ceternals Lots of bands don’t even exist for as long as it’s taken these locals to find the sweet spot in their heavy-duty hybrid of dub, funk, art-rock, electro, and hardcore–they’ve been playing together in one configuration or another for a decade, but only in the past three or four years have all their fascinating ideas made the leap from the drawing board to the sound system. The new Heavy International (Aesthetics) is the second album front man Damon Locks and bassist Wayne Montana have recorded with drummer Tim Mulvenna, who’s turned out in many ways to be the trio’s missing link. With his help they push a rock-solid sound in just about every direction it’ll go–their fearless progressive instincts are about as punk as it gets. Off-kilter grooves, anchored by Montana’s nimble, sculptural bass lines, remain at the core of the music, but unexpected flavors jump out everywhere. Locks nonchalantly skips from an eerie falsetto to a hectoring rant to a kind of rhythmic jabbering derived from dancehall, tossing in odd melismatic flourishes that seem inspired by Oum Kalthoum records or east African taarab singing–and Mulvenna’s intricate, hypnotizing beats draw from an equally wide range of influences. I don’t know if there’s another band anywhere doing such a killer job playing to both the head and the feet. The Watchers and the Low Down Brass Band open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. –Peter Margasak
TONY FURTADO BAND It takes cojones for someone leading the life of a modern roots rocker in Portland, Oregon, to attempt new entries in hoary folk genres like the prison work song and the mining tragedy song, but multi-instrumentalist Tony Furtado jumps right in on his new Thirteen (Funzalo): “Thirteen Below” is a harrowing account of last year’s Sago disaster in West Virginia, and “Hurtin’ on My Right Side” is a rock-breaking chant. And recording well-worn standards like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Fortunate Son” isn’t the act of a timid man either. Thankfully his guitar playing–aching acoustic-blues slide with an Appalachian tint and just the slightest trace of eau de jam–is strong enough to excuse his presumptuousness. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and the Javelinas open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. –Monica Kendrick
cconrad herwig Among the wind instruments typically used in jazz, the trombone–essentially a giant slide whistle–might be the most challenging when it comes to intonation. Luckily for trombonists, jazz listeners have learned to accept a degree of imprecision from the instrument–which makes the pinpoint virtuosity of Conrad Herwig stand out all the more. In every generation there’s been a handful of trombonists capable of nailing every note at tempos that would make a saxophonist blanch, but unlike some of his predecessors, Herwig has always placed communication above sheer technique. In recent years he’s been absorbed in Latino music and culture, working in bands led by pioneers Mario Bauza and Eddie Palmieri and, as a leader, applying Latin rhythms to the repertoires of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. His latest, Sketches of Spain y Mas (Half Note), was recorded with a nonet, but tonight’s audience will have the rare chance to hear him in the less intense and more exposed setting of an acoustic quartet. a 9 PM, Pete Miller’s Seafood & Prime Steak, 1557 Sherman, Evanston, 847-328-0399. F A –Neil Tesser
reginald r. robinson Chicago’s Reginald R. Robinson wasn’t kidding when he named his latest album Man out of Time (88 Playa Music): the guy’s in his early 30s and a staunch devotee of ragtime, a style that pretty much vanished from the American musical landscape generations before his birth. For three albums now, Robinson, the recipient of a 2004 MacArthur fellowship, has been unwilling to acknowledge any song written after the 1920s unless it’s one he came up with himself. Man out of Time, his first new release in eight years, features 20 original compositions, all meticulously arranged and packed with lovely melodies. Robinson still makes the rhythmic and harmonic precision this sort of music demands sound like child’s play, but it’s hard not to wonder why he so steadfastly refuses to update his tunes. Cutting edge be damned–a touch of rhythm from the 40s would make for a novel twist. Allen Toussaint headlines. Robinson also plays two free shows at Navy Pier this weekend; see Saturday and Sunday for details. a 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $28, $24 kids and seniors. The early show is sold out. A –Peter Margasak
