The Futureheads, Diplo, and Trumans Water

THE FUTUREHEADS

Crocodile Cafe at 8:30 p.m.

Tues., Nov. 16. $10.

Near the end of its run, its producers seemed to forget that Happy Days was set in the 1950s and not 1980. Had the show's soundtrack kept up with its anachronistic hairstyles, and were this possible according to the laws of space and time, the Futureheads might have been Arnold's house band, so well does their self-titled debut meld post-punk and doo-wop. The almost a cappella "Danger of the Water" shows off the boys' perfect sense of harmony, while "Robot" is so Devo-esque that I was convinced it was a cover of some forgotten new-wave tune that had soundtracked the school dance on early Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle Square Pegs. The harmonizing turns out to be more than a shtick, and just when the twitchy guitars and pogo rhythms start to seem an especially bratty type of nostalgia, everything comes together: After an ominous guitar riff straight from Joy Division's vaults, "Carnival Kids" quickly blossoms into an invigorating pop anthem that should be blasted from a surfboard-topped GTO, and suddenly the Futureheads' arch ruminations on stifling jobs, conversational norms, and metropolitan rents seem a little more heartfelt. If the Futureheads' playful version chips some of the passion away from Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love," the band manages to infuse deliberately naive lines of their own like "I like you 'cause you're stupid and shallow" with a strange tenderness. Should That '70s Show jump the shark, there isn't a better band to provide a new theme song. KRISTAL HAWKINS

DIPLO

Chop Suey, with Scientific American and Mr. Piccolo, at 9 p.m.

Thurs., Nov. 11. $8 adv.

Half of Philadelphian DJ duo Hollertronix, Diplo has been the busiest turntable wrecker of 2004. He's responsible for two of the year's best mix CDs: AEIOU 2, which jumbles up old-school psychedelia and Indian music, not to mention special guest star Kanye West (no slouch himself when it comes to mixtape appearances), and especially Favela on Blast: Rio Baile Funk 04, a one-continuous-track, 32-minute scorcher that showcases the most heedlessly party-starting sound in the world right now. (Though it says something for how fruitful Rio baile funk is that Diplo's mix is the second-best collection of the stuff this year, after the Austrian label Essay's Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats compilation.) After those two, you might be disappointed the first time you hear his Big Dada debut, Florida, but stick with it and it gains presence—incrementally, which is what you'd figure from an album from the Ninja Tune label family. The thick string samples that drive "Big Lost" evoke what a chase scene through snow-ridden streets in a Merchant-Ivory action flick might be scored to. "Sarah" moves from a fuzz-guitar-and-piano duet to staticky, laid-back, Latinesque horns to a delicate, muffled wah-wah guitar to some skittering soul samples overlaid with kids talking about swimming—all scored to a funky pulse. In all, Florida is more stoned, but also richer, than the latest RJD2, if not quite up to DJ Shadow's The Private Press. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

TRUMANS WATER

Sunset Tavern, with Moris Tepper, Cort Armstrong, and Sean Devine, at 9 p.m.

Thurs., Nov. 11. $7.

Trumans Water is a somewhat slippery thing. Although they've been issuing sludgy batches of raw, loosely mathematical noise rock ever since 1992 (some early releases, apparently, even included "extras" like locks of hair and family snapshots), it'd be pretty difficult to find much definitive information on them if, say, your friend passed along a CD-R of the 1993 double album, Spasm Smash XXXOXOX Ox and Ass. In their case, the modicum of information is probably most indicative of the band's scattershot anti-concept. At any given time over the past decade—and on most of their recordings—the quartet has been as prone to straight-up riffs as chaotic skronk and noise snippets. Their four albums from '93 and '94, known as the Godspeed series, are not pure improv, though that's how they approached them. Based out of San Diego, Trumans Water have also called Portland home, and soundwise they share plenty with PDX's Electric Eye and our own (now defunct) Popular Shapes. But considering how long they've been around, it's probably best to think of them as a junkier, slightly more earnest U.S. Maple. If you've heard the eight-minute "Aroma of Gina Arnold," you likely know what I mean. LAURA CASSIDY

 
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