Local Wire

Suffer Safari

The mailbag brings many things, some good, lots bad, but few things that can generate the weird mix of raging apathy that Dichromatic, the sophomore effort from Tempe's Surf Ballistics, managed to elicit.

The press kit for the self-described "high energy rock" combo -- and, fair warning, there is nary a hint of surf in their sound -- says the group sold "over 3,000 units" of their first disc and "received national attention on college radio," claims that seem incomprehensible after just a single spin of this record.

Lead singer Druix (that is his name, folks, I don't make this stuff up) seems to have patterned his entire style after the most collectively annoying vocal characteristics of Limp Bizkit's flaccid, follicly challenged Fred Durst, grunge moper Eddie Vedder and the patron saint of all marginally talented white-boy-funk shouters, 311's Nick Hexum.

Over the course of the 11-song disc, the band tries its hand at a variety of different musical styles from the Sublime (the group, not the adjective) faux-reggae of "Immune" to the annoying rap-metal bluster of "Don't Sleep" to the "Does anyone have any Advil?" bass noodling of the Primus-inspired instrumental "Juice Gooster."

While we don't wish to completely dismiss the band -- though the thought is tempting -- we should note that the group does feature a core of capable musical talents. Of course, by capable I mean it in the if-only-they-would-use-their-talent-for-good-instead-of-inducing-migraines kind of way. Still, guitarist Danny P. does manage to pull off a few -- stress that, few -- interesting moments, while the rhythm section of Dan Hinze and Josh Pentland is solid throughout.

But with lyrics that redefine the boundaries of the tepid ("Explode benevolent pace/Attention all the mother fuckers of the human race" -- from "Don't Sleep"), banal ("I am a walking shadow without a face/I am waiting/Lost my sense of time and my touch of grace" -- from "I Am Waiting") and senseless ("It's a meaning of two shades/One infection of old/I believe that's all right your left eye is gold" -- from the title track), it's hard to muster up anything more than passive contempt for the disc.

Surprisingly, the Surf Ballistics record comes courtesy -- as does the band's self-titled debut -- of Stu Baker's Hayden's Ferry label. The local imprint has been responsible for an impressive string of local Americana and roots releases since setting up shop in the mid-'90s. After sitting through the excruciatingly turgid 34-minute Dichromatic experience, we have but one question to ask the fine folks over at Hayden's Ferry: "Why?"

Instead of flooding the market with another mindless, sound-alike funk-rap-metal hybrid, how about bumping up the release of the long-awaited follow-up to dream-pop trio Sleepwalkers' Man in the Moon? Or whatever happened to the rumored (and now possibly scrapped) Hayden's Ferry debut of Phoenix alt-country torchbearers the Revenants?

While we sit at home and ponder such mysteries, those more patient than us can choose to attend the Surf Ballistics' CD release party this Friday at Bash on Ash. Hang ten.

The Surf Ballistics are scheduled to perform on Friday, March 3, at Bash on Ash in Tempe, with Yoko Love, Tolerance, and DJ Soulman. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Blaze of Glory: Local rapper Pokafase, a.k.a. Cappuccino, of long-running hip-hop outfit Know Qwestion, has been selected to participate in Blaze magazine's second annual freestyle "Face-Off" battle being held in Los Angeles this week. As of press time, the results from the first round were not in, but going into the competition, the magazine's editors had ranked Pokafase as a top contender, based on the strength of his videotape entry.

After the L.A. round, Blaze's "Face-Off 2000" will move to New Orleans, Orlando and Chicago before culminating with the championships set for November in New York.

Meanwhile, Know Qwestion, which features Pokafase and fellow rapper Mic Wyld, a.k.a. Cash, has been in preproduction, anticipating a return to the studio to begin work on a new record, a follow-up to their 1998 debut Eclipse. This time around, the group is working with Valley native Jay Lean, whose production and mixing credits include everything from Tupac Shakur and Boyz II Men to Chronic Future and the Generiks. The group plans to complete the album and then begin shopping it to interested parties with an eye toward a fall release.

Currently, Know Qwestion has no local dates planned, although the group will make a return appearance at this year's New Times Music Showcase on April 30.

Is It Getting Hooter, er, Hotter in Here?: Britney's coming! Britney's coming!

At least that's the word from Evening Star promotions, which sent us the "official press release" confirming a summertime America West Arena tour stop for the first lady of corporate-sponsored kiddie porn.

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr