Wednesday, December 26
The venerable Poi Dog Pondering will help you forget your post Christmas blues at City Winery tonight. The band will be celebrating the release of Live at Metro Chicago Dec 2-3 2011, a 51-song, four-CD box set and a 32-song two-DVD retrospective concert film. 8 p.m.
Thursday, December 27
Lotus will headline two shows this week at the Riviera Theatre. The band has a new album, Build, coming out on Feb. 19. Listen to “Massif,” the first single from the forthcoming record here. 8:30 p.m.
Also: Poi Dog Pondering at City Winery. 8 p.m.
Friday, December 28
A record that everyone should have in their collection is Big Star’s #1 Record featuring the great Alex Chilton. Chilton, who died in March 2010, was a power pop pioneer who influenced countless bands and was the subject of a pretty great song by The Replacements. Celebrate the legacy of Chilton at the Empty Bottle tonight for the 8th annual Alex Chilton Birthday Bash featuring Azita, Certain Stars, Liam Davis & The Contestants, Go Time, The Grand Prixx, Michael Heaton, High Energy Physics, The Injured Parties, Peter Joly, Letterbomb, Puritan Pine, Sunken Sugar, Welcome to Ashley and Urban Twang. 8 p.m.
If you have ever watched the IFC series Portlandia, featuring Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live and Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag (and fresh off of a recent appearance on The Simpsons), then you are probably familiar with the show’s theme song, “Feel it All Around.” That song is a standout from Washed Out’s 2009 EP Life of Leisure. Head to the MID tonight to catch a DJ set from Washed Out along with DJ sets from local bands Gemini Club and Hey Champ. Hey Champ will debut a new song, "Cliché," which will be available for free download on Jan. 8. 10 p.m.
The Waco Brothers bring their fiery barroom anthems to Schubas for the 10th annual Waco Weekend shows. The Waco Brothers latest record, The Great Chicago Fire, featuring Nashville singer/songwriter Paul Burch perfectly captures the intensity and exuberance of their rousing live shows. “Wrong Side of Love,” “Flight to Spain,” and a nice cover of Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain Gonna Fall” are all great additions to the Waco’s canon. 9 p.m.
The Burlington is the place to be tonight for two excellent Chicago bands. The psychedelic pop of “Faust,” from Secret Colours latest, EP3, was one of my favorite surprises of 2012. The EP also features a dreamy cover of The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.” Watch the video for “Faust” here. I was a big fan of Apteka since I first heard the song “The Sheet” a few years ago. The track reminded me of all the best elements of early Smashing Pumpkins. The songs on their 2011 record, Gargoyle Days, were even more accomplished. The band recently changed their name to Pink Frost and I’m eagerly anticipating hearing what they do next. 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 29
Mind Spiders is the side project of Mark Ryan of the band The Marked Men (who will be playing Empty Bottle on Dec. 31). Meltdown, the 2012 record from Mind Spiders, contains all the garage pop goodness that you could ask for. The record's opener, “You are Dead,” hits you in the face and is over in under two minutes. The songs are tight, the melodies sharp and the hooks are abundant. See them at the Empty Bottle this evening. 9 p.m.
Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller plays City Winery tonight with the magnificent singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield. Tell Me, Mayfield’s 2011 record produced and engineered by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach is a gem of an album featuring standout songs like “Our Hearts are Wrong,” “Trouble,” and “Blue Skies Again.” I saw Mayfield perform on small stage at the Taste of Chicago a few years ago, and within two songs she turned an apathetic audience more concerned with eating things on sticks into an engrossed group of ardent fans. Mayfield should benefit from a more engaged crowd tonight. The Dreamer, Rhett Miller’s 6th solo record away from the Old 97’s, is an intimate country pop record featuring vocal contributions from the marvelous Roseanne Cash and Rachel Yamagata. Miller, who will be performing solo acoustic this evening, is always an engaging performer and he even has a special holiday treat for you. Miller and Mayfield will also be playing Sunday night. Both shows start at 8 p.m.
Also: The Waco Brothers at Schubas. 9 p.m.
Sunday, December 30
Subterranean has a great double bill tonight with Omaha’s Tilly and the Wall and local favorites California Wives. The excellent dance pop of “Static Expressions,” “Thicker Than Thieves,” and “Love Riot” from Tilly and The Wall’s 2012 record Heavy Mood are guaranteed to get you moving. Art History, the latest record from California Wives was one of the best local releases of the year. The band has been around for a while, but have never sounded better than on well polished songs like “Blood Red Youth,” “Marianne,” and “Purple.” 7pm. Tilly and The Wall also play SubT Monday night with My Gold Mask. 10 p.m.
