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HAMILTON POOL 5/12, SCHUBAS Comprising a couple folk rockers transplanted to Austin--Fairport Convention cofounder Iain Matthews and Michael Fracasso--and producer/musician Mark Hallman, Hamilton Pool does not equal the sum of its parts. After hearing Matthews's solid if unspectacular 1994 album The Dark Ride (Watermelon) and Fracasso's superb When I Lived in the Wild (Bohemia Beat), the overpolished singer-songwriter turf traversed on Hamilton Pool's Return to Zero (Watermelon) sure doesn't bristle with purpose. It's not bad stuff, but it sounds as if three interesting artists have canceled each other out. LAVELLE WHITE 5/12 & 13, KINGSTON MINES More than 30 years ago flexible blues and soul singer Lavelle White scored hits on Houston's influential Duke label--onetime home to, among others, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown--but while the ensuing years have produced fewer visible successes, she's continued performing incessantly, including a role as Kingston Mines' house singer from 1978 to 1987. Her terrific new album Miss Lavelle (Antone's) vibrantly blends contemporary blues material, much of it penned by White, and well-aged vintage R & B and soul, including a killer take on O.V. Wright's classic "You're Gonna Make Me Cry." This engagement is no mere nostalgic homecoming, but an assertion of her ongoing vitality. SEAN KELLY 5/12 & 13, OTIS' On Light House Rocket (W.A.R.) Samples main man Sean Kelly unclogs his soul with an unassuming, shapeless collection of low-budget, mostly acoustic soft rock. If you're a young 70s nostalgist bemoaning the fact that Bread was before your time, well, slip into those Birkenstocks, dab on some patchouli oil, and step back into history. BOMBAY JAYASHREE 5/13, BALAJI TEMPLE While both adhere to the basic precepts set forth by raga structures, the austere Hindustani tradition of north India possesses a stronger Islamic influence than Carnatic music, the classical style of the south, which places a greater emphasis on florid interpretations. Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashree sings with a beautifully fluttering lilt, her improvisations marked by a striking lyrical intuition. She'll be supported by a mridanga, a two-headed tuned percussion instrument, and the sublimely fluid violin of Vittal Ramamurthy. NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN 5/14, VIC A symbol of England's purposeless musical activity, Ned's Atomic Dustbin perpetually shift stylistic gears--not due to an incessant commitment to growth and experimentation, but because consumer tastes are fickle over there. Playing catch-up with the trends dictated by Melody Maker, their latest missive, the painfully tedious Brainbloodvolume (Work), exudes a schizophrenic desperation. Like similarly clueless yahoos Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned's Atomic Dustbin is a no-account band of nitwits reinventing themselves in hopes of basic survival. Pull the plug, will you? ALL 5/16, METRO Drummer/songwriter Bill Stevenson's vehicle, All was created following the long-delayed death of the similarly inclined but superior Descendents. Receiving little in the way of financial remuneration, they've spent years issuing the sort of exuberant, pea-brained, singsongy, melody-sopped punk so hep with today's alternayouth. If there were real justice in the music business, their entry into the corporate punky-pop sweepstakes--their major-label debut, Pummel (Interscope)--would rocket to the top of the charts. Of course, in an artistic sense it's hard to really give a shit what happens to these teenage ball lickers. SUSAN VOELZ 5/17, LOUNGE AX Like fellow violinist Lisa Germano, Susan Voelz creates pop music smothered in darkness. Best known for her ongoing stint with Poi Dog Pondering and for performing with Alejandro Escovedo, she eschews affiliations with country fiddling and classical music, opting instead for a stylistically vague evocativeness. Her recently released second album, Summer Crashing (Pravda), combines a brooding romanticism, raw-boned folkishness, and muted rock flourishes with a glint of hope. Her liner notes, which wonder what perspective we'll have on life after we're dead, suggest the album is a response to tragedy. The collection's not exactly swelling with chirpy affirmations, but its most upbeat entry, the aptly titled "Happy," delivers a nice bit of positive determination: "Just for an hour I'm going to be happy." It's a nice thought within the album's context. MUFFS 5/18, LOUNGE AX Speaking of old-time punk rockers, Muffs leader Kim Shattuck, who originally made the scene with proto-femme garage punksters the Pandoras, has sharpened her bubblegum instincts on the band's second album, Blonder and Blonder (Reprise). Head-wagging 60s-tinged tunefulness driven harder and harder until Shattuck begins accenting the songs with nicely bellowed shrieks, it's all rather formulaic, including some punk-template guitar solos and ragged harmonies, but the Muffs keep things simple without catering to the faux-British-accent brigades outfitted in faux-thrift-store gear.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Todd Wolfson.

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