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ACUMEN NATION 12/12, METRO Normally my view is that the remix phenomenon has gotten way out of hand, but in the case of Acumen Nation, I have to admit that sometimes an additional cook or two can improve the broth. I should know: these local industrial rockers have sent me every possible permutation of their third album, More Human Heart (Conscience), including "teaser" EPs, prerelease masters, and the remix EP Unkind/Revelations per Minute, which turns out to be the best of the lot. "Unkind," included in its original form as well as in two revamped versions, is also by far the funkiest and liveliest track on the full-length. And the "Revolution Pollution Mix" of "Revelations per Minute" by Pigface's Martin Atkins introduces lush loops to an otherwise plodding metallic crunch. Whether any of this fairy dust gets sprinkled around onstage I have no idea. r6 FT. OVER 12/12, LYONS DEN; 12/19, HIDEOUT 6 Ft. Over hasn't an original jangle anywhere in its trick bag, but if you've been vaguely dissatisfied ever since Katrina and the Waves broke up, you might want to give its debut cassette, Another Day Like Today, a chance--there are moments of mid-80s charm between incongruous clots of cloying schmaltz ("Cease Fire," about the Irish Troubles, aims for Sinead O'Connor but winds up skirting Helen Reddy) and jarring bursts of somebody's acknowledged Ritchie Blackmore influence.

H.R. 12/13, House of Blues More righteous than Ian McKaye and able to leap a dozen Henry Rollinses in a single bound, former Bad Brains front man H.R. (Human Rights) introduced credible spirituality to hardcore without short-circuiting the music's raw power. These days he's digging his Rasta roots: on this tour he's reportedly playing mostly new reggae material (and has yet to attack any of his band mates).

DEEP PURPLE 12/15-17, HOUSE OF BLUES Without the aforementioned Mr. Blackmore, the remaining more-or-less-original members of Deep Purple faced an unenviable choice: either farm out those classic monster riffs to some young unknown hair hack from the Guitar Institute of Technology or dig up an old hair hack like...Steve Howe? Blasphemy! I'm holding out for the Blackmore's Rainbow reunion and you should too--seven out of ten blindfolded 'lude heads couldn't tell "Man on the Silver Mountain" from "Smoke on the Water" anyway.

BUSKER SOUNDCHECK 12/16, METRO You've got to admire these longtime local heartland-rock journeymen: neither critical indifference nor inclement weather nor an opening set by Wesley Willis can keep them from their annual holiday show, this year a benefit for the Chicago Public Schools. So haul your extra paper, used computer equipment, children's books, and anything else that seems educational out to Metro--and when you're making out that Christmas card to Rich Daley, be sure to ask him why the schools need help from struggling rock acts in the first place.

SONS OF THE NEVER WRONG 12/17, SCHUBAS This local trio floats far above the nouveau folk-rock competition on its full-length debut, Consequences of Speech (Waterbug), buoyed by the sweetness and light of Sue Demel and Nancy Walker's dazzling harmonies. And when they meet Bruce Roper's hard-bitten declamations, it's like the Roches meet Richard and Linda Thompson. Their songwriting skills don't quite live up to those comparisons yet, but whose do? Their tendency toward the melancholy might be risky in this, the high season of suicide; then again, the thing about the holidays that most depresses me is the proliferation of lame music, and in this bleak week the Sons shine like the proverbial star of wonder. This is a free show.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Sons of the Never Wrong photo.

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