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THE SEASON OF NEW CDS

'Tis the season, it seems, for new local releases to be unfurled for your aural consumption. To that end, here's a bit of info about two CD-release parties going down this week.

First up is The Solace Bros., who are celebrating the release of Bad Will (California Beach Club), their third full-length album. The trio comprises singer/Crumar synth player Dan Naiman, singer/baritone guitarist John Polle and, well, a tenuous drummer situation. Original drummer Justin Donaldson smacks the skins on the new album, but he departed the band after the songs were recorded. (If your temp agency contacts you to ask if you play the drums, you just might be the next Solace Brother.) For the CD-release party, former Jons bassist Ricky "Shimo" Custodio will keep the beat, and Lance Saxerud will round out the sound on sampler and percussion. Don't be surprised if they swap instruments at some point.

Bad Will is, basically, more of the same from The Solace Bros. Which is to say, it's chock full of quirky, catchy, feel-good pop songs, even if they're a bit dark--assuming you're paying attention. Heck, they include a righteous, surging cover here of the traditional murder-revenge tale "Frankie and Johnny," which is about as bleak as it gets--and, with a couple hundred versions of the song available at the click of a mouse, this one ranks among the most riveting (true praise, trust us).

More traditional Solace Bros. fare comes in the form of "Melody Line," in which the synth and guitar sync up for an interlocking groove in the fashion of dual lead guitars, then play off each other with slightly more complex counter-melodies. The 16 1/2-minute "It Might Be Real," in its ebbs and flows, manages to pay sly self-referential homage to the Bros. tune of yore "Dreamin' Again," approximating the jammier live side of the band, and making room for contributions from Calexico's Joey Burns and Volker Zander on contrabass and cello.

Still, as a huge Solace Bros. fan, I'd be remiss if I didn't register a certain amount of disappointment with Bad Will. There's a certain sense of sameness here--no real ground is broken that already hasn't been on earlier releases--and the songwriting sometimes just doesn't seem on par with the rest of the band's catalog. If Bad Will were my introduction to the band, I might be far more enthusiastic about it, but I know what these guys are capable of, and it's a step above a few of these eight songs.

That said, a new Solace Bros. album is always a treat, and, for the most part, Bad Will is no exception.

The Solace Bros. celebrate the release of Bad Will on Friday, Sept. 21, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The Mission Creeps and Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout open at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 798-1298 for more information.

Aside from Calexico, perhaps no current Tucson band has done more to put our humble burg on the map than post-hard-core outfit The Bled. The band recently performed as part of the Projekt Revolution tour, which also featured Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Him and Placebo, before joining forces with The Used as openers on their recent tour. Next up is the international Taste of Chaos tour, which will take them everywhere from Russia and Australia to the United Kingdom and Canada.

But before that, they'll spend a few days gathering their bearings in their hometown, and while they're here, they'll celebrate the release of Silent Treatment, their third full-length and second for Vagrant. Though my "watermarked and copy-protected CD" from the label wouldn't play in my computer, I managed to use a link provided by the record company to hear the new disc.

It's a bit slicker than what we're all used to hearing from The Bled. Yes, it's brutal, and there's lots of screaming and pummeling guitars and thick-as-syrup drums and bass; but there are also defined melodies, perhaps most notably on the first single and album opener, "Shadetree Mechanics," a stomping slice of hardcore that gives way to a chorus that is as close to emo-catchy as these guys will probably ever get.

The Bled celebrate the release of Silent Treatment by performing at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The show begins at 7 p.m., with openers to be announced. Advance tickets are available for $12 at all Ticketmaster outlets, at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 321-1000. For further details, call 629-9211.


ON THE BANDWAGON

The Hut is hosting its annual King Hut Weekend mini-festival over three nights this week, with a lineup that features mostly local bands, as well as a sprinkling of national acts. Here's what to expect each night, in descending order of appearance:

Friday, Sept. 21: Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs; Al Foul; The Sand Rubies.

