MOE. 3/21, DOUBLE DOOR If you like Primus, you'll love this country-rock quartet from upstate New York. If you love country rock, on the other hand, head to Schubas and see the V-Roys instead.
CRANES, RASPUTINA 3/22, METRO Following the departure of guitarist Matt Cope, Jim Shaw emerged from behind the drum kit to join his artless, baby-voiced sister Alison out in front as the Cranes' principal strummer. Population Four (Dedicated), the British quartet's latest album, reveals Shaw's severe limitations in the role. He's scraping by on the simplest two- and three-chord progressions--when he isn't just scraping the instrument itself ("Angel Bell"). The New York-based Rasputina knows how to attract attention--all three fetching female cellists dress in corsets and petticoats for their sets. But evidently Melora Creager, who also sings and writes the band's material, didn't learn much about keeping an audience interested while accompanying Nirvana on the European circuit in 1994: in spite of its rich instrumental textures, the debut Thanks for the Ether (Columbia) leaves you longing for Melora to let down her hair.
ZUMPANO 3/22, EMPTY BOTTLE Practically nobody mentions the Velvet Underground in the same breath as the Mamas and the Papas, yet more than a couple tracks on the dark New Yorkers' swan song, Loaded (recently given an expanded reissue treatment by Rhino), sport gentle, sunny harmonies. Likewise, the catchy period soft rock of Zumpano's Goin' Through Changes (Sub Pop), its Chicago-recorded second full-length, succeeds by tempering ennui with cheer. While the group plays and sings with the precision of a chamber ensemble, drummer Jason Zumpano inhabits the aural foreground with a spirited kick that suggests Keith Moon.
Curandero, Edo 3/23, Beat Kitchen The guitar and tabla duo Curandero weaves folk, jazz, and the classical styles of Spain, India, and other countries into a vibrant tapestry. Guitarist Miguel Espinoza, who cites pianist Art Tatum as a major influence, has technique and elan to spare. Curandero also plays Friday at Chicago Music Mart and the Heartland Cafe, Saturday at Borders on Clark and Martyrs', and Sunday at Tower on Clark. EDO, a comedic funk-rock quartet from Philly playing a separate show on the same night, has plenty of technique but very little elan: You've gotta admire the chutzpah with which singer Eliot Duhan delivers the moronic "Alex's Pee-Pee" ("I tell you, man / It was not so small!"), but after a few minutes the only excuse for sticking around is that you get off on wankish
guitar solos. --Frank Youngwerth
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Rasputina photo by Roberto Espinosa.