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MOLLY McGUIRE 11/18, METRO With their furious but precise grind, piling slabs of numb guitar aggression atop a relentless rhythmic drive, this young foursome from Kansas City, Missouri, suggest a less interesting, less daring Drive Like Jehu. Their fairly impressive musical concision is undercut by their lack of songwriting ability and Jason Blackmore's monoemotional wail. They open for the Ex-Idols and Mariana Trench. FOSSIL 11/18, SCHUBAS Just beyond the competent but cloying pop-rock on this New York-area quartet's debut EP, Crumb (Sire), is a song called "Prurient Bess." With overt exuberance and sweeping grandeur, singer Bob O'Gureck delivers a neoromantic ode to a woman resplendent in all-consuming bliss after a no-holds-barred bout of masturbation: "Writhe, writhe, writhe." It'll surely leave listeners a dripping, exhausted mess. Fossil open for Black 47. SAMPLES 11/18 & 19, VIC The new Samples album is called Autopilot, and these mellow-rock heads ain't lying. Goes good with hackeysacks, hash brownies, and cellular phones. EVERGREEN 11/19, LOUNGE AX This off-kilter blues-tinged Louisville combo's lineup includes the remarkable drummer Britt Walford, whose sideways tub slapping has improved recordings by Squirrelbait, Slint, and the Breeders. A listen to Evergreen's just-released debut single on Hi-Ball Records (the label run by tonight's headliners, the Coctails) suggests that precision isn't one of their goals, but the music that supports the drunken-sounding vocals of Sean McLoughlin is raggedly appealing nonetheless. The band also has a hayseed element that suggests a darker King Kong, but as far as I can tell Evergreen aren't rehearsing a Vegas nightclub act just yet. POP WILL EAT ITSELF, COMPULSION 11/19, METRO Recently resurrected from near oblivion by the magnanimous Trent Reznor, who signed them to his Nothing label, England's miserable Pop Will Eat Itself are a striking example of a band on empty feebly sucking the fumes of market forces. PWEI formed in 1986 as a bent, high-energy pop band, but over the years it's clumsily incorporated every possible musical flavor of the day, crafting a laughable pop/hip hop hybrid just prior to the stale pop/hip hop/industrial amalgam that marks the new comeback effort, Dos Dedos Mis Amigo (Nothing/Interscope). If you'd prefer a less "intense" Nine Inch Nails, these bozos ought to float your boat. Compulsion are also British, and from their American debut Comforter (Interscope), it's easy to hear why their country's fickle music press has lumped them into "the New Wave of New Wave," the moronic genre that's currently all the rage: Compulsion are nominally a punk-rock band. That assessment is based more on their sound (which uses Nirvana and the Pixies as points of departure) than on any ideological stand, although the hysterical vocals of--get this--Josephmary (it's a guy) offer mundane rants about all the usual social ills. They're not very original, but they manage to match their energy with some catchy tunes half the time. Another Trent Reznor-approved combo, Dink, open. DAG 11/2O, SCHUBAS Four stoned-looking white guys from Raleigh approaching One Nation Under a Groove-era Funkadelic with such unerring verisimilitude that you might want to double-check that they aren't traveling with a karaoke machine. On their new album, Righteous (Columbia), their emulations get peppered with Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder imitations, and their gettin' down just for the funk of it is weighed down with some Wild Cherry tang, but don't let these minor deviations convince you that Dag is of more than one (empty) mind. MARK CURRY 11/23, DOUBLE DOOR Claiming inspiration from a punk-rock childhood, singer-songwriter Mark Curry unleashes a torrent of caustically confessional rants about how life keeps selling him short on his second album, Let the Wretched Come Home (Virgin). If he slowed things down, stopped swearing so damn much, stretched out his band's rootsy attack, and relaxed the over-the-top tension in his voice, his occasionally poetic angst might have some impact. As it stands all you really notice are the ants in his earnest pants. PEGBOY 11/23, VIC In the tradition of guitarist John Haggerty's old band Naked Raygun, Pegboy present their annual Thanksgiving eve show--this one coming hot on the heels of their new album, Earwig (Quarterstick). Kids interested in the new punk rock should check out the melody-laced, distilled buzz-saw attack of these vets, who have more vigor after ten years than those chirpy Offspring dolts. Among the highlights of the new album is a faithful and surprisingly strong cover of the Mission of Burma classic "Revolver." The Bollweevils and Apocalypse Hoboken open. WILCO 11/23, LOUNGE AX If you're not still pining for the halcyon days of Exit--which, by the way, recently resurfaced in the prostitute district of North Avenue--you might check out the future instead of the past: this debut of former Uncle Tupelo mainstay Jeff Tweedy's new band, Wilco. His old band's last album, Anodyne, was far and away their best; there's plenty of reason to think this new combo will maintain that high quality.

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

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The Sea & Cake, Moonrise Nation Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park
August 16

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