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LUCKY US! This Friday the 13th, I suggest you walk under ladders, cross the path of a black cat or two, and smash a mirror. In other words, it's no time to be superstitious and refuse to leave the house, not with the musical riches being offered around town that night. The toughest part for music lovers is figuring out exactly what to do, as your options include a pair of fabulous local music showcases, a rawkabilly bash and a performance by reggae royalty.

Community radio station KXCI-FM has just released the fourth volume in its Live From Studio 2A series, and for the second time, it comprises a treasure trove of stellar performances from local artists. (The releases alternate between live cuts from [inter]national touring acts and locals.) Culled from live performances recorded for the "Live at Five" and "Locals Only" programs, Locals Only: Live From Studio 2A, Volume IV features 16 cuts that span a plethora of genres, yet somehow flow together seamlessly.

Listeners are treated to everything from the Western musical storytelling of Andy Hersey (the engagingly infectious "Companero Blanco") to funk workouts from Ozlo ("Windows Down," which features a shout-out to KXCI) and The Bunko Squad ("Feelin' Alright"--an original, not the Traffic tune of the same name), rockabilly both modern (Last Call Brawlers' stompin' "No Regrets") and traditional (Al Foul's too-short "Gonna be a Fight") to a bevy of excellent singer/songwriter fare from the likes of Cathy Rivers (the eerily brooding "Tennessee Gentleman"), Namoli Brennet (the addicting "Turning Song") and Howe Gelb, who turns in a stunning solo version of the Giant Sand classic "Shiver," complete with pedal steel.

Other highlights include the Nick Luca Trio's gorgeous "Summer Rain," Sun Zoom Spark's Beatlesque instrumental, "Well of Souls," the guitar-pop magic of The Deludes' "Bad Advice" and a pair of medleys of traditionals: Gabrielle Pietrangelo's beautiful take on "Spiritual Medley (Motherless Child)," and The Klezmopolitans' "Shayn Yi Dilezunah/Bei Mir Bist du Schon," which would remind me of my bar mitzvah, if I'd had one.

Seven of the disc's featured performers--Ozlo, Sun Zoom Spark, Cathy Rivers, Loveland, Roth D'Lux, Namoli Brennet and the Nick Luca Trio--will convene to celebrate the CD's release at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at Plush, 340 E Sixth St. Admission is $4, and remaining questions will be answered by dialing 798-1298.

Over at Club Congress, another awesome and varied lineup of locals will be celebrating The Voluptuous Horror of February 13, demonstrating, according to the club's Web site, that "love and horror go hand in hand." Performers at the bash are Mankind, The Red Switch (who have re-grouped following a breakup last autumn), The Therapists, Amor, The Bandeye and Musica Obscura. Things kick off at 8 p.m. on--you guessed it--Friday, Feb. 13. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Cover is $5. For more information, call 622-8848.

Across the street, greasers will undoubtedly find themselves at the Hellbilly Ball, which will feature a souped-up roster of rawk and rockabilly acts. (The event was originally supposed to take place last fall, but it was re-scheduled for this week.) Your admission fee gains entry to witness a trio of locals--Al Foul, Whiskey Bitch and the Last Call Brawlers--opening for San Diego spooks Deadbolt. It all goes down at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at the Rialto's box office and Bookman's, online at www.rialtotheatre .com, or by phone at 740-1000. For further details, call 798-3333.

Hot on the heels of his brother Ziggy's performance last week, another one of Bob Marley's sons, the more traditional-minded Julian Marley, will be throwing down the skankalicious reggae grooves at an all-ages show at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tix are $10, available at the City Limits box office and all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000; they'll be $12 on the day of the show. For more 411, call 733-6262.


MIX AND MATCH: These days, it seems it's not enough to play in a band. Increasingly, individuals of a musical nature find it necessary to be members of multiple bands, varying outlets to express differing visions that spring from the same mind. Two bands whose members split their time between two bands perform together this week.

Featuring past members of Sleepytime Trio and a present member of Denali, Virginia's Engine Down has progressed during its existence from the thinking man's emo band to something a bit more complex. The band's latest album, To Bury Within the Sound (2003, Lovitt), loses the driving guitar riffs of ED's 2000 debut, Under the Pretense of Present Tense (Lovitt), but retains its complex and ever-shifting song structures, framing them in a cleaner, more subdued setting that seems inspired by Denali.

Best known as the guitarist for Desaparecidos--Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst's other band--Omaha's Denver Dalley found himself with an awful lot of down time to kill when Bright Eyes set out on the road to promote 2002's clumsily titled Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (Saddle Creek). Thus, he accumulated a bunch of vintage synths to place alongside his guitar gear and proceeded to record a self-titled EP (2003, Jade Tree) and a full-length album, the just released Leave Your Name (2004, Jade Tree), under the name Statistics.

Whereas the EP focused on lush electronic pop, the LP takes things one step further, merging the synths with a huge guitar sound, piano and the occasional sample. Album opener "Sing a Song" goes a long way in explicating Dalley's modus operandi: Beginning with reverb-drenched synth and chiming guitar, Dalley sings in a melodic, melancholic tone before a bass that recalls New Order enters the mix; before long, the chorus hits, and it's an earthier version of the soaring guitars and anthemic melodies at which Foo Fighters excel. In other words, Statistics reveals Dalley to be far more worthy than the second fiddle status to which he's been previously relegated.

Engine Down, Statistics and The Velvet Teen perform at 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission to the all-ages show is $8. For more info, call 884-0874.


SWELL SHOW: After a number of years apart, Swell co-founders Sean Kirkpatrick and David Freel (who for years soldiered on without Kirkpatrick) have re-united for the band's seventh album, Whenever You're Ready (2003, Beggars Group). Though the San Francisco band is now in its 15th year, the album, a sort of California road trip concept record, feels remarkably fresh, if consistent with the group's preceeding output. Which is to say, it's full of subtle hooks placed in a moody, dream-pop context that will appeal to fans of Pinback and their ilk.

Swell performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Feb. 14. Critically acclaimed labelmates Ill Lit open at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5, and that number again is 798-1298.


LUST IN OUR HEARTS: From the looks and sounds of their press kit, the dual-female-fronted Atlanta band Lust know how to have a good time. Like Tucson's The Pork Torta, the band enjoys campy themes: They dress up differently for each performance (head to www.lustrox.com to see photos of past performances, where they masqueraded as nurses, sailors, leprechauns, Vikings and daredevils), while their songs, mostly in a punky pop-meets-'60s girl groups vein (although hints of other genres--e.g., surf rock, reggae--occasionally surface), tackle such naughty subjects as sex dolls, and feature titles like "Slots O' Fun" (not about gambling), "Nice Cream" and "Panty Raid."

Check 'em out on Sunday, Feb. 15, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. The show begins at 9 p.m. with opening sets from Winelord and Wasted Aces. Questions? Call the friendly folks at 622-3535.


ESCAPE ARTIST: Don't let the fact that you've never heard of Brooklyn singer/songwriter Paul Schneider dissuade you from checking out one of his two local performances this week. Schneider, a former member of Rivington, who were signed to Epic/550 before they got lost in the shuffle of label mergers, released his solo debut, Escape Velocity (Semaphore), last year to rightful critical kudos. The album is chock full of smartly written, occasionally twangy, low-key guitar-pop songs that remind of our own Chris Holiman. Like Holiman, Schneider is deserving of a wider audience to embrace his charms.

Learn to love Paul Schneider when he performs at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., and again at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at The Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. Both shows are free. Contact Plush at 798-1298 and Grill at 623-7621.

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