By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
On the Murder City Devils' last album, Empty Bottles and Broken Hearts, explosive singer/lyricist Spencer Moody hollered about all his heroes being junkies, flunkies, and drunks. I nodded knowingly, enraptured by the promise of the MCDs to save rock 'n' roll with their organ-drenched bluesy bombast and their furious '70s-flavored punkedness. Of course, Johnny Thunders, Jim Carroll, Charles Bukowski, and Iggy Pop would loom largely in the MCDs' inspirational pantheon -- otherwise, the MCDs couldn't begin to creep into my own. Beyond that, I didn't question it. Thankfully, the MCDs did question their fascination with the addicted, reminding me why they are the artists, while I am just a humble hack. Their follow-up, In Name and Blood, is a heart-wrenching, rage-filled, drunken log of demoralization and destitution. Greatly augmented by the heavier organ of former Love as Laughter bassist Leslie Hardy, In Name and Blood is, for me, the perfect realization of the MCDs' promise. A headier album, both in subject and musicianship, it is proof that riot-inspiring rock is not purely the domain of the adolescent glorification of all things derelict; you can seethe and thunder with introspective clarity, using your deeper inner demons as scapegoats instead of the more facile targets of girlfriends, politics, and parents. The Murder City Devils perform on Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, at Bottom of the Hill with Dead and Gone, American Steel (Saturday only), and the Catheters opening at 9 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8; call 621-4455.
The work of Memphis underground filmmaker and comic book artist John Michael McCarthy revels in Elvis trivia, torpedo-tit undergarments, surf and garage music, and all the more delightful aesthetics of '60s-era sexploitation. His most recent movie, Superstarlet AD, based on his comic book Cadavera, is set in a desolate post-holocaust world inhabited by roving bands of gun-toting babes who form "beauty cults" based on hair color that search for lost stag films while fending off slavering male Neanderthals. Superstarlet ADwill be shown with McCarthy's short Elvis Meets the Beatles, based very loosely on the 1965 get-together at Graceland, with a live interview with the director, and a live set by outrageous Southern garage rockers Poli Sci Clone, on Monday, July 3, at the Parkway Theater in Oakland at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 814-2400. 21 and over.
During Incredibly Strange Wrestling last month, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes frontman Spike Lawson entered the ring for the "Karaoke Death Match." Fortified by a velvet dinner jacket and a sincere love of Barry Manilow, he poured his heart into "I Write the Songs" while the crowd assailed him with wave after wave of beer-soaked corn tortillas. Lawson never flinched, never missed an inflection or line; he sang with refuse hanging in his hair and beer dripping in his eyes; and when his challenger, a quadriplegic with a bad attitude, questioned his musical preference, Lawson did what any red-blooded American Manilow admirer would do -- he beat the cripple's ass. No wonder all the local rough-and-tumble rockers and masked Mexican wrestlers gather every Tuesday to sing karaoke with Lawson: He really sings the songs. This week will be no different, except that it's a red-blooded holiday, so there will be early afternoon meat-sucking, booze-swilling, and song-butchering at the All-You-Can-Eat Fourth of July Barbecuewhere all your favorite groupie tarts will be wearing red-white-and-blue hot pants if they know what's good for them. It happens Tuesday, July 4, at Annie's Cocktail Lounge between 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $4 and include as much flamed flesh as you can fit into your gob; call 703-0865.
Revolting against the family legacy isn't easy when your name is Hank Williams III and you've grown up in Nashville where your estranged daddy had a steady stream of rowdy radio hits throughout your youth; where "Bocephus" bumper stickers used to adorn every third car; where, despite your shaved head and penchant for punk rock music, you are recognized as the spitting image of your granddaddy, the long-lingering specter of all that was once great about country music. But beyond the much-discussed likeness -- the pale, gaunt frame, pursed lips, hollow cheeks, a predisposition for drug and alcohol abuse, a strident dislike for establishment, recording or otherwise -- Hank Three inherited something his father missed: the Williams Sr. voice, a melodious manifestation of shit-kicking both tough and tender. It's hard to say whether it was the music of Wayne Hancock or a pending paternity suit that finally persuaded Hank Three to cash in on the family name and chords, but the ends reduce the means. Within 13 old-style country songs, Risin' Outlaw (which includes three Hancock tunes) bears Hank Three's own rebellious spirit, fierce sense of humor, and plaintive yearning. But even knowing you are as likely to hear a cover of the Misfits' "American Nightmare" during a live set as you are to hear "I'm a Long Daddy Gone" won't quiet the echoes of Williams' grandsire, which are strong enough to raise the hair on your arms. From the catch to the yodel to the croon, Hank Three might prove to be Nashville's saving grace, completely in spite of himself. Hank Williams III opens for Reverend Horton Heat on Tuesday, July 4, at the Great American Music Hall at 10 p.m. Tickets are $22.40-25; call 885-0750.