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The long-running and distinctly discriminating hip-hop indie Quannum label — home to DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, and Latryx — hadn’t signed a new act since the mid ’90s. So the Portland (Oregon) crew Lifesavas — protégés of Blackalicious — had a bit of history to live up to. And on their ambitious new debut, Spirit in Stone (featuring cameos from all of the above), they prove worthy of the honor. MC/producer Jumbo the Garbageman stacks the deck with Golden Age–inspired gutter-funk licks, and he and lyrical ace Vursatyle run rings around each other with apocalyptic cleverness that cuts to the bone. The knotty internal dialogue, self-abnegation, and surprise ending in their " Hellohihey " rival Eminem’s best flips of script; " State of the World/Apocalypse/War " skips hip-hop entirely for a jazzy, Andrews Sisters–inspired jitterbug tune. Tonight (May 22), Lifesavas are at Pearl Street (413-584-7810) in Northampton; Friday they’re at Higher Ground (802-654-8888) in Winooski, Vermont.

Like celebrated goth-punks du jour AFI, Chicago’s Alkaline Trio were a sturdy if somewhat unremarkable punk outfit before they reached deep down and discovered their inner Danzig. Back with a ghoulish tinge on their new Good Mourning (Vagrant), the trio namecheck the Misfits’ landmark album Walk Among Us and one-up their mentors with a necromantic pick-up-line for the ages: " What do you say?/Your coffin or mine? " Alkaline Trio hit the Palladium (800-477-6849) in Worcester tonight (May 22) with Pretty Girls Make Graves, whose latest material makes them sound like a gothier Sleater-Kinney.

It’s a good week for singer-songwriters of all persuasions. Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carraba — gearing up for the July release of DC’s eagerly awaited A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar — warms up for his tour with Beck with a solo gig at the Webster Theatre (860-525-5553) in Hartford on Tuesday. Tonight (May 22) at the Iron Horse (413-584-0610) in Northampton, Beck warms up his new band, whose line-up includes Red Kross’s Steven McDonald, Bicycle Thief/Golden Shoulders bassist Josh Klinghoffer, jazz-rock jam-band auteur Greg Kurstin (of Action Figure Party fame), and drummer Jay Bellerose, a Berklee grad and LA session vet who has played with everyone from Paula Cole to Solomon Burke to indie chanteuse Nina Nastasia. The proper Beck tour — with the Black Keys opening, but not Carraba — hits FleetBoston Pavilion (617-931-2000) in Boston on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Currituck Co., the solo-country alter ego of Aden guitarist Kevin Barker, hit AS220 (401-831-9327) in Providence on Friday. The same club hosts K Records avant-psych rockers the Microphones on Sunday with labelmates D+; the Microphones also play the Iron Horse on Wednesday. At press time, Rosanne Cash was still scheduled to play Mass MoCA (413-664-4481) in North Adams on Sunday, despite the death last week of her stepmother, June Carter Cash. Lucinda Williams plays Toad’s Place (203-562-5589) in New Haven on Sunday. And John Hiatt plays the Colonial Theatre (603-352-2033) in Keene, New Hampshire, on Monday.


Issue Date: May 23 - 29, 2003
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