LOUSY LUCK: The members of Tucson's Manifold have some valuable advice for bands planning a tour: Don't start it on Friday the 13th.

Unfortunately, they learned this lesson the hard way, with their recent tour kicking off on Friday, June 13, in Albuquerque. Barely.

The trouble started on that fateful day when they ran out of gas about 20 miles outside of Albuquerque proper and spent a few hours on the side of the interstate before making it to Burt's Tiki Lounge minutes before they were scheduled to perform. Which they did.

Four days and four shows later, their van was broken into in New Orleans. Luckily, the trailer carrying their equipment was spared, but the band was robbed of a CD player and about 40 CDs. OK, a tour is bound to bring a couple of unexpected roadblocks, right? Nothing else could go wrong, right?

Wrong. The very next day the van's catalytic converter went out. Luckily, they had family in Mount Pleasant, Texas, where it was fixed. After scrambling to get to the next town, they arrived only to find the club had been double-booked. From there, the voyage continued virtually uninterrupted. Oh sure, there were those two tires that had to be replaced in Denver, but other than that, no more real trauma to speak of. Yeesh. Next time, guys, pick a safer date, like maybe the Ides of March.

Aside from the headaches, the boys report the tour was mostly successful, with a few bum dates here and there--pretty much the standard for any touring band at their level. But they also seem glad to be home, and you can bet they'll be even gladder on Friday, when they'll celebrate the release of the oh-so-appropriately titled Departures and Arrivals, their brand-new full-length album on Stunning Tonto Records.

Every Manifold show I've seen has been better than the previous one, and continuing with that trend, Departures and Arrivals is unquestionably better than the band's debut EP, released last year, also on Stunning Tonto. The recording is better, the packaging is better, and best of all, the songs are largely better.

The band mines a similar musical terrain as the late Hum, with dense guitars and subdued vocal melodies that take a couple listens to really burrow their way into your cranium. The sound is so big that songs often seem to be moving at a slower pace than they actually are, and are often dosed with little sonic flourishes that add even more texture. Album opener "Room22" is a perfect example. Starting with a single distorted guitar, another guitar is soon layered on top of it before the vocals kick in. Then the drums and bass simultaneously enter the mix, and as soon as it's all there, in that instant, the song finally, completely reveals itself. A jagged guitar lead on the chorus and a tinkling piano add those extra flourishes, and the whole is a dynamic rock song that only gets more interesting each time you hear it.

The age-old trick of instruments entering and dropping out of a song is used over and over again, along with a song switching things up by hitting a tempo/riff change or hitting the distortion pedals, but they're used to such great effect that it never tires over the course of the album. The result is a densely moody but expansive set of songs that'll truly grow on you.

Manifold's CD release party, set to start at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 11, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will be a local showcase of sorts, with a total of eight bands--Is To Feel, 7 Days of May, Year of Acceleration, Camp Courageous, Innisfail, scratchingthesurface, Chango Malo, and, of course, Manifold--playing abbreviated sets. Cover is a mere five bucks and if you need more information, call 622-8848 or log onto manifoldmusic.com.

BLAZE OF GLORY: The fire district on Mount Lemmon picked both a good and bad time to purchase a new fire truck: good because they need it now more than ever; bad because it was to be subsidized by a tax base that has been severely minimized due to the fire.

Luckily, the kind folks over at Berky's Bar have stepped in to help. The bar is hosting a benefit show to raise funds to help pay for the recently purchased fire truck. Running all day and night, on Saturday, July 12, the benefit will feature performances from 10 local bands--Deacon, Buck Shot (who have organized specifically for the benefit), Still Cruisin', Millennium Day, 72 Deuce, the Muddogz, Top Dead Center, Big Hat, the Naughty Pines (who live on Mount Lemmon and lost everything in the fire) and Phil Borzillo--and will also include a silent auction, raffles, T-shirts and food. Bar manager Bonnie Williams said, "A lot of people want to help and I figured, instead of sending a check, why not utilize my bar and give people a good time while they're being charitable?"

Help them reach their goal of $10,000 by heading out to Berky's, 5769 E. Speedway Blvd., anytime from 2 p.m. to close on Saturday. Call 296-1981 for more info.

DEEP SKA: I've never had a whole lot of love for rock bands that jumped on the third-wave ska revival in the '90s, but for some reason, I've always kinda liked Goldfinger. Maybe it's because they had hooks out the ass, or because they never took themselves too seriously. Or maybe they finally swayed me when I saw 'em live several years ago, as part of one of those exhausting all-day outdoor rockfests that tends to suck the life out of you, particularly here in Arizona. But their set, which came late in a long day, was easily the highlight of the day and came complete with the band's standard set of covers of classics and hits-of-the-day--again, something which I normally find irritating, but in this case didn't.

The band's latest album, last year's Open Your Eyes (Mojo/Jive) was a radical departure, ditching the jokes for gravity. But the single track on that album with a sense of humor, "Fuck Ted Nugent," also stands out the same way on Liberation (Fat Wreck Chords), a new compilation that benefits PETA. (Singer/guitarist John Feldmann is "so vegan that he's rescued lobsters from supermarket tanks, releasing the crustaceans back into their ocean homes," according to a PETA press release that accompanied the disc.) The song opens with gentle vocal harmonizing before exploding into a castigation of the Nuge's transgressions, which in addition to his crimes against animals, includes "he forgot how to write a song," then goes on to lambaste Farrah Fawcett for being a "fur-wearing fucking twat." The NRA gets bashed along the way, too, and the whole thing lasts less than two minutes. It's stupid and smart at the same time, which always was Goldfinger's charm.

Goldfinger performs an all-ages show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $17 at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com or cc.com, or by calling 321-1000. For further details call 798-3333.

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