Wye Oak Credit: Matthew Yake

Thursday26

Johnny Rawls Revue
Wye Oak

Friday27

Coliseum, Fight Amp
Fruit Bats
God Bullies, TV Ghost

Saturday28

Memoryhouse, Twin Sister

Sunday29

Elisabeth Harnik

Monday30

Stereo Total

Wednesday25

Elizabeth Cook
Alon Goldstein

thursday26

JOHNNY RAWLS REVUE Vocalist and guitarist Johnny Rawls has an impressive deep-soul pedigree: he served as musical director for both O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor, and in the 80s he worked the southern circuit on his own for several years. His true gift, however, is his ability to leaven those influences with sparkling pop. His voice, though seasoned with gospel grit, is a buoyant instrument graced with youthful lightness; his guitar leads, though rooted in southern blues and soul, are brightened with melodic gaiety. At times in his career these tendencies have worked against each other, but when he’s on his game he mixes them into a deeply satisfying pop-soul stew, as on his most recent recording, last year’s Ace of Spades (Catfood). Spurred by full-bodied horns and propulsive funk rhythms, he evokes his chitlin’-circuit roots with a leathery rasp on outings like “Live for Today,” and on “Drive All Night” he fuses pop, power-ballad rock, and soul-blues into an effortless-sounding whole. Rawls delivers the caustic social commentary of “American Dream” with a bracing fusion of anguish and anger, and on “He’s a Good Man” he’s in full preacher mode, fervid yet tender.  9:30 PM, Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash, 312-427-1190, $10. —David Whiteis

WYE OAK Wye Oak front woman Jenn Wasner sounds goth as hell on the Baltimore duo’s new EP, My Neighbor/My Creator (Merge). But she flips the script from suicidal to homicidal on “I Hope You Die,” uttering the title’s unsubtle sentiments while someone taps a woodblock gingerly in the background. Soft, dark, and spooky, Wye Oak are sonically and aesthetically miles from the DayGlo-rainbow ironic 80s-inspired buttsplosion that’s laid claim to Baltimore these past few years—by comparison, they’re practically traditional indie rock. Lou Barlow & the Missingmen headline; Young Man opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14. —Jessica Hopper

ColiseumCredit: Nick Thieneman

friday27

COLISEUM, FIGHT AMP There aren’t many records that embody the desire to throw a cinder block through someone’s windshield like COLISEUM’s recent House With a
Curse
(Temporary Residence). Or grabbing the
Blackberry out of a talky yuppie’s hand and
smashing it on the ground. Or just straight-up
punching a guy in the face for being a dick. Very
few groups encapsulate the rage that wells up
dozens of times a day when you’re crowded in
with millions of other people, threatening to
explode into your own private Falling Down, as
perfectly as this Louisville trio does. Their
arrangements are sparse enough to show off how
dead simple the music is—a three-note guitar
riff, a throb of a bass line, some drafty Bonhamin-
a-castle drums, a melodic bellow—but the
songs hit like a bag of cement. Bricking the
plate-glass windows of the Ed Hardy bar in your
hood isn’t rocket science. The soundtrack doesn’t
need to be complicated either. —Miles Raymer

Right at the beginning of the first book of the
noise-rock bible, there’s a whole chapter about
building a towering fortress of sound with distorted
guitar sludge, growling bass, and brain-
pummeling drum thunder. New Jersey’s FIGHT AMP (formerly Fight Amputation) add coarse
punk grit to this foundation, a la early Unsane
and Jesus Lizard. Dirty, loud, and unpleasant,
last year’s Manners and Praise (Translation
Loss) was made to sell in dingy, poorly lit basements
and PBR-soaked shithole bars. It may
lack some of the bite that made 2008’s Hungry
for Nothing
so awesome, but it’s still an unapologetic,
filthy romp—a defiant middle finger thrust
in your face. —Kevin Warwick

Coliseum headlines; Sweet Cobra, Burning
Love, and Fight Amp open. 7 PM, Reggie’s
Rock Club, 2109 S. State, 312-949-0121 or 866468-
3401, $12, $10 in advance. A

