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LUTHER WRIGHT & THE WRONGS 10/31, FITZGERALD’S I’m afraid this Canadian alt-country band will always be remembered for one uncharacteristically bold move–last year’s amazing Rebuild the Wall, a brilliantly executed down-home reworking of Pink Floyd’s infamous dystopian angstfest. The charms of their original material, as heard on their new album, Guitar Pickin’ Martyrs (Back Porch), […]

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GROOVIE GHOULIES 10/24, FIRESIDE BOWL Defiantly lightweight and wickedly tight, this Sacramento trio has just released Monster Club (Springman), the latest in a long string of records devoted to B-movie themes. Their relentless riffing is so firmly in the Ramones/Queers tradition that the cover of Dee Dee’s “Pet Sematary” is indistinguishable in style from the […]

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APPLESEED CAST 10/17, FIRESIDE BOWL This Kansas-based band’s early work helped define the sound of Deep Elm Records, but they’ve since learned to back up their emo flailing with something a little more sonically substantial. On the new Two Conversations (Tiger Style) they take halting but sincere stabs at psychedelic grandeur: the roiling guitar and […]

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DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE 10/10 & 11, METRO Seattle cult band Death Cab for Cutie have never been bad, but they’ve never made it over the remarkability threshold either–until now, with Transatlanticism (Barsuk). There’s a new sense of focus here, as if they’ve decided to make their lush-lite, tastefully boisterous guitar pop as good as […]

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IMA ROBOT 10/3, THE VIC It’s more than possible for a bunch of irritating poseurs with intentionally awful haircuts to make a great record (cf the Faces, the Dolls, the Pistols, etc), but Ima Robot’s Virgin debut misses the mark by a handful of tunes and a couple layers of irony. The irritating part, however, […]

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THE BRONX 9/26, BOTTOM LOUNGE The hype about this LA band–that they were being “stalked by major labels” after only two shows–was already being parroted in Rolling Stone last winter, and they’re already signed to Island/Def Jam. But in August they released their previously recorded full-length, The Bronx, on their own White Drugs label (distributed […]

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BLACK-EYED SNAKES 9/19, SCHUBAS Alan Sparhawk seems to think side projects are for catharsis, not relaxation–the Black-Eyed Snakes are primal and dirty in a way his other band, Low, never has been. Far from your typical country-rock- or garage-revival exercise, their second album, Rise Up!, harks back to the abrasive but simple junkie-cowboy chic of […]

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BONGZILLA 9/12, FIRESIDE BOWL These veterans of both Milwaukee Metalfest and Weedstock seem to be getting more and more versatile–on their most recent album, Gateway (Relapse, 2002), their Sabbath-Surfers sound feels lighter on its feet, less dogged than previously. The subject matter, however, is unrelenting (see “Weed Thumb,” “Sunnshine Green,” “Keefmaster”–the last a shuffling, pounding […]

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HIDEOUT BLOCK PARTY 9/5 & 9/6, HIDEOUT The Hideout started cutting back on live bookings in late 2002, and the schedule’s gotten even slimmer since the twin nightclub disasters of early 2003. But Tim and Katie Tuten appear to have funneled a year’s worth of pent-up enthusiasm into the club’s seventh annual block party. Nearly […]

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EVIL BEAVER 8/29, METRO Evil Beaver’s gotten fat: the local duo’s second album, Pleased to Eat You (out September 8 on their Frooty Nation label), has a big, thick, cavern-filling roar harking back to a certain moment years ago starring L7 and Seven Year Bitch. Recorded in LA by former Chicagoan Dave Trumfio, the riff-heavy […]

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DUVALL 8/22, BOTTOM LOUNGE I’ve seen Duvall’s newest release, Racine, referred to as an EP, but one new song plus an acoustic version of an old song (“Time Is Gone,” from a 2001 EP) plus a Spandau Ballet cover is what back in the old days we used to call a “single.” That’s not a […]

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SUMERIANS 8/15, FIRESIDE BOWL Let’s leave this New York quartet’s headdresses and loincloths and traveling-through-space-for-16-million-years backstory alone for a moment: the music is actually every bit as weird as it should be. It’s wailing, keening, eerie space-rock-meets-surf-rock–you’ll hear strains of both Man or Astro-Man? and Can. Front man Enki-du (his bandmates are Tiamat, Marduk, and […]

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PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS 8/8, FIRESIDE BOWL This Denver outfit, which has been working the aggressive edge of emo for most of its five-year career and in its best moments has dashed the label to bloody bits, is at a crossroads. Bassist Jamie Drier is quitting after this tour (in support of a three-song release […]

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CARDIA 8/1, DOUBLE DOOR Here’s a band that’s much better than it has any right to be, considering it employs members of Rival Schools, Shudder to Think, and the Verve Pipe. On its debut (on Silverthree) it’s going for a windswept, stadium-size postpunk sound that owes as much to Simple Minds as it does to […]

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THE LOCUST 7/25, FIRESIDE BOWL This San Diego quartet has just released a new album, Plague Soundscapes (their first on Anti-). Cramming 23 songs into just over 20 minutes, it’s as stimulant-addled as you could want: close kin to hardcore but lighter, faster, and, in its own yappy, short-lived way, more abusive. It’s also rather […]