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The Treatment 

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Albert Hammond Jr. I can't begrudge this Strokes guitarist his solo debut, Yours to Keep (New Line/Scratchie)--Julian Casablancas is a notoriously authoritarian bandleader, and so far Hammond has only contributed a smattering of minor tunes to the Strokes' oeuvre-. Thankfully his songwriting here justifies the effort: with help from a plethora of pals, including Sean Lennon, Ben Kweller, Fountains of Wayne's Jody Porter, and even Senor Casablancas, he's crafted a strong, likable album. The single "Everyone Gets a Star" shares the Strokes' riffy MO, but Hammond's unpretentious croon facilitates a range of styles much broader than that of his main band, from the folk-tinged "Blue Skies" to the breezy "Holiday." The Dead Trees open. a 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $20, $19 in advance. A --J. Niimi

cKEREN ANN There are moments on Keren Ann, the brand-new fifth album from Israel-born, Paris-bred Keren Ann Zeidel, where it's clear English isn't her mother tongue: when the phrase "boreal wind" turns up in a second song, for instance, or when she sings "I miss you as hell." But fixating on word usage would be missing the point. Zeidel's albums in French were great too, and she'd likely sound great in Magyar--it's the cool sensuality of her vocals, the way she shapes the words, that makes her music so dazzling. The crawling tempos and post-Velvets guitar feel on many of the new tunes initially reminded me of Mazzy Star, but Keren Ann manages to wring more emotion out of the simple chorus of "Lay Your Head Down" (a song plainly extrapolated from the famed slow-build intro to "Heroin") than Hope Sandoval has delivered in her whole career. Her own producer, Zeidel has said that this time out she focused on the sounds as well as the performances, and it shows: her voice is placed faultlessly amid the warm, strummy arrangements, every syllable creating a kind of tactile joy. Jason Hart opens. a 9 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15, $13 in advance. A --Peter Margasak

MARTHA SCANLAN Martha Scanlan got her start with the old-timey string band the Reeltime Travelers, but with her stunning solo debut, The West Was Burning (Sugar Hill), she proves she's not fenced in to that narrow musical territory. Overcoming the limitations of her thin, slightly clenched voice, she delivers deeply intimate performances regardless of what American roots idiom she tackles: gospel, folk-rock, honky-tonk, and of course, old-time. The down-home songs have all been meticulously arranged by producer and stringed-instrument specialist Dirk Powell, but it's Scanlan's chilling intensity that holds them together. Steppin' in It opens. a 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 kids and seniors. A --Peter Margasak

GWEN STEFANI Given all the American Idol ham and cheese glutting the Top 40, perdurable pop princess Gwen Stefani is a welcome relief. Though she's superficial to the point of noxiousness and obsessed with amassing cultural cache, her ridiculous affectations make up for it. Her worst ideas are her most interesting: releasing a single with a yodeling chorus, hiring Harajuku girls as her posse, passing off sports bras as haute couture. The whole "I have feelings and those feelings are sad" routine she pulled on last year's The Sweet Escape (Interscope) was as terrible as anything she's ever done, but true to form, it only made her shtick more fascinating. In her CD-booklet photos she looks like a made-up mannequin, staring into the distance as one crystalline tear courses down her expressionless face. Akon and Lady Sovereign open. a 8 PM, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, I-80 & Harlem, Tinley Park, 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212, $25-$69.50. A --Jessica Hopper

MARY TIMONY To win admirers as a guitar player, a woman has pretty much one option: shred. (By contrast, a mediocre guy who just plays loud can always find someone to give him an endorsement deal at least.) And as Mary Timony demonstrates amply on her fourth solo album, The Shapes We Make (Kill Rock Stars), shred she can. But because she does it in such a stubbornly idiosyncratic way, looping and circling and sprawling and skittering all over these tracks (and on "Rockman," affectionately making fun of the wank-friendly effects box of the same name), her fearsome skills may end up lost on the unconverted. So if you're a fan, try to get a friend who wrote Timony off years ago to come along tonight and really listen. Welcome and Great Northern open. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+. --Monica Kendrick


