Christopher Owens, The Walkmen and Jessie Ware Play Chicago
Monday, January 14
In 2011, Side One Dummy, the Los Angeles based independent record label, started a series of live recordings called Complete Control Sessions featuring punk bands such as The Bouncing Souls, Scream and Anti-Flag. In 2012 the label released a session from seminal Chicago pop-punk band Smoking Popes. The 5-song session features standard Smoking Popes material about love (“Let’s Call it Love,” “Grab Your Heart and Run”) and girls (“Hey Renée"), and ends with a pretty great, mostly acoustic cover of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables. According to Smoking Popes singer Josh Caterer, the band started playing the song after hearing Susan Boyle’s version and being inspired by her story. With Les Misérables getting 8 Academy Award nominations, maybe Caterer will sing it tonight when he opens for Robbie Fulks at The Hideout. 7 p.m.
Tuesday, January 15
You might know the San Diego based Augustana from hearing their song “Boston” on an episode of the ABC comedy Scrubs starring Zach Braff or from when Leonard (Johnny Galecki) sang it on an episode of CBS' The Big Bang Theory. According to Sheldon, the character played by Jim Parsons, the song would be good “if you were compiling a mix CD for a double suicide.” Tonight at Double Door, the band is playing a special acoustic show. With Lauren Shera. 8 p.m.
Lysandre, the highly anticipated debut solo record from former Girls frontman Christopher Owens, was released today. While Girls was heavily influenced by the sunny, upbeat sounds of The Beach Boys, Lysandre, has decidedly more in common with the bedroom pop of Elliot Smith (Producer Doug Boehm, who produced that last Girls record, was an assistant engineer on Elliot Smith's XO album). The record, inspired by the events on Girls first tour in the summer of 2008 and named for a Frenchwoman Owens met on that tour, is filled with hushed vocals, lovely melodies and crisp production. The beautiful "Here We Go," is about the excitement of leaving for the tour and features both flute and harmonica. "Broken Heart" is a sad song about running into an ex-boyfriend in New York City and both the the saxophone driven romp "Riviera Rock" and the lively pop of "Here We Go Again" are extremely fun. With Melted Toys. Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m.
Wednesday, January 16
The first night of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival begins tonight with the bouncy pop of Canadians Born Ruffians. The band hasn’t released a full-length since 2010’s Say It, but expect to hear a new album this year. In the meantime, give a listen to their rad new jam “With Her Shadow.” Colored Emotions, the debut record from Minneapolis’ buzz band Night Moves, is composed of 70’s glam rock ("Headlights") with hints of Americana (“Country Queen”) and R&B ("Colored Emotions"). With Future Monarchs and DJ Step. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
The Tomorrow Never Knows fest also kicks off at Schubas tonight with Brooklyn’s Bear in Heaven. The band has been around since 2003, but really burst on the scene with 2009’s whimsical Beast Rest Forth Mouth and the indelible single “Lovesick Teenagers.” Bear in Heaven's latest release, 2012's I Love You, It's Cool is much more dance floor ready and the undeniably catchy "The Reflection of You," with its hard driving synths, is marvelous. "Never/Figure," the latest single from NYC’s Hooray for Earth, is an epic 7-minute jam that starts out with moody synthesizers but then explodes into a rousing anthem. Hooray for Earth recently unearthed their cover of Bear in Heaven's "Lovesick Teenagers." You can listen to that here. Hooray for Earth's Dovecote labelmates, the local production duo Supreme Cuts and the chilled out beats of local production team The-Drum, open the show. Schubas. 9 p.m.
Thursday, January 17
Magic Trick is the project of San Francisco’s Tim Cohen of the The Fresh & Onlys. The Fresh & Onlys latest, Long Slow Dance, thrives on zippy jangle pop, while Magic Trick's 2012 record, Ruler of the Night is more somber, stripped down and introspective. Chicago’s The Cairo Gang, featuring guitarist Emmett Kelly, has worked with many artists including Bonnie “Prince” Billy and local singer/songwriter Angel Olsen. The Cairo Gang's recent record,The Corner Man, their first full-length of all new materical since 2006, is a haunting affair with excellent vocals and sparse instrumentation. With The Blast Beats. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
The Low Times podcast is a musical podcast featuring the great Tom Scharpling of WFMU’s The Big Show and Daniel Ralston and Maggie Serota. Recent episodes of the program featured interviews with Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, Fugazi’s Guy Piccioto and Jens Lekman. This will be Low Times first ever live show and tonight’s special guest is the always engaging Steve Albini. Part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival. The Hideout. 8 p.m.
Wild Belle, the Chicago based brother and sister duo of Natalie and Elliot Bergman created a lot of buzz with their bouncy debut single, "Keep You." Their eagerly anticipated full-length debut album, Isles, will be out in March and the latest single, the chunky, carribbean influenced, "It's Too Late," manages to equal the promise of the earlier songs. Fans of Lykke Li should be all over this. Check them out now so you can say you saw them when. Wild Belle plays as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival with High Highs, Black Light Dinner Party and Winston Wolf. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
Tampa Bay punk trio Merchandise impressed with last year's Children of Desire and their forthcoming EP Totale Night, should be out this spring. Listen to "Anxiety's Door," a track from the new record, here. With Dusted, Sundress and Sybris. Tomorrow Never Knows. Schubas. 9 p.m.
