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The Polyphonic Spree, Japandroids and Sufjan Stevens play Chicago

By Pete Zimmerman | December 10, 2012 7:48am

Monday, December 10

Free music at The Whistler featuring the stellar songwriting of Dan Phillips’ Zapruder Point. 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, December 11

The Polyphonic Spree have been celebrating the holidays for the last 10 years with shows in Dallas, and this year they are taking their one-of-a-kind pageantry on the road. Their latest record, "Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays Vol. 1," features trippy versions of holiday classics like “Winter Wonderland,” “Let it Snow,” and  “The Christmas Song.” But the band really shines when the choir takes over on “Silver Bells” and the John Lennon/Yoko Ono staple “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Along with the album, the band released a series of videos to accompany the music. The Spree’s live shows are always a treat. And this holiday extravaganza at the Logan Square Auditorium shouldn’t be any different. Heck, I’d much rather watch exuberant band-leader Tim DeLaughter host a Christmas show than Blake Shelton. Recently the band raised over $100,000 via Kickstarter to fund numerous projects. So keep an eye out for a live album, a concert documentary, a studio album and a tour in 2013. This night should be a celebration.

Wednesday, December 12

The trend of bands playing one of their classic albums continues tonight as the Omaha band The Faint come to Metro to relive late 2001 by playing "Danse Macabre" in its entirety. The Deluxe Edition of "Danse Macabre" is out now and features a remastered version of the original recording, a second CD of bonus material, live projection videos from that era’s tour dates, and more. Make sure to get there early to see another band from Omaha and The Faint's Saddle Creek label mates, The Icky Blossoms. The Icky Blossoms feature Derek Pressnall of Tilly and the Wall (who also put out a nice record called "Heavy Mood" in 2012) and Omaha singer Sarah Bohling. Icky Blossoms’ self-titled debut record was produced by TV on the Radio’s David Sitek and is full of dance pop anthems that will get you nice and sweaty by the time The Faint takes the stage. 8 p.m.

Thursday, December 13

Go see one of The Nard Dog’s (Ed Helms) favorite bands as the Punch Brothers take the stage at The Vic. 8pm

It’s mid-December, and that means you can’t get through the day without another Best of 2012 list coming out. One band that you will see on a lot of these lists is the Vancouver duo Japandroids for their excellent 2012 record, "Celebration Rock." The band was fiery and full of energy on the small stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer, so expect them to tear the roof off of Metro tonight. And yes, “The House That Heaven Built” from "Celebration Rock" should be on your mix of the best songs of 2012. Loud and rowdy, but most of all, fun. Opening the show is Brooklyn band, DIIV who will get the show off to a nice start playing catchy songs from their latest record, "Oshin." 8 p.m.  A celebration of rock, indeed.

Friday, December 14

"Little Heater," the latest record from Catherine Irwin, member of much-beloved alt-country band Freakwater, is a beautiful collection of country songs that sound better with each listen. The album was produced by Tara Jane O’Neil (Ida, Rodan) and features Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy) on vocals. The songwriting on "Little Heater" shows that Irwin is still at the top of her game. And in fact, Irwin let Kelly Hogan use the song “Dusty Groove” for her latest record "I Like to Keep Myself in Pain," so that song appears on two of the best records of 2012. Catherine Irwin opens for Mr. Rudy Day. The Hideout. 9 p.m.

Saturday, December 15

If you couldn’t make the holiday show earlier in the week from The Polyphonic Spree, head over to Metro tonight for your holiday fix with The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long. Touring in support of the ambitious and expansive 58-track "Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas Vol. 6-10" box-set, you can expect plenty of holiday cheer. Most of the songs on this tour are chosen by a game-show style “Wheel of Christmas” which should keep the night merry. But with 100 holiday songs, I sometimes wonder how Sufjan feels that none of his songs are ever played on the Christmas music station? You probably won’t get to see The Pogues playing “Fairytale of New York” this year, so a nice replacement would be hearing Sufjan Stevens singing “C’mon! Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance” tonight. Metro. 8 p.m.

The Chicago band Outer Minds have already put out one album this year containing the infectious “Gimme a Reason.” But here we are at the end of the year, and the band just released Behind the "Mirror," their 2nd album of 2012. While "Behind the Mirror" lacks the immediacy of their self-titled record, songs like the psychedelic opener “She Calls My Name” further cements Outer Minds as one of Chicago’s finest. Tonight is the record release party with Bare Mutants, Radar Eyes and Blizzard Babies. Empty Bottle. 10 p.m.

Sunday, December 16

Another week and another band revisiting a classic album. Tonight at Metro, emo pioneers Braid will take on their 1998 classic, Frame & Canvas. Last year, the band released Closer to Closed, an EP that shows off a maturing band while also capturing the intensity and energy of the early years. 6pm.

Also tonight, there is a benefit show for Lulu’s Locker, a pet rescue for black cats and dogs, at Quenchers. Check out local bands Eleven Dollar Bills, Black Cat Heart Attack and Kitty Devine and The Big Whoop (performing a new Christmas tune!). 8pm.