BLACK KEYS This rust-belt duo’s third album, Rubber Factory (Fat Possum), was recorded in a makeshift studio the guys set up in an old tire plant, which is almost too bad in a way; it’s funnier to imagine deliberately crude rattlebag stuff like this being generated bit by bit in some high-end digital emporium. Probably couldn’t happen, though–feel isn’t just a myth, after all. The band’s sound displays a few new traits, including occasional ballad-friendliness and a 70s blues-rock sense of structure: there’s more than a little ZZ Top here, and “10 A.M. Automatic” is a better rip of “All Right Now” than the entire Bad Company catalog. The Cuts (see below) open. 10:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $12, 18+. –Monica Kendrick
CUTS In an impressive leap beyond their workmanlike garage-rock beginnings, Oakland’s Cuts apparently discovered melody, dynamics, and the 70s before making last year’s Greg Cartwright-produced 2 Over Ten (Birdman). Singing in a squirrelly yelp licensed from Tom Verlaine, front man Andy Jordan brings early-punk concision and hooky phrasing to the band’s taut rock ‘n’ roll. Keyboard parts by Dan Aaberg (son of New Ager Philip) now open up the arrangements, which sweep together disparate elements reminiscent in turns of the MC5, Richard Hell, the Flamin’ Groovies, Mott the Hoople, and the Raspberries, among others. Since the album’s release, Ben Brown has joined up on second guitar. The Black Keys (see above) headline. 10:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $12, 18+. –Peter Margasak
THOMAS BRINKMANN One of Brinkmann’s albums, 2001’s Klick, consists entirely of techno tracks made from vinyl records whose grooves he’d hand-cut with a razor. As you might gather from that example, his stuff can be pretty severe, but, as the three R & B-infused discs he’s released under the name Soul Center indicate, he can be playful too. Those two sides come together on Brinkmann’s new CD, Tokyo + 1 (Max.Ernst), made mostly from field recordings–street sounds, snippets of conversation–the German composer made while on tour in Japan. It’s nowhere near his best work, but on cuts like “3 St. 2 Shinjuku” Brinkmann can turn a couple of simple ideas into something more complex and interesting than you’d expect–not to mention funkier. Borbetomagus, Paal Nilssen-Love & Ken Vandermark (see Critic’s Choice), and Cantilever Rainbow open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15. –Michaelangelo Matos
NORTHERN STATE So much of the press about this unlikely Long Island crew fumbles to explain why it’s OK or not OK for three white suburban girls to make hip-hop. Surprisingly little of it bothers to acknowledge that there’d be a lot fewer raised eyebrows if they were boys–the Beastie Boys knocked down that barrier during the Reagan administration. Northern State’s new All City is competent and clever, but not an awful lot more–nor is it trying to be. The band isn’t copping Timbaland power or 50 Cent cool, but rather projecting a brainy sort of charming clunkiness with a retro simplicity. Anyway, any album that has guest appearances by Har Mar Superstar and members of the Roots and Cypress Hill has to be doing something right. This show is part of Estrojam; Sini Anderson and Harriet Dodge open, and Depeche Mode tribute band Violator headlines. 10:30 PM, Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494, $10. –Monica Kendrick
JILL SCOTT, FLOETRY Contentment drives Jill Scott’s long-awaited second studio album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2 (Hidden Beach). Most of the songs by the spoken-word-artist-turned-neosoul-diva address her affection for the man she married a few years ago, and while some of her lyrics are oddly prosaic–“I can even stain and polyurethane” isn’t a line you’d expect in a love song–assured singing and tight arrangements prevent the proceedings from getting too saccharine. A few tunes tackle subjects other than matrimonial bliss: “Family Reunion” enumerates the quirks and drama of extended family, while “Rasool” personalizes gang violence. Regardless of what she’s riffing on, Scott generally nails it, packing her phrases with jazzy curlicues and never reaching for melismatic overkill.
As their name suggests, the London-to-Philadelphia duo Floetry (Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart) bring hip-hop flow to their poetic musings. At their best there’s a soulful sweetness to their rapid-fire patter–especially when they rhyme in tandem harmony–but the rhythmic snap goes slack on the undistinguished slow jams. 8 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 877-259-5299 or 312-559-1212, sold-out, 18+. –Peter Margasak
DJ ROB SONIC, DIPLO Rob Sonic’s recent debut album, Telicatessen (Definitive Jux), is a dizzying barrage of internally rhyming verbiage and old-school synth grooves. The former Sonic Sum front man has a fierce flow that borrows ideas from labelmates Aesop Rock and El-P, both in its steamroller delivery and its hallucinogenic imagery–I have no idea what “Just the right sedatives measuring me / The nine-volt Steinway that’s never ready” means, but it sounds good. Sonic’s rubbery bass lines, chunky beats, and busy synth riffs recall early-80s electro-funk.
