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COME ONS 3/15, BEAT KITCHEN This trio plays sweet 60s pop 'n' soul so period perfect I keep expecting them to turn up on an Austin Powers sound track; instead they've released their second album, Hip Check!, on Sympathy for the Record Industry. They're charter members of Detroit's incestuous and lively rawk scene: drummer Patrick Pantano, a veteran of Rocket 455 and Andre Williams's Motor City band, plays in the Dirtbombs; singer and bassist Deanne Iovan is a former Dirtbomb herself and played drums in the Gore Gore Girls. Their minimalist approach distinguishes them from their influences, though, and their playful and decidedly girly sound distinguishes their racket from the one coming from the garage next door. LAST VEGAS 3/15, DOUBLE DOOR Formed by two brothers and a pal from Rockford and improved upon in Normal, where they met singer-harpist-organist Rory Davis, this tight and powerful band moved to Chicago two years ago; since then they've gained something of a reputation, playing the North Carolina garage blowout Sleazefest last year and releasing their own self-titled debut CD in November. The eight songs on the disc merge garage and classic blues-rock with a metallic sheen; they go by so fast and furious that the only thing you can analyze about them is their dust. PISTOL WHIPPED, THIRD GRADE TEACHER 3/15, HIDEOUT The local trio Pistol Whipped show scruffy heart on their second release, Too Much Excitement (Beluga); with their fresh-blended boy-girl vocals and passionate leaping after notes they can't quite reach, they sound at times like the waifish teenage love child of X and, well, Love Child. They share this bill with Third Grade Teacher, an LA quartet making their Chicago debut; they're tighter and grittier sounding than Pistol Whipped and could pass for classic hard rock if it weren't for that name and the decidedly new-wave delivery of Sabrina Stevenson (who really does teach third grade). Their most recent full-length, 3 (Third Grade Records), is a double CD (enhanced with photos and video) that threatens to overstay its welcome with its warped take on everything from funk to Led Zeppelin to crisp college pop, and yet never does. GREAT BIG SEA 3/17, METRO These Canadians are huge stars at home; according to their publicist, they've sold out "every major hockey arena" in the country and contributed a few songs to the sound track of The Shipping News, filmed in their native Newfoundland. There's nothing fashionable about the graceful folk-pop (one song sounds like a Smiths nod to me, and another reminds me strongly of Dave Edmunds's "Queen of Hearts") and slightly corny Celtic jiggity-jive they continue to purvey on the new Sea of No Cares (Rounder); in that way, they're not unlike Ireland's Saw Doctors or even the great Scottish band Runrig, which has never managed to make a dent over here. But the people who love this stuff, god bless 'em, can't get enough of it, and they will keep on screaming for it and spilling their pitchers all over the floor long after this week's hot new thing has faded into vague cultural embarrassment. MINK LUNGS 3/20, SCHUBAS One of the best new band names I've heard in a long time. And the Brooklyn quartet's debut album, The Better Button (Arena Rock Recording Co.), is a jewel in the rough. Lovely lines and clever riffs whip past at breakneck speed, given an elegiac tone by feedback and crunchy distortion (the opener, "I Sell Love," sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain with a massive injection of pep); I'm sure I'll still be hearing new sparkles in its solid sidewalk surface six months from now. The band is known at home for an active live show involving, at one time or another, Jell-O, hula hoops, and live ants. COMADOSE 3/21, FIRESIDE BOWL Screaming Ferret Wreckords is a fairly new label out of New Hampshire; started in 2000, it promptly signed a full roster of bands and shipped them off to famous hammer parties like the Milwaukee Metalfest and the New Jersey Metal Meltdown. The imprint seems to have high hopes pinned on Boston's Comadose, and after hearing their debut, Re-Up, I have to agree that they could be huge. The seven brutal cuts--basic metal grind meets rap-metal with a bit of an industrial pulse--hit all the essential lyrical themes (vengeance, hatred of authority, armchair psychoanalysis, more hatred of authority) and a few more ("Slam Pig," about the joys of the pit, is as close as nu metal gets to a good-time anthem). It's a bit on the wordy side, and vocalist Michael Roberge doesn't sing, growl, or rap so much as gibber, but the all-important riffs are certainly present and accounted for. JULIE DOIRON, ROSIE THOMAS 3/21, SCHUBAS Eric's Trip veteran Julie Doiron, who won a Juno award (Canada's Grammy) for her third album, Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars, gets more naked than ever on her fifth, Heart and Crime (Jagjaguwar). In singer-songwriter land as on the poetry circuit, if you want folks to stop jawing and listen to you (even for just a couple minutes), you don't raise your voice--you lower it, lure them in with a little mystery and the promise of intimacy. Doiron is not a particularly melodic or dynamic composer or singer, but she has a Cat Power-like ability to draw listeners into her energy field. Comparatively, the sweet country-tinged ballads on When We Were Small (Sub Pop), the debut by Doiron's Seattle-based tour mate Rosie Thomas, sound downright aggressive. Doiron is barely emotionally accessible for all her unadornedness, but Thomas goes straight for the cry-yourself-to-sleep button; interestingly, when she's not playing music she does stand-up comedy. NEIL MICHAEL HAGERTY 3/21, ABBEY PUB The former Royal Trux copilot's second solo album, Plays That Good Old Rock and Roll (Drag City), was recorded with the band he toured with after his first one--bassist Dan Brown and two different drummers, Seven and Tim Barnes--plus a gaggle of guests, including violinist Susan Voelz, singer Edith Frost, and the Miighty Flashlight. (Only Brown and Barnes will play with him here.) It's not a drastic departure from his debut--more like a logical extension of the same inspired modern freak blues, wild-eyed and shaggy but intelligently plotted. His brilliant psychedelic playing is more articulate than ever, and there seems to be more of it this time.

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