Hillstomp defines the down ‘n’ dirty gutbucket blues

Born in the gutters of Portland, Oregon, Hillstomp defines the down 'n' dirty gutbucket blues. Guitarist Henry Christian and percussionist John Johnson stir up a racket with their curious mash of junkyard noise and quasitraditional juke-joint jams. The slide guitar is nasty-sweet, the backbeats cantankerous, and the dual vocals upchucked as if from a garbage disposal. The band's saving grace is its set list, split between old-school favorites by the likes of Muddy Waters, Bukka White, and R.L. Burnside, and growly originals that aim for back-alley authenticity. Overalls, Dickies, and earplugs are recommended when Hillstomp blows the roof off Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday, April 16, at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info. Sam Prestianni

Download: Hillstomp - Goin' Down South

Tonight, the quiet albino children hidden shamefully away in heavy metal's oubliette will be set free — for a little while, at least. Amber Asylum, the neoclassical quartet fronted by angel-voiced Kris Force, may have covered Sabbath in the past (and Force has contributed classical strings to behemoth bands like Ludicra, Lost Goat, and Neurosis), but Amber Asylum floats closer to the quiet chamber-rock melancholy of Rachel's or the ethereal ambience of Dead Can Dance singer Lisa Gerrard. Its brooding acoustica shines with the same black-light doom as metal, only refracted through delicate lace. Similarly, Grayceon weaves misty-mountain cello and female vocals into long prog-metal epics that seem more suited to Mordor raids than almost anything since Led Zeppelin. Witness heavy metal's gentler side (before it's chained back in the basement) on Saturday, April 19, at El Rio at 9 p.m. Admission is $8; call 282-3325 or visit www.elriosf.com for more info. John Graham

Along with fellow U.K. grindcore pioneers Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror has spent more than two decades churning out an unholy racket that has pushed the boundaries of heavy music. Matching political bile with hardcore tempos and pulverizing guitars, the group was frequently featured on legendary DJ John Peel's BBC radio show, despite its abrasive style. Though a prodigious number of crusty punks and death metallers have rotated through the outfit, original vocalist Dean Jones has anchored a consistently brutal sound that lives up to the band's moniker. Extreme Noise Terror unleashes hell when its current West Coast Distortion Tour brings like-minded extremists Strong Intention and Trap Them as well as local thrashers Verlaten, Agenda of Swine, and Self Inflicted to the stage at Annie's Social Club on Saturday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8; call 974-15-85 or visit www.anniessocialclub.com for more info. Dave Pehling

During the Britpop '90s, the Verve was the Rolling Stones to Oasis' Beatles. The Verve was darker, louder, more primal, and more mysterious than its nemesis, with shamanistic singer Richard Ashcroft and brilliant-but-moody guitarist Nick McCabe colliding to create beauty and turmoil in equal measures. Adept at both volcanic space-rock excursions and stadium-sized anthems, the quartet traveled a bumpy personal and professional road until "Bitter Sweet Symphony" finally made the band global superstars in 1997. Two years later, they were splitsville —- McCabe all but disappeared, while Ashcroft pursued a solo career. Last summer, the group announced the reunion of the original lineup, stating an intention to release a new album sometime this year. Reports from recent U.K. gigs suggest the Verve is still able to conjure up plenty of that dark magic of old. The Verve performs on Wednesday, April 23, at the Warfield at 8 p.m. Admission is $35; call 567-2060 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. Michael Alan Goldberg

 
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