Where the Heck Is Mr. Fun? (Or Up and Down the Donut With Frank)
Galen Herod has always come off like a lovable spaz on stage, regaling audiences with herky-jerky post-new-wave songs and bad jokes. Where the Heck Is Mr. Fun? is a take-home version of Herod, packing a tape's worth of gritty, guitar-based pop tunes with all the wit and manic energy of his best live gigs.
Mr. Fun's highlights include the ode to aquatic life, "Fish Always Move," and the snide jab at suburban materialism, "RV." There are virtually no missteps here, except for maybe the gooey coming-of-age song, "Grain Elevator." But, hey, spazzes have feelings, too. --John Blanco
POLLO ELASTICO Jurupa Mae
If you've ever wondered what the unholy matrimony of Guns n' Roses and Funkadelic might sound like, give a listen to this Tucson foursome.
To discover each side of the group's split personality, check out the openers on sides one and two. The fire-breathing "Bayou Born" is catchy and commercial enough to win the heart of any G n'R fan, and "Hula Hoop"--with its popping bass and goofy, chant-along chorus--would get George Clinton's butt shaking.
Move over, Chili Peppers! Pollo Elastico is as funny and ferocious as any funk-rock band around--local or not. --John Blanco
HOSTILE BRIDGE Burning the Bootay
Any band that takes itself too seriously should give this tape a listen. You don't hear Hostile Bridge grimacing or dreaming of a fat record deal here. The group sounds utterly relaxed as it dances around the cliches on everything from pretty pop to roaring hard-core.
The Bridge gets earnestly sensitive on "Lonely Dancer" and hysterically thrashy on "I Love My Girlfriend," picking out precise grooves without forcing the eclecticism. Hostile Bridge dares to be different and, even better, pulls it off without an attitude. --David Koen
JIMI HALL Jimi Hall
(Jimi Hall Music)
It's easy to spot Jimi Hall's ace in the hole: This local talent can flat out sing. On this self-produced (and at times self-indulgent) tape, Hall wraps his rich, soulful voice around a far-reaching assortment of styles. The cassette's seven offerings run the gamut from sweet, simple, guitar-laced ballads ("Go Away Baby") to rockapsychobilly ("Cut 'em Thin to Win").
His eclectic tastes, however, ultimately make this seem more like a collection of personal favorites than a cohesive stylistic statement. All Hall needs now is a direction to go with his bread-and-butter voice.--Larry Crowley
DUNCAN STITT Arizona Sky
Tucson piano-pounder and songwriter Duncan Stitt captures the essence of Arizona living the way Old Pueblo legends Dusty Chaps did a decade ago.
Arizona Sky touches on both classic and recent topics in contemporary desert life, ranging from comfort and convenience ("The Cooler Don't Work") to poignant social and ecological concerns ("Bad Day at the Circle K"). Stitt renders his tunes with rootsy arrangements, punctuates them with his boogie piano and adds the flavor of Tucson's finest musicians, including singer Bill Emrie of the aforementioned Chaps. Local music doesn't get much homier than this. --Matt Cartsonis
THE WARRENS Meet Your Neighbor
In the true spirit of rock 'n' roll irony, the Warrens named themselves after crybaby neighbors who call the fuzz every time they start to jam. But if this smooth-grooving, homegrown tape is any indication, then the band's antagonists must be the only nuisance. With echoing vocals flowing harmoniously atop surreal guitar and a gently churning bass, the band glides through a mildly psychedelic sea of songs as thoughtful as they are mellow and unobtrusive.--Louis Windbourne
Bluster and intelligence swirl all around this tape, and when Triskelion manages to fuse the two, the band rises above the metallic scrap heap. Triskelion is daring and inspired in places: The four-song tape's strong half features a gear-shifting power-ballad alternative ("Won't Be Home Tonight") and a devastating portrait of an AIDS-infected prostitute ("Cupids Deadly Arrow"). More punchy, innovative tracks like these, and fewer overwrought operatic overtures (the anthemic, synthefied "Space Arabia," in particular), and Triskelion could emerge as a heavy-metalweight contender--in Phoenix and beyond.--David Koen
THEATRE OF ICE Murder the Dawn
Theatre of Ice sets its nightmares to music on this album, which seethes with snatches of death, blood and terror. Illuminated by an eerily wailing guitar and shadowy, creeping melodies, Murder the Dawn stretches from the subtly frightening to the fiendishly horrific. This haunting celebration of the dark side is a grimly demented smorgasboard of horror guaranteed to send chills down anyone's spine. --Louis Windbourne
If Anne Rice invited Rush, Vincent Price, and Led Zeppelin over for drinks and rolled this tape to provide some instant atmosphere, no one would complain. Bootbeast is a postmodern, haunted-house cruise through the inner sanctums of art-metal.
