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GOLDFINGER 8/9, METRO By leavening third-generation wag-along punk--Buzzcocks by way of Green Day--with ska and skate thrash, this callow LA foursome has managed to please nearly the whole alternarock family--at least for this week. Based on their self-titled debut, I'd say Goldfinger ought to wisely invest their quick earnings--teenagers aren't long on loyalty. They open for No Doubt, a quirkier, more popular shopping-mall combo that might stick around a bit longer. PANTERA 8/9, ROSEMONT HORIZON On their fourth album, The Great Southern Trendkill (East West), these Dallas brutes have tweaked the unrelenting groove-metal assault of their 1994 breakthrough album, Far Beyond Driven. Screamer Philip Anselmo still dishes out hyperbolic rage via artistically suspect lyrics, but several tunes, such as "10s," find him mimicking the emotional sub-Zeppelin croon of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, while the band likewise investigates that group's more textural onslaught. Can't fault them for trying, but it sure doesn't work. They play with White Zombie and Deftones. SAMARAI CELESTIAL, Medeski, Martin & Wood 8/10, LOUNGE AX Drummer Samarai Celestial--known to his mother as Eric Walker--has gigged with the varied likes of Alvin Batiste, Donald Brown, and David Murray, but it was with Sun Ra's Arkestra from 1979 through 1985 that he made his name. Now on his solo debut, Isis Sun (Carrot Top), Mr. Celestial launches a heavy-duty space jam clearly inspired by the Otherworldly One. Relentless drum machine cavorting, synth gurgles, and soul-frying flute provide the backdrop for some crazed stream-of-consciousness vocal fuckery, much of which pays tribute to Sun Ra. It's hard to know what'll happen live, but it's guaranteed to be strange. The terrific souped-up organ combo Medeski, Martin & Wood headline--and if you've been turned off by the ungodly number of Phish fans in attendance at the trio's previous gigs, you're in luck: Phish headlines the same night at Alpine Valley, all the way up in Wisconsin. D GENERATION 8/11, LOUNGE AX A quaint photo inside the band's second CD, No Lunch (Columbia), of a lunch box packed with heroin works, whiskey, firecrackers, and cigarette butts suggests more than a little nostalgia for the self-destructive hedonism of New York punk circa 1976; and on snottier stuff like "Scorch" the group does a credible impersonation of the Dead Boys. That said, the old-fashioned hooks and real-life party-boy excesses--the members also run the trendy Coney Island High club--don't add up to much more than the sum of the parts. D Generation is, however, a more authentic punk Sha Na Na than the current incarnation of the Sex Pistols. TERRY ELLIS 8/13, PARK WEST On her solo debut Southern Gal (East West), singer Terry Ellis softens the R & B grooves that drive her work in En Vogue. Dominated by sensuous slow jams, the album is meant to reveal a different side of Ellis, but for all of its pleasantries it lacks the verve of her main gig. CHORA ENSEMBLE 8/14, EMPTY BOTTLE An impressive new free-improvisation group, Chora Ensemble stakes out fairly distinct territory within Chicago's diverse jazz milieu. Although raucous bursts do surface occasionally, the quintet--reedists Jon Mitchell, Chris Warland, and Jason Wietlispach; drummer Jim Stamison; and bassist Marc Laurick--generally keeps its explorations measured and thoughtful, favoring a somewhat linear approach intersected by harmonic dissonance over plink-plonk austerity. For this performance the group will be joined by alto saxophonist/clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio. CRANBERRIES 8/15, NEW WORLD MUSIC THEATRE Once you get past Dolores O'Riordan's cloying earnestness--she's dedicated the latest Cranberries album, To the Faithful Departed (Island), to dead people all over the world--you'll notice the band trying to stretch out, incorporating incongruous horns and strings here and expansive arrangements there. The effort is appreciable, but the Cranberries are still best when they stick to more organically overblown pop. Cracker opens. PERFECT 8/15, DOUBLE DOOR Ditching the more sophisticated structures that failed his short-lived Bash & Pop, former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson returns to trash rock with this new band. Perfect's five-song debut, When Squirrels Play Chicken (Restless), conveys an appealing recklessness, and even if there's nothing particularly unusual about the sounds, Stinson knows how to rip it up live. Enormous and Not Rebecca open.

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

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