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Texas rockers ... And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (pictured left), playing Wednesday, March 29 at Kings, suffer the distinction of almost never seeing their name printed right in club ads. Adding to the confusion, the Austin-based Merge Records four-piece play a brand of distorted, guitar-driven '80s post-punk that recalls Live Skull, or Sister-era Sonic Youth for that matter. The black-haired, black-banged, black-clothed sexually ambivalent-seeming dudes share a freaky physical resemblance (inbred cousins?). ... Trail of Dead have a certain weird, ferretlike frenetic energy onstage; by show's end, frontman Conrad Keely may or may not have broken his guitar, may or may not be inside his amp. Drummer-singer Jason Reece sports a stocky, Glenn Danzig physique; he usually ends up taunting the audience or body-surfin' the crowd during his stints as frontman. This is a sonically-aggressive, squirrelly bunch, and they're not afraid to push their music (or their much-abused gear) to the limit. Recommended. --Angie Carlson

DiamondDiamondDiamondPop is a three-letter word. While that may seem obvious, until recently it was something of a four-letter word in hip music circles. Saturday night's CD release concert for the Southeast music compilation Pop Till You Drop (Redeye/S'More) offers the chance to see three bands spearheading the current pop renaissance and making the world safe for melody. Headlining the show will be Knoxville four-piece Superdrag (pictured above), best known for their 1996 MTV hit (and gut-check anthem) "Sucked Out." The band plays the smoothest mixture of Beatles-type pop and indie rock you'll ever hear and features John Davis, one of the best singers in the alt-rock world today. Superdrag's recent split with Elektra Records, according to the band's Web site, grew out of the label's insistence that they come up with "something that might fit into today's dismal, 'hit-oriented' commercial radio format." Not missing a beat, Superdrag has signed with indie label Arena Rock Records and has a new album due in August. Also appearing at the show will be local favorites Mayflies USA and Wilmington stalwarts Rodeo Boy, who both appear on the compilation and are currently hard at work on new records. The Pop Till You Drop CD release show is Saturday, April 1, at Cat's Cradle. --Gavin O'Hara

DiamondDiamondDiamondA group of kindred spirits--this one more likely to swoon to the sound of synthesizers than a slide guitar--will take over Local 506 on Friday, March 31. Organized by the folks at the local electronica label Freakadelic, the April Fool's Eve Freak-For-All will feature performances by a host of local and national techno and trance artists. Locals include Dub Assassin (a.k.a. Tim Harper, who's been involved in a host of country and rock bands around here--pictured above) and DJ FM & the FM Initiative. Of particular interest is Pink Chaos Theater, a music, art and dance collective that has done things like perform a choreographed dance routine to a Bjork song. If you want to get an idea of what goes on at these Freak-For-Alls (this is the fourth one), check out Call Local 506 at 956-5506 for details. --Karen A. Mann

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