TAPES IN THE MAIL, VOL. III

SCREED

You've waited four long weeks for this, I know you have. Yes, it's time again for more local reviews, kids. Get em while they're hot. By the way, I don't know if we're running out of bands that actually have tapes or folks just aren't sending anything in because they've realized that we have no credibility whatsoever, but the supply is dwindling. Keep em coming.

Rockabilly, like getting drunk every night, can be a lot of fun. For a while. But even if you're guzzling topnotch booze, you're going to get sick of it sooner or later, hence the excuse for this analogy. A band with the ho-hum name of Roadhouse Rockers--bet they're real gone cats!--does its best to breathe new hiccups into four songs in the rockabilly mold (presumably originals; there are no credits or titles on the tape), and does a reasonable job.

Only thing is, you've heard it all before. The slap bass, the reverbed, vibrato guitar, the train-kept-a-rollin' drums; you can almost smell the Nu-Nile. A boy singer does the obligatory quavering tenor vocals, and a girl singer puts in a fairly gutsy showing … la Kristi Rose, but the songs never reach the fevered pitch of the Blasters or the psycho swamp-feel of the Cramps. Live could be a different story, however, especially with a little topnotch booze. Call 789-9586.

If you think Machines of Loving Grace is the only outfit from AZ practicing the fine, mechanical art of industrial music, The Well will rock your world, albeit synthetically. A compilation from New Beat Records of techno/industrial tunes, The Well is quite a grab bag, from the dark and somber "Face of a Pharoah" by Prophecy of the Hated to the iron-fisted disco of Zeta's "Fluxuate" to the Brit-drenched echo of Spirits in Sin's "Chemical Whore." Available at area stores. To borrow a phrase from my ol' buddy Philly Dave, this is some ass-busting shit! Death Takes a Holiday's self-titled, four-song offering manages to combine the wonderful, numskull punk-essence of the early Damned and Buzzcocks with the wall-of-angst inherent in--yes--Pearl Jam. Also, the men of Death have one killer thing going for them: a sense of humor. Check out "Valium of the Dolls" and "Chinese Martial Arts Movie," but better yet, go see this band live. It's one of the few acts in town I've seen doing anything original. Call 345-8759.

Dirty Money has certainly done its homework, and done it with the classic-rock station on. This two-man outfit of singer/guitarist Steve Veloudos and bassist James Hames (drummer John Paul is listed in smaller type as "also appearing") does an arm-pumping job of copping from the Guess Who, Steppenwolf and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with a touch of Creedence in the rhythm section. The second of the three cuts, "On My Way Back Home," is about as Nineties as things get, straight from the Stone Temple Pilots school of Bic-ready stadium balladry. Call 786-6445.--Peter Gilstrap

You've got to be crazy to like Cut to the Chase--crazy about thwacking bass lines! There's no denying that Mark Manley is an extraordinary bass player--one look at the video the band sent us confirms that. But ten busy fingers do not a front man make, and Cut to the Chase would really do well to chase down a lead vocalist to put these songs across. The material is thoughtfully written. Often, as on "I Wish," it recalls the early political manifestos of Was (Not Was). A newly recorded four-song tape seems to favor jamming over bona fide tunes, unlike the band's markedly better 1992 CD, which it was also kind enough to provide. Worth seeing live for the four-string gymnastics, certainly. Call 464-2867.

Rainbow Tribe has a front man, Juan Sanchez, who, unlike most of the meek throats that mail tapes in, actually sounds like he has a little swagger and cockiness to him. Also present are those ever-persistent, Flea-infested bass lines. The band's Mindsight tape has some decent tunes, including one about checking Jerry Garcia out in the Dunes. It's got a dopey yet catchy chorus (Viva Las Vegas/Eat, drink and see Jerry") and, oddly enough, it sounds nothing like the Dead. But you also get the pedestrian "Television Life," yet another sermonette on how people live through their boob tubes. Fellas, you're gonna need lines more clever than "What you see on the screen is only half the deal" if you want to stop the oncoming Information Superhighway. And, if you allow Screed to sound like High Fidelity magazine for a moment, note that the sound quality of this tape is sterling and happily free of all hiss. Call 230-5225.

