By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Those local reviews just keep coming.
Available on Denver's Fahrenheit Records is Mirror Image, from Images, a four-piece that operates in the contemporary-jazz arena. That means that Bob Rebholz and his sidemen concentrate on soothing sounds that no one will confuse with the work of Ornette Coleman. The disc includes lots of affable, mid-tempo stuff (like "Doin' Just Fine") that resembles TV theme songs by super-hack Mike Post. Those of you who like that kind of "art" should place your orders now (Fahrenheit Records, 2170 South Parker Road, #115, Denver 80231). Dead World's Thanatos Descends, put together by recent Westword profile Jonathan Canady ("World of the Living Dead," November 6), is utterly, uncompromisingly bleak. "Warhammer" and "The Scourge" call to mind standard-issue death metal, but Canady isn't content to hew too closely to the style; on "Thanatos I," he leaps into pure industrial racket--is that a speed saw whining throughout it?--while "Thanatos II" subtly uses electronic accoutrements that take on a more lethal character during subsequent experiments. The brave among you will find much of this fascinating (Malsonus Sonic Warfare Technology Systems, P.O. Box 18193, Denver 80218).
On the disc Jesus Satan Buddha Voodoo, Filmstrip eschews the bass-guitar-drums setup in favor of a heavily synthesized sound that harks back to the days when Bauhaus ruled the black-lipstick set. Pop moments such as "Sunday" aren't terribly convincing; the combo, led by Brendan K. Russell, is at its best when it goes for the gloom. "Stains on Silk," "Circle Dance" and "Fry (Alice D.)" are appropriately atmospheric, and while some will dub them throwbacks, at least they don't sound anything like Pearl Jam (available in area record stores). The new Dexter Grove CD, 420, sports an illustration of unclad hippies dancing ecstatically to the sounds of guitars and bongos; for their parts, bandmembers Steve Drizos and Charley Orlando describe what they do as "aggressive acid-folk music." I'm guessing that you, dear reader, could probably finish writing this review for me--but just to go through the motions, the results resemble the music that folks used to play in parking lots prior to Grateful Dead concerts. Which is all fine and dandy: A lot of Dead ticketholders seemed to like it--and they'll probably like this, too. And those of you who won't? You should keep eating mushrooms until you change your minds (499-3933). The Receders are a cover band, pure and simple, but one with pretty decent taste: Among the offerings on their self-titled demo tape are Stevie Wonder's "I Wish," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," performed in a manner sure to make you thirsty. Beyond that, well, they're a cover band, pure and simple (922-8991).
The self-titled disc by Satellite bears a 1995 copyright but only recently made its way to me. Although the band is based in Tempe, Arizona, the disc was recorded at studios in Denver and Boulder--so it's only appropriate that the results sound like a mix between the Gin Blossoms and Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Ashbrook has a deep, throaty voice, a bluesy soloing style and a way with lyrics that's a little too familiar (reference "If only one road leads to heaven/That leaves many roads to hell," from "10,000 Henchmen"). Aficionados of the aforementioned combos may find "I Don't Mind," "Watch You Through Your Window" and "I Know I'm Right" to their taste. Then again, since they've no doubt already got discs by the Blossoms and the Monsters, they're just as likely to find Satellite superfluous (available in area record stores). The Crisman Quintet has been around for a decade now, and during that time it's provided Colorado jazz buffs with music that splits the differences between old-school and new-school influences. So, too, does the combo's latest disc, Jim Jam. The opening track, a Drew Morell original called "O! Thelonius," offers an appropriate tribute to Monk even though the title misspells his name (it's actually "Thelonious"); "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," a salute to the children's book of the same name, is childlike without being childish; and "Happy Song" moves to a bouncy Caribbean rhythm. A few of the cuts here (most notably, "Where's Lisa") tend to evaporate on your CD player, but the album as a whole makes for enjoyable, occasionally enriching listening (available in area record stores).
On Moodswing, the Czars (lauded in the November 14 profile "Mood Swingers") use subtlety to great effect. Lead singer John Grant's voice is delicate and spectral, drifting over spare, evocative soundscapes. No, cuts such as "O" and the Gene Pitney-esque "Cold" don't rock, and even "The Dark Sky," a venture into Jim Morrison territory, wouldn't be considered a scorcher by anyone who's heard a Doors song. But thanks to the atmosphere (so thick you could carve it like a ham) and the unswaying confidence of the players involved, Moodswing captivates from start to finish. How many tapes can you say that about? (615-5022).
Kerry and Ashton, the KBCO morning team, phoned me up the other day to tout their station's toy drive (call 444-5600 for more details) and a sold-out Saturday, December 21, show at the Fox Theatre featuring John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin. Then, after lauding me for including them in a list of the ten worst DJ teams in town published earlier this year (apparently because even they know they suck), they casually hung up on me. I should have been pissed off, but given the dullness of the conversation, the call's end came as blessed relief.