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“Impossible things before breakfast,” sing Big Dippers Bill Goffrier and Gary Waliek. What seems impossible is selling records for this more-than-deserving band, whose major-label debut, Slam, seems to have just sunk. Too bad: the lead track, “Love Barge” (Love Barge?), is my radio rave-up pick of the year. Some years ago, the Big Dipper hook was that it was sort of an indie supergroup, with former members of Dumptruck, the Volcano Suns, and the Embarrassment; now the hook is that the band has put out three good (Heavens, Slam) to great (Craps) records and still can’t get arrested. The brainy foursome features two strong guitarists in Goffrier (who’s more melodic and tasteful) and Waliek (who’s kind of a maniac); the pair’s harmonies, sometimes aching, more often plangent, wrap around the slightly off-kilter songs (most everyone in the band writes, in various combinations) to create a decidedly unpure pop for smart people. The Sneetches are a San Francisco threesome who put out plain old pure pop for everybody: this is a band almost all of whose music can be directly traced back to either “Itchycoo Park” or “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” (They’re also appearing Saturday, 5 PM, at Pravda Records, 3728 N. Clark; 549-3776.) And the Slugs are more fun than laughing. Saturday, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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