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Spot Check

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THE MATICS 8/10, UNDERGROUND LOUNGE Let me get this part out of the way: the Matics' debut, Ignition--the first non-Pezzati release by Jettison Music, the label run by former Naked Raygun front man Jeff Pezzati--is a tightly focused, dead-on tuneful tornado of punk charging across the plains. But the cover letter that came with it goes a long way in explaining why neither the Matics nor Pezzati's own current band, the Bomb, nor any of the less direct followers of Naked Raygun have half the hair on their balls that Raygun did circa 1985. "Review it, play it," the form letter suggests, "screw to it...screw your friend's girlfriend to it...whatever." Not only does this more or less exclude me from the action the same way "Dear Sir" might, but more importantly it shows a deadly lack of imagination when it comes to transgression. I mean, why stop there? Why not screw your friend's boyfriend to it? Your girlfriend's boyfriend? Your boyfriend and his girlfriend? How about your mechanic's cousin, your producer's dentist, your boss's therapist, and your niece's parole officer? Really go for it, for chrissake. TRAILER BRIDE 8/11, SCHUBAS One of the very best roots-rock bands operating today, Trailer Bride has some of the so-ugly-it's-beautiful (or is that vice versa?) piss and vinegar of the late Geraldine Fibbers and some of the eerie sway of the late Tarnation. Front woman Melissa Swingle, who writes most of the songs and plays guitar, harmonica, banjo, piano, and saw, is a burgeoning presence on wax and onstage alike, and on their new third album, High Seas (Bloodshot), her band, now on drummer number five, push her to new heights of delicious countrified creepiness. Even "Jesco," a mournful tribute to West Virginia "dancin' outlaw" Jessico White, and the bittersweet "Ghost of Mae West" are too graceful to be campy, and chilling ballads like "Under Your Spell" are orchestrated perfectly to pluck at you like branches in the dark. LOST KIDS 8/13, EMPTY BOTTLE The Starlite Desperation is dead, long live the Starlite Desperation...or not. In their waning days, the southern California trio moved to Detroit, explaining themselves by pointing to a song about the myth of the gold rush on their last album, Go Kill Mice (Flapping Jet). After they broke up last year, front man Dante White started the band that would become the Lost Kids with guitarist and songwriter Jennifer Pearl, eventually recruited Starlite bassist Yasmine Smith, and then moved back to the west coast, bidding Motown farewell with an EP for GSL, Belle Isle Is on Fire (a reference to the island park in the river between Detroit and Canada). The band's new direction is a slightly more psychedelic strain of reverby blues, like Jeffrey Lee Pierce fronting the 13th Floor Elevators. The Fatal Flying Guilloteens, Estrus blues rockers who wear Lone Ranger masks, headline. HOT DOG CITY 8/15, SCHUBAS After sharing songwriting duties with his semifamous brother Ed in Electric Airlines, John Roeser started his own band with drummer Kriss Bataille (who's played with Urge Overkill, Yum-Yum, and Plush, among others), keyboardist Jim Grabowski, and bassist Tom Szidon (leader of the Joy Poppers). Roeser is a fine guitarist in the elegiac classic-rock style; his slightly rootsy songwriting on the band's five-song demo is like a collaboration between Bob Pollard and Tom Petty--ragged and ugly, but comfortable. JOYDROP 8/15, ABBEY PUB This Canadian band's second album, Viberate (Tommy Boy), sounds like the product of some Random Cliche Generator--sinister guitars chime like the intro to a Metallica ballad but lead into half-assed Alanis Morissette imitations or a seemingly unintentional allusion to "Smells Like Teen Spirit." And lyrics like "I won't be silenced / By your small-minded validation / Your silicone creation / Rock 'n' roll masturbation" would probably sound great shrieked by some garage chick, but coming from overenunciating singer Tara Sloane, the band's sole female member, they sound faker than Pamela Anderson's old boobs. X27, PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE & THE FAKE 8/15, HIDEOUT Rikkeh Suhtn, the "male half" of the mid-90s no-wave duo Duotron, has a new trio with two women who go only by first names, Carmen and Sisca. Their self-released EP, Product, is about six minutes of energizing, jagged clank-bang-yelp, with stiffly tribal beats, unorthodox nontunings, and that 80s-vintage searing guitar that sounds more influenced by the subway than any musician. Also on the bill is the latest musical project of Plastic Crimewave, aka Steve Krakow--best known as the author of the beautiful zine Galactic Zoo Dossier, a lovingly hand-drawn and hand-lettered homage to psychedelia in all its forms and the only worthy American competitor of the UK's Ptolemaic Terrascope. (Now that it's distributed by Drag City, the current issue, which includes a CD and 50 "damaged guitar gods" trading cards, is selling like pot cakes.) He describes the Fake's sound as "a bit more structured" than his previous bands' (the Unshown, Utopia Carcrash, and various collaborations with hardcore Japanese triplords); he's been working on an album that he says ranges "from acid-folk to acid-noise-punk." AMY RAY 8/16, CONGRESS THEATER When I was at Antioch College in the late 80s I used to get called "male-identified" because I preferred the loud raunchy stuff (including, mind you, loud raunchy stuff with women driving at least part of the time, like Sonic Youth or various Lydia Lunch vehicles or even Antioch expats the Gits) over pleasant conversational stuff like the Indigo Girls. But since the tenor of this criticism was less "bad feminist--no doughnut" than "bad feminist--no sugar-free vegan bran muffin," it didn't bother me much. Still, to all those quiet wimmin now groovin' to Indigo Girl Amy Ray's first solo album, Stag (Daemon), I must now say: See? Told ya! Ray's rootsy punk, recorded in part with the North Carolina-based queercore trio the Butchies, is as fun as it is pointed--effectively cathartic, though you wouldn't mistake it for Teenage Jesus & the Jerks or anything, with kiss-offs galore. This bill is the opening night of Ladyfest Midwest (see sidebar in this section for a complete schedule of the festival's music programming); the Butchies will back Ray and play their own set. Le Tigre headlines.

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

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