DRAGKING 5/7, ROBY'S Since its 1993 debut this mysterious Chicago collective has drawn a lot of Beefheart comparisons, but that's both too kind and too simplistic; likewise with the Negativland parallels. On its first LP since 1995, Indie Authenticity Crisis (Hardboiled), the group addresses its mix of detuned guitars, skronky horns, corrupted toys, strategic samples, and barely audible vocals to topics ranging from racial tension ("King Richie I") to gender dysplasia ("Are You a Woman?") to election reform ("Rock the Vote") to indie-rock hypocrisy: "A Personal Attack," a rant referencing Drag City cofounder Dan Koretzky by name and calling the DIY system a "replicant structure on a miniature scale," ends with faint intermingled traces of Pavement's "Debris Slide" and the Dead C.'s "Bad Politics." There's also a pretty faithful cover of Devo's early anti-fat-cat anthem "Uglatto" ("You grin like a star / The grille of a car / Fat Oldsmobilo / A puffed potato"). As far as I'm concerned, the real crisis in indie land is one of imagination, and obvious influences aside, these guys transcend it with colors flying. KROSFYAH 5/7, WILD HARE About a decade ago the founding members of this nine-piece soca band got tired of catering to the honkies on the Barbados hotel circuit and started writing original music. Their fifth album, Hot Zone (Kalinago), is still party music writ large--bouncy, relentlessly sunny. But they do manage to redeem a dreaded catchphrase from the pop dustbin: "I'm too sexy for the winter / I'm too sexy for the fall / I'm too sexy for the summer / But I'll never be, never be / Too sexy for soca--no way!" MIA DOI TODD 5/8, EMPTY BOTTLE Maybe it's just the literally cavernous sound of Mia Doi Todd's forthcoming Come Out of Your Mine (Communion), recorded in a chapel in New Haven, Connecticut, but her spare, literate compositions convey a sincerely chilling isolation that too many contemporary ladies of the acoustic canyon seem afraid to investigate. Unlike all those singer-songwriters who seem to have been trained to pretend they're your best girlfriend, this pensive Yalie with the duskily clear voice sounds like she'd still be sitting in that cavern haunting herself even if nobody at all was listening. Which makes me want to listen even harder. SISTER MACHINE GUN 5/8, METRO I have indeed felt the urge to "Smash Your Radio!" as these second-gen industrial funksters urge on [R]evolution--their first album on their own Positron! label--usually because something as offensively generic as Sister Machine Gun was coming out of it. BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL 5/11, METRO Marilyn Manson aside, we're mostly talking about kids who sit around painting each other's nails, for Chrissake. The seventh album for Black Tape for a Blue Girl, the 15-year project of Projekt Records founder Sam Rosenthal, bears the not exactly violent title As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire and wouldn't sound out of place in a New Age shop or a massage parlor. Though Rosenthal is something of a godfather to a whole generation of ethereal goth bands, like Lycia and Faith & the Muse, and has organized a festival at the Vic to showcase them the last three years running, this is Black Tape for a Blue Girl's first Chicago performance on its own bill since Rosenthal moved the label here from California in 1996. It's a record-release party for the new Projekt compilation A Cat-Shaped Hole in My Heart: After Rosenthal's kitty died of feline leukemia, he collected tracks by cat-loving Projekt artists--pretty much all of them, as it turns out--to promote feline-health awareness and benefit the no-kill cat shelter Tree House. THE BOMB 5/11, METRO Perhaps inspired by the Naked Raygun reunion of late '97, that legendary outfit's main songwriter, Jeff Pezzati, has formed a new trio and recorded a three-song demo. His compatriots are Detroit guitarist John Maxwell, from Bigger Than Mass and the Mangos (remember them? Me neither), and drummer Paul Garcia of Joliet's Fractured Adolescents. Much like Pegboy and the Tarts, they play the sort of smart, melodic boy-punk anthems that can fill a room but can't quite fulfill those who were around to witness this stuff when Pezzati and company really were boys. --Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Piotr.