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BEDHEAD 5/20, LOUNGE AX This Dallas quintet couches its subtle pop tunes in slow-building minimalist patterns; the sound of its three guitars tends to start out as deceptively simple patter, then grow in tension and power until it explodes into lush crescendos. Clearly indebted to New York's Codeine and Chicago's Seam, Bedhead gives simplicity a surprising elasticity, demonstrating that even simple musical elements can always be broken down further. The band performs as part of the second annual Cardigan Festival, a benefit for the Howard Brown Health Center; Tortoise joins Bedhead and headliners Seam (rumor has it this is their last gig ever) tonight, while tomorrow Red Red Meat, Mint Aundry, Number One Cup, David Grubbs, and Weedy perform. Bedhead also play Saturday at Ajax Records (2 PM, 2156 W. Chicago, 772-4783). ROLLINS BAND 5/20, OAK THEATRE Some people might remember Henry Rollins as the compelling frontman of Black Flag, but many more know him from his Gap ads, his Details cover, his spots on MTV Sports, or his role in the Charlie Sheen movie The Chase (Hank'll do just about anything for cash or exposure). The Rollins Band are touring in support of their new album, Weight (Imago), which is pretty damn similar to most of their other records except that it marks the debut of bassist Melvin Gibbs, formerly of jazz-funk units like the Decoding Society and Defunkt, which means the band's intractable hard rock has been tempered a bit with funk. But otherwise it remains the bombastic cushion for Henry's simplistic and ultracontradictory rants about how to be true to yourself: do anything for money and admit it proudly, say one thing and do another if it's in your best interest. I used to think Rollins put on one of the greatest rock shows on earth, but now I think he just perspires a lot more than most people. CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE 5/20, BUDDY GUY'S Onetime Chicagoan Charlie Musselwhite returns to town in support of his ambitious new album, In My Time (Alligator). It finds the seasoned harp player delving into some Delta blues (which gives him a chance to demonstrate his surprisingly gritty, expressive guitar playing) and some moderately swinging jump blues, along with his well-known, soulful California harp style. Hell, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama even sing on a couple of cuts. Such broad variety won't be offered live, and Musselwhite's singing just gets him by, but you won't care when you hear him play harmonica: he's assimilated the sounds of the Chicago greats--Little Walter, Walter Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson--into a thick gumbo, and he applies a learned restraint to his potential pyrotechnics. SISTER PSYCHIC 5/20, THURSTON'S The press clippings on this Seattle quartet suggest that it's great if only for the fact that it doesn't play "grunge." Sister Psychic is similar in approach but lacks the songs of Toronto's 13 Engines; the music on its new Surrender, You Freak (Restless) is a dense pop/rock that doesn't particularly warrant the critical hosannas I've read. It might be interesting to note that like Chicago's Material Issue they covered Green Pajamas' "Kim the Waitress" this spring. MAURIZIO GIAMMARCO, 5/20 & 21, GREEN MILL Highly acclaimed in his native Italy, saxophonist Maurizio Giammarco sits in as a guest of the Green Mill All-Stars on Friday and leads the Steve Million Trio on Saturday. On his recent Inside (Soul Note), Giammarco proves to be fluent in contemporary postbop styles on both tenor and soprano sax, absorbing a variety of influences into a solid, straight-ahead approach. WILLY PORTER 5/21, CUBBY BEAR This Milwaukeean singer-songwriter type alternates between sensitive, goofy, and precious, tempering his quirky light rock with a folk-informed earnestness. Porter isn't inept; he's just uninspiring. If you want to tap your toes, snap your fingers, and forget about the experience by the next morning, then catch this performance; he opens for Chicago's Bad Examples, who are more likely to inspire nightmares. INFECTIOUS GROOVES 5/21, OAK THEATRE Led by Suicidal Tendencies frontman Mike Muir, Infectious Grooves formed in 1991 and hopped on the metal-funk bandwagon. Their third album, Groove Family Cyco (550 Music/Epic), is what the band's publicists call a song cycle about a dysfunctional family, but mostly what you hear behind the clunky, slapped bass and metal riffing is first-rate comic gibberish like "You take the pen and I'll take the sword / You can write some shit till I cut your fuckin' head off." Tough, man. TEXAS 5/22, RIVIERA On this Glaswegian combo's third album, Ricks Road (Mercury), the blend of guitarist Sharleen Spiteri's vocals and the ebullient grooves of organ and electric piano clearly seeks to evoke a wide range of 70s blues and soul, from Sly Stone to Al Green. Gosh, they're even better than the Commitments. They open for Brit pop-fops James. GIGOLO AUNTS 5/24, THURSTON'S This Boston foursome has been putting its unabashed pop through the paces since its formation in 1987, and the recent Flippin' Out (RCA) finds the band applying the hard, punishing guitar attack so in vogue with today's kids. "Gun" offers the sublime combination of hooky melody, lush harmonizing, slashing guitars, and heavy-handedly sarcastic lyrics that only NRA members wouldn't get: "It's your constitutional right / To sleep soundly through the night / With a .38 or a combat .45 / It feels great today to be alive." The rest of their tunes are solid if not quite as exemplary. ANGELFISH 5/26, METRO This Edinburgh quartet includes only waif-contender vocalist Shirley Manson in its publicity stills, so this might be your chance to find out what the other band members look like. Manson's full-throated singing sounds like a cross between Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux, but the music on their eponymous debut, produced by ex-Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, is stripped-down, unspectacular, semituneful rock and not much else. They open for Live and Vic Chesnutt.

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