Friday 24

DIAMOND NIGHTS I didn’t think it was particularly weird, let alone ironic, when the Cars grafted Chet Atkins-style country licks onto a new-wave template for “My Best Friend’s Girl.” I feel the same sort of charity toward “Destination Diamonds,” the lead track–and theme song, I guess–of Diamond Nights’ new EP, Once We Were Diamonds (Kemado). The crisp Eddie Van Halen-ish guitar wrangling was already declasse by the Year Punk Broke, and singer Morgan Phalen sounds like he had Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott as a vocal coach, but the song’s so damn catchy and deadpan it can’t be a gag. That’s not to say it isn’t funny as shit: it’s chock-full of lines that could only have been written after 1976, like “never thought that a popsicle chick could taste so good,” which Phalen delivers as if he were actually licking drips off the mike, and the classic-rock falsetto chorus “Baby, do you like to mess around?” Why yes, I do. Evil Beaver headlines, Diamond Nights play third, the Dutchmen play second, and the Vibrolas open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at door. –J. Niimi

LAST TOWN CHORUS On the self-released 2003 debut from this Brooklyn act, front woman Megan Hickey repurposes the lap steel as a generator of urban noir. Backed most often by spare acoustic strumming, she sends the instrument, with its eerie sustain and liquid portamento, through a delay pedal to create an idiosyncratic shadow for her dry, dusky vocals. “State Fair” and “Change Your Mind” are arresting full-fledged tunes, but Hickey’s more inclined to sculpt milky little fragments that languidly drift and mutate. It’s lovely stuff, but some newer recordings, despite their fleshed-out arrangements, suggest the group’s approach is in danger of calcifying into formula–a development that would bring out the limitations of Hickey’s singing. Hickey plays solo here; Keren Ann headlines. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12. –Peter Margasak

GRAHAM PARKER & THE FIGGS In the mid-90s former angry young man Graham Parker gave up on a decade-plus-long pursuit of adult contemporary success and returned to the mix of pub rock, soul, and pop rock that made him a musical godfather to Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Joe Jackson. But on some of the records he’s made since then he’s tried too hard to capture a snarling punk energy that he never had even in his heyday, possibly overcompensating in order to make his righteous indignation at the state of the world crystal clear. On his cheekily titled new album, Songs of No Consequence (Bloodshot), he’s still pissed, but he’s figured out that his words do a better job expressing his frustration than any musical posturing. So New York power popsters the Figgs, who’ve been his touring band since the late 90s, are a perfect match–they play Parker’s hooky songs crisply, without any undue bluster. Parker sounds like an angry old man now, decrying the shallowness of the media, assailing others’ lack of integrity, and grappling with his own sense of dislocation. But his bitterness hasn’t hurt his ability to craft catchy, concise melodies, and the Figgs make sure that his punches land cleanly. They’ll play an opening set, then back Parker. This show is part of MOBfest; for a complete schedule see page 54. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $20. –Peter Margasak

REDWALLS Go ahead, find me a flaw on the Redwalls’ new Capitol album, De Nova. Lord knows I’ve been looking for one. The overarching weakness, if that’s what you’d call it, is how effortlessly these young locals call to mind the classic albums they’ve clearly pored over: Between the Buttons, Ziggy Stardust, maybe even that one big Ringo solo record. After a while the assuredness, the serpentine ease can get a little wearying–I’d love to hear them seriously overreach, just like their influences did on occasion. But no, they just keep hitting their marks again and again. There’s something a bit unwholesome about that. This record-release show is part of MOBfest; for a complete schedule see page 54. Regina Spektor and American Minor open. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $11 in advance, $13 day of show. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

TREOLOGIC Formed in 2000 as a jazz trio composed of a keyboardist, drummer, and guitarist, in the past couple of years Treologic has transformed into a seven-piece hip-hop act, adding horns and turntables to the mix. Their live-band sound recalls the the Roots’ early records, and on their upcoming second album, Thank You, Lenny (Cigol), MC Billa Camp’s upbeat, relaxed rhymes are a perfect fit for the laid-back but dynamic grooves his cohorts come up with. They occasionally break out of their comfort zone, as on the raucous “Stick-Up” and the infectious “Didgeridoodah,” on which Billa Camp raps aggressively over a mix of beatbox, didgeridoo, and Indian-style flute. It’s not the overcaffeinated hip-hop you get from the likes of M.O.P. or Jedi Mind Tricks, but who lives on double espressos alone? Abstract Giants headline, Psalm One plays third, Treologic plays second, and Jagoff opens. This show is part of MOBfest; for a complete schedule see page 54. 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $9, 18+. –Kabir Hamid

