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Spot Check

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CHEVELLE 10/15, METRO Rumors of grunge's death have been greatly exaggerated. But this youthful local trio of brothers (the youngest, bassist Joe Loeffler, is 18) knows that angst alone, even when expressed with the sheer testosterone of a Helmet or a Tool, is not enough. Not even Steve Albini--who, as pointed out in the press release, the CD booklet, and even the fine print on the disc itself, recorded Chevelle's recent Point #1 (Squint)--is enough. No, at this point, you've got to drag God into it: according to the liner notes, this record was His plan. HOWIE BECK 10/17, SCHUBAS Toronto popsmith Howie Beck's second album, Hollow (13 Clouds), is a minor masterpiece. Lush and biting at once, it drips Al Stewart and Art Garfunkel, but Beck himself plays nearly all the instruments and recorded most of the songs with an ADAT on loan from a fellow sensitive Canadian, Hayden. Lyrically it's the usual--old resentments, pathetic attachments, apologies undelivered, hearts bruised--but lyrics, like people, can get farther with less when they're well dressed. JON ROSE 10/17, HOTHOUSE; 10/18, 6ODUM Australian violinist Jon Rose has played with the usual roster of world-class improvisers over the past 20 years or so, but his address book is less interesting than his astounding array of invented variations on the violin: he's designed a "triple-neck, double-piston wheeling" model, a 15-meter-long model, a 16-string model, and a "double violin mobile with French moped function"; he's played his instruments in bars, in the outback, in airports, and on rooftops, accompanied by tape loops, fences, airplanes, and aerobics teachers. The booklet for his latest release, Fringe Benefits (Entropy), which collects performances recorded between 1977 and 1985, is filled with pictures of his creations and amusing notes like "The traffic accident at the end of this 60 minute concert really happened" and "More violin research; dragging a weighted violin with a spring resonator along a concrete floor." The music is a sophisticated, dazzling blend of ambient noise, cabaret, fiddling, electronics, and found sound, a rapid-blink tour through a thousand odd beauties presented with the good humor of one who recognizes his obsession as eccentric. ELLEN ROSNER 10/17, the HIDEOUT Local singer-songwriter Ellen Rosner hosts two semiregular performance series that showcase other people: the gender-specific "Gal-o-Rama" and "Ellen Plays Well With Others," a sort of combination workshop and open mike. Even at this gig, a release party for her debut CD, The Perfect Malcontent, she shares the spotlight--cuts from the album will be performed by Anna Fermin, Jane Baxter Miller, Dolly Varden, and others before Rosner and her band take the stage. So it's surprising how much of her songwriting is of the all-about-me school. She's honest and even a little self-deprecating about it in the title track, but by the end of the record, her perpetual self-analysis and self-justification, blasted over the usual friendly folk rock in a thick declamatory howl that's half Joan Armatrading and half Axl Rose, had me wanting out, fair warning or not. B-MOVIE RATS 10/18, FIRESIDE BOWL Who'da thunk that at the end of the 20th century there'd still be so many furniture-chewing trash-punk bands writing lines like "She's built for speed, you know she'll satisfy"? This one's from LA, where the scene also includes the Bellrays and Wayne Kramer's meathead backing band, the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. As far as this kind of thing goes, you could do worse than the Rats' second LP, Make You Bleed (Tee Pee/MIA), but I guess the question is, how far does it go? FROGPOND 10/19, METRO If we'd known ten years ago that those unassuming, harmony-driven indie-pop bands were going to spawn this many tuneless major-label indie-pop bands, we could have drowned them then and there like so many unwanted kittens. Or at least had them fixed. JOHN PAUL JONES 10/20, PARK WEST Too many bass heroes, left to their own devices, sound like they're just trying to be guitar heroes in a lower octave: they lose sight of that fundamental aspect of fundament, the baseness of bass, its function in rock 'n' roll as the root and anchor and means of communication between the drums and everyone else. But this has never happened to John Paul Jones--his smarts as a bass player are intertwined with his skill as an arranger, which he honed with the Rolling Stones, Nico, Donovan, the Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, and Cat Stevens, beginning in 1963. They never failed him in Led Zeppelin's decade-long funky war march, and he's since relied on them as producer for the Butthole Surfers and in collaboration with Diamanda Galas (whose intensity he framed so intelligently as to bring out her playful side, which turned out to be scarier than her death-priestess routine). Jones's first solo album, Zooma (on Robert Fripp's label, Discipline Global Mobile), on which he plays ten- and twelve-string basses and a bass lap steel in addition to regular old bass, is dense and intricate but rarely gratuitously busy; it's occasionally Zeppelinoid but not in the depressing too-many-xeroxes manner of Page and Plant's recent efforts. The Buttholes' Paul Leary and King Crimson's Trey Gunn contribute their respective guitar styles to Jones's bluesy fusion funk, and the Attractions' Pete Thomas plays most of the drums; the touring lineup features Nick Beggs on guitar and Chapman Stick (a ten- or twelve-stringed electric fretted instrument you may have heard on King Crimson records) and Terl Bryant on percussion.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Amy & Tanveer.

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