Half of the Philly-based Dirty South mashup/DJ crew Hollertronix, Diplo (short for Diplodocus) delivers a sampladelic gem with his solo debut, Florida (Big Dada). Bits of electro, psychedelic rock, Indian percussion, chamber music, and hip-hop meld into a dense collage that’s consistently greater than the sum of its parts. Former Tricky sidekick Martina Topley-Bird sings melancholically on “Into the Sun,” while Vybz Kartel, Sandra Melody, and Panteros Os Danadinhos drop multiculti dancehall rhymes on the twitchy “Diplo Rhythm,” which has the temerity to jump onto Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France” for a spell. Rjd2, which makes music along the same lines, headlines. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15. All ages. –Peter Margasak
RITCHIE BLACKMORE & BLACKMORE’S NIGHT Deep Purple cofounder Ritchie Blackmore, songbird Candice Night, and their merry band have established themselves as the premier makers of courtship music for Medieval Times regulars. Their repetitive, twee, yet indescribably infectious piping is a weird hybrid of geekish authenticity and pop blasphemy, and its continued success probably surprises Blackmore and company as much as it does me. Beyond the Sunset: The Romantic Collection is a brand-new compilation of mushy highlights from their last four albums, plus a DVD of five songs performed live just outside (surprise) a castle. The Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha closed Labor Day weekend, but drop those mothballs: fans wearing bodices and poufy shirts will be let into tonight’s show ahead of plebes in jeans. 8 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $30. All ages. –Monica Kendrick
RALPH STANLEY & THE CLINCH MOUNTAIN BOYS It’s not very often that you get to hear a brilliant living link to as many decades of history as Virginia-born mountain-music patriarch Ralph Stanley, for sure. And it’s even less often that you get to hear him play surrounded by a particle accelerator. 8 PM, Wilson Hall, Fermilab, Kirk & Pine, Batavia, 630-840-2787, $23, $12 for ages 18 & under. All ages. –Monica Kendrick
TERRITORY BAND-4 After skipping its annual Chicago recording session last year, Ken Vandermark’s superb large-group project returns for one of only two live U.S. appearances. The fruit of their 2002 get-together, the just-released double CD Map Theory (Okka Disk), finds the reedist’s writing more precise and exciting than ever, artfully mixing melodic lines and tight, punchy riffs with wild group improv and ever shifting breakout ensembles. Kevin Drumm’s electronic ‘scapes not only hold certain sections of the record together but here and there beautifully propel the players to greater heights. The current group–which features German trumpeter Axel Dorner, Swedish saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, British drummer Paul Lytton, and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love in addition to Chicago reliables Jeb Bishop, Kent Kessler, and Fred Lonberg-Holm–will perform all-new material; Lasse Marhaug, the Norwegian electronics maven who’s replacing Drumm in the band, debuts as well. 3 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. –Peter Margasak
CATTLE DECAPITATION Crushing, intense death metal legends-in-the-making Cattle Decapitation urge their fans to vote the right wing out of office this November after changing the cover art to their new Humanure (Metal Blade) under duress; seems some stores or distributors may have gotten squeamish about stocking the original, which depicted a slurry of bloody body parts pouring out the ass end of a cow. I doubt the change will help, frankly. Watch also for their contribution to an upcoming Birthday Party tribute album. Jungle Rot opens, Goatwhore plays third, and Deicide headlines. 6:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $20. All ages. –Monica Kendrick
CLOGS, ALAN LICHT The members of New York’s Clogs, who met in the late 90s while studying music at Yale, bring classical rigor and technique to stylistically expansive original chamber music, operating like a rock band and developing their material together. That organic approach yields impressive dividends on the new Stick Music (Brassland), a set penned mostly by guitarist Bryce Dessner and violinist/viola player Padma Newsome. From the percussive pointillism of the gamelan-tinged “Sticks & Nails” to the hushed minimalism of “Beating Stick,” the album’s explorations of the sonic range of strings–plucked, bowed, thwacked, plinked, or rubbed–remain in service of the compositions’ pretty melancholy.
