Critic's Choice

That Mojo Nixon represents both what's best and what's worst about rock and roll should come as no surprise to anybody, since what's best and worst about rock is the same thing: its fascination with things juvenile. And there are few around who mine that juvenile connection with more fervor than Nixon, whose career has been built around an obsession with getting laid (his "Stuffing Martha's Muffin" about former MTV VJ Martha Quinn was an early example), thumbing his nose at better known celebrities ("Don Henley Must Die") and saying "fuck" and "pussy" and "butt" as often as he possibly can (about half the songs on his latest CD, Whereabouts Unknown).

What saves Nixon from being merely tiresome is that -- most of the time, anyway -- he's fully aware of just how silly he's being. He only sounds self-absorbed. It also helps that he tends to connect with some first rate musicians. Since the North Carolina native now makes his base in Austin, he's not exactly a rare sight in Houston. Still, his monthlong stint of Thursdays at the Satellite is a good excuse to check and see if he's grown up any. It's unlikely. But then again, it could be a serious loss if a man who realizes that "America's not about a McDonald's franchise in China. America's about giant trucks with giant tires crushing things" grew up too much.

-- Mitchell J. Shields

Mojo Nixon plays around 10 p.m. Thursday, August 3 (and every other Thursday in August) at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $6. For info, call 869-COOL.

Pieces of a Dream -- This Philadelphia-bred band is hard to categorize. Though their CDs end up in the jazz bins, you can't really type them as a jazz band; their music is too funky for that. And you can't possibly call them a rock band, because their melodies carry a different flavor than pure rock. Pieces drummer and co-founder Curtis Harmon shrugs away the question of style by saying, "Our style is just our feelings." If so, they're feelings that have managed to connect to a number of listeners in the 20 years since Pieces began making music. Now, Houston fans can hear how the Pieces are put together in person. At the Houston International Jazz Festival's Pool-Side Jam, Omni Houston Hotel, Friday, August 4. 629-3700. (G.S. Saunders)

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G.S. Saunders
Mitchell J. Shields