By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Beer, long the dominant corporate force, boozewise, in the music biz (Miller network, Bud sponsorships, et cetera) now faces a challenge from distilled spirits of Soviet heritage. Consider: A while back we told you the backstage details (citrus-tinged vodka and yummy food) of the Tanqueray Rocks Talent Contest's Southeast regional competition. The eventual national winner was Matt Sevier and Souls on Parole (from Philadelphia). Tanqueray has compiled a CD featuring two cuts by each of the five finalists. It'll cost only $4.99, with three dollars of that going to fund leukemia, cancer, and AIDS research. Tentative release date is December 7. Already on the market is a new CD compilation from Stolichnaya and an accompanying live-show blitz going on even now and into December at South Florida clubs. Stolar Tracks Vol. 1 features a jigger of everything from XTC to Arrested Development to the Pooh Sticks, including flavor-of-the-week outfits such as EMF and cool gangs such as Screaming Trees (in town this week, coincidentally, with Alice in Chains and Gruntruck at the Edge on Friday). Stolar Nights is bringing Roach Thompson Blues Band and Plastic Nude Martini (how fitting is that?) to the area masses.
What you really only need in this life to survive: you must eat, drink water, eliminate body waste, sleep, and breathe. Other than that, there's nothing you have to do but die. The food the stores sell you is rotten poison, the water's full of lead and mercury, the air stinks. "Now you're learning how to feel/Still you think it isn't real," sings Michael Kennedy in "Alibi," from Rooster Head's new album, Barnyard Delights, the group's third long player. If you're not depressed in this world so full of evil and wrongness, you're either dead or really stupid. Good for you if it's the latter, 'cause it hurts to know. Do other people examine the moment -- grasp the happy time and rationalize each breath taken, taking all the fun out of fun? Or do other people just go through the motions of life? Am I on drugs? "Of course I'm fucking depressed," Kennedy says. "Sometimes I know why van Gogh did himself in. But I'm an idealist, for the sake of art anyway. The power plays, the bullshit, I don't care." Kennedy cares all right, about the important things, about the emotions and twists and mindwarps and mindfucks -- grasping the sad moments and capturing them, distorting them, changing reality. You can hear it all over any one of Rooster Head's releases. The songs are not necessarily cynical or sardonic or goofing. This band -- and it's a real band now, with drummer Mike Vullo and bassist Dave Cook firmly established as the rhythm section -- operates on another level. I could tell you all about all the songs on the album, and maybe sometime I will, but you should really hear it for yourself. Just note that the diversity is almost as compelling as the actual music. Also note that Pete Moss is back in the band (maybe it was all a publicity stunt), and those reviews saying that the production values on this album are rough should be ignored. That comes from high bias -- it was recorded at L-7, so it's going to be jaggy. The production values (courtesy Bob Wlos, the band's pedal-steel guitarist and L-7 owner, along with engineer Mike "Bongo God" Hawn) are excellent. The booklet accompanying the CD ends with a letter from Warner Bros. written to Kennedy in February of 1991 regarding earlier material. "The work does not meet our needs," it states. Who cares? Rooster Head is the only sustenance anyone really needs. "We're already six songs into the next album," says Kennedy. There's your answer.
Be aware, be aware that scrape #6 is out, and it's the best issue ever. Ahem. The editor supreme of scrape, in a note, wants to know if I've heard the new Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union. Yes. It's brilliant. Yes. There's a line in a beautiful track called "Runaway Train" that goes, "I know what no one else knows." On the new R.E.M. (see below) there's a lyric that goes, "I have seen things that you will never see." I'm sure glad these rock stars have the Truth covered. Leaves more time for the rest of us to hit happy hour.
Don't forget the big WVUM-FM benefit this Friday at the Institute, with Holy Terrors, Day By The River, Second Coming, Cell 63, Straight Coffee For George, Amethyst, Drive Choir, Jazz Terrorists, and others. If you're not there between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., dial in 90.5 and check Mary Koma's new techno show, the first and only of its kind that we know of. The show doesn't have a name yet, so call 284-5786 and suggest one.
Cactus Cantina celebrates this week its third birthday with big shows by Country Joe McDonald (Friday) and blues-blue-guitarist Chris Smither (Saturday). So do we put little candles in the nachos, or what?
I was either here working or smashed out of mind on cheap vodka, so I missed the highly hyped Helmet's show at the Edge. Sure heard about it, though, the rumor being that the band broke up, firing lead singer Page Hamilton and auditioning replacements during their set. "The promoter flip-flopped a couple of dates down there," says spokesman Steve Martin. "But the band just played CMJ, and they're leaving right now for a European tour."
Due to do: Squeeze jamming tonight (Wednesday) with Big Love and Holy Terrors, next week the club features Plastic Nude Martini (glug, glug) with the Bellefires and on November 25 the awesome Zombie Birdhouse flies in from Tally. Mr. Twister lights up Sunday afternoons at the Princess Beach and takes over the pro blues jam each Monday this month at Cactina. And do not miss John Wesley Harding at Stephen Talkhouse next Tuesday.
Lie, lie, lie. Four. And now for winner Jason Block's review of Automatic for the People: "R.E.M. has, once again, seemed to please the faithful while venturing new plateaus. Automatic for the People, the Athens band's new album, is rich with Michael Stipe's dark anecdotes set to a dramatic mix of Peter Buck's patented picking guitar, and the sensational rhythm combo of Bill Berry and Mike Mills. Ex-Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, who produced the string arrangements, adds a powerfully mystic surge. `Monty Got a Raw Deal' features Buck's most definitive mandolin performance, while songs like `Star Me Kitten' and `Try Not to Breathe' exhort vintage Berry-Mills dramatic harmonies backing Stipe's morally whimsical lyrics. Once the epitome of college radio, R.E.M.'s sound has transcended to higher experiences. Automatic is a folky rock album depicting the troubles and despair of everyday life, yet they still make it feel like a trip to bountiful."
Butthorn of the week: Anyone who did not write in Ice-T for president. Rap maven, author, flack, freedom fighter, and cool chick Phyllis Pollack called from L.A. to note that she certainly did write in her friend Ice-T, and she wasn't joking. "I couldn't in good conscious vote for any of them," Pollack says. "I didn't want to go out Republican or Democrat or Independent, I wanted to go out Syndicate." Pollack fears that with Clinton-Gore in the White(man's) House, her phone will be tapped and her mail rifled through. She's not paranoid. Tipper the Tripper, she says, has previously threatened to sue her and once pulled strings to have her censored as co-guest on a popular teevy talk show.
The media circus: Cheech Marin, famous doper of yesteryear, competed in the recent celebrity-week Jeopardy! for charity. Anyone opposed to the decriminalization of reefer should note that Cheech easily won as overall champion (of fifteen competitors) with the high, so to speak, score of $12,500. (And Cheech is no Lionel Goldbart.)
Pet corner: Occasionally there are victories. The Publix in Wilton Manors not long ago canceled a planned panther exhibit after the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida explained to management that panthers were not put on this planet to do photo ops at grocery stores. The Miami International Book Fair will not have a petting zoo this year, but ARFF will have a booth -- that's progress. Rabbi Merle E. Singer of Temple Beth El in Boca Raton has agreed that traveling animal exhibits at the temple's nursery school are a bad idea for the kids as well as the animals. ARFF rescued at least 40 nonhuman Andrew victims. Many still need homes -- call 968-7622. The folks at ARFF seem to be doing a great job for the animals. I'll drink to that.