NEW RELEASES FROM THE DESERT

A few months ago, I wrote a less than glowing review of this tape, mostly because the A side was filled with murky sound effects that I mistook for pretentious artnoise. Turns out what I heard was the sound of a defective cassette. The moral of the story? When you take a tape to be duplicated, buy the best cassettes you can afford. And then always listen to a cassette before you submit it for review.

Turns out that what sounded like artnoise the first time is actually this tape's strongest material. Overall, D.A. falls squarely into the ever-expanding ranks of alternative groups with the volume and often (although not in this case) the attitude of hard-rock bands. The missing link here is a fondness for watered-down, Red Hot Chili Pepper, white-metal funkiness. The opening workout, "Monkey in the Middle," the frenzied title cut and the melodic "Something" are all evidence of life beyond the cheap cassette.--Robert Baird

Primitive ID
Primitive ID
(local cassette)

Strummy, Byrdsian alterno-rock from Mesa, AZ. Lots of Gin Blossomesque moves present here in vocals, guitars and incessant tambourine shaking. Tunes like "Protect the Innocent" could be discarded outtakes from New Miserable Experience sessions--the key word there being "discarded." The trusty chord progression in the tune "Junkyard" shows that there's hope.--Robert Baird

Heavens 2 Betsy!
Girlyhood
(local cassette)

Heavens 2 Betsy! is the kind of band that was a gas to jam with in high school. The type of guys who know how to get high, blow trumpets, bash drums, drink malt liquor, enrage neighbors and generally have one hell of a good time. Problem is, these guys may be stuck at that level. Despite a cool title and a great Diane Arbus photo on the cover, there's not much to listen to here but mediocre fuzz-guitar noise and some of the shrillest, most annoying vocals ever committed to tape.--Robert Baird

The Four Pigs
Livestock Lovin' Politicians
(Vibrarib)

White, punk-funk metal poseurs that choose to open recordings with tunes that steal licks from the Dead and whose lyrics refer to "white, swollen zits" and "heaps of shit" usually don't stand a chance. That, in a nutshell, sums up the Pigs.

Studded with tunes like "Flatulence," "Livestock Cock" and "My Dick" (a succinct summation of where this band's consciousness is centered), the Pigs are a loud, genitalia-obsessed bunch of punks from Tucson's east side whose bad attitudes and even worse guitar noise walk the same angry path as their obvious idols, Suicidal Tendencies. Beavis and Butt-head would approve.--Robert Baird

Breakfast With Idiots
Breakfast With Idiots
(local cassette)

Every so often, a tape comes in over the transom from another galaxy. Breakfast With Idiots is one of those rare gems from the outer limits. With the kind of tin-can-and-a-string sound quality reminiscent of the old The Honeymooners episodes, this tape is a running gag of famous and not-so-famous voice samples, echo-chamber nonsense, screaming, moaning, gibberish, tortured singing and a smorgasbord of musical styles that includes cocktail jazz, Sixties pop and Michael Jackson vocals--all delivered with the panache of a bad joke. Although titles are listed, picking out individual songs here is impossible. The madness runs together.

Fortunately, nothing here gets too loud or overamped. Being weird takes precedence over rocking out. Nearly unlistenable, this sonic stew has ambition to burn. Instead of boring liner notes, these extraterrestrials included supermarket coupons good for 50 cents off all-purpose cleaner. May the force be with you.--Robert Baird

Masterphobia
It's All In Your Mind
(local cassette)

The delicate stirrings of yet another power trio (pretty good, too!) of Rush fanatics working out their frustrations. Like your girlfriend said: "Okay, okay, I give up. Neil Peart is the world's greatest drummer, now can we go home?"--Robert Baird The Drakes

The Drakes
(Monsoon Recordings)

Ex-River Roses guitarist Gene Ruley and former Bullhorn front man Tom Stauffer, the duo at the center of Tucson's Drakes, have become a surprisingly potent songwriting team. Filled with lovely, melodic guitar-band tunes that occasionally rock out, this strong, eight-song debut rockets this new band to the front of the state's alternative scene. Strong lyrics like "It's not about guilt/It's not about control/It's not about leaving/It's just about where to go" add a lot. Not surprisingly, Ruley's guitar solos are the strongest musical element here. Thin in spots, Stauffer's vocals still manage to help more than they hurt.

After quality songwriting and playing, what separates the Drakes from every other guitar band in the state is the lead and rhythm violin of Brett Klay. Following the Tucson tradition of violins in rock bands established by Black Sun Ensemble and violinist Bridgett Keating, Klay's fiddling adds an odd, appealing, chamber-rock feel to this tape and probably the band's live shows, as well. An original new voice in a numbingly overcrowded genre.--Robert Baird

@sub:Demos

@body:Able Cain
Four overlong songs by well-known local hard rockers who successfully spice up their bland, rock-by-rote formula with Doorisms. Guitarist Brian Buzard ain't bad, but vocalist Robert Edgar is the center of attention here, and his roar is a mix of Metallica bellow and Lizard King angst.--Robert Baird

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