OVER THE RHINE 10/7, CUBBY BEAR On its third album, Eve (I.R.S.), this Cincinnati quartet plays a sweeping yet wistful, melodic, full-sounding folk rock heavy on atmospherics. But the dominant presence is vocalist Karin Bergquist, whose elastic singing flutters, swoops, cracks, quavers, and floats over the band like a dry leaf falling from a tree. Imagine Kate Bush or (yikes) Tori Amos tempered by a bit of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser and backed up by a precise and tasteful rock band rather than ethereal nothingness and you're pretty close to Over the Rhine. Wildflowers in the hair, flowing peasant skirts, and patchouli oil are encouraged. Hello Dave and Yahoo Thirst open. TEAM DRESCH 10/7, EMPTY BOTTLE Fronted by Pacific Northwest music-scene upstart Donna Dresch--a vet of bands like Fifth Column, Screaming Trees, Dinosaur Jr., and Dangermouse--Team Dresch are an exuberantly catchy foursome masterfully subverting indie rock with an undiluted queer perspective (though that's not necessarily their mission). Rounded out by female members of Hazel, Adickdid, and Calamity Jane, Team Dresch embed insinuating hooks in a thrashing landscape that nonchalantly shifts from near-metal grinding to off-kilter but clean hyperstrumming. This Homocore production marks their Chicago debut. DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY MEN 10/7 Schubas, 10/8, Fitzgerald's On his recent third album, King of California (Hightone), Dave Alvin strips down his sound considerably; this one's a largely acoustic affair featuring an unusual array of covers, from old Blasters tunes to a number by bluesman Alex Moore to a rambunctious pass through the George Jones duet vehicle "What Am I Worth," finely rendered with new Chicago resident Syd Straw. The album's sonic spareness sometimes threatens to crumble under Alvin's less-than-authoritative singing, but he overcomes his shortcomings with emotional honesty and subtlety. His touring band is usually a small combo, like the one on this album, so this could be a fine opportunity to hear the album live. LOVE SPIT LOVE 10/8, METRO Former Psychedelic Furs vocalist Richard Butler returns, and on his new band's eponymous debut it's his still-distinctive gritty voice rather than the band's pleasant if forgettable tunes that define the music. While Love Spit Love possess the now de rigueur aggressiveness that his old band lacked, Butler's significance outside of that damned "Pretty in Pink" song remains like a zit on an elephant's corpulent ass. Gigolo Aunts open. BOOTSY'S NEW RUBBERBAND 10/8, CUBBY BEAR Basking in the attention earned by two new releases--a groove-packed double CD and a smoking archival collection--the funky mad bassist for James Brown and George Clinton hits town to tear the mutha up. He'll be joined by longtime compadre Bernie Worrell on keyboards. BUILT TO SPILL 10/9, EMPTY BOTTLE Led by Doug Martsch, a former member of the Treepeople and currently Calvin Johnson's partner in the Halo Benders, Boise's Built to Spill is an impatient pop band that's uncomfortable being categorized. On its new album, There's Nothing Wrong With Love (Up), killer hooks fly like a shower of sparks, but at the same time the band wheezes deliberately, tripping, skittering, and teetering before always managing to right itself. Martsch's straight, clean strumming is full of off-kilter flourishes: stuttering riffs, notes bent like rubber, and solos reeling with a drunken logic. But for all the distractions the tunes--and Martsch's earnest voice--consistently win out. POPS STAPLES 10/9, ORCHESTRA HALL Now 70, the father from the Staple Singers makes one of his infrequent solo appearances in support of his rousing new Father Father (Pointblank). Between his easygoing soul-drenched singing and his patented book of influential guitar licks, Roebuck "Pops" Staples served as a crucial bridge between blues, gospel, and soul for the rock 'n' roll generation. What's more amazing is that his voice still has that beautifully restrained silken power and his vibrato-laden guitar still resonates with subtle effectiveness. Michelle Shocked headlines and Ted Hawkins opens. BEATNUTS 10/9, ALCATRAZZ Highly sought after for their deft production ability--Pete Nice and Daddy Rich, Common Sense, Fat Joe, and others have used their services--the Beatnuts do it for themselves as well. On their self-titled debut they reassemble an endless succession of hot grooves, digging deep into the crates for obscure soul-jazz samples and appropriating them with aplomb. Their lyrics unfortunately get bogged down by the tired old sex, guns, and drugs bragging, but just pretend they're talking about the stock market or something and focus your energy on the music instead of what's in their predictable heads. THE SELECTER 10/11, CUBBY BEAR The nostalgia business painfully perpetuates itself. Hot on the heels of an appearance by yet another version of the Specials this Friday, we have marginal first-gen Two-Tone band the Selecter attempting to cash in on the ska revival. The band's recent The Happy Album (Triple X) finds them offering the prerequisite expanded sound; ska augmented by high-tech disco machinations, dancehall toasting, and truncated faux-metal guitar bits. SLOAN 10/12, DOUBLE DOOR Ditching the My Bloody Valentine guitar denseness of their 1993 debut, this Nova Scotia foursome have moved on to mine various indie-rock and pop icons of the past and present including the Beatles and Pavement. On their new Twice Removed (DGC), Sloan unload a bounty of strong, memorable melodies that also evoke combos like Big Star and Teenage Fanclub, but as all these name checks suggest, they're not very original. They perform with fellow townies Jale (see Rick Reger's Critic's Choice).
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Margarita, La Pussygata Inc..