ROCK SHOCK: "There's been no good rock music released
since (enter year here)." How many times have you heard that
one, coming from some jack-off in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt? (Hold
the letters--I love Led Zeppelin as much as said jack-off.) It
just seems that so many people are stuck in the past, unwilling
to accept almost anything that has a current release date on it.
"Nothing good comes out anymore. Rock and roll is dead." Well, if your only exposure to current rock is MTV and commercial alternative radio, yeah, I'd probably draw the same conclusion. But the facts show that there's always great music being put out.
The '60s are primarily remembered for hippie culture, but the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, and The Who were spawned in the same era. The '70s? Sure disco and generic hard-rock bands are the first things to come to mind, but don't forget the Clash, Ramones, and Sex Pistols. Yeah, yeah--the '80s were all about crappy synth-pop, I know. But what about Devo, the Replacements, and Minutemen?
While these decades are remembered in the pop culture canon by what sold the most records (i.e. '70s = Saturday Night Fever soundtrack = disco), true music lovers remember and define these eras by the stuff that really mattered. In other words, will the '90s be remembered as the decade that gave us Hootie and the Blowfish and Celine Dion in 10 years' time? Maybe, but I'll be sure to save proper reverence for Pavement, Beck, and Guided By Voices once we cross that bridge to the 21st century.
Here's the point: If you wait around to be spoon-fed what people want you to hear, you're likely to end up with a lame, dated record collection. There's always a great new album by a great new band that nobody's ever heard of. If you care enough, you have to seek out the good stuff. But don't try to tell me there's nothing good coming out these days until you've heard the new albums by Neutral Milk Hotel and Calexico. Which brings us to this week's...
HOT PICK: Tucson will be graced this week with a triple bill of some of the most promising (if not well-known) new bands around today. The best-known of the three, Seattle's Harvey Danger, are headlining the show. Their "Flagpole Sitta" has become a ubiquitous tune on alternative radio as of late, one of those songs that's so damn catchy you almost don't want to hear it anymore because you don't want to walk around humming it to yourself for the next three days. The lyrics are smart, too, lambasting the often too-cool indie scenesters that the song is meant to appeal to. ("I wanna publish 'zines/And rage against machines...The agony and irony/They're killing me.")
In fact, their debut album, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, was originally released on the hip micro-indie label The Arena Rock Recording Company. When Seattle radio station KNDD (yes, the one featured on this season's Real World) added "Flagpole Sitta" to its rotation, other stations nationwide picked up on the song and the big offers started rolling in. The album was re-released on Slash, and the rest is history.
Playing the middle slot, the Bay Area's Creeper Lagoon have garnered more positive press for their debut album, I Become Small and Go, than just about any band in recent memory. Released on the Dust Brothers' Nickelbag Records imprint, the album boasts an impressive array of sounds and influences which are, in turn, corralled into a beautiful, seamless whole. Trippy beats, flutes, vibes, chiming washes of guitar, hi-fi, lo-fi, Bulgarian chants, an oxygen oscillator--they're all here, and miraculously, it all works. The live show should be most interesting, indeed.
Austin-based Spoon will kick things off, in support of their major label debut, A Series of Sneaks (Elektra). While they played a somewhat lackluster show at this year's South By Southwest festival (hopefully just a bad night), their albums are consistently engaging works which balance jagged, off-kilter riffs with a playful sense of melody.
Adventurous listeners should not miss this all-ages show, which takes place on Tuesday, September 29, at The Rock, 138 N. Park Ave. Tickets are $10 in advance. Call 629-9211 for more information.
LAST NOTES: First released in 1989, Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai's Canyon Trilogy has just been distinguished as the first gold record ever in the genre of Native American music. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) awards gold records to albums whose sales have surpassed the 500,000 mark. The achievement is particularly remarkable considering the fact that it was released by a small, independent label, Phoenix's Canyon Records Productions. Nakai will be presented with the coveted award at a solo performance at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 27, at UA Crowder Hall, in the Music Building. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the American Indian Scholarship fund. Tickets for the event are $20, and may be purchased at the UA Fine Arts Box Office, or by calling 621-1162.
If gritty gutbucket blues is your bag, you won't want to miss Magic Slim and The Teardrops this week. Considered by many to be the greatest living proponent of Mississippi blues, Slim got his start (and his name) from friend/mentor Magic Sam way back in 1947, and he's been busy perfecting his unique style ever since. Touring in support of their new album, Black Tornado, on Blind Pig Records, the band will hit town on Saturday, September 26, at Boondocks Lounge, 3360 N. First Ave. Showtime is 8 p.m., and advance tickets are $12, available at the club. Expect to pay $15 at the door. For more details, call 690-0991.
Local faves Malignus Youth will reunite for their first
show in over four years this week to celebrate the release of
Missa Brevis, their new CD featuring 23 previously unreleased
songs. You can pick up a copy of the disc for $10 at the show.
Opening bands for the event are Pathos, Mynd Bent,
and Shrunken Monkey Paw. The all-ages show hits the Rialto
Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September
26. Tickets are $8, and further info can be had by calling
Finally, a late addition to the week's events: Perhaps the only
rockabilly/bluegrass band to hail from Holland, the Hillbilly
Boogiemen, will grace the stage at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress
St., on Monday, September 28. Things get started around
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