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ELLIOTT SHARP'S CARBON 4/1, LOUNGE AX Guitarist/composer Elliott Sharp's band Carbon used to sculpt throbbing high-tech rock instrumentation into lengthy, slow-moving paeans to minimalism, overblown drones that were head-rushing and exhilarating. Over the last few years Carbon has dabbled in hard-core, becoming a "song structure"-oriented difficult rock band. The brain-massaging combination of David Weinstein's slippery, caustic samples, Zeena Parkins's rubbery electric-harp twang-and-bang, the crack rhythm section of drummer Joseph Trump and bassist Marc Sloan, and the leader's nonpareil mind-fuck guitar pyrotechnics made a swell case for the application of hardcore intensity to their economically minded prog-rock groove swells. Unfortunately, Sharp has transformed this once-instrumental combo again, this time into a nagging font of smarmy-ass New York political snideness; last year's Truthtable (Homestead) was rife with lefty pun drivel like "A Biblebelt in the Mouth." On top of his blatant lack of lyrical inventiveness, Sharp's low-end vocals are tedious as all get-out. KILLBILLY 4/2, BEAT KITCHEN If you've got a Jones for goofy novelty, this Dallas combo offers plenty to satisfy your shtick tooth. The band recently toured China with great success, has a penchant for dopey song titles ("Mountain Dew or Die," "Who's Afraid of Frogs"), and performs a sort of high-speed, revved-up bluegrass, though the band's description of its music as "punk bluegrass"--its new album is called Foggy Mountain Anarchy (Crystal Clear Sound)--is rather farfetched. It clings much closer to tradition than that term might imply, and though these leather-jacketed lunks may dress like a bad suburban heavy-metal band, they're accomplished players. aMINIATURE 4/3, THURSTON'S Though currently residing on a second tier of media attention, San Diego's aMiniature might well be one of the city's best contenders. Drilling high-velocity punk rock with sublime exuberance and unprocessed catchiness, the band fulfills its modest ambitions with plenty of aplomb. It opens for the Buck Pets. ENTOMBED 4/3, OAK THEATRE This Swedish crew unleashes a massive, lumbering metal assault, the churning guitars of Alx Hellid and U Cederlund grinding out crunching riffs--only occasionally devolving into whiny lead territory--over ultrapropulsive rhythms that flirt with hardcore velocity but more often settle into crushing midtempos. (The title track from their superb Wolverine Blues on Earache/Columbia, supposedly inspired by a James Elroy novel, is no relation to the Jelly Roll Morton classic of the same name.) L-G Petrov's ogrelike growl and the gore-obsessed lyrics ("Drinking blood / A red delightful bloody power") fit moronic death-metal, but the smart listener will ignore ignore them and dive into the band's gigantically ripping chasm of sound for the sheer sensual pleasure. Unsane and Obsessed open. DIE MONSTER DIE 4/6, METRO I think they call this shit "alternative," which in this case means tattoos, loud, heavily processed guitars, and stupid sexual innuendo reminiscent of Madonna ("Crawl into the fountain, drink the waters of salvation" from "Vagina Dentata"). MELISSA FERRICK 4/6, SCHUBAS While this 23-year-old Bostonian--whose big break was an opening slot on a Morrissey tour--has plenty of potential, the critical raves her debut Massive Blur (Atlantic) has earned represent a typical media feeding frenzy. While her overarching, simplistic naivete works on something like "Happy Song" ("Yeah sing me a happy song / 'Cause I am sick and tired / Of being sick and tired"), it more often descends into cringe-inducing heart-on-sleeve bloodletting ("You told me / That you would love me forever," etc). Her voice isn't unpleasant, but she has a tendency to bury the raw catchiness of her tunes with overwrought emoting, especially on ballads that call for restraint. She opens for Peter Himmelman. LUCY'S FUR COAT 4/7, AVALON Yet more San Diego punk-rock crank, the music of Lucy's Fur Coat mainstreams the grubby swagger of Rocket From the Crypt for Bob Seger fans on a bender. SCHOOLY D 4/7, ELBO ROOM Slinging gangsta lore years before his more militant LA counterparts coined the term, Philly rapper Schooly D is the original politically-incorrect-and-proud-of-it hip-hop star. Leavening his cocky misogyny and tales of gun toting, 40s pounding, and cheeba smoking with a sneering ambivalence, Schooly's party grooves remain fairly nonthreatening if utterly reprehensible. His recent Welcome to America (Ruff House/ Columbia) is getting a big "comeback" push, but its plodding pace doesn't make much of a case for his longevity or adaptability, and his lethargic drawl sounds like boredom. For this appearance, however, he'll be supported by a seven-piece band who reportedly dish out some heavy guitar funk grooves. Plus it's a rare chance to see the man who started the massive-gold-chains-and-Filas look perform in what was not so long ago a yuppie rotisserie joint.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Micke Lundstrom.

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