ctabadol project Tabadol is Arabic for “exchange.” That’s what bass clarinetist and former Chicagoan Gene Coleman had in mind last year when he arranged for members of Lebanon’s nascent free-improv scene to visit five U.S. cities and perform with local musicians and visiting Europeans in each. While the plan seemed potentially intriguing from a political and cultural angle, I was looking forward to hearing the music; bassist Raed Yassin, trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, and saxophonist Christine Sehnaoui are all strong players whose use of extended techniques and preference for harsh textures owe little to either jazz or traditional Middle Eastern music. But just before the tour could start, Israeli planes bombed the Beirut airport, forcing the project’s postponement. Since then Kerbaj–whose label, Al Maslakh (“the slaughterhouse”), has released several impressive documents of the Beirut scene’s uncompromising approach–has taken to the Web to make powerful artistic statements against the war: on his blog he posts vivid, often brutal cartoons depicting the conflict’s ruinous effects and his attempts to cope with them, and elsewhere he’s put up an MP3 of “Starry Night,” in which he plays defiantly while bombs drop all around and car alarms sound in their wake. Tonight’s concert brings Kerbaj, Yassin, Sehnaoui, her guitar-playing husband Sharif, and oud player Ziad El Ahmadie together with Coleman, cellist Marina Peterson, and Italian percussionist Fabrizio Spera. See also Saturday and Sunday. a 8 PM, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. F A –Bill Meyer
cyip-yip With their stacks of synths, buggy goggles, and black-and-white checkered hoods and pajamas, these two Florida nerds look like yet another gimmicky concept band. Fortunately they don’t have a kooky agenda or implausible backstory we’re supposed to buy into–they’re just here to rock our party and wear goggles while they do it. It’d be easy to pigeonhole their first properly released full-length, In the Reptile House (S.A.F. Records), as an offshoot of new wave, but on a closer listen you can hear all sorts of influences–Lightning Bolt, manic ballpark organ, Jean Michel Jarre’s soundtracks from the 70s, Paper Rad–in their dorky robot wiggle. Their sound is a comment on dance music, simultaneously quizzical and mocking as it co-opts and then destroys bits of 80s rave and electro-pop in a dissonant blast of Day-Glo flash. Onstage Yip-Yip uses plenty of strobes and pulsing disco lights, so if you’re seizure-prone you might want to consider a welding mask. J+J+J headlines, the Show Is the Rainbow plays third, Yip-Yip goes on second, and Brilliant Pebbles open. a 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10, $8 in advance, 18+. –Jessica Hopper
cbobby conn Bobby Conn’s new King for a Day (Thrill Jockey) seems scattershot in its choice of subjects–Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, global warming, a filthy basement show where members of the band had their toes sucked by the crowd–but that’s just part of its sharply crafted artifice. After all, that lack of focus fits right in with the album’s overarching themes–solipsism and escapism. “The real world,” Conn says in the PR, “is getting increasingly grim.” That sentiment’s contained in the music, too: a candy shell of self-indulgent coke rock, sprinkled with strings, congas, glockenspiel, cooing backup vocals, and every other imaginable affectation, it surrounds a coal black core of self-delusion and despair. Conn deconstructs fantasy, projection, and celebrity and their effect on everything from international relations to sex with deftness and ease. He’s still coming off as just a little oily–either despite or because of the combination of 70s sleaze and elfin otherworldliness he’s working these days–and it makes his barbs all the more insinuating. Conn’s current band includes members of Cheer-Accident, the Detholz!, and Mahjongg; the CD of King for a Day includes three videos directed by Usama Alshaibi, and videos for the rest of the songs–which taken together form an album-length movie–will be posted monthly on YouTube and elsewhere. This is a release party. Bird Names open.
