TAPES IN THE MAIL AGAIN

At last--I've found it! After years of vein-popping concentration searching for unique descriptions, after developing blisters on every finger from thumbing through thesauruses looking for new adjectives, I've discovered the ultimate way to determine whether a song is good. But I'll give credit where credit is due: I owe it all to Andie, the efficient and capable receptionist right here at New Times. We were talking about bands, and she said, "Well, I don't really like rock." "Huh?" I queried. "You know, bands that go ching, ching, ching, ching." She's right. Maybe you had to witness this exchange in person, see the squinched-up face she made, but I know exactly what she means. It's that hard-to-peg ching, ching factor that can make or break a song. Okay, okay, you're probably shaking your head at this point, but just beware of the "c" word. It's out there, ready to pounce at any time and ruin a good tune.

In the case of Raymond, his music is virtually ching-free. According to his press material, the artist is "descended from a long line of Arizona Natives," and he has "created a new and unique sound combining diverse styles including: Classical, Rock, Flamenco, and New Age, all in a Native American tradition." Quite a r‚sum‚ to play up to, but Raymond--who is none too bashful in the promo photo department, either--can play the shit out of a guitar, 12-string acoustic or electric. He kicks off his ten-song, recorded-live cassette with an impressive, dexterous, tasteful version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and keeps up the mind-boggling finger work throughout. (At one point midset, he says, "Could I get another Molson Ice?" Let's just hope that this wasn't recorded in Arizona, where boozing onstage is strictly verboten.)

Raymond has a pleasant, plaintive voice, but the guitar playing is the main attraction. I think the Native American part comes in with "Electric Glide," a textured, New Agey thing with a wash of percussion in the background that sounds like a rattlesnake under water. A hypnotic, ethereal tape that, even when he revs things up, is still somehow dreamy. Call 227-8552.

The liner notes on Tempe's Stained Glass Door's self-titled tape boast of "a musical experience that provokes the imagination to an extent that no other band of our time has done." Well, maybe so, unless you've ever heard a Doors record. A trip through this three-song offering will have you believing that the Lizard King never took that final bath, what with plodding/bouncy bass lines, midtempo space jams and foreboding vocals. The lyrics are full of seemingly imminent warnings that leave you wondering what you're being warned about. I've gotta hand it to SGD; it pulls its weight in the psychedelic department, though a bong hit and headphones should be required listening accouterments. Call 829-6267.

Now here's something that's pretty damn swell. Death Takes a Holiday is back in the recording cesspool with a bitchin' tape called Shoe Boy Gets His Licks. Just tight enough, just sloppy enough, just pop enough, just hard enough; as Goldilocks once remarked, "Just right!" Check out the Clashlike, "Fräre Jacques" ending chorus of "Barstow," or the bizarre admission of homosexuality and drug dependence in "Chemical Reaction." Say it ain't so, boys! "Generically Fingerpoint'n" contains a line that I thought was "you say you're not impressed with the cut of my dress" until the handy lyric sheet fell out of the cassette box and I realized the words were "you say that you're not impressed with the way that I confess"--even better. And you can't help but stand and applaud the final cut, "Fingerpoint'n (au'lait redux)," an Iggyesque spoken-word confessional devoted to life's hardships and trashing the so-deserving "celebrity" Pauly Shore: "And by the way, I really hate Pauly Shore, he's a little motherfuckin' gonad. I'm sure he could sue me for libel for this, but I don't fuckin' care, little pot-head stoner." Okay. What separates Shoe Boy from the rest of the hard-pop skronk out there? DTAH approaches things in a truly creative way; Peter, Andy and Sam might sound like they're banging their musical godhead against a brick wall, but at least they're changing the angle with every third or fourth slam. Call 303-0180.

With so many songs floating around about the dodgy subject of love, Mr. Marainga has found one angle thus far untapped by Tin Pan Alley. "She's so tired and hungry, I'm afraid it turns me on," sings vocalist Palms Poturalski, who finds himself falling hard and fast for the local "Bag Lady." Eventually, he offers to take her home and give her a bath. This punk foursome isn't actually from Arizona, but we thought you should know what your neighbors to the west are doing. Besides, the boys included a song called "Saguaro's Crying," so they may be making plans to relocate. Let's hope so, since this Hollywood band has one of the best songs ever about the joys of driving on the freeway with no AC and no radio--"57 South." It also has an infectious "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" that sounds nothing like "She Loves You." Regardless, keep a close watch for this Fab Four-ÄPalms, Hedge, Sanchez and Stevoreno! Call 1-310-271-6411.

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