By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
And speaking of local recordings, here's a boatload of them.
Chicago Skinny is a Denver blues quartet with a standard-issue demo that shares its handle with the group. Steve Chapek, Scott Johnson, Paul Hildebrandt and Loe LaDell can play, and they treat covers like "I'm Sorry" and "Two Time My Lovin'" with as much respect as they pay to a pair of originals, "She's Fine" and "Postman, Postman." However, surprises are few and far between. Generic bar-band music (2128 East 12th Avenue, Denver 80206). The Flow, from (I think) Fort Collins, specializes in college rock of the Gin Blossoms stripe. Its CD, Inside Out, overflows with unobtrusive acoustic strumming, lackadaisical tempos and earnest vocals by Scott Ladek, who favors coming-of-age couplets like "Looking in the mirror, I see a boy/Who's turned to a man right now" (from "Inside Out"). It's well-played, but after hearing minor variations on this style for years, I have to admit that it puts me to sleep faster than a fistful of sleeping pills. For undergraduates only (Indiego Promotions, 800-355-3132). Filmstrip's latest single, "Hymn"/"Grace," anticipates a CD due later this year. The former is an edgy industrial excursion, and the latter sports a deliberate, almost-Eastern flavor. They can be found on so-called "red tapes" that the band has been giving away for free. Call 782-9067 to find out if there are any left.
The indefatigable David Booker, known for his work with Captain and the Red-Hot Flames and the Alleygators, does that solo thing on Six Pairs of Bloomers, a cassette release on which he sticks to the acoustic format. The lead track, "Good Evenin' Everybody," kicks off the package with just the right dash of showmanship, and it's followed by numerous charmers, including the not-as-rude-as-it-sounds "Shoot My Baby" and a bluesy rendition of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." No revelations here, but plenty of solid music played clean and true (758-4819). Another never-say-die local is Colorado Springs's Mark Junglen, whose band, Former Fetus, checks in with Former Fetus 4: A Rock Opera. Briefly explaining the opus's plot is all but impossible: Suffice it to say that it involves a fetus who finds both tragedy and triumph outside the womb. But even if you don't have a clue as to what Junglen's trying to say with his tale, you'll likely be impressed by his music, a passionate, driving take on hard rock/post-punk. "I'm Free" and "Under the Bridge" sound a bit familiar, but they're raucous enough to compensate, and "I'm a Mom" captures hysteria so well that you're tempted to call up Junglen after the number's conclusion to make sure he's okay. Idiosyncratic but impressive (Big Ball Records, P.O. Box 1949, Colorado Springs 80901-1949).
The Denver-based Tommy Bolin Archives has been putting out Bolin-related product for a couple of years now, and the organization's obsessiveness is obvious on Zephyr: Live, a CD that captures a much-bootlegged performance that took place at Art's Bar & Grill, a Boulder nightspot, in 1973. The beautifully designed booklet gives you loads of information about the combo, and fanciers of Bolin's bluesy runs will be thrilled by the lengthy workouts on "Cross the River," "Somebody Listen," "The Creator Has a Master Plan" and "Hard Chargin' Woman." The Janis Joplin-like vocals of Candy Givens are often buried in fuzztone, but listeners should still be able to get a sense of this outfit's indulgent, jam-happy approach (available in area record stores). Cab driver/singer-songwriter Baggs Patrick wants you to laugh at him--or at least at his music, which values humor above all else. Circus in My Head, his latest long-player, can't be accused of subtlety: "Bein' Poor Sucks," "Please Don't Take My Penis (When You Go)" and "Wet Sloppy Kisses (The Cindy Crawford Song)" spew jokes at a rapid rate, and Patrick's affected delivery underlines the gags in a manner that's too obvious for my taste. I preferred the clever "Speaking in Suzanne" and "Heart of Mine," in which Patrick seems within spitting distance of sincerity. That's a new bag worth exploring (1445 South Cherry Street, Denver 80222).
The self-titled disc by the aforementioned Opie Gone Bad, issued by Denver-based Celsius Records, is nothing if not professional: The production, by bandmembers Kirwan Brown and Randy Chavez, is uncommonly crisp, nicely capturing the appeal of their playing and the accessible singing of Jacob Schroeder IV. As for the music itself, it sticks like Elmer's to a pale but funky groove that should appeal to you Herman's Hideaway habitues. The pairing of "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Livin' for the City" was a bad idea, but tailfeather-shakers such as "Whereyouwannabe," "Sellin' Myself," "Late for Dinner" and especially the aggressively brainless "Could We Please Have Sex?" are disposable party music for the Nineties (available in area record stores). On Journey, its three-song cassette, Concentrated Evil puts distorted guitar to R&B beats à la Rage Against the Machine. This will not be confused with the freshest approach to popular music to come down the pike this decade, and "The Jazz Thing," on the tape's flip side, meanders more than it motors. But "Journey" and "Duhn Duhn" are aggressive enough to make them decent time-passers (Concentrated Evil, P.O. Box 441322, Aurora 80044).