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IMA ROBOT 10/3, THE VIC It's more than possible for a bunch of irritating poseurs with intentionally awful haircuts to make a great record (cf the Faces, the Dolls, the Pistols, etc), but Ima Robot's Virgin debut misses the mark by a handful of tunes and a couple layers of irony. The irritating part, however, they've got down cold. Reports have it that these LA-based new-wave revivalists are capable of giving up the goods live, though--apparently front man Alex Ebert's spastic twitch is quite persuasive, and having a pair of pros (whose combined credits include Beck, R.E.M., Macy Gray, and Tori Amos) in the rhythm section probably doesn't hurt. Hot Hot Heat headlines (see Critic's Choice). CENTRO-MATIC, SIX PARTS SEVEN 10/4, SUBTERRANEAN You will find distinctive qualities on Centro-Matic's new Love You Just the Same if you listen for them, notably some interestingly placed guitar breaks, judicious use of strings and pedal steel, and most of all the subtleties in Will Johnson's blearily baroque Rod Stewart howl. But if you have to listen for them...Also on the bill are the Six Parts Seven, who are touring behind a record they didn't make: on Lost Notes From Forgotten Songs (Suicide Squeeze) other musicians (including Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Dave Bazan of Pedro the Lion, Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession, Jenn Ghetto and Mat Brooke of Carissa's Wierd, and Katie Eastburn of Young People) play selections from the band's previous releases. The good news is that it suggests untapped potential in the Six Parts Seven's undistinguished trance-plink, but that's also the bad news: the band's show won't be as good as its tribute album. Centro-Matic also plays at Reckless Records on Milwaukee at 3. EDWARD KA-SPEL, DRESDEN DOLLS 10/4, DOUBLE DOOR Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots hasn't toured the U.S. on his own since 1987, and there's no obvious reason for him to do it now; his latest solo record is still 2000's Red Letters (on Cacciocavallo and available through soleilmoon.com). His synth-driven, quasi-ambient solo work is truly solitary sounding: he stares into a dense, multicolored inner world (one that just might open on the astral plane) without acknowledging the outer world at all. The Dresden Dolls couldn't be more different: on their eponymously titled debut this Boston duo plays sexy, forceful neo-Weimar cabaret. Imagine if Sally Bowles had gotten her hands on a few PJ Harvey records. 31 KNOTS 10/4, FIRESIDE BOWL On the new It Was High Time to Escape (5440' or Fight!) this Oregon trio crams Slint-ish postpunk into King Crimson-ish prog whether it fits or not. It doesn't, and there's no schematic to help you follow the tortuous wiring. But their half-buried hooks and vestigial pop tone separate them from the true note nerds--they're using their weird science to invent games, not hack NASA. Haymarket Riot headlines. CORDERO 10/7, DOUBLE DOOR This band is beloved in Brooklyn for the sweet but street story-songs of Ani Cordero (current member of Bee and Flower, former Man or Astroman? Gamma Clone). Her bilingual Puertorriquena sensibility just might help New York indie rockers connect with the neighborhoods they live in (perish the thought). On last year's debut, Lamb Lost in the City (Daemon), the rich, swaying instrumentation seemed to be constantly unfolding into fuller density and depth. Now Digital Club Network has brought out a great quickie live album (En Vivo!/Live, recorded in June), and if anything it shows the studio album is lacking something--in person the band is pretty damn dazzling. FIRE THEFT 10/8 & 10/9, BOTTOM LOUNGE With Jeremy Enigk, William Goldsmith, and Nate Mendel on board, this is the phoenix risen from the ashes of Sunny Day Real Estate--an airbrushed phoenix in classic late-70s custom-van style, like you might have seen on the cover of a Journey album back when they were playing to guitar geeks, not eighth graders. These guys are vaguely reminiscent of Jane's Addiction in their forced attempts at Zep-style grandeur and spirituality--but then, Jane's Addiction was nowhere near as far removed from mid-period Journey as its fans liked to think. TOTIMOSHI 10/8, FIRESIDE BOWL This Bongzilla-heavy, early-Soundgarden-dirty Oakland trio plays a scrappy, ratty alley metal with the ragged pride of survivors. On its latest, Monoli (This Dark Reign), the rage is more like a shamanistic resistance to oppression than the general malaise of angry-young-man rock. Its lyrics allude to Chicano iconography from the Spanish conquest to the Day of the Dead, and guitarist-front man Antonio Aguilar sings as if he wants them understood: in "The Skies Over Monolith Mountain" he's crying out for a force as ancient as that evoked by any Scandinavian Marshall-stack antiquarian.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Arthur S. Aubrey.

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