Monday, January 21
Catch a rare appearance by the much beloved country-folk band Freakwater tonight at The Hideout. The band consists of Catherine Irwin, who released a beautiful solo record, Little Heater, in 2012, and Janet Bean of local stalwarts Eleventh Dream Day. Irwin and Bean have been playing their terrific brand of alt-country since, well, before there was something called alt-country. If you have seen a show in Chicago over the last 10 years, chances are you have caught a glimpse of the always delightful Nora O’Connor, who has played with Andrew Bird, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. The Hideout. 8 p.m.
Tuesday, January 22
Soulful pop sensation Emeli Sandé has a voice that should make the UK singer a superstar. Songs on her 2012 record, Our Version of Events, are suited for stadiums so this intimate show at Lincoln Hall should be special. With Emily King. Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m.
Do your best to check out a solo set from extraordinary guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise) at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Parkers’ latest record Bright Light in Winter came out last year. Curated by local musicians Jeremy Lemos and Mathew Hale Clark of the band White/Light, the event is part of the Face The Strange: New Music from Chicago and Beyond series, in which musicians perform one-hour sets. This excellent series takes place the 4th Tuesday of every month at the MCA. 6 p.m.
Wednesday, January 23
Comedian Todd Barry, whom you probably have seen playing Wayne, Mickey Rourke’s boss in Darren Aronofsky’s movie The Wrestler, or showing up as himself on Louis C.K.’s FX series Louie, settles in for a two-night stand starting tonight at Schubas. I first fell in love with Todd after hearing him tell a joke about the legendary Washington, D.C. band Fugazi, who notoriously never charged more than $5 dollars for a show: “There’s gotta be one guy in the band who ain’t happy about this. The drummer’s gonna snap at rehearsal, like, 'Hey fellas, can we stop a second? I had the craziest idea. How bout 6 bucks? I was thinking, that extra dollar x 800 people a night x five shows a week = I don’t have a roommate when I’m 47'.” And if that doesn’t convince you, maybe you'll enjoy this gem about 90's band Third Eye Blind: “I was watching MTV Cribs and they had the guy from Third Eye Blind. He walks into a room and, no lie, takes a guitar off the wall and says 'with this guitar, the songs write themselves.' That’s right. Blame the guitar." This show is a special “Crowd Work” event where Todd will eschew the usual tight set of comedy for interaction with the audience. This should be a blast. With C.J. Toledano. Schubas. 9 p.m.
CHIRP Radio's The First Time series features readers writing original pieces around a "first time" theme and then choosing a song to accompany their piece. The First Time Three band (featuring exemplary local artists Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis and Gerald Dowd) then plays their song live, in a stripped-down, acoustic setting. The theme tonight is “First Child” and readers include Susan Messing of The Annoyance Theatre, Matt Spiegel of WSCR and Tributosaurus and drummer extraordinaire Gerald Dowd. Beat Kitchen. 8 p.m.
Thursday, January 24
Young Atlanta based Gringo Star bring their brand of insanely catchy pop to the Empty Bottle tonight. The band's latest single, the wonderful surf jam, "Going Way Out," has me excited for their third studio album, set to be released this spring. With John Carpenter, The Nothingheads and Boots with Spurs. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
The MAKE magazine release party will feature a Q&A with Chicago's cultural historian Tim Samuelson hosted by the hilarious local comedian Adam Burke, local bands Like Pioneers and Soft Speaker and readings from the latest issue. The Hideout. 8 p.m.
Be Good, the latest release from local band Cross Record is gorgeous and haunting with sparse instrumentation and bits of electronica to keep things interesting. With Great Life and Nat Brooke. Township. 9 p.m.
Blues singer and pianist Marcia Ball's latest record, Roadside Attractions, earned the artist a 2012 Grammy Nomination (her fifth overall) for Best Blues Album. The keyboard wizard performs tonight at SPACE. 8 p.m.
Friday, January 25
Kelly Hogan, the Delirious loving, recent guest editor of Magnet Magazine, has always had a powerhouse of a voice and with last year’s I Like To Keep Myself in Pain, she finally has a record that is worthy of her immense talent. Hogan asked some of her favorite songwriters to pen songs for her and the end result was a knockout that had the record placed on many Best Of 2012 lists. Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin, M. Ward, Stephin Merrit, Andrew Bird, Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford, John Wesley Harding and Robyn Hitchcok are just some of the big names that penned songs for Hogan. With The Fat Babies. SPACE. 8 p.m.
