THE PARSON RED HEADS, TOMMY KEENE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) In his introduction to the power-pop progenitor's ferocious performance on Late Night in '94, Conan O'Brien declared Tommy Keene "one of the best pop songwriters in the business." A single spin of his 1986 benchmark album, Places That Are Gone, will tell you that's no exaggeration. Anybody with a penchant for pop is guaranteed to be fairly keen on, well, virtually everything Keene has released. His output is remarkably consistent, and unlike conspecifics Chris Stamey or hell, R.E.M., Keene hasn't chilled out with the passing of years. In fact, his latest record, entitled Behind the Parade, might be his grittiest to date. MORGAN TROPER Also see My, What a Busy Week!
TRAVIS LAPLANTE, TREVOR DUNN, THICKET, U SCO
(Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th) Whoever thought prog and punk would be so suited for each other? Certainly the possibility of a compromise occurred to Robert Fripp (look no further than Red-era King Crimson for an example of early prog-punk-rock, which was one of his better ideas). Ryan Miller, guitarist in the Portland-based progressive, experimental, post-whatever band U Sco, has also combined the two almost contradictory styles with ambiguous and riveting results. It's essentially aggressive progressive rock, but stripped of (most) of the unpleasant excesses and regurgitated medieval allusions associated with the genre. In other words, it's restless and exciting as hell, while still containing elements that will stimulate your classically trained friend's virginal ears. Besides, Travis LaPlante (of Little Women) and Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle) are worth the price of admission alone. It's all a reminder that some of the most abrasive, aberrant sounds in the city are emanating from modest all-ages spaces. MT