BY JEFFREY LEVEN
OK, so law school brings you to Boston for the first time and now you’re trying to figure out how to keep yourself from going absolutely manic in between Torts and Civil Procedure. Why not try a little rock ‘n’ roll? Lucky you — you’ve stumbled on one of the more underrated music cities in America, and here is just this critic’s sampling of some of the gems it has to offer in October:
October 2 — Wilco (Avalon): After losing ace guitarist Jay Bennett and angrily parting ways with Reprise Records, Chicago’s critically acclaimed alternative country-rock-cum-folk-pop powerhouse is at something of a crossroads as they search for a label to release their new work, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Given that they seem to get better with each album, a live Boston preview is much appreciated. An alternative for the more conventionally-minded tonight would be to see Jane’s Addictions second “relapse” at the Centrum.
October 3 — Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger (Avalon): There was always more to “skacore” than the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and these L.A. stalwarts are the proof. Keep your ears open for Reel Big Fish’s ultra-kinetic cover of “Take On Me,” and Goldfinger’s now-erstwhile radio hit “Here in Your Bedroom.”
October 5 — Ryan Adams (Paradise Rock Club):While Britpop fans might want to see Travis debut material from their new disc The Invisible Band at the Orpheum tonight, the ultimate sleeper catch is across town at the Paradise. Formerly the brains behind Whiskeytown, singer-songwriter Adams released his second solo album Gold on September 25, on the heels of this summer’s phenomenally-acclaimed debut Heartbreaker. Compared to everyone from Neil Young to Paul Westerberg, Adams is a fascinating personality in his own right — a strange mix of humor, ego, vision and moodiness. And, lest we forget, talent.
October 11 — The Donnas (Paradise Rock Club): If the Ramones were four cute girls with a sense of humor and a penchant for um, well, Ramones-style classic punk, they’d be the Donnas.
October 12 — Alvin Youngblood Hart (Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant): Although Alvin is competing tonight against Bjork at the Wang Center and Megadeth (yeah!) at the Avalon, those of more refined taste would do well to check out Hart, whose career, like that of Taj Mahal, has found him mixing rock, folk and the blues with scholarly reverence and insistent soul.
October 15 — Tori Amos (Wang Center): Tori’s new album, Strange Little Girls was released on September 18. It finds her doing covers of songs by Depeche Mode, The Boomtown Rats, Neil Young and — yes, you are reading this right — Slayer. Seeing her do their horrific “Raining Blood” live is reason enough to give this a shot.
October 16 — Leftover Salmon (Middle East): More appetizing than the name suggests, these HORDE tour veterans mix jazz, rock, bluegrass and folk in a way that would have made Jerry Garcia proud. Throw on some tie-dye and tune in.
October 19 — Basement Jaxx (Avalon): With their new disc going gangbusters all around the world, one of dance music’s most danceable acts promises to throw a party to remember. Those afraid of the funk should head instead to see punk rock legends The Damned at the Axis or alternative country journeymen Slobberbone at T.T. The Bear’s tonight.
October 20 — Beta Band (Paradise Rock Club) / Guided by Voices (Middle East): In one of the month’s tougher calls, the Beta Band plays the Paradise while Guided By Voices plays the Middle East. Either way you are getting one of indie rock’s most respectful bands and a chance to mingle with Boston’s trendiest.
October 21 — King’s X, Moke (Middle East): Houston, Texas’ King’s X remains one of the world’s most underrated rock bands. Sounding something like a mix of Rush and Living Colour, they have soldiered for decades and are still relentless pioneers. Even if you’ve never heard their long-lost single “Black Flag,” or dreamed of playing guitar half as well as Ty Tabor, you owe it to yourself to go and bask in their sheer musicianship. Oh, and Moke isn’t bad, either …
October 25 — Fishbone (Harper’s Ferry): Take the Chili Peppers, P-Funk, the Bosstones and a little soul and you might begin to approximate the funk and punk and booty-groovin’ umph that is Fishbone. Wild, weird and utterly un-missable.
October 27 — My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult (Karma Club): One of modern music’s weirder names and more influential electronica groups of the early 90s, MLWTKK’s strange world of gutter synthesizers and sleazy posturing might be that something different you’re looking for.
October 28 — Bob Schneider (Paradise): A heartthrob in the making, Schneider (best known as Sandra Bullock’s boyfriend) is also one of the best songwriters in Austin, Texas, which says a lot. Having run no less than five bands last year, he also found time to write Lonelyland, a dazzling solo album that is equal parts heart and groove. Be sure to catch him now before the secret gets out.
October 30 — The Black Crowes (Orpheum): Sure the ’70s are over and sure you could just stay at home and listen to the Stones, Zep and the Faces, but the fact of the matter is that no one loves and preserves good ol’ guitar-and-tight-pants rock n’ roll quite like the Crowes, and for that alone they deserve some sweat and applause.
October 31 — Cowboy Mouth, Fighting Gravity (Avalon): At New Orleans’ annual Jazzfest, local rockers Cowboy Mouth always steals the show. Why? Because they might just be the best live party rock band on the planet. Lead by drummer Fred LeBlanc’s frat-boy-shaman-motivational-speaker antics and a keen sense of crowd participation, except their Halloween show to be one big, huge party. College circuit veterans Fighting Gravity start things off.