Despite the nature of my chosen profession, I sometimes have a hard time with words -- both writing them and making them out clearly when I hear them in songs. Maybe that's why I like instrumentals so much. There's certainly no misinterpreting the raunchy sax blowing of Big Jay McNeely or the monster guitar twang of Dick Dale. Whatever the case, consider the following to be a formal apology to Miami's Los Canadians, whose really great song "Clarissa" I misquoted in a big way when I wrote about the band's Star Crunch EP in this space more than a month ago. Yes, the record comes with a lyric sheet. No, mine didn't. I helped myself to a free copy of the EP long before its covers and inserts were available, and now I'm paying the price. Such are the perils of interest and greed.
Anyway, here's another batch of new or recent local and regional tapes, singles, and CDs. If you want to send me something, address it to my attention, care of New Times, Box 011591, Miami, FL 33101. Needless to say, lyric sheets are both welcome and encouraged.
Shuttlecock, "Pulpit"/"Glory Bus" (Esync). Like country doofus Jerry Clower with a fetish for beat poetry, or a Southern preacher goofed on amphetamine and cough syrup, Shuttlecock ranter/guitarist Bill Mentzer can ramble with almost psychotic authority about what sounds to these ears like nothing much at all. The racket he creates with drummer Michael Steigman and bassist Will Trevor on this seven-inch slab ain't bad: Fat, distorted guitars collide with helter-skelter beats and paint-peeling blasts of sax (compliments of Ron Dziubla), while fidgety bass lines map out what I guess you could call melodies. It's an intriguing, nutty mess that has musical and conceptual links to mathematical indie-rockers from Breadwinner to Chavez. Fun as it is, it's not something I'd want to take with my morning coffee, although it would serve as a nice way to blow the rocks out of my head on a hungover afternoon.
Day by the River, 12-16-95 Georgia Theatre (No label). The sound of a second-stage H.O.R.D.E. band noodling away in a jam-band tribute to the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, and other improv icons of the pseudo-hippie generation. Actually, Day by the River is a Miami group that moved last year to the erstwhile hipster mecca of Athens, Georgia, where they're some kind of hot shit, if you can believe the press material that accompanies this tape, a nineteen-song yawner best described by the title of its last cut, "Endless."
MoodBoots, MoodBoots (F of A Records). There will come a time someday when the five members of Pearl Jam will have to pay for all the bombastic, submetal, gloom-and-doom conglomerations they've inspired. Their comeuppance? To be chained to a stereo and forced to listen to said conglomerations. All of them: the major-label stinkers from Stone Temple Pilots to Bush, and the self-released ruminations of every sad-eyed, pissed-off vocalist/guitarist with a notebook full of angst and an effects box full of fuzz, MoodBoots mastermind Roger Rimada among them. And then all will be a bit more right in the world.
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Acid Fist X, Welcome to Discordia (Neuralspace). Yipes, Acid Fist frontman Jonathan Wright is one unhappy pappy. And who can blame him? In one song his skin's getting burned by melting candle wax ("Wax"); in another he's screaming for dear life in a "Man Made Hell"; and in yet another he's haunted by the ghost of a suicide girlfriend named "Sonia." No doubt such unpleasantries can make a guy's life seem pretty lousy, but really, he should cheer up. I read somewhere recently that Spinal Tap is looking for material for its next album. I'm sure they'd go bonkers over this stuff.
Live Bait, Paper Man (Baytle Music). Twelve poorly recorded pop songs, most of them cut from the tear-soaked cloth of failed romance and failed poetry, by a Fort Lauderdale guy named Newell Bate. I swear I'm not trying to be mean, but words really can't describe the naivete of the execution here, nor the unknowingly warped observations in "That's My Dream," "Ain't It Strange" A hell, all of them. Still, after playing Paper Man a couple times, I got to thinking: Some official agency should be regulating the sale of home-studio recording equipment, as they do with firearms, explosives, and uranium. In the wrong hands a four-track can be a dangerous instrument.
Various Artists, da Boom: Florida's Finest World Beat (Reel Street). The subtitle is a whopper of a grand statement that's backed up nowhere on this state-spanning hodgepodge of synthetic reggae and tropical pop. They missed some obvious Miami choices: Where's Pepe Alva? Paquito Hechavarria? Nil Lara? Ayabonmbe? Koleksyon Kazak? Johnny Dread pops up with the not-bad "Hammerin'," but South Florida's better represented on da Boom by Man Called Scratch. His "Give Love Another Try" is a slice of reggae pop that works because the hip-hop beat beneath the scats and toasts slinks around like a summer groove incarnate -- a classic for the coming months of grueling humidity. Elsewhere you've got some hopelessly tinny and derivative cuts by Jacksonville's Edward Whitt, Jr., and what the producers consider Orlando's finest (DC and the Melvinites, Ronnie G., Caribbean Explosion, and Eskimo & Toddy-I among them), as well as Cornerstone, a vocalist from that great Florida city of Birmingham, England.