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JULY 19

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Now that folks are accustomed to hearing Polly Harvey shout at the devil and seeing Jewel on magazine covers, the grrrls who kneel at the altar of looking tough and sounding rough have suddenly gained some depth. Take the Muffs’ Kim Shattuck; depending on how you look at it, she writes cuddly songs that play well in the mosh pit or tunes that rev like Harleys but don’t skimp on melody. The Muffs (rounded out by bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald) engage in gender warfare only sporadically (as in “That Awful Man”), preferring to concentrate on channeling ’60s pop hooks that suggest that Shattuck’s rock dreams began when she heard Joan Jett cover Tommy James. If you take this to mean that the Muffs are all about fun and games, that’s not an unfair interpretation. But no matter how sweet Shattuck manages to make those high-school dance memories sound, I still get the occasional shiver straining to hear her vocals, buried under guitars, about getting what she deserves. Shattuck may not be the girl with the most cake, but as the title of the Muffs’ Happy Birthday to Me declares, this is her party. With Chixdigit and Groovie Ghoulies at 9:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Brett Anderson)