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FIG DISH (Buy CDs by this artist)
That's What Love Songs Often Do (Atlas) 1995 (self-released) 2013
When Shove Goes Back to Push (A&M) 1997
CAVIAR
Caviar (Island) 2000
The Thin Mercury Sound (Aezra) 2004
NESS
Up Late With People (High Pilot) 2004
You Can't Afford to Feel (self-released) 2008

More Lemonheads than Urge Overkill, less Smoking Popes than Social Distortion, Chicago's Fig Dish drives fat-chords alternapop out of the Midwest under the speed limit, displaying basic skill rather than self-conscious style. Producer Lou Giordano attaches That's What Love Songs Often Do to the same sort of sizzling forcefield he erected for the Goo Goo Dolls' A Boy Named Goo, and the quartet — singer/guitarists Rick Ness and Blake Smith, bassist Mike Wilson and drummer Andrew Hamilton — fills it out with catchy, dynamic songs. Able to conjure up a potent haze of slacker sloth and then obliterate it with a fierce rock assault (see "It's Your Ceiling" for a concise demonstration), Fig Dish keeps attitude out of the effort, concentrating on simply effective tunes like "Rollover, Please" (remade from a '93 indie single), the angrily measured "Weak and Mean" and the very Dando-esque "Quiet Storm King," which even has an uncredited female voice joining in on the chorus. Good nourishing fare.

[Ira Robbins]