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GRAVEYARD SHIFT: Didn't get enough of your grave-robbing psychobilly kicks on Halloween? A couple shows this week have just the spooky fix you crave.

Austin's The Flametrick Subs injects a healthy dose of country roots into its psychobilly stew. On its latest album, whose title and lyrics are printed in Japanese--sorry, I took French--on Kranzke Records, the band comes off as all-American as Deadbolt on a whisky bender, albeit with a couple Johnny Cash records placed strategically in its collection. Flipside raved that the band's new album is "better than sex," but they've obviously never ventured into the joys of necrophilism, as these folks have.

The Flametrick Subs appear at 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Call 670-9202 for more information.

Judging from the title of its U.S. debut, Return of the Loving Dead, and the lyrics of a couple of the songs found within ("Nice Day for a Resurrection," the title cut) Denmark's Nekromantiks does, indeed, understand necrophilism better than, say, someone who's given Alice Cooper's "Cold Ethyl" a few too many spins. But what's missing from the equation is the sheer rawness and sense of humor that makes this stuff so fun in the first place (see The Flametrick Subs). The topical humor is all there--songs about killing cheerleaders and haunted whorehouses--but the band's delivery is more Danzig than the Cramps, as if they don't understand themselves why the jokes are funny in the first place. Apparently, the Danish don't "get" camp.

Also appearing on the bill are straight-up rockabilly cats the Last Call Brawlers and the debut of psychobilly locals Left For Dead, which features Al Perry and scratchingthesurface's Ed Slocum.

Nexromantix, Last Call Brawlers, and Left For Dead perform at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is five bucks. Questions? That number is 622-8848.


BEN THERE: As just a wee teenager in Greenville, Texas, Ben Kweller formed Radish, a trio that meant to be punk, but came off instead like a Nirvana tribute band that accidentally learned the Gin Blossoms' catalog. Said band was, of course, signed to a major label deal in the heady bidding wars of the '90s, only to be never heard from again. Until now. Kind of.

At the wrinkly age of 20, Kweller released his full-length solo debut, Sha Sha (ATO), earlier this year, from his new home base in Brooklyn. It's a pure venture into the realm of singer/songwriter territory, and this time around Kweller's got the goods to back it up. He obviously hung out a bit on the NYC anti-folk scene--the Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson guests on a tune, and lines like "Sex reminds her of eating spaghetti/I am wasted but I'm ready" are straight out of that camp--but the album is loaded with winning, Weezer-esque melodies that are tough to shake.

I have a friend who's a sucker for any song that goes "bop-bop-bop" or "do-do-do-do," and I have a feeling she's gonna love Sha Sha as much as I do.

Ben Kweller performs at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway, on Monday, November 11. The show starts at 7 p.m. with opening sets from Shotstar, The Mean Reds and the Okmoniks. Admission is $9. Call 358-4287 for further details.


SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT: Is your face turning purple from holding your breath waiting for that twice-cancelled Cat Power show? Exhale, oh melancholic one, and discover Lovers this week. Fronted by Carolyn Berk, who writes and sings all the songs, as well as plays guitar, vibes, banjo, wine glasses and "sounds," the Athens, Ga., band has just released its second album, Star Lit Sunken Ship (Orange Twin), an album whose sheer intimacy might be off-putting, if it weren't so gorgeous. Imagine moody, less-is-more orchestral arrangements played on every instrument imaginable, with passages like "I believe in an outer space, with radio towers and super powers/Where the car in the driveway will be that of a lover/You have waited your life over for/Who's now climbing the stairs to your door," and you'll be halfway to the all-too-believable longing found in Lovers' music.

Meanwhile, Orange Twin labelmates The Good Ship come across as the male equivalent of Lovers, with similar, if slightly rootsier, sparse arrangements that frame songwriter Robert Lomax's songs. The band's press kit describes them as a cross between J.D. Salinger and Arthur Lee, but I hear a bit of Nick Drake-meets-Jonathan Richman in there, too.

Lovers and The Good Ship perform at 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, at Las Sinfronteras, 137 E. Congress St. 623-8935 is the number to call for further details.


BANDWAGON: Much like Wilco has reinvented its sound from an alt-country base, Sacramento's Jackpot uses roots-rock as a starting point for its largely mid-tempo pop-rock tunes on its latest album, Shiny Things (2002, Surfdog), which prompted The New York Times to proclaim it as "one of California's greatest unknown bands."

Jackpot performs, along with an opener to be announced, at 9 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $5. Call 622-8848 for more info.

Adam Brodsky isn't your average country 'n' bluegrass dude. For one thing, as he states in the hilarious liner notes of his new album, Hookers, Hicks & Heebs (2002, Permanent Records), he broke one of the genres' cardinal rules: "Jews in the band." But never you mind that; if the idea of Kinky Friedman fronting the Meat Purveyors turns you on, head out to Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 10. Call 798-1298 for further details.


ALL COVERED: We'd like to thank each and every one of you who volunteered a submission to this year's Great Cover-Up, slated for November 14 and 15, at Club Congress. The bad news is that we had far more acts vying for a slot than ever, and therefore, had to turn down more bands than we accepted. (We even attempted to expand the event in order to accommodate more bands, either by adding a second stage or a third night, but alas, it was simply not to be.) Therefore, we regret to inform you that if you haven't heard from us by now, you aren't scheduled to perform. (Next year the event will be expanded in some form, so you are highly encouraged to submit an entry when it rolls around again.) The good news is that, due to the quantity and quality of the submissions we received, this year's Cover-Up is shaping up to be the best one yet. Keep your eyes on this space next week for details, and once again, thank you for your submissions.

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