Last week Dallas was hit hard by commercial pop-punk bands committed to giving the form as complication-free a reading as possible; this week we're getting a handful of outfits using major-label cash to make rock that defies the expectations that have come to dog aggressive music. Not that you'll see the wheel reinvented, of course: Blink-182 side project Box Car Racer, who play the Bronco Bowl on Friday, derive the modest innovation their self-titled debut contains from the simple fact that they pretty much avoid naughty penis jokes and cheeky hair-metal digs, instead concentrating on a lean, surprisingly muscular post-emo squall with lots of broken-home angst and serrated guitar fuzz; when front man Tom DeLonge admits that he wished he "made cures for how people are" in the crunchy lead single "I Feel So," it's unsettling in the same way that seeing Jim Carrey play it straight is.
More of that unease on Tuesday at the Galaxy Club, when the Long Island emo-thrash outfit Glassjaw drops in supporting Worship and Tribute, its recent Warner Bros. disc. We're in Deftones/Faith No More territory here, which means that the band churns out a racket that's as strangely melodic as it is rhythmically charged, and that front man Daryl Palumbo never opts for a bark when he could go for a strangled vibrato; beneath Worship's tenacity is a cool pop sensibility that contrasts neatly with nü-metal's shallow bluster. Glassjaw's openers, Seattle wackos the Blood Brothers, offer lots of bluster, but it's so cracked you'll keep wondering how in the hell BMG subsidiary ARTISTdirect signed the band and nü-metal knob-twirler Ross Robinson helmed their forthcoming album. Better than more Z-grade Screeching Weasel knockoffs, anyway.