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Gene is an amusing scrap of a band from England. Awhile back it seemed as if the Smiths' lethal combination of affected vocals (basket case Morrissey) and blasting guitars (the obsessive Johnny Marr) would disappear without a trace; now suddenly here's a band doing exactly the same thing. Only not as well. The Smiths were very good, so Gene isn't necessarily that bad. Warbler Martin Rossiter is a bit shameless but sincere in his emotions, and he's occasionally persuasive in his portraits of small-town cruelty ("Sleep Well Tonight") and alienation ("Left-Handed"). Guitar slinger Steve Mason is similarly something of a shadow of his inspiration, but his willingness to fall back on guitar qua guitar, so to speak, and occasionally create a racket enlivens things nicely. The band goes a little lighter than the Smiths--songs like "Your Love It Lies" and "Truth Rest Your Head" are barely more than melodic whimsy--and of course never touches the level of even the Smiths' minor classics. Still, it's a neat trick to create a rock band running on no detectable levels of testosterone these days, and there's nothing wrong with their tune--um--smithing either. Tuesday, 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.

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

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