Friday 10

LEE BOYS This family sextet from Florida comes out of the sacred steel tradition–a black Pentacostal tradition of using steel guitar in church services. Reworking that sound and putting pedal steel up front, the Lee Boys have been picked up by secular listeners, packing ’em in at festivals around the country. Last year’s Say Yes! (Arhoolie) situates the style’s distinctive, eerie keening within more down-to-earth human harmonies, as well as a little Saturday-night-sounding blues. See also Saturday. Les Getrex and Keith Scott open. The Lee Boys also play a free in-store show at 12:30 PM at the Virgin Megastore, 540 N. Michigan; call 312-645-9300. 10 PM, House of Blues Back Porch Stage, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000, $14. –Monica Kendrick

MODILL The two members of Modill have been kicking around in various local groups for several years now: MC Racecar has performed with Freebasic and Organic Mind Unit, while up-and-coming trackmaster K-Kruz, who contributed some gems to Diverse’s 2003 debut album, plays drums in the National Trust, which is now in an 80s R & B mode. They’ve worked together as Modill for the past four years, but it wasn’t until last month that they got around to releasing an album, Midnight Green (EV Productions). All that woodshedding has paid off. The tracks have the playfulness of Native Tongues-style hip-hop, thanks to some jazz-tinged samples and Racecar’s unusually musical flow–he favors hooky, gently rounded phrases instead of stuttering, angular rhymes. But the record isn’t a 90s throwback: K-Kruz has clearly absorbed some lessons in expansive digitalia from the likes of Prefuse 73 and Madlib. Diverse, Thaione Davis, Longshot, and De La Soul’s Dave all make cameo appearances, but Racecar has enough charisma and depth to run the show on his own. This is a release party. Thaione Davis, Eulorhythmics, Longshot, and Primeridian open; DJs Tone B. Nimble, Copperpot, and Overflo spin between sets. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. Modill also performs with Lipschitz, Orchard Lounge, and Captain Harris tonight at a Sound Tribe Sector 9 afterparty at Joe’s, 940 W. Weed. The show starts at midnight and tickets are $10; call 312-337-3486. –Peter Margasak

Saturday 11

THE BRONX I think the dudes in the Bronx are only playing dumb. The first couple times you hear their 2003 self-titled LP, their blend of Murder City Devils swagger and Black Flag stomp sounds like it’d make for the best song on the sound track to the next Tony Hawk game. But if you keep listening you can hear them pulling a total Guns N’ Roses–you can’t quite tell if they’re playing hard-ass rock that’s catchier than the usual blur of shrieking and testosterone or if the songs are just glam pop dressed in street grime. Their greatest accomplishment as a band, though, has more to do with their business sense–these days they’re spending Island/Def Jam’s money on straight-to-eBay limited-edition vinyl-only collabos with Louis XIV, Los Lobos, Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, and whoever the hell else they feel like. I’m not sure who’s getting punked here, the record-company suits or the consumers falling for the band’s “fuck corporate rock” shtick–on the LP cover you’ll find the logo of the Bronx’s own label, White Drugs, and no hint at all that a major put up the money. But now that posthardcore bands are touring under Xbox banners, I’m happy to see someone at least go through the motions. High on Fire headlines and the Bronx plays third; Big Business and Buried Inside open. 9:30 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12. –Miles Raymer

CASKET LOTTERY File under not dead yet: This Kansas City prog-punk outfit closed out its recording career in 2004 with Smoke and Mirrors (Second Nature), a deft and blazing EP that, at four songs, wasn’t quite all the Casket Lottery you might ever need but a good note to go out on. They announced their breakup about a year ago, but they recently booked a handful of shows between Nathan “Junior” Richardson’s duties as drummer in the Appleseed Cast and Nathan Ellis’s work with his new band, Jackie Carol. LaSalle and the Great Sea Serpents open. 6 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

DANIELIA COTTON Danielia Cotton makes a declaration about her upbringing with the title of her full-length debut, Small White Town (Emergent/92e): she was one of the few black kids growing up in the New Jersey burg of Hopewell, where she was raised on her mother’s jazz and her friends’ classic rock. That might help explain her approach–blues rock in the Janis Joplin-Bonnie Raitt-Melissa Etheridge mold, mixed with some 70s FM guitar-rock chops–though her barn-burning voice has a timeless power. The album showcases her awesome singing well enough, but her songwriting’s strictly one from column A, one from column B. David Singer & the Sweet Science open. 10 PM, Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $12. –Monica Kendrick

LEE BOYS See Friday. Liz Mandville Greeson and Keith Scott open. 10 PM, House of Blues Back Porch Stage, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000, $14.

