By Team Backbeat
By Amber Taufen
By Jon Solomon
By Tom Murphy
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
Such conservatism makes sense from a business standpoint; unless Schoenwetter shores up the Peak, and fast, a format switch could be in the offing. But it's fascinating to discover that what seems on the surface to be the safest tack--putting Selby, a longtime Peak asset, in charge of mornings--is viewed as a risk because Selby's a woman. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Another shovelful of local reviews.
Fat Mama, a Boulder collective, jams, but on its CD Mamatus, it does so in a manner that's more interesting than that of most of its kin. The octet, led by tenor saxophonist Brett Joseph, isn't all that interested in words. Rather, these guys let their instruments do the talking, and they do so persuasively. The feel of "Pimp Slap," "Lurkin'," "The New Rock Thing" and the rest recalls Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. (In other words, it's good fusion, not the type that makes your brain cells die at twice the normal rate.) The Mamas are not yet at a Medeski, Martin & Wood level; they frequently sound derivative, because they haven't fully developed a personal style. But with musicians this good, you get the feeling that it's only a matter of time (available in area record stores). As if to accentuate their youth, the four lads in Petrol Apathy decorate the liner of their CD, Heartless Society, with photos of themselves as children. In fact, none of them are of drinking age, but that doesn't stop them from churning out uptempo skacore and barking out clunky but earnest couplets. (Check "Darker skin or lighter hair seems to pull us apart/While oppressive actions seen on the news still don't affect our hearts," from the title cut.) The social consciousness helps differentiate these guys from the frighteningly large ska mob, but not much else does; on "Nation in Distress," "Hoola-core" and the rest, they're clearly working within the genre rather than trying to push it into virgin territory. Competent it is; innovative it's not (available in area record stores).
Singer-songwriter Sam Creek is a two-trick pony. On "Heaven in His Hat," which gives this disc its title, he comes on as mushy as Bobby Goldsboro remembering his "Honey," but the next ditty, "Datin' Satan," is an overt novelty that wouldn't sound out of place in a set of music programmed by Dr. Demento. Throughout the album, a listener whips back and forth between these frequently incompatible extremes--and Creek's dreck-friendly early-Seventies sensibility doesn't help matters much. Talk about being born at the wrong time (contact Frederick LaMar Theatrical Agency, P.O. Box 1192, Aurora 80040-1192). In June 1996, I noted in this space that a demo by cHUCK dA fONK Fishman was so reminiscent of the P-Funk thang that it was hard to listen to it without images of George Clinton flashing through your head. Well, ditto that for his CD The Squishy Declaration. From the reference to the Brides of Funkenstein in the lead track, "I Am So Smart," to the multi-part finale, "Discreetion," a Clinton-esque mindframe predominates (and I'm not talking about Bill). That said, there are certainly worse people to ape than Big George (see the previous blurb), and Fishman and an all-star crew that includes Sherri Jackson, members of Pepperment and actual P-Funk vet Billy Bass do their bits with aplomb. Let's hope Fishman's associates are just as impressive when he gets his own thing together (FonkSquish Productions, 1266 Lafayette Street #2, Denver 80218).
If you've got some kind of irrational dislike of female singer-songwriters, Wendy Woo's CD Angels in the Crowd won't suddenly make you see the error of your ways. But those of you with an open mind about this artistic pigeonhole will likely be gladdened by her talents. The playing throughout Angels is impeccable--bassists Chris Wright and Edwin Hurwitz deserve special note--and the production is as warm and inviting as Woo's singing, which works as well on ballads like "Lies" as it does on the more sensual "Outta Mind." A little more variety in mood would have been welcome; after a while, the proceedings seem a little too smooth for their own good. But that's a small price to pay for a disc this accomplished (available in area record stores). Threshold, by Wen Boley and Rebecca Hilton, collectively known as Twinflame, suggests a collection of mellow Tori Amos compositions as rendered by Mr. and Mrs. Yanni. "Threshold," which is introduced by almost a minute and a half of wind-like synthesizer whooshing, is typical of what follows: flighty trilling by Hilton, el sensitivo keyboards by Boley, and oodles of Hallmark-quality poetry ("I will fly across the heavens/I'll roam the earth/I'll search the whole wide universe/I will find you"). Some folks will probably love this--and my bet is that all of them collect Precious Moments figurines (Cricket Records, P.O. Box 1133, Castle Rock 80104).
On the CD Inconceivable, Moot, profiled last year in these pages ("Moot's Point," May 2, 1996), reveals itself to be an extremely ambitious ensemble: On the cheekily named "Mannequin Tits," the lyrics crooned by Jessica Rubio are laden with images of priests, shamans and magicians, the tempo jerks around crazily, and the various musicians, including Tom Mestnik, Bob Gumbrecht, Evan Anderson and guest fiddler Kerry Beeder, crash together like waves against a cliff. The result is dark, sincere, ostentatious and not for everyone; even people sympathetic to art-folk and poli-sci rock are apt to regard some passages here as unbearably pretentious. Nonetheless, there's enough passion in the mix to hold your attention and make you appreciate the effort (Moot, 1374 Ogden Street #4, Denver 80218). Dakota Blonde, a folk trio built around singer/guitarist/flutist Mary Huckins, won't rock your world; 'Til They Fade, the act's CD, moves at a gentle gait even on the humorous change of pace "The Ballad of Mary's Car." Produced by Jim Ratts and featuring the picking of the Dirt Band's John McEuen, the disc features delicate originals and covers split evenly between good (Greg Brown's "Early," Steve Earle's "My Old Friend the Blues") and scary (James Taylor's "Close Your Eyes" and "Down Under," by--gulp--Men at Work). For the most part, it's an inoffensive listen, but it'll fade into the wallpaper if you're not careful (Dakota Blonde, P.O. Box 36215, Denver 80236).
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