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LES BATON ROUGE 4/18, PRODIGAL SON Les Baton Rouge originally formed in Portugal and has since relocated to Berlin, which I'm glad to hear is still a welcoming place for punks even with all the post-Wall gentrification. The band's buzz and shriek suggests a world in which the 90s never happened--except for Bikini Kill. On their second album, Chloe Yurtz (Elevator Music), produced by Tim Kerr, the quartet (two men, two women) rips through six tunes with a fiendish Au Pairs meets Babes in Toyland ferocity, and singer Suspiria Franklyn can tear into a mean Nina Hagen when she likes. LONGWAVE 4/18, EMPTY BOTTLE You'd almost have to go back to the 80s to find an American band working so hard to sound like they're from some British Isle or another. This NYC quartet's second full-length, a faux low-budget job called The Strangest Things (RCA), seems to take place on a misty moor where the wind sounds like My Bloody Valentine's take on The Unforgettable Fire and where Robert Smith and Morrissey have a dour argument while waiting for a goth Godot to bring them just one memorable tune--and then the whole thing is covered by Idlewild. RISE AGAINST 4/18 & 19, FIRESIDE BOWL These local punks celebrate their second full-length, Revolutions per Minute (Fat Wreck Chords), with a two-night stand at the Fireside, then head out to tour Europe and Japan as a prequel to a stint on the Warped Tour. On the new album they've shaken off some of their earlier goofy bravado, which always sounded like nervousness to me. Now they let it rip like hardcore ought and sound confident enough to take on a brutal new era. Their wild electricity is undeniably directed toward kids just beginning to realize how deeply fucked the world is, but it can still sound awfully good to us old grumps who've known it for a long time. Downright reassuring, in fact. PIGFACE 4/20, METRO God save Pigface. Industrial dance music is often shunned by those more utopian and those more cynical, but for over a decade this group has been demonstrating that collective enterprises can work. Demimonde stars like Genesis P-Orridge, Trent Reznor, Flea, and David Yow have wandered in and out of the lineup over the years, but now the band is mostly the Invisible Records family celebrating itself, held in place by the firm core of Martin Atkins and steady collaborator En Esch (late of KMFDM). The lineup on their new Easy Listening also includes old regular Chris Connelly, new regular Meg Lee Chin, Amphibious Assault's Fallon Bowman, Funkadesi's Rahul Sharma (on sitar), Stabbing Westward's Dave Suycott, Chemlab's Jared Louce, and Groovie Mann from My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. There is still no better sound track for fetish-gear shopping. DUB NARCOTIC SOUND SYSTEM 4/22, SCHUBAS I know Calvin Johnson is a busy man, but after a five-year wait all he can cough up is a four-cut EP? That's not even a song a year! Nevertheless, the new Handclappin' (K Records) is a worthy example of the band's spindly, lurching, indie-nerd version of dub, soul, dance, and whatever else isn't nailed down. The merry walking bass line of "Petrolbzz" sounds almost cocky, and on her vocal debut, "Sabley Goodness," drummer and bassist Heather Dunn reveals herself to be a disciple of the Tina Weymouth school of singsong. BUTCHIES 4/23, SCHUBAS Maybe for punk rock to grow up gracefully it takes a woman's touch. Not a heterosexual domestic-goddess kind of touch, though: I'm thinking more along the lines of Butchies front woman Kaia Wilson, the cofounder of Mr. Lady Records who, with Team Dresch, controversially opened up the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival to the young and raunchy combat-boots crowd. The North Carolina trio's third album, 3, is a wise and playful disc on which tales of lesbian heartbreak and hope strive to be heard over the guitars. Also on the bill is Moldy Peaches cofounder Kimya Dawson. ...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD 4/24, METRO Maybe this Texas band hasn't lost its teeth live, but its new Interscope EP, The Secret of Elena's Tomb, is all gums. "Counting Off the Days" is, of all things, a man ballad, and its circular guitar figure is eerily reminiscent of a latter-day Patti Smith song. Even the hefty slabs of broken-glass guitar here sound perfunctory, the work of a prematurely jaded young band. Only the odd dance number, "Intelligence," sounds at all fresh--and it's veering into territory already mastered by Pigface.

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