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Buzz Bands

June 16, 2005|Kevin Bronson

Punctuated by bare emotion

The only gimmickry you get from Alaska! is the band's name, which the Silver Lake trio asks you not to capitalize (oops, sorry) and insists you punctuate, as if its no-frills guitar-bass-drum stylings fall somewhere short of exclamatory. They don't.

What you get on the trio's second album, "Rescue Through Tomahawk," are emotions laid bare, rhythms urging you to confront them, metaphor dripping from every jagged guitar edge and the sonic space to let the dust from all this anguish settle. It's a little bit Led Zeppelin, a bit Sonic Youth, plenty of pounding the Pavement -- and convincing enough that you believe front man Imaad Wasif when he cops to having been "haunted by everything about this record," made during "the most intense period of my life."

Wasif, who started the band with Russ Pollard (a bandmate in Lou Barlow's Folk Implosion), declines to elucidate, saying, "It's all there on the record," set to the drumming of Lesley Ishino. He does say that the band played with renewed purpose after the trio survived a van accident while driving through Wyoming on tour in 2004. The vehicle skidded on black ice, left the highway and flipped over. "A near-death experience," he says. "That was a definite catalyst."

Alaska! performs tonight at the Troubadour with Irving.

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Showing a united front

Saucy Monky shares a lot of the qualities of pop's classic female-fronted bands -- irrepressible melodicism, smart lyrics and enough charm to deliver the frankest message with a hook and smile. But the L.A. quartet gives it to you double-barreled, thanks to the vocal and songwriting team of Cynthia Catania and Dublin-born Annmarie Cullen.

"Annmarie and I have a songwriting relationship that's really complementary," Catania says. "When you have two front people, you can really play off one another."

The band celebrates the release of its second album, "Turbulence" (with its impressive do-it-yourself production), by playing Tuesday at the Troubadour, with dates supporting the Young Dubliners later this year.

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Fast forward

Set aside Labor Day weekend for the first Arthurfest -- an undertaking of counterculture journal Arthur Magazine and Spaceland Productions. A Sunday and Monday event planned for the Barnsdall Park in Los Feliz, the festival boasts Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, the Black Keys, Cat Power and a reunited Olivia Tremor Control as headliners (with two to be announced) and a host of underground performers, all gathering in what aims to be "cross-genre as well as cross-generational," Arthur Publisher Jay Babcock says.... Then there is Monday night's show to celebrate the release Tuesday of the album "Look at All the Love We Found: A Tribute to Sublime." The show at Long Beach's Vault 350 will feature performances by Los Lobos and Fishbone, as well as Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh, among others.... Denver pop quartet Dressy Bessy amped it up for its latest album, "Electrified" (released this week), and the band plays an early show Tuesday at the Echo.... You'll get a more space-pop (but no less melodic) crunch from the Orange Peels, the Bay Area trio that just released its third album, "Circling the Sun," and visits Spaceland on Friday.... So many beautiful voices, so little time: Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter (with estimable L.A. songstress Inara George opening) at El Cid on Saturday; Canadian singer-songwriter Feist, opening for Rilo Kiley at the Wiltern LG on Sunday; and Plug Research label-mates Mia Doi Todd and Damon Aaron on the same bill Tuesday at Tangier.

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