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Let's get Sic; Riding the Gravy Train!!! 

Wednesday, Apr 12 2006
Pretty Girls Make Graves takes your basic melodic indie rock template and bathes it in a wash of moody textures. On its latest disc, Élan Vital, the Seattle act releases some of the anxious tension found on past records to make way for lusher sonic landscapes. Frontwoman Andrea Zolo sounds a bit subdued this time around, even as she's finessing a post-riot grrrl rallying cry. Keyboards, accordions, saxophones, and trumpets color these tracks as the band gently swerves between post punk, indie pop, and nu disco. While the record occasionally leaves one wishing Pretty Girls would kick that mid-tempo pace up to something that really sets the world on fire, Élan Vital is a fitting soundtrack for an alterna generation that's light on its feet yet deep in thought. PGMG performs Wednesday, April 12, at Bottom of the Hill (call 621-4455 or go to for more info) and on Thursday, April 13, at Amoeba Records at 6 p.m. (call 831-1200 or go to for more info) — Jennifer Maerz

The youthful brain trust behind Oakland's premier party band Gravy Train!!! ought to run for city council. This is a team of celebrity-obsessed and obnoxiously dressed gay boys and fag hags (named Junx, Funx, Hunx, and Chunx) who can render a gathering dangerously crunk within moments of taking the stage. A junta who can commandeer any dance party with such easy authority and panache is only a short leap from ruling our city with an iron fun-fist. Gravy Train!!! sets lewdly moronic rhymes to energetic, low-budget keyboard work; its members get sloppy drunk and take off their clothes; they froth the audience into a spaz-dancing frenzy and then crowd-surf the chaos like its 1996. It feels like the craziest, most wonderful high-school talent show that never was. Gravy Train!!! brings the schlock-dance revolution to the Bottom of the Hill on Friday, April 14, at 10 p.m. Admission is $10; call 621.4455 or visit for more info. — Frances Reade

San Francisco's Sic Alps recently released a spellbinding new 12-inch of rumbling garage rock cacophony called The Soft Tour in Rough Form. The four songs crash-landing here are heavy on the low end, gutting the bowels of delicate speakers everywhere with waves of metallic feedback and shambolic beats. Frontman Mike Donovan's vocals drift like eerie lullabies one moment and hit like skuzzy Lou Reed-isms the next. And yet there are some golden melodic elements tucked within these disorderly offerings — sweetly sung "la la la"s and the gentle ringing of bells poke their way through the rougher riding outlaw anthems, such as the excellent "Speeds." Catch the Sic Alps with OCS and Bulbs on Friday, April 14, at the Peacock Lounge at 9 p.m. Admission is $5; call 621-9850 or go to for more info. — Jennifer Maerz

If ever a movie set needed to simulate a true gale force, it should hire guitarist J. Mascis. Since co-founding Dinosaur Jr. in 1983, Mascis has been championing the return of the guitar solo to the medium of indie rock, standing before a monolithic wall of amps and unleashing a barrage of regal riffage. Seeing his gray, Cousin It mane billowing as he bucks is real rock iconography, but it wouldnÕt mean dick if the music didn't kick like a mule barreling through a wind tunnel. The current thick-as-molasses Dinosaur mix sports the original lineup, featuring Mascis' melodies and plaintive whines alongside Lou Barlow channeling sludge trudge on bass and Murph flailing on drums. So check out the cool stoner dude and his mildly unhinged collegiate brothers as they go ballistic, along with the overdriven psychodelia of openers Comets on Fire on Wednesday and Thursday, April 19 and 20, at the Great American Music Hall at 9 p.m. Admission is $26; call 885-0750 or go to for more info. — Tony Ware


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