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Friday’s picks!

| May 19, 2010

Showtime, May 21st

This week’s highlights include Dengue Fever, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, and JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound.

Yep, that’s two soul bands and another with a Cambodia fetish. Dengue Fever, return to Chicago pushing a new album, just not necessarily one of their own work. People have been waiting years for Dengue Fever – two Californian brothers and their Indochinese frontwoman – to expose some of the rare recordings that influenced their sound. Electric Cambodia (subtitled “14 Rare Gems From Cambodia’s Past”) does just that, with a delightfully campy (to us) inversion of psychedelic Western pop and surf rock featuring Cambodian lyrics. Like Chinese Democracy, however, it’s neither as fantastically awful nor unprecedentedly beautiful as hoped. Among standouts like “Jombang Jet” and “Snaeha” by Pan Ron are some spins as exotic as anti-war Vietnam films. Sadly, many of these musicians were killed or silenced by the regressionist Khmer Rouge; with a wide array of tools and steep learning curve, some great, original music was surely at hand. (@Empty Bottle with I Kong Kult and Aleks & The Drummer)

Sharon Jones & The Dap-KingsI Learned The Hard Way (Daptone) is the latest swingin-hips R&B slam in the indie revue revival. Actually, that’s not quite the case as the band move into more sensual fare than the funk that characterized the last two albums. Without quite morphing into Carla Thomas, Stax vibes emanate from “If You Call” and “Mama Don’t Like My Man.” The Dap-Kings — who assisted Amy Winehouse on Back To Black — provide a travelogue of ’60s and ’70s R&B, starting in Detroit and landing in Philadelphia after Memphis. (@Vic Theatre with The Heavy)

If Jones is Thomas or Aretha, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound are James Brown and The J.B.’s. The Chicago-based soul kings put most of their weight on dance grooves, running on the fence between cheeky homage (see “Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn”) and hard funk, but a slick cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” proves they plan to move things forward. (@Metro with Blah Blah Blah, Hollows, and Lasers + Fast + Shit)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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