EDWIN McCAIN 9/29, OTIS’ A protege of Hootie & the Blowfish leader Darius Rucker, Charleston’s Edwin McCain peddles the same heart-on-sleeve cardboard sentiments as his mentor, within an equally sleepy folk-rock setting. “Solitude,” the first single off his bland debut, Honor Among Thieves (Lava/Atlantic), is a weepy duet with Rucker that seems to be about a mother who locks away one of her sons in their dank basement after she catches him guzzling Sterno in the kitchen. The tune’s narrator is the miscreant’s sad brother, who gently chastises mom for taking away the poor thirsty kid’s childhood just ’cause he made one little mistake. Most of the other songs are about love, friends, the suburbs, and the like. LOS FABULOSOS CADILLACS 9/29, ARAGON On its recent Rey azucar (Sony Discos) this nine-member combo from Argentina plays a high energy form of ska but eagerly tosses in dashes of straight reggae, dancehall, salsa, new-wave rock, and Parisian cafe music, along with plenty of other seemingly incongruous sounds. Under the able production of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz they manage to balance audacity with artistic credibility, even on their bizarre cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” BEAT FARMERS 9/30, DOUBLE DOOR A decade ago this San Diego combo was a prime mover on the college-rock roots scene. Still plugging away after thousands of gigs at dives devoted to postcollegiate behavorial inertia (such as Chicago’s late Biddy Mulligan’s, the band’s usual stop in town), they’ve teamed up with superior spiritual brethren the Blasters to tour in support of their new album Manifold (Sector 2). They still dabble in country here and there, such as on the tune they dare to call “Country Western Song,” but most of their songs, like the moronic “Beer Ain’t Drinkin’,” are predictable bar-band maneuvers aimed straight at an audience that understands where the Beat Farmers are coming from. MUDSHARKS 9/30, ELBO ROOM This Reno combo calls the stuff it puts out “progressive ska.” I guess that means the same old shit tempered with flourishes of styles as exotic as rock, lounge jazz, and punk. The spine virtually tingles. KEPONE 9/30, METRO On its second album, Skin (Quarterstick), this Richmond trio continues to churn out grinding hard rock that alternates between the noisy, nonfunk extremes of Austin’s legendary Big Boys and the ferocious, angular attacks of left-leaning metal. Featuring former Honor Roll drummer Seth Harris and Gwar bassist Michael Bishop, Kepone’s music, a combination of numerous punk-rock strains, is slowly congealing into something distinctive. Pegboy headline. ELLIS PAUL 10/1, OLD TOWN SCHOOL On his recent, accurately named Stories (Philo) Boston singer-songwriter Ellis Paul delivers contemporary folk rock in the current AOR mold. It’s sweetly melodic, familiar, and largely dependent on Paul’s narratives. Putting a novel twist on the NRA’s favorite assertion, the odd “Autobiography of a Pistol” closes with the line “Guns don’t kill people, bullets do.” If we banned ammunition, people could keep bazookas in their glove compartments. Cool. PRICK 10/1 NEW WORLD MUSIC THEATRE What the world doesn’t need now is another Trent Reznor protege, but Kevin McMahon (aka Prick) has arrived anyway. On his not-so-charming eponymous debut he proffers aggressive pop-tinged rock tunes soaked in extraneous noise. His squirmy vocals–think Peter Murphy during his Bauhaus days–provide headliner David Bowie, the progenitor of that sort of quirky singing, with another feeble prop for his tarnished reputation. Prick makes music for people who favor emotional extremes over honesty (or quality, for that matter). Nine Inch Nails also perform. What fun! LIQUORICE 10/2, LOUNGE AX A soft-rock project of Jenny Toomey (Tsunami, Grenadine) and Dan Littleton (Ida), Liquorice transform typical indie-pop machinations into bouts of lush, languorous introspection. On their recent debut, Listening Cap (4AD), they focus on gentle vocal interplay, allowing it to float atop a sumptuous bed of acoustic guitars, elusive keyboards, and the drums of Trey Many (His Name Is Alive). With a few notable exceptions, such as the downright bouncy “Blew It,” most of the tunes opt for an almost static calm. A cover of Franklin Bruno’s “Keeping the Weekend Free” demonstrates what it sounds like when kids raised on punk discover James Taylor, but most of their originals maintain an unsettling tautness. MOTHER HIPS 10/5, CUBBY BEAR This Chico, California, quartet represents the chooglin’ boogie-rock faction of the ever-swelling neohippie ranks. On their second album, Part-Timer Goes Full (American), they eschew simplistic social commentary in favor of Neanderthal babbling. “Shut the Door,” the album’s opener, is a declaration of scorn for an ex-lover that actually contains these elegant lines: “Shut the door when you leave / Because I wouldn’t want you walking in / And see me messing around with my new girlfriend.” Four simple guys that just like beer, rock, and stuff. The show is free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pat Graham.