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Brian McKnight, Neural Nectar

Has anyone called Brian McKnight yet for ripping off the 1993 Jeff Bridges movie Fearless in his "Back at One" video? Oh, you remember that flick. It's the one in which Bridges comes out of the cornfields from a plane crash (just like McKnight does in the video), thinks he is invincible and starts daring himself to jump off buildings.

This faux pas aside, McKnight himself is no idea-thief.

His latest album, Back at One (Motown), has reached double platinum and has his fans calling it his smoothest and sexiest ride yet. But if you're a man's man, you probably lean toward McKnight's last album, 1997's Anytime (Mercury). Along with the lovey-dovey ballads at which McKnight is oh-so-good, there are beat-bouncing numbers produced by the likes of Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Track Masters, Poke and Tone. For fellas, a McKnight concert is a sure way to get your lady in the mood -- even if afterward it's him she's thinking about, not you. (Craig D. Lindsey)

Brian McKnight performs Thursday, February 17, at Houston Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway. 702 opens. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40.50 and $45.50. For information, call (713)629-3700 or (713)988-1020.Neural Nectar --So let's say you want your music heavy but different. Not freaky or arty or campy. Just something you may never have heard before, but that will likely leave you with familiar sensations: sore neck, ringing ears and that postconcert healthy glow.

Neural Nectar is a local three-piece, and though it's heavy, it's not your typical power trio. Bobby Gordon is the band's founder, vocalist and guitarist. He is joined by Heath Cram on drums and Amir Hydari on the turntable. No bass. No need.

Once upon a time the band existed in a more traditional form (bass, guitar, drums) and put out a more traditional album, Ripe, which was full of West Coast quirk and East Coast sharpness. Then drummer number one left and the search began for someone who could mesh with machinery, considering DAT machines had become part of the band's sound. Cram fit the bill perfectly, playing alongside the recorded rhythms without merely duplicating them.

A second CD, freq.s, was recorded, and it saw Neural Nectar take an electronic direction without diluting its core weight. Now with the bass player gone and longtime friend Hydari on board at the deck, the band's metamorphosis is complete. Its new attitude sounds like metal. And it definitely feels like metal. But it just doesn't twist in quite the same way as metal. For every bit of down-tuned guitar crunch, there are three layers of interlaced rhythms throbbing. Quite where all of this will end is unclear. But work has begun on disc number three, so everything seems to be going along just fine. Tearing metal apart and bringing it up to date, Neural Nectar remains unbound. . (Les Mixer)

Neural Nectar performs Saturday, February 19, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. For more information, call (713)862-7580

 
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