PELL-MELLVINS: The Melvins, the only true grunge band that ever existed, head our way this week in support of The Crybaby (Ipecac), their third full-length album in nine months.

For whatever reason -- probably because they're the Melvins, who do whatever the fuck they please -- the threesome decided, 12 years after their recorded debut, to initiate a trilogy of theme albums, all on Mike Patton's (Mr. Bungle, Faith No More) new Ipecac label. The first, The Maggot, released in May 1999, is an homage to typical Melvins fare, if there is such a thing; it's an albatross trip down sludgery lane, wherein the band demonstrates the origin of the dreaded g-word. The second, The Bootlicker, released in August '99, approximates Ween skewering weirdo electro-indie-pop-meets-The Residents-style-true-weirdness; it's nothing like anything the Melvins have tossed off before.

Weirder still is The Crybaby, released this past February, an album that pairs the band with a slew of collaborators -- at least one per track -- spanning all genres, both musically and collaboratively. Hank Williams III covers Merle's tour de force, "Okie From Muskogee"; Tool joins the band for a 15-minute opus; David Yow (Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Foetus contribute allied muck-rock; and NYC percussion-thumping noise-rockers Skeleton Key also make an appearance, as does Patton himself. But the album's oddest element is the Melvins' barre chord-for-barre chord backup duties for ex-teen idol Leif Garrett's dead-on Kurt impression on "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

If you've never seen the Melvins live, buckle up motherfucker, 'cause it's gonna be a ride.

The Melvins perform on Thursday, May 11, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m., and advance tickets are available for $10 at Zip's University, and by logging onto For more info, call 629-9211.

GRRRLS NIGHT OUT: It's not often that a bunch of punk rock chicks perform in Tucson, so don't miss the conglomeration that assembles this week.

New York City's Bottom headlines the gig with its heavy-duty rawk à la Sabbath and sons (and daughters). Also on the bill are Phoenix's Über Alice, the '90s direct descendent of Joan Jett's Runaways; Tucson punk trio The Wrecks, who, judging from their press release, are really punk rock; and 8 Inch Betsy, who contribute their hand-marked brand of heartfelt punk.

It's a Tuesday, and you should officially break the rules: check out the girly punk at 9 p.m. May 16, at the Double Zero, 121 E. Congress St. Call 670-9332 for more info.

SCORING A TRIPLE: Do you love George Benson's smooth jazz? If yes, you simply can't go wrong with the Ron Echete Trio. Another installment in the Tucson Jazz Society's Plaza Suite Spring Jazz series, Ron, bassist Todd Johnson and drummer Pete Swan wow audiences till the 9 o'clock hour with bewitching and enduring melodies.

Check out the Ron Echete Trio at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 14, at St. Philip's Plaza, at Campbell Avenue and River Road. Tickets are $14 at the door, $7 for TJS members. For details, call 743-3399.

FLAMENCO FANFARE: The fiery flamenco duo Strunz and Farah strut into town this week for the pleasure of all the Windham Hill-cum-Spanish music fans. These cats cut it up with fluid and seamless guitar lines that won't leave you wanting.

Catch Strunz and Farah at 8 p.m. Friday, May 12, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are $22, available at Hear's Music and Antigone Books. They'll cost $25 at the door. For information and to charge by phone, call 881-3947.

MONDO CONGO: This week Club Congress hosts Dallas' Slobberbone, whose new record, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (New West), is reportedly one of the year's best. (I have yet to hear it, but judging from two worthy opinions, it's a sure bet).

The kickass Creosote and Topless Opry kick off this country hoo-teee-naaan-eeee at 9 p.m. Friday, May 12, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Cover is five bucks, and you should direct any questions to 622-8848.

A second fantabulous show graces the Congo this week. Does anybody remember Urge Overkill? I mean, does anyone really remember UO? I'm not talkin' "Sister Havana" or the Tarantino-approved cover of "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon"(though both of those entries in their canon kick ass) I'm talkin' the freaky rock-soul of Supersonic Storybook and the undeniable fury of, say, the Seattle-influenced Americruiser. I'm talkin' the UO that existed before they bought into the myth of themselves, when they went, almost instantaneously, from a bunch of smart guys playing dumb guy rock to a bunch of smug guys who once in a while really rocked. They calculatedly, smartly rocked, but it worked.

Rumor has it that Nash Kato/Mastermind's new thang is the R&B/R'n'R combo, and I wish him the best of luck. I'll see ya at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 14. A special guest is still to be announced. Call 622-8848 for more info.

WINTER OF OUR CONTENT: I'm willing to wager that Johnny Winter still kicks ass live. But good luck navigating this one and the Jimmie Dale Gilmore show (See this week's music feature.). The good news is you just can't lose!

Johnny Winter plays the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, May 16. Alligator Blues legend Coco Montoya opens the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available at all Dillard's outlets, and by phone at 1-800-638-4523. Call 798-3333 for details.

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