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DUKE ROBILLARD 10/21, BUDDY GUY'S Perhaps best known as Jimmie Vaughan's replacement in the Fabulous Thunderbirds, guitarist Duke Robillard has a long and varied past. His list of accomplishments includes founding seminal blues revivalists Roomful of Blues, and on a host of solo recordings he's displayed significant range, even offering up some Louis Jordan-esque jump blues a few years back. His new Temptation (Pointblank) is more restrained, though, a dose of mainstream blues-rock that wouldn't be out of place on the current Alligator Records roster. Where he once sounded studied he now sounds staid. LAZY 10/21, DOUBLE DOOR Demonstrating why coyness isn't an adequate response to ineptness, this fumbling Cincinnati trio trips over both its total lack of technical skill and its inability to write an appealing tune. On its debut, Some Assembly Required (Roadrunner), which may as well've been titled Start Your Own Damn Band!, Lazy alternates between dull earnest rockers sung perfunctorily by guitarist Steve Schmol and deliberately cutesy throwaways sung feebly by bassist Suzann Lynch ("Gotta gotta gotta crush on you!"). There are certain things that shouldn't be done just 'cause all your friends are doing them. GILBY CLARKE 10/21, AVALON The other Guns N' Roses guitarist is touring in support of his solo debut, Pawn Shop Guitars (Virgin), a surprisingly enjoyable if lacking in inspiration crunch of 70s-style hard rock soaked with catchy pop melodies, the sort his main band so noticeably lacks. Clark sets Beatles-esque melodies against amped-up post-Stones riffing, along the way covering "Dead Flowers" as well as the Clash's "Jail Guitar Doors." Hardly revelatory, but a fun dollop of stupidity. MOTHER TONGUE 10/21 & 22, ARAGON BALLROOM These plodding 70s hard rock/funk pretenders from LA smother their leaden grooves with wah-wah-drenched guitar and lyrics a smarter band would try much harder to bury. If you ever thought Pearl Jam was ponderous, count yourself among the lucky who've yet to hear Mother Tongue. They open for Candlebox and the Flaming Lips. SLEEPY LA BEEF 10/22, GULF COAST As his superb new album Strange Things Happening (Rounder) vividly demonstrates, Sleepy LaBeef is a living, breathing treasure trove of American roots music. Under the guise of rockabilly, this creatively and physically massive vet plucks the flowers in his bouquet from a panoply of sources. It's no mean feat to span the distance between Ernest Tubb, Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Milton Brown as if jumping lily pads in a pond, but LaBeef and his big, expressive yawp string things together so naturally that it becomes impossible not to notice their inextricable links. But the lesson'll have to be registered unconsciously; you'll be having too much fun digging the tunes. ENGINE ALLEY 10/22, SCHUBAS These five Dubliners are the first signing to U2's Mother Records, and their eponymous U.S. debut shows them to be consummate British popsters. Despite the occasional guitar explosion, the band's bedrock is an extremely baroque pop fortified by the sweeping violin of Kenneth Rice. Singer Canice Kenealy's melodramatic swoops evoke a certain glam-rock propensity for excess, but the band's overall politesse keeps the fop in him reined in. 311 10/22, METRO More damning proof of the travesty created by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311 practice the most leaden, humorless white-boy rap-metal-jazz fusion yet. Their second album, Grassroots (Capricorn), shifts back and forth between crotch-thrusting metal-funk and mushy choruses stolen from Michael Franks, 'cept it all ends up sounding far worse than my description. MURMURS 10/24, DOUBLE DOOR Leisha Hailey de-scribes her former persona as "Miss Stanislavski-Actress-Know-It-All" and her musical partner Heather Grody's as "Miss Ethel-Merman-I-Wanna-See-My-Name-in-Lights." Impetuously leaving behind the theater for the more sudden rewards of the music business, they and their primary-colored coifs make up the Murmurs, a vocals-and-acoustic-guitars duo that play the sort of post-Joni Mitchell coffeehouse tripe best suited for pot-smoking collegiate slumber parties. Their cloyingly sweet harmonies could make them the Mamas & the Papas for the alternative generation. They open for the Lightning Seeds. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY 10/25, DOUBLE DOOR Raleigh's Corrosion of Conformity were the first hardcore band that mattered to cross the dubious metal border. Still together more than a decade after combining the ingredients that resulted in thrash, COC have moved on again, as their terrific major-label debut Deliverance (Columbia) finely attests, with the exception of a few quasi-classical interludes. The guitars of Pepper Keenan and Woody Weatherman form an awesome, bulky mass that nevertheless lithely navigates the band's tricky tunes. While favoring aggressive mid-tempos, Corrosion of Conformity both evoke the high-precision throttle of Metallica and pay homage to Black Sabbath's slow churn. The new album is crammed with elements of metal, but more than anything it's a top-notch hard-rock effort that ignores tired genre constraints. Kepone open.

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

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