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Spot Check 

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 the self-conscious cool of Sandman's vocals (he's bluesy in a detached, Mose Allison sort of way) and Colley's lack of gusto. Maybe some gutbuckety power will surface in the live setting. BUZZCOCKS, 11/19, METRO Never mind that what they initially stood for was the antithesis of the careerism seen in the current spate of reuniting bloated, washed-up classic (and not so classic) rockers. Original punk-popsters the Buzzcocks are getting in on the action. They've released a dull new album, and they're rarin' to go just for the, uh, fun of it. JOHN ZORN'S MASADA, 11/20, SCHUBAS Zorn's new working group includes his longtime drumming partner Joey Baron, Tom Waits associate Greg Cohen on bass, and the terrific Dave Douglas on trumpet. Judging from their one commercially available tune (found on the new Knitting Factory collection Klezmer 1993 New York City) their music bristles with a pungent Yiddish tang, but it's jazz through and through. If nothing else, for those fed up with Zorn-the-serious-composer's disruptive quick-blink genre leaping, Masada promises the welcome return of his prodigious postbop alto saxophone playing. LAZARO ROS, 11/20, HOTHOUSE Mezcla, Cuba's reigning fuzak-pop favorites, were scheduled to play backup on this tour but they were denied entry by the ruthless INS, so members of the Cuban Conjunto Folklorico Nacional will accompany Ros, considered Cuba's greatest akupon (a master singer of Santeria, the ancient Yoruban religion brought to Latin America in the 16th century). Ros's breathtaking vocals seem to erupt from a primal wellspring deep within, and his attempts at fusion with Mezcla are ill-conceived, so it's just as well that he'll be supported by the traditionalists. TAD, 11/20, METRO Tad Doyle is a big guy (300 pounds easy), and his band's lumbering music has always reflected his graceless physical abundance; an early song shouted the refrain "Behemoth, motherfucker!" Maybe the return of Meat Loaf, rock's original king of corpulence, is forcing Tad to scramble; on his new album, produced by Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, he's flirting with slick metal tricks that sit rather uncomfortably atop the bulldozer swath he normally cuts. NO SAFETY, 11/21, LOUNGE AX This quintet from New York features prominent denizens of that city's downtown scene--most notably, harp revolutionary Zeena Parkins, but also members of Curlew, Carbon, Psyops, John Zorn & others--and reflects its disparateness with a brash patchwork of pop melodies, off-kilter funk patterns, disorienting, Captain Beefheart-ish polyrhythms, and carefully draped textures and noise. No Safety delivers an appealing, uncompromising version of intelligent experimentalism, and that's no mean feat. BUTTERGLORY, 11/23, LOUNGE AX This shy duo from Visalia, California, churn out raggedy, nervous little pop ditties wrapped in a tinny, lo-fi crust. Maybe they'll sound bigger live; they open for Superchunk.

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