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CELLO POP: Rasputina is the sound of three New York-based women strapped into corsets, sawing away at their cellos for your "listening" pleasure. What once seemed a cruel gimmick has now flourished into full-blown unique neo-goth chamber pop. And get this: unlike others who trade in such endeavors, they've actually got a sense of humor. Look no further than "State Fair" (from the band's latest full-length, Cabin Fever!, on Instinct) for proof, in which our narrator recounts her pig-showing, sno-cone-making former boyfriends. Ploy to get the attention of those who might not care otherwise: founding member Melora Creager (good name, eh?) played cello on Nirvana's final tour.

Meanwhile, tourmates Trembling Blue Stars recall a time when British bands were slightly fey, moody as hell, and didn't sound anything like Radiohead or Coldplay. Like Aztec Camera with more substantial molars and electric guitars, on last year's Sub Pop album Alive to Every Smile, the band created a work of gorgeous autumnal beauty that doesn't make you feel guilty for reliving for reliving those heady days of the '80s, even though it still sounds current.

Rasputina, Trembling Blue Stars, and Aberdeen perform at 9 p.m. on Thursday, October 24, in an all-ages show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $8 for those with a valid over-21 ID, $10 for those underage. Call 622-8848 with questions.


GIDDYUP! Never mind the lame name, when it comes to ass-blastin' country-rock and weepy, twang-eriffic ballads, The Brooklyn Cowboys are the real deal. Featuring rock vet Walter Egan (he wrote "Hearts on Fire," covered by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and the 1978 mega-hit "Magnet and Steel"), steel guitarist Buddy Cage (he replaced Jerry Garcia in the New Riders of the Purple Sage), and bassist Jeff "Stick" Davis (ex-Amazing Rhythm Ace), the band's second album, Dodging Bullets (2002, Leaps Recordings) recalls vintage Parsons psych-country ballads (the title track), the punk-meets-twang of Jason and the Scorchers ("I Was Wrong"), Doug Sahm-style Tex-Mex ("Hey Jaunica"), Little Feat-esque piano-driven swamp boogie ("Trouble With a Capital 'T'"), and nearly everything in between.

The Brooklyn Cowboys perform at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. For more information call 798-1298.


WHAT A WORKOUT: Fronted by Christian Gibbs, who served duty in Modern English, Foetus, and the Morning Glories, C. Gibbs and the Cardia Brothers' new workout tape, The Pinkerman Set (Rubric), is way better than that old Jane Fonda one I wore out. For one thing, instead of saying "And breathe!" ad nauseam like Hanoi Jane did, the band performs songs that are at once cloud-ridden and uplifting, and pick weird times to combust (a good thing). Best of all, you won't break a sweat listening to it. Oh wait, was that "Cardio" or "Cardia?"

Why Make Clocks' debut full-length, Fifteen Feet and Twenty Degrees (Rubric) reveals a band equally influenced by the Southern kudzu of '80s-era R.E.M. (Dan Hutchison's vocal timbre bears more than a passing resemblance to Michael Stipe, circa whenever he actually became intelligible) and the creepy, creeping pace of the work of Will Oldham.

Both bands perform on Friday, October 25, at the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. Call 623-7621 for more details.


YOU MUST DISMEMBER THIS: Washington D.C.'s The Dismemberment Plan made its name based on a sound that sucked in influences ranging from Prince-style funk workouts, rock anthems worthy of arenas, electronica's herky-jerky jump-cuts, and good ol' angular indie-rock, and spat them back out in its own inimitable style. Frontman Travis Morrison is one of those guys who'd be annoying if he weren't so damn engaging, all reedy quaver that only makes his band more distinctive. The DP's latest album, last year's Change (DeSoto), was aptly named, focusing on far subtler arrangements than any of its prior releases, with its own brand of melancholy imbued within, but relatively so. It is, after all, a Dismemberment Plan record, which means that nothing expected ever pours out of the speakers.

If you haven't caught any of the band's Solar Culture shows, do yourself a favor and get your ass down to Club Congress this week--I promise you'll thank me later.

The Dismemberment Plan performs an all-ages show on Wednesday, October 30, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The Holy Ghost and The Jons open at 9 p.m. Cover is $8 for of-agers, $9 for the kiddies. Call 622-8848 for further details.


ALL THAT JAZZ: For the first time in the adventurous series' existence--six seasons, for those keeping score--Zeitgest's Jazz at the Institute moves from its home base of the Mat Bevel Institute, in order to take advantage of the Yamaha grand piano at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Canucks Paul Plimley and Lisle Ellis bring their respective piano and bass skills to town for a show spotlighting their chamber duo, which has existed for about 20 years now, and showcases just how many ways there are to play a stringed instrument (more than you think).

The Paul Plimley-Lisle Ellis Duo performs at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, at the Trinity Presbyterian Church, 400 E. University Blvd. Advance tickets are available at Antigone Books. They'll be $12 at the door. For more information call 882-7154, or log onto www.matbevel.com/zeitgeist.


ON THE BANDWAGON: Phoenix music vets Dave Insley and Kevin Daly bring their barroom honky-tonk outfit, the Trophy Husbands, to town this week as part of a national tour. Specializing in the kind of literate, woe-is-me country tunes that Al Perry is so darn good at, the band's live shows fall somewhere between the twang of Buck Owens and the stomp of The Replacements.

The Trophy Husbands and Dave Gleason's Wasted Days perform on Saturday, October 26, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. For more info call 622-3535.

Fans of Texas songwriters like Robert Earl Keen and Slaid Cleaves would do well in checking out Nathan Hamilton and No Deal. The Abilene native writes the kind of down-and-out slices of life that seem to float around like fireflies in the Lone Star state.

He'll be at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Tuesday, October 29, at 9:30 p.m. Call 798-1298 for details.

If the description "hushed melancholy" oobles your wooble, head on over to the front room at Plush at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, October 28, where Phil Tagliere will be providing the perfect soundtrack to that double Dewar's you'll be sipping. His Bong Load debut, Slow (2001), was mixed by Tom Rothrock, known for his work with Beck, Foo Fighters and, most tellingly, Elliott Smith. That number again is 798-1298.

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