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Experimental pop anomaly
Now that it has become crystal clear that the mainstream music industry has little use for experimental bands unless they're either Radiohead or the Flaming Lips -- two bands "grandfathered" into the new regime -- we're seeing an exciting development in indie land.

Collectives of musicians -- such as the one that developed to the north of us recently, producing bands like Broken Social Scene and Stars -- are springing up all over the place, based on the work of musicians intent on doing things their own way, at their own pace, on their own dime. The result is a revolution of sorts.

Spouse is an experimental rock band with a unique sound that blends a left-of-center sense of musical arrangements with a clear-headed taste for melody and a clear and present streak of stubborn individuality, and the group is a perfect example of the "new hope" one can find in modern rock if one looks hard enough.

Currently touring in support of its third release, "Are You Gonna Kiss or Wave Goodbye?," out now on the band's own Pigeon records, Spouse brings its eccentric but easy-to-love approach to bear on a gig at 7 p.m. Sunday in Lewiston's Park West, 840 Center St.

Check out tracks from the brilliant "Are You Gonna Kiss . . ." at I think you'll find that the band is offering a refreshing take on modern record-making and songwriting and, as the Portland Phoenix recently gushed, is making music that "is both a picture of the past and a champion of the contemporary, embracing the best parts of '90s college radio and '80s pop."

Tickets for Spouse, with guests Host Echo, are $6, and can be found now at Home of the Hits, New World Record and Terrapin Station.

Let's be Frank

Led by former Zappa onstage foil/guitarist/vocalist Ike Willis, Project/Object has dedicated itself over the course of the past decade to celebrating the music of the man many of us know as one of the 20th century's greatest and most influential composers, and clearly a member of the upper echelon of rock guitarists.

Zappa's music is dense, complex and full of polyphony, but Willis and Co. play it with skill, virtuosity and passion consistently, as anyone who has caught their area appearances in the Tralf over the years will attest.

Expect heavy doses of the fabled Zappa irreverence, and a set list that sways liberally throughout Zappa's canon, from the mothers 'till the bitter end.

Project/Object arrives at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Club Infinity, 8166 Main St., Clarence. Tickets are $15 advance, through or at the Infinity box office. Tickets at the door the night of the show will cost $20.

Gig picks

Some standout shows this week include Muse, with guests Razorlight -- a big thing in Britain fo a while now, but still bubbling under stateside -- at the Sphere on Thursday night. Did you catch Muse last year in Rochester's Water Street Music Hall? The band simply tore the place down. It's a testament to the will and intent of the new Sphere booking team that, this time around, Muse is playing Buffalo. Tickets for the show are $15 and can be purchased now through Ticketmaster at 852-5000, or by stopping into Home of the Hits or New World Record. . . .

Charlie Hunter makes a move away from his usual home inside the Tralf when he brings his trio to the Golden Ballroom in the Statler Towers, 107 Delaware Ave., at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $19 in advance, through Ticketmaster at 852-5000 or at Home of the Hits and New World Record. On the evening of the gig, they'll cost you $23 at the door. . . .

Get your heaviness on in the Icon, 391 Ellicott St., on Thursday, when underground heroes Chimaira arrive in town, with our own Stemm and Trivium opening. Tickets, through, are available now for $14. On the evening of the show, they'll be available at the door for $16. . . .

A bit of naughtiness comes our way Sunday, as the Gore Gore Girls, the Voodoo Dollies and the Rabies play a 6 p.m. show in Xtreme Wheels, 356 Hertel Ave. Tickets are $8, and are available now at Home of the Hits or through Ticketmaster at 852-5000.