Pay, pal

Gimme justice, three square meals, and land, lots of land, upon which to build my multimillion-dollar SF Bat Lair

SONIC REDUCER "Fuck Lars Ulrich — he can play drums on my balls with his teeth!" Them's fighting words from the beefy bruiser in a tinsel page-boy wig, perhaps provoked only by four wannabe skids' burning need to cover Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" at last week's first but — fortunately for your inner and outer sketched-out Priest hooligan with a nonironic mullet, prematurely weather-beaten mien, and herbally truncated short-term memory — not last "Hesher" night at the Parkside, where it's now semiofficially installed after starting its smokin' life at Annie's Social Club. Still headbang or nod out to "Sweet Child o' Mine"? All is forgiven and even drunkenly applauded at "Hesher," a metal karaoke and air guitar contest. Yet as delightful as it is to rock out with your crock out to such unrepentant cock-rock versions of "Eye of the Tiger" and "Round and Round," I couldn't help but think that all of us ruddy walleyes were just cruising upstream against a current zeitgeist hell-bent on nailing culpables caught with their greasy paws in the cookie jar. How else to explain the crowds crowing to punish Paris or throw the book at I. Lewis "Lemme Scoot" Libby? Why else were latently Catholic viewers so outraged that Tony Soprano didn't go down in a hail of bullets rather than simply cutting to black? After years of the Bush and Cheney show, the hordes have become less hesher than harsher.

Maybe we're waiting for justice, answers, something to believe in — and perhaps the once-wronged and now recognized and fully redeemed Spoon's Britt Daniel is ready to give it to us, just as he and other indie savants like Feist turn in their subtlest, slowest-growing recordings to date. In fact, the opening track of Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge), "Don't Make Me a Target," could serve as the theme song for a rockin' version of Chicago starring the most hated Hilton in America: it soft-shoes the bristly snarl of "Waiting for the Kid to Come Out," off last year's reissued Soft Effects EP. In spite or perhaps because of the troubles he saw when he was pushed off Elektra, griping loudly all the way, Daniel has always sounded like one of the angriest dogs on the lot, barely leashed to those leathery pop hooks.

With Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Daniel ventures into other textures and tempos, moduutf8g his bark and bite with plangent pings and drastic pressure drops, floating in an echoey "The Ghost of You Lingers" and snapping suavely to the hand-clapping "Don't You Evah." Though the infectious brass, Daniel's streetwise taunts, and the band's pugilistic punch conjure up memories of a certain cheesy piano man, as Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker has pointed out, aligning "The Underdog" with Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young," I'd venture that Daniel is less conjuring stereotypically cornball urban bluster pop straight out of some tourist fantasy of a Little Italy than continuing the same cranky conversation that began back around the hard-assed, grunge-era Soft Effects, now aged artfully into a modern-day Bobby Darrin–y hep cat. Much like the album's cover girl, sculptor Lee Bontecou, Daniel's finding new mettle — and much softer metals — with which to channel his rage.

FOLKLORE LURE Court and Spark and Hiss Golden Messenger honcho and teacher MC Taylor is answering the siren call of higher education and leaving the Mission digs he shares with his wife, Abby, to move to Chapel Hill, NC. "We both wanted a change of scenery, wanted to live in the country and have a garden.

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