HOYLE BROTHERS 6/25 & 6/27, EMPTY BOTTLE There's nothing "alt" about this Chicago country band except its choice of venues: in 2002 these guys started playing a regular Friday happy-hour gig at the Hideout, and since last year they've been doing the same thing at the Empty Bottle (where they recently added a Sunday-afternoon set). Their forthcoming full-length debut, Back to the Door (Loose Booty), has a clean, unfussy honky-tonk sound that would've been right at home in Nashville four decades ago; the music is resigned but proud, like a battered old pair of boots with a fresh shine. But I'm still not sure what connection most of this band's audience could have to a song like "Trucker's Life"--I guess maybe urban hipsters in gas-station gimme caps like to think about being a trucker as a metaphor for something else. These shows are the Hoyles' usual weekly dates; the official release party for Back to the Door is July 30 at Martyrs'. LOST TRAILERS 6/25, ABBEY PUB Heartland rock, with its squinty-eyed sentimentality and small-town pride, is romantic almost by definition, but this Georgia band's Welcome to the Woods (Universal) takes it clear over the top--it's like John Cougar Mellencamp by way of Pearl Jam. Not surprisingly, people are eating it up. The Lost Trailers have already been on Mountain Stage and opened for Willie Nelson--uncritical stoners everywhere are waving their arms over their heads to this stuff, even though all the best bits on the album are stolen from the Band, Marshall Tucker, and the Long Ryders. THEE SHAMS 6/25, METRO & Reckless on broadway Please Yourself is this Cincinnati band's second full-length and its first for Fat Possum. The sound here isn't prehistoric Mississippi trance blues, though, but rabid, maniacal white-boy R & B with its roots stretching back about as far as 1965. Think Them and Shadows of Knight and early Animals, but much more ragged; it ain't pretty, but it works. "If You Gotta Go" might be the raunchiest Dylan cover ever. At Metro the M's open; Spoon headlines. WASHINGTON SOCIAL CLUB 6/25, BOTTOM LOUNGE This D.C. band's full-length debut, Catching Looks (Badman), is clever, hooky pop with an emotional thrust that doesn't trigger a gag reflex. They seem to understand that even the catchiest melodies can sound lifeless if they're polished too perfectly--there's an endearing human quality to their music, from the unmanicured voices to the playful fake Britishness coloring their Yankee new wave. I really only have one gripe: If their press materials are gonna make such a big thing of bassist and singer Olivia Mancini playing the French horn before she decided she "wanted to rock," then I'm gonna want to hear more of her rocking with that French horn. GOOD LOOKS 6/26, HIDEOUT I guess a fringe benefit of not being trendy is that you can't fall out of fashion. Looking at their scruffy mugs in their promo photo and listening to their debut, Let the Needle Drop (Victim), I can imagine this Austin band plugging away in just about any era post-1965: their music is sensible, comfy-shoe rock loosely based in R & B. They're clearly aiming for the stylistic diversity of a singles machine like the late-60s Stones, and though they aren't quite there, it's hard to resist tapping your foot--and really, why would you want to? PRIMUS 6/26, ARAGON Primus knows which side its bread is buttered on: the fans coming out to see the band now want to hear the old stuff, and that's what they'll get. For the Hallucino-Genetics Tour, its second "reunion" jaunt in less than a year (with the original lineup), the trio will play two full sets--one a grab bag of Primus favorites, the other 1990's Frizzle Fry in its entirety (a gimmick bassist and singer Les Claypool seems to have gotten hooked on in 2001, when his Frog Brigade did a song-by-song remake of Pink Floyd's Animals). Some people who saw last year's Tour de Fromage (when Sailing the Seas of Cheese got the same treatment) say the shows don't actually re-create the track sequence of the records--but you're still pretty much guaranteed three hours of goofy, bug-eyed Primus prog. PEDRO THE LION 6/28 & 29, ABBEY PUB; 6/29, RECKLESS ON BROADWAY I don't think David Bazan's fans pay to hear him sounding as assured as he does on Pedro the Lion's Achilles Heel (Jade Tree). He's developed an easy confidence with his dark materials--and when an indie songwriter sings about frailty, longing, and tragedy, you want to hear him struggling with the words. On "Foregone Conclusions" and "Start Without Me" Bazan seems relaxed and aloof, like Morrissey minus the eccentricity. In addition to the new record, he'll be selling a six-song EP that's half covers; a DVD that will feature footage from this tour is in the works. STAN RIDGWAY 6/29, SCHUBAS Wall of Voodoo veteran Stan Ridgway is 50, believe it or not, and the new Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads & Fugitive Songs (Redfly) is his seventh solo release. It's a very loose sort of concept album, its 16 songs unified by a fascination with being on the road. They're all propulsive story-songs with plenty of odd local color (imagine Tom Waits, circa Rain Dogs, with a little more melodic focus). "Talkin' Wall of Voodoo Blues Pt. 1" is a sad, funny retelling of his old band's rise and fall: "We played a show for 40 grand / And the manager took every cent." (In other words, yell for "Mexican Radio" if you must, but you'll look like a jackass.) STOCKHOLM SYNDROME 7/1, METRO This new quintet, convened by Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools and Jackmormons front man Jerry Joseph, plays anthemic, cathartic jam-band music that seems to take a strangely wholesome pleasure in its relentlessly downbeat tone. The group's debut, Holy Happy Hour (Terminus), is full of lines like "a sack full of hearts soaked in gin" and "I'm underwhelmed by emotion as you crucify me." Listening to a whole album of this stuff is like eating too much rich food, but one at a time these tunes can be effective: any one of them could pluck the same heartstring that makes some folks cry at old Journey songs.