Saturday 25

CLUMSY LOVERS For years I’ve been on a quest to discover a band that can produce a perfect fusion of rock and roots music. No luck yet, but I can report that the attempts tend to go in one of two directions: wild and hairy or slick and poppy. On their new album, Smart Kid (Nettwerk), Vancouver’s Clumsy Lovers take the path less scary, doling out happy sound tracks for family TV specials involving cute pioneer children, couples courting at barn dances, tearful family reunions back in the green green hills of home, heroic dogs–you get the idea. Front man Chris Jonat’s wry, self-conscious lyrics only add to the smarminess, but the band plays so well the CD resisted my efforts to toss it over my left shoulder to keep devils away. Gold Coast Refuse headlines. This show is part of MOBfest; for a complete schedule see page 54. 10 PM, Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln, 773-929-1300, $8. –Monica Kendrick

LONGWAVE Day Sleeper, Longwave’s 2002 EP, had a handful of great tunes and a gritty, explosive production job by indie-rock sorcerer Dave Fridmann, but the timing of its release was its greatest asset: it came out just as the big media spotlights were flooding the New York scene. A booker who’d taken a shine to the band landed a job managing the Strokes and gave Longwave a primo opening slot on their tour, which in turn helped them secure a contract with the Strokes’ label, RCA. But Longwave’s 2003 full-length, The Strangest Things, was flimsy beyond the reprised EP songs, and even those were rerecorded with a more radio-friendly sonic restraint. Things aren’t improving: last year’s Life of the Party EP was tepid and meandering, and on their latest album, There’s a Fire (Red Ink), they’re saddled with producer John Leckie, who isn’t inspired to do much with the songs besides make them sound like the work of a third-rate Coldplay or Ride. Canasta and Sam Champion open. Longwave also plays an in-store at 4 PM at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark; call 773-477-5994. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $12. –J. Niimi

OVER THE RHINE This Ohio-based band started out alt-country 15 years ago, but for most of its career it’s occupied the Cowboy Junkies’ polished, bittersweet Americana territory. Its new album, Drunkard’s Prayer (Back Porch), is about the relationship between the band’s principals, husband and wife Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. Gutsy and honest, right? There’s just one problem: they seem to be genuinely happy with one another. Shoot Out the Lights it ain’t, but this simple, literally down-home record–they recorded it in their living room–might be the finest one they’ve done. Despite all its embarrassing platitudes, it’s unrelentingly pretty; the best parts are the ones with just Bergquist and a piano, where she stops just short of falling into torch-singer mode. Kim Taylor opens. See also Sunday. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, sold out. –Monica Kendrick

ROCKIT GIRL Gina Crosley started this local band back in 1999, but she’s been pulled away from it a couple times–Louise Post (who produced Rockit Girl’s first EP) tapped her to play bass in latter-day Veruca Salt, and she later joined Courtney Love’s short-lived group Bastard. I’m trying to put my finger on what’s missing on their debut full-length, the self-released Bright Lights, because it’s definitely missing something. Maybe these songs need a context outside of a CD player: new-wave power pop like this seems to work best with a video, or at least a bar with excessive neon. They could use a touch of Blondie’s instinct for a hook, the Donnas’ raw boldness, or even Pat Benatar’s vocal gutsiness. Something that sounds distinctively their own wouldn’t hurt either–as it is, I’m not hearing anything I can’t get elsewhere. Rockit Girl opens for Ruben Waters Loves You, the Katie Todd Band, My Fallen Secret, and Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s. This show is part of MOBfest; for a complete schedule see page 54. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $8. –Monica Kendrick

MICHAEL STOVER & ERIC LEONARDSON An improviser and composer who’s been performing locally since the 80s, Eric Leonardson also designs experimental instruments. For this show he’s bringing his “springboard,” an electroacoustic contraption that amplifies the vibrations of springs, combs, rubber bands, and whatever else he feels like using. He’s joined by Kansas City improv musician Michael Stover, who comes armed with a dual-neck lap steel modified for settings and sounds Leo Fender never imagined. a 10:30 PM, Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton, 773-772-9970. Free. –Monica Kendrick

Sunday 26

OVER THE RHINE See Saturday. Kim Taylor opens. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, 18+, sold out.