a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. –Monica Kendrick
CHRIS CONNELLY The release date for Chris Connelly’s long-awaited new album, The Episodes, is still in the jiggering stage, but you can get a copy online from Durtro–the UK label that’s home to Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Charlemagne Palestine, and other visionaries–or at tonight’s show, his first with a full band since he performed with Everyoned in 2004. Accomplices including Tim Kinsella, Nate Kinsella, Ben Vida, and Ben Massarella create a ghostly, trancelike ambience for Connelly’s sparsely decadent songs. Yearling opens. a 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433 or 866-468-3401, $8. –Monica Kendrick
DEATH SHIPS These hardworking Iowa City fellows have been touring frenetically behind last fall’s Seeds of Devastation, on several stints opening for (and backing up) Jay Bennett, and it’s starting to pay off in buzz as they head down the homestretch into South by Southwest. Despite their name–and the name of their record–any morbidity or malice the Ships harbor is aggressively sublimated into relentlessly upbeat, largely staccato indie pop, with just a tinge of mordancy in the lyrics and the lap steel (which they underutilize criminally). Their sound comes off a bit flat, a victim of its own diffidence. Backyard Tire Fire headlines, Bennett plays second, and Death Ships open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. –Monica Kendrick
gyuto monks Affiliated with the Gyuto tantric university–founded in 1474 in Lhasa, Tibet, and now based in northern India–this ensemble of Buddhist monks creates an unforgettable sound. Their droning, slow-moving chants, accented by miniature bells, fat-toned horns, and small hand drums, hum with layers of overtones–each vocalist sings an almost inhumanly deep fundamental note and simultaneously produces a cluster of higher pitches. Although a profound calm pervades the music, it sometimes climbs to a thunderous, turbulent climax that can penetrate even the most jaded ears. a 7:30 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, $24-$32. A –Peter Margasak
reginald r. robinson See Friday. Robinson performs at “A Celebration of Jazz” with the South Shore Drill Team, the Joel Hall Dancers, Audley Reid, Yolanda Jackson, Eugene Hazzard, Marvinetta Penn, Maggie Brown, El Corazon Negro, and Crosswind. a Noon, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 312-595-5184. F A
ctabadol project See Friday. Last night’s performers are joined by violist Carmel Raz and oudist Alex Wing in a collaboration with local dancer Asimina Chremos. a 8 PM, Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone, 773-241-5458. F A
cBOBBY OSBORNE, CAMPBELL BROTHERS The Osborne Brothers’ place in bluegrass history is based on more than their fine harmony singing and the big hit they had with “Rocky Top.” In the early 50s they played with the great Jimmy Martin; in 1960 they were the first bluegrass band to play a major show on a college campus, helping launch the folk revival, and by the end of the decade they were using electric instruments, piano, and drums, allowing them to keep landing singles on the country charts. In 2004 banjo player Sonny Osborne retired from the road after a rotator cuff injury, but on the recent Try a Little Kindness (Rounder), mandolinist Bobby Osborne demonstrates that even at 75 he’s still got that high lonesome sound missing from much contemporary bluegrass, and as ever he can sing honky-tonk with the best of them.
The Campbell Brothers, a family band from Rochester, New York, have always played sacred steel–a strain of Pentecostal church music with steel guitar as the lead instrument–in a relatively pure form. But the crossover success enjoyed by young sacred steel whiz Robert Randolph seems to have caught their attention: their most recent album, Can You Feel It? (Ropeadope), was produced by jam-band star John Medeski, a bassist joined up to fill out the sound, and some tracks have a definite funk feel. Fortunately, the roof-raising power of steel players Chuck and Darick Campbell comes through unscathed.
