By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Indeed, the nominating committee for last year's Westword Music Awards Showcase put Monkey Siren under the Reggae/Ska/ Worldbeat umbrella, and Westword readers and showcase attendees made the band the top vote-getter in that category--a situation that Leigh and company found simultaneously flattering and frustrating. Still, ditching the Monkey Siren tag wasn't an easy decision to make. "The reason it took us so long to change is because we thought our name recognition was helping us," Leigh admits. "But we have recently decided that it wasn't helping that much. We haven't had a problem outside the state, because people aren't all that familiar with what Monkey Siren used to sound like. But in Denver, we need to let people know that in many ways, this is a whole new band and a whole new sound. Monkey Siren has had a lot of great players in it, and we appreciate all their work over the years. But we've got to go where our heart is now."
Action Sound Superband begins spreading this message on Friday, April 4, at the Mercury Cafe; David Willey's new combo, Hamster Theatre, is also on the bill. Then, this summer, the act will embark on a tour of numerous states, including Texas, Arizona and points west. Leigh is excited at the prospect of this jaunt and of a new beginning--so much so that she's changed her handle, too. She was formerly known as Katrina Sibert, but she's dropped her surname in favor of her middle name, which she feels is easier for people to spell. Why make the switch now? "We're having an identity metamorphosis right now," she says. "And I guess it's spreading."
It's a local recording review-o-rama.
The String Cheese Incident is not your standard bluegrass band: The disc Born on the Wrong Planet finds these lads using finger-picking in a Deadhead manner. The title cut will make all of the neo-hippies among you nostalgic for a time before your births; "Land's End" (written by Tim O'Brien) is transformed into a spacey jam; and "Bigger Isn't Better" grooves in the expected manner. Fortunately, however, there are other sides to the group: "The Remington Ride" is a worthy banjo showcase, while "Elvis' Wild Ride" includes fine didgeridoo-playing by Jamie Janover. Some tunes obey stereotypes; others bust them. Guess which ones I liked best (available in area record stores). The Incident also contributes to More Than Mountains, a two-disc compilation issued by W.A.R.?; it's intended to benefit local conservation efforts. Folks who pick up a lot of local CDs may not be wowed by the selection: Cuts by Acoustic Junction, Sponge Kingdom, Durt, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Karen Capaldi and others are taken from CDs issued under their names. But there are a few rarities, including "Overthrow," a previously unreleased (and very Sting-y) offering by the Samples; "Time and Time," a newly available lite-reggae effort by Sherri Jackson; and a couple of obscurities by the Winebottles. The overall vibe is definitely in the "Summer of Love, Part II" mode, meaning that it represents only a narrow range of Colorado music. For anyone who likes only a narrow range of Colorado music, though, it's a decent sampler (available in area record stores).
The Alleygators have featured many lineups over the years, and like the rest, the one that made Mojo Alley features a single constant: guitarist/ vocalist David Booker. He's the master of ceremonies, keeping everyone happy throughout cuts with titles like "Return of the Swamp Witch," "Cheatin' Wimmen" and "You're Blowin' It." It's all rather silly, but in a good way--and saxophonist Sonny Gunn definitely knows his way around a reed. Enjoy (Indiego Promotions, 355-3132). The latest from Superstar DJ Keoki, who moved to our fair city in mid-1996, is The Transatlantic Move, a compilation released to commemorate a tony dance party thrown in the Bahamas for what a Moonshine Records press release describes as the "creme de la creme of the European dance community." Keoki contributed the final track, some sci-fi beeping and four-on-the-floor pounding called "Magic," and served as mixer for the rest of the album, which includes contributions from Doc Martin, Cirrus, Electric Skychurch and more. The majority of acts operate in the house-music arena, but there's enough variety to keep the project from seeming monotonous. ("Positive Education," a spare, percussive track from Slam, is perhaps the most left-field entry present.) It's better for dancing than listening, so shake it, baby (available in area record stores). On Crazy, his new cassette, D-Bone displays an understanding of funk, but the unbelievably lo-fi production prevents him from capturing its essence. The biggest problem is the singing, which is too self-conscious and uptight. "Cassini's Division" sports a fine groove, and "Pluto" is no dog. Still, for an album called Crazy, the results are overly sane (D-Bone, 430 East Mineral Court, Littleton 80122).
Like a number of other folks who've sent me demos of late, Denver singer-songwriter Jeff Wahl failed to disclose the names of his songs--never a good idea when something's being submitted for review. So pardon me if I sound vague when I say that the opening number exudes a Tim Buckley feel, while the second moves along deliberately on the back of a modest strum. Beyond that, there's not much more I can say. Relieved, aren't you? (Jeff Wahl, 1414 Milwaukee #5, Denver 80206.) Richard Allen is a little less stingy with information: His three-song demo, titled Richard Allen's One-man Band, is chockablock with details. He's a solo performer who's more multi-faceted than most; live, he simultaneously sings, plays guitar, plays bass pedals and operates a drum machine. The results are awfully Gary Numan-esque at times--the tempos of "California," "No One Is on This Road" and "Hanged Man" are a bit samey, as is Allen's delivery. Nonetheless, the performer should be given credit for coming up with a unique way in which to present his work. If he applies the same creativity to his music, perhaps it will improve as well (970-351-0841).