cmaurice brown’s soul’d u out Even when he plays in a straight-ahead band, virtuosic twentysomething trumpeter Maurice Brown can’t turn his back on the electric funk and hip-hop that have shaped his generation of jazz players. And when he sails outside the mainstream–as he does with this new sextet–those influences make the trip intoxicating. Soul’d U Out gives full vent to his passion for contemporary pop–neosoul, funk, rock, psychedelia, and especially hip-hop, which makes itself felt not just in the beats but in the sampled electronics and Brown’s melodic trumpet hooks (which other people ought to be sampling themselves). Of course, his love for jazz is evident too: the tune “Funk Hop” (streaming on his MySpace page) quotes from Miles Davis’s famous 1966 recording Miles Smiles amid its tossed salad of waka-waka guitar, James Brown rhythms, and radio static. And the song relies on the sweetness of tone and playful phrasing that have made Brown one to watch since his high school years in Chicago. Though his music now bristles with the almost manic energy of New York, his post-Katrina home base, it retains its youthful soul and liberating grit. See also Saturday. a 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12. –Neil Tesser

GUY CLARK In the 1981 outlaw-country documentary Heartworn Highways, much of the interview footage with Texas troubadour Guy Clark is shot in his workshop as he patiently repairs an acoustic guitar. Old-fashioned craftsmanship has always characterized Clark’s songwriting too, and his lyrics tend to celebrate simple virtues and pleasures; on “Analog Girl,” from last fall’s Workbench Songs (Dualtone), he sings, “Well she ain’t got no cell phone / You got to call her when she’s home / All of her clocks have got hands.” On this “Songwriters Tour” Clark shares the stage with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Joe Ely. a 8 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-462-6363 or 312-902-1500, $32.50-$62.50. A –Peter Margasak

cSusan GrahAM Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham can so completely inhabit a role that it’s easy to believe she’s a hysterical high priestess (Iphigenie at the Lyric this season) or an elegant, sophisticated young man having an affair with an older woman (Octavian in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, a stellar performance at the Lyric last season). Her musicality and artistry are exceptional, her sound rich and lusciously warm–qualities all showcased in her 2003 recording of a Carnegie Hall recital with her longtime collaborator, pianist Malcolm Martineau. He joins her here for an evening of all-French fare by, among others, Bizet, Franck, Faure, Saint-Saens, and Debussy. This is a rare opportunity to hear this dazzling superstar outside the opera hall. Former Sun-Times critic Wynne Delacoma will lead a preconcert conversation at 6:45 PM. a 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th, 773-702-8068, $30, $11 for students. –Barbara Yaross

prairie cartel These local lifers (veterans of Caviar and Local H, neither of which sound anything like this band) seem to take their time about everything–recording, updating their Web site, getting to the climactic points of their snaky songs. They come off as giddily full of themselves, true, but there are worse things to be full of, and their approach to indie electronica has a pleasantly gritty sort of archness–they’re sometimes playful in the Depeche Mode mode, sometimes comically grim and relentless like good students of the Suicide school. Ultra Sonic Edukators, Maradona, and Midstates open. a 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8, 18+. –Monica Kendrick

THE RECORD LOW On the verge (they say) of finishing their first full-length, these locals have some upcoming midwest dates booked to push what they hope will be a February release. The cuts on their MySpace page make for a tantalizing preview of the disc–the way they play their pure heartland indie makes them sound overjoyed to be straining themselves to the edge of a breakdown. Robby Haynes’s guitar leads slither and boil like there’s a glam god inside him trying to get out, and when singer Henry Joseph hits the occasional screechy note he could pass for Paul Westerberg going back to take a second try at puberty. Far too many bands think they’re far too cool to play like this. Dogme and the Lesser Birds of Paradise open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. –Monica Kendrick


cmaurice brown’s soul’d u out See Friday. a 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.

