By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
The local album's rush.
How behind am I in getting to the local discs that have been stacking up around here? Only now have I gotten the chance to spin Miami to Vegas, by '76 Pinto, an act that's gone through significant changes since the offering's release. For what it's worth, the rock songs here, which are mainly the work of Chris DePinto and Jason Mannell, are of workmanlike variety: solid, compact, sincere and pretty darn typical. The guitars grind energetically on "Lousy Little Shit," and if the lyrics to cuts like "Raymond's Going Down" occasionally overreach, at least they're about something. You won't be stunned by the recording's originality, but neither will you be repelled by its banality (Broken Records, 301B Arapahoe, Boulder, CO 80302). On Reservation Blues, bluesman Ben Stevens continues in the tradition of his previous group, Bleecker Street. Producer Charles Sawtelle, who plays mandolin on "Grandfather's Banjo," gets a clean sound that Stevens and guests such as Kenny Passarelli and Tony Furtado use to their advantage; the playing is invariably crisp. But you gutbucket fans should know that the disc's tone is extremely light, as is Stevens's singing. (On a rendition of Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail," he sounds more like Livingston Taylor than Muddy Waters.) Pleasant, professional, pale (available in area record stores).
Sometimes after listening to an especially bizarre album submitted for review, even the most loquacious critic can find himself shaking his head and saying to himself, "What the hell was that?" The stack of cassettes I received from Andy Polt, who records under the moniker Acapulco, provoked just such a response. Polt has issued six (yes, six) volumes of a series dubbed Hard Choir Gospel, and I'm not exaggerating when I say the package as a whole is one of the strangest to ever cross my desk. On each album, Polt yelps out poem-songs accompanied by virtually nothing; there's occasional thumping in the background that sounds like either a hand rapping on a cardboard box or feet stomping against a hardwood floor. (Each cover is labeled "Bathroom Recordings," and I believe it.) Polt's themes are frequently dour--random titles include "Junkie's Hole" and "Box of Hate"--and his dedication to singing pretty much the same melody for each is simultaneously disturbing and heroic. Listening to the tapes is like burrowing into the head of the oddest ball to ever bounce down the court (Polt Records Underground, 845 Lincoln Street, Suite 101, Denver, CO 80203).
Heard after Polt's extravaganzas, anything would sound distressingly normal, so it's to be expected that Gone Fission's self-titled CD seems a bit staid by comparison. Unfortunately, the group, led by vocalist/keyboardist Brian Leven and bassist Greg Whitesides, exacerbates this effect by closely mimicking the most overplayed musical style in Colorado during this decade: post-Dead jamming. "Witness," "Lemon" and "Screaming in Pleasure" aren't inept, but they're so commonplace that it's difficult to care about them one way or the other (Gone Fission, P.O. Box 27513, Denver, CO 80227). Nobodaddy, from Greeley, surveys another crowded genre, skacore, on a four-song demo, but the players' wildness helps compensate for this drawback. "El Gato" trots out a bullfighter trumpet and a Sam the Sham Spanish countdown before kicking into high gear, and the live "I.H.O.P." skanks with aplomb. A frat party you can put in your back pocket (Dilapidated Shack of Fun, 1810 1/2 11th Avenue #1, Greeley, CO 80631).
In the July 24, 1997, edition of this column, L.K.G., one of the men behind the hardcore rap act Fuck Yo Punk Ass, didn't soft-pedal his beliefs: "Our style is political gangsta music," he explained. "We're anti-government, anti-police and anti-white." On the group's latest disc, DK Returns, L.K.G. and his partner, Governor Dog, aren't backing down. "T.N.W.T.G.D.F.", the lead track here, stands for "The (motherfucking) Nigga With the Goddamn Flow" and features the inspirational couplet "You come in my 'hood with your cops in sight/Fucking peckerwood, I'll have you pushing up violets." The twelve other cuts do their share of violence glorification and cracker-baiting, too, but what's most interesting about them is their music. The production is raw, spare and somewhat samey--too many songs share similar beats and arrangements. The melodies, though, are stronger than ever: "All in the Life of a G" and "Ain't No Fiends" are packed with hooks, and "DK Party," sparked by Suga-T's cameo, is a funky throwdown capable of inducing Caucasians to boogie to their own destruction ("DK" is shorthand for "devil killers"--as in white devil killers). A mixed bag--and a thoroughly nasty one (Hobo Records, P.O. Box 3034, Denver, CO 80205). Get Up/Get Off It, by the Freddi-Henchi Band, is chock-full of grooves, too, but whereas Fuck Yo Punk Ass has a political and social agenda, Freddi-Henchi frontmen Fred Gowdy and Marvin Graves are interested only in keeping the good times rolling--and roll they do. The CD is a flashback to the Seventies thanks to monster rhythms and practically nonstop danceability. Smooch ballads such as "It's Magic" are a bit drippy, but "Booty Check" and "Get Off the Funk" are shake-your-tailfeather thumpers that do their jobs and do them well (available in area record stores).