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After the binge

| April 20, 2012

Once you’re through sullying the holiness of Record Store Day by celebrating its more consumerist aspects, Brendan Kelly, Modeselektor, Ed Sheeran, Serge Devant, and Anya Marina will throw their arms around you and try to get you in the door.

Old punks don’t die: they go acoustic. It certainly seems to be the trend in Chicago, as we’ve witnessed Dan Andriano, Josh Caterer, Jon Langford (to a degree), and Chris McCaughan pull up chairs. So is it McCaughan’s Broadways/Lawrence Arms accomplice Brendan Kelly‘s turn? Pass. On I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever (Red Scare), Kelly’s just as raspy and pissy as usual — the songs merely have more of a barroom-rock swagger. He advises, “Bitch, quit’cher fuckin’ crying” on opener “Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me,” and the menacing “A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams” bears sonic resemblance to The Replacements’ version of Kiss’ “Black Diamond” minus the metal riff. All 90 seconds of “American Vagina” take a swipe at Green Day, while “Covered In Flies” could be an ode to Andriano’s work in Alkaline Trio — work Kelly clearly thinks Andriano should man up and get back to. (Saturday@Beat Kitchen with The Sidekicks and This Is This.)

Radiohead fans who jumped on Modeselektor‘s 2007 collaboration with Thom Yorke (“The White Flash”) and then last year’s double reprisal should know this: the Berliner duo don’t always sound like they’re just to the left of Kid A. It shows you just how crucial that casting can be when hiring a vocalist, because earlier on Monkeytown you could mistake them for The Digital Underground or MF Doom: such is the effect of Busdriver and Anti-Pop Consortium‘s verses. They handle ambient techno (“Blue Clouds,” “War Cry”) as well as spliced up dancefloor grinds (“Grillwalker”), and congratulations on finding more in dubstep (“Berlin,” “Humanized”) than an excuse to compose a drop. (Saturday@Metro with Egyptrixx and Abstract Science.)

Toward the end of his Elektra debut, Ed Sheeran taunts, “You need me, I don’t need you.” In reality, if something terrible ever happened to Sheeran, the industry could easily manufacture another of him. On the first two cuts of June’s forthcoming +, his own assembly line produces such notebook wordplay like “under the upperhand” in “The A Team,” and “on the right side of the wrong bed” in “Drunk,” and it’s not long before he resorts to claptrap like “You will never know just how beautiful you are to me” and “This is the start of something beautiful” so he can get a little pantyrub. His angle is that of a John Mayer who drinks too much, a role he assumes as convincingly as Freddie Prinze Jr. playing a bookworm. A surprising, Twista-like rap on “U.N.I.” provides evidence that he’s slightly more than a cut-out, but the ease and willingness with which he shrinks back into type is depressing. (Saturday@Aragon with Snow Patrol.)

Electronic music — specifically big, anthemic European-style house and techno — loves it some videos with barely dressed women cavorting, bending, washing cars, eating cherries in ways that take more energy and tongue manuevering than the calories and vitamins that the tiny fruit offers. Russian-born/New York-bred DJ Serge Devant recently released a video for his “On Your Own,” and it stars genetically advantaged model Anna Vishnevskaya. Her role in the clip is to make the male protagonist feel like shit. Not by teasing him sexually, but ditching him the day he gets an eviction notice and his life starts going down the toilet. On the surface, Devant’s music doesn’t show much, but Rewind (Ultra) convinces once you get deeper. It also boasts an unusual feature for this genre: a cover, here of Finley Quaye and William Orbit’s “Dice.” (Saturday@Spy Bar.)

Given that she looks like a blond Shelley Duvall, it’s hard to believe that Anya Marina has trouble getting a crush to “Notice Me.” The opening of her sophomore outing, Felony Flats (Chop Shop/Atlantic), plays similarly and frustratingly coy with Veruca Salt-ish power-pop. Sensing she could do songs like “Body Knows Best” and “Notice Me” in her sleep, Marina gets out of bed for the wildly divergent “Believe Me I Believe,” where her associations and friendships with members of Spoon, Modest Mouse, and Telekinesis seem to make more sense. It’s a haunted track that bleeds into the equally disconcerting “Hot Button” and then the rest of the album. But why you would tempt fate with two throwaways like the openers is beyond reason. (Monday@Lincoln Hall with Eric Hutchinson.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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