Live Music Roundup: Tuesday, July 7

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At Nectar tonight, Sound Magazine is hosting a happy hour with free drink tickets (until they run out) from 6 to 9 p.m., followed by a show that is also completely free, featuring Born Anchors, my favorite local psychedelic band the Curious Mystery, and Cataldo. Great line-up, free drinks, no cover...yes!

Cracker, Victor Krumnenacher at the Crocodile, 8 p.m., $20

In 1990, when the legendary Camper Van Beethoven broke up, it must've seemed inconceivable that singer/guitarist David Lowery would ever front a band as initially straight ahead-sounding as Cracker. Where Camper was known for its zany, offbeat wit and rollicking stage presentation, Cracker's demeanor falls 180 degrees in the other direction. On first listen, Cracker, with its bountiful hooks and smooth country-rock guitar, sounds tailor-made for radio. And the ubiquitous hit "Low," which has probably been played in every shopping mall across America, only seems to cement that perception. Since Camper re-formed ten years ago, however, it's gotten easier to regard Cracker on its own merits -- and recognize the songwriting strength behind Lowery's deceptively accessible songs. In retrospect, it's not only remarkable that he was able to re-invent himself and sneak some hits through the mass-appeal chute, but that Cracker would have such longevity and age so well. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

Mantic Ritual, Pro-Pain, Sworn Enemy, Sojourner, Crooks to Kings at El Corazon, 7 p.m., $17, all ages

Let's set the record straight: as much as famous metal musicians would have us believe otherwise, the rise of Nirvana did not precipitate the demise of thrash metal, the thrilling heavy metal sub-genre launched by Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, and Slayer. Most likely, the music's sudden erosion occurred from within. And Mantic Ritual clearly felt the pain. The band's production values, guitar riffs, and lyrics are all micro-tailored so that its album, Executioner, may as well have been recorded 25 years ago, during the time when the music was still more raw than progressive and had yet to surge in popularity. Hell, it's a surprise the label didn't airbrush some acne into the band photos to mimic the back cover of Metallica's Kill 'Em All. By presenting thrash as an embalmed museum piece, Mantic Ritual sheds zero light on why this most vital of forms barely evolved past 1993. But, of course, fans who pine for the glory days of leather and jean jackets will throw their horns up anyway. Like Twinkies, at least you know exactly what you're going to get. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

 
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