Cloudbirds, featuring former members of Chicago pop band, The M’s, play gorgeous roots oriented folk rock with tight vocal harmonies. Cloudbirds, their debut record released last year, will appeal to fans of The Byrds, Fleet Foxes and Crosby, Stills and Nash. With Quasar Wut-Wut. The Burlington. 9 p.m.
Friday, January 18
“Tomorrow,” the lead track from Instinct, the first full-length from the Swedish dance pop duo Niki & The Dove is such an insanely catchy knockout of a song that the next eleven songs try their best just to keep up. Fortunately, numbers such as "Last Night," "Somebody," and "Under the Bridges" are up to the challenge. Their live show is supposed to be an extravaganza with feathers and face paint so this should be a fun way to kick off the weekend. With SSION, Onuini, Vacationer and Moon Boots. Tomorrow Never Knows. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
Stuck on Nothing, the 2010 record from Philadelphia's Free Energy contains enough punchy 70s radio rock anthems that you if you lost all of your records by Thin Lizzy, The Cars and The J. Geils Band you would still have enough power pop hooks to last you a few years. The follow-up record, Love Sign, was released this week and if there was any justice, these songs will be blasting out of every iPod this summer. The first single, "Electric Fever," is full of chunky guitar licks and a sing-along chorus that will stay with you for days. Oh, and cowbell. The Orwells, young local upstarts from suburban Elmhurst, made a name for themselves with their hook-laden debut full-length record, Remember When. The new album from Winnipeg indie pop band Boats, A Fairway Full of Miners, will be released next month on Kill Rock Stars. With Wedding Dress. Tomorrow Never Knows. Schubas. 9 p.m.
The Walkmen have been around since 2000 and in 2012 the band contiuned their impressive upwards trajectory with their seventh record, Heaven. In fact, the band consistenly puts out such quality material that some might take them for granted. Sure, the record might not have anything incendiary like 2004's "The Rat," but songs like "Heartbreaker," "We Can't Be Beat," and "Heaven" are some of the strongest they have ever recorded. Father John Misty is the band from J. Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes. Father John Misty's latest, Fear Fun, was a pleasant surprise offering up richly detailed folk rock with nice touches of humor. Tomorrow Never Knows. The Vic. 8 p.m.
The hilarious comedian Cameron Esposito recently moved to Los Angeles but is back in her hometown tonight with the equally hilarious Kurt Braunholer. They will be performing tonight as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows fest. The Hideout. 8pm. Kurt Braunholer will also perform as part of The Delocated Witness Protection Program Variety Show along with Chicago artist and musician Archer Prewitt (The Coctails, The Sea and Cake), Larry Murphy and Greg Johnson. 10 p.m.
And: Jess Godwin at Mayne Stage. 8 p.m.
Saturday, January 19
New York City’s Freelance Whales play cute, indie-pop as evident on songs "Starring" and "Generator ^ First Floor" from their debut record, 2010’s Weathervanes. Last year's follow-up, Diluvia, with lush instrumentation including harmonium, glockenspiel and banjo, is just as precious. The band is hard not to like and the infectious "Spitting Image" will serve you well until Ben Gibbard decides to make another The Postal Service record. Gorgeous vocals drive the impressive electronic folk of Hundred Waters. Brooklyn's Snowmine open. Tomorrow Never Knows. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
Memphis, Tennessee band Lucero brings it’s passionate hard-edged roots rock to Metro tonight. Keyboards and horns are at the forefront on head shakers like "On My Way Downtown, "Women & Work," and "Like Lightning," from 2012's Women & Work. Slower tracks such as "It May Be Too Late" show the band is also adept at bluesy heartbreakers. With Matrimony and Houndmouth. Tomorrow Never Knows. Metro. 9 p.m.
Chelsea Wolfe’s haunting voice is the driving force behind her latest record, the intimate Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs. Look for a new record this year. Sweden’s The Amazing, play solid psych-folk, and while the band shares members with psychedelic monsters, Dungen, this band plays delicate Laurel Canyon folk rock with some extended jams thrown in the mix. "Flashlight," from 2012's Gentle Stream, sounds like a long-lost Nick Drake song. With King Dude and Sabers. Tomorrow Never Knows. Schubas. 9 p.m.
They don't play very often so catch the always great Chicago band Dolly Varden when they celebrate the release of their new record at City Winery. The band's 6th album, "For A While," will be released next week. You can watch a time-lapse video of "For A While" here. With Chicago singer/songwriter Jenny Bienemann. 8 p.m.
It's another night of Delocated's Witness Protection Program Variety Show at The Hideout. Tonight's guests will include Chicago legends Urge Overkill. Tomorrow Never Knows. 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 20
U.K. powerhouse soul singer Jessie Ware's 2012 record, Devotion, was one of the best of 2012 and the enthralling "Wildest Moments" might have been the best song of song of the year. Believe the hype. With On and On, Mister Lies and Kriz Baronia. Tomorrow Never Knows. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m.
The 2013 edition of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival comes to a close tonight with San Francisco synth-pop trio Geographer and the Los Angeles indie-pop group Family of the Year, who will have you reaching for the Advil when they play the ubiquitous "Chugjug." With Royal Canoe and The Hudson Branch. Schubas. 9 p.m.