THURSTON'S Chicago's 9 Day Wonder, featuring two ex-members of ...These Days, has a long way to go to match the prolificacy (or pretentiousness) of Guided by Voices, but it packs enough melodic urgency and punchy hooks into Hrejk (King of the Snowmen) (Melt) to distinguish itself from the countless other edgy pop-rockers currently swarming the midwest. Dead Man's Wallet is a local quartet that released a self-titled album under the name Sungod two years ago. Its driving 70s-style hard rock, fronted by the eerie, restrained vocals of rhythm guitarist Patrick Donnelly, incorporates folk and prog elements with unexpectedly refreshing results.
CARL PERKINS 3/7, HOUSE OF BLUES Perkins introduced authentic rock 'n' roll attitude to a national audience when his rockabilly classic "Blue Suede Shoes" entered the charts 41 years ago this week. Amazingly, it proved to be his only Top 40 hit, though his importance as a primary influence on guitarists like George Harrison and Eric Clapton can hardly be overestimated. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Perkins, who turns 65 next month, always relied more on springy shuffle rhythms than raw vocal power to generate excitement, and so can still be counted on to deliver a characteristically boppin' show.
BIG ANGRY FISH, KID MILLION 3/8, METRO Both of these bands appear on Music of Chicago III (Simon Seng), a so-so compilation of mostly aspiring area alternative acts. Big Angry Fish charges through its track, "Judy's Tiny Head," armed with a terse killer guitar riff but not much else. Kid Million, formerly known as Fix Your Wagon and currently enjoying favored-band status at Metro, is sitting on a completed album, presumably with hopes of attracting label interest. Its slow-mo pop tune "I'm Afraid You'll Get Me Wet," from the aforementioned compilation, starts out sinuous but ultimately meanders out to the Pumpkin patch.
LIZARD MUSIC 3/8, BIG HORSE Taking its name from the preteen novel by Daniel Pinkwater, this art-pop quintet from New Jersey synthesizes Meters and Beach Boys influences for a goofy take on hippie soul that still manages to be a whole lot warmer than, say, Lenny Kravitz. Fashionably Lame (World Domination), its debut album, was recorded here with Steve Albini in 1995; last year's Lobster T. collects excellent earlier basement tracks, including the cryptic "She's Humming Too," whose ironic but uncanny CSN-esque harmonies are at once hilarious and beautiful.
PHILO 3/8, DOUBLE DOOR On a recent demo for a forthcoming full-length, leader-songwriter Jeff Cohen ratchets the pace up a notch from this local group's lugubrious debut single, "Everything Died/Cupid." Cohen's methodical intensity is tempered by a more pronounced country lilt and a revamped lineup featuring three-fifths of the rustic outfit Church Key. Headlining is Buffalo Tom guitarist Bill Janovitz, who's just released a country-inflected solo debut, Lonesome Billy (Beggars Banquet).
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lizard Music photo by Ray Perez.