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HOT WATER MUSIC 11/17, EMPTY BOTTLE This hard-touring Gainesville quartet, which will release its sixth LP, Never Ender (No Idea), this week, has mastered the science of post-hardcore punk rock. They've nailed down the exact ratios of punk truism to metal suggestion, of tight tunefulness to ragged edges, of I-don't-care to I-care-too-much, of chops to slop--at this level it's not formula, it's craftmanship. BLONDE REDHEAD 11/18, FIRESIDE BOWL; 11/19, DOUBLE DOOR The New York trio Blonde Redhead takes yet another step away from their third-generation no-wave "roots" on the new Melodie Citronique (Touch and Go). The EP contains two remakes of tracks from Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons--one sung in the Pace twins' native Italian, one sung in French--plus a Serge Gainsbourg cover, a new song written in Italian, and a Third Eye Foundation remix. They do sweet, breathy Yu-ro-poop about as well as they did New York skronk--which is to say reasonably well--but their credibility is still inversely proportionate to the trendiness of their sources. THE BIG WU 11/18, PARK WEST Those still convinced that the future of psychedelia lies in blues-based hippie music could follow around bands much worse than the Minnesota-based Big Wu, who distinguish themselves slightly from the jamming hordes by constructing actual songs--ranging from the playfully silly ("Angie O'Plasty") to the mildly funky ("Oxygen") to the wistfully pretty ("Boxing Day")--on their new Folktales (Phoenix Media). But alas, the Park West has no parking lot. JOHN WESLEY HARDING 11/18, METRO; 11/26, schubas Perpetual cult hero John Wesley Harding took a severe detour on his last album, Trad Arr Jones (on the ill-fated Zero Hour), a collection of British folk songs arranged by revivalist singer, guitarist, and fiddler Nic Jones. But for his new The Confessions of St. Ace (Mammoth), he's back to his usual wry, self-effacing cerebral pop. (The liner notes include this chuckleworthy bit of hagiography for the fictional guitar-playing saint of the title: "He was so tenderhearted that when he played one note, he wept for all the notes that he did not play.") For the Metro show, he shares the bill with the otherwise unremarkable pop band Fastball, who back him on a new single--an irresistible cover of Stealers Wheel's "Star." That's the millennial music glut in a nutshell: there are too many decent backing bands and not enough good minds to lead them. SONGS: OHIA 11/18, SCHUBAS On his fifth and latest full-length, Ghost Tropic (Secretly Canadian), Ohioan Jason Molina once again enlists the help of Glaswegian Alasdair Roberts--whose band Appendix Out has been compared to Palace at least as many times as his own--and drummer Shane Aspegren, formerly of Nebraska's Lullaby for the Working Class. Some folks peer into their navels and see only lint; the prolific Molina dives in there and comes out with sparse, creepy meditations on ghosts, death, the ocean, jealousy, and more death. The new album is cohesive and beautiful (I particularly like the subtle use of an Eno-esque pulse at the start of "Not Just a Ghost's Heart"), but it doesn't quite make up in originality what it lacks in life affirmation. BURIED ALIVE 11/21, FIRESIDE BOWL The thank-you list to this Buffalo band's The Death of Your Perfect World (Victory) is instructive: All Out War, Reach the Sky, Brother's Keeper, Another Victim, Next to Nothing, Earthmover, Racetraitor...[and] all of the vegans and vegetarians who sacrifice everyday." Aside from being rather poetic in and of itself, it demarcates where they stand: right on the line between political hardcore and I'm-angry-at-everything hardcore. The songs are full-bodied, full-throated, chugging and roaring assaults on the poison of American culture and the moral foulness of lots of unidentified yous. Sample lyric: "Morals decay, whores parade, it sickens me / This human race, the living dead, drenched in disease."

--Monica Kendrick

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