Friday 12

THE CITY ON FILM For some people the name Robert Nanna is a selling point all by itself–and now that the former singer and guitarist for Braid and Hey Mercedes is throwing his weight into this project (formerly unplugged and a one-man affair, now neither), I’m sure they’re making a beeline for it. But In Formal Introduction (Grand Theft Autumn), the debut full-length from the City on Film, is going to have to win over the rest of us the old-fashioned way. I’m already halfway persuaded: on “Forgiveness” autumnal cello twines around humid, chugging guitar, and the Nick Drake-wannabe number “Lost My Lights” is almost sadistically exquisite. Plus Nanna sings like every tiny vocal gesture–each bend and break and white-boy blue note–matters more than whatever his angsty lyrics are about. Jeff Hanson plays second and Sleep Out opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. –Monica Kendrick

THE EBB AND FLOW On their new debut LP, Time to Echolocate (Three Ring Records), these San Franciscans traipse along the fine line between whimsical and cutesy–but despite the ambling tempos, the warbling analog keyboards, and a couple lyrics about bats, they hardly ever put a foot down on the wrong side. The disc kicks off with a shuffling reggae lick on Farfisa that’s joined by chirpy pop guitars, faux-orchestral strings, and oboelike female vocals; the rest of the songs are sensual quilts of indie pop, indie rock, and hippie-tonk, stitched up tight with nimble, jazzy drumming and adorned with horns, xylophone, stately church chimes, and some barely angular guitar action that’s so far over to the disco end of postpunk it’s almost lounge. Fortunately the words are a bit dark and plenty clever–if Elf Power wandered into the magic forest without their toddler-vision goggles, this is what things might look like to them. Volcano! headlines and XYZR_KX opens. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $7. –Ann Sterzinger

LOCKS This show is a benefit for Dax Pierson of the Bay Area group Subtle, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a tour-van accident in February–he’s still in a rehab center near Houston, and though he has insurance, it’s only defrayed a tiny fraction of the cost of his $30,000 motorized wheelchair. Headliners Tortoise are the big-money attraction here, but it’s worth showing up right at ten to see Locks, the local duo of Patrick Scott and Theo Katsaounis (in other words, Weather minus Roby Newton, who’s moved to Baltimore). They create a surprisingly dense full-band sound by switching off on bass, drums, samplers, and other electronics, and despite the near total absence of vocals, there’s a sweet soul sensibility in their warm, rolling music–they play their analog keyboards almost seductively, the way a crooner sings. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. –Monica Kendrick

SCHOOLYARD HEROES Just a few years out of high school, Seattle’s Schoolyard Heroes play with a skillful, spastic ferocity, as if they’ve spent their lives listening to Faith No More, Zappa, and Rush at the wrong speed. But front woman Ryann Donnelly breaks the fleet-fingered geek-boy rock mold by changing up her delivery on every song of their second album, Fantastic Wounds (Control Group); with a voice that’s part Rob Halford, part Nina Hagen, and part Laura Branigan, it seems like there’s no amount of B-horror nerdery she can’t inflict her nervous, urgent intensity upon (“Battlestar Anorexia” is my favorite). Vendetta Red headlines, Bayside plays second, and the Schoolyard Heroes open. 5 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

Saturday 13

JESSI ALEXANDER Jessi Alexander’s debut album, Honeysuckle Sweet, bears the Columbia logo, and it’s polished to a high gloss, but she’s no Nashville automaton–she wrote or cowrote everything here. Though she was named after the first lady of the outlaw movement, Jessi Colter, Alexander seems to prefer the soul-streaked country of Bobbie Gentry; the lyrics to “Unfulfilled” (“The milk is spoiled / The clothes need washin’ / The babies are cryin’ down the hall”) could come from a classic fed-up number by Loretta Lynn, but the sound is pure organ-stoked country rock. Alexander’s got a gorgeously full-bodied voice, deployed with a fondness for goose-bump-raising blue notes. Notwithstanding her occasional lapse into Music City cliche–like the sassy Shania-speak on “Can You Make It Feel Right”–we could use more mainstream contenders like this. Alexander opens for Holly Williams, Hank Sr.’s granddaughter. 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. –Peter Margasak

BRAIN SURGEONS If you go see this show, feel free to yell out requests for “Career of Evil” or “Cities on Flame With Rock & Roll”–just don’t ask for “more cowbell, baby!” Although SNL’s notorious Blue Oyster Cult sketch posited a hapless percussionist named Gene Frenkle, it was in fact the Brain Surgeons’ Albert Bouchard, former BOC drummer and songwriter, who laid down the sublime cowbell on “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” The latest Surgeons CD, Black Hearts of Soul (Bad Reputation), features onetime rock critic (and Bouchard’s wife) Deborah Frost on vocals and the Dictators’ Ross the Boss on guitar. Tunes like “Swamp Thing” and “Krakatoa” channel BOC’s goofy bombast, but I’ll bet my gold-plated diapers Bouchard’s got another “Debbie Denise” in him somewhere. Quiet Kid and the Reluctant Aquanauts open. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. –J. Niimi

DASH RIP ROCK Twenty-one years in, this Louisiana party band, vaguely famous for playing what is essentially rockabilly with considerable emphasis on the rock (blazing guitar solos, loud and snotty posturing, etc), has finally gotten around to releasing a decent collection: Recyclone, on Alternative Tentacles. While it is arguably the only Dash Rip Rock record most people need, most people do need it. The Goldstars open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. –Monica Kendrick