cCHAMBER STRINGS Almost six years ago, Peter Margasak wrote that if the growth the Chamber Strings had shown between their 1997 debut, Gospel Morning, and its 2001 follow-up, Month of Sundays, was any indication, “their third one should be an instant classic.” We’re still waiting to see if they prove him right. After playing his final show with the band on Thanksgiving Day in 2001, singer and songwriter Kevin Junior fought a long bout with depression and drug addiction–he didn’t start to get the upper hand till 2004, after a rather rocky tour of Europe with frequent collaborator and Swell Maps veteran Nikki Sudden (who passed away last year). Junior’s been trying to pull off this reunion for a long time and already has a couple albums’ worth of material ready to go. A few of the new songs will make it into tonight’s set, which he says will otherwise consist of the band’s “greatest hits.” For more, see this week’s feature in Section 1. Phil Angotti and Dorian Taj open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12. –Monica Kendrick

FOG This genre-blurring band, led by Minnesota multi-instrumentalist Andrew Broder, owes part of its aesthetic to the tradition of anything-goes indie-rock home recording, but you can hear the influence of Broder’s past as a club DJ too–and his ties to the Oakland avant-garde hip-hop collective Anticon. On Fog’s latest, the 2006 EP Loss Leader (Lex), “The Us Beneath” starts off with sparse, plaintive vocals and acoustic guitar, then snowballs into a surreal fugue of lap steel and woozy honky-tonk horns–but given how stylistically schizophrenic the band is, you could be forgiven for expecting the song to explode into a matrix of glitchy beats instead. An unhinged live remake of “10th Avenue Freakout” (the title track from Fog’s 2005 LP) features uncharacteristically extroverted guest vocals from Notwist front man Markus Acher, who’s also in 13 & God with members of the Anticon act Themselves. A new Fog full-length is due later this year. Brenmar Someday opens. a 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $10, $8 in advance, 18+. –J. Niimi


BUTCH HANCOCK Righteous indignation seems

a reasonable response to America’s recent international conduct, and it permeates this veteran Austin songwriter’s latest album, the not-so-subtly titled War and Peace

(Two Roads). Though he doesn’t mention Bush or Iraq

by name, Hancock uses a torrent of Dylanesque detail

to make it perfectly clear what he’s singing about. I can’t argue with the message–much of which focuses on

brotherhood and forgiveness rather than drawing lines

in the sand–but the songs come off as heavy-handed

and relentless. Hancock’s decision to overdub nearly

all the instruments himself doesn’t do the record any favors, and neither does his parched, inflexible moan

of a voice. I don’t know how he aims to improve matters live, but a bit of levity couldn’t hurt. Uncle Monk opens. a 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16

kids and seniors. A –Peter Margasak


cAIRIEL You already know what these locals sound like, whether you realize it or not. As

dedicated conservators of shoegaze rock, they’ve internalized the genre’s defining tropes: the quaking, washed-

out guitars; the blisscent vocals; the six-and-a-half-

minute songs. Formed in Bloomington in 1997 by

guitarist and singer Jeremy Wrenn, in 2003 and 2004

the band released a series of four EPs, collectively

called Winks & Kisses, on Clairecords, home to many young shoegaze devotees. In 2005 Airiel contributed

a cover of Swervedriver’s “Blowin’ Cool” to a shoegaze comp assembled by London music promoter Club

AC30, and the band’s self-titled EP from that same

year (on Wrenn’s own imprint, Sonic Baby) is a faithful paean to the UK-based genre’s other staples–Ride,

Pale Saints, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine. These guys stare holes into their wing tips all the way through

“500 Deep” and “Kiss Me Sadly,” and I wanna feel those wicked Death by Audio boutique fuzz pedals tickle my

arm hairs in person. Airiel has a full-length coming

out this spring on the local label Highwheel Records,

run by members of Walking Bicycles, and tonight’s

concert is a Highwheel showcase. Walking Bicycles

and Arks (fronted by comics artist Paul Hornschemeier) open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western,

