Local Calls

But again, toss out the comparisons when it comes to the sum. Too much variety -- "Purpal Pains" is a potent acoustic mood piece, richly textured and evocative beyond its lyrics, a shining moment of gentle splendor. "Turn the World Green" is not. It rocks, Alice Cooper meets Hendrix, rattling the walls with forceful melodics and earthquake guitar work. Great unforced and unpretentious contrasts, great music.

Songwriter, bass player, and singer Andre Dionne, who we should note has one of the strongest voices in the current musical milieu, reports that the band is adding a pair of female backup singers and occasional sax to live shows, and that a second pressing of Buy This Tape is forthcoming (the first 300 are about gone, damn if you local fans don't have good taste). And Psycho-Kitty, his friend and cover-art model, is livin' large, eating sushi and continuing to turn down offers from Cat Fancier magazine. Dionne also says that another release is in the works and that "the cover concept will be even funnier." We'll see. But we won't spend a lot of time looking at the cover. We'll be in too big a hurry to hear what Swyambu comes up with next.

The Bellefires
(demo cassette)

You've got to hand it to Louis Lowy. After playing bass and writing songs with Diane Ward -- first in Bootleg and then in the Wait -- for a half dozen years, only to see the latter band break up shortly after this publication named it Miami's best local rock-and-roll band in 1991, he wasted no time in hooking up with another highly regarded ensemble fronted by a passionate blond vocalist with a knockout voice. The Bellefires, and their fiery lead singer Valerie Campbell, have been a fixture on the original rock scene for more than a year. Guitarist Lisa Cattoretti was a member of Daisy Chain with Campbell, and drummer Henry Riesco is a reformed Strangler of Bombay.

Daisy Chain won the Snickers New Music Search in 1990, and Campbell was nominated for best female vocalist at the South Florida Rock Awards in 1990 and 1991 (Ward was the '91 winner). Their music has improved a lot since the early days; the Bellefires are tighter than ever, which, in turn, gives Campbell the confidence to cut loose, especially in a live setting. On tape, however, the immortal David Byrne line applies: This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around.

"New Faith" and "Beautiful World" register well at the moody, introspective end of the musical spectrum. Minor chords and atmospheric guitars rule. Campbell's voice cuts through the mix like a siren through a foggy night, solid and strong, yet every bit as melancholy and ethereal as the mist on which it's borne. Think Martha Davis and the Motels, only edgier and less radio-conscious. At times the effect is chilling, and at other times it sounds nebulous and murky, like Campbell and the band could have used a little more time to find a handle.

Still, the songwriting is interesting if not always compelling, and Campbell's vocals are captivating. Smolder, baby, smolder.

Brave Nude Behavior
(Shiva cassette)

WARNING: To avoid hazardous electrical shock do not operate near water. A new twist on Tipper stickers, that caveat should be pasted on the cover of this new five-song tape.

What's going on here is a powerful surge of crunchy rhythms ripping through the whole tape-a-real rhythmic stampede, layered with the slow-driven vocals of Joe Roland. Like the ever-changing guitar parts characteristic of Iron Maiden, guitarist Erik Kothern's varied chords and licks on "Meadowfly" draw you in faster than quicksand, minus the sinking feeling. Naked Rhythm mixes it up, so you're always looking forward to the next song, because you know, just know, it's going to sound different, all the way up to the closer, "Mind-N-the Way," which plays around with breaks and drum crescendos and is distinguished by its eerie-echo vocals. As with their previous effort, Your God Is Dead, teamwork prevails, all members contributing in measure. If being naked means being yourself, the name is perfect testament to what these four progressive rockers are all about. Some label should sign these guys. Soon.

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