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The Pretty Reckless

As faithful Us Weekly readers already know, the Pretty Reckless is Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen’s sassed-out grunge-pop outfit. You can tell she’s aiming for prime era Hole on Light Me Up, the band’s newly released debut, but more often than not, she ends up closer to Wolfmother. Good thing? Bad thing? Your call.

Wed., March 2, 6:30 p.m., 2011

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Wolfmother

Wolfmother’s rehashed Ozzy-era Sabb jams are packed with some pretty sweet hooks, but the bulk of what they do is sly garage-rock, re-tracing the connections between Jack White and Jimmy Page. The long-awaited and brand-new album, Cosmic Egg, seems to definitely pick at the grimoire of the two aforementioned It Might Get Loud stars, more than the Iommi spellbook. With the Heartless Bastards and thenewno2.

Sun., Nov. 8, 8 p.m., 2009

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‘Girls & Boys Presents MSTRKRFT’

Remember that disco-pumpin’ metallicized bass/keyboard player dude from Death From Above 1979? Not missing a beat after that rock band’s premature demise, said four-string thumper immediately put all his eggs in his already existing electro-dance basket, MSTRKRFT (“MASTER KRAFT”). At times, these club-ready ass-shakin’ jams still evoke a crunchy bass DFA1979 sound, but amped up are rubber-band-snappin’ keyboard squiggles. They’re touring for the brand new Fist of God but you may know them better from their many remixes: Metric, Bloc Party, Wolfmother, Justice, etc.

Fridays, 10 p.m., 2009

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On the Genius of ZO2

Look up any pic of Z02, and you won’t believe your peepers: The Brooklyn power trio, all boasting meaty pecs, resemble a Forever 21 train wreck starring Nuno Bettencourt, that one guy from Wolfmother, and an Italo-cokehead from Syracuse who digs Tiësto and Daughtry. Are these guys fucking with us? Maybe. The boys are, after all, currently filming one of them band-trying-to-make-it-big TV series for the Independent Film Channel: Z Rock, scheduled to premiere this August, is a reality/fictional comedy fusion also starring the delicious Joan Rivers, weed-smuggling survivalist John Popper, and Gilbert Godfrey (no witty qualification needed).

So yeah, those skin-tight tank tops and J. Lo shades could be nothing more than cheap costumes. Then again, over the last four years, ZO2 have done all the things that working hard-rock bands do: release a couple of albums (Tuesdays & Thursdays and Ain’t It Beautiful), and tour with Poison and Kiss. (Which might explain the outfits, by the way: They could be gifts from Paul Stanley’s personal wardrobe.)

But who really gives a crap about authenticity? This is rock ‘n’ roll, after all. For a couple decades now, lily-white suburban transplants obsessed with Thurston Moore have dominated this town. But ZO2, real or not, pray to far older New York deities. Joey Cassata and brothers Paulie and David Z hark back to a classic age when second-generation Italian- and Jewish-Americans actually born around here (or at least in Jersey or Long Island) dipped Zeppelin bombast in swarthy virility. We’re talking early-’70s behemoths like Cactus, Sir Lord Baltimore, Blue Öyster Cult, and, yes, early KISS.

Even better, ZO2 aren’t one of these retro/stoner acts—indie dorks who discovered Physical Graffiti in their late twenties. The trio comes off as a kind of hybrid: dudes following up teenage Zep worship with Aerosmith, the Crüe, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, etc. Then somebody lent them a copy of Wolfmother’s debut, which kind of blows, but it taught the band how to ground K-Rock modernity in boogie’s primal life-force. These guys are far better than the ‘Mother, in fact, because they appear to possess all the sleaze ‘n’ cheeze central to classic rock. Retro bands don’t understand this stuff: Despite some sturdy power-riffage, they’re like sexless test-tube clones genetically prevented from equating “guitar” with “cock,” and thus all the (absolutely necessary) bad-taste machismo that flows forth from said formula.

Of course, this is all nothing but guesswork. I’m not sure if I would ever want to hang out with these knuckleheads to learn the truth. But none of that matters: At least ZO2 has given New York its groove back. And that’s aces.

ZO2 play Arlene’s Grocery (arlenesgrocery.net) July 25

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Cocksure, Cock-Blocking Sleaze

There’s a heavy air of sleaze to these Philly swillers, so should they invade your local dive, keep your gal a safe distance away when frontman T. Glitter starts crooning, “I can’t get no relief, like a thief.” But stay for the tunes, ’cause this is some excellent, batter-dipped boogie sludge punk. Guitars squeal like fingers clawing eyes out on a particularly horny/bad acid trip (“Somnambulist’s Vacation”), saving the face of grit-riffing from still lingering post–Nashville Pussy doldrums or recent Wolfmother miscues. The moments of clarity on Get Right With God can slide down into a dive-bar ditch (“Like a Thief”) and/or slump around all sparse and creepy (“Watching the War From Above”); cock-blocking it all are T. Glitter’s greasy and freaked vocals, slimily sonorous enough to gloat over swiping your stash, but present enough to recoil at the karma that’s coming. Overall, Dirty Faces make a sloppy Beefheart chop not groggily grasped since Clawhammer.