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Your Concert Picks For A Frigid Week


The Bong Show

Brightblack Morning Light at the Beachland Tavern, Thursday, Nov. 20 The singer's name is Naybob Shineywater. The album was recorded "with four solar panels in New Mexico." And the lyrics promise, "A high time is on the rise." Welcome to the world of Brightblack Morning Light, freak-folk's ambassadors of "just chill, man." On Motion to Rejoin, its second CD of stonewashed hippie meditations, the duo, along with a little help from its hirsute and shower-averse friends, makes campfire music for those nights when there's nothing better to do than pass the bong (with Brightblack, this appears to be every night). Shineywater rarely musters more than a whisper, and the band never actually kicks out the jams. In fact, nobody really makes any sort of movement at all on Motion to Rejoin - everything just kinda falls into place and then inches sideways for eight minutes or so. It all makes for some way mellow music that could very well leave you nodding in appreciation … or nodding off when Brightblack Morning Light plays the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) at 9 p.m., with Fursaxa opening. Tickets: $10. - Michael Gallucci

John Pizzarelli Quartet

For the past few years, New Jersey-born singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli has dedicated himself to the reinvention of standards by various composers. Memorable highlights of this journey include 2006's Dear Mr. Sinatra, and Bossa Nova, his 2004 tribute to the Brazilian genre created by Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others in the late '50s (among the personnel on that disc was Daniel Jobim, the grandson of the late maestro). On With a Song in My Heart (released last summer on the Cleveland-based Telarc label), Pizzarelli takes on the legendary songwriting duo of Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. By using his signature cool style, Pizzarelli seamlessly blends swingers, ballads and a handful of tunes that - in the best Broadway style - often contain an uncanny sense of humor. Highlights on the CD include "Johnny One Note," where he borrows the intro from Jobim's "One Note Samba" to tell the story of a singer who's unable to belt more than a single note. He playfully laments the distortions brought to melodies by bebop musicians on "I Like to Recognize the Tune," while once again paying tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes by revisiting "The Lady Is a Tramp" with a swinging, uptempo arrangement that features a twisting guitar solo halfway through. For his appearance at Nighttown, Pizzarelli will be backed by his brother Martin Pizzarelli on acoustic bass, Tony Tedesco on drums and Larry Fuller on piano, all of whom appear on Pizzarelli's latest disc. The shows take place at 7 and 9 tonight and tomorrow at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0531). Tickets: $30. - Ernest Barteldes

Sound Tribe Sector 9

While many electronic artists struggle to take their studio-based ideas into the live arena, STS9 has made a name for itself as a live act. Like many artists on the jam-band circuit, STS9 has a fan base that travels around the country to catch a glimpse of its interactive show. STS9's new release, Peaceblaster, comes nearly three years after its acclaimed 2005 albums, Artifact and Artifact: Perspectives, which both made iTunes list of top albums that year. On Peaceblaster, you'll find typical electronic music with pulsing bass and drums, but there's a more human element on tracks like "The Last 50,000 Years" where multiple members sing over a dark, eerie guitar parts. Eliot Lipp opens at 8:30 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $18-$20. - Wes Dodd

No Age

With so much quickly developing mythology surrounding them, it can be easy to forget that Los Angeles two-piece No Age is, in fact, just a band. Dean Sprunt and Randy Randall are the most notable exports of the Smell, a noise venue in downtown L.A. that's also served as home to Lavender Diamond and Abe Vigoda. Following a series of singles (compiled as Weirdo Rippers by Fat Cat Records last year), Sub Pop snapped up the band in time to release the stunning Nouns earlier this year. The duo is fond of performing in non-traditional venues and is a proponent of the All-Ages Music Project, a nationwide collective of venues dedicated to independent music and arts. The band also had a recent brush with mainstream non-acceptance when it nearly canceled an appearance on Craig Ferguson's late-night talk show because CBS balked at Randall's Obama T-shirt. All of this nearly obscures the breathtaking mix of the experimental and accessible that graces the music. Nouns achieves a delicate balance between abrasive and beguiling. Onstage, the band uses the micro-band arrangement to present a steady barrage of songs, revealing tightly wound numbers, like the latest single "Teen Creeps," as equal parts rhythmic pulse and melodic core. While all of the extraneous bits could be a distraction, expect total focus when the band makes its local debut at 10 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588) with Matt & Kim, Best Fwends and Soft Circle opening. Tickets: $10. - Chris Drabick


