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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003

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The Lonesome Organist/Bobby Conn


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The Lonesome Organist; Bobby Conn (below)
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The influential American indie label Thrill Jockey has a reputation for eclecticism, but it's mainly known as the home of Tortoise, Brokeback and all the other groups that make up the postrock Chicago Underground. Jeremy Jacobsen, aka The Lonesome Organist, sort of fits the mold, but as his moniker suggests he performs by himself. In the vaudeville tradition of the one-man band, Jacobsen plays a variety of instruments all at the same time; in the so far brief tradition of postrock, he's less concerned with conventional pop forms than with creating new textures and rhythms. But he's also funnier. His latest album, "Forms and Follies," is mostly made up of throwaway riffs that range from metal buzz roars to organ-grinder ditties. None last longer than a minute or two, which makes them perfect for sampling.

Funnier still is Bobby Conn, a self-labeled Antichrist whose campy burlesque pop veers close to performance art, which means he works better in a live situation. His new CD, however, is quite ambitious. Titled "The Homeland," it's a concept album about America's new fortress mentality scored to a variety of dated forms, from Freddie Mercury to Abba to standard disco. "I've got carpet on my floor and a gun at every door," he enthuses like Liza Minelli, on the emotional ballad "Home Sweet Home," "I'm free to live my life in constant fear." Unfortunately, only one of the Chicago scenesters who comprise his backup band, the Glass Gypsies, will be with him on this tour, but if Jacobsen is a one-man band, Conn is a one-man rock opera.

The Lonesome Organist/Bobby Conn: Jan. 16, 7 p.m., Cafe Independants, Kyoto, (075) 255-4312, 2,500 yen; Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Nagoya Rock 'n' Roll, (052) 262-5150, 2,800 yen; Jan. 18, 7 p.m., Shibuya Nest, Tokyo, (03) 3462-4420, 3,000 yen. Prices are for advance tickets; add 500 yen at the door. For information, call Afterhours, (03) 5790-0390.


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