Gene is an amusing scrap of a band from England. Awhile back it seemed as if the Smiths’ lethal combination of affected vocals (basket case Morrissey) and blasting guitars (the obsessive Johnny Marr) would disappear without a trace; now suddenly here’s a band doing exactly the same thing. Only not as well. The Smiths were very good, so Gene isn’t necessarily that bad. Warbler Martin Rossiter is a bit shameless but sincere in his emotions, and he’s occasionally persuasive in his portraits of small-town cruelty (“Sleep Well Tonight”) and alienation (“Left-Handed”). Guitar slinger Steve Mason is similarly something of a shadow of his inspiration, but his willingness to fall back on guitar qua guitar, so to speak, and occasionally create a racket enlivens things nicely. The band goes a little lighter than the Smiths–songs like “Your Love It Lies” and “Truth Rest Your Head” are barely more than melodic whimsy–and of course never touches the level of even the Smiths’ minor classics. Still, it’s a neat trick to create a rock band running on no detectable levels of testosterone these days, and there’s nothing wrong with their tune–um–smithing either. Tuesday, 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.

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