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Spot Check

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BIBLE OF THE DEVIL 9/14, EMPTY BOTTLE This Chicago trio claims to be the salvation of good old "massive" rock 'n' roll...just like every other band that plays this kinda stuff. But hasn't big rock been making a "comeback" for several years now, and did it ever really go away? That quibble registered, Bible of the Devil's new Guts (Icarusdown), recorded "completely live" a couple months ago, is a decent addition to the genre's swelling ranks--singer Mark Hoffmann has obviously paid a few visits to the temple of Bon Scott, classic-sounding (if not particularly memorable) guitar solos crop up like body hair on a teenager, and the songs are agreeably concise (except for the agreeably long last track, an obvious Sabbath nod). Dead Moon, who've been rocking massively for the past 14 years, headline. DEEP BANANA BLACKOUT 9/14, PARK WEST This mildly funky, solo-heavy jam-band stuff must be a lot of fun to play, 'cause there sure are a lot of people playing it these days. Deep Banana Blackout, who have one of the dippiest names in a genre with a lot of competition, aren't as egregiously wanky as you'd expect, and the singer, Hope Clayburn (who also plays saxophones and flute), can really sing--though with eight members fighting for elbow room on the new Feel the Peel (on Flying Frog, the label run by Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks), she doesn't get to do so as often or as prominently as one would hope. SYSTEM OF A DOWN 9/14, ALLSTATE ARENA With Rage Against the Machine out of commission, there's an opening in the marketplace for political rhythm metal, and these southern California dudes have been groomed to fill it. Their second album, Toxicity (American), is subtle as a fart in an oxygen tent, intended for play at a volume to match the tongue-lashings about overpopulation ("Tell the people that arrive / We don't need to multiply"), tha police ("Peaceful loving youth against the brutality / Of plastic existence / Pushing little children / With their fully automatics"), and (I think) drug addiction ("My tapeworm tells me where to go / Pull the tapeworm out of your ass, hey"). And front man Serj Tankian, an Armenian born in Beirut and brought to LA as a child, and his bandmates proudly represent the Armenian immigrant community on their Web site (which features lots of info and creepy photos from the 1915 Armenian genocide) if not on their record. For all the vaunted variety of their influences, mostly what I hear is fairly generic aggro--not my cup of miso, but I'm glad to hear the Limp Bizkits of the world are getting some competition from folks who've really found something to get pissed about. Slipknot headlines. TOILET BOYS 9/15, DOUBLE DOOR A pet peeve: contemporary rocker boys who cop the sound but not the look of classic glam rock. Glam was as much about the appearance of sexual ambiguity as it was about the music--specifically men looking like women, or at least like men in an obscene amount of makeup--and even if that's no longer quite so shocking, it's still kind of a turn-on. Anyway, if you're wondering how to do it right, see New York's Toilet Boys, whose lead singer--name o' Guy--is the spitting image of the babelicious flaming creatures who used to lurk on Saint Mark's Place before the Lower East Side was overrun by khakis and baseball caps. As for where they belong on the glam spectrum musically: their economical tunes put them closer to the New York Dolls than T. Rex, but the trebly production, fleet-fingered solos, and fearless use of cowbell on their first full-length, Toilet Boys (Masterplan), put them closer to Motley Crue than either. YAYHOOS 9/19, ABBEY PUB Southern rock is another form that's constantly undergoing a revival--and with song titles like "Bottle and a Bible," "Get Right With Jesus," and "Monkey With a Gun," the Yayhoos' new album, Fear Not the Obvious (Bloodshot), is aptly titled indeed. What separates this quartet from the pack, though, isn't just the all-star lineup--Dan Baird from the Georgia Satellites, roots-rock producer Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Keith Christopher of Shaver and Kenny Wayne Shepherd's band, and Terry Anderson of the Backsliders. Like so many bands, the Yayhoos take Lynyrd Skynyrd as the standard; unlike too many bands, they seem to realize that Ronnie Van Zant was a wit and a pop genius. As a result they end up sounding something like a country-fried Cheap Trick, which is by no means a bad thing. B-SIDE PLAYERS 9/20, The Vic Too tight to be casual, too loose to be rousing, this southern California band's fusion of funk, jazz, and Latin rhythms is inoffensive--with the possible exception of "Souldier," the weird combo of gruff, declamatory rapping and loungey soul jazz that kicks off their new album, Movement (Surfdog). The collection revamps tunes from the band's previous self-released records with help from special guest Mike Clark (a former member of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters whose own group, Prescription Renewal, headlines this show), and adds a talky, turntablized cover of War's "Spill the Wine" for good measure. EX-GIRL 9/20, EMPTY BOTTLE Permit me to run wild with a metaphor for a minute: When critics call music "pure pop," they often mean it's like cotton candy--sweet while it lasts, but definitely fleeting. Japan's Ex-Girl, though, is more like a Tootsie Pop: it takes some diligence to get to the center, but for your trouble you're rewarded by something you can really sink your teeth into. The all-female trio, yet another entry in the long, honorable history of bands claiming to be from another planet, is newly signed to Mike Patton's Ipecac label, and its latest album, Back to the Mono Kero, is a rich, dense, joyous retrofuturistic mess: shameless B-52's worship, buzzy, cocky new-wave chords, and a sublime cover of M's "Pop Muzik."

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