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Indie poobahs
I caught up with Kenneth Stephenson from Kingsbury Manx after their opening gig for indie rock's very own Neil Young, Stephen Malkmus (sans girlfriend on tambo), at their recent Cradle show. The Manx's eagerly anticipated follow-up to their Syd Barret-esque, eponymous debut album--which had the boys along with Calexico on a European tour before local fans knew what hit them--are saving their Brian Paulson-produced disc for a fall release. Avid Pavement fans, the Manx were picked to open eight dates for Malkmus' East Coast tour--definitely a plum batch of shows--and have been attracting attention from the likes of über-arranger Sean O'Hagen (High Llamas). Stephenson says the album--still being mixed--is a departure from their debut. Look for it this August.

Label news
The old "a prophet is never recognized in his native land" scenario: Former local emo-rockers Milemarker are signed to Jade Tree, where they'll be sharing the roster with the likes of Jets to Brazil and DYI wunderkinds The Promise Ring. The Chicago-based band is slated to tour Japan and Europe; their album will be out this summer.

"She was a winner, who became the doggie's dinner." The word is that Yep Roc will be putting out Nick Lowe's latest album here in the States. Titled The Convincer, it's the third of Lowe's American roots-inspired trilogy. Look for the album this September. Now if someone can just get the CD release party to be a local affair.

You had to be there ...
Proving that Wisconsin has the other states beat for outré behavior (running the spectrum from Ed Gein to those freaky Styrofoam cheese hat wearers), Milwaukee cult heroes The Frogs were in vintage form at their recent Local 506 show. Unfortunately, they played opposite the groundbreaking Amy Ray and The Butchies show. (Ray introduced an encore by saying, "Here's a feminist classic," then launched into Tom Petty's "Refugee," as well as tearing through a fine version of the Buzzcock's "Ever Fallen in Love?") However, if you ran back and forth between the Cradle and Local 506, you could catch the Frogs' openers, Cincinnati's The Greenhornes (as close to seeing the Chocolate Watchband or any ripping, '60s punk Nuggets-era quintet as you're going to get); then run and catch most of Ray and The Butchies; and end on a truly strange note with the Frogs, who out-heckled the hecklers and played an interactive show full of their classics. Fans of the Smashing Pumpkins would recognize Jimmy--the Riff Raff-looking dude sporting glittery green gargoyle wings who played guitar--along with a guy in blackface on drums and a bewigged bassist wearing droopy, red long johns. By the end of the show, they were berating unenthused (or wasted) audience members: "What's with this guy, is he in a coma?" yelled the drummer, as the guitarist climbed into the go-go cage to deliver a few arena-style licks, making you question every notion you've ever had about rock. Call them musical dadaists, call them provocateurs who challenge all the PC crowd holds dear, just don't call out requests.

Hazeldine: The band, which features Tres Chicas member Tonya Lamm as well as Shawn Barton and Anne Tkach, released their album, Double Back, on German label Glitterhouse (they're touring in Europe). The album received three stars in the German edition of Rolling Stone, and it's a powerful, country-tinged beauty featuring the ladies' gorgeous vocal harmonies and savvy lyrics.

In the studio
Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown, Tres Chicas) is going back into the studio with Chris Stamey in May to record her follow-up to her wonderful Waltzie EP. Cary will be joined by former Whiskeytown members Skillet Gilmore and Mike Daly. Look for her full-length debut late this year or early 2002.

Stay tuned for stories on Goner (their CD was recently mastered by Chris Stamey), and Daddy, who sent in a deliciously evil, beyond-heavy pre-release for their seven-song disc. It's 25 minutes of plutonium-heavy guitar mayhem featuring mucho fuzz, ass-heavy power chords that sound like they've tuned down to D or even C, bent riffs and screaming, effin' crazy vocals. Favorite song title: "Popular Diseases that Aren't Popular Anymore." --angie carlson

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