The Rolling Stone Readers Poll, never a barometer of good taste or intelligence, was especially appalling this year as it gave the awards for Album of the Year, Band of the Year, Single of the Year, Artist of the Year, Tour of the Year, Best Video, Best Album Cover, Best Dressed, Biggest Hype and Best Fan Site to none other than the Backstreet Boys. The kind of results that beg the question, "Is Rolling Stone's readership comprised entirely of 13-year-old girls?"
It would seem the answer is a resounding yes, judging by some of the other "winners": Britney Spears as Female Artist; Christina Aguilera as New Artist, and so on. Not that any of this should come as a surprise. Leafing toward the magazine's back page, a quick run-down of the record sales charts shows the Backstreet Boys, Spears and Aguilera well-ensconced in the Top 5. The commercial power of such manufactured teen pap is at its unquestionable zenith. Though the figures are incontrovertible, the ability of these Mickey Mouse Club refugees to move millions upon millions of units is still perplexing. As the late Bill Hicks once asked, "Is there really that much fucking baby-sitting money being passed around this country?"
Significantly more disturbing than the Readers Poll results were those found in the R.S. Critics' Picks. Among their choices, the magazine's critical intelligentsia elected Kid Rock as Best Male Artist, Eminem for Best New Artist, and Limp Bizkit as the Top Hard Rock/Metal band. A set of results that begs an altogether different question: "Are Rolling Stone's critics all 16-year-old boys?"
We did find a much more pleasant surprise when we came upon the Artists' Picks. The section features big-name musical figures from Madonna to Everlast casting their votes for 1999's top albums. At the top of Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus' list? None other than Clarity, last year's release from Mesa's very own Jimmy Eat World. When not posing with porn stars, showing off his manhood, or playing his intellectually challenged brand of "punk," Hoppus apparently enjoys spinning Jimmy Eat World's stellar sophomore effort along with records by the Get Up Kids, Face to Face, and the Foo Fighters.
Since Clarity was released last February by Capitol (quite unenthusiastically, as it turns out), Jimmy Eat World has left the major-label fold and returned to the ranks of the dealless, at least for the time being. Despite the sour corporate turn, the band's fortunes have definitely been on the upswing. In addition to a handful of packed local shows, the group ventured to Europe last fall, and the jaunt proved to be such a success that the band will try to expand its international following with a Japanese tour in the spring. In the meantime, the group is working on new material, which front man Jim Adkins says it will demo extensively before seeking a deal for a new record. Judging by the equally strong indie and industry buzz surrounding the group, a contract shouldn't be too hard to come by.
Meanwhile, Adkins has also been busy with a new side project, which made an unbilled debut at a benefit show at Modified last month. The relatively loose-knit collective, which Adkins jokingly describes as a "nine-piece Belle & Sebastian type band," will be performing under the name Go Big Casino. The lineup features a shifting cast of local luminaries including Adkins, fellow Jimmy Eat Worlder Tom Linton, Seven Storey Mountain vet Aaron Wendt, Shane and Ryan Kennedy (formerly of AM Radio Allstar and Pine Wyatt, respectively) and Reuben's Accomplice guitarist Jeff Bufano, among others.
Go Big Casino will be making its "official" debut next month with a pair of shows at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. The band's February 18 concert will be a 21-and-over affair while the set on the 19th will be an all-ages show. Check the February 17 Bash & Pop for a full-length exposé on the Casino players.
Ay, Chula: The local rumor mill has been working overtime in regard to the fate of local pop-punks Chula. Speculation has been running rampant that the group was calling it quits for reasons ranging from the developing tinnitus condition of guitarist Joel Hatcher to growing friction between lead singer Yolanda Bejarano and the group's rhythm section of Roger Brogan and Kristi Wimmer.
Speaking to Bash & Pop, Bejarano confirmed that the group has indeed split up, though she remained mum as to the specific reasons. Reportedly, the breakup may have centered on Brogan and Wimmer's increasing frustration with Bejarano's high profile within the band. Wimmer says the split was merely the result of "many differences of opinion building up for quite a while."
Things apparently came to a head over some recording issues relating to a single the group had been preparing in recent weeks. The group was split into two camps as to the quality of the tracks. Despite the rift, the songs from those sessions will eventually see the light of day, likely as a seven-inch or a CD single to be released on the King of the Monsters label.
For her part, Bejarano plans to continue working with longtime associate Hatcher. The two have already begun writing and rehearsing material for another project. It's not clear if the as-yet-unnamed group will remain a duo or expand its lineup; however, the music will stray from the Riot Grrl sound of Chula and that of its predecessor, Slugger, and head toward a more acoustic/Latin direction.
Bejarano and Hatcher plan to record material before playing out, which would put the group's official debut at least a few months down the road. Wimmer currently has no musical plans and may in fact be leaving the Valley, while Brogan will continue to stay active with his other band, the Sundrops.
Cry, Baby: Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor -- James Intveld's résumé is more than impressive. A key member of the L.A. honky-tonk scene, his credits include stints as a member of the Blasters, a pair of critically lauded albums, as well as providing the singing voice of Johnny Depp's character in John Waters' Cry-Baby.
Possessing an unmistakable teardrop croon and estimable talents as both a writer and performer, Intveld's relative anonymity is almost criminal when compared to the success of similar, though lesser, artists like Chris Isaak.
For those who've missed Intveld during his frequent Arizona stops, the pompadoured singer makes his return to the Valley to perform at the Rhythm Room on Thursday, January 20.
Intveld is currently completing work on his third album, a follow-up to his 1997 self-titled release (Ichiban). He also recently co-produced the major-label debut of his friend and fellow musical revivalist Dale Watson.
Despite the wealth of recording-related activities, Intveld did find time to land work as an actor in the upcoming network miniseries The Beach Boys: An American Family. In it, he plays the role of famed session drummer, Wall of Sound member and Brian Wilson collaborator Hal Blaine. The job wasn't much of a stretch for Intveld, who also lists drummer as part of his credentials, having recently fronted his own swing band from behind the kit. The ABC tele-pic is set to air Sunday, February 27, and Monday, February 28.
Intveld says his new album should be finished by the end of the month and ready for a CD release party at Austin's Continental Club during this year's South by Southwest festival. Although he hasn't ruled out the possibility of inking a record deal, Intveld adds that he will likely release the disc independently before shopping it to a label.
James Intveld is scheduled to perform on Thursday, January 20, at the Rhythm Room. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Contact Bob Mehr at his online address: [email protected]