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Jimmie Dale Gilmore 8/16, FitzGerald's Braver Newer World (Elektra), Gilmore's ambitious new album, suffers from producer T Bone Burnett's own ambitions: it sounds like he's trying to be either Brian Eno or Phil Spector, and often both within the same song. Muzzy drone washes, an overcrowded guitar gallery, and obtrusive horns obscure rather than support Gilmore's twangy, Orbison-esque voice. Underneath, though, lies a body of excellent material (in particular the Latin-tinged, Buddy Holly-meets-Drifters "There She Goes" and Sam Phillips's soaring "Where Is Love Now") waiting to be cut loose live. Monkees 8/16, Star Plaza Never mind the Sex Pistols: Record Collector reports that the previously reluctant Michael Nesmith has agreed to join his former TV costars in the studio, despite their utter lack of musical chemistry the first time around. Meanwhile the other three Monkees have hit the road again. The dubious merits of resurrection aside, I'll wager Micky Dolenz can still belt out a formidable "She." Subdudes, Taj Mahal 8/16, Ravinia The best tracks on Taj Mahal's recent Phantom Blues (Private Music), sadly, are not his own: between failed attempts at sounding "contemporary," the veteran eclectic singer-guitarist revives a few worn but worthy R & B standards like Jessie Hill's "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and Ray Charles's "Lonely Avenue." Sadder still is that even his reconstituted grooves are tastier than the Subdudes' half-baked bar-band hors d'oeuvres, which seem to be passing for entrees with the VH-1 generation. Bal 8/17, Jazz Record Mart; 8/18, D & Z House of Books Though he's spent the last few years kicking around local clubs, jamming on standards in the manner of a harder-toned Chet Baker, Polish-born trumpeter and composer Piotr Bal is obviously reaching out to smooth jazz fans with his second album, Bal (Bal). The programmed grooves don't go very deep, nor do the written lines venture too far, but Bal's improvisations hint at a sinuous melodic subtlety. He'll play these sets with a live electric rhythm section. Mundahs 8/17, Waterloo Tavern; 8/18 Beat Kitchen These South Carolina party rockers alternate between the quirky Georgia minimalism of the 80s (Pylon, early R.E.M.) and the bloated Florida boogie of the 70s (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimmy Buffett) on their recent Color of the Day (Trumpeter). Illuminatingly, their press kit quotes one optimistic reviewer's prediction that the Mundahs could be the next Hootie and the Blowfish. Moviola 8/22, Empty Bottle Unlike many of their lo-fi brethren, the guys in Moviola don't seem to let the simplicity of their recording techniques dictate the complexity of their material. On the band's full-length debut, The Year You Were Born (Anyway), variously combined scratchy, fuzzy, jangly, and pulsating guitars jostle beneath bummed-out, bewildered vocals that often recall After the Gold Rush-era Neil Young. Moviola deftly executes dynamic shifts that lend the seemingly offhand songs considerable definition, making for a consistently engaging near-hour's excursion on the horse Pavement rode in on.

--Frank Youngwerth

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Taj Mahal, by James Minchin III.

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