If you weren’t paying attention, you might have taken the extended absence of a new Silos album to mean that the band’s 14-year career was creaking to a close. But in the fall, the “band”–which as always means Walter Salas-Humara and whoever he feels like playing with–quietly released Heater, its first studio album in four years, on Chicago’s Checkered Past label. Although Salas-Humara now dabbles tastefully in drum loops, the Silos sound is still defined by his scrappy guitar playing and dusky, make-do vocals–his range is limited, but he nudges the notes into subtly ingratiating melodies in an endearingly parched voice. The new songs cryptically describe the usual anonymous malcontents and bitter losers: “Northern Lights” is about a guy locked into a brutal cycle of working and drinking; “Front Porch” is about another guy wallowing in the aftermath of a failed relationship. But what sets Salas-Humara apart from your average mope is his simple heartbreaking humanity, best displayed in lines like “I want to take your mom out dancing / ‘Cause I think she might be a little down.” On the same bill are the Mary Janes–who like Salas-Humara have roots in the Vulgar Boatmen and whose long-delayed debut album, Record no. 1, comes out March 23 on Mark Linn’s Delmore label–and Susan Voelz’s Creamy Deluxe. Saturday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by WSH.