by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Slackers and scenesters, take heart! GATSBY'S AMERICAN DREAM can totally help you make grades on a variety of topical and in-demand high school subjects.

Don't know your World History? "Pompeii" will tell you everything you need to know about Rome circa AD 79. But that's not all! The song mixes in a short dissertation on the destructive power of imperial hubris that you could totally turn into a civics term paper.

If you're sweating through the thinly veiled critique of communism in Orwell's Animal Farm, put down the book and pick up Gatsby's 2003 LP Ribbons and Sugar, which more or less gives chapter synopses. Also covered:The Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings and Ender's Game.

So it's book lernin', but they wrap it in prog riffs and vocals so emo you'd think singer Nic Newsham was taking a razor to some non-major arteries, instead of summarizing Tolkien. It's compelling. Check the subdued synths on "Station 5 The Pearl" (the new single, based on Lost) for their best work yet.

Gatsby's American Dream at the Big Dipper on Sunday, July 2, at 7 pm. Tickets: $10. Visit or call 325-SEAT

Forget Wolf Parade, Wolf Mother, Wolves in the Throne Room, AIDS Wolf, and the rest of those bandwagon-jumping indie kids rocking lupine band names, LOS LOBOS were in to win before airbrushed wolf sweatshirts got hip. Or rather, I guess, they were in to win when airbrushed wolf shirts got hip the first time. Like 20 years ago.

And longevity means something in this business, dammit. It shouldn't matter that they've been on like a hundred different labels throughout their career, spiraling album after album onto ever-smaller imprints, they're still earning critical raves for their bluesy, folksy, Tex-Mexy melange. The Ride was as well received in 2004 as was their 1984 major label debut, the T-Bone Burnett-produced How Will the Wolf Survive. The consistency of product, the solidity of their fanbase and the fecundity of their creative talent have kept them alive and in the game an unbelievably long time -- Still crazy (like a fox) after all these years, and still hungry like the wolf.

Los Lobos at Northern Quest Casino on Friday, June 30, at 8:30 pm. Tickets: $45 - $55. Visit or call 325-SEAT

J.K. Rowling is going to be so pissed when she sees cover of THE PHARMACY's Overcast Summer. They totally stole the Harry Potter font! Though she might be inclined to dispatch a legion of lawyers from her stone tower, we'd suggest she chill a sec and give a listen. While their full-length, B.F.F., is mostly Latin-inflected punk, they dabble in a bit of the kind of lo-fi-indie-tronica that will remind J.K. of the Unicorns. And, as we know from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, she loves and respects unicorns, considering them the purest creatures in all the land. They don't quite have the stylistic singlemindedness of the Unicorns, but in their best moments, the Pharmacy achieve something akin to it: an innocent, playful, danceable sound. The new stuff streaming from suggests they're further exploring that digression.

We couldn't do an entire write-up on a band called the Pharmacy without a single reference to the super-frightening pharmacists' refusal bill, so call your state legislator or something, for God's sake. Fight the power.

The Pharmacy at Mootsy's on Thursday, June 29, at 9 pm. Tickets: $4. Call 838-1570

Get Cheesy for Charity @ Kendall Yards

Wed., July 28, 5-8 p.m.
  • or

About The Author

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.