Natty Pompadour

One great thing about novelty acts: They surprise. It's never the gag that gets you or the fact that some of the guys are decent musicians. Rather, it's the music. Sometimes, when the stars are aligned just right, a band that depends more on its style than on its substance pulls off truly cathartic stuff. If the band is a reggae concoction that does Led Zeppelin covers with an Elvis impersonator as its lead singer, then the chance that good music may happen is even that much greater. You can't go wrong with reggae, Zep and Presley, ya know.

And that has certainly been the case with Dread Zeppelin. A third reggae, a third Zeppelin and a whole lotta The King, Dread Zep is also one of the few shticks to have ever experienced any sort of mainstream success, as infinitesimal as it may have been. Rotation on MTV a couple years ago is what helped expose the band to the masses, those adoring frat boys and girls who had been raised essentially on either Mom's Elvis records or Dad's Zeppelin. Where the reggae comes from, who knows. But with a song like "Heartbreaker Hotel" -- a takeoff on Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and Elvis's "Heartbreak Hotel" -- the members of Dread Zep have discovered a surefire method of attracting a crowd. Plus, they're hunksa-hunksa-burnin' fun in person.

-- Anthony Mariani

Dread Zeppelin performs with Phyneas Gauge Saturday, May 29, at Instant Karma, 1617 Richmond. Call (713)528-3545 for info.

Poster Children -- Computer scientists-turned-indie rockers, the members of the Poster Children are more high-tech than your average raw rock band. The quartet has the requisite Web site, but it also does the programming for its enhanced CDs, filling them with screen savers, live videos and on the latest, New World Record, a tour simulation game. The Poster Children was also one of the first bands to offer a record via MP3 download. New World was recorded at the band's studio (built with money from a brief stint on a major label) and sounds like the band is enjoying the liberation of self-control. Scornful lyrics still dot the record, and the intensity of the band's live shows is more evident on this record than on the past pair. But New World is nothing if not hopeful. The missing link between the Buzzcocks and Brainiac, the Poster Children is heavy, quirky and angular but always full of enough pop songwriting talent to keep from being simply weird. The Poster Children makes aggressive, punkish sharp turns tempered by squiggy new-wave tendencies. Nearly 12 years together (most of which was apparently spent on the road) have let the musicians in Children hone their abilities to cut lashing power chords, drum brutishly and develop harmonies. But on stage, the band sheds all these geeky tendencies and simply pummels. The Poster Children performs Saturday, May 29, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Drive. Call (713)521-0521 for info. (David Simutis)

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