Monday 27

STARFLYER 59 Given that Starflyer 59’s PR folks describe them as “California’s finest shoegazers,” I expected to hear more blissed-out fuzzbox bluster on Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, their ninth full-length and latest for Christian label Tooth & Nail. Instead, Jason Martin’s hushed vocals and the songs’ sweeping, lugubrious orchestral textures recall the Church, and their austere lyrics are aimed skyward rather than toward their sneakers. “Longest Line” is a bittersweet song about yearning to be saved that connects on both secular and devotional levels, and the lovely opener, “The Contest Completed,” reminds you that all great pop songs are about some kind of feeling of ascension. Ester Drang plays second and Half-Life Souvenir opens. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+. –J. Niimi

Wednesday 29

GREAT LAKES MYTH SOCIETY I’d like to see this Ann Arbor five-piece on a bill with our own Lost Souls of the Great Lakes for a sort of upper-midwest history bee. It makes me happy that the north coast can inspire a few competing sets of chroniclers, bands of earnest romantics and research hounds who might otherwise be collecting local ghost stories for no-frills regional presses. Composed largely of veterans from the late lamented Original Brothers and Sisters of Love, the GLMS has just released a self-titled debut album on Stop, Pop, and Roll. Its relentless, fiercely focused folk-based tunes seem modeled on the lakes themselves: sometimes friendly and familiar, perhaps, but essentially vast and cold, with unpredictable life in their depths. The Dogwoods and the August open. 9 PM, Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $6. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 30

HACIENDA BROTHERS Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez, the core duo of the Hacienda Brothers, are no scruffy young alt-country things–Gaffney’s spent a quarter century fronting the Cold Hard Facts and also plays in Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men, while Gonzalez has led the Paladins since the early 80s. On their self-titled debut for Koch, their fusion of country and R & B sounds as assured and smooth as anything on the jukebox of a dusty roadside bar. Snaky organ and Gonzalez’s languid guitar wrap around Gaffney’s sturdy and flexible voice, and their wry songs sound like Percy Sledge joining Los Lobos for a set at their favorite honky-tonk. This is the kind of stuff the Chicago Country Music Festival ought to have more of, and the gig’s indoors to boot–look ma, no sunburn! The Hacienda Brothers play as part of FitzGerald’s American Music Festival; see Fairs & Festivals for the complete lineup. 7:30 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20, $15 for those arriving before 6 PM, $5 for children under 13. –Monica Kendrick

LEE BOYS Regular performers at a Pentecostal church in the Miami suburb of Perrine, the Lee Boys are the latest group to export the “sacred steel” sound to a secular crowd. On its recent studio debut, Say Yes! (Arhoolie), this open-eared six-piece tweaks gospel traditions, tearing shit up a la fellow sacred steel crossover guitarist Robert Randolph on the title track and making like a countrified Little Feat on “Walk With Me,” where Derrick Lee’s soulful voice has a surprisingly laid-back lilt. The star of the show may be pedal steel player Emanuel Roosevelt Collier–the replacement for cofounder Glenn Lee, who died of cancer in 2000 at 32–but the band also makes plenty of space for the exclamatory singing of Derrick and his brother Keith, who wildly trade phrases on “Come On Help Me Lift Him Up.” The group also explores deep blues on a rousing version of “You’ve Got to Move” and pays homage to sacred steel pioneer Calvin Cooke on one instrumental. A gospel take on the impossibly hokey children’s tune “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is the sole misstep on the album, but even that fares better than it rightfully should. This show is part of FitzGerald’s American Music Festival; see Fairs & Festivals for the complete lineup. The Lee Boys also play Friday, July 1, at 10 PM at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; call 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401. The band plays again at the American Music Festival at 6:15 PM on Saturday, July 2; tickets are $25. 9:15 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118, $20, $15 for those arriving before 6 PM. Children under 13 are welcome before 10 PM for $5. –Peter Margasak