One of the perks of my job is the sheer number of free CDs I receive in the mail. Sure, getting a mail bin a day filled with packages can be annoying when they pile up (I know, I know: cry me a river), but it's nearly impossible to be upset when every day feels like Christmas morning.
Of course, between the bluegrass tributes to Bright Eyes and the Chicago box sets, I've been receiving a steady trickle of tunes from local bands. Coincidentally, an absurd number of said bands are staging shows around town this week. Owing to space considerations, we can't print all of the club information, but here's a handy consumer guide to what's on tap:
The Unholy Effers (Doors at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 7, at the Creepy Crawl. $7 to $9; call 314-621-9333 for more information.)
The deal: This trio is at its best when crank-fueled tempos and marching band-precise guitar barbs merge with vocals that sting like a scorpion. Folks still mourning the breakup of Fugazi -- or who had to sell their Jesus Lizard CDs for rent money -- will dig their abrasive post-rock.
Worth checking out? Only half the four-song demo manages to sustain momentum and emerge as memorable. Perhaps the Unholy Effers' energy won't flag in concert as much as it does in the studio.
Ghost in Light (9 p.m. Wednesday, September 7, at the Hi-Pointe. Call 314-781-4716 for more information.)
The deal: An indie quartet that crafts soothing, mid-tempo tunes for overcast fall days and rainy afternoons spent curled up on the couch. Driven by vocalist Jason House's delicate-as-lace crooning, Ghost in Light's woozy guitars conjure the floating, eerie calm of outer space or march along like ants on a mission on the full-length Dead Eyes and a Traveling Mind; a stripped-back Idaho or a less-rustic Red House Painters are atmospheric touchstones.
Worth checking out? Definitely. Rare is the band that can make slowcore tunes not function like a dose of Tylenol PM -- and sustain emotional gravitas all the while.
Gunderson (9 p.m. Thursday, September 8, at the Phoenix South County. Free; call 314-416-4266 for more information.)
The deal: They're not reinventing the wheel (think Staind without the wrist-slitting angst, or a heavier Switchfoot), but Gunderson show themselves to be one of the more promising young bands around. The MetroGnome EP kicks the ass of most of the music heard on 105.7-FM (The Point), what with its well-crafted songs and ability to take the alt-rock template -- driving metallic guitars, booming choruses, layered harmonies -- and make it not sound cookie-cutter.
Worth checking out? Word has it Gunderson's live spectacle converts even non-fans of their style of music. Good concerts are good concerts, no matter the genre.
Johnny O & the Jerks (9 p.m. Friday, September 9, at Lemmons. $5; call 314-481-4812 for more information.)
The deal: Taking Out the Trashabilly isn't merely the name of Johnny O & the Jerks' full-length album; it's a perfect description of the careening rockabilly riffs, zombie-howl blues and swampy vocal bellows the trio's been perfecting since forming a year ago in Columbia.
Worth checking out? There's no better way to start a weekend than pounding back beers and getting ghoulish with this Cramps-like combo -- and they're friends with RFT Music Award-winning Best New Band the Vultures and scene vets 7 Shot Screamers, so you know the pedigree is sound.
LaPush (7 p.m. Friday, September 9, Vintage Vinyl in-store. Free; call 314-721-4096 for more information.)
The deal: In one of the area's quietest major-label signings, mellow dream-poppers LaPush recently released their debut, Someplace Closer to Here, on 456 -- the label co-owned by MTV's Carson Daly. Fittingly, the band's Britpop-ish tune "Aurora" has found favor with the music channel's guilty-pleasure soap Laguna Beach.
Worth checking out? Sure. Plus, you'll already be in Vintage Vinyl, which means picking up albums by all of LaPush's influences -- the Smiths, Travis, Radiohead -- is that much easier.
Blinded Black (6:30 p.m. Saturday, September 10, at Mississippi Nights. $7; call 314-421-3853 for more information.)
The deal: A pierced and vintage shirt-wearin' sextet together since late 2002, Blinded Black has played shows on Warped Tour and opened for highly touted scream machines Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Bleed the Dream. The full-length Sealed with a Stitch features whirling-dervish guitars and guttural yelps akin to Underoath.
Worth checking out? Although Blinded Black's use of synths and a keytar (righteous!) separates their sound from other emo dreamboats, they're a young band (the oldest member is nineteen). This likely explains the generic tone of their tunes. File 'em as a band that fans of throat-blistering screamo and those still stressing out about facial acne and prom dates will likely appreciate.
Brain Regiment (9 p.m. Saturday, September 10, Off Broadway. $5; call 314-773-3363 for more information.)
The deal: Anyone who misses the mumble 'n' jangle of early R.E.M. or Pavement's slanted melodies will be pleased by Brain Regiment's 2005 EP Ancient Spaceman. Together since late 2003, the quartet is quirky but accessible -- largely thanks to the chameleonic singing of Corey Saathoff, whose voice creaks like a well-adjusted version of Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis in some places and twangs like a grizzled alt-country troubadour in others.
Worth checking out? Most definitely. Saathoff's old band, Jerkwater Junction, spent the late 1990s playing gigs around the Midwest with respected groups like Slobberbone and Lullaby for the Working Class -- and Brain Regiment has shared the stage with space cadets Brian Jonestown Massacre and grrl-punks Visqueen, so the live show is well-honed.