvisation that abandons melodic or harmonic development in favor of subtle gestures and minuscule changes in texture, the instruments of choice these days are usually electronic. I find acoustic minimalism more immediate, though, and the French duo Jean-Luc Guionnet (reeds, organ) and David Chiesa (electric and double bass) play especially refreshing stuff--luxurious, painterly improvisations full of lush long tones, raspy squiggles, and low-end rumbles. Both have worked with electronic musicians, most notably on last year's Sion (WMO Recordings) with Lionel Marchetti and Jerome Noetinger, but they developed their distinctive voices elsewhere: Guionnet studied with Xenakis and has shaped coloristic soundscapes with the acoustic quintet Hubbub, and Chiesa has collaborated with dancers, poets, and experimental filmmakers as well as some of Europe's finest improvising musicians. I've heard an unreleased duo recording where they seem to levitate, orbiting each other in a stately and abstract dance; for their Chicago debut they'll be joined by supremely flexible local percussionist Michael Zerang. 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 773-227-3617, $12. All ages. --Peter Margasak

THE LIFE AND TIMES I wouldn't exactly call it a trend, but it seems like every city in America has a band that sounds like Swervedriver. Chicago has Starlister; Seattle, where I'm writing this, has Aveo. And Kansas City, Missouri, has the Life and Times. The trio's full-length debut, last year's Suburban Hymns (DeSoto), is a showcase for the formula--melodic guitar rock that's atmospheric in production and densely wound in form. Those with less attentive ears might call it emo, which is an easy mistake--the album was produced by J. Robbins, and DeSoto is run by two of his former bandmates in Jawbox. Robbins outdoes himself with headphone treats like shell-game drums and julienned guitars, but ex-Shiner singer Allen Epley persistently delivers his vocals with an alt-Brit stiff upper lip, even in moments that ache for some genuine emoting. His wonderfully direct lines ("There's nothing in this place / So gather up your face / The streets are soaking wet / And the people all look dead") draw their power from the band instead. Piglet, Blackpool Lights, and Whale | Horse open. 7 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. All ages. --J. Niimi

THE LIKE YOUNG I was underwhelmed by this local husband-wife duo when I happened to catch a live set about a year ago; I think I'd just seen Mates of State again and probably came in with unfairly high expectations. But the Like Young's new Last Secrets (Polyvinyl), its third full-length, is pretty damn great. Amanda and Joe Ziemba (drummer and guitarist-keyboardist, respectively) recorded the album in their home studio, and the simple, up-front production spotlights their gift for body-blow pop hooks and classic vocal harmonies. The biting lyrics come off like the work of a more romantically inclined Michael Gira at times, but though the tone's relentlessly scathing ("What's a woman to you? / So grab a tit, even if you can't... / Your sex as leverage is not right / Gather the reasons and take it back"), the two sound way too simpatico to be directing the venom at each other. The Fake Fictions open. 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --J. Niimi

Tuesday 9

SIGUR ROS It's gotta be a kick to be in a band that gets to play both Coachella and the Montreux Jazz Festival, not to mention some of the most beautiful music halls on the continent--all of which Sigur Ros will have done by the end of their current tour in support of last year's Takk...(Geffen). It might seem a bit precious for an art-rock band to play joints like the Civic Opera House, but then few pop artists could justify it sonically (aside from Bjork, who's also graced the Civic's stage). The band has described Takk...(Icelandic for "thank you") as a "rock 'n' roll record," and though that won't translate to seats getting ripped out of the floor, they've lost some of their droning dourness, tempering the fluid dynamics of 2002's ( ) with more structure and more palpable melodies. The import-only Saeglopur EP, which includes a bonus DVD of Takk... videos, comes out this month, as does the "Hoppipolla" seven-inch. Amiina opens. 7:30 PM, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, 312-419-0033 or 312-559-1212, $37.50. All ages. --J. Niimi

Wednesday 10

COHEED AND CAMBRIA Coheed and Cambria's popularity is baffling: the band's seamless fusion of pop metal and deep-cut prog shouldn't stand a chance against Claudio Sanchez's voice, which has been compared (generously) to something out of Alvin & the Chipmunks. As unwieldy as its music sounds, though, the band is pretty genius: it seems to have captured a fan base by catering to every maligned interest of pimply, solitary teenage boys. You get complex, solo-filled precision metal, you get portentous concept albums, you get sci-fi/horror/fantasy narratives--all that's missing is the bong and a free poster of a buxom Viking woman straddling a winged steed. Coheed and Cambria's most recent release, last year's ridonkulously titled Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (Columbia), disappointed loyalists by not being as exhaustively over-the-top as previous discs; some fans have derided it as too pop. To my ears the diminished intensity makes the band a more tolerable guilty pleasure--even though the ballad "Always & Never" could pass for a Loggins & Messina outtake. And onstage their tight, orchestrated bombast is something to behold. Avenged Sevenfold headlines and Eighteen Visions open. 6:15 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, $30. All aged. --Jessica Hopper

Thursday 11

TIM DAISY'S FESTIVAL QUARTET While I'm sure he's not complaining, I wish Tim Daisy weren't so busy--he spends so much of his time drumming with outfits like the Vandermark 5 and the Rempis Percussion Quartet that we hardly get to hear his own projects. The music of Daisy's Festival Quartet, so far available only on a self-titled, self-released CD-R, recalls the barricade-storming early free jazz of Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, but with the ragged aggression moderated by a more straightforward swing and the improvisations unfolding at a relatively leisurely pace. The lineup here, with bassist Anton Hatwich, cornetist Josh Berman, and tenor saxist Keefe Jackson, mirrors the instrumentation on two of Cherry's scorching mid-60s Blue Note recordings, Complete Communion and Where Is Brooklyn? Like Ornette, Daisy writes simple, memorable themes that leave his players plenty of room to maneuver--and when the music slows down and he takes mallets to his toms, adding some West Africa-via-New Orleans flavor, there's no mistaking the influence of drummer Ed Blackwell, who played for both Cherry and Coleman. Bassist Kent Kessler opens with a solo set. 10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, donation requested. All ages. --Bill Meyer

GOMEZ When Gomez released In Our Gun in 2002, the word was the group had made the sort of big alt-rock album that kids into Sarah Records twee pop could cuddle up to. I'm a fan of both, but my first impressions of the band hadn't been all that great, and the record did nothing to change them. Their latest, How We Operate (ATO), hasn't got me very enthused either. The main impediments are the same: a lack of focus and the less-than-soulful voices of the three lead vocalists. There's some decent light country rock ("See the World") and a hooky pop gem that's like up-tempo mid-90s R.E.M. with a chorus filched from Blur ("Girlshapedlovedrug"), but there's also pabulum like "Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol," with singing that isn't nearly as pained or abject as anyone passingly familiar with the subject knows it should be. David Ford opens. 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $24, 18+. --J. Niimi

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