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The House of Tudor 

Wednesday, May 5 1999
I try not to use this space for grumbling. So what can I say about Mike Ness' solo album Cheating at Solitaire? Well, it is most definitely Mike Ness. Even with all those horns from Royal Crown Revue, and complementary vocals from Bruce Springsteen, and a couple of guitar solos from Brian Setzer, Cheating is just chock-full of Ness-ness. Sure, it's a little slower than anything Social Distortion has put out, but it's definitely still greasy-nailed rock 'n' roll and it explores all the topics dearest to SD -- alienation, drugs, booze, crime, sex, cars, regret -- but rather than reveling in youthful excess, we find an older, dare I say, lonelier Ness getting all self-reflective and preachy on our asses.

Over the last couple of years Social D has become little more than self-parody, but that's no excuse to start spouting dime-store wisdom culled from a Murray's grease can and too many self-help infomercials: Crime doesn't pay; locking up your emotions is bad; misery loves company; junkies don't have friends; it's good to have friends when you're old; death plays no favorites; sex is not love; love is good. I don't know about you, but guidance isn't exactly what I look for from Mike Ness tunes. Christ, he still thinks wearing sunglasses and pursing his lips for an album photo makes him look tough. Ness is backed by a four-piece at 7th Note Showclub on Friday, May 7, with Deke Dickerson opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20; call 921-CLUB.

Leaving bullets and bitches to more acrimonious MCs, the Black Eyed Peas blend voluble beats with jazz-tinged rhythms, soul crooning, and uplifting, hip-wiggling missives. Like A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, the multiethnic L.A. trio has benefited from alternative cross-pollination (they were recently added to this summer's Warped Tour, along with Royal Crown Revue, Cypress Hill, and Suicidal Tendencies), but the root of their popularity is in their undeniable groove. Even if you've never busted loose at a hip-hop show, the Peas will get you moving at Justice League on Saturday, May 8, with Blues Experiment (members of Ozomatli) opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18; call 440-0409.

Comprised of the Old 97's double-pitted core -- Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond -- the Ranchero Brothers are a low-key acoustic duo who travel around every now and then, road-testing new material for the bigger Elektra-supported band. Anyone who's caught the act in the past knows the "tests" are more often than not fully developed and as charming as charming can be -- past Ranchero shows have included everything from Hitchhike to Rhome's "4 Leaf Clover," to Wreck Your Life's "Big Brown Eyes," to Too Far to Care's "Time Bomb," to the current Fight Songs' "Alone So Far." Of course, you might not recognize songs you've heard off Fight Songs, since overproduction -- and living in Los Angeles -- seems to have stripped the twang and croak from Miller's throat. But this is still a memorable way to catch new material before the drunk guy next to you knows all the words and insists on proving it. I'm pretty sure all the Elektra cash in the world can't keep Miller's voice from cracking or Hammond's eyes from rolling when they play live. The Ranchero Brothers perform at Bottom of the Hill on Sunday, May 9, with Whitey Gomez, Joe Buck, and Mark Curry opening at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 and include barbecue; call 621-4455.

Motsrhead doesn't write songs, it constructs lifestyles: Every wild-eyed, crusty-mouthed deviant who's attended a show over the last 20-odd years has a particular tune -- a personal anthem -- in mind when he or she steals a ticket or storms the gate. Whether it's "(We Are) The Roadcrew," which, according to a friend who has certain expertise in such matters, has been played during load-out at every live rock club in the country for the last 18 years, or the biker's standby "Iron Horse/

Born to Lose," the tweaker's rallying cry "Built for Speed," the ladies' man's lament "The Chase Is Better Than the Catch," the astrologically condoned diatribe "Capricorn," the Wendy O. Williams theme "No Class," or just "Motsrhead" (for the more general die-hard 'head) -- whatever the song, when it starts, get out of the way.

While Motsrhead's last five albums have been uninspired (I chalk it up to a complete lack of anthem-worthy outlaws, rather than waning ability) the live shows continue to rupture spleens. Recorded in Hamburg, Everything Louder Than Everything Else is the first disc in 10 years to capture the band's real authority. It's two CDs of 'head favorites, including "Ace of Spades," which has been missing in action, 1979's "Stay Clean," and the Spike Milligan-inspired "Killed by Death." At 54, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister still sounds like he gargles with crystal meth and scalpels, bless his cotton socks; catch him at the Maritime Hall on Sunday, May 9, with Dropkick Murphys and Hatebreed opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18-20; call 974-0634.

Shibuya -- where there are over 100 record stores within walking distance, selling every album created since the birth of pop culture -- is the fertile ward of Tokyo that spawned Cornelius, Pizzicato Five, Kahime Kari, eX-Girl, and Buffalo Daughter. Here, rock music becomes Muzak and Muzak becomes pop, TV soundtracks and jingles have artistic merit, nothing is too sacred or too silly, everything sounds delicious, and Fantastic Plastic Machine mastermind Tomoyuki Tanaka is a hit radio personality, magazine editor, and DJ. Fantastic Plastic Machine will bring the Shibuya-ku sound to the Cocodrie on Sunday, May 9, with LiftOff! and "Bardot a Go Go" DJs spinning at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 986-6678.

-- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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