The Emergency
w/Ape City R&B, the Coffin Lids, Honey Hush
Sun June 5, Funhouse, 9:30 pm, $5, 21+.

You can say that rock 'n' roll hasn't changed in years, and in many cases you may be right. Take away the fancy prefixes and effects pedals, and the bands that came straight down the pike from the Stones and the Stooges don't seem to care much for taking off on many adventurous tributaries. But in the case of meat-and-potatoes garage rock, it's often not about cracking open the mold, but making sure the casing is rock solid. And local newbies the Emergency have done just that.

At first glance, "maximum R&B combo" the Emergency have the nouveau-garage image down. There are enough long curly mops topping the members to toupee a dozen high-school principals. But they're more than just slacker look of the week-give the Emergency a minute to warm up the lather for an extended, acid-tinged frenzy and you've got a band whose chops extend far beyond the usual punk rock clatter. Frontwoman Dita VonVoxtraughten is a former jazz singer, and she adds a whole lot of soul to the band (think of the BellRays with a bit more polish on those rough edges). But she also easily glides into a sultry girl-group pop croon if the song demands. Her powerhouse backing band make no effort to belie their influences-with a guitarist and bassist named Sonic Smith and Nick Detroit, respectively (the drummer is simply Tom T. Drummer), they wear their Michigan rock-rooted hearts on their sleeves. And they bring the urgency their sirens-flailing moniker implies to the songs, treating every track like it's a tent-revival style rallying call to rush the stage.

So far the Emergency have been busy laying the groundwork for local rock 'n' roll domination. Check out their list of shows and there's barely a Seattle club they haven't played. And yet they're still at a small, word-of-mouth phase, coming fresh to the music scene with a dirty four-song EP (out on Heavy Soul; it's already sold 500 copies). But while they may be undiscovered locally, Ghetto Recorders/garage-rock engineer supreme Jim Diamond has already offered to record their debut. "He told me he doesn't just call anyone," says Nick Detroit, "and that our demo is the only one he's answered in about three years. I took it as a compliment." ■