773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. F –J. Niimi

BENOIT PIOULARD As aliases go, “Benoit Pioulard” is pretty sphinxlike. The man behind the

curtain, Tom Meluch, isn’t French but American–in

fact he’s spent most of his life in Michigan. He just

finished a BA in comparative literature at the University

of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and I like to think that

his debut full-length, Precis (on the local Kranky label),

is what he spent his study breaks doing. Certainly its

15 tracks are more integrative than analytical: Meluch brings together ingratiating melodies that sound like something from an old Chills demo, dense textures

reminiscent of Flying Saucer Attack, and the faux-

antique finish of recent Boards of Canada. Most of

the songs feature vocals and acoustic guitar, but

Benoit Pioulard’s Chicago debut will be a more ambient affair: Meluch plans to play prerecorded sounds from

a laptop and some tape decks, channeling and shaping their flow with the aid of a mixer, a looper, and a few effects pedals. Kranky DJs Joel Leoschke and Brian

Foote spin before and after. a 10 PM, Danny’s, 1951

W. Dickens, 773-489-6457. F –Bill Meyer


cjolie holland, st. vincent On last year’s Springtime Can Kill You (Anti), Jolie Holland reveals a complex storytelling approach that hints at the postmodern. Like Tom Waits, who happens

to be a fan, she sells it with a sensibility steeped in history and a voice that could hold its own on 30s radio. But if

she has any interest in innovation–that is, if she wants

to frighten the horses the way Waits does–she’s still got

a ways to go. –Monica Kendrick

You might expect something dinky and folky from someone who’s been touring as a backup singer in Sufjan Stevens’s band, but Annie Clark’s resume also includes years with the Polyphonic Spree–not to mention a stint with Glenn Branca–and her recordings as St. Vincent don’t fit in that box. The four skillfully composed and curious pop ballads currently posted on her MySpace

page are loaded with enough kitchen-sink sounds to give you an electro hangover–and until her record comes

out in the spring, they’re all we’re going to get. A multi-instrumentalist, she handles everything but the drums (Brian Teasley of Man or Astroman? and the Polyphonic Spree fills in there), and as a singer, her deliberate, crisp enunciation recalls Fiona Apple’s. Her young-love songs may be sweetly naive and whimsical, but she knows how

to fire up the torch: when she sings “we’ll do what

married people do” on “Marry Me,” it actually sounds

like a hot prospect. –Jessica Hopper

Jolie Holland headlines and St. Vincent opens. a 6 and 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $15.


COUGAR I’m always skeptical when a band christens its own genre, and this instrumental combo from Madison has decided to call its music “emergency rock.” Alas, there’s nothing particularly urgent about their latest, Law (Layered Music), unless you count their desperate attempt to make up for subpar songwriting by channeling superficial elements of the Tortoise sound (they even brought in John McEntire to mix the thing). The elements Cougar has lifted–arpeggiated guitar licks, electronic loops, stuttering beats–are arranged meticulously and rendered proficiently, but they don’t add up to anything more than a completely forgettable record. Unicycle Loves You opens. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. –Peter Margasak

cana moura Of the wave of new-breed fadistas to emerge from Portugal in recent years, Ana Moura may be the one who puts the greatest emphasis on fado itself. While Mariza has allowed her dramatic persona to overshadow her impressive singing and Cristina Branco has veered away from fado proper, Moura maintains her devotion to the classic form without sounding like she’s playing dress-up. Her second album, Aconteceu (World Village)–produced, like her first, by Jorge Fernando, former accompanist to fado grande dame Amalia Rodrigues–is a collection of 20 old-school tunes. Though mostly new compositions, they stick to themes that are solidly within the genre’s tradition of melodramatic romance–nothing about MySpace or life in the trap house here. If you can’t follow the Portuguese lyrics, there’s of course plenty to appreciate in Moura’s amazingly clear voice. Displaying flawless intonation and dynamic control, she glides through the rhythmic and melodic intricacies of these songs with a restrained, almost severe elegance, supported by intersecting lines on the sweet-toned 12-string Portuguese guitar and Spanish 6-string. And as anyone who’s caught her previous Chicago gigs can attest, she’s a riveting live performer. a 7 and 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $30, $25 in advance. –Peter Margasak