KING KONG, UZ JSME DOMA 12/5, LOUNGE AX We here in America tend to equate traditionalism with sincerity and the avant-garde with cold, calculating intellectualism. But for Czech bands like Uz Jsme Doma, subsisting for years on smuggled Frank Zappa and Residents, to break musical taboos is still truly gutsy, even revolutionary. On its Fairy-Tales From Needland, recently reissued in the U.S. by the D.C. label Skoda, the quintet has created a concept album based on, as lyricist Miroslav Wanek explains, “trying to imagine what it would be like 600 or 700 years from now when people would tell fairy tales based on our experience.” The result is a hyperactive maelstrom of sheer joyful sound, with jazzlike sax bursts and beautiful Slavic choruses rising out of a Pere Ubu-like chug. I missed the band’s last American tour, but reportedly this album comes closer than the previous three to capturing the energy of its live shows. If that’s true, funky Louisville goofballs King Kong, whose recent Kingdom of Kong (Drag City) includes profundities like “Floor, Door, I Don’t Wanna Party Anymore” and a thin rant about Ronald McDonald, could end up looking even sillier than intended.
ROOMFUL OF BLUES 12/5, BUDDY GUY’S LEGENDS There’s only one way to celebrate your inner eggnog lover without making everyone else feel like vomiting, and that’s to keep your tongue so far in cheek that you can’t say “Christmas” without a lisp. Fortunately that’s the approach the nine New Englanders of Roomful of Blues take on their new Roomful of Christmas (Bullseye Blues): they revive little-heard R & B Christmas songs like Fats Domino’s “I Told Santa Claus” with fierce swing and no shopping-mall schmaltz, and their “White Christmas” delightfully isn’t. Toys for Tots will be collecting for needy children.
KELLY 18 12/6, BIG HORSE; 12/11, Fireside bowl This local quartet is sort of like Sonic Youth without the smarts, or Pavement without the sensitivity, or Fugazi without the politics–or rather, with stupid, insensitive politics in which radicalness has something to do with admitting you like porn and Camille Paglia. Which is to say, it’s just a blank space turned up really loud.
O’JEEZ 12/6, DOUBLE DOOR No one at Double Door could tell me exactly what this all-star session will entail, so I’m guessing Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run and Golden Smog), and Jessy Greene (the sizzling fiddler who defected from the Geraldine Fibbers to the Jayhawks earlier this year) don’t know yet themselves. But I wouldn’t put it past them to No Depression-ize a few Bad Company covers. Pirner will also play a solo acoustic set.
SHELTER 12/6, FIRESIDE BOWL Not your typical hardcore coming-of-age story: in 1988, after rising to cult fame as leader of New York straightedge punks Youth of Today, Ray Cappo realized there might be more to life than teetotaling and militant vegetarianism and turned to…Krishna? I myself see Shiva as the most punk rock of the Hindu gods, but I guess he’s not positive enough. Sadly, Cappo’s current outfit, Shelter, which also includes YOT guitarist John Porcell, has been blessed with strictly average pop-punk skills–and sorry, but in the whole of hardcore nobody but the Bad Brains’ H.R. has ever been able to get away with lines even remotely like “Austerity without humility–our source of ruination.”
SEBASTIAN BACH 12/8, HOUSE OF BLUES The band behind the former Skid Row Breck girl on this tour includes the Frogs’ Jimmy Flemion, probably the most talented member of Bach’s recent “supergroup” project, the Last Hard Men. (In case you missed it, that outfit, which also included bad Breeder Kelley Deal and smashed Pumpkin Jimmy Chamberlain, had a moment this summer with its cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on the Scream sound track.) Regardless, expect a shrill evening
of secondhand Axl Rose.
NEAL COTY 12/11, chicago music mart, ABBEY PUB Pointing out how many lame roots rockers there are out there is as easy as shooting sardines in the can. But I’ll spare Baltimore’s Neal Coty, though I’m not sure if it’s because his name evokes Kerouac or because I’m a sucker for Tom Petty and on his debut, Chance and Circumstance (Mercury), Coty’s got the good taste to lift Benmont Tench’s mordant organ sound, which was always the Heartbreakers’ secret weapon.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Neal Coty photo by Nancy Lee Andrews.