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DOUBLE ZERO RECORDS SHOWCASE 11/30, METRO The Double Zero label was founded to release Smoking Popes rarities and lost treasures, and three years later still specializes in milking the band's legacy (a Smoking Popes tribute album is due in 2002). Headlining this bill is the label's probable ace in the hole, Duvall, featuring label owner and Popes drummer Mike Felumlee, Eli Caterer, and yes, Josh Caterer--they'll release an EP on December 11. Felumlee will also perform separately in support of his new solo album, 64 Hours, and sometime extra Popes guitarist Tom Daily will do the same for his new Tragedy of Fanbelts, which features Eli Caterer on guitar and Felumlee on drums. The lineup is rounded out by non-Popes signings the Honor System and Retro Morning and Champaign's Red Hot Valentines. GOBLINS 11/30, EMPTY BOTTLE The Goblins' Missing Fits is a Misfits homage with an inspired, if not entirely true, back story: according to one professor Yuri Strier, who claims to be chair of the University of Chicago Musics and Culture department and also the "world's foremost Misfits scholar," the masked garage stalwarts located Danzig's stage-prop coffin in Touch and Go honcho Corey Rusk's collection and popped open a secret panel Scooby Doo-style to discover the sheet music for lost Misfits songs. (Take a moment to wrap your brain around the idea of Misfits sheet music before we move on.) In the liner notes Strier also explains why the Goblins were naturals to record them: "Despite their many years of experience, the Goblins' musical skills have remarkably not developed beyond the point where the Misfits were after only having played for several weeks." The result is 11 gems ranging from "4 Food Groups" ("Flesh, Flesh, Flesh...and BRAINS!") to "Pellet" (about William McKinley's assassination) to what purports to be young Glenn's first attempt at orchestral composition, "Sinphony in Hell Minor." The My Pal God issue of this CD is actually a reissue, with added Goblins Quicktime video and a video game demo--a pretty nice package for the money, but it still doesn't measure up to the version the band put out last year in a very limited edition. Every disc came with an "urn" stuffed with a button, a poster, a comic book, and, allegedly, the ashes of a former drummer. MARVEL KIND 11/30, DOUBLE DOOR; 12/5, SCHUBAS On Conquering the Universe Chorus Verse, the promising-as-all-get-out self-released full-length by this local electro-pop outfit, hints of the B-52's, Flaming Lips, Led Zeppelin, and most obviously Devo percolate over the high heat of youthful enthusiasm. They don't leap for the cultural jugular as quickly or rip pop music apart at the seams as skillfully as the De-evolved Ones, but who does? At the Double Door they open for the more straightforward Gaza Strippers and New Bomb Turks; the Schubas gig is part of the Onion's "Justify Your Existence" series. AMERICAN DEATH RAY, TOMORROW'S CAVEMAN 12/1, BEAT KITCHEN Much of what passes for garage rock these days doesn't feel quite right--too assertive, too fast, or too proficient, as though it secretly aspired to metal. That's not inherently bad--after all, this "problem" also gave us early Deep Purple. But what serious Nuggetheads look for in garage is that special brand of crude innocence a band achieves in its first and not-quite-there-yet attempt at psychedelia--crunchy, weird, and fearlessly gratuitous. Unfortunately there's almost no way any sentient adult can achieve that in the 21st century, what with every scrap of genuine weirdness available again for scrupulous study. And as you might guess from their self-conscious handle, the Saint Louis quintet Tomorrow's Caveman knows it. But on their Tomorrow's Caveman Today! (Chucklehead), they do re-create the vibe more faithfully than many of their peers. And stick around after they're done, because headliners American Death Ray are even better: their full-length debut on Sympathy for the Record Industry, Welcome to the Incredibly Strange and Erotic World of the American Death Ray, is a joyous single-minded guitar-organ-sax drone that falls somewhere between ? & the Mysterians and the Modern Lovers. Neogarage fanatics probably already know that like half the musicians in Memphis, front man Nick Diablo Ray has played in '68 Comeback, as has organist Brendan Lee Spengler, who's also done time in Tav Falco's Panther Burns and the Compulsive Gamblers. HEY MERCEDES 12/2, HOUSE OF BLUES Many young men these days are using their guitars to build instead of destroy--and what they build are elaborate, nicely engineered cathedrals to their own emotions, to the holy state of young-mannishness itself, that I have little interest in exploring. To be fair, Hey Mercedes's Everynight Fire Works (Vagrant) is obviously outstanding in its category--as it should be, since three of its four members honed their skills in Braid and the fourth, guitarist Mark Dawursk, has worked as road crew for Jets to Brazil and the Promise Ring. Maybe my not getting it is just a sign that I'm not the connoisseur of young men that I used to be--in the words of one wicked Oscar Wilde character, "there is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love." OZZY OSBOURNE 12/6, ALLSTATE ARENA As if you needed any more evidence that Ozzy's gone from bat biter to baby kisser: "Get Me Through," the opening cut on his unpromisingly titled new Down to Earth (Epic), starts out, "I'm not the kind of person you think I am / I'm not the Antichrist or the Iron Man." Say it ain't so! Furthermore, this jaunt with Rob Zombie, originally dubbed the Black Christmas tour, was strategically renamed post-September 11, and now there's even a line of "Ozz Bless America" merchandise, proceeds from which go to Howard Stern's fund for New York rescue workers' families. Musically the album occasionally coughs up some classic metal riffery, but Ozzy still can't seem to find another original guitarist, and he also still seems to think he has to write gloppy ballads to score a hit ("Dreamer" sure ain't "Imagine"). Zombie, fortunately, still has little patience for anything besides horror, tits, and noise. GENITORTURERS 12/6, DOUBLE DOOR If you want to pass this evening in a way that's more genuinely fundie-frightening, go see the Genitorturers, rock's foremost pushers of the BDSM agenda. (If, on the other hand, you don't know what BDSM stands for, better stick with old man Ozzy.) Now taking advantage of the Internet to distribute MP3s (as if music were really the point, though their pervy goth-metal sound tracks aren't bad, as such things go) and chat with their legion of literally slavish fans, they've become a niche market unto themselves.

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

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