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Riching the Rob

| October 18, 2011

Between the Davieses and Gallaghers, rock ‘n’ roll’s brawling brothers were the Robinsons. As the Black Crowes matured, however, the sideshow abated, giving each enough strength to concentrate on exceptional solo projects as well. (Also this week: Uh Huh Her and pinball!)

Rich Robinson never looked the combatant, with his cherubic face and reserved demeanor in stark contrast to his frontman brother’s lanky frame and taste for Hollywood starlets. Rich’s first solo set, Paper, in 2004, seemed to be a direct response to Chris’ overpowering voice and felt like an ode to guitar lovers everywhere. This fall’s Through A Crooked Sun brings the focus back to Rich the songwriter, where the temperament embodies the Southern mentality of slow and easy. Though his playing can be intricate and emotional, at no point does he need to break a sweat. “Lost And Found” closely traces Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone,” but at the point of catharsis, lets air out in a whoosh instead of a burst. “Gone Away” sneaks in a wall of guitars under a Meat Puppets T-shirt, “Standing On The Surface Of The Sun” posits a backpocket Black Crowes blues ballad with him as frontman, while “Station Man” flashes that gospel side that’s always just under the surface of his work. (Wednesday@Double Door with Dylan LeBlanc.)

Named for one of the coarser albums in PJ Harvey’s recent catalog, Los Angelina duo Uh Huh Her have built a musical identity as abrasive as a general anaesthetic. That trend continues with Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey‘s sophomore outing, Nocturnes (Plaid). Though occasionally punctuated by synth blasts from a distant rave, their gauzy swirl of breathy vocals, overcast arrangements, and midtempo beats induces dreams without a hint of somnambulance. To boot, Nocturnes‘ lyrics were made vague with painstaking diligence — a laundry list of grievances against the anonymous “you,” and promises to take ”you” to the other side where nothing’s what it seems, etc. They’re perfectly ill-defined to match their shimmering sonic haze. This show is part of the Keep A Breast breast-cancer awareness tour. (Wednesday@House Of Blues with Fences.)

Bob Hurns, a.k.a. The One Man Band, will also perform this week, though we won’t deny the real reason we’re stoked for his gig is the Pinball Expo 2011 in northwest suburban Wheeling. If this doesn’t mean Hurns is the Pinball Wizard, he’s at least one of the Bally table king’s minstrels. He’ll play during the “Rock And Roll Pinball” seminar hosted by Mark Bakula and Don Caldwell, who will tilt their PA away from the action so’s not to be drowned out by all the bells. More info here. (Thursday (4 p.m.)@Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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