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MINDY SMITH 2/13, SCHUBAS Slipped in among stars like Shania Twain and Alison Krauss on last fall’s Dolly Parton tribute album, Just Because I’m a Woman, this clarion-voiced young singer-songwriter turned heads with her version of “Jolene,” and she’s since formally launched her career with One Moment More (Vanguard). She’s got tons of potential–she can […]

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BANG! BANG! 2/6, EMPTY BOTTLE You can classify the hopped-up, itchy pop on this local trio’s new debut EP, Do You Like It? (Heads Up), as more new-wave revivalism if you must, and it’s true that there are a few late-70s signifiers (studded belt, hot-pink hot pants over torn fishnets) on the cover. But at […]

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DIALS 1/30, BEAT KITCHEN On the six tracks of its self-released debut, Sick Times, this Chicago quartet combines garage and new-wave elements into a sound that refuses to be pinned down as merely referential or retro; Emily Dennison ties it all together with snaky organ lines. Guitarist Patti Gran also plays with New Black, and […]

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BURN ROME BURN 1/23, METRO These four locals have yet to put out their debut EP (they’ll release it themselves in February, they say); in the meantime they’re headlining Metro. The sampling they sent me was room-filling anthem rock with aspirations to romantic sweep. I gather the name’s a nod to violinist Aoife Lyons, whose […]

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KEVN KINNEY 1/16, SCHUBAS Most of the players on Kevn Kinney’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts (Evil Teen, 2002) come from the current lineup of his long-running Athens group Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, but don’t be fooled: this is definitely a solo act. Though he’s fallen in with a jam-band crowd (his last two records were […]

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APOLLO SUNSHINE 1/9, SUBTERRANEAN These three Bostonians hit the bull’s-eye when they named the band: their debut, Katonah (SpinArt), is high Apollonian prog without pretension, art rock without a dour, dark, or attitudinal moment. It’s not that the layers and layers of effervescent sweetness–summer-rain piano, guitars pealing like church bells, whole choirsful of healthy young […]

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TRIBES OF NEUROT, STEVEN VON TILL, BLOOD AND TIME 1/2, BOTTOM LOUNGE The Bay Area experimental metal collective Neurosis has given rise to several subsidiary musical entities and branched out into the visual arts, film, and performance as well. The most recent release from the band proper was last year’s collaboration with former Swans front […]

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AZITA 12/26, EMPTY BOTTLE Azita Youssefi would, in a fairer world, make anyone’s short list of the city’s most interesting avant-garde musicians. In her noisy early-90s band, the Scissor Girls, the bassist and pianist proved she had nothing to prove as a no-wave revivalist. Her subsequent project, Bride of No No, broke up last year […]

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LOS STRAITJACKETS CHRISTMAS PAGEANT 12/19, ABBEY PUB; 12/20, FITZGERALD’S Other than experimental music–stuff that’s freed from traditional melodic and rhythmic concerns–it’s hard to find a genre that emphasizes pure sound as much as instrumental surf rock. Straightforward and infectious as the Ventures’ melodies were, how far could they have gone without that perfect, crisp, reverby […]

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COHEED AND CAMBRIA 12/12, HOUSE OF BLUES The pleasure these guys offer isn’t the quick fix of pop, for sure: their MO is to storm about in the DMZ between prog and metal, virtually daring the listener to challenge their claim on this difficult turf. (I wouldn’t challenge it, though Neurosis might.) But their second […]

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MARK KOZELEK 12/5, SCHUBAS Much of Mark Kozelek’s work outside the Red House Painters has taken the form of homage, whether to AC/DC (whose songs he’s rendered melodic on two solo releases) or to John Denver (a tribute album to whom he compiled and played on). This tendency is in full force on Ghosts of […]

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TIMEOUT DRAWER 11/28, EMPTY BOTTLE A Difficult Future (Someoddpilot), the beautiful 2001 album from this Chicago band, harks back to the glory days of lazy psychedelic Moog eruptions; its pulsing density makes it sound faster than it ever actually gets. The players seem fully aware of what year it is but uninterested in catering to […]

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ERIC IDLE 11/21 & 22, THE VIC It does my nerdy heart good to see one of Britain’s great funnymen booked here for two nights on his Greedy Bastard Tour, which he claims is a shameless attempt to cash in on past glories (it might also raise interest for Spamelot, his in-the-works musical-theater version of […]

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HIDEOUT WORKERS’ COMP RELEASE SHOWS 11/14 & 15, HIDEOUT The new Hideout Workers’ Comp, a collection of 24 tracks by some of the many musicians employed by the club, is as good an overview of the Chicago scene as anyone could want: there’s dreamy, lovely alt-country and delirious alt-cabaret, aggressive garage and graceful art pop, […]

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FIREWATER 11/7, EMPTY BOTTLE Firewater’s upcoming covers album, Songs We Should Have Written (Jetset)–featuring obvious calls like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Paint It Black,” and Tom Waits’s “Diamonds and Gold” as well as pleasant surprises like Robyn Hitchcock’s melancholy, nostalgic “I Often Dream of Trains”–is entertaining enough, but these New Yorkers never dig into the standards […]