By Team Backbeat
By Amber Taufen
By Jon Solomon
By Tom Murphy
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
Not in Volgograd, he's not.
For the (local) record.
Judge Roughneck's first CD--Rude One's Money Making Scheme, largely produced by bandmember Kyle Jones--is a first-rate package: The horns, which are such an important component of the combo's live sound, sound punchy and full-bodied, the rhythms percolate nicely, and Jonez veteran Byron Shaw is in fine voice. With such fine talents on hand, it's too bad that some of the material (like "Feelin Alright," "Goombop" and "A Toast to You") isn't up to their standards. But "Kaveh's Ska Suit" fits perfectly, "Hot!" truly is, "Angry Youth" and "Rude One" make for a killer combination, and "See Ya" snaps like a wet towel wielded by experts. Ouch (available in area record stores). Michael Layer, lead vocalist for Westminster's Bodragaz, says his group can be best defined as "Styx for the Nineties." Given this warning, I approached the outfit's self-titled CD with considerable trepidation--and my fears were well-founded. After listening to ditties such as "Is There a Chance," "Strange Fascination" and "Fate of the Winter," which includes the timeless lyrics "Like dust in the wind/I've blown away," I can say without fear of contradiction that Layer's description was accurate. Kansas references notwithstanding (Bodragaz, P.O. Box 6, Westminster 80030).
Alone We Stand, a CD by No One Man, is dedicated to the memory of bandmember Harry Bruckner, a longtime Colorado music scenester who died on Christmas Eve last year. The music, written mainly by guitarist/vocalist Michael McGuffey, is stuck in the Seventies: "Gettin' Around," complete with a flute solo, is one of several ditties that strongly suggests the Marshall Tucker Band, while "Never Learned to Dance" recalls Dan Hicks in an unexpectedly somber mood. To say the least, this doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to do with music in 1997, but folks interested in traveling two decades back in time will find Alone We Stand well played and sincere (No One Man, 2701 West 32nd Avenue #36, Denver 80211). Zamboni Man, an EP credited to Luh-Nay (Lynnae Rome joined by the members of '76 Pinto), is a novelty platter aimed at you Avalanche boosters out there. Included for your edification is "Zamboni Chant" (it's a sendup of the Gregorian variety), "Zamboni Man," a sloppy rock throwaway, "Zamboni Man: Resurfaced," a silly dance remix of--surprise--"Zamboni Man," and two quasi-serious songs ("That Girl" and "My Stalker") that don't have anything to do with hockey and are so different from those that do that they seem to have escaped from another album. Huh? (Mrs. Johnson Music Inc., P.O. Box 1544, Boulder 80306-1544.)
There's enough echo on The Shakes, a CD by, yep, the Shakes to make the Grand Canyon jealous, but that's not wholly inappropriate to the act's chosen style--sugary pop a la the Raspberries and the Shoes. The playing, by drummer Dale DeCesare, bassist Mike Dockery and guitarist Jeff Harrison, is somewhat slatternly, but their singing is wispy and charming, and their feel for melodies is sure: All of these eleven tracks are capable of provoking humming, and "Gwendolyn," "Spinning Around" and "Dear John" practically demand it. If you've got a sweet tooth, this is the band for you (Shattered Records, P.O. Box 395, Littleton 80160). Intense is a moniker that recalls the heyday of corporate metal, and the five songs on the act's Pure cassette do as well. These guys have the sound down pat: whisper-to-a-scream vocals by Greg Jacyszyn, plodding rhythms courtesy of drummer Scott Hogg and bassist Rich Toler, and melodramatic melodies straight from the guitars and keyboards of Michael Lee. "Roll Into Dust" and "On the Inside" are reminiscent of the Scorpions sans accents, and "Superstition" is a version of the Stevie Wonder masterwork that would probably leave the composer wishing he were deaf, too (P.O. Box 21738, Denver 80221).
Buzz Bomber and the M-80's, a band that originated in San Francisco, relocated to these parts last year. The act's cassette, A Grenade in the Bandstand, is a rollicking goof that suggests the Beat Farmers on nitrous oxide. Aural gags like "The T.V. Ate My Brain," "Hot Dog on a Stick" and the mock-tragic "Little Dead Surfer Girl" are twinned with covers of "Mr. Grinch" and "Helter Skelter" that establish beyond doubt that these guys don't take themselves seriously in the slightest. Sure, it's one-dimensional, but on those days when you are, too, it might provide a grin or two (607-9021). Coming up next: Two, two, two recordings from the world of Peter Tonks, whose Cowtown project has kept Denverites off balance for more than a decade. Chewing the Cud (1985-1995) is a compilation of tracks culled from albums like The Only Denver Band That Matters, At Home on the Range and Shit Magnet. Some of the songs (e.g., "Messengers of Lucifer") seem like private jokes that go on for too long, while others (the anti-Reagan "Smile When You Sieg Heil!," for instance) are political screeds that work best as period pieces. But at least Cud is eccentric enough to keep your attention. By contrast, Alien, which Tonks says was "recorded in 95-degree heat in July '97 on the anniversary of Roswell," is a collection of improvised acoustic-guitar-and-harmonica rambles in which the star of the show delivers examples of his oddball wisdom in a conversational mumble. Unfortunately, it's often difficult to tell where one ditty ends and the next begins, since they all flow, slowly, out of the same stream of consciousness. (An exception is "Down Wit Dat," but mainly because it's marginally offensive.) The results will likely divert those on Tonks's wavelength and puzzle pretty much everyone else (Cowtown Productions, P.O. Box 102335, Denver 80250).
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