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Rocket, yea-uh!

| December 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

When Def Leppard referenced all their favorite music in “Rocket,” they left out a pivotal band from the ’70s that few people ever heard. Rocket From The Tombs come to town this weeks, touting their debut album. Also around: Felix Culpa’s farewell show, Pterodactyl, Miguel, and Young Buffalo.

Nearly 10 years ago, Glitterhouse unearthed a collection of unreleased recordings called The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs, a not-insignificant find as the microscope swung over to proto punk as The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand were taking off. But rather than some lost obscurity like Australia’s Radio Birdman, RFTT had some unusual cachet: its members split into a pair of pivotal punk bands Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys. While the disc didn’t provide the full breadth of the Cleveland-based band’s bootlegs, it did carry primitive versions of its spawns’ classics, like “Ain’t It Fun,” “Sonic Reducer,” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo.” The stage was set for a reunion tour — which happened — and rekindled, Mission Of Burma-esque partnership between Dave Thomas and Cheetah Chrome — which didn’t really. Until now.

While The Day The Earth Met . . . has been re-released today by Fire, the real story was the October release of Barfly, comprising all new material. Recording standards have certainly improved over those old demos and live tracks, though RFTT still make you work for rewards. Opener “I Sell Soul” barges out of the gate, but from there it’s a rocky path as the band — now including Television’s Richard Lloyd, who replaces the late Peter Laughner — find their legs and each other. But hell, they’re still just a young band. (Wednesday@Empty Bottle with Plastic Crimewave Sound and Warm Ones.)

If the Felix Culpa were blue-collar workers, they’d carry utility belts. Up to this weekend’s farewell concert, the Chicagoans have consistently crafted a catalog full of lunchbox indie-rock, whether recalling the muscular movements of Slint, math-y instrumental post rock, sparse early emo, or the caustic measures of Jawbox. They go out with a bang, dropping the LP/EP combo Sever Your Roots/Bury Your Axe in our laps like a detective who solves the big case, and then walks out on his captain. The band might laugh to hear it called “going out on top,” but that’s what it feels like. (Friday@Metro with Monday’s Hero, Sainthood Reps, and El Oso.)

Pterodactyl drummer/vocalist Matt Marlin appears to be a man in press photos, but on “Nerds” he more closely resembles a drum-and-bass DJ’s deck going on the fritz. It’s a bag of fireworks going off unexpectedly, an orgy in the electron chamber. Spills Out (Brah) claims to have some late-’60s, classic-rock influences, but we hear more of the breakneck indie-rock that gave No Age their big ideas. And maybe a little of the Energizer Bunny. (Friday@Empty Bottle with American Royalty, Moritat, and Flux Bikes.)

We all know how much the record labels love the holidays, saving up their big releases to nab those big-box retailer and iTunes-giftcard dollaz. Last year, Jive/RCA dropped Miguel‘s All I Want Is You . . . and forgot to promote it. It was a stunning error, because, unlike a lot of R&B-crossover pap, it was a viable foray into Justin Timberlake territory without a whiff of that chirpy Bieber kid. “Girls Like You” straddles the line between effete and irresistible, with a pulsating, subwoofer rhythm that won’t give the cars next to you any idea what’s happening. This past summer he opened for Jennifer Hudson at Ravinia, and now seems to have his own feet under him — and hopefully his label’s. (Thursday@The Shrine.)

There aren’t many ties between Andrew Bird and Young Buffalo‘s sounds, though the latter’s erudite inclusion of “polyglot” in a chorus certainly puts them in league with each other. Most of the Young Von Prettylips EP (Fat Possum) spends its time building rushes of vocal harmony over a collision of Vampire Weekend and The Beach Boys, and the five-dollar words hit the backseat. It’s a feat to compose hyperactive psychedelia and not come off like 1) a mess or 2) another Animal Collective clone, but Young Buffalo burst with so many ideas and canny hooks that each indulgence feels oddly necessary. (Friday@Subterranean with Bailiff and Distractions.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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