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GREENHORNES 5/4, EMPTY BOTTLE This cute young Cincinnati quintet makes me feel old. Not that I'm a child of the Nuggets age or anything--but I do remember my first garage revival like it was yesterday, and my affection for The Greenhornes (Telstar) feels too much like nostalgia for something that was itself nostalgic to get comfortable with. Guess it's somebody else's turn to discover the Seeds and the Animals for the first time. The Swingin' Neckbreakers headline. JULIANA THEORY 5/4, METRO The orchestrated guitar and keyboard music on this Pennsylvania quintet's new Emotion Is Dead (Tooth and Nail) is melodic but charmless, like cold digital XTC stripped of all its endearing quirks. And front man Brett Detar overemotes in all the most tired ways: "Will there ever be time enough? / Or are we just too naive? / I haven't just given up / Oh God, I still believe," he whine-warbles on "Is Patience Still Waiting," then climbs from a whisper to a scream over those familiar majestic but tuneless power chords. Beware of anyone who tries to tell you that they're trying to put emotion back in pop music--the emotions he's talking about are probably not the ones that make for good pop music. SIGUR ROS 5/6, PARK WEST File under Just Fucking Gorgeous. There are plenty of good bands out there doing the dream-pop thing (see Acetone, below), but few are so fully committed to maintaining a dream state as Iceland's Sigur Ros. Last year's Agaetis Byrjun (Fat Cat), which glimmers like the northern lights in a cold fairyland, is an uninterrupted landscape of frigid but delicate orchestral sweeps, constructed of quietly churning synths and strained guitar, with ethereal singer Jonsi Birgisson skimming over the whole thing like a glider. (At times he sounds a little like the very young Bono, back when U2 was significantly less earthly.) It's one of the most thoroughly fey records I've heard in years, and I mean that as a compliment. This show is sold-out. PEACHES & GONZALES 5/8, EMPTY BOTTLE; 5/9, FIRESIDE BOWL Peaches may be a one-trick pony, but what a trick it is: when the beat box kicks in, the gawky thirtysomething Canadian, a former teacher and folksinger, strips down to leather (or perhaps pleather) hot pants and turns into a hungry, restless predator, pumping and grunting explicit sexual demands with a menacing swagger and downright oppressive repetitiveness. There's no classification for this unholy melange of Lil' Kim and Suicide that's entirely adequate: what she does isn't hip-hop exactly, nor is it performance art, nor is it rock, though there are elements of all of those in her routine. Her awkwardness and ordinariness are part of the act--in a way Liz Phair only hinted at, she's the hipster girl next door, whom you'd never expect to get up before hundreds of people and pronounce, rhythmically and with hyperdramatic force, flow, and aggression, exactly what she wants and where she wants it. She'll play here with her frequent collaborator Gonzales; on the day of the Fireside gig she'll also perform at Weekend Records & Soap. ACETONE 5/9, SCHUBAS If you've ever had a dream about making out with a sweet young Syd Barrett in a pastel flying saucer drifting slowly over the desert where Gram Parsons went down in flames, this LA trio's fourth album, York Blvd. (Vapor), could be your sound track. If you've never had a dream like that--jeez, live a little. KNOXVILLE GIRLS, TIJUANA HERCULES 5/9, EMPTY BOTTLE Not from Knoxville and not girls, this New York trash-rock supergroup features former Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore drummer Bob Bert, former Honeymoon Killers and Chrome Cranks guitarist Jerry Teel (also an original member of Boss Hog), and Kid Congo Powers, a former member of the Cramps, the Gun Club, and Nick Cave's Bad Seeds. As you might expect, their second album, In a Paper Suit (In the Red), is a lean, mean, black-suited gutter-sleaze machine whose country flavor comes straight out of DC's creepy comic Preacher. The opening act, Tijuana Hercules, is the new punk-blues trio of former Mount Shasta front man John Forbes. Forbes plays guitar and sings in his distinctive drunken-frog style; percussionist Zak Piper plays a jury-rigged setup of tin cans, cowbells, tambourines, and other trash; and Chad Smith plays a conventional drum kit--for such an austere lineup, they make an awful lot of glorious racket. GRADE 5/10, FIRESIDE BOWL Some metal bands have two singers, one to do the clean, sweet sound and another to handle the glottal growl. But punk's always been suspicious of excess workers, so Grade front man Kyle Bishop does both all by himself. Often described as something new in hardcore, this Toronto band's sound seems to me more of a blend of emo and metal designed to appease those who get very defensive about their genre allegiances. Victory Records has recently issued The Embarrassing Beginning, which compiles songs from earlier, shorter releases, demo sessions, and acoustic versions; this bit of premature overdocumentation is meant to pave the way for their first proper full-length on Victory, coming this summer. GROOBEES 5/10, FITZGERALDS; 5/11, ABBEY PUB I don't care if the title does come from a photograph of a sign outside a roadside fireworks stand--any CD called Buy One Get Eleven Free really ought to have twelve songs on it, not fifteen. Fifteen songs is also probably a little more Groobees than you need at one sitting--in the age of vinyl this sort of sweet, mug-swingin' blue-jeans music, the stuff favored by the backwoods hippies we used to call "headnecks" back home when they were in the mood for lovin', seemed to come in smaller but more potent doses. This Texas quartet does have a nice grasp on what makes the stuff tick, though--producer Lloyd Maines recognized this while recording the band's previous album and suggested that his daughter, the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines, take a listen. She liked "Wide Open Spaces" and the rest is history; the epilogue is that the Groobees can now record as many songs as they damn well please and release them in whatever numbers they see fit.

--Monica Kendrick

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