MUTE MATH When an “underground” band’s bio says they’ve sold out their last two tours and moved 30,000 copies of a record, yet not even your most clued-in friends have ever heard of them, chances are they’re either liars or Christians. The members of Mute Math, an alternative rock quartet from Nashville via New Orleans, have in fact accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but they’d just as soon not mention it. They recently severed ties with Warner Brothers because the enthusiastic promotional activities of the label’s Christian imprint, Word–which distributed the band’s debut EP–were making it hard for them to build a secular audience. (They’re sticking with the label that actually released the disc, Teleprompt–an indie run by gospel and hip-hop producer Tedd T.) In their publicity photos they’re dressed like any Brooklyn douchebag nu-disco band, surrounded by mounds of beat-up vintage gear, and on their Web site they cite DJ Shadow and the Police as primary influences, as if these shenanigans blot out the fact that they sound like Coldplay might if Chris Martin were actually all-the-way pissed off about fair trade. Vedera opens the early show, which is all-ages; they play second on the late show, which is 21+, and Karma With a K opens. 7 and 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. All ages. –Jessica Hopper

POLKAHOLICS The Polkaholics are one of those bands that really don’t need to make records to keep going. But their new album, the self-released Polka Uber Alles, has a few new variations on the theme (though please tell me they’re not intentionally ripping that lick from “Marquee Moon” on “Pimps of Polka”): “Beer, Broads, and Brats,” “Polka at the Metro,” “Let’s Kill Two Beers With One Stein,” etc. They’re endlessly repetitive but unfailingly exhilarating, and you can’t help but root for a joyously dorky party band that’s done so much to promote beer-sloshed, rowdy understanding between young punks and old Poles. This show is a benefit for the Leukemia Research Foundation. Nice Peter headlines; the Commodes, the Locals, and Snoozie & the Miltonics open. 8 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 day of show. –Monica Kendrick

Sunday 12

AIR SUPPLY Some music isn’t music. I don’t mean in the sense of that awful noise you listen to isn’t music. I mean certain music is more environment than entertainment, more scenery than art. Every person who picked up this paper today will remember the chorus of an Air Supply song until they die. Whether their music was good or bad–who’s to say? I do know that “Lost in Love” once brought me to tears–not because Russell Hitchcock’s singing gave wings to my sorrow or some crap, but because it delivered me to 1980 so quickly I got mnemonic whiplash; the vividness of the memory was overwhelming. So can anyone actually present a cogent argument as to why they supposedly suck, at least in a way that distinguishes it from anything else you might’ve heard in your mom’s Pinto on the way to Kmart? You say they played maudlin love songs? So did Roy Orbison. Their arrangements were pretentious? So were Queen’s. The irony is that being the apotheosis of the most critically reviled pop category–a band that owns valuable real estate in everyone’s brains against our will–means Air Supply are best understood as something that can’t be appraised along aesthetic lines. Their chilling ubiquity elevates–yes, elevates–them to another realm. 7 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, $55-$75. All ages. –J. Niimi

UNIQUE CHIQUE The PR for this local quartet makes mention of humble origins in the south burbs and some early label headaches, but I think their biggest obstacle is that name, which sounds better suited to an all-girl electroclash outfit in hot pink vinyl hot pants than an artsy bunch of emo guys. Their debut album, It Never Fails Forever (Alarm Clock), is rewardingly lush, with deep layers of guitar trills and abstractions adding up to something sweet and solid. Sunny Day Real Estate comparisons are understandable, but I hear a charmingly chilly bit of Echo & the Bunnymen too–or at least Interpol. Willis P. Jenkins and Wizie open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. –Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 14

