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MARY TIMONY 6/14, EMPTY BOTTLE Indie-rock It Girl Mary Timony doesn't break any new ground on The Golden Dove (Matador), her second solo album since Helium went on "hiatus." But her fans wouldn't have it any other way: her distinctive style, which draws on folk, psych, and even church music, provides a grounded sort of mystical prettiness for those who like real toads in their fantasy gardens. Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous helped produce and played on the album; here cellist Amy Domingues, bassist Jeff Goddard, drummer Christina Files, and pedal-steel guitarist Al Weatherhead will help Timony cast her spell. BARBEZ 6/15, HIDEOUT On its self-released, self-titled debut, this big band from Brooklyn tips its hand with a handful of covers: the Residents' "The Ultimate Disaster," two Brecht-Weill numbers ("Tango Ballade" and "Pirate Jenny"), and one traditional Russian song ("Beauty"). Barbez's postmodern panbohemian fusion nods to eastern European music, klezmer, the French torch song, and pretty much everything in between. Instruments include guitar, violin, theremin, marimba, and vibraphone, as well as the lyrical, husky, and sometimes disturbing vocals of Saint Petersburg-born Ksenia Vidyaykina-Gest. This would have been a far better sound track for Moulin Rouge than the one it got. NEBULA 6/16, BEAT KITCHEN This kick-ass LA power trio is on a little detour from a tour with Nashville Pussy. Spun off from Fu Manchu in 1997, Nebula are often pigeonholed as "stoner rock," but seeing them live in a small club is like having a vintage 70s stadium-rock band at its peak play in your living room--flaming gong and all. Meteor City, one of the labels that released their stuff before Sub Pop picked 'em up, has just issued Dos EPs, which collects tunes from an early split LP and a ten-inch and adds three new songs; expect to hear a mix of old and new material here. LUTHER WRIGHT & THE WRONGS 6/17, SCHUBAS Pink Floyd's The Wall was ruined for me back in the day by the melodramatic adolescents of all ages who read Roger Waters's tortured allegory as applicable to their own pissant parental problems. Then comes this pack of fiddlin' Canadians, who somehow look through the delusions of grandeur and see the perfect country album. Rebuild the Wall (Back Porch/Virgin) is way too long and labor-intensive to be a gag (though I doubt the line "Teachers--leave them kids alone," delivered in a hillbilly drawl, is entirely straight-faced). The scary thing is, it's good. FUCKING CHAMPS 6/18, EMPTY BOTTLE; 6/19, FIRESIDE BOWL Reading all the clips in the Fucking Champs' press kit is a depressing exercise--I haven't seen so much hand-wringing about "irony" since before Jay McInerney became a wine critic. It is possible, you know, to harbor a genuine passion for 70s and 80s progressive metal and realize that the shit is funny. Plus, tongue in cheek or tongues waggling at the audience, the Champs have to pass the same test as everybody else: does it rock? Their new V (Drag City) does, very much, in a Guitar Center kind of way. In fact that's all it does: since there are no lyrics, statements are limited to song titles, of which "Children Perceive the Hoax Cluster," "Nebula Ball Rests in a Fantasy Claw," and "Crummy Lovers Die in the Grave" are representative samples. Strongly recommended for anyone who would have been a fan of (early) Rush were it not for Geddy Lee and Ayn Rand. LEON RUSSELL 6/19, BEAT KITCHEN Legendary session man Leon Russell is a sort of Forrest Gump of rock 'n' roll. He toured with Jerry Lee Lewis when he was just a kid and landed a spot in Phil Spector's studio band shortly thereafter; as a songwriter, arranger, and musician he's connected to the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson, among many others. His latest release under his own name is a standards collection, Moonlight and Love Songs; the best thing about it has to be the cover, on which the white-haired mountain man poses with a white lapdog. On record Russell's accompanied by Bruce Hornsby, Edgar Winter, and the Nashville Symphony; here he'll perform songs from the album with a regular band. ELECTRIC WIZARD 6/20, THE NOTE This British trio, who returned from a long hiatus in 2000 with the sludgy and savage Dopethrone (Rise Above), have just released Let Us Prey, which in its themes and packaging pays tribute to the druggy, sexy, cheesy late-60s, early-70s occultsploitation phenomenon. They've gotten flak from some corners for doing what all their predecessors eventually did--that is, branch out. Let Us Prey is trippier, artsier, and more varied in tone than Dopethrone, so it's bound to disappoint some--luxuriously thick bottom-heavy riffage is still in such short supply these days that every minute of something else here can seem a letdown. But if you forgave the dodgy fake jazz on Sabbath's debut, you can give these guys a break for playing a little piano. HANGMEN 6/20, HOUSE OF BLUES This hard-livin' SoCal band's latest, We've Got Blood on the Toes of Our Boots (Acetate), is a live album, and that's probably for the best: scrappy cowpunk sits better that way. Though they've been playing this sort of stuff longer than most (since the mid-80s, with time out for a major-label reaming and some junkie hijinks), some of the material feels generic now--but the sonic power is there, and when Bryan Small's mouthing off at the mike he sounds like Jimmy Castor imitating Rob Tyner. Eddie Spaghetti from the Supersuckers (who's cited the band as an inspiration) contributes to one track. Social Distortion headlines. QUINTRON 6/20, FIRESIDE BOWL; 6/21, EMPTY BOTTLE In the liner notes to Quintron's new Unmasked Organ Light-Year of Infinity Man (Bulb/Rhinestone), there are thank-yous--to everyone from the booking agent to Lesley Gore to "the internet"--and there are fuck-yous, directed at, among others, "large musical instrument corporations attempting to steal ideas knowing full well the patents, proof, and nation of thousands backing it up." But Quintron needn't fear: even if someone were to mass-produce the Drum Buddy (an analog rhythm machine of his own invention, which he plays along with various organs and keyboards), there'd never be another sexy science nerd who could coax from it such sustained and orgiastically dirty electro-funk. As usual, Q's partner in grime, Miss Pussycat, will accompany him on maracas and puppets.

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