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BRAXTONS 2/7 & 8, ROSEMONT THEATRE A whopping nine producers working on their debut album, So Many Ways (Atlantic), failed to make these three gals with average voices sound like anything beyond a blatant attempt to ride the coattails of fab elder sister Toni. They open for Luther Vandross. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY 2/7-9, HORIZON Formed […]

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JONAS 1/31, THURSTON’S This Minneapolis foursome cloaks scaled-down Led Zeppelinisms in a chintzy gothic gauze on its recent front-parlor-recorded CD, Hopeless in Gaza (My Spleen!/Channel 83); acoustic guitarist and lead vocalist Sarah Khan drags poor Debbie Harry into the mess by launching into the “man from Mars” routine from “Rapture” near the end of “I […]

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MINDS OF BABES 1/24, THURSTON’S The meteoric rises of Liz Phair and Veruca Salt a few years back, and the seething reactions they provoked among musicians still toiling on the local scene, seem to have inspired “Now She’s Famous (Queen of the Hill)” (“She’s queen of the hill / A bitter pill / She’s queen […]

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ALBERT HILL 1/17, EMPTY BOTTLE Signed briefly to the local Fuse label, this South Carolina quintet just graduated to the big leagues. With their rudderless blend of Hootie ooze and Pearl Jam lordliness Universal’s new signees should cruise right onto mainstream rock radio. What I’m wondering, though, is how, after playing the Cubby Bear last […]

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SLIVER 1/10, FIRESIDE BOWL This year-old Minneapolis quartet, featuring Teddy Kim (formerly of Self-Help Mantra and Eskimo Nation), musters a pleasant buzz with its plangent guitars, but the detached, directionless-in-the-dark vocals and clunky rhythms gradually diminish the overall effect to more of a numb hum. V-ROYS 1/10, SCHUBAS Steve Earle saw to it personally that […]

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BUSKER SOUNDCHECK 12/27, EMPTY BOTTLE This Chicago power trio kicks off its new EP, Wesley Lee Roth (Full Groan), with “It’s 3,” an insanely catchy wintertime reply to Blue Cheer’s version of “Summertime Blues.” Near the end of the second verse, call-and-response vocal lines slide into hilariously dead-on three-part calypso harmony over a bluster of […]

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RED FIVE 12/20, METRO Guitarists-vocalists Jenni McElrath and Betty Carmellini demonstrate an able way with a power chord and a punky pop zaniness reminiscent of the B-52’s on this LA quartet’s debut album, Flash (Interscope). Now if the band could just write a decent song or two. The deplorably soppy Sponge headlines. C-CLAMP 12/21, EMPTY […]

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FALSTAFF 12/13, BIG HORSE Instrumental proficiency, eclectic whimsy, and stateliness a la Red-era King Crimson distinguish this local trio’s new II (Homestead). Singer-guitarist Ian Schneller’s tortured bray lends pathos to the quiet ballad “Home” as effectively as it animates the punked-up melodrama of “Lamppost.” Still, the inclusion of an extended-jam reprise of one song (“Candlelight”), […]

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THE BUZZ 12/6, FITZGERALD’S This local roots quartet delivers driving funky blues with precision reflective of the music-performance degrees held by two of its members. But material like “All the Lovin’ You Need” and “Keep On Lovin’ You” never progresses beyond pedantry. DELTA 72 12/6, METRO The departure of bassist-singer Kim Thompson for grad school […]

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Church Key 11/29, Phyllis’ Musical Inn Ex-God’s Acre singer-guitarist Peter Houpt contributes the most–and the most heartrending–songs to this local country-rock sextet’s debut, Evet’s Cafe (Loose Booty). Here’s hoping his emotional healing is accompanied by the further coalescing of the band’s promising instrumentation, which includes pedal steel, accordion, mandolin, and fiddle. Republica 11/29, Metro British […]

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Stella 11/22, Beat Kitchen Curt Perkins’s pensive, detached bellow on this quartet’s upcoming debut for Beggars Banquet briefly fooled me into thinking Mark Hollis of Talk Talk (whose most interesting work came after his early-80s techno-pop hits) had returned in a harder-edged guitar-band context. But on closer inspection, it turns out that this band has […]

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Hurl 11/15, Empty Bottle Hauling enormous slabs of dense guitar on its debut album, A Place Called Today (Third Gear/My Pal God), this austere Pittsburgh four-piece murmurs at times to keep alert as miles go by on an endless, desolate freeway. Killdozer’s last-ever performance follows. John Huss Moderate Combo 11/15, Lounge Ax Hyde Park singer-guitarist […]

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Curnutte & Maher 11/8, Otis’ I caught a whiff of early Dylan on the verses to “American Fadeaway” from this Nashville-based acoustic folk duo’s recent Alive (Marengo) (“She’s buying up books about romantic looks / And constantly changing her hair”), but these college-circuit entertainers, too nice to go in for the kill, retreat on the […]

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Critic’s Choice/ music

April Aloisio Quintet 10/24-26, Metropole Lounge On her sophomore Southport release, Footprints, this Chicago chanteuse covers plenty of ground, from the light frolic of “In Walked Bud” to the melodramatic stalk of “Last Tango in Paris,” accompanied at every step by excellent area players like sensitive guitarist Dave Onderdonk, who is featured on these dates. […]

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BABE THE BLUE OX, MOTORHOME 10/18, DOUBLE DOOR Tim Thomas uses 12 guitars and 12 tunings on Babe the Blue Ox’s ambitious major-label debut, People (RCA), but if he could just write songs that flow more than they sputter, he could harness his rhythm section’s serious funk potential to get this lumberingly eclectic New York-based […]