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QUEEN SARAH SATURDAY (Buy CDs by this artist)
Queen Sarah Saturday EP (Thirsty Ear) 1993
Weave (Thirsty Ear) 1993
June German EP (Sound Proof) 1995

Ten seconds into "Lift," the leadoff song on Queen Sarah Saturday's longplaying debut, someone whips out the hoariest fast-break guitar cliché in the how-to-grimace-and-get-chicks playbook. A minute later, the unspecified offender is back at the trough for a refill. In the meantime, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Irion has managed to demonstrate just how challenging the intricacies of generic alterna-rock melodics can be to a non-singer. There are moments on Weave where the young Durham, North Carolina quartet doesn't quite sound like a bunch of no-talents ineffectually attempting to ape the latest sounds in Northwest grungery — but not many. Iron and Ryan Pickett do whip up a competent frenzy of honking guitar squall on "Dreamer" and elsewhere (they also nervously muster a bit of Southern twin-leads on the gentle introduction to "Water"), but that's not much to hang an album on. (The pre-LP Queen Sarah Saturday EP contains a live version of "Lift" as well as three casually recorded non-LP songs. Thanks to the band's diffidence and seeming studio inexperience, "Gigi" and the eight-minute "ACD-C" almost come out all right.)

After parting company with its label, the band cut, and got some North Carolina friends to release, a winningly modest five-song EP displaying all the invention, taste and personality absent from the album. The diverse and all-too-brief June German leads off with "Robert De Niro," an energetic Midwest-styled pop-punk rave with mad-crazy bass and cool lyrics ("Oh my goodness, he knows a thing about a thing or two/Robert De Niro on a train, and your ass is on the tracks stuck with Super Glue"), and backs it up with the flower-powered "Sugar Momma" and the pretty, low-key and weird "Mr Magic Teeth."

[Ira Robbins]