GERALDINE FIBBERS 11/14, LOUNGE AX It was only two months ago that California's Geraldine Fibbers last made Lounge Ax quiver. But listening again to their dazzling, bloodthirsty Butch (Virgin) and recalling the startling guitar interplay between front woman Carla Bozulich and avant-noise nail-polish guru Nels Cline, I have to admit that even if they played here every week I wouldn't miss a minute.
ICOS 11/14, DOME ROOM For those of you who have no idea what an icos is (like me about five minutes ago), the press kit kindly explains that it's "20 equilateral triangles forming a three dimensional geometric shape, or the molecular structure of a virus." (Actually the dictionary says this is more or less the definition of icosahedron, but maybe that wasn't snappy enough.) Doubtless someone's hoping the "virus" notion will evoke some timely, dangerous contagion like HIV or Ebola, but this local quartet's redundant funk-grunge fusion is more like two weeks of irritating nasal drip.
Trish murphy, NINETEEN WHEELS 11/15, DOUBLE DOOR Heartfelt, rootsy chick rock is all too common these days. But on Austinite Trish Murphy's debut, Crooked Mile (Raven), her dry edge convinces me that she's actually a modern version of all those small-town girls who wanted to star in Bob Dylan songs like "She Belongs to Me," which Murphy covers in a tiny voice full of longing. That is, she sounds like a small-town girl trying to get out, instead of a suburbanite trying to get in. Murphy, whose "Concession Stand Song" was included on the most recent compilation by Chicago's Aware Records, appears on a bill with Aware signees Nineteen Wheels, whose Six Ways From Sunday is the kinda sensitive, kinda grungy sort of pop that's just vaguely familiar enough to fill the last slot in the CD changer at one of those grim parties in overpriced apartments where recent college graduates talk about how much they hate their jobs when they're not talking about TV shows and won't even notice that "Make It to the Warm" is an homage to Rod McKuen's Listen to the Warm--it is, isn't it?
MARTIN SEXTON 11/16, Schubas Sexton, a Boston busker turned coffeehouse country-soul belter, has a productive career ahead of him--since Van Morrison can't always be counted on to make real Van Morrison records anymore, somebody's gotta do it. On Sexton's debut, Black Sheep (Eastern Front), his flexible voice swoops and soars with plausible passion over sophisticated, mildly jazzy arrangements that go down sweet as tupelo honey.
THE NOTWIST 11/17, EMPTY BOTTLE On its fourth album and U.S. debut, 12 (Zero Hour), which includes a few tunes drawn from earlier singles and EPs, this Bavarian quartet offers a fairly faithful mirror image of American deconstruction rock: a little Storm and Stress, a little Sonic Youth, a pinch of Slint, and occasionally--just to remind you where they're from--a blast of Faustian devilry. But overall the re-creation of other people's risk taking is a little too earnest, and the Notwist winds up stepping reverently over barriers already broken.
BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE 11/19, Double Door The chromosome-damaged love child of Richard March from Pop Will Eat Itself and DJ Mike Stokes, Bentley Rhythm Ace blenderizes thrift-shopped sounds into a psychedelic but danceable funnel cloud of loopy loops on its debut LP, Bentley Rhythm Ace (Astralwerks). (On "Who Put the Bom in the Bom Bom Diddleye Bom," English Beat vet Ranking Roger turns in a cameo toast over a rhythm track of ghoulish groans and elephant noises.) The overall aesthetic: P-Funk and They Might Be Giants have been locked in a room together for three weeks with nothing to listen to but Carl Stalling's cartoon music.
MEKONS UNITED 11/20, LOUNGE AX If you missed their 20th-anniversary rock 'n' roll gig or their three-night stand of terror on the high seas of postmodernism with Kathy Acker amid the Museum of Contemporary Art's sterile nosebleed risers, here's your chance to catch the Mekons and "mystery guests" in a much more intimate setting. Fresh from recording a new album, the last great punk band to be celebrated by Lester Bangs continues to pie the face of lefty dourness--and stretch the limits of how much collective spirit can be crammed onto a very small stage.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Bentley Rhythm Ace photo by Sweeny.