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JULY SHOWERS BRING AUGUST CHAINSAWS

As I write this, my awesome landlord is in my front yard, attacking innocent trees and bushes with a mighty and loud chainsaw, trying to keep up with the growth brought by the monsoon. (The fact that I have to claw my way through branches to get to my front door means he's been losing the battle, but damn it, I have faith in him winning the war. After all, he's never let me down before--aside from that toilet that won't stop running, no matter how many times he goes at it with pliers and a screwdriver.) Anyhoo, I thought it was worth mentioning for this reason: If I describe a band as having "chainsaw guitars," you might want to take this into consideration.

As for my landlord, he's got an audition with Jackyl next week, so maybe he's just practicing.


FEELING A LITTLE BLOAT-ED?

Ah, Bloat. The very name conjures up late-night house parties full of art-damaged smarty-weirdos, rockin' to twisted sounds in outfits made of bubble wrap and duct tape.

But a good number of acts in the Bloat collective--united by years of friendship and the Bloat Records stamp of bizarreness and approval--have been largely dormant in recent years. So where does one turn for the perpetually fucked-up these days?

Well, this week, anyway, look no further than local clubs, where you'll find two of Bloat's most beloved acts.

Bob Log III was once half of the legendary Doo Rag, who featured Log singing and playing speedy Delta blues slide guitar, and Thermos Malling (later of Coin) smacking the shit out of cardboard boxes, trash cans and whatever the hell else he found dumped next to Value Village in the middle of the night. They opened for Beck, had one of their songs featured in a Levi's commercial that Spike Jonze directed, and broke up acrimoniously more than a decade ago while on tour in, if memory serves, Chicago. (They've since kissed, made up and reunited for a couple of appearances at past HoCo Festivals.)

Log, like any great bluesman, was left to persevere on his own. As Log once told me, his now-trademark helmet was initially donned just in case he sucked so badly that people started throwing stuff at him. He needn't have worried.

After Doo Rag's demise, Log spent a year or two getting his solo act right, tinkering with the formula of playing drum beats both programmed and organic while still blazing on that slide guitar--oh, and doing it all in that helmet with the telephone mic embedded in it, not to mention the jumpsuits. You might not want to do this man's laundry, but believe me, you want to hear him play guitar.

Log moved from Tucson to Australia a couple of years ago, but this week, he returns for a rare performance at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Aug. 23. Opening at 9:30 p.m. are Left Lane Cruiser and Tom Walbank. Admission is $8. If you've got questions, they've got answers at 798-1298.

While not quite as rare as a Bob Log III gig, shows from the Pork Torta have become increasingly rare. Why? Who the hell knows. I'm sure those boys have their reasons. But if you're in the mood for some funked-up garage-y dance anthems with titles like "Butchie Pac," "Dang Booty" and "Mama Au Go Go," played by a bunch of dudes dressed up as ... well, something or other (that aforementioned bubble wrap and duct tape? Once strutted by the Pork Torta), this week, you're in luck.

The Some French Friends festival (as written about by Carl Hanni in last week's issue) presents "The Pork Torta and Friends"--those friends being Franoiz Breut, Papier Tigre and Katerine--at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is a mere $5. Call 622-8848 for more info.


GODS OF THUNDER--AND ROCK 'N' ROLL

Right now, go outside and put your ear to the ground. You hear that rumble? My friends, that's not the shifting of tectonic plates you hear; that's the sound of the Melvins making their way to Tucson.

For almost 25 years and more than 25 albums, Aberdeen, Wash.'s second-most-famous band have been churning out tunes (if you can call them that) that are molasses-slow and sludgy; in the process, they're influencing bands from Nirvana to current darlings Boris and Sunn 0))). Over the years, the word "grunge" has been hugely overused and misappropriated to describe bands such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, but if any band embodies the semi-onomatopoeic nature of the word, it's the Melvins.