It's suggestive that every song title on Charge!!, the 2005 album by SoCal schlock rockers the Aquabats, ends with an exclamation mark. The singer, who calls himself the Bat Commander, belts out each tune in an exaggerated, mechanical manner, making him sound like a cross between Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh and Electric Six's Dick Valentine. The shtick runs thin quickly, though, since "Stuck in a Movie!," "Meltdown!" and "Mechanical Ape!" all rely on the same punk guitar riff and are separated only by between-song skits. Regardless, these guys put on a theatrical, fun live show, and for this performance, dubbed the Hooray for the Holidays! tour, expect to hear some seasonal fare in the mix. Suburban Legends and 80 HD open at 8 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $17. - Jeff Niesel Pink Spiders Nashville's Pink Spiders give new meaning to the words "power pop." Their third album, Sweat It Out, and the new single "Gimme Chemicals" have just been released on their own Mean Buzz label. Fresh off the Warped Tour, the Pink Spiders are embarking on their second headlining tour. At first glance, the band may seem like all the other cookie-cutter emo bands out there. But a closer look reveals a sound more akin to '70s power-pop bands like Cheap Trick. Raw enthusiasm and solid chops make this outfit a must-see live band. If you're looking for a deeply political group, this is not the show for you. The Pink Spiders are irreverent and humorous: perfect music to blast at your party. Cruiserweight and Mondo Primo open at 5 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. - Lois Elswick

Murder by Death

Indiana quartet Murder by Death has acquired a cult following with its intense, narrative-based rock songs characterized by Sarah Balliet's dramatic electric cello and singer-guitarist Adam Turla's deep vocals. The group blends a variety of styles more frequently on recent releases, using the space of a rock song to both tell a story and explore the possible dynamics of the instruments. The band's new album, Red of Tooth and Claw, follows 2006's In Bocca al Lupo, a conceptual CD that reminded fans that some musicians are actually literate and intellectual. The new songs, which will surely be played with equal fervor, are similar: explosive, gritty tracks that compel even the casual listener. They sound good on the album, and if the band's history of live performance is any indication (particularly Balliet's impassioned playing), they'll sound even better onstage. J-Roddy Walston & the Business and William Elliott Whitmore open at 9 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10 advance, $13 day of show. - Emily Zemler

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

The now Chicago-based Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is the slowly evolving solo project of Owen Ashworth - a sad, bearded fellow standing out in a sea of other sad, bearded fellows. CFTPA started out as an almost ridiculously lo-fi indie-pop project, with 1999's Answering Machine Music delivering exactly what the title suggests. By the time 2006's Etiquette appeared, Ashworth had fleshed out the production a bit, but his niche remained very much in the four-track universe - an interesting combo of glum, half-spoken narratives, and early Depeche Mode-style synthesizers and drum loops. A smart marketing campaign would compare it to the Postal Service, but more accurately, Ashworth is a deserving addition to indie's fine line of ingenious but inconspicuous one-man bands - Smog, the Mountain Goats and the Magnetic Fields being the best examples. With a new CFTPA record scheduled for release next year, Ashworth is at a bit of a career crossroads on his current tour. After Etiquette brought in more dynamic instrumentation and guest vocalists, there may be no going back to the voicemails of yesteryear. These upcoming live shows could be the best hint of what's to come. Concern and the Muttering Retreats open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8. - Andrew Clayman

The Independents

Horror punk is a silly genre populated by a putrid army of zombie clones and mimics. Then again, there are a handful of bands like the Independents that spark enough electricity into the Misfits' bloated corpse to make doubters such as myself scream "It's alive, it's alive …it's alive!" The South Carolina duo's music is simple, energetic and catchy as hell. Will B and Evil Presly even bust out some mid-tempo, doo-wop-style rock without seeming hokey - no small feat. If you doubt their legitimacy, perhaps you should consider the Joey Ramone stamp of approval (he managed the band until his death in 2001). As if that weren't enough, there's also the fact that Michale Graves, singer with the late-1990s incarnation of the Misfits, is touring with them this time around. Then again, that may just validate your fears. The Independents' music may be easy on the ears, but their lyrics are just morbid enough that you don't have to feel guilty singing along. The indelible Hostile Omish churn things up first at 8 p.m. at the Jigsaw Saloon (5324 State Rd., 216.351.3869). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. - Nick DeMarino


