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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 their new follow-up, Straight Up Sewaside, they've kind of bounced back, relying less on gimmicks and delivering straight, solid goods while maintaining a clever, if silly, bent ("I rolled two spliffs / So now I guess I'm double jointed"). LOVEMEKNOTS 2/4, EMPTY BOTTLE Pleasant if forgettable strum-happy guitar pop from Indianapolis. From the band-supplied list of acts the critics have compared the Lovemeknots to (16 in all), I'd have to choose their fellow Hoosiers the Vulgar Boatmen as the most accurate point of reference due to the two bands' somewhat superficial common thread of mantralike, almost monotonous strumming engulfing frail little melodies. STEWART COPELAND & THE RHYTHMATISTS 2/5, THE VIC The former Police drummer presents a percussion-heavy world music extravaganza ranging from the traditional tribal grooves of Les Percussions de Guinea to the arty and atmospheric soft rhythm weaves of Brazil's Uakti (a group that contributed to the second "world through the eyes of Paul Simon" album, Rhythm of the Saints) to Vinx, a percussion-wielding Bobby McFerrin-type with a weird haircut. Copeland's own group, a truly international unit that includes Zairian Ray Lema, Cameroonian Sabal-Lecco, and Spaniard Rene Heredia, headlines the whole shebang. Purists may find the concept blasphemous, but in terms of unabashed musical cross-pollination, this at least promises a few of the right ingredients. SWERVEDRIVER 2/5, METRO This quartet is often lumped with fellow noisy-pop Brit acts like My Bloody Valentine and Ride, bands revered by Anglophiles for their hard-driving, fed-back guitar and nonchalant, almost catatonic delivery. Yet on its second album, Mezcal Head (A&M), Swervedriver's twin-guitar attack is surprisingly tidy and fairly conventional--a straight-tuned, polite version of Sonic Youth's six-string wavering--and the tunes, while blatantly melodic and even catchy at times, are a sloppy patchwork of hooky nuggets without resolve (or fervor) that fold into endless extraneous nongroovy grooves. A perfect band for people who can't finish books. RAGING SLAB 2/5, METRO Raging Slab's transformation from an extremely tedious retro hard-rock band into a ZZ Top/southern-fried-rock-style outfit is as entertaining as it is sublime. Blurring the line between kitsch and delusion, last year's Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert (American) chugs along with thick and tangy slide-guitar funk, raspy white-boy blues bellowing, and the obligatory cowbell punctuations. It'd be hard for Raging Slab to be any less original, yet as hirsute 70s pretenders they're nonpareil. JEFF BUCKLEY 2/7 & 2/8, UNCOMMON GROUND CAFE, 2/9, SCHUBAS Son of the legendary folk-weirdo Tim Buckley, young Jeff Buckley has only gigged sporadically until now, mostly around his hometown of New York with Captain Beefheart guitar alumnus Gary Lucas. As he gears up for the release of a full-fledged debut album with a band, he's touring with just a guitar in support of an odd little EP, Live at Sin-e (Columbia), recorded at the NYC coffeehouse/hipster spot, which may explain his appearances at this java joint. His songs are strangely ephemeral, diffuse folk-rock tunes that wander outside convention; "The Way Young Lovers Do," for example, drifts into some extended, jazzy adenoidal scat-singing in a tradition beholden to his iconoclastic father. His solo performances seem to favor uncontained spontaneity over song structure; his improvisatory indulgences tend to bring him to eye-fluttering heights of noncorporeal vocal ecstasy. JOE HENRY 2/9, SCHUBAS Singer-songwriter Joe Henry has been humming for a buzz for nearly a decade. His fifth album, Kindness of the World (Mammoth), may not make him a star, but it's pretty good listening. He's not quite the American Van Morrison type he's trying to be, but nicely backed by guitarist Gary Louris and bassist Marc Perlman of the Jayhawks (who probably won't be playing live with him) he offers plenty of modest, soulful, roots-weened pop. Jeff Buckley (above) opens.

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