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The October of our years

| September 29, 2011

Wow. September’s only ending and it’s already been October for a month. Tom Russell, Ty Segall, Jens Lekman, and Color Radio’s local release party: bring us to the light!

Tom Russell sees little but light and dirt creeping over the Texas border from Mexico, but it’s mostly the dirt that ends up defining Mesabi (Shout Factory). With nearly four-decades under his belt — primarily as a songwriter — he’s raised some juxtapositions about America that span all sorts of characters — James Dean, Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Driscoll — and drafts a kaleidoscope of friends to help render them, including Van Dyke Parks, Calexico, and Lucinda Williams. He’ll be solo on this stop, and, to compensate, he might raise the angry Johnny Cash in his voice up a notch. (Saturday@FitzGerald’s in Berwyn; it’s a separate ticketed event than Freddy Jones Band.)

Superficially, Ty Segall’s move to Drag City Records represents an assimilation — he, like Will Oldham and Bill Callahan, is no longer in the wind. A Californian garage-rocker keen to the primal, pounding elements of the “Nuggets” generation is nothing you can’t pick up for a dime these days, but Segall has always managed a dose of crazy when others can barely manage the pose. Goodbye Bread distills his essence into more concentrated and developed pop songs, ironically in the mode of someone who took the art out of artifice: Marc Bolan. Before you can say Supergrass!, however, finding pace and melody doesn’t mean losing touch. “The Slider” makes about as much sense as “Louie, Louie”; you can just understand it better. (Saturday@Empty Bottle with Mikal Cronin.)

So let’s get this straight: Jens Lekman has some songs that aren’t going to work for his (agonizingly long-in-the-making) new album, but he’s going to play them on tour anyway? How Dylan of him. Actually, the congenial Swede has a point: the tracks on the An Argument With Myself EP (Secretly Canadian) aren’t going to benefit from more time on the sidelines, and Lekman is an above-average storyteller. A handful of tunes about a drunken, inner monologue and trying to track down Kirsten Dunst in Gothenburg albeit in a Morrissey-like tenor? Maybe we don’t want the new album! Opener Geoffrey O’Connor shows touches of Pet Shop Boys and Erasure, but no anthems. Vanity Is Forever posits bedroom seduction for ’70s robots. And they fall in love. (Monday@Lincoln Hall.)

Color Radio‘s date on the 6th will not-so-secretly be occasion to drop Architects (Mapless). We’re big fans of the local band’s name, being one of the few stateside acts to use the American spelling of the word “color.” The British trend could be blamed on Chicago, whose “Colour My World” clearly espouses an anti-U.S. vision. At first, Architects seems to announce, “We like/we like U2/We like U2, how ’bout you?” But it gradually slows while declining to fill the open spaces with ballady clichés. Content to let the album breathe, Color Radio give themselves all the options in the world. Opener The Chocolate Horse likewise spread out; hoary, windy . . . Beasts (Stable) is a mildly gritty swim through choppy and Elbow-infested waters. (Thursday@Subterranean with Night Moves and Deserters.)

— Steve Forstneger

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