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Spot Check

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LONESOME ORGANIST 7/9, EMPTY BOTTLE Part of the appeal of Jeremy Jacobsen's performances as the Lonesome Organist is the "How the hell does he do that?" factor--he sings and plays keyboards, horns, guitar, harmonica, percussion, drums, and whatever, often simultaneously, yet he sounds much more fully orchestrated than many four- and five-person outfits. But despite his endearing onstage haplessness--at times the whole pile of instruments seems about to collapse--Jacobsen carefully plans his manic-sounding music, making sure there's something there for the short people in the back. His second full-length, Cavalcade (Thrill Jockey), is a more mature and variegated effort than his 1997 debut, resorting less to carny tricks and relying more on the arrangements--which, oddly enough, would probably earn him more serious respect if he hired other people to play them once in a while. Bob Log, the guitarist from Doo Rag, opens. CREEPY D 7/10, PHYLLIS' musical inn These local guys, who call themselves Creepy D, Mr. Inches, Crystal Ballz, Positive T, and Jason Shevitz, recently recorded Puppets & Robots (Chicagosaurus Sex), a short EP of funny, rudimentary, harrowingly catchy songs with refrains like "Big Mama / you're a blessin' / You're the turkey / I'm the dressin'." All four tunes remind me of Alex Chilton's sensitive mid-80s response to the AIDS crisis ("No sex / Not anymore / No sex / Not on the floor...come on baby, fuck me and die!")--awful to have stuck in your head, but good luck getting rid of 'em. THRUST SUPERSONIC 7/10, THURSTON's; 7/13, ELBO ROOM; 7/17, Off the alley The kind of stuff this Orlando power trio plays might have been called "metal" 15 years ago but now, thanks to equally tin-eared stars like Stone Temple Pilots, this is what passes for rock 'n' roll. HOURS 7/13, EMPTY BOTTLE The forthcoming debut by the Hours, the new band of USA veterans Devin Johnston and Brian Calvin, due this winter on Future Farmer Records, was recorded partly in Chicago with Jim O'Rourke (who contributes some bass and electric piano) and partly in Louisville with Paul Oldham. The five tunes the band sent me are slightly folksy rambles ranging in length from longish to never-ending, which might sound promising to fans of a certain stripe of indie rock, but I hear neither the mock glamour of USA nor the ragged charm of Pavement nor the slow burn of Dolomite here. In fact "March & April" in particular reminds me of the Dead at their most plinky-plonky--you know, that too-stoned-to-solo feeling. ANGIE MEAD 7/14, LOUNGE AX This singer-songwriter gigged for four years before putting out a CD--a smart approach, to separate the wheat from the chaff in front of actual people. The six songs on her debut EP, West of the Present, which features the Poster Children's Howie Kantoff on drums and Verbow's Alison Chesley on cello, have a likable lived-in feel, with some good lines ("Well I tried you / And I didn't like you") and some bad ("Hang on tight to your ball and chain / While she's running far away"), all delivered in a strong, clear voice that makes the gap between them seem smaller than it is. RAMONA THE PEST 7/15, PUFFER BROTHERS; 7/16, the hideout This well-kept Bay Area secret, named for an early feminist heroine of mine, is normally a quartet, but this acoustic duo tour is doubling as a honeymoon for guitarist Lucio Menegon and vocalist-guitarist Valerie Esway. On their fifth and latest full-length, Cans of Worms (Kingtone), the rhythm section, strings, and horns add considerably to the moody folk-rock songs. But I'm willing to bet that Esway--who can sound like Polly Jean Harvey with less blues or Carla Bozulich with less bile--could carry a show all by herself if she had to. --Monica Kendrick

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