One of my favorire records of 2012 was Wonderlust by local band Panoramic & True. The record is stacked with upbeat orchestral pop driven by singer John Lennox’s distinctive voice. Violin, viola and cello are expertly weaved with guitar, bass, and drums and the result never sounds cluttered. And the songs are just so darn catchy. Tunes such as “Haunted,” “The House Carpenter,” and “Product On” keep my wondering why this band isn’t more popular. Listen to the band's latest single, "Gunslinger," that was recorded shortly after the release of Wonderlust last summer. Performing as a four-piece, this will be Panoramic & True's first show of 2013. With Videotape and House Sounds. Cole’s. 10 p.m.
Another local group that had a great 2012 was Summer Girlfriends. Their terrific debut record, Shockwaves, contained the delightfully sunny sounds of 60's girl group pop mixed with fuzzy surf rock. Hook-laden tracks such as “Poprocks,” “Shockwaves,” and “Goth Beach Party” will have you longing for June. Summer Girlfriends open for Ava Luna. With Celestial Shore. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
I had the opportunity to see New Orleans based musician Theresa Andersson perform last June at Schubas, and while I enjoyed her most recent record, Street Parade, seeing her play the songs from that record with such passion was a revelation. Playing the violin, drums, and guitar while filtering her voice through effects pedals and loops to create the sounds of a full band was absolutely stunning. Plus, she wins bonus points for appearing on the HBO series, Treme. City Winery. 8 p.m.
Britain buzz band of the moment Palma Violets ended 2012 on a high note when their song "Best of Friends" was voted NME’s “Song of the Year” beating out heavyweights Blur, MIA and Grimes. “Best of Friends” is a churning anthem with chugging guitar and a sing-a-long chorus. Look for their debut album, 180, to be released next month. With Eight Bit Tiger. Schubas. 10 p.m.
Method Man: Wu-Tang Clan member, one half of Method Man & Redman, Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff on HBO's The Wire (RIP Prop Joe) and one of the finest MC's to ever pick up a microphone. Double Door. 8 p.m.
Ultraísta is an electro-pop super group consisting of famed producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), drummer and producer Joey Waronker and featuring the lush vocals of Laura Bettinson. Their self-titled debut record was released last year. With Prefuse 73. Lincoln Hall. 10 p.m. Update: This show has been canceled due to family emergency.
You might remember James Murphy from not getting that Seinfeld writing gig and for being in a little band called LCD Soundsystem. Murphy, star of the film, Shut Up and Play the Hits, will bring his immense musical knowledge to the MID for a special DJ set. 10 p.m.
Saturday, January 26
Deer Creek Canyon, the third solo record from Seattle based singer/songwriter Sera Cahoone is a beautiful collection of roots inspired Americana featuring lovely ballads such as “Worry All Your Life,” and “Deer Creek Canyon,” and the uptempo country rock of “Nervous Wreck” and “Every Little Word.” With Ryan Jeffrey. Schubas. 7 p.m.
Check out some great local bands in Logan Square and never leave Fullerton Avenue. First, stop by Saki for an Epitonic Saki Session with Pink Frost and Coins at 4pm, then head down the street to The Burlington for sets from Paper Mice, Madison's Trin Tran and Grant Wallace Band. 9 p.m.
Sunday, January 27
Influential hip-hop artist J Dilla’s masterpiece, Donuts, was released in 2006 just three days before his death at the age of 32. The great Los Angeles based record label, Stones Throw, recently reissued the record as a box-set of 7” singles and it received a well-deserved 10.0 on Pitchfork. Tonight at the Whistler, as part of the Playing Favorites series, where musicians play music that inspired them, The Ephelon Trio will play Donuts in its entirety. The Whistler. 9:30 p.m.
Back in the late '80’s and early '90's, I fell in love with a band called The La’s and their infectious songs “Son of a Gun,” “Timeless Melody,” and of course, the classic anthem “There She Goes.” I couldn’t understand why this band wasn’t the biggest band on the planet. Then, some years later, I finally heard “There She Goes” on the radio but it was being sung by someone else. Well, that band was Nashville’s Sixpence None the Richer and they had a hit with the La’s song in 1999 and for some reason, I have always resented them for it. Sixpence None the Richer also had a huge hit with “Kiss Me," a song that you couldn't avoid in 1998 and 1999. The band eventually broke-up, but reunited in 2007 and released an album, Lost in Transition, in 2012. SPACE. 7 p.m.