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Local Licks

This week, we review Make Me, Model Americans, Crooks/Walsh Blues, and Sean O'Brien.



Make Me, House of Brakes. The Oakland quartet — two girls, two guys — has come into its own on this sophomore record, a slightly schizophrenic mix-up of sweet pop and raucous rock tempered with New Wave and noise. Following along this exploratory path is the listener's primary pleasure, as the band's direct delivery makes every moment of discovery feel firsthand. (self-released)

At Retox Lounge (628 20th St., San Francisco) on November 13. 8 p.m., $5

Model Americans, Ouch! Johnny Del Mar, the mastermind behind Model Americans, is not one to suffer fools. Ouch! is a collection of punked-up Americana, blues, and rock tunes as irreverent as they are competent. Del Mar's perverse sense of humor shines through no more clearly than on the opening revision of INXS's "Suicide Blonde" as "Suicide Bomb," though really he's just getting started. (self-released)

Crooks/Walsh Blues, Crooks/Walsh Blues EP. Bare-bones blues from Berkeley: Deborah Crooks on vocals, Alex Walsh on electric guitar. Five songs. Thirteen minutes. The back-to-basics style leaves little room for personal touches in the vocals (Well it's raining but I don't care/Yeah it's raining but I don't care/I came home last night and you weren't there) or in the frugal, gritty guitar work. (self-released)

Debora Crooks at Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco) on November 17. 8 p.m., $12

Sean O'Brien, The Drug of Memory. This 23-track retrospective spans nearly thirty years of mostly unreleased material from Kensington musician Sean O'Brien through his work with the Meantime, True West, Denim TV, Cottonmouth, and the Mariettas. His songwriting and production improved markedly over the years, but rarely strayed from a distinctive blend of New Wave and American underground. (First Cold Press)

At Milk Bar (1840 Haight St., San Francisco) on November 15. 3 p.m., free

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