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Shaken Babies
Shaken Babies

There's no telling what might pop its goofy little head out of the dense and swirling mix of a Shaken Babies song, and on the Knoxville trio's latest self-titled CD-EP, the list of would-be cameos is as weirdly mismatched as ever, with stylistic (if not literal) allusions to Devo, Talking Heads, P-funk and Sisters of Mercy. And then the music starts.

No, but really, if you haven't been introduced to the madness that is the Babies, you haven't experienced what's probably the most wholly original project in Knox rock history, a techno-funk-industrial-reggae-noise-art rock amalgam that seemingly sprang, fully-realized, one day a couple of years ago from the mind of singer-guitarist Steven McBride. The band's second local CD takes the Zappa noise and Beck-like cut 'n' paste of its first disc and adds more beats, spiking the mix with more techno and more technology. In the process, they've created a truly unique animal: a straight-no-chaser rock 'n' roll three-piece that could play the dance club and the rock club—and probably do so all in the same night.

The new record also re-establishes another Babies trademark—bizarre yet strangely compelling lyrics, loopy screeds that owe a spiritual debt to both Frank Zappa and William S. Burroughs.

Beat the air with a sickle, and axe puberty's confessions, McBride exhorts in the last track, "Don't Try to Be My Preacher." Dunno quite what the hell that means, but it sure sounds good when he sings it.

The closest point of reference at this stage of the Babies' evolution would probably be Fatboy Slim, except that the SBs are more expansive musically (not to mention possessed of sharper and more visceral "straight" rock instincts) than the cloistered, tho clever, former Housemartin-turned-club-geek could ever hope to be. If there is a truly just god in rock heaven, the Shaken Babies are going places. And you can check them out for yourself on June 1 at Patrick Sullivan's.

The Bride Wore Black

That's right Anastasia, it's over. The sound of local goth princess's hearts audibly breaking has thundered through the East Tennessee hills as the news that Knoxville's gothic king is finally jumping the broom spreads like cholera.

Immortal Chorus vocalist Steve Britton will wed the lovely Margaret Lon on July 15. The rapidly decomposing bride and groom will be accompanied by friends and family to Poland (Lon's birthplace) where the ceremony will take place, nailing the lid on the coffin of Steve's bachelorhood for eternity. After the wedding, the couple will spend their honeymoon in Eastern Europe, which ain't that far from Transylvania. Congratulations kids, and remember: Till death do us part...

And speaking of the Chorus, the band has found renewed vigor and has returned to area clubs for a steady succession of gigs. Sure, the band sounds scary enough. But you couldn't find a nicer bunch of suburban lads anywhere. Right now, they're in Steve's dank basement, and they're not holding a black mass down there either. They're just polishing off the final touches on their as yet untitled fourth album, which should be available in local stores by late July. Don't miss the band's Blue Cats debut on June 16. If you feel like downloading a song or seeing some images of the Chorus (who are surprisingly as all-American looking as is humanly possible) visit their website.

To Do:

Thursday: Make sure M. and I get to Market Square before The Cheeksters take the stage. Can't get enough of their brand of Brit-pop-rock-ish sound. Oh, and R.B. Morris is excellent as well. And in between you get the wondrous Amy Rigby, the original Mod Housewife.

Friday: Speaking of good pop, plan to see The Features at the Pilot Light. Opening for this Mufreesboro-based band is the local-greatness that is The Bitter Pills.

Saturday: Plant green beans and check out Steambath, a funny and slightly subversive play, at Theatre Central.

Sunday: Ms. Knoxville Pride Pageant at the Carousel II. M. (my big, drag-queen-fearin' poopyhead b/friend) can just stay home.

Monday: Check out Hatching the Past, Dinosaur Eggs at McClung Museum. Mmmmm, fossils.

Tuesday: Back to the Pilot Light for Grant Hart with 30 Amp Fuse. I miss Hüsker Dü, don't yoü?

Wednesday: Bluegrass Drive-by at Barley's. Great grass that's also free.

—Emma "Toast is not a toy" Poptart

May 31, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 22
© 2001 Metro Pulse