Saturday, Sept. 22: Warsaw; 2 Tone Lizard Kings (both indoors); Tryst; Major Lingo (both outdoors).

Sunday, Sept. 23: The B Foundation; Skitn.

A wristband for all three nights is $20. Admission is $10 on Friday and Saturday, and $5 on Sunday. The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave. Things get rolling at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. on Sunday. For more info, call 623-3200.

The Tucson Downtown Alliance gets its 2007-2008 event season underway this weekend with a music-and-more extravaganza. Over six hours--from 6 p.m. to midnight--the free event will feature live music from Salvador Duran (6 p.m.), Leila Lopez (7 p.m.), Mitzi Cowell (8 p.m.), The Swim (9 p.m.), Bread and Circus (10 p.m.) and Greyhound Soul (11 p.m.). Food and drinks will be available for purchase, and there will be a ton of nonprofit organizations participating. Sounds like a good, old-fashioned town meeting to me, except a lot more fun. And did we mention that it's free? Head to the Main Library Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 22, to enjoy the proceedings. Your questions will be answered by calling 547-3338.

A pair of all-star local bands will turn in increasingly rare performances this weekend at Che's Lounge. Spacefish and the X-Old Ladies will have their collective tongues planted firmly in cheek as they rock the hizzy with their jamtastic comedy-rock and '70s-inspired big-rock riffs, respectively. (Side note: Welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Luca. We're all glad you're doing better.) Check in around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, for all the action. Che's Lounge is located at 346 N. Fourth Ave. Get more info by calling 623-2088.

Be sure to check our listings for details about performances this week from Billy Joe Shaver; The Black Angels; Over the Rhine; Rock Plaza Central; a triple bill featuring Velvet Revolver, Alice in Chains and Sparta; and, of course, Kenny G.


SO LONG, SHORTY

Soundbites received some heartbreaking news last weekend from Dan Hostetler of The Determined Luddites. We hereby turn over the column to him:

"If y'all haven't heard, we are sad to let you know that we lost a very dear friend, fellow musician and beloved member of the Tucson musical community. Shorty Stubbs ended his own life on Friday, Sept. 14. He had come to The Hut the night before to see our show with Chris Holiman, and I think everyone's parting memory will be how much fun he was having. He had turned 50 the week before, and we sang 'Happy Birthday' to him. As usual, he lit up the room, flirting with Jenna and Shannon behind the bar, buying everyone a round, getting everyone laughing and talking, making plans for a fishing trip with my brother Mark (and) marveling at Neil Harry's pedal-steel playing during Chris' set. He joined us onstage for our last song, doing an abbreviated version of the famous Shorty striptease at the end.

"Shorty was a beautiful human being, a gentle and generous man whose love of music and the Tucson music scene was contagious. After we packed up our gear on Thursday night, we all, at some point, hugged him goodnight and let him know we loved him. It is a heartbreaking final memory, but I feel blessed it is the one that I have ... "

Chris "Shorty Stubbs" Jones was the genial, knowledgeable host of the Country Fringe radio show on KXCI FM 91.3's Twangin' Tuesday, his forum to share the music of neglected country music artists with the general public. His enthusiasm in doing so was downright infectious; he was one of those guys who reveled in turning people on to great music, passionately and convincingly extolling the virtues of hundreds of great artists--whether they were making music in the '50s or the Aughts--to anyone who would listen. He was a country boy from Memphis, Tenn., who preached the gospel of genuine country music every week to an audience he helped convert (willingly, since he had such great taste). It was a dream of his since high school. Will anyone ever hear The Derailers' version of "Country a Go-Go," the theme song of Country Fringe, and not think of Shorty?

Two tributes to Stubbs are in the works.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, KXCI will remember him with a special Country Fringe broadcast from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (his usual time slot).

A memorial show, with a slew of local performers, is being organized in his honor, slated for Sunday, Sept. 30, at The Hut. Check back with Soundbites next week for complete details.

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