AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB Mark Eitzel never quite set the world on fire as a solo artist, but he seemingly managed to hang onto most of those fans hoping the breakup of AMC nine years ago was just a trial separation. Now he and his venerable band are back together, playing their soulful, passive-aggressive indie pop for relieved diehards and kids who were too young to see them live the first time around. The new album, Love Songs for Patriots (Merge), is a rich if mildly toxic liqueur perfect for the drowning of postelection sorrows. Will Johnson opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14. See also Saturday. –Monica Kendrick
BOXSTEP I madly loved the sound of this Pittsburgh band’s 2001 debut, The Faces All Look On (Overcoat): the musicians found the right blend of voice and instrument, electric and acoustic, ancient and modern, to create a grainy, visceral mountain-music/rock hybrid that would seem obvious except that practically no one else has even attempted it, much less managed to pull it off. All edges have been left rough, a la powerful underdogs like the Geraldine Fibbers and 16 Horsepower; yet when Boxstep dials it down, as on last February’s Back Roads, the result is an angelic country-folk beauty reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies at their peak. Pedal Steel Transmission headlines. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. See also Saturday. –Monica Kendrick
JAY FARRAR, ANDERS PARKER Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo vet Jay Farrar has set out a Roman feast for his fans with Stone, Steel & Bright Lights (Artemis): a long live album on which D.C.’s underrated Canyon backs him for a set of career-spanning originals plus “Lucifer Sam” and “Like a Hurricane,” packaged with a DVD from the same tour. It’s nearly too much of a good thing, as Farrar’s not one to push that gritty-folk-rock envelope very far, but his unfailing ability to connect with an audience makes it a great thing.
The New York band Varnaline never cracked the same A-list of indiedom, despite some great moments of roiling Crazy Horse energy. Former front man Anders Parker can’t muster anything like that intensity on his first solo album, Tell It to the Dust (Baryon); he piles up layers of electric guitar and studio gloss like it’s really, really heavy lifting, and other than “Doornail (Hats Off to Buster Keaton),” the songs are doleful but rather undistinguished.
Farrar headlines, John Doe plays second, Parker opens. 9 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $16. Parker also plays the Hideout on Monday; see separate entry for complete info. –Monica Kendrick
DAVE LIEBMAN BIG BAND The name Dave Liebman brings several things to mind–including the man’s place among the true savants of the soprano sax and his stewardship of John Coltrane’s musical legacy–but “big band” isn’t one of them. On last year’s Beyond the Line (OmniTone), though, a half dozen of Liebman’s small-group compositions, arranged for an 18-piece ensemble by a half dozen top-notch orchestrators, reemerged with a taut balance of tastefulness and explosive fury. Liebman gives this music its Chicago premiere with members of his New York rhythm section and a slew of local players, including pianist Jim Trompeter, saxists Brad Wheeler and Jerry DiMuzio, and trumpeter Rob Parton. The chance to see Liebman in this unexpected context is only part of the appeal: he’s known for his playing, not his writing, so a showcase for his compositions is a rare treat. 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $15. See also Saturday. –Neil Tesser
ROPEADOPE NEW MUSIC SEMINAR This tag-team revue showcases a host of rhythmically oriented improvisers affiliated with New York’s Ropeadope Records. Eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter has done his edgiest work with drummer Bobby Previte, and on their recent Latitude (Thirsty Ear)–recorded with saxophonist Greg Osby under the name Groundtruther–Hunter eschews easy soul-jazz for more spiky, abstract, and coloristic machinations, which nicely fuse with Previte’s mix of live and programmed beats. Hunter’s trio will be joined by DJ Olive, whose new solo album, Buoy (Room40), is an hour of constantly morphing ambient drift. Olive’s the most substantive figure to emerge from New York’s usually vacuous illbient scene, and his collaborations with electronic composer and improviser Ikue Mori, pianist Uri Caine, and the trio We prove he has a skill rare in turntablists: an ability to listen to others. The Sex Mob Horns are led by saxophonist Briggan Krause and trumpeter Steven Bernstein; the latter’s terrific new album, Diaspora Hollywood (Tzadik), brings a Jewish melodic tinge to the gentle, contrapuntal cool of 50s film scores. Also on the bill: DJ Rich Medina, rapper Lyrics Born, jam bands Critters Buggin’ and the Benevento/Russo Duo, and classical cellist Matt Haimovitz. 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $19, 18+. –Peter Margasak
AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB See Friday. Will Johnson opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14.
SIMA BINA The first female singer from Iran to tour Europe and North America since Iran’s 1979 revolution, Sima Bina specializes in the folk songs of Khorasan, the northeastern province where she was born. But she’s also recorded albums of Persian classical music and more awkward pop-flavored efforts that don’t enhance her beautiful, melancholic voice. Luckily, for this rare Chicago-area gig she’ll be backed by Dastan Ensemble, a superb traditional group that uses hand percussion, kemence (spike fiddle), and tar, setar, and barbat (three lutelike instruments). 7:30 PM, Josephine Louis Theater, Northwestern University, 20 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 847-673-0614, $40 in advance, $50 at the door. All ages. –Peter Margasak
BOXSTEP See Friday. The Kilborn Alley Blues Band and Bad Vibes open. 9 PM, Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln, 773-929-1300, $8.
