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4

Leatherface

The greatest cult bands of recent decades -- The Pogues, The Replacements, The Pixies -- have been musical universes unto themselves. By that standard, Leatherface fits right in, even if the British band's fan base is closer in size to a cult-of-a-cult. Sprouting around 1990 from melodic hardcore, Dickensian-named bandleader Frankie Stubbs plays hard-driving pub poetry as fragrant with magic mushrooms as with Guinness. On Boat in the Smoke, the crisply recorded document of a 2004 concert in Camden, Stubbs and his rhythm section guide a tour from 1993's cult-making classic Mush to last year's equally tuneful Dog Disco. As Stubbs rasps poetic and physically interprets his solos with goofy jigs, the music's ragged charisma shines through on every song, begging an explanation for why the band is still stuck in an insular punk scene it has outclassed for over a decade. In the DVD's extra interview feature, a twinkle-eyed Stubbs fesses to his weakness for Nick Cave and suggests a solution to Leatherface's poverty: join the Freemasons.

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