THRUST OR BUST: Not even Tucson's most dedicated deadbeats can resist the charm of The Makers. All Bo Diddley progression and sex-groove swagger, the Spokane/Seattle band is returning in support of a new album, Psychopathia Sexualis (on Estrus).

Sound Bites Since their recording debut in 1993, the Makers have been used by nearly every newborn garage band as the yardstick by which to measure themselves. Upon the release of Hunger, hailed by critics as one of 1997's best albums, The Makers secured their position as the genre's undeniable top dogs. Many thinly veiled attempts have been made to rip off the Makers' unique, rave-up driven sound (loosely comparable to '60s rock and roll, and early punk bands like Barry and the Remains, the Kinks, Question Mark and the Mysterians, and Northwest associates Don and the Goodtimes). Yet The Makers have consistently held their own, refusing to be replaced or overshadowed.

In the early '90s, the Makers hit a stagnant scene over the head with an unheard of hullabaloo resembling a sped-up Nuggets-era sound. Their music emphasized every variance of every blues riff in the book, and inspired a new wave of movement and bands. In 1998, they introduce us to a more soulful turn on Psychopathia Sexualis that will, no doubt, cause just as much of an uproar. Never ones to maintain the status quo, The Makers have exceeded their own definitions.

The Makers' three-chord prowlers have been joined by such off-guard cuts as "Love That Is Strange," exuding a late '60s Rolling Stones-like charm, and the Velvet Underground/Jesus and Mary Chain-comparable "Psychotropic Supergirl." After the initial shock, one could argue the new album is their rawest and most audacious yet. Coming from the old Lester Bangs' school of rock and roll, their attitude-first stance succeeds in pulling off an unmasked love song like "The Mystery," among the ultimate itchiness of earfuls like "(Are you on the inside or the outside or your) Pants?" and "Turn Up the Century."

Unfortunately, the "scene"--whether one slips into the classification of "punk" or "garage" or whatever--often mistakes musical development for selling out. "We don't care," lead singer Mike Maker recently said in an interview with The Rocket. "We'll always be doing what nobody wants us to do."

Although continuously tagged "rebellious," the most in-your-face Makers attribute--and what ticks antagonists off the most--is the band's loyalty to keeping it real. Amidst a general backlash against rock-and-roll-star mannerisms, the Makers dare to emanate style and fashionable appeal, while their so-called peers are swallowed whole by baggy shorts and extra-large T-shirts. The Makers are right there center stage, and don't shy away from offending. What you see is what you get: this is a tenet of their on-stage presence.

Makers' live performances have been deemed legendary, although they choose to distance themselves from their former reputation as the hard-knuckled scrappers barred from clubs across the map. Free of distraction, attention is drawn to the main spectacle--a knee-jerking guitar sound that's heavy on the bass end, and the Makers' determination to keep the crowds dancing. They aren't about being "tough guys," they're about making music for bona fide fans. Like no other current act, the Makers stir up an energy that compels droves of hip girls to charge the stage, overwhelmed by the need to shag! At a Makers show, there are no losers.

Get ready for an evening of inescapably lust-charged music and mayhem on Friday, August 7, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Doors open at 9 p.m. Call 622-8848 for ticket and show information.

--Fen Hsaio

HOT PICK: If you're interested enough in music to be reading this column, then Carlos Santana needs no introduction. Suffice it to say that he's literally one of the most accomplished and beloved musicians in the world, and that his distinctive guitar style is truly one of the most spiritually transcendent forces in popular music. (Yes, I know how cheesily new-agey that sounds, but if you've ever seen his band live then you know what I'm talking about.)

Santana make their yearly pilgrimage to the Pima County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 8. And if the living legend himself isn't enough to get you to make the trek out to the fairgrounds, openers Los Lobos should provide the needed incentive.

An eclectic and innovative band from east L.A., Los Lobos is one of the few musical acts that seems to just get better the longer they're around. At a sold-out show at the Rialto Theatre a few months back (a rarity in Tucson), they reportedly stomped major booty. (Unfortunately, I waited too long to get my tickets and have cursed my slackness ever since.) If you have even a passing interest in either of these bands, do not miss this show. Reserved seats are $31 (and could very well be sold out by the time you read this); general admission is a paltry $14 in advance. Call Dillard's at 1-800-638-4253 for tickets and information.

LAST NOTES: Fans of once-mediocre, now-just-downright-pathetic southern rock bands will be extremely pleased to learn that Molly Hatchet will grace our burg with their presence on Wednesday, August 12, at the New West, 4385 W. Ina Road. Buyer beware: These days the band's line-up features just one original member (guitarist Bobby Ingram, if it matters to anyone). Flirtin' with disaster, indeed. Advance tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the New West, or by calling 1-800-638-4253.

If you snoozed and loozed in getting tickets for this week's sold-out Squirrel Nut Zippers show, check out The New Morty Show--featured performers at the latest installment of Multi-Media Mondays at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The acclaimed San Francisco band is celebrating the release of Mortyfied!, their debut album on Tucson-based Slimstyle Records. (The event also doubles as a release party for Slimstyle's Swing This, Baby!, a swing compilation featured in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.)

As well as original tunes, the band's set list includes covers of Billy Idol, Metallica, and the Ramones, among others. Add swing lessons, martini specials, and the presence of your pals from KFMA to the festivities, and it should be quite an evening. Oh yeah, did I mention there are movies, too? It all goes down at 8 p.m. Monday, August 10, and admission is $5 at the door.

CAT NIP: We're still a little sketchy on the details, but a new downtown club called
7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., celebrates its grand opening with a raucous rumpus starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, August 8, with Al Foul and the Shakes.

This refurbished space near the former Café Magritte is rumored to be one handsome hangout, with wood floors, a shotgun-style bar with a stage at the end, and a balcony looking down on the scene from above the bar. Sounds perfect for next week's country insurgence by Wichita-based Split Lip Rayfield. We don't have any phone number or show info (hope these cats find their tongue and get in touch with us real soon), so you'll just have to show up and take your chances.

--Stephen Seigel TW

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