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Spot Check

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LORDS OF ACID 2/4, VIC The latest release from this never-say-die My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult tribute band is largely--surprise!--remixes, by Frankie Bones, Robbie Hardkiss, Rob Swift, God Lives Underwater, members of KMFDM, and others. It also includes the group's really annoying hit "Am I Sexy" from the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me sound track. I guess my biggest problem with these folks has always been that their flabby, unfocused grooves never live up to their own hype--I mean, I don't know what their idea of "Rough Sex" really is, but Critter's "All Night Grinder" remix and the Joey Beltram "Whip" mix of the tune give me about as much of a rise as that fifth-grade French kiss in my parents' basement. STEPHANIE ROGERS 2/4, MARTYRS' Actress Stephanie Rogers has played a folksinger, a rocker, and Marlene Dietrich in local theatrical productions, and last month she started her own label, Hipchick, to release an album as herself: Not to Keep, a sampling of safe, predictable mainstream girl rock propped up by a "band" of local session men and producers. I've never seen any of those plays, but I hope she was more convincing than this. KELLY WILLIS 2/4, FitzGERALD'S; 2/5, college of lake county Country is the music of hard knocks, so someone spit out of the gears of the star-making machine as often as Kelly Willis gets the critics' sympathy almost automatically. But this country-rock balladeer has won as many leathery hearts by her pure throaty voice and the comfortable sound of last year's What I Deserve (Rykodisc)--which often reminds me of early-70s Linda Ronstadt--as by her well-documented scuffles with the biz. Jack Ingram (see Critic's Choice) opens. ALL OUT WAR 2/7, HOUSE OF BLUES Of all the bands who claim to channel the energy of both hardcore and metal, only a few can sustain the nihilistic rage necessary to really give either genre its flaming bat wings. New York's All Out War is an intense crowd pleaser (if "please" is the right word), and its first full-length, For Those Who Were Crucified (Victory), is a sizzling chunk of rare riff meat seasoned with true-believer apocalypticism, the kind of fire-and-brimstone sermonizing that you'd think would go over better among certain censorious Christians than it does--but then, everybody always thinks the Antichrist's going to come from the opposite side of the tracks. Also on the bill are fellow Victory artists Shutdown and the reanimated Cro-Mags. GENE BOOTH 2/7, EMPTY BOTTLE Having seen the music biz from both sides of the fence--the former front man for USA and Mantis, he was also Drag City's promo point man until last year--Gene Booth isn't one to keep up an empty mystique: this one-shot solo gig is cynically billed as an opportunity to tighten up new material for a new recording ("the audience will contribute towards this goal by explaining the set's various strengths and weaknesses...through the interactive process known as 'heckling,'" explains the press release) and raise money to pay for said recording ("the audience will contribute towards this goal by paying to get in"). Michael Krassner and Rick Rizzo will also perform solo sets. BOOM HANK, SWEEDER 2/10, EMPTY BOTTLE For Ishly Ghost Fly Your E & Y (Iota), their first release in three years and their first full-length since 1995, Chicago-gold-rush survivors Boom Hank have teamed up with producer Brian Deck on a rich journey through a dusty maze of noise, boys, and toys. Obvious debts to Sebadoh and--oddly enough--latter-day Red Red Meat notwithstanding, it's a satisfying record from a band that's taken a long time to find its voice. This is a CD-release party. Also on the bill are Sweeder, a trio fronted--from behind the drums--by Squash Blossom singer-guitarist Chiyoko Yoshida. Their forthcoming debut (also produced by Deck), based on the three tracks they sent me, is slightly angular heartache rock that relies on the melodramatic combination of guitars, keyboards, strings, and Yoshida's clear, plangent voice.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Danielle Dambrowski.

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