Wedding Present, Butterglory 3/22, Double Door Once the standard-bearers in the early days of Brit pop, the Wedding Present have bashed out hopped-up pop for more than a decade. On its recent Mini (Cooking Vinyl)–a six-tune EP that exploits an inconsequential car theme to deliver obsessive love songs–the band continues to sharpen its attack. Over frenzied rhythms and smart guitar play, David Gedge croons an impressive array of hooks with enough eccentricity to make Morrissey sound like a shy mumbler. On its recent Are You Building a Temple in Heaven (Merge), the duo from Visalia, California, known as Butterglory has expanded its rickety pop songs with full instrumentation under the watchful eyes of local pop craftsman Dave Trumfio. The wobbly tunefulness of Matt Suggs and Debbie Vanderwall remains at the fore, but it’s now supported by inventive arrangements, adding nice harmonies and textures beneath the fragile hooks. Remy Zero open. Big Ass Truck 3/23, Otis’ This Memphis combo has translated the semiliterate texts of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for postcollegiate beer swillers still bent on the frat-boy life. On Big Ass Truck’s second album, Kent (Upstart), these reckless genre splicers jumble leaden funk grooves, excessive jamming, tepid hip-hop scratching, and decidedly goofy subject matter–e.g., “Heavy Petting Zoo” and “Dog Chases an Iguana up a Tree and Barks at It All Night (Parts I & II)”–for a blend that’ll clobber the reductive mind of any fun-loving denizen of the H.O.R.D.E. nation. Possum Dixon 3/23, Metro On their second album, Star Maps (Interscope), these perpetually potential pop star pinups from LA shake off some of the cuteness that helped the spastic fools earn a fluke hit in 1994 with the inane “Watch the Girl Destroy Me.” Though peppy melodies are now obscured with darker textures and mild discordance, the most startling change is how once-spritely singer Rob Zabrecky has copped the casual boredom in the delivery of Pavement’s Steve Malkmus. Nevertheless the band remains hopelessly marginal. Material Issue headline. Lou Reed 3/24 Rosemont Theatre “You scream, I steam, we all want egg cream.” Uh, sure Lou, anything you say. Kenny Wayne Shepherd 3/27, Metro A flashy blues-rock guitarist from Shreveport, Louisiana, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has often been compared to his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan. But his debut, Ledbetter Heights (Giant), shows he’s not in the same league with Vaughan or any self-respecting bluesman. First off, Shepherd doesn’t sing–he leaves the task to pretty boy Corey Sterling–and since the blues is a vocal music, he’s merely an adept technician. Second, while his hotshot guitar playing exhibits a thorough knowledge of the music’s conventions, apart from his predictably searing tone and high-note razzle-dazzle, there’s little behind his grandstanding to take note of. On the other hand, he is white and sports a nice head of long blond hair. Opening are the considerably more genuine and enjoyable country rockers the Bottle Rockets, who’ll most likely raise more dust than Shepherd could ever find his way out of. Jordan Patterson 3/28, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera A born and bred Canadian bluesman, Jordan Patterson moved to Washington, D.C., in 1994 to work as a booking agent. Then guitarist Bobby Parker took the singer and harp player under his wing. On his recent debut, Give Me a Chance (JSP), he delivers gritty modern blues and R & B with natural assurance. Guest appearances by Parker and Bobby Rush not only demonstrate some of the 26-year-old musician’s supporters but also illustrate his range, from hard-core Chicago blues to the more modernistic funky kind. This gig marks his local debut. No Knife 3/28, Empty Bottle On their debut, Drunk on the Moon (Goldenrod), No Knife spit out furious rhythms and a punishing guitar attack, embodying the basics of modern-day San Diego punk rock. But there’s not much beneath the precise din. Recorded by Drive Like Jehu’s Mark Trombino, the album offers yet another chunk of proof that much of the city’s characteristic sound is merely a result of a distinctive producer. No Knife are just another block of clay.

–Peter Margasak