Though it released a few platters prior, it wasn't until 1985 that The Cult wrote songs memorable enough to stick in the noggin'. When the band released Love (Beggars Banquet/Sire), it was somewhat of a revelation; singer Ian Astbury was the only one in the band with long hair--not big hair, as most hard rockers had at the time--and the music was quite simply smarter than that of most other bands of its ilk. It was embraced by a legion of fans who grew up listening to Blue Oyster Cult, but had since graduated to Husker Du. It was the rare crossover record that united fans of both hard rock and punk.
The band went on to issue several other progressively harder records--1987's powerful Electric , '89's Sonic Temple and '91's Ceremony (all on Beggars Banquet/Sire)--which all had their moments of glory. But by 1994, when the band released its self-titled album (never trust a self-titled album that comes over a decade into a band's career), the well had run dry. The band still had its trademark guitar crunch in tow, but two things were missing: songs and an audience. This was, after all, the band's first post-Nevermind release, and those who had snatched up copies of the earlier records couldn't be bothered to shed their flannel for the bombast.
In early 1995 the band broke up. Fast-forward to just a couple of years ago: Grunge is dead and rawk rules again. The Cult reforms for a high-profile industry suit-heavy gig along with some of the bigger names of the day, leading everyone who gives a damn to wonder: Didn't those guys break up already? It seemed a bit of a joke--a cruel joke, at that--that The Cult members would be shamelessly parading their aging selves across a stage along with punks half their age. That is, until they hit the stage. Reportedly, The Cult blew everyone off the stage at that event, and immediately became the subject of a label bidding war all over again.
Beggars Banquet has just released Spirit/Light/Speed, a collection of solo Astbury material recorded during the band's hiatus. A pump-primer for the upcoming new Cult release, the album marries the energy of the band's heyday (minus Billy Duffy's riffs) with an electronic edge, and has won excellent reviews across the board. Expect The Cult to preview new material as well as play the old favorites when it holds court at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, August 11. UPO opens the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for (a whopping) $27 plus service charges through Ticketmaster. Call 321-1000 to charge by phone or go online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more info call 798-3333.
UP FROM OZ: Bluebottle Kiss makes the long trek from its Australian homeland for a local performance this week in support of its third album, Patient, on Spin Records. The disc demonstrates a band that, at its best, marries the angst of, say, American Music Club with the oblique pop bliss of The Church, while keeping things as sonically dynamic as Sonic Youth. No small feat, the (lack of) formula works like a charm, with angrily noisy guitar riffs and feedback giving way to sheer cascading beauty, vice-versa and back again. If they were American, hacks would try to put 'em in the emo camp, but that's beside the point since they'd shrug off the label anyway.
Never mind the fact that you've never heard of these guys; see 'em now and say you saw them when. Bluebottle Kiss appears on Friday, August 11, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Wise Folk Malcontent opens the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Cover is $5 and you can call 884-0874 with further questions.
A MIXED BAG: It's been a while since The Hammertoes made the trek down to our burg from the Valley of the Sun (the hellhole known as Phoenix), and this week they do things right in teaming up with like-minded locals Molehill. While Molehill trades in traditional gypsy music, it takes you on an instrumental journey of improvisation that ebbs, flows, and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
The Hammertoes, on the other hand, incorporate a few more elements--most notably, Casey Wade's gruff vocals, which are often compared to Tom Waits--for a sound that dabbles in flamenco, lounge jazz and Latin music. Both bands have lots of members, and both create a dense sonic backdrop that will keep you tuned to the proceedings when they are joined by fire performance artists Flam Chen and members of the Big Head Puppet Show at 9 p.m. on Friday, August 12, at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. Call 745-9175 for additional information.
TRY SOMETHING NEW: Those with a taste for angular, disjointed post-punk complexity will be pleased to welcome Quixotic to town this week. The band is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Christina Billotte (whose résumé includes stints in Slant 6 and Autoclave), Mira Billotte on drums and vocals, and bassist/vocalist Brendan Majewski. It's just come off a Midwest/East Coast tour with Sonic Youth to support its newest release, the Guy Picciotto-produced Night For Day (Ixor Stix). It's decent enough, but nothing you've never heard before.
The opener for the show is Northampton, Mass.'s The Moves, which has just released its first full-length self-titled album on Mr. Lady records, and is more successful to these ears. Album opener "Easter Present" sounds like a boisterous pairing of Liz Phair and Shoebomb; "Report to Sadness" sounds a bit like Sleater-Kinney on a new wave bender; and the herky-jerky off-tempo funk arrangement of "Incisor" recalls the Minutemen. A fine debut. Check out Quixotic and The Moves at 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 12, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Cover is $5. Questions? Call 884-0874.
STOP THE MADNESS: The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association's Monsoon Madness series continues with yet another batch of excellent free outdoor shows handpicked by Kini Wade. The remaining August lineup is as follows: Candi Android will kick things off at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 11, followed by Fez at 8 p.m.; on Friday, August 18, Bad Tobacco takes the stage at 7 p.m., with Good Question headlining at 8 p.m.; and on Friday, August 25, OYE gets things underway at 7 p.m., with Creosote taking the wheel at 8 p.m. All Monsoon Madness showcases take place at the Winsett Performing Arts Center, 316 N. Fourth Ave.