Of wallabies, rodents and the triumphant return of glam metal

When I think of intriguing live music encounters of the ’80s kind, I don’t usually consider The Monte Carlo. My opinion changes with this week’s lineup of former new waver/Men at Work frontman Colin Hay (July 30) and L.A. glam-metal act Ratt (Aug. 5).

Before you laugh, I urge you to secure a (sadly out-of-print) CD copy of 1990’s Wayfaring Sons, recorded by the Colin Hay Band. This little saw the Scottish-Australian singer/songwriter ditching synthesizers in favor of Celtic sounds, vocal chants and acoustic instrumentation. I’ve always marveled at how Sons blended electric guitars and mandolin riffs two full years before R.E.M. would dominate the Grammy noms with “Losing My Religion.”

If all you know are his Men at Work hits, you’ll still enjoy Hay’s recent material, much of which comes from 2009’s excellent American Sunshine, which he cut with a bunch of Nashville studio musicians.

Again, don’t laugh, but have you heard Ratt’s latest album, Infestation? It’s darn good! Released in April, this 11-track return-to-form studio effort finds lead screecher Stephen Pearcy and guitarists Warren DeMartini and Carlos Cavazo (formerly of Quiet Riot) mining the Hollywood sleaze-rock territory of their first two classic records Out of the Cellar and Invasion of Your Privacy. Infestation has earned many perfect reviews from mainstream and metal publications, and tracks such as the catchy, driving, street-tough “Eat Me Up Alive” are so perversely enjoyable you can practically hear Pearcy’s boner snapping the stitches of his leather pants. I’m not big on glam rock (though I adore Europe’s “The Final Countdown”—who doesn’t?), but Ratt seems to have discovered the fountain of glam-rock youth. You might, too, at this show.

Now for the grittier alt-rock events. Early on, I’d dismissed Neon Trees as a Killers clone; I was only half right. The Provo, Utah, band puts on fiercely charismatic performances, and the vocal interplay and harmonies between frontman Tyler Glenn and ass-whupping drummer chick Elaine Bradley. Glenn’s an especially powerful singer who sounds best live. The band blows up Hard Rock Café July 30 with my favorite Vegas act, Imagine Dragons. At the Beauty Bar Aug. 5, Tokyo Police Club, Canadian indie-rockers who sound like a rickety version of The Strokes.

Don’t let your cool local band appear in the pages of a lesser magazine. Contact jarret_keene@yahoo.com.

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