Alkaline Trio and Pretty Girls Make Grave

Though there are certainly occasions when the miles-of-smiles pop-punk proffered by the likes of Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Bowling for Soup makes my day that much better, sometimes--like, say, on trash day, or when CSI is a rerun--I get a hankering for some three-chord monte of a darker variety. At those moments, into the CD player goes Good Mourning, the latest from Chicago's Alkaline Trio, three cigarette-smoking misfits who still believe feral twentysomething angst and totally catchy choruses make sense together. "I take that as a compliment," front man Matt Skiba said on the phone when I called him on tour in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. He should: Mourning tracks like "Fatally Yours" and "Every Thug Needs a Lady" pile up lots of the bracingly dramatic imagery Skiba's always using over whiplash power chords and new drummer Derek Grant's muscular backbeat. The effect is similar to the Foo Fighters'--you don't realize how unique the sound is until you look around at the band's would-be peers. "This one is a darker record than the last one," Skiba explained, "and it represents things that are really personal to me." What an idea. Openers Pretty Girls Make Graves are surprisingly singular, too: Good Health, the Seattle band's Lookout! debut from last year, revitalized At the Drive-In-style emo-skronk by sheer force of will, and the five-piece has a percolating live show I defy you to sit still through. Try now, too, because the Pretty Girls' bow on big-britches indie Matador, The New Romance, is due September 9, by which point everyone will be dancing.


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