In recent months, the five-piece band--James Arrr (vocals, guitar, theremin), Miss Frankie Stein (bass, accordion), Becca "The Beastmaster" Horton (vocals, harmonica), Goya "Ditchrider" Kenny and Bryn "Mr. Furious" Jones (drums)--has made its name with its dynamic, theatrical live shows, in all their faux-gothic, campy, B-movie horror-flick glory. In other words, those shows are shtick-heavy affairs, and we all know that sometimes that doesn't translate so well to a recorded product.
The day of reckoning for The Mission Creeps arrives this week, in the form of In Sickness and in Health, the band's debut CD, on Refractory Records.
It pleases me greatly that the disc doesn't require me to be the bearer of bad news, as the album is far more satisfying than one might guess, given the band's M.O. Even without the dazzle of The Mission Creeps' live show, the songs stand on their own quite nicely, thanks.
Like a toned-down version of the Cramps by way of Deadbolt, the twangy, reverb-heavy guitar, Arrr's genuinely sexy bellowing croon (à la Bauhaus' Peter Murphy) and the band's grinding rhythms all add up to something more than your standard clad-in-black, death-obsessed affair. The majority of songs here are slow-burning grinders that ooze sexual tension (even if they feature song titles like "Case of the Zombies," "You Make Me Sick" and "Graveyard Shift"), though there are some exceptions. "Empty Coffin" is 2 1/2 minutes of fuzzed-out guitar and lusty male/female vocals that brag about ownership of a money tree (but nowhere to plant it) and a '57 Chevy. "The Sheets to the Wind" is a sea chantey abetted by an accordion, while harmonica is put to good use on "The Crussian."
Recorded by Jim Waters at his Waterworks West studio, In Sickness and in Health stands as a fine representation of this genre, which can easily devolve into its trappings at the expense of songs. Much to their credit, The Mission Creeps prove here that they've got the songs to transcend those trappings.
The Mission Creeps celebrate the release of In Sickness and in Health with a CD-release show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, June 22. Things get underway at 9:30 p.m. with opening sets from Phoenix's The Love Me Nots and Thee Corsairs. Cover is $5. Call 798-1298 for more information.
The good news, then, is that a suitable replacement has been found in the form of Illinois-born, Southern California-based honky-tonker David Serby, who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Dave Alvin. Unfortunately, the copy of his debut album, Another Sleepless Night (2007, Harbor Grove), which was supplied to me, doesn't seem to want to play in my computer, so you'll have to make do with this quote from his press kit (as opposed to my pearls of wisdom): "Everything from jumpin' Buck shuffles and roadhouse rock, to cryin' time tearjerkers and honk-a-billy blues--Serby's music is a fistful of quarters fed into the jukebox at your favorite old honky tonk or bar." Sounds promising, eh?
Catch him for yourself at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., on Saturday, June 23. The show begins at 8 p.m. with an opening set from the Kevin Pakulis Band. Cover is $5. For further details, call 623-3200.
Things get rolling at 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Vaudeville Cabaret is located at 110 E. Congress St. Cover is cheap, but if you need to know just how cheap, give 'em a ring at 622-3535.
Though they're still recording albums as a trio these days, Boyz II Men's heyday came in the '90s as a paragon of the magic of four-part harmonies. In fact, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, the Boyz are the most successful R&B group of all time. Pretty shocking, huh? Especially when you consider the fact that most people--their fans included--can't name a single member.
As noted on a recent episode of The Colbert Report, they'll be at the Diamond Center at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Advance tickets are available from $25 to $45 at all Ticketmaster locations, the casino's box office, by phone at 321-1000 or online at www.desertdiamondcasino.com. For more info, call 866-DDC-WINS.
Those of a slightly riper vintage will be pleased to note that one of the most successful and soulful R&B acts of the '70s, Earth, Wind and Fire, will be making an appearance in town next week. Their endless list of hit singles includes jams like "After the Love Is Gone," "Boogie Wonderland," "September" and "Shining Star," whose a cappella breakdown is one of my all-time favorite things to sing in the shower.
Become one with the elements next Thursday, June 28, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Advance tickets run $25-$65 and are available at casinodelsol.ticketforce.com or by calling (877) 840-0457.