SUGAR 11/4, ARAGON Sugar’s new album File Under: Easy Listening (Rykodisc) proves that Bob Mould’s songwriting ability is as hook-strong as ever. But his band is still remarkably one-dimensional. “Company Book,” the one song not written by Mould (credit goes to bassist David Barbe), fits seamlessly into the leader’s formula: loud but highly processed guitars glopped on top of sweet, catchy melodies, and lyrics that dwell on relationships. Sugar make a nice racket, but Mould’s past with Husker Du and his ambitious but failed solo albums found him searching for something more substantive. Magnapop and Velocity Girl, both honey-dappled and vacuous, open. CORKY SIEGEL’S CHAMBER BLUES 11/5, ORCHESTRA HALL Best known for his harp blowing in the Siegel-Schwall Band, Corky Siegel has flirted with the fusion of classical music and the blues since the 60s, instigating collaborations with both Seiji Ozawa and William Russo. In support of his new album on Alligator, Siegel, who also plays pretty good piano, joins up with the West End String Quartet and tabla player/percussionist Frank Donaldson to perform original works with titles like “Unfinished Jump (Opus 13 From the Chamber Blues Suite)” and “Concerto for 2nd Violin (Opus 9).” The combination sounds as strange as it seems, and the vocally rooted blues element stretches to meet the instrumental and decidedly prim classical element with predictably dry results. When the tablas enter the mix things really get weird. Saffire–the Uppity Blues Women and Cephas & Wiggins also perform. JUNED 11/5, RIVIERA, 11/6, METRO This Seattle quartet plays a pleasing if unspectacular crisp, melody-sodden rock. On its self-titled debut, Juned blends pairs of bright guitars and keening voices, often in precise lockstep, though things get more compelling when one of the elements steps out of line. The coloristic guitars and nice vocal harmonies sound a lot like Jale’s, but Juned seems more intent on rocking out than those lush Canadians. Opening for Dinosaur Jr and Come. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS 11/7 & 8, vic The duo who’ve made quirky pop music profitable over the long haul have revamped things with their new album, John Henry (Elektra): they’ve ditched their old drum machine and expanded to a six-piece that includes former Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone. With the personnel change have come musical changes, and core members John Linnell and John Flansburgh are traversing their broadest turf yet. Unfortunately, the band’s deliberately goofy approach continues apace; “Snail Shell” may be a catchy, pleasantly rocking ditty, but many of the new album’s 20 songs are steeped in a low-rent dilettantism that combines unusual subject matter (“Meet James Ensor, Belgium’s famous painter”) with cheesy genre hopping. And there remains the problem of Linnell’s extremely limited singing abilities, which he continues to exploit with his persona as the nerdy guy. Frank Black opens. C.C. ADCOCK 11/9, SCHUBAS Lafayette native C.C. Adcock is steeped in the rich musical lore of Louisiana swamp country, and on his eponymous debut on Island Records he filters this knowledge through a modern sensibility. He covers tunes by Cookie & the Cupcakes and Warren Storm as well as related non-Louisiana artists like Bo Diddley and Arthur Alexander, but his music is drenched in the influences of Cajun master Nathan Abshire, zydeco champ Boozoo Chavis, and the murky blues that dominated the Excello Records stable (Lightning Slim, Slim Harpo, et al). While Adcock amps up the sound, he thankfully avoids supplanting the magic rhythms with stifling rock beats.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/T. O’Shana.