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THE RAVEONETTES, QUINTRON & MISS PUSSYCAT, STEREO TOTAL at the Troubadour, November 14
Fresh off the redeye from Copenhagen, Danish duo the Raveonettes blended their '60s garage-psyche influences so skillfully that fans got their swerve on and collector geeks questioned their notions of authenticity. It's a moot point -- the Raveonettes' roller-coastering grooves seduce effortlessly, and their knack for stomping bass-drum/snare-thwack intros teleports you to a time when parents thought the kids had lost their minds.
If most folks consider New Orleans a party town, Crescent City duo Quintron & Miss Pussycat's disco burlesque ensures you never forget it. Things kicked off with a puppet show starring a sewing machine and a dress (not shitting you) arguing over whether to "finish the stitches or go get stoned." Q&MP quickly settled into maraca-flecked bump 'n' grind till a pyrotechnic climax of Mardi Gras Roman candles wrapped the routine. Rewind midset, the pair got blues-bent, like Marty & Elayne doing their best Royal Trux impersonation. Tasty, but not exactly in keeping with the eye-popping folderol.
With war and recession hanging over our heads, the time has never been riper for Weimar-echoing campmeisters Stereo Total. Hardly the forgettable bagatelle they are on disc, live these Francophile Berliners are like stumbling onto a storied soiree that heretofore existed only in your besotted reveries. Clad in business suit and tie, Françoise Cactus pounds her kit and sings mostly in razor-precise French and stilted English while partner Brezel Göring programs the sparklingest spritzes of synth-pop. No fashion accessory was a faux pas among the time-capsule-dwelling fans, and about 20 of 'em charged the stage for the encore: a beer-garden jingle with a chorus of "Wir Tanzen, Wir Tanzen." A beautiful, Continental and freakish thing it was. (Andrew Lentz)
AMOR at the Alterknit Lounge, November 23
Naïm Amor, this outfit's namesake, is a show unto himself. He wears a huge orange Gretsch guitar and hops madly around the stage, maniacally stepping on one or more of the half-dozen or so pedals arrayed in front of him. When he solos, he often stands on one leg and kicks an invisible object with the other. He applies a solid cylindrical metal object and a steel bottleneck to his strings or scrapes them with his pick, producing a hip-hop scratch, or he plays a toy drum machine into the guitar's pickups. The Paris-born Tucson resident also blows a melodica; the accordionesque tones add a boating-down-the-Seine atmosphere.
The sound of Amor is the spot in the universe where order meets chaos. Amor, the man, is a first-rate guitarist whose extensive knowledge of standard jazz chops contrasts with the Hendrixian whammy bar and feedback cacophony. He writes and sings gorgeous love songs as well as covering his countrymen's hits. Tonight he rendered a lovely "Paris by Night," made famous by actor/singer Yves Montand. But amid all the diminished chord balladry and declarations of amour in both French and English (with many lyrics by Naïm's partner, filmmaker Marianne Dissard), he introduces the dissonance inherent in affairs of the heart by making a beautiful racket. The bottom end is provided by Nathan Sabatino on cello. Both Amor and Sabatino play figures into a loop, then improvise on top of the loop, creating the aural appearance of a fuller band. While the loop replays, Naïm sips on a beer, cheers the audience, dances a bit and then wails on his ax. Few others in rock are making music as interestingly off-kilter and refreshingly uplifting as these musical subversives. (Michael Simmons)
LETICIA CASTANEDA & DON LEWIS, MITCHELL BROWN & ALBERT ORTEGA, JOE POTTS at Beyond Baroque, November 24
Beyond Music's latest packed-house incarnation sees Leticia Castaneda on CD and field recordings and Don Lewis on analog synths accompanied by Michelle Sinigayan's visuals. Slide projector glides in blue along the shivering wave-crests of a sound raised gently but firmly, a faint thrum like the pulse of a sea-craft engine. Images of skyscrapers pitted with darkness appear and are then backed away from. An orchestra of squeaks and slow metal cutlery tunes up, as if behind each of those lit skyscraper windows are machines constantly humming. Metallic cloudscapes rise, and the downtown diamonds are twisted and altered in geometric progression. Slight feedback kisses run along the onscreen shadow of a moving body. It's a study of motion -- the whirling, cosmic images as the sound revolves and evolves, even down to the way some people cough and shift in their chairs.