Putting the cock in rock and hip-hop

Those cheeky South Londoners Art Brut have one of the best ditties about the perils of drinking and dating in — well, ever. At a weeknight show at the Independent last week, mustachioed frontman Eddie Argos wailed for wilted libidos everywhere with "Rusted Guns of Milan." It's a hilarious track in which a defeated lover tries every trick to excuse his limp performance, pleading with his partner to "leave the lights on" and swearing his gear's all in order when he's using his hand. It was one of the group's many energetic art-punk hits, popping off with smarty-pants irony and knockout hooks. Between songs, Argos was just as flippant, switching to obscure B-sides when an audience member requested the group's chart-topper "Emily Kane," jumping rope with the mike chord, and lobbing jokes at the crowd's outbursts like a Wimbledon champ returning novice serves. Art Brut proved that unlike the aforementioned faulty weaponry, not everything that's built up big misfires. Fans were prepped for a festive mood, though, after watching the hyperactive electro-joke duo that was

Gil Mantera's Party Dream. As I overheard one patron pronounce afterward, the Ohio pair sounded like "the

Postal Service on Ecstasy." The scantily Spandex-clad men revved up airtight '80s dance beats and cheeseball sentimentality so unselfconsciously that they crossed beyond the typical sarcasm-as-entertainment to live up to that "party" title.

This week, the bender continues as two awesome L.A. hip hop hustlers who know their droll humor hit San Francisco. I got turned on to Mickey Avalon and Dirt Nasty by a good friend whose musical tastes tend toward ghetto tech sleaze and punk rock rudeness, and these guys blend the best of both underworlds. Cocky and cock-obsessed, Avalon and Nasty flip rhymes dissing Hollywood glitz in one breath and belittle sexual escapades in the next. In a video on his MySpace page, Nasty lists the tabloid bait he's banging, rapping, "I did Demi in the pooper with a semi/She thought I was Kutcher/Dude, I heard a rumor/Alyssa Milano is good for a nooner." It's Vice-style tasteless — and totally entertaining. Avalon even advocates a new style of aerobics on "Jane Fonda" (off his self-released, eponymous EP), on which the onetime exercise queen becomes a different sort of workout symbol. These scrappy white guys have the beats to back the attitude, too; check them out on Friday, March 31, when they headline a Golden State bash at Red Ink Studios (1035 Market). The night starts at 8 and runs late.

Local CD release of the week: My gray matter's been stewing in Mammatus ever since I got a copy of its amazing self-titled debut on Holy Mountain. Although this year's SXSW showed that the new music landscape is filthy with Sabbath rock ( Wolfmother, Witch, Swords), this band still stretches the space jams into compelling territory. The instrumental "The Outer Rim" is hypnotic metal at its best, melding tribal chants, light percussion, and celestial drones with the faint echoes of guitar distortion. Traces of early Pink Floyd stir inside "Dragon of the Deep," an epic two-parter (the second of which clocks in at 22 minutes) that includes a number of noisy, black-hole freakouts. These four songs agilely juggle majestic experimental depth with a focus on full-on rock, a commendable combination. Jump on the journey at the CD release show on Saturday, April 1, at the Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk).

SXSW pick: It'll be brief since it's late, but I've got to give it up for Spank Rock, Baltimore's big hitters, who shook booty bass, electro pop, and punk hip hop for a banging party mix that eliminated the hangovers of everyone attending its block-rocking Austin set.

 
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