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Mascis, too, has been cutting the electricity of late, but there's little resemblance between Mondays and the guitarist's unplugged ordeal, Martin and Me. Whereas the latter's voice strains agonizingly in the absence of obscuring guitar fuzz, Johnson's doleful baritone weaves through the orchestration on his compositions like a weary, nostalgically spent transient. Each has recently covered Smiths tunes, with Johnson again achieving greater success; in his hands, "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" becomes a gloomy torch song that's far more interesting than the epiglottal disaster Mascis makes of "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side."
Assisting Johnson these days is bassist Leslie Hardy, whom he married last year. The two met when Hardy's former band--Juned, Seattle's answer to My Bloody Valentine--toured with Dinosaur Jr. Hardy contributed to two Mondays tracks, as did Juned drummer Lenny Rennals, who sings with Johnson on the moody ballad "Left in the Dark," which is reminiscent of one of the Divine Horsemen's more compelling duets. Juned's subsequent breakup has allowed Hardy to join Johnson on the road. He'd like to add her to his permanent lineup, "but that's up to her," he concedes.
In the meantime, Johnson plans to continue bucking the trends in mass-marketed pop music, about which he has little nice to say. He claims that the homogenous nature of so much so-called modern rock "has a lot to do with radio and video, where people want it to sound instantly pleasing. Like the instant hook--real slick, but with a phony alternative veneer. It all kind of seems just like a shtick at this point." When asked if he predicts a backlash to synthetic buzz-bin material, Johnson sighs, "I can only hope."
Mike Johnson. 10 p.m. Friday, July 12, Lion's Lair, 2022 East Colfax, $5, 320-9200 or 830-