Founding member King Buzzo and Dale Crover, who's been in the band since 1984, are still at it, these days along with Jared Warren and Coady Willis, and last month, the band released Nude With Boots on Mike Patton's Ipecac label. Believe it or not, it's actually a departure from the sound that made them famous. This time around, the band step up the '70s-style hard-rock/metal quotient rather than muck around in the sludge. Even a Sabbath-influenced track like "Dies Iraea" (oh, those jokers), which would be a dirge to most bands, is faster than a Melvins tune of yore, and the riffs on "Suicide in Progress" and "The Kicking Machine," which is clearly influenced by Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" (check those drums, dude!), could be lifted straight off the Dazed and Confused soundtrack.

Perhaps the oddest track on the album isn't an echoey noise-fest freakout or anything of that ilk, but rather the song "Billy Fish," which features a theft of the music from those aforementioned Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush" so blatant that it could be a karaoke backing track, with a newly written vocal melody. As someone who never thought a whole lot of Stone Temple Pilots, I can tell you I'm enjoying it way more than I should be. (And did I mention the chainsaw guitars?)

For those who know why the Melvins are important but never quite "got" them, Nude With Boots just might be the ideal starting point.

Better yet, for the real Melvins experience, plunk your money down at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Tuesday, Aug. 26. Big Business, the name under which Warren and Willis perform as a duo, open the show at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $13. For further details, call 798-1298.


DEEP AND VARIED ROOTS

One touring and two local acts gather at The Hut for a three-fer this week to demonstrate just how many stripes the umbrella of American roots music encompasses.

This year's TAMMIES honorees in both the Bluegrass and Up-and-Coming Artists categories, The Dusty Buskers will mix a little traditional Irish folk into their Appalachian bluegrass as openers at 9 p.m., while around midnight, the Dead Tones will close out the night by spreading a bit of that good ol' rockabilly love.

Sandwiched between the two is Californian James Intveld, a once-frequent visitor to Tucson who, according to a press release about the show, hasn't played in this burg in eight years. Intveld's CV is diverse and impressive. He started out in the '80s fronting the Rockin' Shadows, which also included his brother Ricky and Pat Woodward, but went solo after his bandmates left to back Ricky Nelson. (They both died in the same 1985 plane crash that took Nelson's life.)

Playing a mix of rockabilly and honky tonk, he spent time in the same L.A. clubs as Rosie Flores, for whom he wrote "Cryin' Over You," and Dwight Yoakam, for whom he played bass for a spell. He played guitar in the Blasters on occasion, supplied the singing voice for Johnny Depp's character in John Waters' Cry-Baby, produced then-Tucsonan Troy Olsen's debut album, and issued a couple of solo albums that had critics drooling. In addition to recently wrapping duties directing his first feature film, he also somehow found time to release Have Faith (Molenaart), his first new album since 2000.

If anyone had any doubts before (and I'm pretty sure no one did), Have Faith only reinforces the fact that Intveld is the real deal. He flits effortlessly from twangy ballads ("A Woman's Touch") to earnest singer-songwriter (the title track), country gospel ("Walk With Me") to straight-up honky tonk ("Pretty World"), and covers it all with aplomb. In a just world, these songs--three of which, it's worth noting, were co-written with Tucson's John Coinman--would be inescapable on country radio. But, alas, the world is not just, and James Intveld remains obscure, one of the finest country singers you've never heard.

Fix that by hitting The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., on Friday, Aug. 22. Cover's a five-spot, and you can call 623-3200 for more info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

These United States at Plush next Thursday, Aug. 28 (free and recommended); Father Larry's Rock Revelations with Great American Tragedy and the American Black Lung at Club Congress on Wednesday, Aug. 27; Dave Mason at the Fox Tucson Theatre next Thursday, Aug. 28; Three Dog Night at Desert Diamond Casino on Saturday, Aug. 23; Lisa Otey, Diane Van Deurzen, David Otey and Gay Otey at Z Mansion on Monday, Aug. 25 and Tuesday, Aug. 26 (rescheduled from Aug. 4).

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