BIO RITMO 11/7, DOUBLE DOOR This unusual amalgam is based in Richmond, Virginia--hardly a mecca for Afro-Caribbean music, but a good meeting place for its members, who hail from as far north as Jersey City and as far south as Cuba. The light but lively merengues, bombas, and charangas on its new Salsa Galactica (Permanent) are mostly the work of Cuban Symphony veteran Rene Herrera, who also manages to maintain discipline in a small army of musicians that includes a former boxer and a former member of Gwar.
IDA 11/7, LOUNGE AX; 11/12, Fireside Bowl Less pretentious than the Rachel's, less schoolmarmish than Low, Ida is among the best of those bands that like to boast that their amps go down to minus one. Its third album, Ten Small Paces (Simple Machines), is its most likable yet: new permanent bass player Karla Schickele can write, too, and Ida's own folksy, minimalist compositions are broken up with covers of tunes by idols great (Neil Young, Bill Monroe, Brian Eno) and small (fellow sensitive indie rocker Geoff Farina). Paradoxically, this band sounds great really, really loud, because you can actually hear the scary empty spaces where a lesser ensemble might be tempted to toss in a forced screech or a wall of strings.
DAVID POE 11/7, METRO Ohio native David Poe, formerly a soundman at New York's eensy-weensy CB's Gallery, is smart to allow his claustrophobia to creep on little cat feet into his delicate, brooding songs. The arrangements on his T Bone Burnett-produced debut (on 550 Music) steer him into territory visited early on by Suzanne Vega--quiet, uneasy confidences with allusions to darker things, delivered with a smile at 4 AM. Techno folkie Beth Orton headlines.
TODAY'S MY SUPER SPACEOUT DAY 11/7, EMPTY BOTTLE The debut CD from Today's My Super Spaceout Day (on Beluga) seems to be based almost entirely on the "good" parts of old Jane's Addiction records. This local trio's instincts aren't terrible, and its songwriting isn't hopeless. But in pop music high, trebly tones--guitar crescendos and screeches, vocal wails and keens--universally convey great emotional intensity. Which is exactly why they ought to be used sparingly.
JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET 11/8, Martyrs' This London instrumental outfit--no longer a quartet--started out covering spy themes on a record it called Mission Impossible. Now, ten years later, we get Creation (Acid Jazz/Hollywood), a passel of tunes bandleader Taylor has composed for movies (two songs from Austin Powers), copied from TV or movies ("The Theme From Starsky and Hutch"), or written to sound like they were from movies (the title track). And it's indeed the perfect sound track for car chases in your head, if you suffer from that affliction. But he made the mistake of tossing in a version of Lalo Schifrin's "Theme From Dirty Harry," and next to that masterwork the rest of the album sounds like some uptown latte-drinking version of that "smooth jazz" cabdrivers listen to.
KMFDM 11/13, riviera Once I found something deeply offensive about slapping the "industrial" label on market-driven mechanical disco that had none of the jarring, ugly beauty of Throbbing Gristle or EinstŸrzende Neubauten. But now with jokers like Atari Teenage Riot trying to claim that a rehash of the genre's late-80s sellout is somehow radical, the hard-living satirists of KMFDM seem like noble keepers of the flame. And I'm once again impressed by these Germans' unwaning ability to toot their own horn every chance they get.
CORRECTION Not a band, a boner: Contrary to my bit last week about ? & the Mysterians, ? was never known as Robert Martinez--that was his little brother, the band's original drummer. ? was known to his mother as Rudy.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ida photo by Pat Graham.