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PRETENTIOUS PRINCESS

"With friends like these, who needs enemas?" ask two Chicago-via-Massachusetts boys, and we sheepishly shrink away from the question, for we have no need for friends nor enemas today, no matter how hard our colon is crying.

These two gents, who call themselves Princess when they make music together, seek not only to make us dance to their ridiculous but courageous attempts at hip-hop (despite our left-brain naysaying; bless our hips for caving in!), but also to piss us off via eardrum-puncturing noise assaults, bore us with electronic switch-flippery, kick up nostalgia by way of Eno-funk cloning devices, and confuse us with tire-puncturing detours down roads made of broken banjo strings and crashing-wave field recordings.

On their self-titled debut album (2004, Tony Chaos) they title a throwaway ambient recording "Dylan," while "Springsteen" is basically a bastardized snippet (51 seconds, if you're taking notes) of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" performed on banjo, bass and drums. "Dusty" may actually affect you and hit your heart, even after you've already dismissed these pranksters as post-post-ironic bullshit merchants (but in a charming way). "She doesn't believe in love anymore" sung this prettily--earnestly, even--is pretty hard to resist, after all.

Later, on "Promised Land"--which begins as something like indie-gospel--they interrupt a Paisley Underground psychedelic guitar/noise freakout with a pastiche of not-quite-Dixieland horns, backwards tapes of something or other, and synth squalls, leading into yet another primitive-beat vs. quick-flow rap vs. guitar squall showdown; then it becomes a slack-rock campfire ditty with more guttural vocal emanations than words (stoner scat, if you will), and then--after 11 minutes of shapeshifting--it's finally over. And that's when you lean over and hit play again, to try to figure out what the hell you just heard.

This album is confusing, joyous, enraging, cathartic. Its smart spots make you wish Princess would just shrug off their self-consciously arty selves (and the inherent pretentiousness that comes with it) and deliver the album of which they seem capable. Until then, you'll just have to put up with this often-rewarding mess.

Princess perform at an early all-ages show along with locals 50 Cent Nose (including Dawn and Kee Copps of Sugarbush) and Bark Bark Bark, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5, at ITL coffee shop, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Cover is $5. For more information, call 624-4411.


BLOG BELOVEDS

Some of our fave blogs have been raving recently about how great Beep Beep is, and we recently received their latest album, Business Casual (2004, Saddle Creek), in the mail, so we were able to play catch-up and decide for ourselves.

Opener "I Love the Secretary" manages a balance between electrodes-on-nuts vocal rants and a counterpoint semblance of melody, over a shrapnel-sharp barrage of guitar noise. "Oh No!" splits the difference between Devo quirk and Mean Reds spaziness (in other words, it's a bit too much). "Misuse Their Bodies" chimes like ancient U2 if they recorded for Sub Pop back in '92, Greg Dulli angst intact. You get the idea, right?

It's sorta interesting in recorded form, but more of a have-your-friend-play-it-for-ya kinda thing, not a rush-out-and-buy-it kinda thing--expertly executed, just not that engaging. Still, I'll bet these guys will earn their $4 cover charge this week, and then some: These songs were written to be played live.

Beep Beep performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Feb. 8. This all-ages early show begins at 8 p.m., with opening sets from the glorious La Cerca and Yak Dance. Four thin slices of greenery get you in. Questions will be answered by dialing 622-8848.


HEART FIVE TAKES A STAB

Once downtown Tucson's only full-time dance club, Heart-Five has decided to stick its toe into the unpredictable waters of booking live music. Whether they'll stick to local acts or court nationally touring bands remains to be seen, but according to a recent press release we received from the club's owner, Kevin Wilbur, they're committed enough to the idea that they've already built a stage in the club to accommodate live music. "We're expanding Heart-Five's focus to accommodate an increasingly diversified client base," Wilbur writes in the press release.

It's worth noting that Heart-Five's inaugural live show, featuring two excellent Tucson acts--Galactic Federation of Love and Tom Walbank--is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 8, as Tuesday is traditionally the slowest bar night in the downtown area. Consider it, then, an experiment of sorts; a stab at attracting a crowd on those nights when the club kids don't show up to dance. Still, ask any local booker, minnow or shark, and they'll tell you stories about safe bets that tanked and long shots that were an unexpected windfall; that Tucson is a maddeningly unpredictable market and therefore a risky one; that we currently have more venues than we can sometimes handle; that for possibly the first time in Tucson, there is actual competition to lure bands to one's venue.

Where Heart-Five will fall in such a competitive climate remains to be seen, but we certainly wish them the best in their endeavors.

The first rock show in ages at Heart-Five, 61 E. Congress St., takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Cover is five bucks as long as you're over 21. Questions? Call 903-0911.


ON THE BANDWAGON

One would expect the cranks at Pitchfork to sling daggers into any modern-day band that evokes the gentle-but-bleak tenor of Mazzy Star, Cowboy Junkies, or even the Carpenters; but one would be underestimating their unexpected appreciation and championing of that which is excellent, even if it's not necessarily so hip. Hem's second album Eveningland (2004, Rounder), which the notoriously snarky folks at Pitchfork bestowed with an impressive 8.1 rating (out of 10), is said to be a rather successful attempt to channel various styles of American music through a cinematic, folksy prism, and has attracted the hordes of attention and recognition that accompany such a feat.

Hem perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Feb. 4. David Mead and Dawn Landes open at 9:45 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and at the door. For further details call 798-1298.

Are you so punk rock that you don't give a fuck about the Super Bowl? Do you still call it slam-dancing instead of moshing? Be reminded that Punks Not Dead, Tucson-style, when the Absolute Fucking Saints share a bill with Swing Ding Amigos and the debut of Cancer Brides, a "supergroup of Tucson hardcore dinosaurs" according to AFS's Handsome Dick Teratoma, who informed us that FUCT vocalist Obie is the Brides' drummer. (We've got a feeling that the Tucson punk contingent will recognize the rest of the band as well.)

It all goes down at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Feb. 6. Cover is sure to be cheap, and you can call 622-3535 for further info.

The forces of Club Congress and Tucson Roller Derby team up once again this week for a night of ruthless country and blues performed in a style informed by punk rock--and best of all, the proceeds go to the Red Cross. Can you say "Amen"? Sure you can, but save it for a rare performance from Phoenix rockabilly-country-rig rock vets Flathead, the heavy, bloozy rock grooves of Lovemound, the irrepressibly Cash-tastic songs of Al Foul and the always unpredictable song selections of the great Al Perry.

Donate the requested $5 and immerse yourself in the funnery at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. That number is 622-8848.

One more cheap local show you should attend: Molehill Orkestrah, Galactic Federation of Love and the Fashionistas at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Feb. 5. $5. 798-1298.

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