Electric Wizard 3/30, Double Door I doubt even Black Sabbath could have gotten away with putting a bong-clenching demon lord on the cover of their album back in the day, but their direct descendants Electric Wizard can, and do, on their new Dopethrone, released in the U.S. by the Music Cartel. The third LP by these scary Brits has it all: cheesy sci-fi interpreted as scripture (the three-part epic "Weird Tales"), blind violence ("We Hate You"), black magic and sexual sadism in the church ("I, the Witchfinder"), and, of course, the ritual veneration of the ol' sweet leaf: "Dopethrone in this land of sorcery / Dopethrone vision through THC / Dopethrone feedback will free / Dopethrone three wizards crowned with weed." And it rocks like a cataclysm in an asteroid belt. The trio, which has survived "drug abuse, arson, robbery, and near death experiences" in the four years since its previous album came out, generated a heavy buzz at SXSW earlier this month with a set of airless apocalyptic sludge that made Nebula sound like speed metal. Good shit. JEB LOY NICHOLS 3/30, SCHUBAS How can one writer call this Wyoming-born, London-dwelling artist "the Al Green of Jamaica" and "the Merle Haggard of the British hip-hop scene" and another deem him the "heir to James Taylor's gentle mantle"? Possibly because the grooves on his Just What Time It Is (Rough Trade/Rykodisc) are so smooth they'll reflect just about anything anybody wants to project onto them. Nichols's voice is sweet and sexy, and his songwriting is tenderhearted and hooky, but the much-vaunted dub aspect of his sound is in fact pretty subtle, and so are the country and Memphis soul touches. It's hard to believe Nichols once shared a house with Neneh Cherry and Ari Up--didn't they ever take him out clubbing or anything? This early show starts at 6:30 PM. JOAN OF ARSE 3/31, SCHUBAS This is the first U.S. show for the Dublin-based quartet Joan of Arse, who are in town for a week or so to record an album with Steve Albini. The slaphappy name notwithstanding, they're actually a broody, sadly romantic-sounding band with a bit of a Neil Young habit, and are planning a future collaboration with Songs: Ohia. On their 1999 LP, Lost at Sea (Scientific Laboratories), the foulness of life goes hand in hand with the glory on beautiful songs with titles like "You'll Always Find Me in the Toilet at Parties." Definitely a band to watch. They open for Moviola and the Ass Ponys. MR. QUINTRON 4/1, The Hideout This former Chicagoan, now a darling of weird New Orleans, is nothing if not inventive--in fact, an invention is the focus of his latest record and tour. The Drum Buddy is a sharp-looking light-activated electronic rhythm instrument that Quintron claims to be selling for $999.99 a pop; with help from his wife and collaborator, Miss Pussycat, and other Crescent City characters, he's even made a 49-minute video infomercial--which you can also buy. The new LP, Qelectronics Drum Buddy Vol. 1 (Rhinestone/Skin Graft), takes the archaic form of the demonstration record to a new artistic level: Quintron's spiel about the flexibility and revolutionary qualities of his instrument takes on carnival-barker proportions, and as the album progresses, both the twitchy, scratchy sounds and the titles of the musical segments get giddier and giddier--side two contains "Trachiotomy," "Bagpipes," "Flock of Witches," and "Greig '(The Hun in the Hall of the Mountain King)'." Also on the bill are Magas and Bobby Conn; the Drum Buddy infomercial will be shown before the performances, starting at 9 PM. TEXAS TERRI & THE STIFF ONES 4/1, DOUBLE DOOR This LA band's mission might be summed up in the anthem "Women Should Be Wilder," from their 1998 debut, Eat Shit (recently reissued by Junk Records with an extra track, a cover of the Dictators' "Baby Let's Twist"). More creative with electrical tape than even Wendy O. Williams, Texas Terri has been called the female Iggy Pop more than once, less because she actually sounds like him than because she's a devotee of the nude 'n' rude school of live performance. The album, full of noisy neon streetscapes performed by her all-male band, is yet another lively but derivative collection of dirty, stanky lust punk, but rock 'n' roll is primarily a live experience these days anyway, and I think there's something sweetly utopian about Terri's world, where real women don't worry about losing their clothes in the mosh pit 'cause they start out naked. BASTARD SONS OF JOHNNY CASH 4/4, Abbey Pub Well hey, at least Cash's family won't have to put out a call for them on the Internet like the kin of Screamin' Jay Hawkins did. Cash has reportedly given his blessing to the name--none of the band members is actually related to him--and is flattered by the tribute. But one of the reasons Cash still has his power is that his long and varied experience is right there in his voice--it always has been, and you don't have to have read any of the biographies to feel it. By contrast, there's just nothing about Mark Stuart's studied twang on this band's sweet, dusty, and emotionally flat Walk Alone (Ultimatum) to persuade me he's faced anything more dire recently than the wrong kind of microphone. Mind you, I know nothing about his personal life--he may have done more drugs, more time, or more of both than the Man in Black. But the facts matter not one whit--you don't think Cash really shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, do you? CHRIS CUTLER 4/4, MARTYRS' Drummer Chris Cutler is the kind of musician that music writers love, unless they're being edited for length. Part of what's remarkable about this Englishman is his almost militant citizen-of-the-world quality: over the course of his nearly 40-year career, he's played with musicians from Italy, Sweden, Africa, Japan, and the U.S. He's collaborated with sorely underrated Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu and the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, and besides his now legendary work with Henry Cow, he's been absorbed into the Pere Ubu extended family and plays semiregularly with Fred Frith and Peter Blegvad. He's also an intelligent and prescient commentator and activist: he cofounded Rock in Opposition, a collective that grew out of Henry Cow's dream of a multinational organization that would challenge American and British major-label hegemony over rock--or at least point out that, as Cutler writes, "there was plenty of interesting music around and you couldn't depend on the music press or the record companies to find it for you." This was in 1977--years before the first "Corporate Rock Sucks" T-shirt was printed and roughly around the same time the Sex Pistols were lambasting EMI from their new perch at Virgin--but it's still a noble and necessary goal. As a musician, Cutler's a restless soul, applying his fidgety intelligence to the nitty-gritty of playing: on a CD-R of a recent solo performance in Tokyo, he creates a skittering, shimmering, and witty dialogue with himself. For this gig, he'll play a solo set, then improvise with the talented local fusion ensemble the All Rectangle, who are set to release their first CD.