The Canadian "street scene" is usually at least six years behind the U.S., so it's not surprising the Black Halos have been despised in their hometown. Vancouver only recently discovered the DJ-as-artist; how are they to understand rock is on the rise again? Thankfully, the Black Halos know better, or rather, they never knew any better; they're still wearing tight black jeans, eyeliner, ratty hair, and snotty grins from the first time around. The grooves in their Dead Boys and New York Dolls vinyl wore away long ago, but they have enough skinny-hip-shaking vitriol between the five of them to carry the East Side torch, even if they have to do it from the Great White North. The Black Halos support the Loudmouths at the CW Saloon's "Stinky's Peep Show" on Thursday, Aug. 12, with the Catheters opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.
Former Mule vocalist PW Long bears the bourbon-cracked baritone of a man who has clawed through dry riverbeds and soot-filled gutters with his heart and his liver hanging on his sleeve. His latest album, We Didn't See You on Sunday, recorded with Reelfoot -- former Jesus Lizard drummer Mac McNeilly, bass player Dan Maister, organist Jeremy Jacobson, and fiddler Casey Dreissen -- is a subdued self-portrait scarred by guilt, vulnerability, surrendered humor, and improbable hope. Like the latter work of Hank Williams, it sounds too authentic to be fabricated and too dire to be dismissed. PW Long opens for Richard Buckner at Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 621-4455.
As Evelyn Waugh proved in The Loved One, few things are more entertaining than a pet cemetery, except maybe watching movies in a pet cemetery. The Self-Reliant Cinema Group, founded by Super Super-8 Fest and Barbie Liberation protagonist Melinda Stone, brings Three Circles and a Blank Space to the Presidio Pet Cemetery, which may soon fall under the corporate cinematic shadow of George Lucas. The 12-movie festival will begin in the pet cemetery on Saturday, Aug. 14, at 8:30, then wander the streets to a number of other unconventional "viewing rooms." The Presidio Pet Cemetery can be accessed by entering the Lombard Gate from Lyon Street and turning right on McDowell.
With only a few days to spare between the end of a Japanese stint with NOFX and the beginning of a U.S. headlining tour, the Swingin' Utters have squeezed in an all-too-rare hometown show that should highlight all six songs from their most recently released EP. Opening with a bleary-eyed toast -- "Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged wimmin" -- Brazen Head features three brilliant, unreleased songs from last year's Pogues-spirited Five Lessons Learned recording sessions and three new songs, all seemingly derived from long distances on the road. Brazen Head swaggers from the "Spanish Bombs"-esque punch of the title song to the West Coast speed of "Something Sticky" to the straight rock of "Twenty-Three" and the high-velocity lament of "Smokestack Dreams." But "Mover and Morons" is the Guinness in the mix -- a thick, multilayered sociopolitical missive poured with robust skill and a lot of heart. Swingin' Utters play the Great American Music Hall on Friday, Aug. 13, with One Man Army and Teen Idols open-ing at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.
Even nestled among the innately idiosyncratic creations of Mark Ribot, Tom Waits, and the B-52's, the aural accretions of Ralph Carney shimmer with an otherworldly inspiration. He is, of course, a musician's musician, which typically means talent beyond the reach of everyman's ear, but anyone who was able to put aside pop-ish prerequisites and float inside 1997's Ralph Sounds discovered a spontaneous Carney-val where contradicting jackets and squirting flowers careened among wailing appliances and crazy-quilt symphonies created by anything the multi-instrumentalist could shove in his headhole. Softer, gentler, and less exacting, the recently released I Like You (A Lot) sounds more like a playground for precocious nymphs than a roller coaster for deranged kaleidoscopes. I Like You is filled with giddy humor, unpretentious beauty, and Daddy's voice sing-saying a tumble of wildly delightful and ridiculous things. Again, Carney plays a dizzying array of instruments -- countless saxophones, clarinet, oud, banjo, trombone, violin, mandolin, cello, saw, harmonica -- but each song seems to have a beginning, middle, and end. Ralph Carney and friends open for the Ara Anderson Quartet at the Make-Out Room on Sunday, Aug. 15, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 647-2877.
-- Silke Tudor