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CIBO MATTO 2/21, METRO This unconventional duo's new Super Relax EP (Warner Brothers) includes a bootleg-quality live version of "BBQ" that captures its manic means of working a crowd. But the disc's show stealer is a sedate, charmingly straightforward take on Tom Jobim and Elis Regina's bossa nova classic "Aguas de Marco."

BRICKBATS 2/23, METRO If Halloween were any closer, guitarist Corey Gorey's Nash Kato-ish singing and his New York-based trio's characteristic poses on the cover of Sing You Dead (Dismal Abysmal) would have me wondering if this were really Urge Overkill in goth drag. But their joke-band tendencies aside, the Brickbats execute early Damned-style three-chord punk with an enthusiasm our local would-be arena rockers could probably use a shot of these days.

FIREWATER, 5IVE STYLE 2/23, LOUNGE AX Ex-Cop Shoot Cop front man Tod Ashley brought together members of the Jesus Lizard, Soul Coughing, and Motherhead Bug to fashion the melodramatic Gypsy- , Latin- , and klezmer-flavored punk of Firewater's Get Off the Cross...We Need the Wood for the Fire (Jetset). Though the band can be effective, especially on the bump and grind of "Mr. Cardiac" (with inspired guest cabaret singing by Jennifer Charles of Elysian Fields), the weak link is Ashley himself--his forced growl tends to come off like a watered-down (sobered-up?) Shane MacGowan. Opening will be local funk-rock-dub fusion act 5ive Style, which has regrouped following the departure of drummer John Herndon and keyboardist Jeremy Jacobsen. Founding guitarist Bill Dolan and bassist LeRoy Bach have recruited percussionist Ned Folkerth (also of Las Toallitas) and added the band's first-ever singer, Mike Hunecke (formerly of Disarray), who also plays electric piano.

AMY RIGBY 2/26, SCHUBAS Last year this New York-based singer-songwriter emerged from near obscurity (Last Roundup and the Shams) with a sparkling solo debut, Diary of a Mod Housewife (Koch). As the title suggests, this single mother in her late 30s has come to terms with domesticity but hasn't given up on dreams and desires. Her solid tunefulness and heartfelt delivery make for a consistent, convincing blend of folk rock, country balladry, and girl-group pop.

STO ZVIRAT 2/27, EMPTY BOTTLE This Czech sextet learned ska by listening to contraband Madness tapes, and consequently sounds like a holdover from the 2-Tone revival of the late 70s and early 80s--the dual lead vocals of Jana Jelinkova and Arnost Kratky recall the Selecter. There are some haunting folk-based chord changes and the odd dollop of doo-wop, too, but the group's main appeal rests with the porkpie hat crowd.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Amy Rigby photo by George Du Bose.

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