By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
For proof that Europeans tend to respect and treasure rockabilly more than Americans do, witness that Stranger Things, by High Noon, an Austin band that features Denver's Kevin Smith on upright bass, is available on Goofin' Records, located in Vantaa, Finland. Nonetheless, U.S. residents should find plenty to cherish on the CD, a nuts-and-bolts offering that will provide any hep cat with a rockin' good time. The singing of Shaun Young is wonderfully bona fide, and tunes such as "Slow Down Baby," "Call of the Honky-Tonk" and "Long Stretch of Highway" pay tribute to the past without falling headlong into mere nostalgia (Goofin' Records, P.O. Box 63, 01601, Vantaa, Finland). KBCO Studio C: Retrospective pulls together what station types feel are the finest in-studio sessions issued on six previous volumes of the series. Your personal tastes will determine if you agree with their choices. As for me, I liked "If I Had a Million Dollars," by Barenaked Ladies, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," by Richard Thompson and, to my surprise, "Happy Phantoms," by Tori Amos; and I was horrified by submissions by James Taylor, the Moody Blues, the Dave Matthews Band and most of the rest. Wouldn't you know it (available in area record stores).
Living at the Bottom of the Sea, by the Christines, should keep fans of the group warm after the players relocate to San Francisco, as they are set to do in the not-too-distant future. Well-recorded by Jerry Jerome and the band's Mike Kirschmann, the long-player is filled with somewhat sugary musical beds on which are laid ringing guitars, romantic lyrics and Kirschmann's attractive keening. I particularly liked the droney "In Your Space," the stimulatingly devotional "Teenage Makeout Session" and the succinct, catchy "The Day Before." Sea shows why the boys will be missed (available in area record stores). The moniker Upper Strata sounds like it should be applied to a group; however, this particular act consists mainly of a Colorado Springs singer-songwriter named Johnny Favorite who, on Restless to Ruin, makes an okay showing for himself. Because the platter is dominated by voice and guitar, it has a monochromatic quality to it; a little more variety would have been appreciated. But the minor-key melodicism that marks "Apart," "Less Than a Man" and most of these twelve offerings blends well with Favorite's clear voice and morose sentiments. Folk for people who like knowing that someone out there feels worse than they do (Attic Records, P.O. Box 1978, Colorado Springs 80901).
Finally, a vocalist who calls herself Ingrid offers up "Christmas Once More," a gloppy, Celine Dion-esque stab at creating a seasonal standard; she declares that she hasn't asked Santa for anything since he gave a certain hunk to her. I'm not so easily satisfied; I'd like the Man in Red to give me a better Christmas song than this one (904-0446).
Attention, singer-songwriters. A number of Diedrich Coffeehouses around the city are giving troubadors a guaranteed sum to play there, as opposed to offering only tip money. Call Andrea Kennedy at 904-9941 to learn more.
On a more high-tech note, Jukebox, a regular feature of Westword online (see the address at the bottom of this column), sports an actual theme this week: Each item on display concerns that high point of twentieth-century art, Starsky and Hutch. View vintage Starsky and Hutch action figures, screen an embarrassing clip from a movie directed by Starsky himself (Paul Michael Glaser), hear the warblings of David Soul, answer a trivia question about the show's theme song (written by Mission: Impossible composer Lalo Schifrin) and win free CDs straight from my reject drawer. By the time you're done, your sideburns will have grown a full inch.
Or maybe not. On Thursday, December 5, Spearhead, fronted by hip-hop genius Michael Franti, begins its tour of Colorado at the Boulder Theater, and Evie's Edge experiences a close shave at Cricket on the Hill. On Friday, December 6, Chitlin provides good eats at 'Round Midnight, and Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners wash ashore at the Bluebird Theater. (The band also appears the next night at the Fox Theatre.) On Saturday, December 7, My Blind Alley finds Soapy Smith's; SNFU is alphabetized at the Snake Pit, 608 E. 13th Ave.; Patrick Ball has one at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl; Porno for Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins appears at the grand opening of a new Rupp's Drums location, at 2045 S. Holly; and Runaway joins Michelle Theall at the Wildflower Theatre in Lyons (call 449-6007 for more information). And on Sunday, December 8, Less Than Jake joins Bruce Lee at the Fox. No, not that Bruce Lee.
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword. com