Rock Picks: Dethklok, Billy Bragg, Erykah Badu, Mr. Gnome 

Also, shows by Listing Ship, Detroit Cobras and more

Wednesday, Jun 4 2008


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click to flip through (5) Mr. Gnome: God save the queen.
  • Mr. Gnome: God save the queen.

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Mr. Gnome: God save the queen.

Kenda Benward

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Simone White takes it like a man.

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Tony Joe White: Cutting deeper

 Playing Thursday:

GO BETTY GO, THE FRESAS at the Bordello; MURDER JUNKIES at Cobalt Cafe; GEORGE CLINTON at Crash Mansion; PETER MURPHY at House of Blues; WATKINS FAMILY HOUR at Largo at the Coronet; JONATHAN RICHMAN at the Mint; THE CHAPIN SISTERS at Silverlake Lounge; JAIMI SHUEY at Taix; THE BLACK ANGELS, DARKER MY LOVE at the Troubadour.



 Dethklok at the Wiltern

The shades of the Wiltern will be darkened as Dethklok unleashes what is sure to be a night of unmatched brutality. Taking a fictional group on tour obviously poses a couple of obstacles; in this case, the problem is solved with killer musicians and a giant screen playing cartoons behind the band. The Gorillaz-esque live execution of Brendon Small and Gene Hogland’s studio effort is graphic, heavy, hysterical and packed with double-bass goodness. Dethklok’s debut CD, The Dethalbum, which was the highest-charting death-metal album of all time, is melodic enough to suck in anybody. One can envision the animated Valhalla-worthy violence already with song titles like “Go Forth and Die,” “Bloodrocuted,” “Kill You” and “Hatredy.” Furthermore, Small realized that cartoon doesn’t mean doodle. The backgrounds for Dethklok’s live shows, in addition to being violent and crass, are vivid and incredibly lush. Lush violence, mmm. (Diamond Bodine-Fischer)

Mr. Gnome at the Knitting Factory

Breathy femme vocals waft airily through ethereal soundscapes. Surges of jagged hard-rock guitars come out of nowhere, shake things up and disappear again. Boxy rhythms trip and hop, connecting disparate pieces of sound. Disembodied vocals float above churning snare rattles. Something weird and wonderful is going on in Cleveland, where the indefinable duo Mr. Gnome started in 2005. “Kill the king, save the queen,” Nicole Barille howls against the frantic scraping of her guitar while her partner Sam Meister punches out his drum kit on their new CD, Deliver This Creature (El Marko). Barille’s vocals range from wraithlike keening to softer, more fragile melodies, much like the way Mr. Gnome’s songs shift inventively from placid idylls into febrile storminess, often within the same verse. You can hear traces of PJ Harvey and Portishead in their music, but they reassemble their inspirations into fascinating new collages. Barille and Meister are certainly a charismatic pair. An intriguing undercurrent of sadomasochistic yearning runs throughout the album, from the chaotic title song (“Tie my hands/where are you taking me?”) to the gently climactic sensuality of the closing track, “Tied.” (Falling James)

Listing Ship at the Velaslavasay Panorama Theatre

The members of Listing Ship sometimes seem like the smart-kid honors students who used to play in the school orchestra. They’re studious and well read, and their music is carefully thought out and poetically evocative, if a bit restrained. That’s why it’s surprising to see them sink their arms deep into the blood, guts and animal parts of their latest CD, A Hull Full of Oil and Bone. Their folkie laments and laid-back ballads are still anointed with dreamy swoops and dips from Julie Carpenter’s violin, Heather Lockie’s viola and Laura Steenberge’s lowing bass, and salted further with Lyman Chaffee’s banjo plucking and Michael Whitmore’s mandolin. But Chaffee is unexpectedly randy (albeit with a stiff formality) when he sings in his bottom-end croon, “I’d like to sink my shaft in your soft Virginia hills.” It’s just as weirdly unsettling when Heather’s sister Shawn Lockie confides, “I’ll have to kill her/I’ll leave her bloody corpse for all the rest,” amid the welling strings of the icily pretty ballad “Depression.” Listing Ship reveal their playful side on the jaunty “Hollow Bones” and “Voice of the Future,” a sarcastic ode to modern conveniences. 1122 W. 24th St. (Falling James)

Joan of Arc at the Knitting Factory

For more than a decade, Tim Kinsella — a major player in the Chicago emo scene, dating back to his early-’90s days fronting the influential Cap’n Jazz — has been making records as Joan of Arc with a constantly rotating crew of collaborators. Like the band’s lineup, the essence of Joan of Arc’s sound is change: Kinsella has no interest in deciding between pretty acoustic laments, skronky free-noise jams and sleek post-rock soundscapes, so you never really know what you’re gonna get from a new Joan of Arc album. Boo Human, the outfit’s latest, includes all of those, as well as a weird art-funk jam in which Kinsella reflects on the “worst fucking thing that ever happened to me” and a chamber-folk freak-out dubiously titled “9/11 2.” Tonight Kinsella will be joined by four Chicago-scene regulars; predicting more than that is a fool’s errand. Also at Pehrspace, Sun. (Mikael Wood)

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