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Cheater Slicks


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We need a new term for bands that mine the trash of the 60s--"garage" now evokes a narrow range of sound, closer to 70s punk than 60s psychedelia and heavy on callow tantrums. This has to drive nonfamous longtime practitioners of whatever-it-is batshit. Take the Cheater Slicks (whose dirty-pretty book Chicago's M's seem to have read front to back). Although their discography goes back to '87, garage addicts knew them in the 90s as the band that put melancholia back in garbage rock. Whiskey (1993) nailed the vertiginous violence of youthful frustration but only hinted at the bedraggled, swaggering dignity of Forgive Thee (1997), a double album graced with wild and well-placed bits of improv. You can play spot-the-influences with the Slicks till everyone at the table is bluffing ("Link Wray via the Cramps plus Sonics over Velvets?" "I see your Velvets and raise you a psych band that had one song on a Crypt compilation!"), but if you can think of a combo with a closer bead on the beatific side of toxic depression, you've got me licked. Their most recent LP, ominously titled Yer Last Record (In the Red), is a set of improv-heavy yet structured songs that unfold at perfect paces; the passed-out-on-a-beach reverb cloud of "Green Light" builds over lyrics like "messed up for the 30th time" into a sunset that could make a sober man cry and not know why. It came out back in 2002, but as they're still touring, I can still hope they didn't mean that title. The Mistreaters and Vee Dee open. $10. Saturday, August 21, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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