The ninth LP and the first full-length in four years from Local H is full of the crunchy guitars that we’ve come to expect from the local duo of Scott Lucas and Joe Daniels. The record, Hallelujah! I’m a Bum, also contains a great song about Chicago transit (“Blue Line”), Chicago winter (“Another February”) as well as a very pleasant country tinged tune (“Look Who’s Walking on Four Legs Again”) that is a nice change of pace from the heaviness of the rest of the album. Welcome back, boys. Beat Kitchen. 7pm. Local H also play Beat Kitchen Monday night with All Eyes West. 10 p.m.
Charles Bradley brings his classic soul to Lincoln Hall tonight. Bradley channels the heavyweights like Otis Redding and James Brown on his glorious 2010 record, No Time for Dreaming. Arrive early to hear amazing DJs from the Numero Group spin records to get you in the mood for dancing. 9pm. Charles Bradley also plays Lincoln Hall Monday night at 10 p.m.
It’s old school punk rock tonight as Reggies celebrates 27 years of Screeching Weasel. Ben Weasel is the only remaining original member of the band, but their 2011 record, First World Manifesto, proves Screeching Weasel can still churn out some choice pop-punk. With The Queers. 7 p.m. Screeching Weasel and The Queers also play Reggie’s Monday night at 7 p.m.
Two great local bands hit Schubas tonight. Maps & Atlases latest record, Beware and Be Grateful continues the bands penchant for intricate, highly melodic songs. Cold in the Guestway, the 2011 record from Gypsyblood, features Jesus and Mary Chain style guitar along with some lo-fi garage rock. According to its Facebook page, Gypsyblood has narrowed song ideas down from 1,847 in 2010 to 130 in 2012, so I’m looking forward to a productive 2013 for Gypsyblood. 8 p.m. Maps & Atlases also play Schubas Monday night with Santah. 10 p.m.
Monday, December 31
Local mashup team and production duo The Hood Internet will ring in the new year at Beauty Bar. The latest record, FEAT contains many standouts including “Critical Captions" featuring Class Actress and Cadence Weapon and “One for the Record Books” featuring Sims and A.C. Newman. Check out one of their latest mashups, “King Louie v. Divine Fits” here. This is the perfect party band to get 2013 off to a ripping start. 8 p.m.
Wanda Jackson is the Queen of Rockabilly and The Party Ain’t Over, her 2011 record produced by Jack White and her latest record Unfinished Business produced by Justin Townes Earle, shows that the 75-year-old can still mix it up with her younger counterparts. Her version of the Amy Winehouse song, “You Know I’m No Good” is perfect. Double Door. 10 p.m.
Want More, the exceptional record from JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, was my favorite local release of 2011. The band is probably best known for their cover version of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” but other tracks on the record such as “Everything Will Be Fine,” “Sister Ray Charles,” and “Want More” are equally impressive. JC Brooks is a stunning showman and a party on New Year’s Eve should be a great way to experience it. Mayne Stage. 10 p.m.
It's the annual Rock and Roll Ball featuring Soul Asylum and Miles Nielsen. Soul Asylum has a new record, Delayed Reaction, that fits right in with their early '90s output, but let’s be honest, if you are here on New Year’s Eve, you probably just want to hear “Runaway Train.” Come for the underappreciated Miles Nielsen and stay for the awkward New Year’s kiss between ABC7’s Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco. 8:30 p.m.
The Logan Square Auditorium has three great local bands to celebrate the end of 2012. Mucca Pazza will bring their enjoyable marching band shenanigans while White Mystery will bring some white-hot punk rock energy to the festivities. Also on the bill is the surprisingly unheralded Jon Drakes & The Shakes whose excellent 2012 record, Dear Ulysses, shows that the band should be more of a household name on the local music scene. Orchestral pop songs such as “Gustav” and "Elizabeth Johnston" have touches of both Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel. Get to know them now. LSA. 9:30 p.m.
Also: The Eternals will be performing "Espiritu Zombi Suite" at The Hideout. According to Brooklyn Vegan Chicago, "the core members of the band will be joined by six additional musicians on vibes, coronet, flute, saxophone, and more." 10 p.m.