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Spot Check

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CHIEFTAINS 4/25, Rosemont theatre You know they're Irish, you know they're good at it, and as far as I know this show, unlike their recent records, will be blissfully free of celebrity cameos.

KRINKLES 4/25, Weeds; 4/26, Martyrs' This is a release party for their new album, Three Ringos, which is packed with the sort of limp, moldy AOR power pop that reminds me of bathroom wallpaper. Maybe someday they'll accidentally hit on a hook as good as the one for "My Sharona." Inspirational forced rhyme: "She's walkin' down the street / With her pretty pretty hair / I think she uses Nair / But I'm still in love with her." The New Duncan Imperials headline on Saturday.

BABYLONIAN TILES 4/26, Metro The press kit claims "Pink Floyd meets Siouxsie and the Banshees" but the itchy insistence of front woman Bryna Golden's tinny organ brings more to mind a gothier, girlier Fuzztones. Their album Green Midnight Glow (St. Thomas) could benefit from a little more bottom end, but they're promising, and much less precious than openers Blue Dahlia, who should appeal to anyone who found the Cocteau Twins too rowdy.

Cheer-Accident 4/26, Empty Bottle This big, loose collective of experimenters gets points for not overprocessing the vacuum cleaner; refreshingly, it sounds exactly like a vacuum cleaner. Guitarist Dylan Posa is the common link between "Vacuum," from Cheer-Accident's new Enduring the American Dream (Pravda), and Tony Conrad's Slapping Pythagoras (on which Jim O'Rourke plays the weed trimmer), and the former feels a bit like the garage version of the latter. The album features smatterings of prog piano and guitar, mumbling, ska-lite horns, sweeping synths that build toward nonexistent climaxes, and plinkety cabaret scraps. Art rock or post rock, it's nothing I haven't heard before--but then maybe that's the point.

JOE D'URSO & STONE CARAVAN 4/26, Abbey Pub If Bruce Springsteen is the Boss, this unintentionally parodying hero-worshipper is the Office Manager. In this kind of music, sincerity is everything--after songwriting ability, that is. On Mirrors, Shoestrings & Credit Cards (Schoolhouse Records), when D'Urso belts "You know I'll always be there for you," it at least sounds like a heartfelt threat.

Grace Jones 4/26, House of Blues Never underestimate the power of a good genderfuck: with her severe, literally angular profile and her throaty growl, sexy, sinister Grace Jones strode across all kinds of borders in her heyday: male-female, black-white, R & B-new wave. She was so cool that her deep-funk reworking of Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing" made it sound like she went to better clubs. A living legend who's ripe for a comeback.

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS 4/29 & 30, Metro; 4/30, Tower on Clark They've outlived their shtick, true, but they've also learned some new tricks: the new album Factory Showroom grabbed me with "S-e-x-x-y," a geek-boy goof on Diamonds and Pearls-era Prince, complete with way-out-of-control fuzz-guitar solo and sticky string-section coda. The rest of the album is more like what they've always dished out, and while it gets really old in large doses, they can still write aggressively quirky gems as good as "Don't Let's Start" or "Particle Man." So maybe they are as clever as they think they are--at least some of the time.

STEAM 5/1, Lunar Cabaret In this age of frantic free jazz and post-Branca skronk, there's something almost retro about the tuneful, composed--in both senses of the word--quality of Steam's Real Time (Eighth Day Music) even though it does build to some angry-hornet peaks. But master keyboardist and tinkerer Jim Baker and reedist Ken Vandermark are no knee-jerk neotraditionalists, and when they play live anything can happen, and often does. It's just like realizing that Picasso could also draw beautiful figures. --Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of The Chieftains.

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