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This San Francisco band is picking up beaming notices from such papers of record as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Kerrang! for its new album, Apple O' (5 Rue Christine), but as with its previous four I had to overcome my natural resistance to overweening cuteness. All those bubblegum melodies and girly squeaks can seem like a last gasp of the early-90s kindercrap trend, in which too-old young people who'd never gone in for My Little Pony and pink barrettes as children felt compelled to induce a belated appreciation for such things. What makes the Deerhoof brand of saccharin different is its pulsating undercurrent of sheer power. If some idea of childhood is being fetishized here, it's a realistic one: traumatic, unpredictable, helpless, and fraught with turmoil--and yet the players sound as if they're enjoying every minute. There's also no contrived sloppiness for the sake of primitivism (as you might expect given their roster overlap with the Curtains and their playdates with Xiu Xiu); they hit their marks with a killing precision. The overall effect isn't new to their work, nor would it be new to a Melt-Banana fan. That they're getting so close to the indie mainstream, though, is a kick (and still they're paired here with No Doctors, who will approach the mainstream only to piss in it). Sunday, August 24, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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