Monday, May 20
Netherfriends is the experimental-pop project of Shawn Rosenblatt who, starting in April 2010, spent a year writing and performing songs in all 50 states. Last year, Netherfriends released the excellent, "Middle America," record featuring 12 songs about the journey. On July 4, naturally, Netherfriends will release the ambitious, "50 Songs 50 States" record, which is the culmination of the entire project. You can listen to the first 12 songs here and watch, "Austin, TX" the latest video for the project, here. Headlining is the Detroit-based trio Jamaican Queens, who incorporate hip-hop beats and synths into their accessible indie-pop sound as heard on their arresting debut record, "Wormfood." Charlatan, the noise-pop project of Chicago musician Omar Rashan, will get the night started. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m.
An unbeatable night of dance-pop happens as Marina and The Diamonds brings the "Lonely Hearts Club Tour" to the Riv behind the 2012 record, "Electra Heart." This leg of the tour features support from Charli XCX, who was featured on Icona Pop's irresistible 2012 hit, "I Love It," and just released an equally catchy full-length record, "True Romance." Earlier this month Marina and The Diamonds and Charli XCX released a duet, "Just Desserts," which you can listen to here. Riviera Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
New York-based indie-pop duo MS MR come to town in support of their recently released full-length debut record, "Secondhand Rapture." The duo released and EP, "Candy Bar Creep Show," last year and the new full-length contains the four songs that originally appeared on the EP including the track, "Bones," which earlier this year was used in a trailer for the HBO show, "Game of Thrones." Check out, "Secondhand Captures," a video accompaniment to the album, here. Rhode Island synth-pop quintet Magic Man open. Schubas. 8 p.m.
Tuesday, May 21
Get down to saki, the excellent Logan Square record shop, for another fine edition of the Off The Record series presented by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Tuesday, local soul-rock outfit JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will celebrate the release of their new album, "Howl." The group will perform songs from the new record and also take part in a Q&A with WXRT DJ, Marty Lennartz. saki. 6 p.m.
Rock Island native Lissie will release the follow-up to her highly acclaimed debut record, "Catching a Tiger" later this year, but you can get a preview of the new material at Lincoln Hall. Check out the video for her booming new indie-pop song, "Shameless," here. Australian folk-pop singer-songwriter Vance Joy opens. Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m.
Chandeliers will play their breezy synth jams as their month-long May residency continues at The Hideout. The agenda for the performance is new material and cover songs. Arrive early to catch a set from Bad Guys, a group consisting of drummer Areif Sless-Kitain (the Eternals, Reds and Blue, I Kong Kult), Jim Elkington (The Horse's Ha), and a special guest. Hideout. 9 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22
Iceland's Of Monsters and Men return to Chicago in support of their 2012 debut full-length record, "My Head is an Animal." The quintet specialize in upbeat orchestral folk-pop anthems as heard on their latest single, "King and Lionheart." Check out their spirited performance of "Mountain Sound' on a recent episode of "Saturday Night Live," here. Montreal-based indie-folk trio Half Moon Run open behind their 2012 record, "Dark Eyes." Aragon. 8 p.m.
Sabers, a local super-group featuring Josh Chicoine (The Ms, Cloudbirds), Shane Schroeder (Hot as Hell), Dave Max Crawford (Poi Dog Pondering), Edward Anderson (Mazes, 1900s) and Colby Starck (Head of Femur), headline a wonderful night of music at The Burlington. Listen to Sabers' track, "Armchair Warrior," here. With local quartet Innkeepers, whose 2012 release, "The Piper Cub E.P.," contains six tracks of bright, indie-rock. Local four-piece The Getouts open the show playing earnest rock and roll as heard on their recent song, "Can't Rob a Thief." The Burlington. 9 p.m.
Instrumental indie-rock duo El Ten Eleven will be back in Chicago later in the summer to play the North Coast Festival, but Wednesday night is your chance to catch their dynamics in an intimate setting when they perform at SPACE in Evanston. The duo released, "Transitions," in 2012 and last month released, "Transitions Remixed," featuring remixes from Com Truise, Amp Live, Max Tundra and others. With Michna and Nude Pop. SPACE. 7:30
Also Wednesday: A benefit for the Old Town School of Folk Music with a show from acclaimed singer-songwriters Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, who will perform as a duo. Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall. 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 23
British singer-songwriter Laura Marling is only in her early 20s, but is set to release her fourth record, "Once I Was an Eagle," later this month. In March, Marling released a new song "Where Can I Go?" which you can listen to here, and earlier this month released a video for the first single, "Master Hunter," that you can watch here. Opening is the brilliant singer-songwriter Liam Hayes, aka Plush, who contributed songs to the 2012 Roman Coppola film, "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III." And I still like to tell anybody who will listen that Plush's "Three Quarter Blind Eyes," is one of the best songs of the last 20 years. Athenaeum Theatre. 8 p.m.
