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Spot Check

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DAVE EDMUNDS, MARSHALL CRENSHAW 6/7 & 6/8, ABBEY PUB Neither one of these guys deserved to fade away with new wave: Marshall Crenshaw hasn't released an album of new material since 1999, but he's at work on one with members of Sex Mob and the Jazz Passengers. In 2000 Rhino reissued his first album and compiled This Is Easy! The Best of Marshall Crenshaw, and last year the King Biscuit folks released the live album I've Suffered for My Art...Now It's Your Turn. The cynical cult hero is on the road with a bona fide legend, Dave Edmunds--a refreshingly humble major talent who in the biographical notes on his Web site sounds as excited as a teenager to get to play with Les Paul and devotes as much space to his love affair with early rock 'n' roll as to his reputation-making years with Brinsley Schwarz and Nick Lowe. He's even less prolific than Lowe (who comes to Chicago next month) or Crenshaw these days, but then it wasn't quantity that we loved these guys for in the first place, was it? HACKENSAW BOYS 6/7, FITZGERALD'S; 6/8, HIDEOUT Sometimes I entertain myself by imagining what it would be like if the old-timey craze really caught on--Winnetka and Westchester County teenagers would demand General Lee-style Dodge Chargers and rusty pickup trucks instead of SUVs from their parents and rent John Sayles's Matewan over and over to learn the dialect--street would be out, holler would be in. This might not be so far-fetched as you'd think: the Hackensaw Boys, ten hell-raisers from Charlottesville, Virginia (which is sort of, as the press release claims, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains...but it's a college town, folks), are booked on this summer's Unlimited Sunshine package tour along with Cake, the Flaming Lips, De La Soul, Modest Mouse, and Kinky. That train rolls into the area in August, but from their new self-released CD, Keep It Simple, I'd wager these boys can throw down wickedly in a small room too: in their fierce and tangy fiddle-driven originals, they never seem to forget for a millisecond that what they're playing is above all dance music. DIANOGAH 6/8, METRO For the new Millions of Brazilians (Southern), this local trio swapped the more straightforward production of Steve Albini for the studio-as-instrument approach of John McEntire, and as a result they sound more than ever like Tortoise's answer to that Man or Astro-man? clone-band project. They still have some of the best song titles ever, though: "Pinata Oblongata" is the clear winner here. The Poster Children headline. SHANA MORRISON 6/8, FITZGERALD'S; 6/9, ABBEY PUB The penultimate track on Shana Morrison's new 7 Wishes (Vanguard) is called "God Must Love Me," and indeed, not too many young songbirds get Sonny Landreth to play slide guitar and Van Morrison to sing on their second album...oh, wait, Van's her old man. She has the thick, soulful, swoopy family pipes, but the upbeat folk rock she and her band, Caledonia, purvey seems a tad too confident in that divine adoration--especially when you remember how far out Van was willing to climb on an emotional limb. (Feeling spiritually complacent? A couple spins of Saint Dominic's Preview will fuck you right back up.) Whether it's the case or not, Shana sure sounds like she's always had something plush to land on--but maybe as yet another kid who's less radical than her parents, she qualifies as some sort of generational spokesperson. TRANS AM 6/12, METRO I've always had my reservations about this D.C. band--they act like they're drunk in David Bowie's old wardrobe, parading around in one sound after another and then tossing them aside. Their various fusions of Krautrock and hair metal have certainly been entertaining--good enough for one good night if not a full-fledged commitment. But their new TA (Thrill Jockey) skips the stadium crunch in favor of a straighter strain of the machine-cold but pretty electronic music that started somewhere around Kraftwerk and the Yellow Magic Orchestra and reached its hit-making peak around about New Order. And except for the occasional clumsy nod to hip-hop, they stick to this story and make it soar. !!! 6/13, EMPTY BOTTLE Too many art-school kids drawn to dance music get so caught up in theoretical trappings that they forget about more basic requirements--if the musicians don't seem to enjoy the music on a purely physical level, chances are no one else will either. But this Sacramento septet (the name is to be pronounced "chik chik chik, bang bang bang, pow pow pow, or any other repetitive sound times three") charmed a lot of people with their playful, shaggy, and fundamentally funky debut on GSL (complete with plausible horn arrangements and inspirational lines like "LSD taught me a lot about me"), including Touch and Go owner Corey Rusk--the label will be putting out a 12-inch this summer and a full-length later on.

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

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