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June 26, 2003|Kevin Bronson, with Craig Rosen

Medicine man's new mix

L.A. native Brad Laner has been trolling the underground music scene since the early '80s as teen punk in Debt of Nature. Since then, Laner has fronted such avant-garde combos as Medicine, the Electric Company, Amnesia and Lusk, and released nearly a dozen albums. His "one legitimate show-biz moment," he says, came when Medicine scored a song and a spot performing in the 1995 film "The Crow," whose star Brandon Lee was killed in an accident on the set. Eight years later, Laner has revived Medicine with Brandon Lee's sister (and Bruce Lee's daughter), Shannon, on vocals. The pair's new album, "The Mechanical Forces of Love," is due July 15 on Wall of Sound/Astralwerks. "When I met Shannon, I was a bit nervous about how she would perceive working with somebody who had benefited from the thing that her brother had died doing," Laner says. After meeting through a mutual friend, Laner recruited Lee to add vocals to tracks he had recorded at his San Fernando Valley residence. Whether this electronic-based incarnation of Medicine will evolve into a performing entity remains to be seen. Says Laner: "We're trying to figure out how to do that now."

A fresh foursome

Don't stop if you've heard this one before: Four lads with sensibilities influenced by their parents' record collections and skills honed by a couple years in music school drop out of college, hop in a van, move to L.A. and, virtually penniless, embark on putting their rock band on the map. Then ... well, the ending hasn't been written yet for Josh Quinn, 21, and his bandmates in Addison. "The music scene in the Midwest was really dead," Quinn says. "Lots of punk and hardcore; anything with a melody gets shot down." Of course, tackling the world outside of Greenville, Ill., (pop. 7,000) and Greenville College (enrollment 1,200) had its appeal. Upon reaching L.A., "we fell into a circle of friends who've been supportive and put us on bills," Quinn says of a few months' spent showcasing Addison's harmony-laden but angular pop. "It's amazing that we used to wonder what it'd be like to be in L.A. and play the Roxy. Now we have."

Fast forward

Two reasons to like Tuesday: Paloalto's second album, "Heroes and Villains," hits stores, more than 2 1/2 years after its debut; the band headlines at the Viper Room.... The Knitting Factory's front-room makeover gives you more beat for the buck; fans exiting the sizzling set by !!! (Chik Chik Chik) in the main space Saturday got to hang and hear live electro-jazz by Subthunk.

-- Kevin Bronson, with Craig Rosen

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