FRUIT BATS By titling last year’s clong-awaited fourth album The
Ruminant Band
(Sub Pop), this Portland/
Chicago combo set themselves up for a lot of
jokes about bovine pacing and indigestion, but
they sound so laid-back that I can’t imagine they
care. Bandleader Eric Johnson joined the Shins
in 2007, partly sidelining the group, but when
the Fruit Bats returned, it was with a force that
belied their easygoing 70s folk-rock shamble.
Produced by drummer Graeme Gibson, the
record has plenty of exuberant, focused brainpower
underneath its long hippie hair, flowing
from pop to honky-tonk to FM-radio muscle-car
music with crisp energy and easy glee. Johnson
was once a teacher at the Old Town School, and
for this gig the Fruit Bats will team with up a
current teacher, guitarist and composer
Nathaniel Braddock—of Occidental Brothers
Dance Band International, Ancient Greeks, and
Zincs fame—for a one-off collaboration. 8
PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N.
Lincoln, 773-728-6000, $18, $16 members, $14
seniors and children. A —Monica Kendrick

GOD BULLIES, TV GHOST During the early to mid 90s Kalamazoo,
Michigan, cultivated a fertile sludge-rock scene
that, like most music created in Kalamazoo, resonated
pretty much not at all with the rest of the
world. The exception was the GODBULLIES,
whose albums for Amphetamine Reptile—the
spiritual homeland of sludge—are widely considered
to be among the pinnacles of pigfuck, the
postpunk movement pioneered by the likes of
Big Black and the Jesus Lizard. The God Bullies
seemed particularly taken with that scene’s love
of audience antagonism, and there are few elements
of the band that don’t seemed designed specifically to fuck with people. The music is a
toxic murk of detuned metal riffs and what
sounds like a Black Flag record being melted.
Vocalist Mike Hard didn’t so much sing as
groan, whine, and giggle lyrics that read like a
stream-of-consciousness list of every human
degradation he could imagine. Live shows,
which allowed the band the opportunity to
directly assault their fans, tended to be legendary
in direct proportion to how terrifying
they were. —Miles Raymer

There was a time, believe it or not, when
you’d never heard anything like TV GHOST. Now,
listening to these guys’ insecticidal howls—
which pay tribute to early Buttholes, the
Cramps, Suicide, no wave, and pretty much
every avant-whatever with a backbeat from the
past decade—I’m reminded of a line from PiL’s
anti-nostalgia broadside “Memories”: “I think
you’re slightly late, slightly late.” Which isn’t to
say that this foursome from Lafayette, Indiana,
is the Sha Na Na of shart-rock nastiness.
They’re more like what the Jam was to 60s
Britpop—the original sources are so great that a
really enthusiastic imitation is still pretty good.
A few years back during a set at Cal’s, they were
energetic young malcontents who broke bottles
and danced on the shards, and their effects
pedals cut beautiful abrasions in the foul air. A
splendid half hour’s worth of entertainment, no
doubt—but instead of leaving with that inspired
feeling you get when a band takes the raw material
of influence and transforms it into something
that feels new, I left brooding on what a
bastard art form rock ’n’ roll is and always will
be. —Brian Costello

The God Bullies headline; TV Ghost, White
Drugs, and My Cold Dead Hand open. 9:30
PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-2763600
or 866-468-3401, $12.

Twin SisterCredit: George Kalivas

saturday28

MEMORYHOUSE,TWIN SISTER Bands don’t get more
charming than MEMORYHOUSE. They’re a pair
of young, geeky-cute kids from Guelph, which is
as precious as you’d imagine a woodsy college
town in rural Ontario to be. They maintain a
tumblog where they post artsy photos, rehearsal
recordings, and mix tapes whose track lists
include both Boards of Canada and Raekwon.
The project was initially intended as a one-off
collaboration between classically trained composer Evan Abeele and photographer (and now
singer) Denise Nouvion, but it’s evolved into a
wide-eyed exploration of pop music by two
people with little prior experience in the genre.
On their recent EP, The Years (downloadable free
at arcadesoundltd.com), they set well-crafted
hooks out to drift on streams of super-chilled
ambience and end up with something that
sounds like a pop song unraveling in the breeze. —Miles Raymer

It’s been a while since “Strong Island” was
known for any sort of rock music not made by
hardcore dudes in tearaway track pants. This
summer’s bloggernet darlings TWIN SISTER are
the inverse, drawing hard on feminine, fey,
nerds-in-love vibes on their new EP, Color Your
Life
(Infinite Best). Front woman Andrea Estella
has a soft voice that doesn’t go a lot of places, but
she’s languorous to the max. The band matches
her in dreaminess, coming on like vintage Yo La
Tengo sans the guitar pyrotechnics—the songs
are gauzy little clouds of drone and vibrato that
pulse along with airy organ. Essentially the perfect
music for lazy late August. —Jessica Hopper

Memoryhouse headlines; Twin Sister, Yawn,
and Distractions open. 9 PM, Lincoln Hall,
2424 N. Lincoln, 773-525-2501, $12, $10 in
advance, 18+.

