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Damned; Money Mark Nishita; Cousteau; Nigel Peppercock

Wednesday, Sep 26 2001
We the faithful have been waiting a long, long time for an album of new Damned material -- 14 years to be precise. Sadly, Grave Disorder isn't really it. While the record is a welcome reunion between Damned singer Dave Vanian and guitar lunatic Captain Sensible, it contains not a single drum roll from co-founder Rat Scabies. (Some second-generation punk buck named Pinch has taken over his slot, to ill effect.) Despite some nasty words and public threats of lawsuit, Sensible and Vanian retained the name of the band begun in 1974, but they couldn't retain the inspiration. Like so many "reunion" albums, Grave Disorder is limp and waffling, and the good moments have already been done better on previous efforts. Still, unlike the doddering Cramps, the Damned often provides a fiercely funny, brisk, and "spooky" live show -- made spookier when Sensible insists on getting naked. The Damned performs on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Great American Music Hall with the Swingin' Utters and Pleasure Forever opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $22.50-25; call 885-0750.

Money Mark Nishita is one of the few musicians I wouldn't mind meeting in person, since his own character appears to be no different from his music -- warm, quirky, funny, inquisitive, and plucky. Certainly, it was his personal attributes, as much as his expertise with carpentry and keyboards, that led to Nishita's position as the "fourth" Beastie Boy. Not to say Nishita's musical talents are diminutive. Aside from churning out the sleazy organ textures he's given the Beasties and other notable musicians such as Beck and Santana, he's been building keyboards and writing songs since he was 11 years old. All those years have been brought to bear on Nishita's third solo album, Change Is Coming, a sweet, pleasurable, somewhat giddy instrumental tumble across white packing peanuts and exotic seashores. While Change is deliciously augmented by the international flavors of Los Lobos and Ozomatli, Nishita's skills are front and center, from the funky groove of "Soul Drive Sixth Avenue" to the effervescent space jingle of "Chocochip." Money Mark performs on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Justice League with Lake Trout and Kid Koala opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 289-2038.

It's difficult to imagine the voice of Cousteau emanating from the crooked-toothed maw of former psychobilly singer Liam McKahey, but there it is, seeping across the Atlantic like glissading honey. Somehow Cousteau founder/songwriter Davey Ray Moor looked past McKahey's penchant for shouting and fist pumping and realized his baritone embodied the kernel of girlhood imaginings, like a matinee daydream all grown up and sent to the back of the bar. Wisely, Moor also understood that this combination was exactly what his own music required. Like Nick Cave, Serge Gainsbourg, the Tindersticks, or David Bowie, Moor writes beetle-browed chick music, as elegant and maudlin as a gin-filled valentine and as shameless as that of his muses. On Cousteau's self-titled debut, Moor's verses are strewn with schmaltzy details like angels, faint-hearted faith, burnished autumn fingertips, celestial views, and vine-ripened betrayal, but Moor's skill for songcraft and the orchestral talents of his dexterous band turn the mawkish phrases into inescapable pop ballads. With its reliance on silky harmony, minor-to-major key jumps, and tinkling ivories, Cousteau gives the impression of living in an irony-free era, in which escape is at once refreshing and wistful. Cousteau will perform on Sunday, Sept. 30, at Slim's with Bauhaus and Love and Rockets bassist/ singer David J. opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 255-0333.

In what will certainly prove to be the best early-week show of the month, "Lucifer's Hammer" presents the superb and super-ridiculous band Nigel Peppercock, featuring members of Dystopia, Fuckface, Destroy, and Medication Time. The group recently released the eminently collectible 7-inch Fresh White Reeboks Kicking Your Ass on Life Is Abuse Records, with a cover that prominently features (as if there could be another way) Rick "The Desert Dick" wearing nothing but his well-tanned skin, dirty white socks, and trailer park mustache. The single includes the punk-metal assault "Mullet Mafia," a horrific tale of the band's capture by Camaro-driving, Journey-loving Nazis and their equally horrific rescue by Gary Coleman and Mr. T, as well as the vicious confessional "Punk Song," which is about loose stool and hiccuping Bushmills bile. Still, I am told by the Peppercocksuckers (the band's fan club) that nothing competes with the Nigel Peppercock hits "Coke Pants" and "Stoned," the latter of which is often accompanied live by a sword-toting, pot-toking wizard named Gandalf. Usually, the wizard doesn't seem out of place, since Nigel Peppercock's members typically dress up as the Village People or NAMBLA Boy Scouts to spew their malicious, hilarious indecency on the world. I suggest lyric sheets for full appreciation, or at least a tour through the Life Is Abuse Web site. Stuck on Evil, the new Florida group formed by Scott Putesky (aka Marilyn Manson founding member and former guitarist Daisy Berkowitz), headlines the show, along with the Knights in Satan's Service, a Kiss tribute band amply fortified by shiny costumes, greasepaint, huge shoes, exploding flash pots, and lolling tongues. Nigel Peppercock performs on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the CW Saloon at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 820-1540

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Silke Tudor


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