CALVIN KRIME 8/21, EMPTY BOTTLE Another good noisy angry band bites the dust at the height of its powers: this Minneapolis trio’s parting shot, You’re Feeling So Attractive (Amphetamine Reptile), lurches nicely between train-wreck speed and mud-slogging slow, luring the kiddies in with a hint of sweetness and then knocking them back ten feet with a blast from the speakers. Braid and Lustre King coheadline; We Ragazzi, who have just released a very promising first seven-inch, open with intricate blasts of deep-sea riff funk.

DISHWALLA 8/21, MARTYRS’ There’s a disturbing tendency in alt-rock that disturbs me more all the time: the elevation of solipsism to high Hollywood melodrama, the spectacle of thousands of arms doing the wave to great building sweeps of guitar while thousands of mouths scream screeds of sophomoric profundity like “When you close your eyes / Do you like what you see?” from the second track on Dishwalla’s second album, And You Think You Know What Life’s About (A&M). The bio promises that the record is the result of three years in a van being exposed to “new cultures and lifestyles [that] expanded the band’s previously myopic world view,” but also that lead sensitive soul J.R. Richards found “much more time to dwell on personal issues in my life”–to the great relief of those who find Billy Corgan too restrained, I’m sure.

NATTY NATION 8/21, WILD HARE With all those self-absorbed Dishwalla types sweating over whether it’s better to be an innie or an outie, Natty Nation’s message of unity and siblinghood (even “those who pirate this music” are asked simply to “Spread Jah message” in the page of thanks and praises in the liner notes to the band’s second album, Earth Citizen) is a breath of fresh ganja-scented air. The Wisconsin quintet’s relentlessly positive messages about Jah, love, and children, singsong sung over upbeat reggae pop spiced with psychedelic guitar, are nothing new. But its faith in music as a means of bringing folks together is almost a bold act of defiance in this niche-marketed age.

SLAYER 8/21, ARAGON What with the signing to Rick Rubin’s American label, the massive press blitz, and the very 90s graphics on the new Diabolus in Musica, it really really looked like this long-sweating ubermetal band was “trying to reach a wider audience,” and you know what that means. But they didn’t do it–not one cheap track here to turn your skin green. I know I’m relieved.

SHONEN KNIFE 8/22, RECKLESS ON BROADWAY & DOUBLE DOOR Lots of grown-up women find an energizing girls-just-wanna-have-fun joy in the Spice Girls, and I’m not gonna piss on their parade–but I prefer my girl power a little more raw. That’s why the soft spot in my heart is reserved for this surprisingly long-lived Japanese trio. The new Happy Hour (Big Deal) is the band’s most consistent and listenable album in years, and perhaps ever, with more unrelentingly cute songs about fish and food (“Banana chips for you! Banana chips for me! In the afternoon, banana chips and tea”) powered by Ramonesy crunch and cheery 60s pop rhythms. And the straight-up version of the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” that closes the album is sheer ear candy, a tooth-rotting, hyperactivity-inducing elixir of eternal youth.

BOBBY CONN 8/25, HOTHOUSE Local musician and performance artist Bobby Conn’s second full-length, Rise Up (on Truckstop/Atavistic, or Thrill Jockey if you prefer vinyl), is a demonically addictive Antichrist Superstar song cycle that makes millennial anxiety fun again–Conn’s is a magical world in which every conspiracy theory is true but nobody gives a shit. Musically he goes in for an attention-keeping melange of show-tune pomposity and avant-garde edginess, played by a cast of dozens and arranged with violinist Julie Pomerleau and producer Jim O’Rourke; it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a good old-fashioned concept album with this kind of loving attention to detail. At this CD-release party, expect the whole gang to be in evidence. Monologuist Cheryl Trkyv and one-man band the Lonesome Organist open.

JEAN SMITH 8/25 & 26, park west The Indigo Girls’ Suffragette Sessions package tour is in some ways what Lilith Fair should have been, with a boldly chosen roster of female musicians who are very likely to piss off one another’s fans. The set I’d make the biggest effort to catch is that of Vancouver singer and writer Jean Smith, who for years has fronted the duo Mecca Normal (with guitarist David Lester) and the occasional trio 2 Foot Flame (with multi-instrumentalist Peter Jefferies and Dead C and Gate guiterrorist Michael Morley). Her performances with those bands are alternately shrill and sweet, reassuringly rock ‘n’ roll and jarringly avant-garde, but always confrontational. She’s also the author of two surreal and hilarious books of fiction, and for this appearance we have been warned to “expect literature.” Among the other performers on the ten-act bill are Come’s Thalia Zedek, the otherworldly Jane Siberry, the Puerto Rican new traditionalist Lourdes Perez, the whiny Lisa Germano, and the matronly Ann Wilson.

MINIM 8/27, LOUNGE AX This local trio, which features veterans of the Smoothies, Gloryhounds, and Mr. Furley, hasn’t contributed any new tricks to the simulated-vertigo crunch-rock bag, but it certainly doesn’t do the tradition any damage either. Its brand-new seven-inch on Dyslexic, which this show celebrates, contains two meaty helpings of the stuff, kept fresh largely by the salty bass of Jenn Solheim, who also has the most riveting stage presence of the three, wailing and thumping and generally looking impatient with anyone whose energy level is lower than hers. Unfortunately, that’s usually everyone. –Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Calvin Krime photo.