Elisabeth Harnik

sunday29

ELISABETH HARNIK Austrian pianist
Elisabeth Harnik winds up a two-week Chicago
residency with two informal sets where she’s
joined by local cornetist Josh Berman and
Japanese drummer Nori Tanaka, who spent ten
years in Chicago before running out of visa
options in 2007. Harnik, who first visited the
city as part of the Umbrella Music Festival in
2008, represents a new generation of improvisers
who didn’t come to the discipline via jazz;
she’s an accomplished classical pianist and composer
who’s consistently proved that academic
training is no impediment to spontaneity. On
the 2009 album Dr. Au (Ein_Klang) by the
group Plasmic she’s in excellent form, playing
subdued yet dissonant chords, lightning-fast
percussive runs, and sophisticated piano-guts
scrapes and plucks. I expect her to bring the
same vocabulary to these collaborations. 10
PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-7091401,
donation requested. —Peter Margasak

monday30

STEREO TOTAL Stereo Total’s tenth
album, Baby Ouh! (Kill Rock Stars), captures the Franco-German female/male duo at their
ridiculous best. Ultra-cute and ultra-kitschy,
they fulfill the American fantasy of ESL Euro-
hipsters to the hilt. “I Wanna Be a Mama,” sung
by the male half of the band, Brezel Göring, is a
bouncy bit of sarcastic bubblegum: in his flat
German accent, he describes how he’d like to be
a mom, name his baby Lucifer, and teach him
how to make a living as a prostitute, all while
Francoise Cactus fills in the choruses with innocent
la-la-la-las. Brilliant Pebbles and Boutros
open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N.
Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. —Jessica Hopper

wednesday1

ELIZABETH COOK The title of the fifth and latest album by country
singer Elizabeth Cook, Welder (31 Tigers),
reportedly refers both to the profession her
father learned while serving hard time for running
moonshine and to the way she likes to bring
in elements from other genres. Not to belabor a
metaphor, but while seams are definitely visible,
I like the hodgepodge. Cook is a sharp observer
with a refreshingly blunt manner, whether she’s
acknowledging her own questionable judgment
in the tart “El Camino” (“If I wake up married,
I’ll have to annul it / Right now my hands are in
his mullet”) or ruminating on the celebratory
atmosphere at “Mama’s Funeral.” On a number
of tunes she wanders the same wide country-
folk-rock territory occupied by Julie and Buddy
Miller (Buddy contributes backing vocals to “All
the Time”), while “Yes to Booty” is a descendant
of the biting ultimatums put forth by Loretta
Lynn (“When you say yes to beer,” she advises her
man, “you say no to booty”). Cook also covers the
forgotten 1959 Frankie Miller hit “Blackland
Farmer” and brings an aching empathy to “Til
Then,” a gorgeous ballad by her guitar-playing
husband, Tim Carroll, about a couple biding
time as they wait for a ship that’s likely never to
come in. Ernie Hendrickson opens. 7 PM,
Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508,
$14, $12 in advance. —Peter Margasak

ALON GOLDSTEIN Israeli pianist
Alon Goldstein highlights the relationship
of Brahms to Robert and Clara
Schumann by including works of all three in his
recital in honor of Robert’s 200th birthday.
There has been speculation about a love affair
between Brahms and Clara ever since Robert’s
death in 1856—an event that devastated both of
them—and whatever the case, they remained
lifelong friends. Goldstein uses the movements
of Robert Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, op.
17, to bookend this evening’s program, beginning
with its passionate first; it’s followed by
Clara’s short Scherzo No. 2 in C Minor, op. 14,
and Brahms’s lengthy Scherzo in E-flat Minor,
op. 4. The second half starts with the three elegant
pieces of Brahms’s Intermezzos, op. 117,
and ends with the last two movements of the
fantasy. This music requires a large tonal range
and immense sensitivity, traits evident in much
of Goldstein’s playing, particularly in Schubert’s
Impromptus, op. 90 (on a 2009 promotional
CD of a live concert), and Sonata in C Major
(“Reliquie”), D. 840, which appears on a 2005
CD produced by the Jerusalem Music Centre—
though both recordings also reveal that at times
he can sound a bit restrained. Born in 1970,
Goldstein made his orchestral debut at 18 with
the Israeli Philharmonic; he’s a graduate of the
Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University
and Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, where
he was a student of Leon Fleisher. 6 PM,
Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Festival, Green
Bay and Lake Cook, Highland Park, 847-266-5100,
$10. A —Barbara Yaross