From the Molecules to the Mekons; genres get scrambled and sanctiomy gets scrapped

It's easy to experience the cerebral dry-heaves hearing about extramusical exploits of rock renaissance men like Byrne, Bowie, and Stipe — video production, attempts at classical compositions, etc.? Don't you wish they'd invest more energy into just writing a decent song, like Jon Langford does? The Mekons founder and current Waco Brother maintains several irons in the fire without seeming the dabbler: he's produced albums by the Old 97s, Alejandro Escovedo, and the late, great Kevin Coyne; earned respect as a painter; authored a book (Nashville Radio), and — deep breath — is a husband and father to boot. Yet there are but two Langford solo platters, the latest of which, Gold Brick, finds the man with a much less boisterous disposition than usual. Maybe it's the state of the U.S. today, swimming in rapacity ("Buy It Now") and "progress" subbing for positive change ("Invisible Man"). Langford avoids sanctimony and belaboring the obvious, and the melodies are some of the finest-crafted of his career. You must see this man, accompanied by Ship & Pilot and special guest Mekon Sally Timms, on Wednesday, April 12, at Cafe Du Nord at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $15; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. Mark Keresman


Paroxysmal and unpredictable, spazz-core trio the Molecules was a Bay Area underground fixture in the early '90s. Formed in 1990 by guitarist Ron Anderson, drummer Thomas Scandura, and bassist Chris Millner, the Oakland-based band went through two more bassists before calling it quits in 1997. The industrious Molecules played local shows constantly; they seemed to specialize in opening for Japanese noise bands. The oft-challenging performances predated much of today's avant-weird by a decade, serving up a genre scramble that drew equally from prog, no wave, punk, and skronk. The group's aggro-improv sometimes seemed more appreciated outside the Bay Area, as evinced by several U.S., European, and Japanese tours. The Molecules will collide once again when Anderson, now Brooklyn-based, stops over in SF for a reunion on his way to a Japanese tour with the group RonRuins. The current Molecular lineup, with John Shiurba on bass, is the same one that last played Paradise Lounge in December of 1997. The Molecules perform Friday, April 7, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info.Mike Rowell

 
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