Apocalypse Now

The end is near -- does anyone care for a 'caack-taail'?

As to the band's swan song, don't expect too many guests, surprises or Last Waltz-style heroics, just a blistering set of rock 'n' roll which will include several chestnuts from the group's catalogue.

Pollen performs its final show, an all-ages event, this Friday, May 25, at Nita's Hideaway, with River City High, and Dynamite Boy. The concert begins at 9 p.m.

Tool Time: Someone should send part-time Arizona resident and Tool leader Maynard Keenan a congratulatory bouquet.

Captured! By Robots hits the Blue Ox this week.
Captured! By Robots hits the Blue Ox this week.

According to early reports from L.A.-based record industry magazine H.I.T.S., Tool's latest opus, Lateralus, will debut at No. 1 on the SoundScan charts, having sold between 500,000 and 600,000 copies in its first week. Much of the difficulty in compiling final numbers is the result of stocking problems, as sales were far more brisk than manufacturers and retailers had anticipated.

Case in point: Tempe's Zia Record Exchange. During the hour that Bash & Pop spent in the store on that first week's Tuesday afternoon (perusing the latest in New Age titles), at least 50 patrons came in asking for the Tool album. All of them left empty-handed as the store had already sold out, restocked and then sold out of the disc again -- ringing up 300-plus copies in the first 12 hours alone. The bulk of those were sold the previous night during a Midnight Sale that witnessed a line of Tool-heads queued up out the door and a half-mile down the block.

The throng seemed less interested in the day's other big-name releases, as buyers -- many of them ASU students -- took home 10 times as many copies of Lateralus as Reveal, the latest from R.E.M. (so much for that college-rock fan base, eh, boys?).

In general, Valley sales reflected national numbers on Super Tuesday as Tool moved twice as many units as the No. 2 seller, Missy Elliott. Weezer's self-titled "comeback" LP also did well, racking up close to a quarter-million sales. Meanwhile, war-horses R.E.M. and Depeche Mode notched somewhere in the 110,000 to 125,000 mark, while another band with Arizona connections, Megadeth, sold 75,000 copies of its latest, The World Needs a Hero (though, one might argue, it could survive quite nicely without another Megadeth album).

Impressive numbers to be sure, but in the end they don't really say much about musical merit. We'll leave that to the critics in our Recordings section (page 90), who take a more penetrating look at a trio of new platters from the likes of Tool, R.E.M. and Weezer.

Ghost With the Most: While it might not have generated the same kind of popular excitement seen for last week's other big-name bows, those in the power-pop community were equally enthused about the fourth full-length effort from L.A. combo Cockeyed Ghost. The band's latest disc, Ludlow 6:18, follows up 1999's masterful Scapegoat Factor -- a heartbreaking cycle of songs chronicling an especially painful period in Ghost leader Adam Marsland's life.

Produced by the band and noted SoCal knob turner Steve Refling (Negro Problem, Martin Luther Lennon), the new disc is an equally melancholy gem, bristling with an abundance of hooks and clever twists -- from Elvis Costello-style workouts to bubblegum-meets-Morricone instrumentals.

Cockeyed Ghost is scheduled to perform at a record-release party on Saturday, May 26, at Billy Gordon's in Tempe. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: Jay Vance -- once a ska bassist for Skankin' Pickle and the Blue Meanies -- had such bad luck with bands that he finally decided to build his own. But infinitely worse than any ego-addled, carbon-based life form, his new musical associates (a Rasta-locked timekeeper called DRMBOT0110 and the menacing ax-wielder GTRBOT666) rebelled by shaving their creator's head, installing a bio-cerebral chip and making him answer to the generic epithet of JBOT. For almost five years now, the little buggers have programmed poor JBOT's every move -- forcing him to don heavy chains and a bondage mask and undergo all sorts of unspeakable indignities in public. This madness is Captured! By Robots, a group which offers silly but thought-provoking entertainment while giving a glimpse of the absolute torment that awaits all inferior and pathetic humans -- all of 'em! -- who've entrusted their collective livelihood to modern technology.

Full of fantasy and foolishness, CBR boasts the wisecracking of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the mechanical precision of Survival Research Labs and the profane spectacle of Pinocchio making Geppetto his bitch. Droning keyboards combine with fast and furious rock-based music (and yes, the machines actually do play) for a "one-man" show with off-kilter jingles on bed-wetting, dildos, cancer and robot superiority. The show also features the tambourine-haloed TAWHNN (The Ape Which Hath No Name), whose booming, Godlike voice offers meandering sermons on peace, tolerance and love -- not to mention a fresh take on the Book of Genesis.

Captured! By Robots is scheduled to perform on Thursday, May 24, at the Blue Ox. Showtime is 9 p.m. -- John LaBriola

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