Death gets reanimated in the hands of Gob Iron

The members may not hail from the same Nazareth that a certain bearded hippy with crackpot ideas came from a couple thousand years ago, but that doesn't mean the Pennsylvania-based threesome that comprises Pearls and Brass won't get biblical on your behind with its muscular onslaught. Honing their blues-drenched, cranked-amp approach to hard rock for more than 13 years, guitarist Randy Huth, bassist Joel Winter, and drummer Josh Martin craft taut, riff-centered songs that nod to greats like Blue Cheer, the James Gang, and Cactus without resorting to the outright pilferage so many retro-rawk bands commit. Here's hoping P'n'B previews songs for its pending follow-up to the band's stellar 2005 Drag City debut The Indian Tower when it joins fellow cranium crushers the Grey Daturas and local heavyweights OM on Friday, Dec. 1, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $14-15; all 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Dave Pehling


Naming your Bob Seger cover band Total B.S. totally rules in the humor department, but there's nothing flip about the dudes who comprise this tribute to the man who reminded America that "rock 'n' roll never forgets." B.S. brings together members of Drunk Horse, Comets on Fire, Harold Ray Live in Concert, and Saviours for rowdy renditions of this sandpapery-piped working-man's hero, pulling from obscure, hard-edged R&B singles, hits like "Hollywood Nights," and my favorite — the rambunctious kiss-off "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man." (Hard to beat lines like "Got to keep movin', never gonna slow down/ You can have your funky world, see you 'round"). Bring your "Strut" on down to the Knockout on Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 p.m. Call 550-6994 or visit www.theknockoutsf.com for more info. Jennifer Maerz


The Handsome Family's 14-year exodus from drunk cowpoke goof-rock to Cormac McCarthy-esque postmodern gothic informs Last Days of Wonder, a huge milestone not just for the band's career, but for the whole of alt-country music. Brett and Rennie Sparks (songwriter/husband/Texan/musicologist; lyricist/wife/Long Island Jew/humorist) have weathered panic, obscurity, Lithium, ridicule, and the bottle. "Your Great Journey," the opening track, is autobiography and an ontological dare: "When automatic sinks in airports no longer see your hands/ And elevator doors close on you/ When buses drive right past." If you can entertain the possibility you might already be dead, you're gonna love these guys. The Handsome Family performs on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $25; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. — J. Niimi


Gob Iron's Death Songs for the Living documents the off-the-cuff collaboration between Son Volt's Jay Farrar and Varnaline's Anders Parker from late 2004. That was when planned sessions for a Son Volt album were sidelined, and the pair ended up in Farrar's St. Louis studio with a couple days' time to kill. They later realized that the traditional songs they'd chosen to rework — by Josh White, the Stanley Brothers, and Stephen Foster, among others — were overwhelmingly death-themed. But as the album title suggests, their ineffable chemistry and understated treatments (which recall the stark, intimate atmosphere of Springsteen's Nebraska) transformed the dark material into something personal, transcendent, and ultimately life-affirming. Gob Iron performs on Monday, Dec. 4, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $20; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. — J. Niimi

 
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