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A TENDER TREATISE FROM ROB'S BIGGEST FAN

Wanna know what's wrong with music these days? If so, I suggest you take a crash course by purchasing a ticket to the Rob Thomas/Antigone Rising show taking place at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, on Friday, Nov. 4. Thomas, who marred the airwaves as singer for the abysmal Matchbox Twenty, is back, promoting his ironically titled cautionary tale, Something to Be (Melisma/Atlantic, 2005), his solo debut, which contains a constant barrage of offenses to the senses, not least of which is "This Is How a Heart Breaks," a song that stinks of his songwriting process: This song will surely be chosen as background music for numerous sports highlights montages, thereby ensuring me a fresh, heaping pile of cash.

Dude, spare us. Retire now, I beg you.

Opening the show is perhaps the blandest, most middlebrow band ever actively promoted by the world's hugest coffee chain. Antigone Rising is the first act to be signed to an exclusive deal on Starbucks' Hear Music imprint. They're an all-female band, and they're called "Antigone Rising." Read that last sentence again, and if you don't trust me that they completely suck ass, convince yourself by listening to their music. Feel better now? Now that you have concrete evidence that they suck even more than you could have ever imagined? What's that? You didn't bother actually listening to them, and you want to give them the benefit of the doubt? OK, imagine 10,000 Maniacs stripped of any semblance of "soul" they may have once possessed. Now, add horrendous lyrics to take the place of Natalie Merchant's once-passable ones, and update it for that "21st century, modern sensibility." If you don't need to take a shower by now, my friend, go ahead and buy yourself a ticket to this musical abortion.

Hey, it all goes down at 7 p.m., so the secretaries of the world can be safe in bed by 11 p.m., fresh for another day on the job the next morning! How kind of them! Tickets are $25 to $45, and are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, at ticketmaster.com or by calling 321-1000. For more information, call 838-6700.


LIKE "A CHRISTMAS CAROL," BUT WITHOUT THE CHRISTMAS

This Saturday night brings a bill that represents Tucson music past, present and future.

Headlining are Chango Malo, who, if you haven't seen by now--well, you probably aren't reading this. For the sake of brevity for the newbies: Imagine a hybrid of Bad Brains, Fishbone and a couple dozen other influences that creep their way into the mix, as well as a live show that boasts the energy of Lance Armstrong a day prior to the Tour de France, and the plain ol' positive vibes of a shared, communal experience that only rock music can provide. In other words, good times all around.

Comprising a trio of Tucson ex-pats who now call San Francisco home, Roma 79 (the name is an obscure reference taken from This Is Spinal Tap) have just released their first full-length, The Great Dying (Ascetic, 2005). The band--drummer Aaron Bonsall, singer/bassist Jeremy Patfield and guitarist Andrew Skikne--released an EP in 2003, but the new album leaves that show souvenir in the dust of memories.

Where the EP demonstrated a knack for quiet, meandering passages that burst into fits of noise, it also put the spotlight on a band still finding its legs and its sound. The Great Dying, most of all, sounds like a real band, as opposed to a few dudes who decided to write some songs together. They've found their sound, and that sound is far better than what was hinted at on the EP. Hooks abound here, with the rhythm section finding a new insistency, Patfield's tremendous confidence in his vocals, and Skikne's guitar playing the distinctiveness and recognizability from the glory days of his former outfit, Red Switch. All told, it's a brand of indie rock that stands apart from the teeming masses that are attempting similar things--it's simultaneously beautiful and rocking.

Remember the first time you saw The Sweat Band, and wondered how the hell a band could be so good, so fast, only to learn later that they had been, er, sweating it out in their practice space for a full year before they revealed themselves on stage? I have a feeling the same thing's going to happen soon to locals Found Dead on the Phone. The five-piece consists of music vets Gabe Palacios (singer, guitarist; formerly of the underrated Mala Vita); drummer and vocalist Andy Bell; pianist, organist and vocalist James Tiscione (both formerly of Pathos); guitarist and vocalist Jeff Ugstad; and his bassist brother, Brandon (both formerly of Spillblanket). For the past year, they, too, have been writing songs in private, in their practice space, for an album they eventually plan to release bearing the title Kaspar. The gents from Chango Malo, whose practice space is adjacent to Found Dead on the Phone's, have been listening through the walls and tell me the band is something to truly be excited about.

This triple bill hits Plush, 340 E. on Saturday, Nov. 5. Things get rolling at 9:45 p.m., and cover is a paltry $4. Call 798-1298 for further details.


SLITHERING INTO TOWN

At the end of their set earlier this week at Plush, one of the members of the Reigning Sound said, "Hey, The Deadly Snakes are playing in town next week, and you should all go see them. They're a great band." Given the set the Reigning Sound had just completed, it was a trustworthy endorsement.

The Canadian sextet's latest album, Porcella (In the Red, 2005), is the first one I've heard by them, and I can certainly say that it's interesting. Apparently, their early releases cast them in the "garage band" camp, but Porcella is decidedly different. It bears the stamp of darkness à la Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but also veers into '60s reverence, those passages in the Velvet Underground's oeuvre that could be labeled "whimsical," and even the organ-fueled choogle of The Band. But as all over the place as that description might sound, it all somehow makes sense on Porcella, a soulful and seamless amalgam of styles and sensibilities that truly flows in inspiring ways.

The Deadly Snakes perform at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Monday, Nov. 7. The Planet The open the show somewhere around 9 p.m. For answers to your questions, call 622-3535.


ON THE BANDWAGON

I recently read a magazine article by, of all people, John Mayer, which was rather thought-provoking. He was extolling the virtues of blues legend B.B. King, and said, in a nutshell, that his live performances, while not what they once were when he was a younger man, are still absolutely worth catching. Asking how much the reader would love to see Ray Charles now that he's left this mortal coil, Mayer convincingly explained that the same will be said of King once he's gone, too. The article ended with a plea for the reader to go see King while he or she still can, so that we don't have to regret missing him later, once his virtues are extolled and the option is gone.

Tucson, your chance comes this week, as B.B. King performs at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, on Sunday, Nov. 6. Advance tickets are available for $20 to $50 at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more info, call 838-6700.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog may be hipper among the young'uns, but he learned everything he knows from Don Rickles, who still remains far more hilariously tasteless than his spawn. Hell, who wouldn't want to be called a hockey puck by the legendary comedian? Tucsonans can revel in the finest insult comic that has ever walked the Earth at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. Advance tix are available for $20 to $40--far cheaper than a trip to Vegas--at either Desert Diamond location or by calling 393-2799.

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