By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
Don't let anyone tell you that Tempe's own Fluidrive doesn't take itself seriously. Just check out an excerpt from the band's florid bio: "Raw music with undeniable groove, power and presence. That is what we stand for. There is so much energy when we play, so much passion and so much thought. Our music is original, yet reminiscent of those before us. There is the hard-driving heaviness, combined with a fluid, emotional appeal to the senses. We incorporate these styles into a sound that is unique and on the cutting edge." Well. There's nothing wrong with attitude, but come on, fellas, lighten up. If you think a band that sounds like Pearl Jam is "unique," then Fluidrive's for you. The song "No More Forever" is a full-on, Vedderesque angst fest for vocalist Steve Miller, who lists Elvis as an influence--you'd never know it. The four-set closer, "These Walls," is a kind of Jethro Tull meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers mosh pit rave-up, complete with Miller indulging in a little Janovesque therapy: "I'm fucking pissed!" he screams, again and again. How pissed can a young, white boy from Tempe be? According to the lyrics to "No More Forever," very: "The children they're all starving now/And we bury the dead on the road/It's a path that leads to nowhere/It's the place they call my home." Call 413-0780.
All the way from Flagstaff comes a slick-sounding tape titled Some New Sky from Each Other's Legend. Legend's singer--whomever he may be--sounds a little like Tav Falco doing a Roger McGuinn impersonation. Scratch that--he sounds like Tav Falco doing a T-Bone Burnett impersonation. As a matter of fact, much of this cassette has the flavor of T-Bone: spare, well-conceived bass-drums-guitar arrangements. The singer is fond of doing emotionally overwrought, trembling, cracked-voice recitations of lyrics while the band locks into groovy space jams--not the most compelling thing to listen to on a tape, but maybe onstage he crawls around or something.
There's one mellow, Burrito Brothersish number (it sounds like someone spent a considerable amount of time writing these songs; presumably, they have titles; including them would have been helpful) that contains the line "This is just another come on, it's not even a good pretentious art song." Well, he's right--it's a pretentious country song. This fellow probably has a decent voice lurking behind all the dramatics, if only he'd get off the poetry-slam soapbox.
According to a note that accompanied the tape, E.O.L. is "being looked at by several labels." It's easy to see why; for all of the above criticisms, the band's easygoing, reggae-inflected groove would probably appeal to the Cracker/Grateful Dead/Spin Doctors college crowd. Or at least to those who inhale. Look for E.O.L. to make the trek down from Flag after the New Year. Call 1-602-773-0769.
Tribal Wheel rolls in with a hyped-up batch of zippy pop. Once upon a time, people would have called this stuff New Wave, particularly the appropriately titled "Pop Song." Almost every tempo is pogo-ready, even the cover of Velvet Underground's "What Goes On." The Wheel isn't out to redefine anything--and thank God for that; it's a useless pursuit. The message here is sublime: Turn up the guitars, keep the amphetamine-powered ride cymbal steady and have fun. Maybe not the coolest thing in the hipster lexicon these days, but all the better. The band has the truly impressive Chuck on loan from the Slims playing guitar while Tribal Wheel hunts for a permanent member. If you're interested, call 644-1651.
Leave it to Tucson to cough up the oddball stuff. In this case, something named Itsy Bitsy Spiders, a band (similar to Phoenix's Scratch-N-Sniff) that one minute is thrusting an aural fist of bellowing fury at yer brain and the next is launching into an inspired version of Billy Joel's "The Stranger." Check out the cocktail touches on the trombone-solo intro. By the way, I.B.S. not only has a viciously talented horn section (consisting of apparently zany persons Fruit Pie and Jizzlobber) but a rhythm section that's obviously done homework with a few Brothers Johnson albums. The Zappa-clever arrangements make for involved listening, not to mention between-song surprises like the brief, odd tenor-sax duet before the speed funk/metal tune "Already Dead (Shank)." The comedy-metal shtick can get a bit tiresome, but if this band is half as entertaining live as it is on CD, it should be twice as much fun to see. Write to P.O. Box 31212, Tucson, AZ 85751-1212.
Prescott's liars, gods & beggars sent in a fact sheet that parodies the beloved Weekly World News. Since this presentation might bring some of the "facts" into question, let's give the six-man ensemble the benefit of the doubt. You've got to admire the dedication of lg&b's loyal legion o' fans. According to the bio, when the band needed to finance an ambitious, double-live cassette project, the fans hit the streets and didn't come back until they'd collected 141,000 aluminum cans to pay for the project! Given all of the fans' hard work, it's a shame you don't hear more of them on the resulting live set, Chthonic Boom, Volumes 1 & 2.