ATARI TEENAGE RIOT 8/29, NEW WORLD MUSIC THEATRE I understand that in this trio’s native Germany there are problems with neo-Nazi ravers; this is hard to imagine in suburban America, where most of the big-pants kids think Himmler has something to do with lunch meat. Which is probably why the thick slabs of pure and disturbingly nonspecific rage on Atari Teenage Riot’s Beastie Boys-sponsored Burn, Berlin, Burn!–which, despite the hype, is functionally indistinguishable from late-80s industrial thrash–tend to lose something in the translation. And the Riot boys and girl are gonna look pretty silly leaping around under their trademark strobes at the giant World, where the quickest way to cause a riot is to run out of free Q101 beer-can huggies. They open for Rage Against the Machine and the Wu-Tang Clan.
MY SCARLET LIFE, EGGS@8:14 8/29, BEAT KITCHEN The press kit looks to be the product of many slaphappy Dumpster dives behind the Paper Source, and it’s more memorable than My Scarlet Life’s music–the electronics sound like warmed-over bits from sucky Shriekback records, and the pretty girl voices pass through like cheap burritos. They headline this DivaNation label showcase supported by Eggs@8:14, whose tinny Zeppelin edge manages to cancel out my natural weakness for violas. They’ve sent me no less than three copies of their CD, and I’ve listened to every one of them because I’m an optimist.
SIX FINGER SATELLITE 8/29, FIRESIDE BOWL Equal parts manic guitar rockers and kinetic synth tweakers, these guys can sound like a high-tech Big Black and a lycanthropic Devo in the course of a single tune. Even when they strut their sleazy new-wave disco skills (“Coke and Mirrors,” from their latest, Paranormalized, on Sub Pop), they’re fierce. I’m hoping this bill, which also includes the always delightful sound manglers U.S. Maple, will clear my palate of this week’s stale indie angst.
CALEXICO 8/30, Schubas These Arizona eclecticists–now a trio, with Giant Sand vets Joey Burns and John Convertino joined by Convertino’s wife, Tasha Bundy, though she’s not on this tour–stole snatches of folk, mariachi, country, garage, surf, western swing, waltz, and half a dozen other evocative genres to construct their new Spoke (Quarterstick). It’s a big-sky soundscape drawn from perceptions of place as much as any physical landscape, a dream realm like the settings for Dead Man and Gas Food Lodging. The fleetingness of the tunes (most of the 19 on Spoke are under three minutes) gives the impression of whispers from the subconscious, but every so often a solid rocker will reach out and grab you by the ear. If Calexico keeps this up, it might just give country rock a good name again.
NUMBER ONE CUP 8/30, LOUNGE AX; 9/3 Double Door There’s nothing to dislike about this Chicago band’s second album, Wrecked by Lions (Flydaddy); it’s shimmery, flexible pop that can turn on a dime when it sees a cliche coming. But the real jewel among Number One Cup’s recent releases is “Milk for the Mechanics”/”The Tongue of 2 A.M.,” a split single with Red Red Meat on which each band improvises a startlingly out jam around the sound of a distorted cowbell. If you go–and you could do worse–make sure to request it.
TSUNAMI 9/2, Fireside Bowl; 9/3, LOUNGE AX While the politics of Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson’s Simple Machines label are impeccable, that only makes me wish all the harder that the indie pop they make as Tsunami weren’t so by-the-numbers. On their aggressively background A Brilliant Mistake, good intentions (and a guest cast of Chicago credibility merchants) dutifully pave the way to purgatory. My caffeine consumption this year has doubled thanks to bands like this, and I fear that the amount of money that I’ve funneled to the great Satan Starbucks may actually negate their righteousness in the grand scheme of things.
SONORA PINE 9/4, EMPTY BOTTLE Sonora Pine are kin to Rodan, Retsin, and June of 44–though obviously from the quiet and shady side of the Louisville family tree. Their new II (Quarterstick) is a near perfect mix of bubble bath and muddy water, a gentle moroseness woven from guitars, drums, violin, and Tara Jane O’Neil’s veiled vocals, which in places recall Kendra Smith’s. All the ingredients show a Victorian restraint in not stepping on the others’ toes. Come to think of it, it’ll be a somber night at the Empty Bottle, with Low competing for restraint supremacy.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Sonora Pine photo by Noel Hawley.