JIMMY CHAMBERLAIN COMPLEX
El Corazon at 9:30 p.m.
Fri., April 8. $12.
Billy Corgan always bitched about how the Smashing Pumpkins weren't cool enough to be on Touch and Go Records. He was a brat in his Dark City–style Armani dresses, whining in New Age press pitter-pat about the coldness of arena tours. Then there was James Iha, runway model and sappy songwriter recently turned B-list NYC DJ, and poor, poor Darcy. All the while Jimmy Chamberlain, boring stone-faced former jazzman from Juliet, Ill., just sat silently and pounded the shit out of his kit like no other alterna-rocker save Dave Grohl. For this, he was punished with a high-visibility drug addiction and a mean but necessary canning and rehiring, followed with the much-unloved Zwan, after which Billy moved onto—what else?—poetry. Jimmy's revenge for a decade of irrelevance is to form his own group and make Life Begins Again (Sanctuary), aka the best album Touch and Go never released, but should have. Imagine the best possible sound of Pat Metheny leading distorto proggers Don Caballero; that's where the album begins. "Streetcrawler" turns tightly as an instrumental time-shifting explosion chosen to show Jimmy's flex from the get-go. The title track meanders like post-rockers the Shipping News, but builds to an epic storm. Catherine Wheel's Rob Dickinson sings over thunder rolls on "Love Is Real," but otherwise the chiming guitar work is pure Seam. Then there's "Loki Cat," the most beautiful song Chicago's Sea and Cake never wrote, only swapping one mumbling sweater man, Sam Prekop, for another— Billy. Here Corgan's angel-crooning sighs get equal voice with Jimmy's constant fills, a silly instrumental extravagance, the hallmark of a path not taken. Maybe that's why it's titled Life Begins Again: Jimmy's going underground. DAPHNE CARR
CROHN'S AND COLITIS FOUNDATION BENEFIT: FIGHT TO MARS + LEFT HAND SMOKE + LEE RUDE AND THE TRAINWRECKS
Showbox at 8 p.m.
Fri., April 8. $18 adv./$20.
In coming out of the closet, so to speak, with Crohn's disease, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready sets a good example—one that the music community would be wise to follow. In the last three months I've heard of four different people—the guitar player in this band, the ex-drummer from that one, etc.—who have been diagnosed with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis (both are classified as inflammatory bowel diseases). Granted, I'm particularly sensitive to these remarks; I had ulcerative colitis as a kid and the fix, removal of my entire large intestine, was a pretty shitty (literally) thing to go through at age 13. (It's no real picnic today, either.) Although anecdotal evidence might suggest that the rock 'n' roll lifestyle doesn't do IBD any favors, digestive issues are usually not the coolest topic to drop around the jukebox. While I doubt McCready will tell the (again, literal) blood and guts stories he told me the other day when he and fellow Crohn's patient Chris Adams met me for coffee by showing up with his UFO tribute band, Fight to Mars, and enlisting his A-list friends to help out (Stone and Ed showed up at last year's benefit), McCready's message is loud and clear—and it works for all kinds of taboos, medical or otherwise. We have to learn to ask for help, and we have to learn to support others when they need help—very simple, very true. LAURA CASSIDY
Neumo's at 7 p.m.
Sat., April 9, with Clem Snide and Shivaree. $13 adv./$15.
With his popular Denver-based outfit the Apples in Stereo, Robert Schneider succeeded where few of his indie-pop brethren ever do, creating inarguably retro-minded, meticulously detailed homages to '60s pop titans like the Beach Boys and the Beatles that crackle with new energy. If you've ever heard the dude speak in his 2-miles-a-minute innocent-crackhead cadence, you know he's simply got too much energy and enthusiasm to let his music sag under the weight of four decades' worth of record-collector debris. The Apples drifted apart a few years ago, so Schneider's revived his solo project Marbles, whose last album came out in 1997. What's remarkable about the new Expo (spinART), which Schneider wrote, played, and produced mostly on his own, is the comparable amount of zest he manages to cram into his studio-hermit material, a form even more threatened by spiritless gearhead tedium than retro-minded indie pop. As he did on Apples records, Schneider hauls out indelible melodies by the truckload here: "When You Open" keeps flipping between minor-key melancholy and major-key glee; "Magic" has pretty ba-ba-bas; "Hello Sun" glimmers with Merseybeat-glam sweetness. But Schneider sounds like he's having the most fun when he indulges in the sort of dinky home-studio textures the Apples probably vetoed on historical-accuracy grounds. The title track is space-age, bachelor-pad elevator jazz; opener "Circuit" throbs with a toothless drum-machine loop from Le Tigre's discard pile; "Out of Zone" sounds like Ric Ocasek playing Jeff Bridges' part in Tron. Because he's only interested in entertaining himself, Schneider thankfully, and finally, throws taste out the window. MIKAEL WOOD