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Spot Check

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PIGFACE 12/1, METRO The most positive way to describe Pigface is to call it an industrial-disco all-star combo. But a more accurate assessment is bound to arise when you actually listen to the music. Feels Like Heaven (Invisible), the latest offering by this revolving cast headed by former PiL drummer Martin Atkins, effectively posits the group as an unfettered wank-off vehicle. Joining the fray for two performances tonight are Skinny Puppy's Ogre, Die Warzau's Jim Marcus, Chris Connelly, and numerous other practitioners of goth-dappled self-indulgence; if observing musical malcontents mope around the stage wondering what shocking thing to do next sounds exciting, then this veritable antimusical jam session should temporarily quell your longing for Trent Reznor's codpiece. BOYS LIFE 12/1, EMPTY BOTTLE Part of a new breed from Kansas City, Missouri (including Season to Risk, Shiner, Giants Chair, et al), Boys Life serve up plenty of well-contained hard-rock bluster on their eponymous Crank Records debut, placing them in the sonic vicinity of producer Mark Trombino's Drive Like Jehu. Unfortunately, while they possess abundant power and precision, their song bag is empty. They open for Mercy Rule and Knapsack. LARRY GARNER 12/1 & 2, ROSA'S If Baton Rouge bluesman Larry Garner has absorbed the regional influence of Louisiana swamp legends like Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim, and Lazy Lester, it sure doesn't come through on his recent You Need to Live a Little (Verve). While his guitar playing is fluent within any given blues idiom, and his singing offers the requisite soul and grit, he resides in the same stylistic netherland as dozens of slick artists across the country--competent but utterly indistinctive. EVIL STIG 12/2, DOUBLE DOOR Following the still unsolved rape and murder of their singer Mia Zapata in 1993, the surviving members of Seattle's Gits re-formed as the Dancing French Liberals of '48. In an effort to fund the investigation of Zapata's violent death, however, they've joined forces with Joan Jett to form Evil Stig--it spells out Live Gits backward--whose recent eponymous debut offers up hard-rocking versions of numerous Zapata originals along with a few faves by Jett. Apart from supporting a worthy cause, it provides a good opportunity to catch Jett fronting a terser, less show bizzy combo than the Blackhearts. JOHN HIATT, BONEPONY 12/2 & 3, RIVIERA On his new Walk On (Capitol) John Hiatt eschews the needless muscle-flexing grit 'n' volume that sullied Perfectly Good Guitar by shifting the focus toward his sturdy songwriting. Stylistically there are no major surprises, but the playing exudes a nice ease, Hiatt is singing better, the songs deliver plenty of rootsy melodies, and the narratives are superlative. While the debut album by openers Son Volt is surely one of 1995's best, the first album by the other warm-up act, Bonepony, is clearly one of the worst. Artlessly blending southern-fried rock, foot-stomping acoustic hoedowns, and simpy, meaningless, hippie-inspired lyrical drivel ("Take me down where the water's deep / Down to the river where the water's sweet"), this Tennessee trio's H.O.R.D.E.-like, commercially fashionable 70s co-opting borders on parody. Accidentally, of course. EMMET SWIMMING 12/4, SCHUBAS If the empty emotional excess of Live makes you squirm, Wake (Epic), the putrid debut of this remarkably bad Virginia foursome, will make your body twitch, convulse, and writhe in ways you never thought possible. On the other hand, if your reaction veers toward enjoyment it's almost certain that you're an android. LIFE OF AGONY, DEFTONES 12/6, VIC On their second album, Ugly (Roadrunner), New York's Life of Agony pair slick, familiar, but soft-edged groove metal with unusually contemplative, if slight, lyrics that weave loose threads of Christian charity with quasi-existential bedroom philosophy in dealing with familial breakdown. While the strange combination may set the foursome apart, that's about all it accomplishes; their music's just as sleepy as that of headliner Anthrax. Adrenaline (Maverick/Warner Brothers), the debut album by Sacramento's Deftones, offers yet another scant variation of emo-metal, ranging from Bad Brains-like crooning on the mushy parts to Korn-like evocations of psychic damage during the noisy bits. What a hoot! MOONPOOLS & CATERPILLARS 12/7, SCHUBAS Speaking of convulsions, it's a wonder that the unfiltered sweetness of the music found on the Moonpools & Caterpillars album Lucky Dumpling (East West) hasn't sent anyone who's heard it into a sugar coma. While they're not as bad as you might expect (they began their career by covering songs by the Cure, Bauhaus, New Order, and the Cult), their squeaky-clean, slightly eccentric pop songs--vocalist Kimi Ward Encarnacion comes off as a cross between Natalie Merchant and Juliana Hatfield--sound exactly like the product of college graduates nostalgic for university life.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Cuffaro.

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