Instead of the usual rambling nonsense on how I wasted my weekend (though this one did involve garlic, a mood ring, nausea, high-speed travel, and a fat, squirrelesque employee at a convenience store in Cottonwood with a pulsating red scar on his forehead), let's head straight into what really matters: product. Local product, to be exact.
Whirlpool is pretty much the best local 'zine going, even better than New Times. Eighty-eight pages of pro layout, excellent writing, interviews with actual questions that are way beyond what most 'zines offer (Love Spit Love, Polvo, the Wedding Present and others in the new issue), and the de rigueur reviews of singles, shows and albums. The thing is jammed with opinions and info, not surprising as the folks who put it out are only able to do so every six months. That's a lot of time to store up material, but it also means that you read reviews of shows that happened months ago. But that's life in the 'zine world, where day jobs hold sway over free time, and no one makes any money. Pick up Whirlpool at locations around town, or write P.O. Box 616, Tempe, AZ 85280.
Where Whirlpool is art-school hip and slick, All the Answers kicks you in the head with state-of-the-bedroom design and editorial content. Cut and paste rule the day, and the writing tone is conversational. ATA boss Irwin Swirnoff describes his baby with the Day-Glo orange cover as "more or less a punk-rock 'zine, but to me punk rock is so much more than just music." Like Irwin's opinions, for one thing, but that's the beauty of the 'zine: He really will give you all the answers. To his own questions, but, hey--it's free. Write Swirnoff at 207 West Clarendon, #14B, Phoenix, AZ 85013, and look for ATA at local record stores.
Eric Searleman, the Valley's answer to Harvey Pekar, has released the second fabulous issue of Jazzbo and lived to tell about it. Actually, he lived to write the comic in the first place; the plots are mainly taken from Searleman's real-life adventures. Well, adventures is a bit strong; he deals with stuff like fixing his toilet, watching girls on the ASU campus and fixing Japanese food. These events sorta rotate around a giant egg-shaped rock (or something) that is emerging from the ground in downtown Phoenix. The comic is published by a for-real company, San Jose-based Slave Labor Graphics, and it's good to see tales of Phoenix out there on a national level. I think.
And now, let's move on to a little action from Tapes in the Mail. Funnelneck is a band made up of five guys named Mike whose mission is apparently to make sure that generic punk/hard-core never dies. The quartet has opened several local shows for national acts (Everclear, Smoking Popes, No Empathy) and is probably quite competent at giving the kids what they want while they're waiting for the big guns to come on. Beyond that, I can't think of any reason to listen to this stuff. The three-song demo is utterly one-dimensional, though how many dimensions can you expect from 'neck's limited musical ingredients: monotone, Rollinslike yelling with a little hip-hop 101 delivery, power skronk guitar and breakneck/half-speed tempos? You've heard it all before. Call 930-0755.
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What state is Flux in? Well, this Phoenix quartet has some serious lyrical concerns that border on high school poetry, that's for sure. Check out this snippet from "20 ml," delivered in a wicked roar by singer Michael Comunale: The approach unproven the reason used to control hold and destroy the freedom you and assume the idea holds no bounds though it sounds appropriate full of shit get the off it. Huh?
The band has a sound you'll hear bouncing around the walls at Long Wong's (on the dreaded Mill Avenue, of course) on any given night; funk-twinged, blues/rock jam grooves left over from the '70s long ago co-opted by soulless shitheads like the Spin Doctors, noodling, distorted guitar solos, and emotive vocals with a spoonful of angst to help the medicine go down. But don't think these guys are without dynamics; Flux mellows out with the ethereal "Monsoons," Comunale turning in a capable, adult-contemporary-ready take. Call 234-6514.
Just who or what is Palpa Lee Chank and Chunky Footstool? Don't ask me, as there was little more than a Radio Shack cassette stuck in the envelope. But what counts is what's on the tape, and how it affects the listener. Which in this case is me, and here's what I can tell you. This goddamn thing is like a Vanilla Fudge record played backward with a guitarist puking up retarded jazz licks in the background. The whole thing sounds like it was recorded with the reverb from a porcelain toilet bowl. In fact, if this were just a little bit worse, it would be brilliant. Then again, maybe someone's just trying to put one over on me. Which isn't the first time that's crossed my mind. No number. Go figure.
No one would ever accuse Expletives of breaking new ground, but these four men from Tempe do offer up a decent load of power pop/punk. Hell, on one song, "Your Choice," they even use an acoustic guitar. And it's not a ballad. Vocalist/guitarist Warren Claybusch sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Jello Biafra--I swear--that goes from effective to comical. Call 838-1626.--