Recordings

Mr. Mirainga
Mr. Mirainga
(Way Cool Records)

Mamba-punk? Samba-core? That's how the PR folks at Way Cool describe their label's latest artistic acquisition. Considering that the mamba is a poisonous tree snake from Africa, it's safe to assume they meant "mambo." But that doesn't really make sense, either, given that Mr. Mirainga sounds less like a troupe of Latin American foot-stompers than a reheated Jane's Addiction with maracas.

It's just not possible to sit silent while the niche marketers try to create a phenomenon, regardless of the reality behind what they're pushing. And the reality here is that Mr. Mirainga is closer to any of a dozen other loud three-chord wonders--Tripping Daisy comes to mind--than a true Next Big Thing. Still, there's something endearing about this tuneful, tequila-swilling quartet from Arizona that sings about lovin' the lady who picks through your trash and how it's "kinda cool to see the cars crash" in the rain.

Mr. Mirainga does manage to incorporate a few south-of-the-border flashes (especially the percussion and clean acoustic strumming on "Saguaro's Cryin'"), but Tito Puente it's not. Guess that's where the "punk" part comes in. Sid Vicious lives on in the melodic slam fests that pepper this disc, but don't worry, ma--it's nothing too dangerous.

Mr. M knows when to kick the distortion, but, even more important, the band knows when to shut it down to create enjoyable, if not always remarkable, pop tunes with a humorous slant. "Baglady" is a guitar wailer about looking for and finding love in strange places--like the trash bin. The song rocks in large part because of a chorus that threatens to leave the drum kit a shambles. "57 South" is more fodder for the mosh pit. The grungy "Safety First" is the best cut here. Its advice? "Don't wash your face with kerosene." A guaranteed hit with the OSHA crowd.

Lyrically, Mr. M is one notch above idiotic. Luckily for the band, no one reads anymore. What's on the minds of these young mavericks? Well, unless peeling out in your dad's car is your idea of a stimulating social interaction, not a whole hell of a lot. "Burnin' Rubber," the band's surprise radio hit off the Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls soundtrack, extols the virtues of driving like an asshole. This gritty, bassy rumble of a song comes off better than the movie starring a rubber-faced geek, even if neither effort falls into the category of stirring art.

Like Ace Ventura, Mr. Mirainga's sophomore release is, well, a little sophomoric. True, the straightahead drumming and animated bass make you want to sway and slam, and singer Potz Poturalski's got a big trap and bigger lungs, and really knows how to belt it out. But lyrics like "I got a thermostat and a big fat gasket-O/I through [sic] it all in my plastic basket-O" sound like they were scribbled on a Denny's napkin after four Cuervo shots.--Matt Golosinski

Mr. Mirainga is scheduled to perform at the "Birthday Bowl" festival for The Edge (KEDJFM 106.3) on Saturday, January 27, at Club Rio in Tempe, with a gaggle of other onehit-wonder bands, including Deep Blue Something and Amy Arena. The festival begins at 3 p.m.

High Lonesome
Feel Free to Do So
(Spark Records)

Country singer Eddy Arnold once came up with the most Dadaist song title I've ever heard: "The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me." So how's this for a Dadaist recording review: "The last thing you'll see at a High Lonesome show is me"?

That's admittedly weak, but so is this album, populated with songs about ordinary people you don't want to know, songs about treating '68 Mustangs like they're girls and vice versa: "Got the radio up, got the top pulled down," etc. What do these guys do, sit around a Ouija board, trying to channel Eddie and the Cruisers for songwriting inspiration? Where are you now, John Cafferty? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

It's one thing to rewrite Chuck Berry's "Nadine" and call it "Pauline," but it's another to hack out every killer line and sub it with high school band fare like "You tell me everything is fine, but baby, I can tell that's a lie (It's a lie, it's a doggone lie)."

When the High Lonesome boys aren't pepping themselves up with Wheaties/"Breakfast of Champions" doggerel like "If you can't believe in anything else, believe in yourself," they're offering glib condolences to a female friend who shows up at a party all "Black and Blue." Sample this swill at your own peril: "Gotta take the bitter with the sweet/But there's better ways to make ends meet/I know it's sad, but it's true."

That's it? These guys seem more upset that she's breaking up with her assailant (who, from the sound of it, is their friend) than that she was beaten. "Let him go darlin' before he hurts you." What was beating her black and blue--a preamble? Foreplay? Bruce and the E Street Band would've killed the creep by the second verse!

I wasn't even going to mention that drummer Jon Lindstrom stars as Kevin Chamberlain on General Hospital, because it's a bum rap to say a guy can't do two different jobs atthe same level of proficiency--like, er, JohnTesh, f'rinstance! But GH has already given us Rick Springfield and Jack Wagner, and three cases of rock 'n' roll malpractice mean that some serious license revoking for ABC is in order.--Serene Dominic

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