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BRIGHTER DEATH NOW 6/13, EMPTY BOTTLE Swedish composer Roger Karmanik began this project with self-released cassettes in the late 80s, later branching out into a long discography of CDs (mostly on the Cold Meat International label, with moments on Relapse) and compilation appearances. His audience runs the gamut from tripped-out electronica fans who dig his extremely slow ambient sounds to spillover from the black-metal scene (cult hero Mortiis, whose persona is very metal but whose music really isn't, appeared on one of his records). FLESHTONES 6/14, DOUBLE DOOR It occurred to me while watching Rocket From the Tombs last week: any lean young thing lively enough to jump around in tight pants can fake the rock. But when average-looking old folks hurl heart and soul into it like it still means something, and keep doing it whether or not it gets 'em paid or laid--that, my friends, is the real thing. New York's Fleshtones were never the wildest, the loudest, the hardest, the cleverest, or the hippest of garage revivalists, but they may have been--and may still be--the most committed. Do You Swing? (Yep Roc), the new album from this quarter-century-old band (produced in North Carolina by Southern Culture on the Skids' Rick Miller), is their first really good one in years. It's charmingly hoary and human, especially on conspiratorial come-ons like the title track and "Hard Lovin' Man"; and lead singer and harmonica player Peter Zaremba catapults himself over the top of their cover of Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown." The Cynics open. FRISBIE 6/14, SCHUBAS With three songwriters coming up with strong material, this local trio was poised to grab national attention on the indie-pop circuit. But in 2001 drummer Zack Kantor's bipolar disorder forced him to leave the band. Now remaining members Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis have released their second album, Period. (Hear Diagonally), a collection of Kantor's material performed live as an acoustic duo. The stripped-down setting provides a fitting showcase for these 11 intuitive, surprising songs; their twining lines, plaintive cursing, and leaps of logic strain so hungrily toward optimism that this would be moving stuff even without the back story. This is a release party. TRACTOR KINGS 6/16, HIDEOUT Life in rural America can be scary and depressing, and I'll always rank rockers who capture that shuddery loneliness a country mile over those (often romantic urbanites and suburbanites) who indulge in pastoral fantasies. Downstate band Tractor Kings, the vehicle for Dylan-ridden singer-songwriter Jacob Fleischli, have just spent a month of Mondays preaching this gospel at the Hideout (their residency continues through June), and are now celebrating the release of their second album, Gone to Heaven (Mud), which opens with a deceptively lazy Creedence groove and then moves into blistery and brimstoney cowpunk reminiscent of the Long Ryders or Green on Red. Fleischli's nasal voice sounds like the wind blowing through the trees in a run-down graveyard that gets no foot traffic but cows. CLONE DEFECTS 6/17, EMPTY BOTTLE Produced by Jack White--who seems to realize that building up the local scene is a good long-term investment--this Detroit band's newish Shapes of Venus (In the Red) is their second full-length of slum-fantasia glam punk. There's a smidge of wonky sci-fi sex to it, the product of imagination far outstripping chops and budget; this would be hailed as a classic if it had been released 30 years ago. DRAGONS 6/17, DOUBLE DOOR The Dragons wisely spent just three days recording their new album, Sin Salvation (Gearhead). Any more time and they could easily have smoothed over everything that distinguishes them from the rest of the rawk crew: all those odd, bumpy spots where everyone in the band plays all on top of one another, colliding like cantankerous atoms. The chaos is derivative, but at least it's interesting--two or three of the songs sound kind of like you're standing outside a dorm war with one party blasting Kiss and the other Motorhead. LISA GERMANO 6/18 & 6/19, SCHUBAS Despite cameos by Johnny Marr and Neil Finn, Lullaby for Liquid Pig (Ineffable/iMusic)--this LA-based singer-songwriter's sixth album--is largely a one-woman show. Breathy and languid and slickly eerie, Germano's voice oozes like plasma into every crevice of her wispy songs, which must be profound indeed for all the work that went into giving them atmosphere and portent, right? Right? Well, no, but her intimate tales of struggle and fear and small acts of courage could sound track many an angsty-yet-hopeful night for young women who think they're too cool for Tori Amos. QUIX*O*TIC 6/18, EMPTY BOTTLE Following post-riot grrl, pre-White Stripes simple rock a few steps further into the sludge zone, this D.C.-based sister act (plus one guy) makes the same natural connection between garage and mausoleum that the Cramps did, but with a very different result. The dirty, reverbed guitars and chilly, flat vocals on last year's Mortal Mirror (Kill Rock Stars) achieved a new level of zombie soul, and it's not often you hear a band cover Aaron Neville and Black Sabbath on the same album with equal amounts of crude joy. I saw Quix*o*tic open for Sonic Youth and Stereolab, and watching a bill full of different and idiosyncratic bands that all had women playing actual instruments instead of just hopping about singing and looking pretty made me think that despite all the feminist hand-wringing, Women in Rock are doing just fine. The Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio opens. COBRA VERDE 6/19, DOUBLE DOOR Though this Cleveland quartet has been around in various lineups (including one short stint as the bulk of Guided by Voices) for ten years, they've only now got around to their third album. Nowadays there are harder and louder glam revivalists, but Cobra Verde benefit from leader John Petkovic's sly wit, exhibitionist charisma, and respect for the Iggy/Roxy/Bowie/Mott tradition of fantasy, imagination, and idealism. And the band's agile sound has developed into a match for Petkovic's scummily literate street smarts. Their new album, Easy Listening, was released on Wayne Kramer's MuscleTone label and features a few licks from J Mascis--who'll sit in for this gig. Cobra Verde also play an in-store at Reckless Records on Milwaukee at 4. FAIRPORT CONVENTION 6/18, FITZGERALD'S Rock fans still hung up on Richard Thompson dismiss the band's repertory tendencies, and obviously those forever in pursuit of the new and the innovative don't even have a spot for this on their radar. But there's a lot to be said for the neotraditional intergenerational hootenanny, for the tunes that evolve slowly over decades, for a band of unabashed merrie olde farts who host a festival every year for the fun of it and sell the occasional live CD over the Internet to benefit the local rugby club--oh yeah, and for their regular delirious breakdown jam on "Matty Groves," the "Free Bird" of English folk rock.

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