Ann Arbor, Michigan-based indie-pop group Saturday Looks Good To Me come to town behind their just released new record, "One Kiss Ends it All." Infectious female fronted numbers such as, "Invisible Friend," and "The Everpresent New Times Condition," should find a spot on your summer mixtape. With Like Pioneers and Mister Suit. Schubas. 9 p.m.
Friday, May 24
"Patterns," the new EP from Detroit-based electro-pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., is an excellent follow up to 2011's full-length, "It's a Corporate World." Opener "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't on the Dance Floor)" is a lively and pulsating jam with an epic hook while "Dark Water" is an airy pop gem that comes close to floating away. Watch the video for "Dark Water," here. Tunde Olaniran opens. Lincoln Hall. 10 p.m.
Neo-soul pioneer Bilal comes to town to support his magnificent new record, "A Love Surreal." The album is packed with soulful and sultry tunes driven by Bilal's stunning voice. Knockout numbers such as, "West Side Girl," "Back to Love," recall Prince and Stevie Wonder while "Lost for Now" is a smooth pop song. And proving he can sing most anything, watch this great unaired version of Steely Dan's jazzy, "Black Cow," that Bilal performed with The Roots for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." With PJ Morton and Avery Sunshine. House of Blues. 8 p.m.
At the Empty Bottle, local psych-rockers Soft Speaker celebrate their latest record, "Turkish Mindbathers," which is being released on light pink, 180 gram vinyl. One of my favorite local records of 2012 came from garage-pop outfit Radar Eyes and they recently released an awesome follow-up single, "Dreaming of Giants." You can listen to the post-punk goodness of that track, here. Opener Bitchin Bajas, the project of Cave's Cooper Crain, released a 12" EP earlier this year and will release a full-length album, "Bitchitronics," in July. Empty Bottle. 9:30 p.m.
Also Friday: It will be a very Grey's Anatomy-y night when pop singer-songwriter Andrew Belle plays two shows ahead of his forthcoming record, the follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 release, "The Ladder." Last year, Belle released "The Daylight EP," which you can listen to here. Neulore opens. Schubas. 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Saturday, May 25
It's extremely likely that Chance The Rapper will be the next hip-hop star to emerge from Chicago so check him out Saturday and Sunday at Metro before he returns later this summer to perform at Lollapalooza. "Acid Rap," Chance's recently released mixtape is a superb collection featuring contributions from Action Bronson, Twista and Childish Gambino. With Sir Michael Rocks. Metro. 6:30 p.m.
Blowoff is an indie rock duo featuring Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) and super-producer and remixer Richard Morel (The Killers, Cyndi Lauper,Yoko Ono), who is also currently in Deathfix with Fugazi's Brendan Canty. "Blowoff," their 2006 self-titled record is loads of fun and Blowoff's club nights in Washington, D.C. are legendary so you won't want to miss the duo when they spin tunes at Metro. 11 p.m.
"Howl," the eagerly-anticipated record from local soul-rock outfit JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound was released earlier this week on Bloodshot Records and the group celebrates with a party at Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. Brooks is an engaging performer, equal parts James Brown and Otis Redding, and the band is as tight as they come. With Yoko and the Oh No's, The Ye Ye's and Absolutely Not. Mayne Stage. 9 p.m.
Also Saturday: New York-based indie-pop group Anamanaguchi create their upbeat dance jams with assistance from late '80s Nintendo hardware. And if you have ever listened to Chris Hardwick's "The Nerdist" podcast and wondered what the theme song was, well, it's Anamanaguchi's "Jetpack Blues, Sunset Hues." With Chrome Sparks, Infinity Shred and Sharpless. Lincoln Hall. 9 p.m
Sunday, May 26
There won't be a better way to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday than with The (Best) Prom You Never Had featuring the inspired theatrics of Bobby Conn, the sweet 60s sounds of Girl Group Chicago and Chances Dances DJs. With Emcee Ruby Dee. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m.
The Barcelona DJ and electronic musician known as John Talabot comes to town behind his excellent 2012 record, "fIN," which is stacked with intoxicating dance-pop. Brooklyn electro-pop trio Lemonade open with exhilarating jams such as, "Softkiss," "Neptune," and "Whitecaps," from their 2012 record, "Diver." Listen to "Perfect Blue," a funky new song in a series of singles set to be released this year, here. Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m.