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Who you callin' cracker? Four guys and a girl, that's who. Currently hailing from Virginia, they're one of the best pop-rock-alt-country-grunge-'70's-hip-thing-you-name-it-bands that you will ever witness. Cracker (pictured) has been pumping out the tunes from some wildly potent interdimensional pipeline for about a decade now, and whatever musical universe they choose to inhabit, they report back with palpably authentic songs that brand them true citizens from a head-spinning array of sonic galaxies.

The opening band for the Sept. 17 show at Cat's Cradle contains some of Camper Van Beethoven's (Cracker frontman David Lowry's old band) alumni, Victor Krummenacher, Jonathan Segel and Greg Lisher, which alone would be reason enough to show up. And as they're opening for a band that should have attained superstar status years ago, in a venue as intimate as the Cradle, you'd be much the poorer if you passed it up. But you won't, now will you? Call 967-9053 for tickets. --Edward Holm

DiamondDiamondDiamond

One of the few (deservedly) surviving indie-rock bands left from the dawn of the Clinton Era is coming to town. Versus, the pride of both New York City and the Philippines, has never strayed too far from its original formula--finding the beauty inside a dissonant guitar chord and showering it with boy-girl vocal harmonies--but it's managed to evolve an already distinctive sound into something elegant.

Richard Baluyut, Fontaine Toups and gang--veterans of the Teen Beat and Caroline labels--have found a new home with locals Merge Records. After releasing two fine EPs on Merge, the band has just issued a delightful full-length called hurrah. It is pretty and nasty and then pretty again. Versus will open for all-everything Hoboken band Yo La Tengo this Mon., Sept. 18 at Cat's Cradle. --Gavin O'Hara

DiamondDiamondDiamond

After two records on MCA, alt-country artist Richard Buckner is back with an album of the spare, old-time traditional music he does best. Buckner--who cites such artists as Doc Watson and Ralph Stanley as influences--explores the roots of Americana by using Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology (epitaphs elegizing dead-and-gone plain folks from the imagined town of Spoon River, Ill.) on his upcoming Overcoat Records release The Hill. The character studies that make up the album, accompanied by Buckner's simple guitar and long-time collaborators Joey Convertino and Joey Burns from Calexico, comprise an 18-song musical portrait of small-town life. Sometimes bleak but always moving, Buckner's work has always leaned toward the poetic rather than the obvious, and while his vocal style garners comparisons to Dwight Yoakum, the big feller prefers to travel his own lonely road, occasionally enlisting a pedal steel player for live gigs. If you like Uncle Tupelo's March 16-20, 1992, you've probably already heard Buckner's work or caught him opening for Son Volt. Otherwise, head to Go! Rehearsal Studios on Sept. 17 and check the man out in person. --Angie Carlson

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