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The Independent Culture
The revolt against American rock has been exaggerated. Sure, the fortunes of blunt guitar noiseniks given a leg up by the Nirvana boom have taken a knocking as the kids now prefer the homegrown scowls of Elastica and Oasis, but cool eccentric Stateside operators have never had it so good. And there's a glut of them in UK venues presently. Last night Sebadoh headlined their biggest-ever British show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, a trio who can take quaint riffs and turn out warped folk, laden with passion and lyrical delicacy. Tonight we welcome Pavement (right), the Svengalis of US art rock. They are probably the ones who, with the help of twisted rhythms and a double helping of charisma, made it possible for a legion of avant-garde wannabes to get away with being utterly perplexing. Regional reports of their Brit tour so far suggest they are in a merry mood, thanks to a generous rider. But best of the pale-boy American crop are two bands in town tomorrow night, Palace and Smog. Spookily, Pavement, Smog and Palace have all spent time at Chicago's most astute but poor label, Drag City. From Palace (formerly The Palace Brothers and Palace Songs) we get songs of story-led beauty, and at the helm of Smog is Bill Callahan, a quiet, prodigious-output soul. Last album Wild Love (City Slang) shows he's given to more textured experimentalism as his chronic shyness recedes. Ahh, summertime: looking good, sounding weird.

Pavement, tonight, Brixton Academy, SW9 (0171-924 9999)

Palace and Smog, Sat, The Garage, N5 (0171-607 1818)

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