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Icon-Bashing Name, Songs About Cars

A canny, icon-bashing name still capable of shock appeal, Elvis Hitler suggests all kinds of satirical possibilities. But don’t expect any agitpunk a la the Dead Kennedys from this Michigan quartet--Elvis Hitler is about as political as corn pone. At Raji’s on Friday, the group blasted a brand of “hellbilly” faster than a speed-metal bullet racing “From Berlin to Memphis.” That song title is the extent of the band’s Third Reich ‘n’ Roll elements. Primarily, these turbo-charged songs are about automobiles, and the band’s philosophy is “Live fast, die young and leave a good car.” Elvis Hitler is not breaking any new ground--the Cramps tilled this shock ‘n’ roll field years ago--but they come awfully close to crashing the sound barrier.

Universal Congress Of, which ended the evening, is becoming one of the local scene’s vital musical resources: a primarily instrumental quartet capable of sliding from funky blues to free-jazz improvisations to sly be-bop. The intricate, multilayered rebirth-of-cool approach lies far outside the rock-club mainstream. That UCO can make these sounds so accessible and appealing is just another indication of its increasing artistry. A band for the future.


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