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HORIZONTAL ACTION ROCK 'N ROLL BLACKOUT 4/5-7, BEAT KITCHEN The Evanston-based Horizontal Action zine is sort of a low-rent newsprint version of The Man Show: a recent issue included a great retrospective on lesbian-kitsch paperback covers of the 50s and 60s and a piece on how to make do when caught without conventional protection ("Although a chip bag may not provide the comfort a condom might, it still beats not getting laid"). Between the blurry black-and-white T & A shots, it also features reviews of and interviews with garage- and trash-rock bands. This three-night party, at which copies of issue number seven will be distributed, brings in bands from parts north, east, and south, many of whom have records on labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry, In the Red, and Get Hip. Friday's headliner is Andy G. & the Roller Kings, whose namesake, Andy Gortler, fronted Crypt Records faves the Devil Dogs; Saturday it's the Detroit supergroup the Dirtbombs, featuring Mick Collins (still most famously of the Gories) and Jim Diamond (who as an engineer is responsible for the invigoratingly raw and reverby sound of records by the White Stripes, the Go, and Andre Williams). See club listings for complete lineups. And if you're reading this before the evening of Thursday, April 5, you may still be able to catch the biggest name of the bunch--Memphis legend Tav Falco and his Panther Burns--plus Seattle's Valentine Killers and Milwaukee's excellent Mistreaters. ARIANE LYDON 4/6, HIDEOUT Multi-instrumentalist Ariane Lydon was born in England, but she spent part of her childhood with her civil servant father in Chile, fleeing after the assassination of Salvador Allende in 1973. Allende's niece Isabel, a novelist in exile, writes very romantic adult fairy tales that take place in times of war and contain insight into soldiers of both genders--and the critics who think there's something wrong with that are related to the ones who think the only proper sound track for a hostile age is music that reflects constant hostility. Devoted as I am to the loud and the aggro (which of course can convey ecstasy as well as rage), there's something about the cool, watery, tranquil Celtic folk sounds of Lydon's most recent album, Moonlight Harp (O'vert), that compels me to embrace my inner 12-year-old girl, unicorn collection and all. But even if it doesn't do something similar for you, you may be impressed on a technical level: she plays the 12-string guitar and the harp simultaneously. SWAG 4/6, ABBEY PUB They may be based in Nashville, but the "underground supergroup" Swag (which includes Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson, ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, the Mavericks' Robert Reynolds, and Sixpence None the Richer's Jerry Dale McFadden) is in no way a country band. They specialize in 60s Britpop with 00s production values: their debut, the aptly named Catch-All (Yep Roc), is loaded with infectious nods to Merseybeat, and "Please Don't Tell" is a spot-on homage to early Kinks. Most of the songs, while nearly flawless, are as comfortable as a pair of old pajamas, with all the pros and cons that implies, but when they mix in later influences--as on the ripping "Ride," which sounds like "Ticket to Ride" meets "Don't Fear the Reaper"--they sound a little bit less at ease, which pricked up my ears accordingly. HONKY 4/8, DOUBLE DOOR After I caught this Texas trio, led by sometime Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus, at Lounge Ax with L7 a couple years ago, I remembered two things about their set: one, a song called "Smoking Weed With Helios Creed" (presumably autobiographical, as Pinkus played on Creed's 1998 album for Man's Ruin), and two, a stage move involving a Flying V-type guitar and a band member's tongue during a clod-footed but happy cover of Van Halen's "Beautiful Girls." On their second studio album, House of Good Tires (Hall of Records), they play trailer-trash punk boogie that is to its subgenre what the Jimmy Castor Bunch's "Troglodyte" was to raunchy funk--something so raw, lewd, and downright primitive sounding it made everything else sound a little overly landscaped. Inspirational song title this time around: "Your Bottom's at the Top of My List." JAD FAIR 4/12, SCHUBAS Jad Fair really ought to need no introduction by now, but try this, from his brother David's liner notes to Half Japanese's Greatest Hits: "You can learn the names of notes and how to make chords that other people use, but that's pretty limiting. Even if you took a few years and learned all the chords, you'd still have a limited number of options. If you ignore the chords, your options are infinite and you can master guitar playing in one day." Now, in most hands, that philosophy wouldn't manifest itself so appealingly in practice, but in Jad's world--the more than 40 records he's made or collaborated on--magic happens. Even the new Half Japanese album, Hello (Alternative Tentacles), which comes close to something recognizable as organized "rock," still has that essential loopy charm. After all, if you ignore the labels, your options are infinite and you can master the whole world of music in one day. Reports have it that the current round of "solo" performances has included spoken word with human beat boxes (so Fair has set his sights on hip-hop now...oh boy) and accompaniment by the Austin nerd band Adult Rodeo, who also play an opening set. OPETH 4/12, HOUSE OF BLUES These Swedes, who made their American debut at last year's Milwaukee Metalfest, can embark on their first real American tour with confidence: they're headlining at the Metal Meltdown in New Jersey, and they've inked a deal with Koch International, which just released their fifth album, Blackwater Park, produced by Porcupine Tree auteur Steven Wilson. Over the course of about an hour it traverses some complex terrain, from grand sweeping doom metal to vintage-sounding hard-rock prog--hey, if you have to have quiet parts, it sure beats power ballads. It's more than "atmospheric"--it's a sound track for vividly plotted fantasy. If you miss them this time around, you can catch them on the 26th at the Cubby Bear.

--Monica Kendrick

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

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