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D4 3/28, EMPTY BOTTLE The Flying Nun label, New Zealand's premier purveyor of rock for two decades now, has been cultivating these four loud and good-looking kids for the world market, shipping 'em out for successful tours of Japan and Australia. Now signed to Hollywood Records, which just released the band's debut full-length, 6Twenty, in the U.S., the D4 are setting their sights on the western hemisphere. There are worse contenders out there, but it's hard to imagine Radio Birdman, whom this group obviously strives to emulate, lobbying fans to vote their video onto MTV, or getting all prissy and preachy about the superiority of vinyl over CD. WARREN ZEVON TRIBUTE 3/28, NEVIN'S LIVE Not very many people live to enjoy their own wake, but Warren Zevon, who's still kicking despite a diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer, has been feted all over the place in recent months. Letterman devoted an entire show to him; now a crop of local artists is getting in on the action, celebrating the author of "Werewolves of London" and "Excitable Boy," who's had a three-decade career as a songwriter's songwriter. This was originally intended to be a one-night affair, but the rush of artists clamoring to participate made a second show necessary. Friday's lineup includes Jay Bennett & Edward Burch, Ike Reilly, Pearly Sweets, and Larry O. Dean; Thursday's show features Robbie Fulks, Michael McDermott, and Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel. PALOMAR 3/29, BEAT KITCHEN Palomar are a mostly female outfit from New York who wear their early-Eno-lovin' hearts on their swiftly strummin' sleeves. Though there's nothing I'd call thrilling on Palomar II (Self-Starter Foundation), the band's craftsmanship and care are far above the punk-pop norm. The songs are tight and taut, and played as if coffee were always free everywhere. Gogol Bordello, who hail from the eastern European and Israeli immigrant communities of NYC and whose rowdy interpretations of Slavic, Jewish, and Gypsy sounds are notorious, were originally slated to headline. Alas, as this column went to press the word went out that guitarist Oren Kaplen had seriously injured his hand and the band canceled three shows, including this one. SCENE CREAMERS 3/29, FIRESIDE BOWL This Drag City supergroup didn't really have to go through the trouble of making a record to get our attention--they'd already generated a bunch of chatter just by playing a few dates last fall. But make a record they did: I Suck on That Emotion, a note-perfect exercise in freaky, hairy psychedelic funk, right down to the heavy pedal abuse. Guitorturer Alex Minoff (Golden) and bassist Michelle Mae (the Frumpies, the Make-Up), whose every thick, rubbery note is audible in the mix, conjure up an ideal Boschian playground for Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up) to warble through. Overall it sounds rather like Sir Lord Baltimore with a little bit o' soul. At an unadvertised performance on New Year's Eve, new drummer Chris Turco corralled the tunes far more stridently than his predecessor does on the disc. KINGS OF LEON 3/30, SCHUBAS The four Followill brothers hail from Tennessee and were raised on the road by their daddy, a traveling preacher--so naturally they're hyped as the latest wrinkle in southern rock. But though their rhythms do lean back just so and brother Caleb does drawl, the Kings of Leon's debut EP, Holy Roller Novocaine (RCA), is mostly straight-up garage; the smidgen of boogie I can detect sounds like it was copped from Golden Earring. The band's sure to outclass most of its surgically altered rock relations if it should ever make it to mainstream radio. But down here in Indieville, where music has never entirely sucked, we've got plenty else to keep us satisfied. ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, IKARA COLT 3/30, METRO This year San Diego's Rocket From the Crypt celebrates the tenth anniversary of its first album--when the Stones had been together this long, they were arguably at the zenith of their powers and just about to begin a protracted decline that culminated in utter caca. (They were also becoming the subject of numerous magazine articles gasping about how they were all, shockingly, over 30.) No signs of impending decay on RFTC's latest, a studio album deceptively entitled Live From Camp X-Ray (Vagrant), just furious rock 'n' roll--in fact, they're sounding better than they did on Interscope in the late 90s. Also on the bill is Ikara Colt, the dark, young, pretty British buzz band that everyone from NME to Pitchfork claims is everything the Strokes could have been. If only that were higher praise. (Three of the fellas from RFTC will be playing with Sonny Vincent of the Testers later that night at Beat Kitchen. Bring your Metro ticket stub and get two bucks off.) OH BEAST! 4/3, FIRESIDE BOWL Austin's Zulu as Kono was starting to earn considerable admiration outside its hometown when the band broke up last summer, and some of its members have already started tunneling out of the grave. Three Zulus plus one newcomer equals Oh Beast!, a gravelly postprog band that released its debut EP on Perverted Son last fall. The new group's not as prone to drawn-out excess as Zulu, but it's every bit as willing to unnerve.

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