Hear This

Maximo Park's Wire-y rock, the Mekons' many side projects, and the final installment of "Ace of Spades"

Last week, upon accepting his Mercury Prize (the U.K.'s annual determination of the best album of the year from a field of 12), Antony Hegarty of cabaret-popsters Antony & the Johnsons said of the competition's diverse nominees, "It's kind of like a crazy contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon -- which one do you like better?" We'll ascribe the "potted plant" tag to runner-up Coldplay, and we'll be nicer and say that also-ran Maximo Park is the spaceship -- most of the two- and three-minute post-punk blasts on the Newcastle quintet's debut, A Certain Trigger, possess the energy and excitement of a launch toward the cosmos. Taking obvious musical (and fashion) cues from XTC, Wire, Gang of Four, and the Jam has put the guys in MP in the same neighborhood, stylistically, as their geographical neighbors, the Futureheads and Kaiser Chiefs. Now, that doesn't make them any less fun, their songs any less inviting, or their heavily Geordie-accented frontman, Paul Smith -- who combines the tonal punch of Alex Kapranos with the lyrical come-ons of Jarvis Cocker -- any less charismatic. This particular spaceship touches down on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Fillmore; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. -- Michael Alan Goldberg


When Liam Carey started "Ace of Spades" last September, he swore he'd only produce the free acoustic music showcase for a year. Even though the event became wildly popular, Carey is sticking to his guns, wrapping up the series this month with a seven-hour marathon. (The show also marks the release of the Ace of Spadescompilation, whose proceeds go to Little Kids Rock, a charity devoted to returning music education to schools.) It will offer a wide variety of past performers, including hobo-folkie Sean Hayes, moody indie-rockers Audio Out Send, and Greg Ashley playing his tense psychedelia. Get ready to folk shit up on Sunday, Sept. 18, at Mama Buzz Café; call (510) 465-4073 or go to www.mamabuzzcafe.com for more info. -- Dan Strachota


Active since 1977, the U.K.'s Mekons have spun off a number of different acts, three of which will be setting the Potrero hills afire next week: the Waco Brothers, Sally Timms , and Dollar Store. The Wacos formed in Chicago, where Mekons guitarist Jon Langford and drummer Steve Goulding had relocated. An itch to play artless, country-influenced rock 'n' roll for free beer and chump change united them with locals "Deano" Schlabowske (from Wreck) and Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones), who just happen to be two-thirds of Dollar Store. Less caustic than the Wacos, Dollar Store reinvents Cher's "Believe" as an aching, Merle Haggardish barroom lament. Meanwhile, the statuesque Sally Timms covers choice songwriters -- Mark Eitzel, Jeff Tweedy -- with a voice equal parts PJ Harvey cool self-assurance and Loretta Lynn naturalness. Catch all thisfor only $10 on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Bottom of the Hill; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info.-- Mark Keresman

 
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