SONS OF THE NEVER WRONG This local folk-rock act gets better all the time, even as the lure of NPR and the Kennedy Center threatens the slightly feral quality that makes them distinctive. Nuthatch Suite (Gadfly) is their fifth album, and despite the friendly coffeehouse tone of its narratives, the urgency is still there: in their male-female call-and-response bits, they’re like a well-conducted bunch of banshees trying to sound polite and sing pretty songs. They succeed beautifully–but I’m afraid you’re still going to die. This is a CD-release party; Michael Smith opens. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, sold out. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

WACO BROTHERS Gallows humor has always been the Waco Brothers’ defense mechanism of choice, but they’ve never sounded so fatalistic as on their new Bloodshot release, Freedom and Weep–a shift underscored by Jon Langford’s cover painting of a bald eagle pierced by the arrow it usually clutches. Lamenting the apparent collapse of civil liberties in the Bush II era on “Rest of the World,” Dean Schlabowske suggests downing the victory champagne early and settling in for a long nap: “So put my head in a vacuum / And put my body on ice / Bring me back to life when there’s a cure for this illness.” “Missing Link” personifies the justification for the war in Iraq: “I’m the proof you can’t see, I’m the proof you don’t need. . . . I’m a calculated hoax played on the world / Thrown together at the last minute, right here.” Mark Durante’s overamped steel-guitar lines are the only thing connecting the band’s lean, archetypal rock ‘n’ roll to “insurgent country,” but with most of the songs prescribing alcohol for solace from a world gone mad, the band’s country spirit is still intact. To celebrate the release of Freedom and Weep, the band’s playing an odd afternoon gig at Carol’s Pub, one of the finest shit-kicking country bars in the city. Devil in a Woodpile opens. 3 PM, Carol’s Pub, 4659 N. Clark, 773-334-2402, sold out. –Peter Margasak

Sunday 14

RAVEN SOCIETY This Buffalo-based trio hit the ground running, playing shows just a few months after forming last February and releasing an EP, Open Letters to No One (Helioperos), earlier this month. Their deft and sinuous heavy prog lurks in the depths of Bardo Pond’s pool but occasionally sounds as if it’s being tempted out and down the primrose path of the, er, space jazz odyssey. Architecture headlines. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. –Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 16

MARKED MEN I can’t say I’ve been worrying the world might collapse for want of one more high-speed, lo-fi power-pop band, but I sure wouldn’t kick these guys out of bed for eating crackers. Three of the four Marked Men–guitarist-singers Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan and drummer Mike Throneberry–are alumni of Texas punks the Reds, and though they’ve been slowed down by Burke’s decision to go to school in Osaka, they’ve got a seven-inch coming out on tastemaking local label Shit Sandwich that ought to be back from the pressing plant in time for this show. (The band has LPs on Rip Off and Dirtnap, but the last one, On the Outside, is a year old.) Burke wrote and recorded the A side, “Nothing’s Changed,” in Japan, overdubbing all the parts himself; it’s a Rezillos-esque pogo boogie complete with boodly-oodly bass line, and about the only thing wrong with it is that Faye Fife never joins in. The Ramonesy B side, “She Won’t Know,” was recorded without him, but he’s flying over for this tour–and the Chicago stop is a Shit Sandwich showcase with headliners M.O.T.O. and openers Headache City and the Busy Signals. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $6 in advance, $8 at the door. –Ann Sterzinger

Wednesday 17

WINDSOR FOR THE DERBY Singers and multi-instrumentalists Dan Matz and Jason McNeely have led Windsor for the Derby on its circuitous path for more than a decade. Their early recordings for Trance Syndicate explored open-ended instrumental excursions and terse rhythmic workouts; The Emotional Rescue LP, released in 2002, emphasized gentle vocal harmonies and folky acoustic strumming; 2004’s excellent We Fight til Death hitched its wagon to brisk New Order-ish beats. That year Matz and McNeely both moved to Philadelphia, putting them in the same town for the first time since Matz left Austin, Texas, in the late 90s. Living near each other seems to have helped their sound to jell; the disparate elements all pull in the same direction on Giving Up the Ghost (Secretly Canadian), their latest release. This is Windsor for the Derby’s first Chicago gig in three years and one of the last shows at the soon-to-be-redeveloped Camp Gay–the current tenants have lost their lease and will be gone by the end of the month. The Early Day Miners open. 8 PM, Camp Gay,, $5 donation requested. All ages. –Bill Meyer

Thursday 18

YERBA BUENA The title of Island Life (Razor & Tie), Yerba Buena’s second album, is a reference to the multicultural splendor of Manhattan, home of hybrids of all sorts–musical, culinary, racial, and otherwise. Led by Venezuelan transplant Andres Levin, the outfit attempts to celebrate as well as embody the city’s pan-Latin diversity: “Two tongues are better than one,” a line from the cheeky “Bilingual Girl,” is both a smirking come-on and a manifesto for the record, which mixes bits of cumbia, reggaeton, dancehall, bossa nova, merengue, straight-up salsa, and hip-hop (and even splashes of flamenco and Balkan Gypsy music). The frothy mashups are technically accomplished, but they’re also a bit slick and self-concious, as though the band were bending over backward to cram every possible element into each song. The album’s also stuffed with cameos: John Leguizamo, Les Nubians, Gogol Bordello (see Saturday), Dead Prez MC M1, boogaloo icon Joe Bataan, merengue pinups Fulanito, Cuban hip-hop group Orishas, flamenco singer Diego “El Cigala,” and Brazilian bloco group Ile Aiye all make appearances, among others. Despite the thick air of calculation that hangs over the disc, though, Yerba Buena’s a good party band and can pull off every style it absorbs. They also play Friday, August 19, at 9:30 PM at HotHouse. 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20 in advance, $25 at the door. –Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.