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EFFIGIES 9/10, EMPTY BOTTLE One of Chicago’s better-known early punk bands, along with Naked Raygun and Big Black, the Effigies don’t have the best timing when it comes to reunions. Formed in late 1979, they broke up for the first time in ’86; shortly thereafter Metallica offered them an opening slot on a European tour. […]

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ROY BOOK BINDER 9/3, SCHUBAS This acoustic blues fingerpicker, who turns 61 in October, has seen three or four roots-music “revivals” come and go. His first tour, in 1967, was with the Reverend Gary Davis, who he’d met when he called to ask for lessons, and since then he’s befriended Pink Anderson, opened for Bonnie […]

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BODEANS 8/26 & 27, RAVINIA I hope someday these roots rockers give us a thorough accounting of what they did for the eight years between their previous album, Blend, and the new Resolution (Zoe), because they certainly weren’t losing any sleep retooling their music. The only fresh flavor on Resolution is the occasional organ or […]

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PAUL THORN 8/20, SCHUBAS On his fourth studio album, the brand-new Are You With Me? (Back Porch), this Mississippi singer-songwriter plays laid-back, down-home pop blues, a little like a grittier Jimmy Buffett. But despite the lack of urgency, the music’s neither hokey nor lazy–Thorn’s meditations on love and loss are worldly and wry. I particularly […]

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BURNING BRIDES 8/13, BOTTOM LOUNGE Making big loud rawk these days is too often just a matter of assembling cliches in an aesthetically pleasing way–like flower arranging, it’s an “art,” but, you know, whoopee. This Philadelphia trio’s debut, Fall of the Plastic Empire, managed to add up to more than the sum of its parts, […]

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MICK FARREN 8/6, EMPTY BOTTLE Mick Farren has written more than three dozen books, including a tall stack of sci-fi and horror novels, and published reams of music criticism in NME and elsewhere–he’s the UK’s unrecognized answer to Lester Bangs and Philip K. Dick, with the notable advantage of still being alive. But because he […]

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BR. DANIELSON 7/30, EMPTY BOTTLE “Brother Danielson” is Daniel Smith, leader of offbeat Christian indie rockers the Danielson Famile, and his new Brother Is to Son (Secretly Canadian) has a lot in common with the Famile’s output: he continues to favor his squawky falsetto, and his earnest, gracefully demented pop sounds like it’s struggling to […]

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HIM 7/23, HOTHOUSE My first impression of this one-man project (drummer Doug Scharin, from June of 44 and Rex, plus a small army of part-time collaborators) was the Tortoise-lite blue-neon wankery on 1999’s Sworn Eyes. But I recently heard Many in High Places Are Not Well, released last year on Bubble Core, and all is […]

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THE NEW YEAR 7/15-16, SCHUBAS Matt and Bubba Kadane have been playing the same strain of minimalist indie rock since the mid-90s, first in Bedhead and, since 1998, in the New Year. Now a sextet, the band is back with its second full-length, The End Is Near (Touch and Go). The songs still move slowly […]

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BEMBEYA JAZZ 7/9, SUMMERDANCE; 7/10, CHICAGO FOLK & ROOTS FESTIVAL This Guinean group has a backstory similar to that of Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab: both bands are decades old, and at one point were state sponsored; both were moribund when a record producer spurred them back into action. (In Bembeya’s case it was Christian Mousset, who […]

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BLUE OCTOBER 7/2, SCHUBAS This Texas alt-rock quintet has a big sound but only medium-size musical ambitions. On last year’s History for Sale (rereleased by Universal, who dropped and then re-signed them) they take some careful risks, but their tinkly ballads and crunchy, eclectic rockers aren’t going to turn any heads–despite a melodramatic front man […]

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HOYLE BROTHERS 6/25 & 6/27, EMPTY BOTTLE There’s nothing “alt” about this Chicago country band except its choice of venues: in 2002 these guys started playing a regular Friday happy-hour gig at the Hideout, and since last year they’ve been doing the same thing at the Empty Bottle (where they recently added a Sunday-afternoon set). […]

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PECULIAR BOOGIE 6/17, RHYTHM; 6/18, GRIFFIN’S PUBLIC HOUSE; 6/19, LINCOLN SQUARE LANES My editor passed me Peculiar Boogie’s self-released Pay Toll to the Troll because the cover art–a drawing I might charitably describe as “naive”–scared him to death. He was most bothered by the troll doll standing in the river, but it’s the red-eyed goat […]

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DKT/MC5 6/11, METRO Guitarist Wayne Kramer seems to have won this round of his turf battle with a pair of Chicago filmmakers over the MC5’s documentary legacy (see Peter Margasak’s Reader cover story from April), so the band has something resembling a new release to plug: Sonic Revolution: A Celebration of the MC5, due out […]

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BELIEVER MAGAZINE PARTY FEATURING THE MOUNTAIN GOATS 6/4, EMPTY BOTTLE Believer is the latest publication to emerge from the big McSweeney’s tent, a monthly books magazine heavy on the sort of tidy, vaguely 19th-century visuals that make McSweeney’s itself so instantly recognizable (and so easy to parody). If you let the smug in-crowd feel of […]