KEVIN COYNE 8/16, SCHUBAS Though there is a wholesome European looseness of line about the art of Englishman Kevin Coyne, his wonderful music is strongly rooted in old American weirdness. The painter, poet, fiction writer, occasional actor, and former drug counselor has been at it since the 60s, when he sang white-boy blues in the band Siren; after a hiatus that straddled the 80s and 90s, he’s begun rewarding his long-suffering cult following (which includes Joan Osborne, Nick Cave, and Lou Reed) with regular output again. His latest release, Life Is Almost Wonderful (a limited edition CD you might be able to buy at this show), is a collaboration with Brendan Croker–another British oddball and champion anticareerist who has been in cahoots at various times with the Mekons and Mark Knopfler. A new Coyne LP is due on Ruf Records this fall. COUNTRY TEASERS 8/18, HIDEOUT In a “statement” issued by Scottish terrors the Country Teasers on the Web site of their fourth record label, they swear that “Ludditism is a necessary part of Country Teasers’ way of doing things….Only when all the tools one knows well have been exhausted can one possibly consider wasting an hour on something new.” Their latest release, the odds and sods collection Science Hat Artistic Cube Moral Nosebleed Empire (In the Red), cleans out the closet with 20 tracks of bawdy, infectious electronic-country-garage ramblings (including a barely recognizable cover of Ice Cube’s “We Had to Tear This Motha—– Up”). This is what it would sound like if Mark E. Smith picked a fight with the Cramps in a room full of synthesizers. A new studio outing is promised “as soon as this double LP has sold out.” SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES 8/19, DOUBLE DOOR; 8/20, CHICAGO THEATRE This band began life in the mid-90s as a new incarnation of the legendary Swedish garage-punk band Union Carbide Productions. That outfit sounded uncannily like the Stooges; this aptly named one, on its third album, Behind the Music (released last year by Warner Sweden and distributed in the U.S. by the downstate indie Parasol), steals from a wider variety of sources, like the Stones, Love, the Kinks, and Pink Floyd. You’ve heard everything here before–but every bit most likely summons some crucial emotional point in your young life. Music of the era when the baby boomers were young doesn’t belong to just that particular generation anymore–thanks to the hegemony of the classic-rock paradigm (stop me before I use the word “rockist” in a sentence, please), it’s as likely to have been a formative influence on today’s 30-year-old as it was on today’s 50-year-old. Lord knows that as a tyke I couldn’t have escaped the Kinks on my parents’ stereo or Led Zeppelin on the radio even if I’d wanted to. So this heady, lush, ambitious sort of “retro” hardly feels quaint to me. And judging by the success of acts like Oasis (big Soundtrack of Our Lives fans for whom the Swedes open at the Chicago Theatre), all it takes to be upgraded to “modern” is a hot cash injection. OASIS 8/20, CHICAGO THEATRE There’s a reason these guys are famous: their long-awaited new Heathen Chemistry (Epic) is simply flawless, and I don’t mean that in the plastic sense. While every bit of wrench and scorch and sweet harmony is where it ought to be, everything has a nice scruffy edge to it; Iggy Pop rips (“Force of Nature” nods to “Nightclubbing,” and the riff that opens “Hung In a Bad Place” is shamelessly “No Fun”) that would just be tedious in a more obvious place sound great here. The only thing they don’t wear well, actually, is the whiff of early-80s AOR power balladry that clings to “Little by Little.” And if they lack something like a real sense of danger and surprise, they lack it no more noticeably than any other tuneful rock band out there these days. This show is sold-out. STARS FROM THE MOTION PICTURE THE COMMITMENTS 8/20, ABBEY PUB Eat your heart out, Spinal Tap: the heartfelt and hilarious 1991 film The Commitments was so successful in its portrayal of a band of misfits eking its way out of working-class Dublin by playing soul music that the actor-musicians who played the group on-screen can still spend an average of 30 weeks a year on the road, playing to eager audiences in Europe, Africa, and North America. Their only non-sound track album, the live 1997 release Committed to Soul, features marquee guests like Stax legend Steve Cropper and E Street Band saxist Clarence Clemons, and covers much of the same set you’ll remember from the movie–including a sweetly stiff “In the Midnight Hour” and a “Take Me to the River” stretched to heights of gawkiness that David Byrne never dreamed of. CHERRY VALENCE 8/21, EMPTY BOTTLE This quintet from the pretty college town of Raleigh, North Carolina, gets its ripping, funky, distinctively southern rock sound from dueling lead guitarists and dual drummers who trade off on lead vocals. Just one lonely bass player, but he finds a way to penetrate the din where it counts, neither competing with the guitars nor modestly following the drums but adding his own thick counterpoint. Nobody’s swung hard rock around like this since (and I mean this in the best possible way) Foghat, at least not in the indie garage boutique these guys (and girl) come busting out of. Though their second album, Riffin’ (Estrus), recorded by Tim Green of the Fucking Champs, is purportedly an attempt at capturing their acclaimed live sound, the tones aren’t quite as searing and you can actually make out most of the words. But with its single-minded themes (e.g.,”Hot up in the summertime / Hot down on the stage / But you know I love it / Or I wouldn’t get up to play”) and joyously cheesy cover art (a guitar neck rippling like a country road past telephone poles and into the rising moon), it does succeed as a time capsule from a 1974 that shoulda been.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pennie Smith.