At last--I've found it! After years of vein-popping concentration searching for unique descriptions, after developing blisters on every finger from thumbing through thesauruses looking for new adjectives, I've discovered the ultimate way to determine whether a song is good. But I'll give credit where credit is due: I owe it all to Andie, the efficient and capable receptionist right here at New Times. We were talking about bands, and she said, "Well, I don't really like rock." "Huh?" I queried. "You know, bands that go ching, ching, ching, ching." She's right. Maybe you had to witness this exchange in person, see the squinched-up face she made, but I know exactly what she means. It's that hard-to-peg ching, ching factor that can make or break a song. Okay, okay, you're probably shaking your head at this point, but just beware of the "c" word. It's out there, ready to pounce at any time and ruin a good tune.
In the case of Raymond, his music is virtually ching-free. According to his press material, the artist is "descended from a long line of Arizona Natives," and he has "created a new and unique sound combining diverse styles including: Classical, Rock, Flamenco, and New Age, all in a Native American tradition." Quite a rsum to play up to, but Raymond--who is none too bashful in the promo photo department, either--can play the shit out of a guitar, 12-string acoustic or electric. He kicks off his ten-song, recorded-live cassette with an impressive, dexterous, tasteful version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and keeps up the mind-boggling finger work throughout. (At one point midset, he says, "Could I get another Molson Ice?" Let's just hope that this wasn't recorded in Arizona, where boozing onstage is strictly verboten.)
Raymond has a pleasant, plaintive voice, but the guitar playing is the main attraction. I think the Native American part comes in with "Electric Glide," a textured, New Agey thing with a wash of percussion in the background that sounds like a rattlesnake under water. A hypnotic, ethereal tape that, even when he revs things up, is still somehow dreamy. Call 227-8552.
The liner notes on Tempe's Stained Glass Door's self-titled tape boast of "a musical experience that provokes the imagination to an extent that no other band of our time has done." Well, maybe so, unless you've ever heard a Doors record. A trip through this three-song offering will have you believing that the Lizard King never took that final bath, what with plodding/bouncy bass lines, midtempo space jams and foreboding vocals. The lyrics are full of seemingly imminent warnings that leave you wondering what you're being warned about. I've gotta hand it to SGD; it pulls its weight in the psychedelic department, though a bong hit and headphones should be required listening accouterments. Call 829-6267.
Now here's something that's pretty damn swell. Death Takes a Holiday is back in the recording cesspool with a bitchin' tape called Shoe Boy Gets His Licks. Just tight enough, just sloppy enough, just pop enough, just hard enough; as Goldilocks once remarked, "Just right!" Check out the Clashlike, "Fräre Jacques" ending chorus of "Barstow," or the bizarre admission of homosexuality and drug dependence in "Chemical Reaction." Say it ain't so, boys! "Generically Fingerpoint'n" contains a line that I thought was "you say you're not impressed with the cut of my dress" until the handy lyric sheet fell out of the cassette box and I realized the words were "you say that you're not impressed with the way that I confess"--even better. And you can't help but stand and applaud the final cut, "Fingerpoint'n (au'lait redux)," an Iggyesque spoken-word confessional devoted to life's hardships and trashing the so-deserving "celebrity" Pauly Shore: "And by the way, I really hate Pauly Shore, he's a little motherfuckin' gonad. I'm sure he could sue me for libel for this, but I don't fuckin' care, little pot-head stoner." Okay. What separates Shoe Boy from the rest of the hard-pop skronk out there? DTAH approaches things in a truly creative way; Peter, Andy and Sam might sound like they're banging their musical godhead against a brick wall, but at least they're changing the angle with every third or fourth slam. Call 303-0180.
With so many songs floating around about the dodgy subject of love, Mr. Marainga has found one angle thus far untapped by Tin Pan Alley. "She's so tired and hungry, I'm afraid it turns me on," sings vocalist Palms Poturalski, who finds himself falling hard and fast for the local "Bag Lady." Eventually, he offers to take her home and give her a bath. This punk foursome isn't actually from Arizona, but we thought you should know what your neighbors to the west are doing. Besides, the boys included a song called "Saguaro's Crying," so they may be making plans to relocate. Let's hope so, since this Hollywood band has one of the best songs ever about the joys of driving on the freeway with no AC and no radio--"57 South." It also has an infectious "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" that sounds nothing like "She Loves You." Regardless, keep a close watch for this Fab Four-ÄPalms, Hedge, Sanchez and Stevoreno! Call 1-310-271-6411.
