About the band's latest release, The Science of Things, singer/guitarist/songwriter/hunk Gavin Rossdale is quoted in the band's press kit as saying, "Most rock music today is so boring and predictable. I wanted us to make a record that could be as soft and intimate and open and bruised as possible, and then sometimes be totally full-on and hard." Okay, Gavin. Yeah, your band's grown tremendously over the years -- from a band that used to sound exactly like Nirvana to one that only occasionally does. And I couldn't agree more that most rock music today is boring and predictable, but the fact is, things have always been that way. One needs to do some exploring to find the good stuff out there -- and there's plenty of it -- but Bush albums surely aren't the best place to begin the search.
That said, let me commend the Bush boys on one thing: their unlikely and surprisingly tasteful selection of Moby, the antithesis of boring and predictable, for the opening act on the tour. The guy is a musical renaissance man, reinventing himself with nearly every album he releases. His early work (Moby, Instinct, 1992) was bombastic beat techno that predated the term "electronica" by a few years; he's done groundbreaking ambient work (Ambient, Instinct, 1993); he was one of the first artists to successfully merge the sensibilities of pop music with electronic beats (Everything Is Wrong, Elektra, 1995); he was one of the few electronica acts to fully embrace punk- and metal-tinged guitar on the uncharacteristically hard-edged Animal Rights (Elektra, 1997); and he's released a compilation of music he originally composed for film soundtracks, 1997's I Like To Score (Elektra, 1997).
But even with all of those accomplishments and the ensuing accolades, no one was quite prepared for last year's Play (V2), undoubtedly Moby's greatest work so far. Although sampling from unlikely sources has become pretty commonplace in recent years, never has technology sounded so warm as on Play, wherein Moby loops Alan Lomax field recordings of gospel, spirituals and folk-blues with his own vocals and hypnotic, body-movin' grooves. The album landed on virtually every year-end Top 10 poll, and Spin even named it the 20th best album of the '90s, which is quite a tribute to an album released at the decade's end.
So go see Bush if you must, but get there early to catch Moby take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24, at McKale Memorial Center, west of Campbell Avenue and north of Sixth Street on the UA campus. Tickets are $20 for UA Catcard holders, $22 for the public, available at the McKale box office and by phone at 621-CATS. For more information, call 621-5779.
LOST LOVE FOUND: Local blues fans will be proud to welcome recent Austin transplant Teddy Morgan to town. Along with his backing band The Pistolas, Morgan released two albums on Austin's prestigious Antone's Records imprint prior to last year's Lost Love and Highways, his first recording for the higher profile Hightone Records. Unlike a lot of modern-day prodigious guitarists -- which he certainly is -- Morgan is also a hell of a songwriter with a swaggeringly cocksure voice; in other words, the guy really is the complete package.
Lost Love finds him leaning a little closer to roots rock than his two bluesy previous releases, with an unmistakable touch of swampiness (à la Creedence Clearwater Revival) thrown in for good measure. And while he'll surely be taking to the highway from time to time, he doesn't have to worry about the lost love part of the equation anymore.
The reason Morgan moved to Tucson? Fittingly, he fell in love with one of its residents. He's getting married on Saturday, but before he does, he's playing a barn-burning celebratory gig at 10 p.m. Friday, April 21, at Bob's, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Opening the show is Morgan's Hightone labelmate and ex-Lonesome Stranger Randy Weeks. Admission is free. Call 733-6262 for details.
MARITAL MAGIC: Both individually and as a duo over the last 15 years, husband-and-wife team Sue Garner and Rick Brown have been responsible for quite a laundry list of bands with fervent cult followings: Fish & Roses, Les Batteries, The Shams, and most recently, Run On, whom no one seems to be able to describe without mentioning Yo La Tengo. On the duo's latest release, Still (Thrill Jockey), they've recorded under their God-given names, but the album could easily have been released under the Run On banner.
There's a little more experimentation than usual going on here, possibly due to the list of collaborators: Chris Stamey (the dB's), Doug McCombs (Tortoise, Eleventh Dream Day, Brokeback), and Tara Key (Antiedam), but the most remarkable thing about the record is how the songs -- whether it's the what-if-The Fall-were-a-creepy-lounge-jazz-band? feel of "Bomb Squad," or the not-un-Tortoise-like instrumental opener, "Synthbug," or the hypnotic cover of John Lennon's "It's So Hard" -- are guided by ambience. Garner's voice, which falls somewhere between Barbara Manning and Yo La's Georgia Hubley, is usually placed in front of a loose backdrop of a song, but it's the noises lurking in the background -- occasionally bordering on song-within-a-song -- that tend to really keep things interesting: it's the unnerving insertion of vibes and jaunty percussion in a sinister tune like "Short and Semi-Sweet," for example, that keeps Garner and Brown utterly unique after so many years.
Catch Sue Garner and Rick Brown along with the Stensa Jones Combo at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Cover is five bucks, and you can call 884-0874 for more info.
HILLBILLY HEYDEY: We tend to associate the various forms of hillbilly music with the rural American backwoods, but two bands coming our way this week aim to dispel that notion. Judging from the self-titled debut CD from Holland's Haystack Hi-Tones, at least one of 'em should do a pretty darn good job of convincing us.
If you hadn't told me the Hi-Tones were from Holland, I'd never have known, and that says a lot. The band has nothing to do with novelty value; if anything, they sound more authentically dated than a good deal of the American bands on the current roots circuit, obviously paying close attention to those Tennessee Ernie Ford and Carter Family records they grew up on.
Joining them this week is the Starliners, a rockabilly and country swing band from Australia who have garnered comparisons to the likes of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. Show starts at 9 p.m. Monday, April 24, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Five bucks gets you through the door, and you can direct any questions to 670-9202.