Speaking of hiss, it's the hiss of a subway train that starts off Some Petticoat's five-song sampler Shine Yr Eye on Me. This demo goes for a novel approach--linking all the songs together with sound effects and cross-fades. The harlequin diamonds on the artwork and the Roy Thomas Bakerish production touches all seem to hint at singer Youssef's slight vocal resemblance to a sedated Freddie Mercury. All this makes for an enjoyable if at times unspectacular tape. Although Some Petticoat sports regulation grungewear, the loud rhythm guitars chugging in unison recall Foreigner more than they do Fudge Tunnel. Even more problematic are the guitar leads, which are barely noticeable throughout and begin right at the moment when the vocalist stops singing. There's no excuse for that unless this was recorded on eight tracks. Still, there is great potential for growth. (No number.)

Glendale's Hucklebones sent in a three-song tape from a recent show at Edsels Attic. The lone ballad "Once You Walk on the Water" is intended as a tribute to the late Doug Hopkins, and it succeeds without falling into the trap of being mawkish or betraying easy Doug-we-hardly-knew-ye sentiments. The other two rockers sound more like .38 Special than the Gin Blossoms, and maybe that's the Hucklebones intent. Your move. Call 931-6025.

Lastly, two 45s from Tempe's punk label Cactus Prick Records. Each single is split between two bands, usually doing two songs apiece. Bob and Gas'olene should've marked their single 33 rpm since I was really enjoying them at 45 rpm until the grim truth hit. Slowed down to their normal speed, these bands sound ordinary. And the songs take longer to finish. Ditto for the Primitive Tribes side. It's hard to get excited about punk this lethargic, this tuneless, this dull. If these bands want to really be rebellious, they'd be advised to ditch this retro-punk material in favor of something really retro and radical like Rudy Vallee (who, like Bob, also likes to sing through a megaphone). (No number.)

At least Misery Index breaks the monotony of guys who can't sing and play by bringing on the squeaky voiced Vanessa. Listed as "wankgirl" in the credits, Vanessa is a delicate cross between Betty Boop, Lene Lovich and a drunk Ruth Buzzi. Index's lone contribution, "Mechanical Man," has a strange bridge wherein Vanessa yelps her forlorn tale about taking her monkey to the country but "now my monkey's dead." The song is credited to one "Manson," but I'm too lazy to dig up a copy of Good Time Charlie's Lie! album to confirm if it is, indeed, an original. Anyone who's in the know about such matters is invited to call in with that information. Call 708-869-1921. Hey! These guys are from Illinois!! Out! Out!--Serene Dominic

With his side project--All Night Parcheesi Club's tape Pickle Juice Communion--local expert ax plucker Joe Myers joins an elite group of songwriting geniuses. We're talking Lennon and McCartney. We're talking Lou Reed.

That's right. Like those rock Hall of Famers, Myers has invited his musical woman-friend, Casebeer, to record with him. Like Yoko and Nico--and decidedly unlike Linda--before her, though, Casebeer just might be the best thing here. Her smoker's wheeze catapults the story song "Arnie," the tape's leadoff track, into a spoken-word gem. It's something like hearing a 92-year-old grandma trapped in a 29-year-old poetry slammer's body. You probably won't find a more delightfully quirky song locally. And Casebeer's also on the tape's next-most-memorable song, "Odd Angels," a lovely little female bonding session between the raspy-tongued Casebeer and lithe-voiced vocalist Ralo. Elsewhere, there're oodles of melodic guitar and banjo noodling by Myers, along with enough art-school self-consciousness to make you gag the whole livelong semester. My only complaint? That there weren't ten more songs like "Arnie" here. But I guess that's between Casebeer and her boyfriend.

Too bad Ice Cube wrote the hip-hop "Amazing Grace" (Dead Homiez") first. Otherwise, Iroc Loc's single would be a highly original, catchy funeral dirge, gangsta style. As it stands, "Memories" is a highly derivative, catchy funeral dirge, gangsta style, delivered in a melancholy, Snoop Doggy Dogglike conversational voice. It might make you hum the chorus to your grave, but it sure as hell won't make you forget Ice Cube.--David Koen

Brad Singer wants you all to come. To a party, that is, to celebrate his Zia Record Exchange's 14th anniversary. When Singer throws a bash, he doesn't scrimp on the entertainment; we're talking Giant Sand, Elastic Purejoy, Weezer, Flathead and America's sweethearts, the Piersons. How much will an evening of such entertainment cost you? Not a damn thing! All you have to do is pick up an invite from any Zia location. The bash will be on Sunday, May 8, at the Rhythm Room. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Is your life problem-free? If it is, then you might want to load up on anxiety at Angstfest. Industrial hot shots KMFDM are headlining this nonmelodic extravaganza; Sister Machine Gun, Chemlab and local acts are scheduled also. That's Sunday, May 8, at Club Rio. Showtime is 8 p.m. Call 894-0779.

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