cGANG GANG DANCE, OCRILIM I never thought much about GANG GANG DANCE before last month, when this much-hyped NYC art-rock combo released the CD-DVD set Retina Riddim (Social Registry). A band with live visuals that tries to sell them on disc usually just comes off as self-indulgent (now everyone in flyover country can dig the Super-8 footage our groovy friends shot for our stage show!), but Retina Riddim actually clarifies and codifies the Gang Gang Dance aesthetic--for the first time I can appreciate the group's experimental-postpunk-tribal-improv ethos, which owes more than a little to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The half-hour DVD, its soundtrack, and the 24-minute CD were all pieced together from audio and video captured on the road or at rehearsals, live shows, and sound checks, as well as field recordings and abstract visual vignettes created specifically for the release. Thematic rhymes and recurring motifs blur the lines between the two media, disrupting the usual music-video hierarchy where image follows sound--the throbbing, organic music shifts and evolves the same way a visual narrative might develop, and the film's permutations have the rhythm and flow of music. --J. Niimi

Prog-metal maniacs Orthrelm once squished 99 frantic songs into 13 minutes. As OCRILIM, Orthrelm guitarist Mick Barr makes one-man music that's similarly dense and impossible, piling up five guitar parts on every song--the result is more or less one mad, anxiously long virtuoso solo that wiggles and snakes with no lead-off or letdown, like the millisecond flash of a hairline lightning bolt dilated to three minutes. This is his first tour as Ocrilim, and I have no idea how he's going to render this stuff live: Delay pedals? DAT tape? Accomplices? Occasionally Barr defers to familiar lead and backup roles with his overdubs, but more often he unleashes a squealing, buzzing swarm of electric technology on the verge of a mega meltdown, sometimes sounding like a cartoon bee scrambling for the queen and sometimes like a careening ambulance about to jump the curb and clip you. I'm not gonna lie--this shit's so intense I can't listen to it for more than ten minutes without taking a break. --Liz Armstrong

Gang Gang Dance headlines and Ocrilim plays second; Teith, a side project of Pelican guitarist Trevor de Brauw, opens. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

cA.R. RAHMAN Dubbed the "Asian Mozart" by the Daily Telegraph, 41-year-old composer A.R. Rahman redefined contemporary Indian film music in the early 90s, transforming a style that was formulaic and drowning in kitsch into something diverse and sophisticated, infused with everything from Baroque strings to pop guitar to dancehall beats. A student of Carnatic music who'd played keyboards on tour with tabla master Zakir Hussain at a young age, he earned a degree in Western classical music from Oxford and made commercial jingles at his home studio before taking his first film commission, Roja, in 1992. Since then he's scored 70 films and two Broadway musicals (Bombay Dreams and The Lord of the Rings), selling more than 200 million albums in the process. His Chicago debut promises to be a Bollywood-scale spectacle, with nearly 50 musicians, 20 dancers, and a dozen of India's top playback singers (the people whose voices you actually hear in Bollywood musicals), including Sukwhinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, K.S. Chitra, and Hariharan. a 8 PM, Sears Centre, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, 888-732-7784, $40-$155. A --Cara Jepsen


BRAKESBRAKESBRAKES Rechristened for the occasion (back home they're still just Brakes), these Brits from Brighton have officially hit our shores to push the U.S. release of their second album, The Beatific Visions (Rough Trade). And beatific it is, at least relative to their 2005 debut. They've managed to prune the wild spazziness of that record into tamer and undeniably prettier songs; at certain key moments, though, a bent sort of alt-country still comes barreling into their sturdy, scrappy postpunk at a drunken angle. Lots of bands go wrong the second they decide to take themselves seriously, but there's hope for these guys. Pela and the Electric Soft Parade open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. --Monica Kendrick

