Though they previously released a limited run of CDs called do something (Hyperborean, 2006) that contained most of a live set recorded by Duncan Hudson at the KXCI 91.3 FM studios for Don Jennings' Locals Only program, Saint Rorschach's Transference (Hyperborean, 2006), out this week, is their first proper studio full-length. "Full-length?" you ask? "But it's only got six songs!" Yes, grasshopper, but when those six songs run anywhere from 4:04 to 17:14, you've got yourself a full-length.
No last names are provided in their bio, but brothers Alexis (vocals and guitar) and Joseph (drums) moved to Tucson from Douglas along with their longtime friend Richard (bass) in 2003. They had been playing in cover bands in Douglas but began writing original material once they met guitarist Ben in Tucson.
The general rule on Transference is that the longer songs are instrumentals, while the shorter ones have lyrics, but almost all of them trade in another rule: Start small and quietly, slowly let tension build, then hit a bracing crescendo. Thus, most of the longer, vocal-less songs tend to work better than the shorter ones--sorta like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky or any of those instrumental bands that take the time to let the songs unfold as they will, no matter how long they end up being, though Saint Rorschach is a bit more shoegazey than those bands.
"White Queen," for example, starts out with a nifty and catchy bass line, until about a minute in, when the guitars kick in with a descending guitar-chord progression that morphs into a riff reminiscent of forgotten '80s Minneapolis band The Suburbs' "Rattle My Bones." It glides along nicely, like most of the instrumentals here. The songs with vocals are a bit less successful and a bit more generic. "Benito del Norte," despite its use of acoustic guitar--which serves to diversify the band's sound--and ambitious attempt at counter-melody ends up being somewhat unmemorable. By album's end, you can see the band's formulas written on the wall. It's a decent first effort, but I have a feeling that as long as Saint Rorschach continue to branch out and don't get stuck in their own rulebook, bigger things lie ahead.
The CD release party for Transference hits Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, July 22. Early Black and Old Man open at 9:45 pm. Admission is $4. Call 798-1298 for more information.
Fresh off a TAMMIES win in the Jazz, Latin/Salsa category, locals Tesoro will also be celebrating the release of a new CD this week. Like Saint Rorschach's first, unofficial release, Live in Studio 2A was also recorded at KXCI, and it showcases their youthful take on flamenco fusion, which bridges the gap between traditional flamenco music and more modern sounds, just as Gipsy Kings and Ottmar Liebert have done before them. (How many flamenco bands count the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as influences?)
For their CD-release celebration, the group has selected a rather unusual venue for such an affair: From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 21, the band will perform a free, all-ages show at CD City, 2890 N. Campbell Ave. For further details, call 318-3339.
I got it home and found that someone in the marketing department wasn't doing their job. The album was full of lush guitars betraying a vaguely psychedelic band that could write one hell of a subtle pop song. I went back to the cut-out bin a couple of days later, cleaned it out of all the Church records and found that the self-titled album was indeed no fluke. These guys were damn good.
Scores of bands like this come and go, never to be heard from again, so it was surprising and encouraging when, in 1988, the band released Starfish (Arista), and had a massive hit with the song "Under the Milky Way," and a minor one with "Reptile." The band still more or less sounded the same, if maybe a bit more refined by then, and armed with sharper hooks. But when Starfish's follow-up, Gold Afternoon Fix (Arista, 1990), failed to do much in the marketplace, the band faded back into semi-oblivion. Where most bands might try a time or two again to recapture the spotlight, The Church persevered on a cultish level, consistently releasing albums for the faithful (and the faithful only, it seemed) ever since.
In fact, they've just released Uninvited, Like the Clouds (Cooking Vinyl, 2006), their 19th album in 25 years, and will make a rare stop in Tucson this week to support it. The good news is that it's yet another fine addition to their lengthy catalog--all shimmering guitars, gorgeous melodies that reel you in further with each listen and that vaguely unsettling feeling that all their best work bears. The bad news is that so few people are likely to hear it.
The Church perform on Sunday, July 23, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The Catherine Wheel's Rob Dickinson opens the all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Advance tix are available for $18 at the venue's box office; they'll be $21 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 for more information.
For Bright, Guilty World (Future Farmer, 2006), though, Leaper and Schneider have once again teamed up for what is probably the band's best long-player since their debut, Hooray for Tuesday (spinART, 1998). While early E6 releases tried to cram as much pop goodness as possible into four measly tracks, World is a splendidly produced album chock full of blissful '60s pop songs with hooks that would have landed on the radio back in the day. Put it this way: If you shelled out for a ticket to last week's Ray Davies show, plunk down a few more for this one, and you won't be sorry you did.
The Minders perform at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, July 25. The show begins at 9 p.m. with opening sets from The Kingdom and LemonMan. Get tickets in advance for $5 at the Rialto box office; they'll be $7 at the door. Call 622-8848 for further information.
They'll be at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Monday, July 24. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. with openers Mr. Free and the Satellite Freak Out. Call 884-0874 for cover info or any other questions.
Finally, though details are a bit sketchy as we go to press, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention a benefit show to aid local musical legend Billy Sedlmayr, who was a member of The Pedestrians (largely credited as jumpstarting Tucson's punk and new wave scene in the late '70s) and Giant Sandworms, who of course later became Giant Sand. Sedlmayr has had his share of ups and downs over the years, and right now, he's going through the latter. Sedlmayr is now living in Phoenix and is battling a mean case of Hepatitis C, and his friends here in town are banding together to help raise funds for his cause. Among the acts performing will be Luminarios, Van Christian and, if he's well enough, Billy Sed himself. No doubt by the time the event rolls around, others will be added to the bill, too.
The Benefit for Billy Sedlmayr takes place at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., next Thursday, July 27, starting at 9 p.m. For further details, call 798-1298. A $5 donation is requested.