VELOCITY GIRL, SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATe 7/1, METRO Last year Velocity Girl’s debut album, Copacetic, showed a band struggling to maintain their underground credentials–endangered by the leap from self-released singles to Sub Pop–by toughening-up the singsongy melodies crooned by Sarah Shannon, their My Bloody Valentine-ish noise pop newly soaked in extraneous, melody-destroying grime. On the brand-new Simpatico! (also on Sub Pop) the D.C. quintet has swung back the other way, this time opting for high-gear accessibility. With producer John Porter–known for his work with Roxy Music and the Smiths–at the helm, the album sands away nearly all of the band’s trademark rough noise, leaving just another twee Anglophilic pop band. While the album is sprinkled with some pleasantly catchy tunes, it’s telling that most of the press on the band celebrates their commercial potential rather than the music. On their just-released debut Diary (Sub Pop) openers Sunny Day Real Estate reflect a similar interest in noise versus hook tension. Adding intense dynamics to their off-kilter melodicism, their drum-tight sound typically skims along softly before bounding toward ripping sonic blasts. VIGILANTES OF LOVE 7/2, METRO With Nirvana and Pearl Jam clones jamming the airwaves, mainstream rock bands are ironically becoming the “new” alternative by default. On their recently released fourth album Welcome to Struggleville (Capricorn) Vigilantes of Love reveal themselves to be unabashed mainstream rockers, albeit intelligent, skillful ones. Their music is straight-ahead folk-rock: tuneful, tasteful, polite, and bland. And it’s interesting to note how mainstream rock has thoroughly assimilated this sort of thoughtful quirky pop music–exclusively the terrain of college radio stations back in the 80s, when the Vigilantes’ hometown of Athens, Georgia, was a hotbed of musical creativity. They open for Michael Been & the Call. DAVID HALLEY 7/3, FITZGERALD’S On the final night of the 13th annual American Music Festival, David Halley appears, backed by blustery Austin rockers Loose Diamonds (who also play Saturday). Although usually associated with rootsy Austin-area artists like Joe Ely (who’s covered his tunes) and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (whom he’s played with), singer/songwriter Halley flavors his roots rock with an uncommon literateness and a strong pop melodicism. Though lyrically his narratives reveal the admitted influences of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, in execution his music is more upbeat and exuberant, a clean, crisp, musical drive framing his clear, ringing voice, his melodies blending naturally with ornate little countryish embellishments. Other featured performers on Sunday include John Mooney and fellow Austinites Marcia Ball and Jimmy LaFave. SUICIDAL TENDENCIES 7/3, WORLD Time marches on and so, for more than a decade, have Suicidal Tendencies. Another tour, another album, this one aptly named Suicidal for Life (Epic). They open for men-in-black Metallica and Danzig. PALM FABRIC ORCHESTRA 7/4, LOUNGE AX The full-blown musical circus that is Poi Dog Pondering apparently isn’t enough for Frank Orrall: now there’s Palm Fabric Orchestra to help satisfy his wandering muse. On the collective’s recent debut Vague Gropings in the Slip Stream (Carrot Top), Orrall and various Poi and non-Poi compadres sketch out gentle, sometimes snoozy loose-limbed instrumentals that, while born of a rock mentality, freely travel many disparate stylistic roads. Flavored with hazy ethnic traces, a percolating minimalism (La Monte Young gets a nod for inspiration in the liner notes), and plenty of exotic instruments, Palm Fabric Orchestra makes meditative sound track music for the MTV generation. KILLDOZER 7/7, LOUNGE AX On their latest album, the precisely titled Uncompromising War on Art Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (Touch & Go), longtime Madison grumble-rockers Killdozer have forged a sublime collection of tales about ordinary, backwoodsy Americans set within a ridiculously skewed Marxist perspective. A tune about legendary auto-body paint-job magnate Earl Scheib, whom the band has dubbed “the good capitalist,” celebrates the cigar chomper as a true working-class hero. Absurdity remains Killdozer’s stock-in-trade; what has changed in the band is guitarists. The sludgy rhythms of drummer Dan Hobson and bassist Michael Gerald hold steady for new guitarist Paul Zagoras, who expands Killdozer’s tonal palette with a fat bag of tricks. Bay-area bludgeon rockers Steel Pole Bath Tub open.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John Falls.