FLYING LUTTENBACHERS 11/28, LOUNGE AX Too persistent to be a joke, too arrogant to be serious, Weasel Walter’s excessively excessive sonic-sabotage project just keeps picking up steam. At their best–which their new Gods of Chaos (Skin Graft) arguably is–the Luttenbachers sound like a high-speed tour-van wreck between Naked City and Fushitsusha while both bands just happen to be listening to a crappy live tape of Fear playing “New York’s Alright if You Like Saxophones.” At their worst, they prove Alan Licht was dead wrong when he wrote that “free music is seemingly incapable of producing an equivalent statement to ‘Bitchin’ Camaro.'” They headline the first night of Skin Graft’s annual weekend-long showcase.
MILLIGRAMS 11/29, SUBTERRANEAN; 12/4, lounge ax Some might say that a band that appears to have based its MO entirely on the Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl” is nobody’s idea of a good time. But Chicago’s Milligrams are to “cloying” what Merzbow is to “loud”–hear the pain, feel the pain, and break on through to the other side. Besides, if they can stand themselves long enough even to rehearse, there must be a superior consciousness at work.
LAS TOALLITAS 11/29, LOUNGE AX While the pleasures of some of the other bands to which members of this combo have contributed (5ive Style, Maestro Subgum & the Whole, Ulele, Uptighty) are undeniable, they don’t exactly promise a comfortable cohesion. But if you don’t make a promise, you can’t break it, and the Toallitas’ shameless shuffle of Latin jazz, traditional Middle Eastern music, funk, and hip-hop is purposefully dizzying. On their second album in six years, Volcano (Melon Melt), they lean a little too heavily on the vibraphone for my taste, but otherwise make a more interesting multiculti stew than most of the other allegedly good-natured world-music dance bands out there. Their frequent collaborator, smoky-voiced songwriter Diane Izzo, opens.
RUINS 11/30, LOUNGE AX Rock versus post-rock, indie versus alternative, music versus sound–the only difference that matters now is between bands that do just what you expect them to and bands that blow away all expectations. The Japanese bass and drums (not to be confused with drum ‘n’ bass) duo Ruins is so invigorating–making giddy lurches through prog, jazz, noise, rock, show-tune flourishes, and the kitchen sink–that its tapes should be sold at the counters of truck stops. Ruins headlines the final night of the Skin Graft festival.
KLEZMER CONSERVATORY BAND 12/1, MEDINAH TEMPLE Leader Hankus Netsky and his ten cohorts, vanguardists in the klezmer revival of the last few decades, have by now settled in at establishment joints like Lincoln Center; last year’s Live in the Fiddler’s House (Angel) found them and three more not-your-father’s-wedding-band bands jamming with none other than Itzhak Perlman. They, Brave Old World, the Klezmatics, and the Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra will recreate this fete here. Personally, though, I prefer the KCB when some star violinist isn’t overwhelming the moving vocals of Judy Bressler and eloquent clarinet of Ilene Stahl, as on the group’s new Dancing in the Aisles (Rounder).
SkULPEY 12/2, BIG HORSE This two-thirds American trio formed in Slovakia but has settled just outside New York. They sent a copy of their latest album, The Chopper (produced by Band of Susans’ Robert Poss), in a gorgeous cloth package, but it must have passed too close to some toxic-waste dump in Newark, ’cause it wouldn’t play. Their first album, Liz (on their own label, Pedigree), is a pleasant-enough slice of nice ‘n’ naughty indie rock; their secret weapon is singer-guitarist Heather Mount, who despite hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, sounds like she’s survived a couple of velvetless revolutions.
CORVUS 12/4 & 11, XOINX TEA ROOM Though all three members of this local trio are classically trained pros quite capable of making their instruments sing like nightingales, their decision to name themselves after the crow family is apt–their woodwind and accordion interplay is far more like the conversation of intelligent scavengers on a cool, gray morning. On their demo tape Kyle Bruckmann, Robbie Hunsinger, and Tim McLoraine leave one another a lot of room and pick freely but sparingly from impressively broad territory that includes European free jazz, contemporary classical, and music from indigenous cultures. On the 11th they’ll be joined by keyboard whiz Jim Baker of Scanbake, Steam, and a jillion happy Lunar Cabaret free-for-alls.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Flying Luttenbachers photo by Greg Gold.