BLONDE REDHEAD 9/27, FIRESIDE BOWL On its third full-length, Fake Can Be Just As Good (Touch and Go), this international band (singer-guitarist Kazu Makino is Japanese; twin brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace are Italian) puts forth the chunkiest and most accessible version of its no-wave-lite sonic melange yet. No-wave-influenced bands should always have at least one truly annoying feature; Blonde Redhead's is the upper registers of Makino's voice, apparently aimed at the hearing-impaired-canine market. Major points for successfully alienating a jaded noise addict like me.
MARY COUGHLAN 9/27, Borders in Deerfield; 9/28, Borders in evanston; 9/29, Schubas Coughlan has been called an "Irish blues" singer; that's true in a metaphorical sense, if not a musical one--her style draws from traditional Irish music, torch, and the folk singer-songwriter tradition. Even if her singing might occasionally resemble blues in phrasing or subject matter, I suspect she's lumped under the blues catchall both because her husky voice is not the breathy soprano of your usual Irish triller and for her straightforward tales of poverty, drinking, oppression, and abandonment--even her retelling of the Garden of Eden story, "Woman Undone," sounds frighteningly literal. Elsewhere on her quietly commanding After the Fall (Big Cat) she tackles material by everyone from Dorothy Parker to Henry Purcell to Marc Almond with understated dignity.
JIM THE BAND 9/27, Aliveone Jim the Band have hastily slapped a sticker over the name of their previous incarnation, Nurse Rick, on their CD Live From the Royal Prince Geoffrey Arena, Mozambique; I take it there's been some sort of acrimonious shake-up. Nevertheless, there's no drama here: though technically competent, this toothless sort of feel-good global-village pop blurs cultural flavors into a bland beige paste and makes me think the pop scene in Mozambique must leave a lot to be desired. Then again, it's probably better than the one on North Halsted.
SPEED QUEENS 9/28, Fireside Bowl Maximum Rock 'n' Roll might have called them "the Runaways for the 90s," but that's too easy. The feminist revolution won't really have happened until noisy girls feel free to be just as trashy and sleazy as noisy boys--and with a mass media that considers the Lilith Fair the ultimate in female expression, that's gonna be a long time coming. Those who know better will go see the fast 'n' furious Speed Queens and know the revolution is near.
DELTA 72 9/30, Fireside Bowl While the liner-note essay by John Sinclair is no doubt intended to convey lineage and authenticity (evoking a not entirely unjustified connection to the garage-funk of the MC5), the proof of this Washington, D.C., quartet's pudding had better be in the grooves. On their second full-length, The Soul of a New Machine (Touch and Go), these R & B re/deconstructionists distinguish themselves from the rest of the 60s-revivalist pack by prioritizing the dance floor over the record shop, with squawking harmonicas, wailing Farfisa, and ululating saxes. The rhythms still won't cost the Famous Flames any sleep at night, but they should be enough to keep a Fireside crowd awake. --Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Delta 72 photo by Chris Toliver.