There comes a time when a band knows that it’s ready for big things. You can tell from the packaging of and promotional materials for its newest CD that Shane Johnson’s Blue Train is ready to break out. They’re professional and polished, and they look damn good.

• Two new pop psychedelic masterpieces have colored my mind with crackling fragility, mysterious aloofness, and the bite of crisp cider. This Tuesday brings the long-awaited return of The Soft Boys, re-formed last year to a sold-out concert tour.

Jazz fans should make a point to take a trip to Galesburg this weekend for the second annual memorial concert for the late jazz and R&B guitarist and singer Ken Henderson - who spent most of his life around Galesburg raising a family on a farm.

• The audio alchemists of Negativland have done it again, challenging listeners with an electronic cacophony to accompany their latest "art damage" project, entitled Death Sentences of the Polished & Structurally Weak.

This Tuesday brings an avalanche of soundtrack CDs from upcoming films and music-fueled television dramas. Epic Records' release of the Moonlight Mile soundtrack is a well-conceived quilt of iconic hits and interesting choices.

The raking guitar and pounding double bass drums might hurt your mom’s ears, but when the lyrical content contains everything from Jungian and Melchezekian philosophy to a disturbing sexual metaphor for social numbness, it’s worth a listen.

You could not ask for a better venue. You could not ask for a better regional orchestra. And you could not ask for a better crowd, as more than 10,000 people packed into LeClaire Park on Saturday with blankets, wine, snacks, and the desire to end the summer right at the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s Riverfront Pops concert.

The local music scene is rich with all sorts of musical styles, but hip hop is woefully underrepresented in the area. Local rap artist Commandiz Freez wants to fill that void, but he's also aiming for bigger things.

• Record labels are unleashing DVDs at an increasing pace, well-conceived and generously filled with bonus material. Here's a healthy handful of new and forthcoming DVDs that demand attention. The Chrome Dreams imprint has just released its DJ's Complete Guide: All You Need To Know About the World of DJing, a British-produced step-by-step instructional DVD.

Unless you're of a certain age (under 30) and with a certain musical taste (complex loud music), there's a good chance you've never heard the music of Tool. The band gets little airplay, rarely writes the standard verse-chorus-verse song, and - to the untrained ear - produces something more akin to formless noise than music.

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