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There are people who answer the question "Do you like Interpol?" with a tart little "Actually, I'd rather listen to Joy Division." And these people can blow it out their bunghole because if every other band hadn't been trying so hard to be the Rolling Stones at the time Interpol were trying so hard to be Joy Division, then the kettle might not have gotten the immediate media attention necessary for the pots to notice it enough to call it black, which is kind of a precious metaphor, don't you think? Anyway, their excellent new album, Antics(which they'll be previewing at the Goth-tacular Curiosa festival), is actually a bit of a brilliant departure. Less swirly— la Joy Division—and more insistent— la REM—Antics, due out Sept. 28, throbs with beautifully sinewy, bracing midtempo songs. Where their debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, was epic and morose, Antics is stripped-down and resolute. Not that you're likely to notice all this when you see them at Curiosa—the difference is largely one in production, and Antics takes about three solid listens before it becomes the kind of album you feel like posting livejournals about. You know, if you do that kind of thing. (Alison M. Rosen)Interpol play with The Cure, The Rapture and more at the Curiosa Festival, Home Depot Center, Avalon & Victora, Carson, (213) 480-3232. Fri., 5 p.m. $25-$57.50. All ages
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HILARY DUFF DUFF LITE
Hipster America loathes Hilary Duff for her angst-lite, stuff so bubble gum that Wrigley's should sue, and I do, too. But you and I probably differ in our Duff-decrying—see, I actually think Duff is a talented gal who will eventually break free from her Radio Disney shackles and kick Lindsay Lohan's ample ass back to obscurity. But she won't accomplish this through song. She's got a voice like a Chihuahua's bark, most likely processed through a sound mixer until the poor machine overheats. No, Duff needs to remember the reason why she became so popular in the first place: Lizzie McGuire, a delightful half-hour show that ran from 2001 until last year on the Disney Channel. A colleague of mine chortled when I called Duff this generation's Lucille Ball, but I don't know of any other young actress out there who willingly put herself through such Lucy-esque slapstick situations—digging through beans in a Mexican variety show hosted by Erik Estrada, tripping over herself enough times to qualify for a permanent slot in the ICU. But I should've known better. As early as 2002, Duff was already crooning on the official Lizzie McGuire soundtrack. That winter, she released Santa Claus Lane, a lame collection of yuletide standards and originals that, in a horrid note of nepotism, also featured her younger sister Haylie. Soon after, Disney executives fired Duff from her contract. They knew the future, and the future would be Duff-lite. (Gustavo Arellano)Hilary Duff performs at the Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400. Thurs., Sept. 2, 7 p.m. $38-$48. All ages.
MINUS THE BEAR NEXT LEVEL ROCK
Considering the national recognition that Nintendo-theme cover bands such as the Advantage and the Minibosses have recently received in Spin, it's about time the video-game-music-re-interpretation niche got its own genre classification. And I've got the label right here: "Next Level Rock." Get it? A quick Google search for the term nets zero results, and you know what that means: once I'm finished filing the trademark registration, I'll be sitting pretty on top of a fat stack of royalty checks sent to my remote-island address every time the phrase is used—probably starting with Minus the Bear. Technically speaking, it'd be unfair to lump the Seattle quintet into that category—after all, they do actually write their own songs and stuff—but it's not that far a stretch. Minus the Bear's latest full-length, They Make Beer Commercials Like This, is chock-full of the very same upbeat, heavily processed guitar and synth melodies you'd find on any action-packed side-scrolling adventure, sometimes settling down into lush atmospherics that even a grumpy lower-dungeon dweller like Dodongo couldn't resist. Slickly produced, anchored by a solid rhythm section capable of walking the fine line between dance-rock subtlety and clich, and well-known for their ridiculous sense of humor (album and song titles include such dandies as "Hey Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked" and "Hey! Is That a Ninja Up There?"), Minus the Bear seems only a Nintendo Power-Pad tie-in away from reaching . . . the Next Level. Cha-ching! (Matthew Borlik) Minus The Bear plays with Engine Down, Brazil and Statistics at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 629-0377. Thurs., Sept. 2, 7 p.m. $10-$12. All ages.