Chess games get all the hype, but Chicago’s Canasta have dealt their indie-pop rummy into a second decade this month! Also as June opens: Two Brothers Hop Juice fest, The Cult, Sonny Landreth, and Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s.
Begun in the shadows of Scotland Yard Gospel Choir — back when Chicago bands had developed an unhealthy obsession with Belle & Sebastian — Canasta shed their precious, terrycloth robes to become as versatile a rock band as the city has ever offered. Frontman Matt Priest has always lent the band a slight Smiths-y lilt, which perhaps gets underscored on tracks that call for a vocal performance — like their latest single, “Becoming You.” But his skill at picking complementary bandmates — who have become loyal enough to follow him on a State Department-sponsored cultural exchange to frigid Mongolia — has been key to Canasta’s modest — but enduring — success. Former members are expected to appear; opener Wooden Rings will celebrate the release of their self-titled debut, as well. (Saturday@Schubas.)
“Celebrate beer” used to be a kind of self-deprecating excuse for binge-drinking, but with the rise of craft brewing it has become big business. As with Dark Lord Day for Three Floyds in Munster, Ind., Warrenville-based Two Brothers — locally, it’s important to distinguish a brewery mathematically: 5 Rabbit, Half Acre — will fete the release of its seasonal flagship. Hop Juice Festival announces the arrival of its namesake double IPA, an ultra-hoppy concoction generally only sold in bomber bottles during the summer. Since Two Brothers bought their own bar, the festivities will take place at the Roundhouse in Aurora, and headliners will include Freddy Jones Band and The Jayhawks. (Friday&Saturday@Two Brothers Roundhouse with Freddy Jones Band, Hoss, The Jayhawks, The Right Now, Hurricane Reggae, and Michael Heaton.) Other festivals this weekend: Lincoln Square Mayfest, Do-Division, Sausagefest.
It’s interesting — given how Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek tapped him to fill the role of Jim Morrison on tour — how Ian Astbury’s voice has softened over the years. It doesn’t matter: the hype about The Cult’s Choice Of Weapon (Cooking Vinyl) being their fiercest album in years is absolutely true. There is a bit of “what are you playing at” when Billy Duffy invokes “She Sells Sanctuary” on “The Wolf,” otherwise the band are rabidly focused on the world collapsing around them now. (Friday@Congress Theater with Against Me and Icarus Line.)
It’s not just you: those points on Sonny Landreth’s all-instrumental Elemental Journey (Landfall) when you think the slide-guitarist sounds a little too much like Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson is because you’re actually listening to Satch and Eeej. Like most instrumental (electric) guitar albums, Elemental is high on flash and occasionally light on melody and attention span, but for those of you who’ve always wanted to hear the master play and play and play: wish granted. (Friday&Saturday@FitzGerald’s with Kevin Gordon and Sam Llanas, respectively.)
Chronic stomach pain, Electrical Audio, raging guitar rock: let’s hope Richard Edwards knows how this story ends. (And let’s avoid this situation, too.) Apart from its origins, Rot Gut, Domestic finds Edwards’ Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s in peak form. Apart from the aptly named “Prozac Rock” and the mysterious invocation of a certain bull-in-a-china-shop Lithuanian baller, Edwards and co. power down the street in a rusty hot-rod that’s burning oil and dragging its muffler (all in a good way). (Saturday@Lincoln Hall with Dinosaur Feathers and Whispertown.)
– Steve Forstneger
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