GODFLESH 12/9, ARAGON BALLROOM Residing somewhere between early Black Sabbath and Cop- and Filth-era Swans is Selfless (Earache/Columbia), the fourth album by England's Godflesh. Guitarist-vocalist Justin Broadrick and bassist Ben Christian Green inject ominous textures beneath their leaden chug-and-grind grooves: gray soundscapes, rumbling, feedback-drenched harmonics, funereal dirges, and quasi-chanted vocals seep through the cracks of the duo's otherwise impenetrable din, a veritable sonic flaying device. They open for goth-metal comedians Type O Negative and GNC Antichrist poster boy Danzig. SEAM 12/9, LOUNGE AX Aside from an in-store performance at Ajax Records a few weeks ago, this is Seam's first gig since bassist Lexi Mitchell left the group last spring; it also marks the debut of new bassist William Shin. They've got a new album planned for next year, and this should be a fine chance to hear what it'll sound like. The always superb Freakwater, who plan to start recording another album in the new year, open. LOST TRIBE 12/9, ELBO ROOM Shallow marketing types have been touting New York's Lost Tribe as an acid-jazz confab. But despite the presence of hip hop beats and occasional turntable scratching, the group's clearly fashioned after the jazz-funk fusions of Brooklyn's M-Base crowd. On their second album, Soulfish (High Street), they build the music atop the funky grooves mapped out by bassist Fima Ephron and drummer Ben Perowsky; saxophonist Dave Binney slithers both in between and in unison with the guitars of Adam Rogers and David Gilmore--no, not the Pink Floyd Gilmour--which titter between crystalline funk, metal-tinged swagger, and snaking, loose-limbed improvisation. Medeski, Martin & Wood, an excellent revamped organ trio, and Liquid Soul, the acid-jazz outfit led by Mars Williams, open. DAMON SHORT 12/9, BOP SHOP His album All of the Above (Southport), recorded in 1990 but only now seeing release, makes it difficult to understand why drummer-composer Damon Short doesn't get more attention. As John Litweiler's excellent liner notes point out, Short's music explores various kinds of musical tension; he eloquently and elegantly combines shifting tempos, changing densities, melodies and countermelodies, all rooted in a natural sense of swing and given an accessible, appealing veneer. This album-release party will feature selections from the ambitious album; joining Short regulars Chuck Burdelik, Ryan Schultz, and Larry Kohut will be Paul Scea, Larry Yanda, and terrific trumpeter Paul Smoker, all of whom except for Burdelik play on the album. POSTER CHILDREN 12/9, METRO Bassist Rose Marshack promises their forthcoming album will be "real disco," but the most recent offering from Champaign's hardest working band, a six-songer called Just Like You (Sire/Reprise), finds them honing their precise blend of noise, melody, and thunderous rhythm to an even sharper point. Rick Valentin's vocals possess all the range of white to off-white, but his charismatic commuting between singsong and chant provides smart compensation. Though they're known for touring relentlessly, this early show is their first Chicago gig in more than a year; Goober and the Peas and Steak Daddy Six open. DILLON FENCE 12/9, METRO Harking back to North Carolina's days of yore, when the jangle of Tommy Keene and Mitch Easter ruled college radio waves, are unabashed Chapel Hill popsters Dillon Fence. On their recent Living Room Scene (Mammoth), however, they refuse to merely replicate dusty twee jangle; instead songwriter-frontman Greg Humphreys invokes everything from dreamy blue-eyed soul to sweet Big Star perfection to the raspy tang of the Faces. His cohorts provide crunchy guitars, crisp rhythmic contours, and lush harmonies. Afghan Whigs proteges Throneberry and locals Throw open this late show. BUNNYGRUNT 12/9, EMPTY BOTTLE This Saint Louis trio was born out of the regressive pop revolution started by Beat Happening, even if Bunnygrunt themselves don't realize it. A recent single finds them cooing sweet melodies with breathy shyness and an ineptness that in the hands of Bunnygrunt's forebears sounded mildy charming. Here it sounds, well, inept. They're in town to record a single with Richard Baluyut of Versus for March Records; they open for Hardvark and Boy King. WAX 12/9, FIRESIDE BOWL As their brand-new second album, 13 Unlucky Numbers (Side One/Cargo), confirms, this LA foursome remain obsessed with lean, punked-up pop, jumping from hopped-up pub rock to dopey California prepubescent skate junk a la the Descendents. Three-fourths of the band are originally from Chicago, if you care. SOULHAT 12/10, CUBBY BEAR Although they have considerably more fire and a less fervent neo-hippie vibe than most early-70s retro-boogie chooglers, Austin's Soulhat nevertheless belong to those ever-swelling ranks. On their second album, Good to Be Gone (Epic), this foursome's composite sound draws on ZZ Top boogie-n-blooz appropriations, Allman Brothers faux-jazz improvisation, and bloated, butt-shaking southern fried rock funk. Not being slaves to peace-and-love sloganeering saves them much of the time, but on a tune like "Wiggin'," which leaps from Duane Allman epiphanies to Carlos Santana multiculti jamming in a matter of seconds, it's hard not to see this combo as an anesthetized Time-Life encapsulation of 70s drug culture--without any mention of drugs, natch. 8 BOLD SOULS 12/11, HOTHOUSE This free concert celebrates the release of Antfarm (Arabesque), the third album by Edward Wilkerson Jr.'s 8 Bold Souls. The octet continue to display their lush timbral range on the leader's gorgeous Ellingtonian arrangements, and while the new album retains the dark mood that dominated their last album, Sideshow, it also swings. I doubt there's a stronger jazz ensemble in the country, and thanks to Wilkerson's unflagging modesty the word ensemble is more than a description; it's an MO. SKATENIGS 12/15, DOME ROOM Putting a slight wrinkle in the tedious fabric of industrial metal with some hillbilly attitude, Austin's Skatenigs offer the usual parody of the Christian right's family-values spiel. That's always a fine pursuit in theory, but when the stifling hatchet job is enacted by brain-dead cretins like the Skatenigs, who toy only with the most obvious cliches, it's not much more appealing than what the zealots are saying.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Peter Kim.