SUPERGRASS Supergrass has never quite attained the superstardom of their Britpop contemporaries Blur and Oasis, but it’s definitely not for lack of songwriting chops or musical ideas. The new Road to Rouen (Capitol) sounds like the product of a band that’s been around long enough to realize they don’t have to write songs that go all over the place just because they can. With years of distance from the internecine feuds contrived by UK music papers during the 90s and the related stigma of teenybopper appeal, they’re free to let their songs just be poppy and catchy. “St. Petersburg” has a dreamy, Zombies-like feel with languid strings, while “Low C” truly shines with a 70s Lennon-Spector sound, boisterously driven by piano and organ. Pilotdrift opens. 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $21.50, 18+. –J. Niimi

Wednesday 15

HARV Two young Swedish musicians, violinist Daniel Sanden-Warg and violist Magnus Stinnerbom, formed Harv a decade ago, and the duo arrangement spotlighted both the rhythmic alacrity of their playing and the tangled, ocean-deep harmonies their frenzied bowing generated. Harv expanded to a quartet in 2002 with Tost! (NorthSide), but strings remain front and center, ably framed by Christian Svensson’s percussion and David Tallroth’s guitar. The group delivers a mix of traditional songs and originals (mostly penned by Stinnerbom for theater productions) with a rock intensity; the all-instrumental music is pretty but never ethereal, with the thickly resonant strings awash in overtones. Stinnerbom also plays a generous amount of accordion on Harv’s latest album, Polka Raggioso (also on NorthSide), ratcheting up the intensity and at times suggesting the influence of country and Cajun music. 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. –Peter Margasak

DUNCAN SHEIK South Carolina-based singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik has flirted with one-hit-wonder status for a while now–“Barely Breathing” came out in 1996–but White Limousine (Zoe), his fifth album, proves he’s a little better than that. His slick and gentle middle-of-the-road art rock is designed to cradle slightly uneasy, antimaterialistic lyrics befitting a Buddhist convert; the songs sometimes recall mid-period Peter Gabriel, though other times his folk rock is so wispy it threatens to blow itself away. It’s not electrifying stuff, but it’s hardly meant to be–I just wish he’d go out on a limb every once in a while. David Poe and Jim Boggia open. Sheik also plays a free in-store at 12:30 PM at Borders, 150 N. State; call 312-606-0750. 8:30 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $17 in advance, $20 day of show. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 16

BIGG JUS Before I heard Bigg Jus’s new album, Poor People’s Day (Mush Records), I assumed it would suck–I knew that El-P, his onetime partner in Company Flow, had spent the years since then building the Def Jux label into an indie behemoth, but I hadn’t heard much of anything from Jus. It turns out I’m the one who sucks, because his skills haven’t atrophied at all–on the new one he’s still a bristling, bellicose rabble-rouser with a cryptic streak. (At one point he raps, “Besieged with fanatical cherub Enochs at the coronation of King James pontificating / Sistine Chapel look like Hieronymus Bosch paintings.” Um, what?) Luckily there are plenty of relatively transparent lyrics that indict the powers that be and exalt the world’s poor, and they give you some hint of how to read his dense metaphors. Jus often defies the beat, letting his voice spill over accents and bar ends. He’s also a graffiti artist–under the name Lune TNS–and the album’s production, by DJ Gman, suggests the untidy explosiveness of an end-to-end burner on a subway car. Occasionally Gman settles into a gentler groove, but the album’s most inspired moments are its most raucous–Jus and Gman can make confusion and dissonance sound dope as hell. Bigg Jus headlines; also on the bill are Orko Elohiem, K-the-I with DJ Shortrock & V8, Vyle, Serengeti, Rift Napalm, DJ White Lightning, and Skech 185. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $15 at the door, 18+. –Kabir Hamid

WOLKMOTHER These Aussie protometal revivalists–just added to the lineup of the 2006 Coachella festival–worship Black Sabbath with almost orthodox rectitude on their self-titled full-length debut. This virtually guarantees you’ve heard it all before, but sometimes reconfiguration and permutation are good enough. Plus they get major points for their audacious use of organ, the sonic equivalent of building a towering Gothic cathedral at the Sturgis rally–on tracks like the aptly named “Colossal,” the wicked masonry they construct from its distorted drone seems to disappear into the sky. Your Highness Electric and Bottles of Wine open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. –Monica Kendrick