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Andrew Bird

Immortal Lee County Killers with The Wailin' Elroys and The Arch Villains

Saturday · The Comet

It's been six years since former Quadrajets guitarist Chet "Cheetah" Weise and drummer Doug "The Boss" Sherrard teamed up to form the Immortal Lee County Killers, the brashest and loudest Blues outfit in the land. Starting with a foundation of Delta and Chicago Blues, Weise shoved those two branches of the genre through his personal music grinder along with chunks of The Cramps, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Stooges and Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper for spice to create ILCK's patented Punk trash version of the Blues. The original iteration of the Killers lasted for a couple of years, resulting in a full-length, The Essential Fucked Up Blues!, and a handful of split singles. In 2001, Sherrard left the duo to be replaced by Weise's former Quadrajets basher, J.R.R. Token, which led Weise to append the name of the group as ILCKII for their equally intense sophomore album, 2003's Love is a Charm of Powerful Trouble. Now, for the third time in their history, ILCK features yet another personnel shift for their new album, These Bones Will Rise to Love You Again, which of course means a name change to ILCK3. The most significant change is the addition of keyboardist Jeff Godwin to the lineup. In addition to supplying lyrics to the band, Goodwin's keyboards provide an unearthly psychedelic throb to the proceedings and lend hypnotic support to Weise's reverb-drenched guitar madness. As you might imagine, Weise is a dervish in the studio but a horns-and-pitchfork force of nature on stage. The Killers 3 have come to pound your musical expectations to dirty jelly. Let them.

(Brian Baker)

Andrew Bird with Head of Femur and Dosh

Saturday · Southgate House

When Andrew Bird began his career as a violinist with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, it might have been convenient to write that band off as little more than Blues/Jazz retro revivalist. But the Zippers proved to be better than that easy assessment, and Bird's post-Zippers solo career has been harder to pin down than Republican ethics. Bird left the Zippers in the late '90s, started his own quirky aggregation, which he called Bowl of Fire, and embarked on a mission to affect the future rather than translate the past. With his first BOF album, 1997's Thrills, Bird didn't stray too far from a turn-of-the-century Jazz/Blues/Folk vibe, while the second, 1999's Oh! The Grandeur, advanced into a more Klezmer-tinged atmosphere. It was the third Bowl of Fire album, 2001's The Swimming Hour, that skillfully touched on every major modern music form in a sonic gumbo that stirred in '60s Garage Rock, baroque Pop, slinky Oriental Blues/Samba, a Middle Eastern/Phillip Glass mind-meld, Memphis Soul and plenty of swirling Psychedelia, showing that Bird was completely unafraid to access every single bullet in his musical holster to achieve his desired effect. Two years later, Bird confounded critics and even fans once again with the transcendent and pastoral beauty of Weather Systems, released first on the tiny indie label, Grimsey, and then re-released after his signing to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe. This year sees the release of Bird's latest work of shimmering splendor, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, an album that successfully draws on all of Bird's previous musical explorations. Andrew Bird not only remembers that magic point in musical evolution when artists were free to work beyond the confines of mere genre tags, he celebrates it with every album and on every tour. (BB)

Motion City Soundtrack with Fall Out Boy

Sunday · Bogart's

For the past five years, Minneapolis quartet Motion City Soundtrack has been churning out sweet and sour Pop/Punk as effectively as a Chinese restaurant tangs up its pork. First with 2003's I Am the Movie and now with its latest, Commit This to Memory, MCS effectively combines Punk's jittery abrasion, Pop's harmonic bounce and New Wave's cool thrust. Many bands have attempted this kind of genre blending before with dismal results, but MCS succeeds by understanding the need for balance in their Pop/Punk equation and creating their unified sound from an equal measure of all the elements they employ. Very few Punk bands find an effective use for synthesizers, but MCS has made synths an integral part of their sound. "Really it's just a matter of what fits," says bassist Matt Taylor. "A lot of bands that have used it in the past, like That Dog and The Rentals, there's a very specific way they've used it. We approach it song by song. Sometimes it's more textural and hidden in with the guitars, sometimes it stands out front and matches the vocal melody." In the final analysis, MCS knows that Pop was never meant to be merely pretty and that Punk was never intended to be merely loud, fast and snotty; the avowed geniuses of both genres have always lived in the tension between the accepted and the unexpected. That's where Motion City Soundtrack makes the best and brightest noise around. (BB)

Andrew Bird

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