The lyrical fragments that James Johnson stretches and tans like hides as frontman for Baltimore's Wilderness walk a fine line between the teasingly political and the outright oblique. They resemble the outcomes of poetic experiments ˆ la Brion Gysin, turning language around, inside out, upside down. On (k)no(w)here, Wilderness' third album - perhaps in response to the current economic crisis - Johnson rations his verbiage dramatically, relying on the power of repetition, and reinforcing abstractions like "Here comes the new law/Here comes the new law merchant" and "Mind control/O to the control." Soundwise, little has changed: They're basically Jane's Addiction side project Deconstruction fronted by an eternally yawning John Lydon, which is no bad thing. The usual gleaming-constellation onslaught continues unabated, never exceeding cruise speed; bassist Brian Gossman and drummer Will Goode lock into easy trots while guitarist Colin McCann whips one absolutely gorgeous axe slash after another with the impeccable poise and patience of a sculptor. It's easy at times to imagine Wilderness as a group of lieutenants perpetually on the verge of leading some vast consort of troops into psychic warfare - Johnson howling homemade aphorisms, the others underlining his points. At this point, though, the question isn't whether Wilderness should ever charge into battle, but whether it actually will. San Serac opens at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. - Ray Cummings

Tom Gabel

Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel recorded Heart Burn, his new EP, in August and released it just last month. Don't dismiss it on account of the quick turnaround. Heart Burn is a predominately acoustic folk record that brings Gabel back to the early days of Against Me! The mostly mellow disc has a terrific song at its core, however, as "Random Hearts" is instantly memorable. "100 Years of War" came out just in time for the elections, no big surprise given Gabel's leftist views. Since there are only seven songs on Heart Burn, expect Gabel to play some Against Me! songs too. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10. - Erika Schramm

Marnie Stern

Marnie Stern may have "never done a solo in [her] life," as she told Guitar Player magazine, but there's little disputing that she shreds. Unlike the hammer-ons and lightning-fast arpeggio runs of metal lore, Stern's jaw-dropping skills are corralled in service of the song. Effervescing numbers fueled by layered guitars wobble and waver around a tasty noise-pop center. Sometimes she builds upon a basic guitar track, then pulls out the foundation, leaving only gnarled branches to imply the melodic backbone like a phantom limb. Busy percussion underpins the spiraling guitar riffs blipping in and out of existence. Stern's not a great singer per se, but her spiky, energetic vocals complement the music and match its torrential multi-tracked manner. Both last year's debut, In Advance of a Broken Arm, and her recent follow-up, This Is It …, feature drummer Zach Hill, whose noise-rock band Hella was an obvious inspiration. Stern's latest release is even hookier than her debut, as the compositions hang tighter in the turns and ease up the heart-racing acceleration a smidgen. It helps that she's joined live by former members of U.S. Maple and Parts & Labor. Talk Normal, Mystery of Two and Marie Corbo open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $10. - Chris Parker


One of the best live acts that played the SoCal circuit alongside the Chili Peppers and No Doubt in the late '80s, Fishbone never got its proper due. Two years ago, that started to change after the ska act had a role in the movie Idlewild, collaborated with Christina Aguilera and appeared in the David Arquette movie The Tripper. Momentum might have stalled, but the group, which formed 22 years ago, is still at it. The band's manic energy came across effectively on its 1985 self-titled debut EP, which featured soon-to-be-anthems like "Party at Ground Zero" and "Ugly," and you can bet those crowd favorites will be in the set when the group plays Peabody's (2083 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999) at 7 p.m. with Natives of the New Dawn and Heavy Mojo opening. Tickets: $10 advance, $13 day of show. - Jeff Niesel

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