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Spot Check

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BURNING BRIDES 6/15, EMPTY BOTTLE This unreconstructed rock trio, founded by guitarist and singer Dimitri Coats and his girlfriend, bassist Melanie Campbell, reportedly turned down a deal with Matador in order to put out their catchy but aggressive Fall of the Plastic Empire DIY-style. They're based in Philadelphia--the same undervalued urban turf that produced Zen Guerrilla--but their blend of garage and cock rock, which nips from Iggy, Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Nebula alike, is so rootless it sounds like they could be from anywhere. The Brides open a four-band bill that's otherwise straightforward garage: Greenhornes, Insomniacs, and New York's forgotten but not gone Fleshtones. BALDWIN BROTHERS 6/16, NEVIN'S LIVE If you're (rightfully) offended by those somber Europeans who call their noise "intelligent" dance music (you know, as opposed to the "stupid" stuff you actually like to dance to), you'll probably dig this moderately Deee-Liteful Chicago outfit. Loosely categorizable as acid jazz, their cloyingly irresistible mix of lively beats, samples and scratches, and funky Fender Rhodes grooves has so far earned them a slot on the Winter Music Conference awards ceremony program and a deal with TVT. Their debut, Cooking With Lasers, was produced by ex-Pulsar Dave Trumfio and is due out later this year. CALEXICO 6/16, OLD TOWN SCHOOL The Tucson outfit's latest release, Even My Sure Things Fall Through (Quarterstick), doesn't justify the usual high hosannas--a collection of B sides, outtakes, and remixes seems a little chintzy coming from a band at the top of its game. But it is Calexico, so though the EP is thin compared to the spatial grandeur and offhanded elegance of their real albums, it's still pretty great compared to most of what's out there. The CD also includes three videos, but the acoustic version of "Crystal Frontier" alone might be worth the price. Two shows; the Kingsbury Manx opens. CHANDLER TRAVIS PHILHARMONIC 6/16, FITZGERALD'S Boston "writer-songsinger" Chandler Travis is as much a comedian as a musician; his old duo, Travis Shook & the Club Wow, even toured with George Carlin. So it's no surprise that his current big band--nine regular members and 14 guest players on its debut CD, Let's Have a Pancake (Sonic Trout)--is a tad smart-assy. Overall the lyrics are more Dr. Demento than truly demented, though "Baby Come Get Your Cat" is a decent addition to the troubled-relationship repertoire; musically the album's a lovable mess that strings together sloppy rock, lackadaisical Latin grooves, and what can only be called jam-jazz. TENKI 6/17, SCHUBAS News flash: not everything that has a trumpet in it sounds like Miles Davis in the 70s. The Chicago band Tenki, who've just released a likable three-song sampler from a forthcoming album, are adept indie popsters influenced by the Beatles, the Smiths, and the Cure; their short, friendly songs use the occasional electronic flourish and, yes, a nearly full-time trumpeter. LOS MOCOSOS 6/19, DOUBLE DOOR This playful barrio band from San Francisco has been described as an amalgamation of salsa, funk, hip-hop, and ska--and they are. But on their second album, Shades of Brown (Six Degrees), they've tipped their hand even more clearly with a tribute to Tito Puente ("Tito Puente") and a cover of the War chestnut "Spill the Wine," in which front man Manny Martinez changes the hero from Eric Burdon's "overfed, long-haired leaping gnome" to a "dark-skinned, bald-headed Puerto Rican from New York." Although their aim is party music, and their aim is true, smatterings of political protest ("The Border") and pan-ethnic pride keep the celebration from getting fluffy. ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY 6/20, DOUBLE DOOR Part of me is glad that southern chic is back--it's almost as big now as it was in the Duke boys' heyday--but it's kind of hard to make it fly in Chicago. You can't really walk down Michigan Avenue in a stars 'n' bars T-shirt, now can you? (I hope not.) Alabama Thunder Pussy, I must point out, are actually from Virginia, the most genteel and northerly of the southern states (though Jefferson Davis did set up shop in their native Richmond). But they've got the classic look--like something that grew on the wall of Gregg Allman's shower--and deliver a classic ass-kicking that, despite their pledges to "Pure Southern Rock," incorporates a bit of grating metal and the slightest hint of, dare I say it, rust-belt steel-town clank. Staring at the Divine, out August 5, will be their fourth album for Man's Ruin; they've also appeared, shockingly, on Aerosmith and Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute albums. FOETUS 6/21, EMPTY BOTTLE Jim Thirlwell (aka J.G. Thirlwell, aka Clint Ruin, aka DJ Otesfu...) was relatively quiet in the 90s, when we needed him most, sticking mostly to production and remixes for folks who ain't good enough to do his laundry. He showed up on my radar again last year, when his favorite nom de noise, Foetus, appeared on a list of participants in a New York Ronnie James Dio tribute concert. The new Foetus project, Flow (Thirsty Ear), is astonishingly good--not your standard post-Foetus-level crap, full of school-shooter-wannabe self-pity and fake menace. No, this is the real thing, full of boasting wit and a smidgen of real menace, driven home by diverse music that crumbles industrial crunch with metal, techno trance, jumpy horns, fractured melody, and sheer bad manners. Also new from a new alter ego, Manorexia, is Volvox Turbo, an all-instrumental "psychologic symphony" available only from www.foetus.org and at shows; coming in fall is Blow ("aka 'Over-Flow'"), in which Flow's already lush and demented tracks get reworked by Amon Tobin, DJ Food, Pan*Sonic, Kid-606, FM Einheit, and the Young Gods' Franz Treichler, among others. Comeback of the year? That Go-Go's reunion is gonna have to be pretty great to beat it.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jimmy Ienner, Jr..

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