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MILLIGRAMS 2/28, POP'S ON CHICAGO All those not offended by the notion of ultraclever pop will undoubtedly find delight in this local quartet's short, punchy, tongue-in-cheek ditties, which belong stylistically somewhere between zany early Beatles novelties like "Cayenne" and "Besame Mucho" and the timeless vaudeville of Something Else-era Kinks.

MUCHACHA, PACHINKO 3/1, LOUNGE AX The pounding, somewhat pompous, bordering-on-tuneless pop rock of local threesome Muchacha's new self-titled release (Slipdisc) gave me a throbbing headache, relieved only by the inclusion of pointless but decent covers of Guided by Voices ("Gold Star for Robot Boy") and Blondie ("X Offender"). But behind the distortion-dominated bluster of Behind the Green Pachinko (Alternative Tentacles) stands a surprisingly expressive and cohesive power trio from Madison, Wisconsin, with latent pop sensibilities that emerge on the disc's final, hidden track, when a lengthy feedback discourse explodes into a fittingly intense cover of the Monkees' "She."

SISTER SOLEIL 3/4, METRO This local outfit, which includes members of Eternalux, boasts an impressively high-spirited and shimmering stage presentation. But musically its attempt to combine the styles of Bow Wow Wow and the Moody Blues amid garish techno tones merely adds up to a lost cause.

BLOODHOUND GANG 3/6, METRO Jimmy Pop Ali, hyperbolic white rapper and Howard Stern devotee, flopped previously with an album featuring his inane rhyming over sampled beats. So this time around, on One Fierce Beer Coaster (Geffen), he's working with a live band that includes a real drummer, which is apparently what inspires Jimmy to observe, ad nauseam, "The drummer from Def Leppard's only got one arm," during "Why's Everybody Always Pickin' on Me?"--itself titled after a line from "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters, an earlier era's jokers whose work puts this shit to shame.

VOLEBEATS 3/6, SCHUBAS Despite a truckload of inspired melodies delivered with distinctive twang, these country rockers from the Motor City tend to get bogged down on The Sky and the Ocean (Safe House), rarely breaking out of the sullen mood set by the album's lachrymose lyrics. But the sun comes out when the group jauntily covers the York Brothers' "Hamtramck Mama" on the newest Bloodshot compilation, Straight Outta Boone County, on which various insurgent country acts pay tribute to some of the legendary hillbilly artists who performed regularly on the Cincinnati radio station WLW in the 1940s. --Frank Youngwerth

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Bloodhound Gang photo by Celeste Angello.

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