cVERTONEN Blake Edwards, aka Vertonen, and fellow Chicago sound artist Mykel Boyd will collaborate between solo sets at this afternoon show--and by proxy both will collaborate with sculptor Juan Angel Chavez, who built the installation they'll be playing in. His Speaker Project opened at the Hyde Park Arts Center in late April and has been hosting performances since May. Set inside a hangarlike space that's open to the street during shows, it's like a junkyard temple made from scrap wood, metal, glass bottles, PVC pipe, traffic cones, and two giant resonating horns. It creates a mind-altering landscape of sound that constantly morphs as listeners and performers move about, and the effect is especially intense at apocalyptic volumes--which this show promises to provide. Edwards says he'll play a custom-built two-oscillator pedal and a shortwave radio, and his duet with Boyd will exploit the acoustics of the installation: they'll use pairs of high or low frequencies tuned to interfere with each other (in theory you should only be able to hear one of the notes or a third between them, though which one depends on your position) and try to simulate electronic voice phenomena (EVP), the illusion of paranormal speech coalescing out of noise. Boyd plays first and Vertonen is last. a 2 PM, Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell, 773-324-5520 or 773-276-3600. F A --Monica Kendrick


cBALKAN BEAT BOX I usually blanch when I hear about a "world music" act that tries to put in at every port of call, but this New York group, led by a pair of polyethnic Israelis, does it right. Drummer Tamir Muskat has said that the members of Balkan Beat Box believe in "listening to localities," and they do throw practically everything into their global olio, but their second album, Nu Med (J Dub), is no touchy-feely Putumayo comp. Rom horn melodies and rhythms reel drunkenly around Moroccan chants and Bulgarian choral singing, while floor-shaking dancehall and hip-hop beats hold everything together. The groove of "Habibi Min Zaman" is driven by twangy electric guitar licks that echo an oud, and guest rapper Dunia drops Arabic rhymes over a thump that's as much Middle East as it is Bronx, with dubby effects swirling through the breaks. As on their debut, the core members are joined by a small army of guests--about 15 of them--but live they get it done as a five-piece, aided by some carefully deployed samples and the outsize charisma of MC Tomer Yosef, who drove the SummerDance crowd nuts last year. The Black Bear Combo opens. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $17, $15 in advance. --Peter Margasak


cFRED ANDERSON & HAMID DRAKE Tenor sax vet Fred Anderson turned 78 in March, but it doesn't look like age is catching up with him. His recent shows have been as intense and focused as any he's played in years, and From the River to the Ocean (Thrill Jockey), his new album with drummer and longtime disciple Hamid Drake, is simply astonishing. Anderson and Drake are a powerhouse on their own--check out their 2004 duo record, Back Together Again--but River is a group affair, and all the better for it. Jeff Parker (guitar), Harrison Bankhead (piano, cello, bass), and Josh Abrams (bass, guimbri) bring a collective energy to every track, from "For Brother Thompson," a modal homage to trumpeter Malachi Thompson, to the gorgeous closer, "Sakti/Shiva." Yet what's truly revelatory about the album are Anderson's performances on his two original compositions, "Planet E" and "Strut Time": he tears into the blues like he's just discovered it, reshaping phrases with the ease of someone who's completely transcended his instrument. Parker, Bankhead, and Abrams will join in for this show, which will include a Q & A moderated by John Corbett. See also Wednesday. a 7 PM, Stop Smiling HQ, 1371 N. Milwaukee, 773-342-1124, free with RSVP to FA --Peter Margasak


cFRED ANDERSON & HAMID DRAKE See Tuesday. This is a record-release party; Jeff Parker, Harrison Bankhead, and Josh Abrams round out the lineup. a 9 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15.

apostle of hustle For all the time he's spent in Cuba, Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman still sounds pretty white-bread on his solo project's sophomore effort, National Anthem of Nowhere (Arts & Crafts). He wins puppy points for earnestness, but on disc he treats Latin music like little more than a romantic souvenir--word is his band can bust out the Latin stuff live, but I'm not hearing much of it here. What Whiteman excels at is shimmery, literate indie rock with a touch of folksy humility. In fact he's so good at piling up the layers that sometimes it sounds like his plaintive voice is filtered through a sumptuous pillow. This is the first show of a three-week Wednesday residency; Memphis and Ola Podrida open. a 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

