GROWTH LTD 6/23, GALLERY CABARET; 6/30, THURSTON'S This local quartet says in a cover letter that its music is "'alternative rock' without the least bit of hip hop, trip hop, extremeness, post anything, drum 'n' or bass, noise pop, jazz, or punk flavorings." Real meat 'n' potatoes guys--and their self-released Happy Is a Four Letter Word, much like unseasoned meat and potatoes, is none too memorable. It does, however, produce the usual by-products. SISTER SEVEN 6/23, METRO The back story of this Texas quartet is a classic fable of label politics. They were signed to SPK/EMI way back in 1993 by an A and R scout who was shuffled off shortly thereafter. They subsequently signed to Arista Austin, but their main man there left too. By a weird stroke of luck, the first guy had started working for Arista proper, which released their Wrestling Over Tiny Matters this spring, but like every other act on that label that's yet to move the proverbial shitload of units, they're probably quaking in their boots now that Clive Davis is gone. But their glossy hard rock is distinguished ever so slightly by the Heart-like vocals of Patrice Pike, and in these dismal days that might be enough to spare them from the scythe. FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM 6/24, EMPTY BOTTLE The Fireballs, formed in Missoula but recently relocated to Portland, are postapocalyptic garage cockroaches, grown mutated, huge, and hairy--the Raid don't kill 'em, it just gets 'em high. They approach the genre's sloppy ferocity with something like wild gratitude and even a little imagination on their new Total Fucking Blowout (Estrus): the mangled slide that ex-Big Boy Tim Kerr (who produced their previous album) contributes to "Rise of the New South" and the gleefully inept monster prog of "The Halls of Sonic Splendor" show that not only do they have a few brain cells left but they know how to make 'em dance. But it's still more about the raw power than the tunes. UZ JSME DOMA 6/24, SCHUBAS Though they used an American producer on their latest record and play here more often than some local bands, Czech power proggers Uz Jsme Doma haven't forgotten their history, which includes many an illegal concert behind the iron curtain. Like most of their records, the new Ears (Skoda) is a concept album; like most of their concept albums, it seethes with fever-dream paranoia, this time about the ways in which misunderstandings destroy, whispers betray, and the ears generate their own hallucinations. It's all set to a roil of music that manages to be busy and eerie at once, like the Mothers of Invention with a mild case of the d.t.'s. This tour celebrates the band's 15th anniversary. MINIM 6/26, EMPTY BOTTLE I don't mind pitching a few words into this local trio's buzz fund: they're really good. After a year's hiatus, during which bassist and vocalist Jenn Solheim studied in France (and came back with "Chanson Pour Yolaine," which has the pretty restlessness of a Led Zeppelin ballad), they've reformed with fierce, big-sounding drummer Chad Lind, aka Curt Flood, and made a new four-song demo. Guitarist James Gillespie takes a droll and showbizzy vocal turn on "Head of Steam," and "Knife Salesman" and "Myth Fatale" are rare beasties: midwestern power postpunk with wit, math rock with sex appeal. --Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.