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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2012-04-25

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On his forthcoming album, Out of the Game, Rufus Wainwright teams with acclaimed British producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Duran Duran). The end result is a solid, pop-driven effort, as witnessed on the timeless opening numbers "Out of the Game" and "Jericho." Guests on the set include the Dap-Kings, Wilco's Nels Cline, Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow, Sean Lennon and sister Martha Wainwright.

The out singer-songwriter has a masterpiece on his hands with the ballad "Montauk," where he masks a tale for his daughter beneath a story about the vacation town. "Bitter Tears" has the artist's signature gravelly vocals, but it has a beat that could have been pulled from Scissor Sisters' Ta-Dah.

Out of the Game is due May 1 via Decca. A deluxe edition with a DVD also will be available. Here's to hoping a Chicago-area date will be added to his tour itinerary.

If Prince and Tina Turner had a lovechild in the '80s and raised that kid of the great soul music from the '60s and early '70s, the offspring would be JC Brooks of JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. The Chicago-based outfit finds its niche with a fantastic retro-vibe on tracks like "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and "To Love Someone (That Don't Love You)" from its latest offering, Want More. Fresh from multiple shows at South by Southwest, the band is currently on tour and will have a homecoming concert Friday, April 27, at The Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. Gold Motel, Blah Blah Blah and Soul Summit DJs will open.

Diana Ross has established herself as an enduring diva. Miss Ross has an array of hits to celebrate, ranging from her days with The Supremes to her solo endeavors. The icon returns with a concert at The Horseshoe Casino's The Venue, 777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond, Ind., Friday, April 27.

Her legendary 1983 concert, Live in Central Park, is due for the first time on DVD via Shout! Factory May 15. Here, she confirms she is a force to be reckoned with as she kept performing during a downpour, but ultimately had to cut her performance short. True to her promise, she came back the next day with her renowned big hair to sing staples like "I'm Coming Out," You Can't Hurry Love," "Muscles" and covers of "God Bless the Child," "Maniac," "Ribbon in the Sky" and "Beat It."

Katy Perry keeps proving me wrong. When I first heard her double-platinum album Teenage Dream, I thought it might spawn two top 10 singles, at best. Five number-one hits later, Perry is issuing a deluxe package with remixes and new material. The highlight on Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection is the reworking of "E.T.," with Kanye West delivering his monotone rap. Although the new addition "Part of Me" was written two years ago, it eerily depicts the pop star's recent failed marriage to actor Russell Brand. Tommy Sunshine puts together a mash-up of the smashes from Teenage Dream that surely will summon summer.

Perry and I started off on the wrong foot. Her debut EP, Ur So Gay, irked me because she puts down her boyfriend for having stereotypical gay qualities. Then she hit the big time with the Cathy Dennis-penned "I Kissed a Girl." Here, I felt she was making light of bisexuality and playing up titillating same-sex experimentation. Then upon seeing her pitchy live performances, I was expecting to hear an umpire call the third strike. I honestly pegged her for being a flash in the pan who would come back in a comprising tabloid story just to garner one last headline.

On July 5, the 3-D concert film Katy Perry: Part of Me will be released. This should be a fun viewing, considering her whipped cream- and firework-launching bras. However, attendees should bring earplugs when she does not resort to pre-recorded vocals.

On its third full-length album, School of Seven Bells finds itself operating as a duo instead of a trio. Don't let the focus on Claudia Deheza's absence discount the greatness of Ghostory. Sure, the otherworldly harmonies Alejandra Deheza had with her twin sister are gone, but they are fabricated with layered vocals on the gorgeous "White Wind." As done on 2010's Disconnect from Desire, "Scavenger" revisits the vibe from MTV's 120 Minutes. "Reappear" and "Show Me Love" possess the group's trademark ethereally mystical feel. The standout "Low Times" has a superb sequencing with hints of those from Annie Lennox's "Little Bird." The closing track, "When You Sing," is epic and surely will translate well into a live setting. On Saturday, April 28, School of Seven Bells will be at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., with Exitmusic.

Fellow hipsters M83 return with Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. The set's lead single, "Midnight City," has a captivating sound recalling School of Seven Bells' "Windstorm." The accompanying video focuses on a group of misfit youth with glowing eyes and preternatural powers. This theme ties nicely with the context behind It Gets Better and feeling like an outsider. M83 will be taking the stage Friday, May 4 at Riviera, 4746 N. Racine Ave.


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