Tally How

Pregnant chads and butterfly ballots abound as we sort through the latest batch of local CD submissions

Character: A good approximation of Pantera and Soundgarden with an oppressively heavy misogynist message. Even their press photo depicts them outside a cartoon peep show. Still, they receive the heavy-metal endorsement of former Mason Jar owner Franco Gagliano, who calls 6 of 9 "the best performers I've ever seen." Damn, who's gonna break the news to the Beat Angels?

Consensus: One angry, prematurely discharged-up chad. Candidate: Illegal Substance

Background: P-Nut, Adverb and Jimi Numonic -- a three-man electro/hip-hop crew from Phoenix, represented by a four-song self-titled CD.

"FREE SEX" is the message put forth by Scottsdale groove-metal band 6 of 9.
"FREE SEX" is the message put forth by Scottsdale groove-metal band 6 of 9.
Electro hip-hoppers Illegal Substance try to spread their Ecstasy-fueled rhymes.
Electro hip-hoppers Illegal Substance try to spread their Ecstasy-fueled rhymes.

Platform: What free sex is to 6 of 9, free Ecstasy is to this bunch.

Campaign Slogan: "Ecstasy is our motto. Then I bust a move like Mr. Roboto."

Character: They want so much to become synonymous with the popular rave drug that the disc's promo artwork features the group members drawn onto Ecstasy tablets! They even have a song about the DEA trying to bust their dangerous new trippy sound, but this "electro hip-hop" sounds a lot like old De La Soul, which is fine by us. Despite bragging "I down three sunshines before every show" and trying harder than Robert Downey Jr. to get arrested, they're basically good b-boys. They respect their elders -- hell, they even sampled Satchmo!

Consensus: One phat pregnant chad. Candidate: The Cremains

Background: A heavy-metal quartet from Gilbert, represented and misrepresented by a three-song demo CD.

Platform: Initially, the group was trying to expand its fan base beyond friends and relations. More recently, its mission has been expanded to include damage control from its last publicity blitz.

Campaign Slogan: "Do you feel the gods consume you? Hold my hand and don't be scared."

Character: Last summer, the hardworking Cremains pressed up 1,000 copies of this CD with the idea of giving them away to patrons exiting the Valley stop of the Ozzfest tour. However, they did so unaware that a mix-up at the manufacturing plant had put the music of some unnamed R&B band on their CD, causing the throngs of metal fans to curse the Cremains' name.

If you play the repressed CD, you'll hear bass drums that sound like manual typewriters and guitars that lurch and whinny like a possessed mule. While you'd be dumfounded to find a way to shake your booty to the Cremains, two out of the three songs here are a cut above the usual Mason jargon and Big Fish Pub grub.

Consensus: One hanging-in-there chad.

And our special butterfly ballot award goes to . . . Candidate: The Paradise Road Band

Background: A west Valley country band coming to you straight from the ravages of substance abuse and into the arms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with its CD Spiritual State of Mind.

Platform: Getting through 12 steps in just 11 songs.

Campaign Slogan: "I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor."

Character: Reborn sober. Basically a concept album, where sinner/songwriter Elliot Ginn alternates between praising Jesus and recounting what a wreck he used to be. You thought the Plastic Ono Band album was personal? Ginn gives you his sobriety date, plus the names of his co-sponsors and their birth and expiration dates, along with details of how the devil had his way with all of them. Case in point: "My Friend Norm," a shit-kicking country ballad about a friend who couldn't kick the shit. As Norm's co-sponsor, Ginn tried to get him to pray, but "Ol' Norm liked to watch TV." Every lyric is a no-nonsense, just-spit-it-out truism ("He shot his last balloon, Tuesday afternoon"). Our only fear is that when Paradise Road performs at a loud bar that serves the devil's brewski, the hard-drinking, snow-snortin' crowd will raise its fists but miss the message found in the hard-rockin', hit-rock-bottom anthem "Jim Beam, Cocaine and Tears."

Think David Allan Coe fronting Skynyrd and then finding Jesus. Amen.

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