GRIFFIN HOUSE I’ll be the first to declare that we don’t need any more husky-voiced sensitive-guy folk rockers who make music fit for SUV commercials. John Mayer’s emboldened a lot of these dudes lately, which is just one more reason he needs a good beating. But when Griffin House–a sensitive guy, not a band–rolls up his sleeves and offers up a genuinely brilliant song, he hits it out of the park. My favorite from his second album, Lost & Found (Nettwerk), is “Liberty Line,” a male-restlessness ballad that revels in its vintage-denim glory. Amy Correia opens. 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+. –Monica Kendrick
LAIBACH This Slovenian experimental-industrial outfit will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, and after two and a half decades of producing art-collective manifestos, mocking Stalinism’s politics while embracing Stalinism’s imagery, and resurfacing amid revolutions velvet and otherwise, it practically operates like its own country. A new anthology, Anthems (Mute), should go a long way toward reminding folks about this bizarre treasure; my sole quibble is that Anthems includes too few of their genius covers. Their late-80s song-for-song remake of the Beatles’ Let It Be was just about the best thing ever. Bonfire Madigan opens. See Sunday. 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $18 in advance, $22 day of show. –Monica Kendrick
DAVE LIEBMAN BIG BAND See Friday. 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $15.
IAN MCLAGAN & THE BUMP BAND For the past five years, former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan directed much of his energy into the production of Five Guys Walk Into a Bar… (Rhino/Warner Bros.), a four-CD box set that highlights the depth of his old band’s catalog. With the box set released last summer, McLagan is now free to focus on his solo career; long an in-demand backup musician for the likes of Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, he’s also quietly produced a half-dozen stellar albums since the late 70s. After moving to Austin in 1994, McLagan formed his Bump Band from Texas sidemen with lengthy resumes; this year, they’ve released the studio album Rise & Shine and the concert set Bump Live (both Gaff Music). Despite his range of projects, McLagan’s sound remains true to the Faces’ frothy mix of besotted R & B, blue-eyed soul, and Stones-style raunch. 10 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $10. –Bob Mehr
DEVENDRA BANHART Singer-songwriter-guitarist Devendra Banhart can’t seem to decide whether he wants to be a too-precious hippie busker or a cannily eccentric entertainer with an intuitive command of decades of showbiz lore. The latter was ascendant on this year’s Rejoicing in the Hands (Young God), an ingratiating album that displayed his knowledge of vaudeville, folk revival, and au courant musical developments. But when he sat cross-legged on the Bottom Lounge’s low stage in June, making himself practically invisible, the impish flower kid in him threatened to gain the upper hand. Banhart’s new album, Nino Rojo (Young God), is culled from the same sessions as Rejoicing in the Hands, but he’s changing tactics for this concert, playing both acoustic and electric guitar and bringing a four-piece band. With any luck, the discipline of rehearsing with others will mean a more consistent show–and if he wants to rock out, at least he’ll have to stand up. Six Organs of Admittance opens. 8 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $15. All ages. –Bill Meyer
LAIBACH See Saturday. Bonfire Madigan opens. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $18 in advance, $22 day of show.
ARIEL PINK The music on Ariel Pink’s The Doldrums (Paw Tracks) sounds like it was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape in 1981 and promptly buried in somebody’s backyard. Originally issued as a CD-R last year (its rerelease is Paw Tracks’ first non-Animal Collective-related album), the record’s thick lo-fi haze coats zigzagging bass lines, synthetic string washes, and woozy pop melodies that borrow the glibness of early AOR. Pink sings soft-rock lyrical verities with the lugubriousness of Scott Walker, occasionally breaking into a blue-eyed soul falsetto; reportedly all the drum sounds on the album were vocally generated. I have no idea how this multitracked melange will play out live, but it’s certainly one of the strangest albums I’ve heard all year. Greg Davis and Signer headline. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600, $8. –Peter Margasak
ANDERS PARKER See Friday. 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation.
BATTLES This New York math-rock juggernaut played here a little more than four months ago, but it’s just released its second album, the visceral yet elliptical B EP (Dim Mak). The band’s playing games of instrumental addition and subtraction throughout the record, which leaves more space than usual for the listener to parse the developing ideas; drummer John Stanier’s martial rhythms once again sound colossal, but they’re absent for long stretches while Ian Williams and David Konopka’s guitar licks slowly morph and intertwine. In the meantime, Tyondai Braxton’s keyboards offer a variety of sleights of hand, repeatedly revealing new matrices as if he’s pulling a white handkerchief off the proceedings. Battles has covered significant terrain across two records; they’re one of the most exciting rock bands to emerge this year. Del Rey and Crush Kill Destroy open. 8 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $10. All ages. –Peter Margasak
CALIFORNIA LIGHTENING Jenny Hoyston and Bianca Sparta are best known as the singer and drummer for postdisco seizure queens Erase Errata, but with all due respect, their California Lightening side project sounds like a crappy bar band–or rather, a faux crappy bar band. Reportedly past sets have included a lot of dicking around on the mike and multiple versions of “Mustang Sally.” Sure, it takes guts to bum out your fans on purpose–if that’s not the point, I can’t imagine what is–but I wonder how many people are going to get the joke. The Coughs and Sic Alps open. 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. –Liz Armstrong
SONS OF GOD This Swedish duo–Leif Elggren and Kent Tankred–uses sound, movement, and objects to create oblique performance pieces that often mock traditional aesthetics. In a 2001 work, The Sons of God Perform a Miracle, the two sit next to each other and playact an excruciatingly painful and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to lift themselves from their chairs as an industrial hum rises and falls in volume. For this Outer Ear Festival of Sound show, they’ll present Before the Miracle, which the fest describes thus: “Their enigmatic movements–at turns iconic, melodramatic, and mundane–occupy a sound- and video-infused environment where they navigate amongst furniture and our own expectations of drama.” Percussionist Jon Mueller also performs. See sidebar for the full schedule of the Outer Ear Festival of Sound. 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $10, $8 seniors and students. All ages. –Peter Margasak