Sometimes the Tempe band chokes on the songs' own atmosphere (the dirgey "Lulaby" and "Animal Soul"). But then sometimes Bootbeast emerges from the fogginess (the pulsing "Exodus" and gothic-punk-pop "Stiff Upper Lip"). It's this kind of well-balanced horror movie/rock 'n' roll hybrid that appeals to the doomster in us all. --David Koen
BRIAN PAGE AND THE NEXT Believe in Me
If, as many record-industry insiders believe, Bad English will sell ten billion more records before the century is up, Brian Page and the Next have it made. Attention, major labels, Brian Page is John Waite like John Cougar was Bruce Springsteen. He's an emotional vocalist prone to melodramatic fits, wailing lyrics like "I'm down on my knees/Beggin' you please."
Overall, Believe in Me is stocked to the rafters with the kind of glossy, high-concept power ballads that millions of young people conceivably could want to buy on CD. All of which make Brian Page and the Next financially shrewd and artistically impoverished.--David Koen
GIN BLOSSOMS Dusted
The Blossoms are looked upon as genuine guitar-pop gods in these parts, but they don't quite live up to their local-hero status on this debut LP.
"Angels Tonight," a song that's raked up a modicum of Valley radio play, sums up the best and worst of the Blossoms. On one hand, it shows off the group's knack for cramming buoyant melodies, ringing guitars and shimmering harmonies into two- or three-minute packages that have PURE POP written all over them. However, the track's references to "sluts" and "party girls between the sheets" are uncomfortable reminders of the band's often-ugly attitude toward women. If the Blossoms must vent this kind of sexist aggression, couldn't they just keep a diary instead? --John Blanco
HERNIA RETRACTION ACCORDION Choking on the Fumes
Will Peter Petrisko Jr. leave any art form unblemished by his boundless creativity? The yucca-chopping performance artist's latest project could be even more pointless than his infamous downtown sacrilege, if that's possible. Choking on the Fumes's highlights include sloppy musicianship, irritating static, and a three-minute tape loop of a voice saying, "I hate you." Someone lock this guy in a padded art gallery before he hurts himself.--Louis Windbourne
What's worse about this Prescott band's tape--the message or the music? A male singer spews out misogynistic lyrics like "I'm gonna hurt you . . . I'm gonna treat you just like trash" to his female counterpart. Meanwhile, Southern crunch-rock smashes face-first into glam, wanking guitars mingling with cheesy keyboards for incoherent strains of the Seventies. Accused? Make that convicted.--Matt Cartsonis
FREDDIE DURAN Modern Day Condition
The only surprising thing about this tape full of pasteurized pop is that it is so offensive: Freddie Duran peppers his feathery fodder with surprisingly sexist lyrics.
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The tape wobbles among lightweight ballads, Up With People pap and lines including "Are you suggesting we should get together/For some molesting . . . ." Moments like these distinguish Modern Day Condition as excessively pretty and exceedingly ugly at the same time. --David Koen
THE D-CUPS From Nowhere to Naugahyde
If the D-Cups achieve anything on this comedy tape, it's to make the sophomoric humor of your average Dead Milkmen disc seem sophisticated by comparison. These Dr. Demento rejects amuse themselves by singing about bodily fluids and setting up punch lines around a gang rape ("Do the Train"). On a tape where the offensive quip is king, the music (thrash, folk, country, rap) is rarely more than an afterthought. So, for that matter, is taste. --John Blanco
BAN THE BURN... v4-25-90