The Starvations
Sat July 30, Easy Street Records (Queen Anne),
3 pm, free.

THE MAUDLIN MINDS of this L.A. band may imagine life as one long sowing of the grapes of wrath, but that mentality never swallows up their hearts. Like their closest spiritual kin, the Pogues, this band turns tales of drunks, poverty, shady women, and suicide into bawdy stein hoists. Since their 1998 inception, they've been one of the most maddeningly underappreciated acts on the indie map, partially due to the fact they've had trouble securing a consistent lineup. The current crew is fantastic, though, as is their third and latest CD, Gravity's a Bitch (GSL).

The slashing greaser anthems "Where Was I?," "Nightshade Sweats," and "Lost at Sea" move with a ragged rockabilly rush, perfected on "One Way to Remind" that surges like a creaky Clash. And considering singer Gabriel Hart's scraggly, gut-wrenching vocals and impressive link of pissed punk and macabre bard, the songs never succumb to mope. They deliver a ravishing gothic ballad ("Purgatory") and more wanderings into gloomy thicket ("Dare to Forget," "This Poison"). But it all goes by too fast—11 songs in 26 minutes—never getting sufficiently lost in those spookier moments, leaving Gravity feeling like a fine stopgap instead of the giant leap they made from the first to second CD. More disappointing is word that this lineup—featuring accordion, piano, harmonica, and other accoutrements not usually used in most "garage" bands—will soon dissolve if history again repeats itself. So brother, can you spare a dime?