Bobby Osborne headlines with his band the Rocky Top X-Press; the Campbell Brothers open. a 4 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $25, $21 kids and seniors. A –Peter Margasak
reginald r. robinson See Friday. Robinson performs at “A Celebration of Jazz” with the South Shore Drill Team, the Joel Hall Dancers, Audley Reid, Yolanda Jackson, Eugene Hazzard, Marvinetta Penn, Maggie Brown, El Corazon Negro, Crosswind, and the Charlie Johnson Quartet. a Noon, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 312-595-5184. F A
ctabadol project See Friday. Today’s concert is a round of improvised encounters between the Lebanese players and several local musicians: Carmel Raz on viola, Alex Wing on oud, Michael Hartman on percussion and electronics, and percussionist Michael Zerang. a 3 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F A
cteitur Stay Under the Stars, the second full-length by Faroe Islands singer-songwriter Teitur Lassen, has received plenty of acclaim in the five months since its worldwide release (including in these pages), but it deserves even more. It’s not the kind of record that strikes one over the head on first hearing: the songs are tuneful enough, but their elegant simplicity and naked passion, enriched by understatement, work best lived with over time, grown into, absorbed–and after all that they remain capable of startling. According to a paper in the Faroes, his next album will be sung entirely in Faroese, a Scandinavian language closely related to Old Norse that’s spoken today by maybe 50,000 people. Yet the beauty of Teitur’s music is such that even that shouldn’t be a barrier to a much larger audience. Jenny Owen Youngs and Curtis Evans open.
a 8:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+. –Monica Kendrick
cjean-yves thibaudet Last month Jean-Yves Thibaudet was one of the headliners at the Cartagena International Music Festival, offering an outstanding performance of Saint-Saens’s Second Piano Concerto. He gave the dramatic Bach-like opening a bold, rich sound and played the first movement’s lyrical passages soulfully, the virtuosic sections with bravura. And though the piano had a stiff, difficult action, he maintained the necessary lightness of the second movement at an impressively brisk tempo and kept up the speed through the third. This recital has a complementary structure–in each half several short pieces are followed by a larger one that was influenced by them. In the first half Thibaudet will play a group of Chopin gems–two nocturnes (op. 9, no. 1 and 2), two etudes (op. 25, no. 1 and no. 3), and two waltzes (op. 18 and op. 34, no. 2)–and then Franz Liszt’s grand and intense Dante Sonata. The second half starts with three pieces by the peculiar but innovative Erik Satie, including the languorous Gymnopedie no. 1, and three of Debussy’s etudes (no. 5, no. 7, and no. 11). It concludes with “Regard de l’Eglise d’Amour,” the final movement from Olivier Messiaen’s masterpiece Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus. a 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $19-$41. –Barbara Yaross
call me lightning Recently signed to Frenchkiss, this Milwaukee trio recorded its second full-length, Soft Skeletons (due next week), here at Electrical Audio–an appropriate and even predictable choice, since their stiff-legged, twisty, and richly chaotic rock evokes the best of the postpunk underground sound that Steve Albini once presided over. I remember an odious VH1 rock doc that skipped straight from X to Nirvana, and it seems like these guys must’ve hated it as much as I did–it’s like they’re trying to single-handedly redress the omission of the Minutemen, Big Black, Naked Raygun, Mission of Burma, and the Jesus Lizard from the canon. But they also seem to value the Holy Hook even more highly than their favorite bands, and they get much closer to it this time round. FT (the Shadow Government) and the Bitter Tears open.
