SCHWA 8/4, DOME ROOM It's tough to tell just where this Chicago foursome is coming from, but after suffering through a pair of its CDs I'm unwilling to work too hard at figuring it out. Their 1993 album Nine Days Out of Prison (Phonetic) lurks along the fringe of industrial disco with a foot planted firmly in melodramatic rock, particularly in regard to the painfully tuneless, overwrought caterwauling of Beverly Gibson. On the recently released EP Vertical (Two Flight) they have nixed their misguided club impulses in favor of overripe, emotionally fraught rock, but the results are a tepid swipe at both decorum and quality. INNOCENCE MISSION 8/4, SCHUBAS Combining the numbing somnambulism of Mazzy Star with the gauzy folk rock of 10,000 Maniacs, this Lancaster, Pennsylvania, quartet stretches politesse to its breaking point. Despite some snatches of insinuating melodies and nicely ethereal instrumental passages, their latest album, Glow (A&M), constantly threatens to float off into the deep blue yonder. If luxuriating in pleasantness is as heavy as you get, Innocence Mission ought to do the trick. BAD EXAMPLES 8/4, FITZGERALD'S, 8/5, LAKEVIEW LINKS Perhaps today's quintessential Chicago bar band, the Bad Examples have spent years building up a sizable local following with their sturdy, workmanlike pop rock. Their recently released Kisses 50 cents (Waterdog), an unremarkable batch of crisp, moderately catchy tunes, shoots straight for the hearts of people who like the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Mike Ditka, and Polish sausage. It's hardly thrilling stuff, but infinitely more appealing than being stuck at a Widespread Panic show. YOUNG GODS 8/6, DOUBLE DOOR On their new album Only Heaven (Interscope) Switzerland's Young Gods prove that it's possible to transcend the limitations of industrial dance music without abandoning it altogether. Setting its forceful but nondisco beats amid a sumptuous melange of aggressive sounds, this trio exploits electronics but bypasses stuff that's merely novel. The vocals are basically no-account, and their melodic sensibility is nil, but the record's impressive as a jarring pomo soundscape. Die Krupps open. RACHELLE FERRELL 8/7, SKYLINE STAGE While her previous domestic releases have had a contemporary jazz/R & B slant, Rachelle Ferrell's most recent U.S. release, First Instrument (Blue Note), recorded back in 1990 and previously available only as a Japanese import, finds her traversing jazz standards with a straight-ahead acoustic trio. Taking liberties with the arrangements, she navigates classics like "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" with considerable verve. Her prior interest in more commercial terrain colors her phrasing and general sensibility, and while she's no heavy-hitting innovator like Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, or the young Cassandra Wilson, the album does assert her improvisational skills with aplomb. George Duke opens. TEENAGE FANCLUB, THAT DOG 8/8, ARAGON BALLROOM Teenage Fanclub have spent an entire career simulating the sounds of classic guitar-based pop, and their fourth album, Grand Prix (DGC), continues that conceit. It's as laden with hooks and ingratiating harmonies as ever, but beyond the band's knack for recycling killer melodies lies, well, absolutely nothing. Totally Crushed Out! (DGC), the second album from the LA quartet That Dog, is a concept album--get this--about crushes. The sweet, slightly off-kilter vocal harmonies of Petra and Rachel Haden and Anna Waronker remain a strong suit, but while the whole band's musicianship and range are much improved from their eponymous debut, their relentless topical cuteness proves trying. Speaking of which, the triumphantly vapid Weezer headline. SONIA DADA 8/9, PARK WEST The story is that principal Sonia Dada songwriter and guitarist David Pritzker found Sam Hogan, Paris Delane, and Michael Scott harmonizing for chump change at a CTA train stop and formed a band around their singing abilities, which apparently favored gospelesque cadences. Their debut album sold more than 100,000 copies, although no one knows anyone who bought it. A Day at the Beach (Capricorn), their recently released follow-up, serves up inordinately professional-sounding music, carefully orchestrated with lush arrangements, tight, soaring harmonies, and steady grooves. Then again you could say the same thing about Up With People. Sonia Dada rock a bit harder and have longer hair, but unless you're one of those people who use music only to create ambience beneath the crackling of ice cubes, whispered innuendos, and the scraping of dinner plates, you should probably just stay home and listen to Jock Jams,
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kate Garner.