Sound Checks

Your Choices Guide to Four Nights of CMJ Music

KNIFE IN THE WATER+AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
CBGB, at 8

Featuring two of Austin's finest: As regards Knife in the Water, forget alt-nostalgia, this is the Real Country, 2001 AD. Glassy sublime pedal-steel and chiaroscuro vocal harmonies cradle genuinely poetic lyrics of longing, loneliness, and violence. The quietude of their first record has an edgy and reckless quality that would make Link Wray proud. Trail of Dead bring the heavier ordinance, but they gots the smarts to carry off a formidable punk sound and manic stage bravado in surprising and sophisticated ways. Sources say they will lay waste, but we'll all be the better for it. With Tamar-Kali, Simi, Cathy Richardson Band, and the O. (Dufresne)

PEANUT BUTTER WOLF+MAD LIB
Frying Pan, at 9

Peanut Butter Wolf loves old 45s so much that he just decided to start making them himself. His label, Stones Throw (recently relocated to LA), is one of the reasons to still pay attention to the West. Best artist? Madlib, a/k/a Quasimoto, a/k/a Yesterday's New Quintet. The Unseen was one of 2000's great albums—as Quasimoto, Mad creates moods like no one else. YNQ is his latest project, in which he turns jazzbo and plays all the parts himself. Also: Ese, Shiny Dayz, DJ Smash. (Caramanica)

RAINER MARIA+THE IVORY COAST+PELE+AM/FM+ALOHA
Mercury Lounge, at 7:30

Polyvinyl's sweet, pretty post-punk gets precious in places, but the instrumental Pele are this bill's only weak spot, being instrumental indie and all. The Ivory Coast and Aloha thread their sparkly slip 'n' slide post-spunk guitars with keyboard and vibraphone, respectively; Rainer Maria rub boy-girl vocals together til they're raw; and, on their new disc, AM/FM cover Leonard Cohen more faithfully than their fun, scatterbrain sound warrants. Also: Mates of State. (Catucci)

RYE COALITION+MONOTRACT +THE HOLY CHILDHOOD
Luxx, at 8

Rye Coalition's been morphing from Jesus Lizard/Drive Like Jehu-ish post hardcore into a '70s revivalist MC5-cum-Zeppelin pounding machine. They really come unhinged when they do the killer Zep I sounding druggy-blues space jams and boy can those kids play—just play! Somewhere near the kernel of Monotract's keyboard-oscillated deconstructo noise is something slightly reminiscent of songs—songs with a slight Middle Eastern flavor. For those who follow rock criticism, Greil Marcus thinks Gern Blandsten's the Holy Childhood are the shit. With Rock Coaches, Moneen, and Snails. (Bosler)

SCARED OF CHAKA+ATOM & HIS PACKAGE
Wetlands, at 3 p.m.

Frank Kogan suggests that Seattle's Scared of Chaka are the first band to convincingly resemble both Weezer and Electric Eels (he prefers the latter), which pretty much nails them, unless "what if Rocket From the Crypt suddenly turned into Richard Hell and the Voidoids" (or Viva Las Vegas's claim that they write the best breakup songs since X) helps. Atom is the technopop Dead Milkmen, sorta, only packing (even?) better jokes. With The Weakerthans and Digger. (Eddy)

UNWOUND+CLINIC+MECCA NORMAL+THE THRONES
Maxwell's, at 9

See the Short List.


FRIDAY 14

ANTICON+FLY PAN AM+TO ROCOCO ROT+MARUMARI
Brownies, at 9

This bill is too good to miss, so pay attention. Fly Pan Am is a Godspeed You Black Emperor! side project, and boy does it show—tall walls of sound, albeit thinner ones. Post-rockers To Rococo Rot scored big with their recent album collaboration with loud muthafucka I-Sound. Marumari makes quirky 'lectronics for the Carpark label, including some bizarre narrative about wolves (not joking). And the dear boys on the Anticon label will drop irregular, illogical, and often incomprehensible wisdom in their post-everything kind of way. With Alex Gordon. (Caramanica)

LTJ BUKEM+NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN+RED ENGINE NINE
Limelight, at 6:30

Bukem's enticing, mellowed-out grooves have always stood in stark contrast to the e's-and-whizz spastica of his drum'n'bass peers, not to mention the computer-age nerd-pop of his billmates here. The Neds were always a little too smart for their own good, but in a post-Radiohead world, they've taken on a bit more relevance: The same might be said for po-faced Jersey boys Red Engine Nine, a decade or two down the road. Also: Rialto, the Youth Ahead, Stephen Reso. (Sprague)

CUTTHROATS 9+BOTTOM
Continental, at 9:45

Cutthroats 9 is Chris Spencer (ex-Unsane)'s new band, now hailing from the left coast. Brutal drop D, early '90s sludge, not too far removed from Unsane—reports from friends in S.F. say they're pretty brutal. "Talk about mudflaps my girls got 'em," but not in the literal derriere, but in the aural-tochis sense; Bottom are chicks that faithfully take communion at the Geezer-Iommi-Osbourne trinity. Cult faves Electric Frankenstein play straight ahead beer-belly-bouncin', punkified-KISS gutter-rock and with great underground comic art to back up their boisterous name. With the Turbo A.C.'s and the X-Impossibles. (Bosler)

THE GANTS+HOLLY GOLIGHTLY+THE INSOMNIACS
Maxwell's, at 10

A garage rock show in Jersey, and it's not even hosted by Little Steven? Huh? Anyway, reunited '60s one-hit wonders ("Roadrunner") and Nuggets veterans the Gants headline, but the main attraction should be the oft-overlooked former Thee Headcoatee Holly Golightly, a woman brave enough to sneak a little bit o' country 'n' blues into the garage. With the Cavestomp!-approved Estrus records band the Insomniacs. (Phillips)

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