The blueprint for Some New Sky, a full-length cassette by Each Others' Legend, would appear to be the work of T-Bone Burnett. Half the time, singer/songwriter Joseph Langham tends to talk his way through his brainy, wordy compositions like T-Bone. Other times, he yells like a hysterical Roger McGuinn whose chestnut mare has gotten loose and is now rampaging through his house. Even when Langham sometimes overreaches in the lyrical department ("I don't know that you would like me/Neither does my freshly divorced pride"), the crack rhythm section, and especially Wild Billy Kneebone's brilliant slide-guitar work, keeps the momentum going. And there are several examples of great songwriting herein, the best of them being "Holding Out Our Hands": ("We're holding out our hands in the rain/And it feels like Spokane"). Call 779-5699.
The name Tribal Wheel sounded like it might belong to one of those crummy, Blind Melonish hippie aggregations we've had to endure for the past few years. Quite a misnomer, since the band working under that moniker played full-throttle punk. Solution? Change the fuckin' name pronto to the Expletives! This Tempe quartet's five-song demo is brief and to the point, like all great punk should be. The standout cut, "Things," takes Nuggets-era punk like Music Machine's "Talk Talk" and gives it a post-Green Day spin. Singer Warren Claybusch's brand of walk-tough arrogance owes more to New York's famed punk birthplace CBGB than to anything going on here in the Valley of the Sun. Live, this band steamrolls through a dozen bile-charged songs in less than a half-hour. Some of the tunes heard live (and not represented on this tape) take the group in more of a power-pop direction, which will make the Expletives all the more worth exploring in the future. Call 838-1626.
Speaking of bands with inappropriate names, is there anything less hot and more uncool-looking than the five guys who collectively make up Hot Ice? Their combined hairlines couldn't equal one of David Lee Roth's extensions! Any one of these geezers has more rings inside him than that big ol' gnarly tree they're resting against in the cover shot, and their belt-hiding wastelines belie a mess o' beer consumed. Ah, well, maybe the name Fat, Old and Bald Ice was already taken by someone else. But after you've consumed a couple of drinks and have some giggling, rinsed-out blonde on the barstool next to you, you probably won't care that much. Neither does the audience on this tape. They're nutso for this band's traditional roadhouse blues, hooting at every sax solo as if someone's handing out money from the stage. Myself, 15 minutes of 1-4-5 progressions and I start looking for the "Exit" sign. But Hot Ice certainly has the chops to play around the blues-bar circuit any night of the week, even if the version of Robert Cray's "Smoking Gun" included here reflects more self-satisfaction than genuine angst. No number.
There're not many Mexican hard-core bands working in Phoenix. As a matter of fact, except for Loonacy, I'm not aware of any! "Brown and proud is what I am, and you're fucked!!" screams singer Manuel, who spends most of this four-song tape threatening to beat some spineless jellyfish inhabiting his world into bloody submission. "P.M.F" (that's "punk motherfucker" to you) opens up with a little vignette reminiscent of something off a Cheech and Chong record. A guy who hears his Loonacy tape has been chewed up by his friend's stereo beats up said friend and shoots him. Hey, he can always get another friend, but these Loonacy tapes are sure hard to come by! It's not all blood and gore on the Loonacy fringe. Manuel's in the mood for love on the funky "Gimme That Cooch," but he isn't keen to wait. Next time you're in a similar predicament, try some of these icebreakers on your lady true: "My blue balls swell, about to erupt." "I'd give anything to share a nut with you." "Moses had the red, let me part your pink sea." "Heard about the Ten Commandments? I'll give you seven. Not a limp but a hard seven!" "If my Biblical references turn you on, let's eighty-six the clothes and get it on!"
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And, of course, there's always, "What the fuck, don't I deserve it?" You've gotta love a band like Loonacy; it thanks its supporters on the tape insert and in the same breath reminds them to have their pets spayed and neutered! What the fuck, Manuel, don't PETS deserve it, too? Call 244-8063.
Go See: There's Palace Show with Son Huevos Borrachos at Hollywood Alley on Tuesday. If you wanna feel a bit of neocountry, slow-tempo pain, the Palace boys are for you. But is it true emotion or tongue-in-suffering? The decision is up to you, but word has it that this act is something to see. Call 820-7117.
We've got an Arizona 4NORML rally at Wesley Bolin Memorial Park (16th Avenue and Washington) on Saturday featuring the music of guitar whiz Joe Myers. Call 395-0353.--