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Spot Check

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LOU BEGA 2/11, ALLSTATE ARENA The sunny party music of "admitted admirer of women" Lou Bega is as infectious as the flu. The half-Ugandan, half-Sicilian David Lubega, who was raised in Munich, has reanimated the corpse of the swing revival with campy Latin-lovair-isms--and his breakthrough album, A Little Bit of Mambo (RCA), with its synthy hip-hop touches, is even more crudely effective and egregiously fluffy than the 50s and 60s exotica it evokes. STAR PEOPLE 2/13, RIVIERA If you've ever looked to the stars as the last great hope of the human race to escape a planet choked with forgettable CDs, well give it up: there are some scary things out there, and I sure don't mean Sun Ra or George Clinton. The Star People, who in reality seem to hail from New York, claim the latter--as well as Klaatu, Frank Zappa, Devo, and Dean Martin--as an influence but they can't decide if they want to play the sci-fi freaky or campy. What they wind up with is an I'm-sure-it-sounded-great-when-they-were-baked mishmash of unclever Man...or Astroman? sloganeering and cheap Chrome finish, complete with obligatory theremin. Anyone still want to believe? MARK TATARA 2/15, SCHUBAS Local singer-songwriter Mark Tatara, on his three-song demo, positions himself as a grandiose balladeer, in a Bruce Springsteen-meets-Gordon Lightfoot vein, though at times he sounds more like David Bowie imitating Meat Loaf. (To be fair, "Ballad of the Endangered Midwestern Jackass" is obviously meant to be hyperbolic--that species is about as endangered as the cockroach.) Tatara's smart arrangements on the recordings--which feature percussion and drums, electric and acoustic guitar, and bass--will be reproduced by a five-piece band at this gig (though Poi Dog's Leddie Garcia, who plays on the demo, will not be present). COLONEL STEM 2/16, DOUBLE DOOR On the demo for their forthcoming EP, this local trio does midwestern alt-rock so well you can hear them without hearing them: the petulant angsty howl into the void, the seamless equation of sexual frustration with social ills, the metallic guitar flourishes without metal's drive or discipline, the swagger that's too humorless to be charming. More proof that cock rock isn't dead--just impotent. SUICIDE MACHINES 2/17, METRO When talk turns to tuneful power pop, you hear the word "youthfulness" more often than at the plastic surgery clinic and "freshness" more often than in feminine hygiene commercials. It's a rare band that can retain these virtues in such a derivative genre--especially one making the shift from ska-punk--but this Detroit quartet is one. Their third album, Suicide Machines, is due out Tuesday on Hollywood Records, and it's another cutie.

--Monica Kendrick

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

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