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DAS EFX 2/4, OAK THEATRE This hip-hop duo brought its “diggedy” rap to moderate popularity with the 1992 album Dead Serious (East-West), elongating words with meaningless but rhythmic alliteration and drawing on loads of slang. As other rappers adopted their heavily rhythmic, nonsensical dance-hall rhymes, Das EFX were heading straight into novelty obsolescence, but on […]

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EUNICE PLAYBOYS 1/28, FITZGERALD’S, 1/29, PROP THEATRE One of zydeco’s preeminent combos, singer, accordionist, and fiddle player John Delafose’s tight-knit family band offers a pair of performances without its ailing longtime leader. Taking his place will be son Geno, who also sings and plays accordion, and from the sound of his half a dozen tunes […]

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ASS PONYS, 1/21, THURSTON’S The hypnotic pop of this undeservedly obscure Cincinnati quartet builds from the chiming, interwoven guitar patterns of Chuck Cleaver and John Erhardt; their songs slowly develop with an absorbing momentum that reaches nearly mantralike power. On the other hand, the Ass Ponys avoid formless trance-out modes, punctuating the sonic swirl with […]

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JUNIOR BROWN, 1/14, SCHUBAS, 1/15, FITZGERALD’S Inventor of the guit-steel (an electric guitar and a steel guitar fused into one instrument), Austin’s Junior Brown sings with the deep, warm drawl of Texas Troubadour Ernest Tubb, but he also plays with the urgent frenzy of lid-flipping pyrotechnician Speedy West. His richly variegated repertoire of songs is […]

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KARL HENDRICKS TRIO, 12/31, LOUNGE AX The moderate appeal of this Pittsburgh combo’s early records seemed to revolve around the conceit of decidedly nerdy guys playing tuneful but clunky ditties about girls, drinking, and puking. Their blatant nonhipness somehow made a straight cover of “She Was Hot” kind of acceptable, although it was a big […]

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SPANIC BOYS, 12/17, SCHUBAS This Milwaukee group got its 15, er, more like 10, minutes of fame a few years ago as a last-minute replacement for musical guest Sinead O’Connor, who refused to appear on Saturday Night Live with guest host Andrew Dice Clay. Father and son rockers Tom and Ian Spanic had no such […]

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TAR, 12/11, METRO Over the years Tar’s hard riff-driven music has gotten almost impossibly distilled. John Mohr and Mark Zablocki’s airtight interlocking guitar patterns merge with the taut, almost martial rhythms of drummer Mike Greenlees and the brittle, drilling bass lines of Tom Zaluckyj with minute, anal precision. It’s propulsive and audacious in its unflinching […]

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AFGHAN WHIGS, 12/3, METRO Greg Dulli’s unsavory portraits of men with insatiable libidos have the critics slobbering. On a few tunes from the Afghan Whigs’ new album, Gentlemen, the narrator cops to his rotten attitude toward women, but more often it’s presented uncritically and without excuses–on “Be Sweet” he sings “I got a dick for […]

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ROY HARGROVE, 11/26-11/28, JAZZ SHOWCASE At the ripe old age of 24, trumpet whiz Roy Hargrove is set to follow a course similar to that of the original “young lion” of jazz, his part-time mentor Wynton Marsalis. Hargrove’s similarly young working quintet match him with unswerving taste and support (and fancy clothes), and like the […]

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MORPHINE, 11/19, METRO In his promising new band, singer and two-stringed slide-bass player Mark Sandman (former leader of Boston’s bluesy roots rockers Treat Her Right) has replaced the ever-present lead guitar with the saxophone of Dana Colley. Unfortunately, on its second album, Cure for Pain, the band comes across as mannered and uninspired–mostly due to […]

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SEA & CAKE, 11/13, LOUNGE AX A new band led by former Shrimp Boat singer/guitarist Sam Prekop, Sea & Cake isolates Prekop’s soulful leanings and affinity for soft and lazy slinking rhythms, wrapping them in a spare but warm glow. On the band’s forthcoming debut album the fat-sounding but leanly structured percussion of former Bastro […]

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MICHAEL HURLEY, 11/6 & 11/7, QUICKSILVER Michael Hurley is a crotchety old folkie who’s refused to let straightforward narrative or topical muckraking taint his gorgeous, often hilarious songs. With a career that began with an album for Folkways back in the 60s, Hurley remains the quintessential outsider. His reclusive life-style (he currently holes up in […]

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BERN NIX TRIO, 10/30, HOTHOUSE Bald-pated guitarist Bern Nix served as a crucial yet overlooked component of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time band for over a decade, and now he’s out on his own. Although Nix’s playing adheres to Coleman’s “harmolodic” theory–a musical system that replaces standard harmonic notions with layers of melody–his sound is surprisingly […]

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GRIFTERS, 10/23, LOUNGE AX On record this Memphis band weave a somewhat maddening labyrinth of bewildering obscurantism, swaddling their catchy, unpredictable tunes songs with wild splotches of noise, tune fragments, and general confusion. Live, however, it’s another story. Instead of burying their treasure, they inject their hooky, melody-rich rock songs with raunchy Memphis swagger. Hope […]