MUSIC: Failed Mopers

There is one alternative band that can't help being joyful

The Chicago-based alternative-rock quartet Veruca Salt is named after a character in the children's book Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, a spoiled brat who is thrown down a garbage chute by 99 angry squirrels. It's a provocative name because there are a lot of whiny alternative bands that deserve to be disposed of the same way.

But Veruca Salt isn't one of them. On the group's debut CD, American Thighs, singer-guitarist Nina Gordon, singer-guitarist Louise Post, bassist Steve Lack and drummer Jim Shapiro make music that is both disturbingly dysfunctional and thoroughly enjoyable. The band's lyrics are downbeat, fuzzy and weird...

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