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This Little Underground 

Spent all my foreplay on Valentine's, so let's just get straight to it …

The beat

The Hex Tremors were one of the most thrilling bands ever to come out of this city, and their breakup last year almost brought this grown-ass man to tears. But Saint Sibian signals the musical resurrection of Tremors mastermind Scott Long. It's a new band but thankfully he hasn't jettisoned his powerful concept — those things don't come along too often. Just like Greg Reinel has recently done with his new project, Hot Mouth, Long has taken his vision in a more robust direction by harnessing a full rhythm section, specifically the one that usually plays in Cotton Candy Cookies and Cream.

Despite some sound issues and chemistry kinks to iron out, the trio's debut glimpse (Feb. 10, Peacock Room) showed that there's much to be excited about. Long's idea of the blues is still psychotic, it's just powered by a brawnier rock & roll engine. And from the sick slide-guitar action on display, it's clear that he's still gripped by the hex and remains one of the most electric performers around. Stay tuned for more.

Local band Sterling Schroeder and the Chosen Ones could've used some of that excess personality; their delivery was a dud live (Feb. 13, Back Booth). Their simple, slightly kooky melodic rock just isn't remarkable enough to justify a lack of showmanship. As frontman, Schroeder attacked the show with all the conviction and sizzle of a beach bum. It's gonna take more than goofball lyrics about dinosaurs and brain-eating worms to make this band worth your entertainment dollar. Purpose and pulse would be two good places to start. This is the kind of inaccuracy and indistinctiveness that has so far prevented the nebulous Soundvine Collective from gaining scene traction.

Headlining the show was the eternally adequate Evan Dando. However, now that drugs have taken away the crutch of his looks and his modest solo material is further removed from the cuteness of golden-age Lemonheads, he's a reasonably affecting solo performer. This was a more intimate and present set than he's given in a while.

Up the street at the Social on the same night was That 1 Guy — the famous touring musician, not the frequent music-section commenter on our website who uses the same alias. I still believe that he completely blew his creative load on the invention and execution of his astounding, sui generis instrument (the Magic Pipe), leaving none for his moniker or lyrics. But what he lacks in wit and taste, he makes up for in ingenuity and economy as a live one-man act. His sheer instrumental wizardry is such a sight to behold that I can almost forgive his hippie-fied industrial-funk tendencies. He is totally the Carrot Top of the music world with his gimmicky approach, which this time even involved card tricks, but he's a true showman. If this guy listened to more Björk, he could be a legit juggernaut.

The recorded output of Norwegian pop troubadour Sondre Lerche (Feb. 9, the Social) is pleasant enough, but this is the kind of performer who has such force of expression that a solo set doesn't signify a muted concession. Pure, projecting and powerful, Lerche chased his melodies on both guitar and vocals with abandon and conviction. Marrying talent and passion, he managed to shine solo, which is perhaps the most revealing and least forgiving live format there is.

Not sure if it's because she was sick or if it's because she's got that quiet indie-chick thing going on, but Julie Doiron's performance (Feb. 11, Will's Pub) was too understated and bashful for me. Because of her notable career, she was ostensibly the seasoned veteran of the bill, but it was North Carolina's Bowerbirds who came correct.

Up until this, my first live encounter with the band, I had yet to get fully hip to their recorded work. Their indie folk is neither direct enough to hit you with head-on force nor truly freaky enough to push the envelope. But live it makes much more sense, enough to convert me to the "convinced" column.

Some may romanticize the arguably arty elementariness of L.A.'s Nite Jewel (Feb. 9, Back Booth), but live it just sounds half-baked. Austere structures with some decent synth sounds and textures are nice, but I Am the World Trade Center they are not.

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