The Martin Chronicles
Coldplay at Quicken Loans Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 21
Chris Martin knows his audience. Or at least he hopes he does. Coldplay's frontman thought long and hard about his band over the past couple years, quite possibly coming to the same conclusion many of us have: Coldplay's good and all, but they're not great. No way these guys are ever gonna make a brilliant record like U2 or Radiohead, to name two of the group's influences. So Martin went to work on fixing his band, tinkering slightly so he wouldn't turn off the fans who've made him and his mates millionaires - though he'd never admit to such crass commercial aspirations. First, he wrote a bunch of songs about dethroned 18th-century royalty and other dead people. Then he hired Brian Eno (who helped shape U2's The Joshua Tree and make the Irishmen global stars) to produce Viva La Vida, Coldplay's fourth album. Finally, everybody - Martin, Eno, the other guys in Coldplay - got together and made a record about life, death and all the big, swelling sounds it takes to tell their stories. It sorta worked. The album debuted at No. 1, Martin's face has been on the cover of just about every magazine that focuses on music and the title tune has logged tons of airplay over the past three months. Still, there aren't too many "Yellow," "Clocks" or even "Fix You" moments on Viva La Vida - you know, the stuff that gets concert crowds singing and swaying in unison. Viva La Vida is a more personal record, a listen-at-home-with-headphones kinda thing. In other words, that Important Art Project Martin always wanted. Presumably, fans at Coldplay's Quicken Loans Arena (One Center Court) show this week will indulge him. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Duffy opens. Tickets: $49.50-$89.50; call 216.241.5555. - Michael Gallucci
The Everybodyfields might not be for everybody, but they are for anybody who enjoys tear-stained alt-country (or could you call it "emo-grass"?). The band is fronted by singer/multi-instrumentalists Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews, who hail from Johnson City, Tennessee, a town closer to North Carolina than to Nashville. And their heart-aching music certainly lacks any "Achy Breaky Heart" gloss. In the liner notes to their last album, 2007's Nothing Is Okay, they write how their songs "take the place of conversations that were never spoken." You definitely can feel their sense of sorrow when Andrews sings, "I can be lonely anywhere," or when Quinn admits, "I know you've found him, and those legs around him won't be walking home". Their acoustic-based music is spare, but it's also deceptively sophisticated, something like a backwoods Over the Rhine.
Although mournful violins and pedal steels predominate, blasts of ragged electric guitar underscore the emotional turmoil on songs like "Don't Turn Around" and the title track. The duo also utilizes its lovely harmonizing to lend some hopeful beauty to the melancholia. The band leads a bill fully populated with promising acts. Katie Herzig's playful folk-pop should attract fans of the genre, while McCarthy Trenching (from Omaha's vital scene) mines quirky Americana. Most intriguing is Samantha Crain, a young Oklahoman whose haunting "musical novella" of a debut EP has generated much buzz. Try to catch them all. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets are $12. - Michael Berick
The noise-rock revolution has arrived. Thanks to vinyl-addicted hipsters, labels have viable commercial avenues for releasing ambitious, experimental bands. Case in point: Jucifer. It's an over-the-top, destroy-all duo that plays everything from amplifier worship to Southern sludge and punk. It also has a surprising number of pop songs. The most obvious comparison is to the Japanese trio Boris, whose upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails will likely make them stars. Jucifer's oeuvre is more consistent than Boris', and far more concise. Its newest album, L'Autrichienne, is a double concept record about Marie Antoinette, replete with historical notes on each track included in the accompanying booklet. On par with past releases, there's a little bit of everything. As a collection of individual tracks, it only whets the appetite; but as a whole, it's far more worthy of the "tour de force" blurb than the mountain of hackneyed novels at the airport book shop. Singer-guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood's live show has been heralded by many as one of the loudest, most intense youi'll ever see. Tickets are $7; the mayhem begins at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588), with Purse Snatcher and Rebreather opening. - Nick DeMarino
Minus the Bear
Ultra-catchy guitar riffage, techno glitches and an abundance of time-signature shifting are some of the most noticeable elements in Minus the Bear's music. The Seattle fivesome does its best to recreate this sound onstage, without all the digital equipment it uses to record its albums. Instrumental breaks pepper the set list, which is sure to be full of upbeat songs with bizarre names, like "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!" and "We Are Not a Football Team." You can call Minus the Bear's style prog-rock, math-rock, art-rock or whatever kind of rock you want. It's hard to classify. Nevertheless, the tunes are catchy, rhythmically exciting and satisfyingly complicated. The band's most recent release on Suicide Squeeze (home to artists like Modest Mouse, Chin Up Chin Up and the late Elliott Smith) is Planet of Ice. It's a seemingly appropriate name for its chilly, spacey vibe. Should be interesting to see how the band brings the blippy beats and alien synthesizer to life along with crawling guitar solos. Slowcore experts the New Year and psychedelic folk rockers the Uglysuit open the show at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $18. - Danielle Sills
This nine-piece out of Richmond, Virginia, takes standard salsa grooves and slathers all kinds of retro-futuristic blips, bloops, and wacky drum and keyboard textures over them. The whole thing is a joyous, irreverent dance party that could have rocked the house in the '70s, if the '70s were transported into the 25th century. The horns, percussion and keys are rock solid - de rigueur for any respectable salsa band - but the overall mood is loose-limbed and cheeky. "Bionic Boogalo," the CD's signature track, quotes the theme from the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, complete with its sh-t-t-t-t-t-t sound effects and electronic swooshes and whoops. "A La Cha" opens with that quintessential '70s sound effect, the wah-wah pedal. It moves into a Middle-Eastern belly dance on keys, percussion and hand-claps in the middle, but snaps back into salsa before the end. The band gets uncharacteristically earthy and organic on "Dime Vida," with mbiras and soft shakers, but this one cooks on as high a heat as anything else on the disc. If I had to place a bet on who's having the most fun here, my money would be on keyboardist Marlysse Rose Simmons. The classically trained pianist plays like a kid in a space-age toy shop, throwing around funky tone colors like she was in a giant sonic ball pit. The goofy, faux-schmaltzy hidden track sounds like it was recorded at the end of a long session. It's further proof this is a band that knows how to have a good time no matter what the circumstances. The show starts at 9 p.m. at Brothers Lounge (11609 Detroit Ave., 216.226.2767). Tickets: $10. - Peggy Latkovich
If you could sum up Atmosphere in just three words, "songs about girls" would be a pretty fair assessment. One thing's for sure, rapper Slug really likes to talk about women. Along with producer Ant, the 36-year-old MC (and co-founder of the Rhymesayers) has filled up six albums Ð as well as countless EPs and compilation appearances Ð with songs about the fairer sex. While it's certainly not uncommon for rappers to discuss women, few go as deep as Slug - he's not so much concerned with their anatomy as he is the mental repercussions of his relationship with them. In several of his songs, a fictional character named Lucy Ford serves as a metaphor for females. She's long been the subject of rumors from Atmosphere fans, who've formed various conspiracies about her identity. This type of lyricism has netted the group fans among those outside the hip-hop community, while sometimes alienating purists who find its brand of emo-rap sacrilegious. Whatever the case, the guys must be doing something right - their latest album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, marks the duo's 15-year anniversary. In a day and age where bands are here and gone in a flash, it's obvious that Atmosphere has found a niche. Of course, there are other subjects on the new CD: diverse topics like fatherhood, vanity, death, etc. But then again, they're usually sandwiched between songs about girls. - Eddie Fleisher
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