WHITE ZOMBIE, MELVINS 5/19, ARAGON Plenty of once-twee industrial disco outfits have tried toughening up their acts with an infusion of heavy metal: Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and most of the old Wax Trax posse, to name a few. White Zombie executed this transformation from the other direction. Once proud psychonoise-metal scumfucks from Brooklyn, after signing a major-label deal they packed their bags for Los Angeles to heighten their acting skills. Their new Astro-Creep: 2000 (Geffen) confirms their status as industrial-metal pop tarts. While their music once sprawled and wheezed deliriously, beneath the current sample-laden appearance of confusion reigns tedious order. The Melvins, on the other hand, have only increased their chaos quotient. Their latest album, Stoner Witch (Atlantic), delivers more wigged-out metallic polarization than ever before; some cuts blitz along with hardcore ferocity, while others barge through the gates of unholy noisedom, sound waves of ominous ambience ringing like a death knell. What's more, the Melvins have maintained a bent sense of humor that pulls them through some of their less successful moments. Reverend Horton Heat also performs. DIRTY THREE 5/20, LOUNGE AX, 5/23, VIC On Sad & Dangerous (Poon Village) Australian trio Dirty Three use restraint, tension, and murkiness to sculpt evocative and gorgeous instrumentals. Violinist Warren Hill usually provides lead, his tensile, voicelike playing conjuring images as diverse as serene, shifting desert sands and the harsh clatter of urban confusion. Guitarist Mick Turner, best known for his work in Venom P. Stinger, strums carefully in the background, creating, along with drummer Jim White, near-static waves of sound for Hill to weave through. Their Chicago debut in March solicited nothing but cries of amazement. Saturday's show is opened by the Denison-Kimball Trio, while Tuesday's gig is an opening slot for Pavement. BAD BRAINS, HURRICANE 5/20, HORIZON On their new God of Love (Maverick/Warner Brothers) Bad Brains return to their original lineup, which hasn't made a record since the 80s, and reunite with producer Ric Ocasek, who provided his services for the band's landmark 1983 debut, Rock for Light. Singer H.R.'s subsequent solo career offered inconsequential spliff-heavy reggae, while ever-shifting Bad Brains lineups churned out slick if slightly off-kilter metal. Their return is surprisingly decent, a vibrant blend of rhythmically interesting metal, skittering dancehall, and mystical reggae. Hurricane has been deejaying for headliners the Beastie Boys since 1987, but as his soon-to-be-released debut, The Hurra (Grand Royal), proves, he too has the skills to pay the bills. His rapping comes on strong, a brash blend of various styles from old school to half-baked gangsta, and the Beasties, who guest on a few cuts, exude a positive influence over the whole album. PANDIT BHIMSEN JOSHI 5/20, PARAMOUNT A bounty of topflight Indian classical musicians has come through the area recently, and this benefit performance for SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth) continues the trend. Considered India's finest khyal singer, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi uses his exquisite melodic gifts to patiently and painstakingly build gorgeous yet spare ornamentation into heart-pounding climaxes. An excellent opportunity to hear one of the greatest practitioners of this vocal style. WOLFGANG PRESS, SUDDENLY, TAMMY! 5/21, METRO On their new Funky Little Demons (4AD) England's Wolfgang Press have continued their transformation from postpunk gloom swillers to decidedly light limey hip-hop funksters. It ain't pretty. Vocalist Michael Allen couldn't sing, let alone rap, his way out of a paper bag, and their latest sounds a bit like a record made just for the hell of it by dabbling artistic prodigies. The college-radio revolution quickly spawned MOR mouthwash like 10,000 Maniacs, and it hasn't taken long for indie rock to do the same. In the rock-music-for-people-who-don't-like-rock category, no one surpasses the Cheez-Whiz schlock of Suddenly, Tammy!, a group whose singer-pianist Beth Sorrentino makes Natalie Merchant sound like Wendy O. Williams. There shouldn't be a law against rock bands eschewing guitar--New York's late Fish & Roses did it to stunning effect--but this trio's quasi-jazz appropriation of the worst singer-songwriter excesses is painfully static and retch inducing. GIORA FEIDMAN 5/21, DEERFIELD HIGH SCHOOL One of the undisputed masters of klezmer, Argentina-born clarinetist Giora Feidman deserves plenty of recognition for its current revival. Most recently he recorded the sound track of Schindler's List. His genre-stretching approach has found him occasionally mixing Scott Joplin rags, Schubert, and Prokofiev with more traditional fare. A member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly two decades, he's got a beautifully lucid tone and an attack that's simultaneously joyous and restrained. Along with bass and guitar accompaniment, he'll perform klezmer, traditional Jewish folk, and even some Mahler and Gershwin.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Marina Chavez.