long blondes Kate Jackson, the Long Blondes' fashionista front woman, is rumored to have been so obsessed with Jarvis Cocker as a teen that she moved to Pulp's hometown of Sheffield. It's not hard to swallow: Her band shares some of Pulp's fashion sensibilities and has a similar penchant for slick veneers, and like Cocker, Jackson is probing and verbose. For their full-length debut, Someone to Drive You Home (Rough Trade, 2006), the band even used Pulp bassist Steve Mackey as a producer. Naturally the UK press is soiling itself; last year the band won the prestigious NME award previously given to Sheffield compadres the Arctic Monkeys. The songs are entertaining, if not fantastically original: on standouts like "Giddy Stratospheres," Jackson channels Chrissie Hynde with her sensuous timbre as the band kicks out upbeat guitar rock reminiscent of the Au Pairs and Blondie. Nicole Atkins & the Sea and Mannequin Men open. a 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $12, 18+. --J. Niimi

c richard thompson Band Richard Thompson accomplished so much in his first 15 years of recording--he invented English folk rock with Fairport Convention and made the genre's best albums with his first wife, Linda--that the solo career he's pursued for the past 25 seems anticlimactic by comparison; rather than making up new rules as he goes, he's now simply following the rules he invented. Still, he hasn't lost his chops. Thompson's thrilling guitar vocabulary is a composite of rockabilly twang, bagpipe drone, Django Reinhardt's fluency, and John Coltrane's intensity. And his lyrics, which range from witty dissections of relationships to unblinking contemplations of mortality, can outshine his guitar solos. Recent releases like the 2005 soundtrack for Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man (Cooking Vinyl) and this year's Sweet Warrior (Shout! Factory) recycle a few old licks, but there are a handful of songs, especially the harrowing terrorism epic "Guns Are the Tongues," that I imagine will still be in his book ten years from now. Expect a mix of vintage and newer material at this show; Thompson's touring band includes fellow folk-rock vet Danny Thompson (no relation) on double bass. a 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $28, 18+. --Bill Meyer


c chicago symphony orchestra and chorus Verdi's Requiem was inspired by the deaths of two of Italy's beacons of culture and identity: Rossini and Manzoni. The seed of the work--the concluding "Libera Me"--was Verdi's contribution to a failed attempt at honoring Rossini with a requiem written jointly by 13 leading Italian composers. In late operas like Aida and Otello, Verdi's music seeps into the libretto's cracks, perfectly matching the shifting moods and events. Similarly, his Requiem illuminates the Latin texts with writing so highly charged that his contemporary, the conductor Hans von Bulow, famously referred to the mass as "opera in ecclesiastical robes." Verdi's range of expression--from hushed solemnity to aching tenderness to frightful fury--is breathtaking. David Zinman leads the CSO and chorus with soloists Sondra Radvanovsky (soprano), Yvonne Naef (mezzo-soprano), Giuseppe Sabbatini (tenor), and Ildar Abdrazakov (bass), all of whom have powerful operatic voices. CSO Chorus director Duain Wolfe gives a preconcert lecture at 7 PM. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $22-$199. Also Fri 6/15 and Sat 6/16, 8 PM. --Steve Langendorf

cHORRORS The closest thing I had to a starstruck moment at this year's SXSW was seeing the Horrors walking packlike down Sixth Street in the middle of the day. I've met and hung out with musicians I admire more without feeling that way, possibly because most of what I listen to is made by people who dress pretty much like everyone I know. The Horrors, on the other hand, seem to reject the idea of street clothes entirely. Even on a sweltering Texas afternoon they still dress like a gang of Victorian dandies who've somehow discovered early Motley Crue--or, as I've heard them described more succinctly, "like a bunch of gay vampires." They probably work harder on their outfits than on their music, but that's OK. Rock 'n' roll doesn't have to be much more than a handful of gnarly blues progressions for me to like it--and last year's self-titled EP and this year's Strange House (Stolen Transmission) both sound like the Cramps and Alien Sex Fiend in a sweaty, gasping dog pile. Schoolyard Heroes and the Goldstars open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $14, $12 in advance, 18+. --Miles Raymer


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The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
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