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Soundbites

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FORGET MEOW, THESE KITTIES SAY GRRR(L): Subversive, a walking contradiction, queen of the riot grrrls--all are titles bestowed upon Kathleen Hanna over the years. Queen of the riot grrrls because, as frontwoman for seminal feminist punks Bikini Kill, she mustered as much rage and fury as any of her male counterparts, and in the process spearheaded a much-needed musical, and yes, political movement. A walking contradiction because, though her politics rail against the objectification of women, she did a stint as a stripper some years back. And subversive because her latest band, Le Tigre, manages the arduous task of making feminist politics fun.

At a time when most women, young and old, shun the title of feminist as a marginalization of sorts, even as their own personal politics embrace its basic tenets, Le Tigre has boldly reclaimed the f-word, titling its new album Feminist Sweepstakes (2001, Mr. Lady). Whereas Bikini Kill's sonic assault alienated many of those who might have otherwise warmed up to the band's politics, and vice versa--the two were inseparable--Le Tigre is a far more all-inclusive affair. Without shedding a lick of the ideologies for which she's become known, Hanna and her bandmates, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson, balance elements of indie punk and electronica for a novel, if not entirely new, form of subversion: politics as dance music.

Feminist Sweepstakes, while not as instantly infectious as the band's eponymous debut (1999, Mr. Lady), certainly has its charms. The opener, "LT Tour Theme," is a call to arms of sorts, "for the ladies and the fags," urging the "guys with the digi cameras"--who push their way to the front row at LT shows, only to stand there looking bored--to make way for "the girls walking towards the dancefloor." With propulsive electro-beats and a spy-theme piano loop, the trio's boast that it's "the band with the rollerskate jams" comes off only partly ironic. Other highlights include "Fake French," a funked-up call and response ditty (the call is "I've got--," and the responses range from "the new sincerity" to "a conceptual stunt double"), and the fuzz-punk bombshell "My Art."

The U.K. label Stiff Records, which in the late '70s and early '80s boasted a roster of artists that included Elvis Costello and Ian Dury and the Blockheads, among others, once issued a promotional t-shirt that read, "Fuck Art, Let's Dance." Twentysomething years later, Le Tigre is proving the two aren't mutually exclusive, after all.

Le Tigre performs an all-ages show at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, in the outdoor parking lot of Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Las Sinfronteras opens, and admission is $10. For more information call 622-8848.


START YOUR ENGINES: As a continuation of The Prime Ministers Car Club's Hot Rod Manifesto, an artwork/memorabilia/car show which runs from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Carbonbase Gallery (101 W. Fifth St., 903-2695) on Saturday, March 2, there will be an after-party later that night at Vaudeville. The venue, which plans to scale back a bit on its cabaret-style acts and beef up its schedule of local and touring bands beginning this month (interested bands should contact the club), hosts a triple-bill of bands that have at least one active member in the Car Club: Tucson-via-Philly cock-rock combo The 440s, fronted by the hell-in-spangles Ms. Sparkle Plenty (probably not her real name), who single-handedly dispels the ridiculous notion that ladies don't make good guitarists; local femme-punk trio The Sintillators; and Rodeo Queen. Rev 'em up and move 'em out!

The 440s, The Sintillators, and Rodeo Queen perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, at Vaudeville, 110 E. Congress St. For further details call 622-3535.


GLORIOUS DOWNER: Just as Conor Oberst has two bands, a quiet one for his more romantic, melancholic leanings (Bright Eyes), and a more rockin' one to let off steam (Desaparecidos), so does his fellow Omahan, Tim Kasher.

Best known for his heavy, rhythm-centric combo, Cursive, Kasher originally started The Good Life as a solo don't-call-it-a-side-project, but for its second release, Black Out (due out on Saddle Creek sometime in March), The Good Life has evolved into a fully functional five-piece band. Kasher's been big on concept records for a while now (Cursive's last full-length, 2000's Domestica, was an achingly sad and brutally angry documentation of a crumbling relationship), and true to its title, Black Out's theme is the troubled existence that comes from living the life of a late-night saloon-dweller. It's a bleak record, to be sure, but it's also gorgeous, all slow- and mid-tempos, with flourishes of vibes, cello, accordion, and synths mixed in with the guitars, drums, and bass, and Kasher's moody voice, which falls somewhere between The Cure's Robert Smith and Idaho's Jeff Martin (two equally moody folks), couldn't align itself into the landscape any more impressively. And just like all good concept albums, Black Out works best as a seamless whole, as opposed to a mere collection of songs. Depressive? Uh-huh. Impressive? You bet.

The Good Life appears along with dream-pop duo Azure Ray at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission is $5. For more info call 884-0874.


ROOTIN' IN THE BLUES: No relation to Nelly as far as we know, Boulder, Colorado's Tony Furtado Band's namesake leader has won two National Bluegrass Banjo Championships, the first at the tender age of nineteen. Five years ago, inspired by Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch album, he began tackling the slide guitar, which he's since incorporated into his band's mix. Weaving all varieties of American roots music with touches of world beat and a pop sensibility, Furtado and co. veer from talking-guitar Delta blues in one tune, to a rootsier approximation of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones in the next.

The Tony Furtado Band performs at 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $8 at Antigone Books, CD City, and Hotel Congress. They'll be $10 at the door. For more information call 622-8848.


WHIMSICAL WILLIAMS: Though he made a name for himself as a loop-technology-friendly one-man band whose textured and atmospheric guitar picking garnered comparisons to masters like Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges, Keller Williams' brand new release, Laugh (Sci Fidelity), is a full-band affair that showcases Williams' sense of whimsy, both in his playing and his lyrics. Prime example: "Freeker by the Speaker," which sounds a bit like a more eclectic--and more interesting--Dave Matthews Band, pays tribute to the characters that wig out at shows by spinning around like a "human dreidel" and sticking their ears right up to the speakers, even as it gives a cheeky shout-out to hip-hop.

Elsewhere, he bemoans the fact that he's never written a song good enough to make him a "One Hit Wonder" ("Oh why can't I latch onto your brain/and be that one song that drives you insane?"), covers both Ani Difranco and the aforementioned Hedges convincingly, and delivers a full-fledged dream narrative about appearing on The Price is Right, without ever mentioning the show by name (the psuedo-bluegrass of "Bob Rules").

It's all goofy fun that might risk being only that, but for the sheer infectiousness of it all and Williams' stunning guitar work.

Keller Williams appears at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $10 at all Zia Records locations. For further info call 798-3333.

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