I Want My MP3

Haggis hits the top of the charts, sort of

If you were to judge the online music revolution based solely on the MP3.com charts, you'd have to conclude that most folks sitting at their computers were either DJs looking to download beats for their sets, or obsessive and potentially dangerous "Weird Al" Yankovic fans. What else could possibly account for an MP3.com Top 40 that lists something called "Weird Al Interview Part 1" as one of the most accessed files online?

More interesting than the MP3.com Top 40 is the site's Bottom 40 -- a veritable "Who's That?" of music, including artists like Sergeant Beefheart, Tex Pistol, The Jenny Thing and the oh-so-tasty Bratwurst Orange.

Shift over to the alternative indie chart, and you'll find a similar cache of unsigned and unknown acts, save for the name at the top of that list, Haggis. The Valley alt-rock combo has been winning its fair share of online acolytes, registering the top two tracks on the poll with "Mood Ring" and "Humming." The group has been busy in more conventional ways as well, recording for a spate of new projects that pay homage to some of their musical forefathers.

Haggis mopes and pops with tracks on tribute records dedicated to the Smiths and Redd Kross.
Haggis mopes and pops with tracks on tribute records dedicated to the Smiths and Redd Kross.
Billy Boy Arnold brings his Chi-town blues to Phoenix this Sunday.
Billy Boy Arnold brings his Chi-town blues to Phoenix this Sunday.

The band gives the Smiths the once-over for a tribute disc being prepped for Sony's Italian subsidiary label, Speedway. That offering, due out next year, finds Haggis paying Messrs. Morrissey and Marr a bit of lip service by putting their own spin on "What She Said," from 1985's Meat Is Murder.

The group works much more familiar power-pop territory for an Australian Redd Kross salute called Kross Kovers. The band tackles "Kiss the Goat," a late period offering from the brothers McDonald, which originally appeared on the band's 1997 platter Show World. Kovers was supposed to have been released last month, but has, at last report, been postponed indefinitely.

Haggis has also recorded a cover of '80s obscurity "Away," by one-hit wonders Bolshoi, for inclusion on a comp called Bang, Sounds of the '80s. Bang-- featuring tracks by other prominent unsigned bands -- is being released by Serious Vanity Music to benefit R.A.I.N.N. (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), a charity supported by a number of high-profile female musicians including Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan.

As for their own material, the group has demoed a trio of new songs at front man Brian Talenti's home studio (where 1998's What's Up, Haircut?and 1999's Piper Downwere recorded). Haggis' bassist, Moon, says the group is at something of a recording impasse as it prepares for a much more active regional touring schedule in the next few months.

In the meantime, the band slides into a headlining role this weekend with a performance Saturday at the Bash on Ash in Tempe. The triple bill also includes ZPB and Frank Lloyd Vinyl. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Red Return: Texas Red, one of the Valley's preeminent bluesmen in the '80s, reunites his combo, the Heartbreakers, for a special show this Saturday, August 26, at the Rhythm Room. Joining Red will be local vets and original band members Chuck Hall and Dave Trippy, who've since gone on to success with the Brick Wall and Hoodoo Kings, respectively. Cover is $5 and the show begins at 9 p.m.

Signing Soma:Sipping Soma, the esoteric rock/dance duo of Mark Matson (longtime engineer at Mesa's Saltmine Studios) and Diedre Radford, has inked a deal with Tempe-based Plastik Records, the imprint owned by DJ Markus Schulz. Schulz, if you recall, used Radford's vocals on the track "You Won't See Me Cry," which turned into something of a minor international club hit.

Sipping Soma -- an outfit similar in style and premise to Garbage -- has already gotten a jump on recording its first full-length for Plastik, and the group's first since 1998's Mannequin Depressive. Soma will soon release a single -- "Superconscious (So Alive)" -- from the forthcoming album. The cut is also set to receive the remix treatment from German trackmaster Terry Lee Brown Jr. and producer Vertigo Deluxe.

Weekend Sounds: The final weekend in August proves to be an awfully busy one for live music. Saturday, Tempe's Arizona Roadhouse hosts an all-day festival called "We Can All Get By If We Unify," with performers running the gamut from trash rock to hip-hop. Among those featured will be Grave Danger, Sonic Thrills and Mob 40s, as well as Ascended Masterz, Kinetic, DJs Megadef and Fact and many others. The event is also doubling as a CD-release party for hip-hoppers the Drunken Immortals. The indoor-outdoor event starts at 2 p.m. with admission, including drink specials, running a mere $5.

Down the road at Nita's Hideaway, Hollywood Records artists Tsar -- a band responsible for the year's top power-pop platter -- will be making its third trip to the Valley, this time opening a bill headlined by perpetually twisted reverb rockers Deadbolt.

The concert also includes sets by local punks the Glass Heroes and the Peeps, who will be pulling double duty with a daytime gig at the Roadhouse as well.

Tsar is fresh off a national tour opening for Duran Duran, and about to go on another cross-country jaunt with Marvelous 3 and SR-71. The group will be playing an 8 p.m. Nita's set, so be sure to arrive early.

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