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Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin

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This fall Kylie Minogue is embarking on her first North American Tour with a stop at The Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, on Wed., Oct. 7. Before I can daydream about the show's set list, I must ask, "Why The Congress Theatre?" Having seen her in London during 2002's Fever Tour, I would have thought the Chicago Theatre to have been better residence for the Australian pop star.

Minogue's career spans over 20 years, highlighted by a HI-NRG cover of Little Eva's "The Loco-motion" and the pulsating "Can't Get You out of My Head." The petite breast-cancer survivor puts on quite the performance. Even Madonna has been accused of ripping off of the talent 10 years her junior. Minogue has a new album is in the works.

Health care and the abuse of prescription drugs are regulars in the news. Linq combines her songwriting craft and her experience as a pharmacist to tackle these issues on her latest self-release, Rx and the Side Effects. On "Prescription Chaos," our quick to medicate culture is criticized. Linq cleverly chronicles a family's woes on "Simple Woman" and scolds the bullying of the pharmaceutical industry on "Money Today." "Gun in Hand" is video-ready, ideal for Las Vegas-style impersonators of Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith and a poor-miming Paula Adbul. I am still feasting on Linq's fantastic album, Life Goes On, from earlier this year; Rx and the Side Effects is a remarkable successor.

He has farced Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Beyonce and Aretha Franklin. The fearless openly gay comedian Greg Scarnici makes a debut bow with 12 Inch Freak. His brand of comedy is coupled with multiple genres, including R&B on "I Wanna..." and house on "Ohh… Yeah." Fusing music with a twist of humor is in the same vein as the L.A.-based electro trio Dirty Sanchez. Scarnici's latest HI-NRG video "Hater Anthem" is nothing short of hilarious. Having already taunted celebrities like Enimem and Fergie, closet cases are the target on "Curious" and "Gay for Pay." 12 Inch Freak also includes Scarnici's breakout youtube sensation "Gimme More ( Pills ) ," a spot on spoof of Spears' comeback smash.

The Ettes' impressive set I Want Power offers a certain roughness around the corners on these under-three-minute delicacies. "Red in Tooth and Claw" and "No Home" recall finer riot grrrl moments. While "I'll Be Your Lover ( But I Can't Be Your Baby ) " possesses Joan Jett's love for rock with a touch of a '60s pop sound. "Walk out That Door" has a mean harmonica with a nod to Jane's Addiction. The trio will have material featured in Whip It!, the female roller-derby film directed by Drew Barrymore. The Ettes will be opening for Juliette Lewis Friday, Oct. 2, at The Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. Do You Want Power is out now via Take Root Records.

Taking the best from Hole, Veruca Salt and Giant Drag, Pariah Piranha kicks the door in with People People. Opener "Artifacts" sets the pace, while "Role Model" has a beautiful bleeding guitar. The closer, "Insurance Insurance," is the highlight of this Pennsylvanian band's third full-length. While '90s alternative bands are slowly becoming the hip nostalgic acts, this queer power trio has one hand keeping the remote on MTV's 120 Minutes and the other with an all-day bracelet to today's best music festivals, like Lollapalooza. Pariah Piranha has toured with fellow LGBT artists like Girl in a Coma and Nicky Click. People People is out now on Queer Control Records.

The Flesh Hungry Dog Show continues to showcase a bright array of LGBT musicians. On Friday, Oct. 2, Matt Alber and Aluminum Group will be performing at Jackhammer, 6406 N. Clark.

The classically trained Alber was the first artist signed onto Tommy Boy's LGBT imprint, Silver Label. His album, Hide Nothing, is out now and features a cover of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek," as well as the heavenly "Slow Club" and "Monarch." His video "End of the World" has some heart-fluttering man-on-man romance.

Sunday, Oct. 4, marks the first live concert for Ohvaur at The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Featuring Chicago's very own Timothy Den, Ohvaur offers a soulful after-hours sound, as heard on its self-titled E.P. The 5 track teaser is similar to Zero 7's acclaimed debut Simple Things, although Ohvaur focuses more on the instrumentation. But try to resist the refrain "it should not be this hard" on the opener "Not What This Century Wants." Expect any of the numbers here to get licensed to film or TV, something Zero 7 has had success at. Ohvaur is working on its full-length and plans to tour abroad.

House fixture Ralphi Rosario has a new club hit on his hands with "Everybody Shake It." Here, he teams with fellow Chicagoan Shawn Christopher. The vocal powerhouse might be best known for the dance classic "Another Sleepless Night" and lending her chops to Lil Louis' signature "French Kiss." On "Everybody Shake It," Rosario delivers an irresistible rhythm. In addition to adding his own spin to "Everybody Shake It," Dave Aude, DJ Paulo and Jay-J. also contribute mixes. "Everybody Shake It" is available now on iTunes. Rosario's remix of Vanessa Williams' "Real Thing" is racing up the club charts.

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