a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. F –Monica Kendrick
the fortieth day Mark Solotroff and Isidro Reyes, both of local power-electronics outfit Bloodyminded, craft sonic assaults with considerably more detail and variety in this intrumental duo. They use a guitar and a synthesizer to generate sustained, withering blasts of high-pitched noise that are as distinct from one another as spotlights sweeping across the night sky; jackhammer clatter, jet-engine whines, and forlorn keyboard melodies dart in and out of those huge sounds with the grace and impunity of plovers picking a crocodile’s teeth. The Fortieth Day have been together for a year and a half, but this is their first concert in front of an audience. Video artist Noise Crush will add computer-generated visuals. Abduction (a duo of former Zelienople guitarist Neil Jendon and synth player Mike Miley) and On & Sylvain Chauveau open. a 8 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $5 suggested donation. A –Bill Meyer
panda & angel On the EP Panda & Angel (Jade Tree) this Seattle quintet conjures the nuanced melodrama of Wolf Parade and Band of Horses–the mood is always introspective, but the textures range from skeletal to claustrophobically dense. “Mexico” begins sparsely and blooms into a gorgeously dark tableau of mournful horns and cottony marching-band drums–imagine watching through a misted-over windowpane as a column of dilapidated parade floats goes by. Front woman Carrie Murphy anchors the music, adapting expertly to the shifting soundscapes. Her preternaturally calm vocals are barely ruffled by the rushing storm of guitars on “Dangerous,” as though she’s waiting out a hurricane in a phone booth, and her stark delivery on “China,” where she’s backed by a single pensive acoustic guitar, draws you so close you can almost feel her breath on your neck–a very cold breath, enough to make you shiver. Fairmont and Hungry Bear open. a 8 PM, Ronny’s, 2101 N. California, 773-235-6591, $5. –J. Niimi
cSPARKLEHORSE, JESSE SYKES & THE SWEET HEREAFTER My wife and I chose the SPARKLEHORSE cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Go” as the processional at our wedding. The air trembled with Mark Linkous’s deep whisper, and the majestic pace of the piano measured our steps perfectly. Johnston and Sparklehorse make an excellent match: the band’s White Album sound suits Johnston’s simple songwriting, which owes a lot to the Beatles’ melodic sensibility. Between the 2001 Sparklehorse album It’s a Wonderful Life and its follow-up, last year’s Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (Capitol), Linkous lent his talents as a producer and writer to Johnston’s Fear Yourself and contributed “Go” to the tribute-album half of the double-CD Johnston set Discovered Covered. There aren’t any Johnston tunes on Dreamt for Light Years, but the troubled Texan’s naive sentimentality is all over it: on “Getting It Wrong,” for instance, Linkous channels his friend’s warbly alto and stately, Lennon-inspired piano. In the spirit of George Martin, the album’s four-star production team–Linkous, Danger Mouse, John Parish, and Dave Fridmann–treats the morose material to voluptuous, glowing arrangements that make the melodies alternately ooze like honey and drift and curl like candle smoke. –J. Niimi
On the new Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul (Barsuk), JESSE SYKES & THE SWEET HEREAFTER have toughened up their moody sound a bit, which ought to discourage lazy commentators from continuing to slap them with the “alt-country” label. Sure, guitarist Phil Wandscher cofounded Whiskeytown, but here he plays a mix of atmospheric textures, unforgettable riffs, and narrative solos that handily transcends that dubious tag. Sykes’s dry, raspy voice is an acquired taste, but after I’d given the new record a few spins I could hear how it fit the band’s elaborate arrangements hand in glove, conveying all the subtle emotional gradations between melancholy and muted hope. There’s still plenty of murkiness to the music, but the songwriting is more varied and the details–including cameos by singer-songwriter Nicolai Dunger and violinist Eyvind Kang–are more finely etched than ever before. –Peter Margasak
Sparklehorse headlines and Sykes opens. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $18, $16 in advance.
rivulets Bloomington-based singer-songwriter Nathan Amundson rounded up an impressive supporting cast for the third Rivulets album, You Are My Home (Important): it includes drummer and guitarist Chris Brokaw, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Bob Weston, and guitarist Jessica Bailiff, to name a few. They’ve helped Amundson create lovely atmospheres for his melancholy songs, but I still can’t get past the guy’s voice; it doesn’t bug me that he seems to be imitating Nick Drake, but he has trouble hitting notes and he sounds as mopey as Elliott Smith. The Bitter Tears, Quasar Wut-Wut, and Let’s Get Out of This Terrible Sandwich Shop open. a 9 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $7, 18+. –Peter Margasak