RECORDINGS

Where the Heck Is Mr. Fun? (Or Up and Down the Donut With Frank)
(Local tape)

Galen Herod has always come off like a lovable spaz on stage, regaling audiences with herky-jerky post-new-wave songs and bad jokes. Where the Heck Is Mr. Fun? is a take-home version of Herod, packing a tape's worth of gritty, guitar-based pop tunes with all the wit and manic energy of his best live gigs.

Mr. Fun's highlights include the ode to aquatic life, "Fish Always Move," and the snide jab at suburban materialism, "RV." There are virtually no missteps here, except for maybe the gooey coming-of-age song, "Grain Elevator." But, hey, spazzes have feelings, too. --John Blanco

POLLO ELASTICO Jurupa Mae
(Cowfunk)

If you've ever wondered what the unholy matrimony of Guns n' Roses and Funkadelic might sound like, give a listen to this Tucson foursome.

To discover each side of the group's split personality, check out the openers on sides one and two. The fire-breathing "Bayou Born" is catchy and commercial enough to win the heart of any G n'R fan, and "Hula Hoop"--with its popping bass and goofy, chant-along chorus--would get George Clinton's butt shaking.

Move over, Chili Peppers! Pollo Elastico is as funny and ferocious as any funk-rock band around--local or not. --John Blanco

HOSTILE BRIDGE Burning the Bootay
(Local tape)

Any band that takes itself too seriously should give this tape a listen. You don't hear Hostile Bridge grimacing or dreaming of a fat record deal here. The group sounds utterly relaxed as it dances around the cliches on everything from pretty pop to roaring hard-core.

The Bridge gets earnestly sensitive on "Lonely Dancer" and hysterically thrashy on "I Love My Girlfriend," picking out precise grooves without forcing the eclecticism. Hostile Bridge dares to be different and, even better, pulls it off without an attitude. --David Koen

JIMI HALL Jimi Hall
(Jimi Hall Music)

It's easy to spot Jimi Hall's ace in the hole: This local talent can flat out sing. On this self-produced (and at times self-indulgent) tape, Hall wraps his rich, soulful voice around a far-reaching assortment of styles. The cassette's seven offerings run the gamut from sweet, simple, guitar-laced ballads ("Go Away Baby") to rockapsychobilly ("Cut 'em Thin to Win").

His eclectic tastes, however, ultimately make this seem more like a collection of personal favorites than a cohesive stylistic statement. All Hall needs now is a direction to go with his bread-and-butter voice.--Larry Crowley

DUNCAN STITT Arizona Sky
(Boney Brothers)

Tucson piano-pounder and songwriter Duncan Stitt captures the essence of Arizona living the way Old Pueblo legends Dusty Chaps did a decade ago.

Arizona Sky touches on both classic and recent topics in contemporary desert life, ranging from comfort and convenience ("The Cooler Don't Work") to poignant social and ecological concerns ("Bad Day at the Circle K"). Stitt renders his tunes with rootsy arrangements, punctuates them with his boogie piano and adds the flavor of Tucson's finest musicians, including singer Bill Emrie of the aforementioned Chaps. Local music doesn't get much homier than this. --Matt Cartsonis

THE WARRENS Meet Your Neighbor
(Local tape)

In the true spirit of rock 'n' roll irony, the Warrens named themselves after crybaby neighbors who call the fuzz every time they start to jam. But if this smooth-grooving, homegrown tape is any indication, then the band's antagonists must be the only nuisance. With echoing vocals flowing harmoniously atop surreal guitar and a gently churning bass, the band glides through a mildly psychedelic sea of songs as thoughtful as they are mellow and unobtrusive.--Louis Windbourne

TRISKELION
Triskelion
(Local tape)

Bluster and intelligence swirl all around this tape, and when Triskelion manages to fuse the two, the band rises above the metallic scrap heap. Triskelion is daring and inspired in places: The four-song tape's strong half features a gear-shifting power-ballad alternative ("Won't Be Home Tonight") and a devastating portrait of an AIDS-infected prostitute ("Cupids Deadly Arrow"). More punchy, innovative tracks like these, and fewer overwrought operatic overtures (the anthemic, synthefied "Space Arabia," in particular), and Triskelion could emerge as a heavy-metalweight contender--in Phoenix and beyond.--David Koen

THEATRE OF ICE Murder the Dawn
(Orphanage)

Theatre of Ice sets its nightmares to music on this album, which seethes with snatches of death, blood and terror. Illuminated by an eerily wailing guitar and shadowy, creeping melodies, Murder the Dawn stretches from the subtly frightening to the fiendishly horrific. This haunting celebration of the dark side is a grimly demented smorgasboard of horror guaranteed to send chills down anyone's spine. --Louis Windbourne

BOOTBEAST
Bootbeast
(Local tape)

If Anne Rice invited Rush, Vincent Price, and Led Zeppelin over for drinks and rolled this tape to provide some instant atmosphere, no one would complain. Bootbeast is a postmodern, haunted-house cruise through the inner sanctums of art-metal.

Sometimes the Tempe band chokes on the songs' own atmosphere (the dirgey "Lulaby" and "Animal Soul"). But then sometimes Bootbeast emerges from the fogginess (the pulsing "Exodus" and gothic-punk-pop "Stiff Upper Lip"). It's this kind of well-balanced horror movie/rock 'n' roll hybrid that appeals to the doomster in us all. --David Koen

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