By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
Right now L.K.G. is shopping around for a national distributor in the hopes of increasing this impressive sales total. "We just want to represent Denver to the fullest," he says. "It's harder for us because we don't have as many resources, but there's just as much talent here as in New York or Los Angeles." His mission, though, is not simply motivated by a thirst for recognition and cash. "I feel eventually that there's going to be a civil war," he declares, "and we think people need to start preparing for it. That's what we're saying with Fuck Yo Punk Ass. Just be prepared."
Local music that makes the world go round--in a manner of speaking.
Live at the Bluebird Theater, a demo from Sketch, an act that moved to these parts from (surprise) California, features tight modern rock punctuated with crowd noises and exhortations from musicians that are typified by the lines "You guys are so fuckin' cool" and "This song is about getting crazy." There's nothing intrinsically wrong with ditties like "Down Syndrome," "Ga-Ga" and "Mother Fucker," and at least the three current Sketch-heads (Dave Allen, Steve Ames and Sam Parks) seem actively interested in entertainment. But you've heard this all before. The story's much the same for a more recent Sketch cassette, Goodness. "Stupid Love Song" demonstrates a keen grasp of demographics (Seinfeld is mentioned), while "Whatever They Said," "Buddha!" and "Incomplete" are melodic Nineties frat rock that will keep the suds flowing. Acceptable stuff, but no lives will be changed by it (KC Management, 157 Cumberland Gap, Nederland 80466). For his second CD, Flip Side, singer-songwriter Stewart Lewis is accompanied by plenty of pals, including Reed Foehl of Fool's Progress (Lewis's brother), Sherri Jackson and Patti Larkin, who contributes to the deliberate "Giant Zoo." Lewis is certainly a decent vocalist, and the playing is accomplished and the production refined. But the cut "Different" spells out the limitations of the disc simply by not being different enough. In short, the songs revisit familiar turf rather than striking out into unexplored territory. Flip Side will probably distract sensitive college sophomores, and a couple of the tracks, including a cover of Cliff Eberhardt's "Save Your Breath," stand out. But to say the least, you won't be blown away by the shock of the new (available in area record stores).
The latest EP from Noz is the best recording yet by these Denver eccentrics. Dan Grandbois's declamatory vocals work to good effect on "Daydream Alcoholic," a mock-funker with an indelible chorus, and "Just Collecting Bones," an upbeat little number about a bone collector with bone cancer who is buried in a place where kids will be able to find his bones. The disc is nothing to sniff at (Noz, 1829 South Grant Street, Denver 80210). City and Western, by Victoria F, is spare country built around the star of the show. Her voice is tough to get a handle on; it swoops and whoops all over songs such as "Wild Wild Wind" and "Put Out Again." But once you get acclimated to her wavery pitch, you'll probably find a tune or two to your liking. When she waxes sentimental, she's erratic--"If I Was a River" is strong, "Ex Catholic" merely long--but "(She Has) a Tendency to Lead" is articulate and heartfelt (322-4914).
A music critic has to know his own prejudices. Here's one of mine: a basic dislike of creamy pop folk. As a result, you'd anticipate that Watermelon, by Sweet Water Well, would be a tough sell for me, and that's proven to be the case. The singing on "Ghost Story," for example, is too pristine for my liking; a few cracks in the armor of Mike Nile's production would have made the passion for which this foursome shoots easier to discern. But even someone who has as much difficulty with this genre as do I would have to admit that the platter is not without its positive attributes. "Sitting on a Stone," "Zoeology" and "Brush and Tie" draw from the best efforts by Simon & Garfunkel (as opposed to "Amy's Sweater," which is inspired by their worst), and "The Ballad of Blue Jean" is actually loose-limbed, which is something I never thought these guys could be. I'm sure I won't be listening to Watermelon much, but I can understand why others might want to do so. And for me, that's something of a breakthrough (available at area record stores). Far easier for me to enjoy was You Just Squished Mr. Itchy Fish, by Gladhand. This quintet (Carrie Breeder, Mike Brown, John Getter, David Spurvey and Mark White) is nutty in all the right ways. "Have a George" epitomizes their overtly theatrical approach; just as you're expecting a track dominated by Spurvey's sputtering Pere Ubu singing, the rest of the band, led by Breeder on violin, explodes into motion and takes the song into an entirely new dimension. From the herky-jerky "C.C.C." to the comically martial "Rub the Fuzzy," Mr. Itchy Fish finds Gladhand in creative overdrive--and even though there are some dead spots, they're few and far between. Expect the unexpected (Gladhand, 146 West Ellsworth Avenue, #4, Denver 80223).