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BUTTHOLE SURFERS, REVEREND HORTON HEAT 7/19, ARAGON Ballroom With Electriclarryland (Capitol) the Butthole Surfers make a partial return to their more linear days, and in doing so score their first radio hit. ("Pepper," in which Gibby Haynes lays a poker-faced monologue over hip-hop beats and textured drone, sounds like nothing so much as the Nails' forgotten "88 Lines About 44 Women.") Paul Leary's guitar retains its psychedelic overdrive, but by and large the Buttholes have nixed the extended sideways wankery that sank recent efforts in favor of straight-up melody. The downside is that the unpredictable mania of their Touch and Go material is still lacking. The Reverend Horton Heat's latest collection of irrelevant sputterings is called It's Martini Time (Interscope), but he sounds more than ever like the Stray Cats on crystal meth. By the time I got to "Cowboy Love," in which he ridicules gays and blacks, I couldn't stop thinking about one of those martini olives getting stuck in the Reverend's gullet. BENT SCEPTERS 7/19, BEAT KITCHEN Accenting 60s garage primitivism-imagine a soulless, tidy-sounding Sonics-with an incongruous splash of cocktail culture and matching skinny lapels, this Iowa City quintet probably earns a decent living on the Iowa frat-party circuit. Judging from its debut album, Blind Date With Destiny (Prescription), you'll get more satisfaction from a Get Smart rerun. THE CURE 7/20, Rosemont HORIZON With the recent Wild Mood Swings (Elektra/Fiction), this bloated bummer-rock juggernaut has careened into the abyss of inconsequentiality. Beneath the string arrangements that clog the music and the makeup that clogs Robert Smith's pores one finds little more than the same quasi-existentialist ennui these mopes have been milking for nearly two decades. DERRICK CARTER'S SOUND PATROL 7/20, METRO Best known for his skill as a club DJ (particularly in Europe, where he's a minor star), Derrick Carter also leads Sound Patrol, his outlet for original music. On Sweetened-No Lemon (Organico), soulful acid-house grooves percolate through unusual synth washes, chilled-out rhythms, and a subdued lyricism to produce a sound as suited for the living room as it is for the dance floor. This rare gig is part of an Organico showcase that also features Dubtribe and Frequency Lab. BOIS SEC ARDOIN 7/20, FIELD MUSEUM One of the last living links to the Creole music of southern Louisiana that eventually became zydeco, accordionist Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin makes a rare Chicago appearance as part of the Field Museum's Cajun and Zydeco Music Fest. Though his lifelong partner, fiddler Canray Fontenot, died last year, the 80-year-old Ardoin can still make lively this strange hybrid of European and African sounds. Ardoin also performs at the Old Town School of Folk Music Friday, July 19. SCARCE 7/20, EMPTY BOTTLE After his near-fatal brain hemorrhage last year, a fully recuperated Chick Graning and his Rhode Island trio, Scarce, have fired up a remarkable return salvo with the forthcoming Deadsexy (A&M). The lean, infectious songs, made insinuating by Graning's edgy harmonies with bassist Joyce Raskin, prove there's still some life left in rock. DITCH CROAKER 7/20, LOUNGE AX For all the bits of Pavement and Sebadoh in its attack, this Hoboken trio avoids aping its influences. On its recent Shortwave (Fine Corinthian Label), the execution is fleet and the production crisp; catchy melodies are kicked sideways by odd dynamic shifts but nothing seems gratuitously weird. They open for Polvo (see Critic's Choice). ANAL CUNT 7/21, FIRESIDE BOWL Leading proponents of both antimusic and antisocial behavior, Anal Cunt (known to more discreet fans and friends as A.C.) have built a career on reducing hardcore and thrash to rubble. On the seminal Everyone Should Be Killed (Earache)-58 songs in as many minutes-twin-guitar hyperspeed riffing does its best to imitate white noise, percussion consists of a never-ending drumroll, and "vocalist" Seth Putnam alternates between inchoate, almost satanic howls and chalkboard-scrape screams. Xerobot open. LISLE ELLIS QUARTET 7/24, EMPTY BOTTLE The versatile Canadian bassist, who now lives in San Francisco, is best known as half a duo with pianist Paul Plimley; here he'll lead three Chicagoans-Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, and Tim Mulvenna-on his own originals and on pieces by the likes of Cecil Taylor and Eric Dolphy. Ellis will also play with Vandermark and Hamid Drake at the Lunar Cabaret next Friday, July 26; he'll return later in the year in a trio with Larry Ochs and Donald Robinson. DEAD CAN DANCE 7/24 & 25, RIVIERA Theatre On its new album, Spiritchaser (4AD), Dead Can Dance takes its largely ineffectual stylistic globe-trotting to warmer climes. While recent albums have witnessed an expansion of the band's ethereal, goth-tinged expropriations of Gregorian chant to include shimmery Eastern European sounds, the new record incorporates rhythms from places like Bahia and Marrakech. There's a pretty languor in the vocals of Lisa Gerrard, but the sub-Jim Morrison warble of Brendan Perry is still extra baggage.

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