New York guitarist and composer Alan Licht will do an opening set, then join Clogs for a few pieces. Licht began last year’s A New York Minute (XI) with a collage of AM-radio weather broadcasts that nicely underlines their institutionalized repetition; the rest of the record offers structurally analogous minimalist soundscapes that frequently employ guitar feedback. 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $5-$10 suggested donation. See also Sunday. –Peter Margasak
TRASHCAN SINATRAS Regulars back home on Radio Scotland and a longtime cult act here, the Sinatras are playing a rare North American tour to plug their latest, Weightlifting (SpinArt), released in the U.S. at the end of August. Crisp and chiming, snark-plated but golden-hearted, they still sound like they’re angling for the coveted Second Coming of Aztec Camera title–sneaking through the mist like thieves in the night, as such diffident messiahs are wont to do. Roddy Hart opens. 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15. –Monica Kendrick
DAVID KILGOUR In 1982 David Kilgour scrubbed his band the Clean, the fountainhead of New Zealand indie rock, at the height of its popularity, and he’s refused to be shackled by success ever since. True to form, he’s followed up his 2002 solo masterpiece A Feather in the Engine, recorded at his home studio in Dunedin, with Frozen Orange (Merge), made in Nashville with members of Lambchop; the new disc replaces its predecessor’s spacious mix and vivid lead guitar with densely layered keyboards and mellow soul grooves. But just as Kilgour gets back together with the Clean every few years, he maintains certain core values–simplicity, elegant tunefulness–throughout his work, and Frozen Orange is no exception. This is his first one-man show in Chicago. Palliard opens. 9 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 312-738-2140, $8 suggested donation. –Bill Meyer
SILOS The Silos are veterans of the mid-80s indie-Americana boomlet, and front man Walter Salas-Humara’s decades of experience distilling his predecessors show on their new When the Telephone Rings (Dualtone). While the core trio’s sound has been pretty minimal in the past (Salas-Humara is also cofounder of Vulgar Boatmen), When the Telephone Rings plays like a studio version of a Rolling Thunder Tour, adding guests like violinist Mary Rowell, vocalist Amy Allison, multi-instrumentalist Dennis Cronin of Lambchop, and guitarist Richard Lloyd–yes, that one–to a blazing, roiling, wistful Neil Youngish topsoil. The Great Crusades and Deanna Varagona (also of Lambchop) open. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. –Monica Kendrick
FUTUREHEADS You don’t have to be particularly innovative to be a great pop band–in fact the job description’s all about reinventing the wheel, making it exactly the right wheel at the right time and not trying to sell Cadillacs to a Vespa crowd or vice versa. The UK-based Futureheads (named for an old Flaming Lips record) know how to jumble up the bag of tricks till it sounds fresh. Their self-titled first album on 679 Recordings burbles with so much audacious exuberance it’s as if their ever accelerating Devo-ish Gang of Four pogo-crazed giddiness (note co-production by Andy Gill) lined with a satiny romantic streak (note cover of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love”) were a new discovery. Get to this show early: headliners Franz Ferdinand should be given a run for their money. The Delays play second. 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, sold-out. All ages. –Monica Kendrick
NOW IT’S OVERHEAD, TILLY AND THE WALL Guest appearances by Conor Oberst and Michael Stipe might give you a hint what you’re in for on Fall Back Open (Saddle Creek), the second album by the Athens band Now It’s Overhead–dour but poppy, dreamy but tame, moody yet contained, the unforgettable fire lit on Sterno. Openers Tilly & the Wall are from Omaha, and Oberst produced their Wild Like Children on Team Love, his Saddle Creek offshoot. They might be too much fun for Saddle Creek proper, what with their sing-alongs for grown-ups and their flirty, woodsy spirit. What’s more, on tour they use live tap dancing for percussion–which could improve a lot of Saddle Creek bands, come to think of it. Rilo Kiley headlines. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932, $15, 18+. –Monica Kendrick
SPITS Partial to ninja suits and Reagan masks, this west coast underground outfit has been keeping the tone of punk low since the mid-90s. They’re touring behind the new 19 Million A.C., which they’re calling an EP though it’s loaded with 18 songs–quick ‘n’ dirty punches of delightful vulgarity that give off a toxic cloud of greasy noise. The Functional Blackouts and Manaconda open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. At 7 PM the band’s Sean and Erin Wood will appear as part of The Brian Costello Show With Brian Costello, an erratically staged (but not televised) live variety show, also at the Empty Bottle. –Monica Kendrick