By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
Westturd '98, by Buzz Bomber and the M-80s (who called it quits in late October), is a needle aimed straight at the publication you're reading: The recording captures for posterity a show broadcast live by KRRF-AM/1280 (Ralph) on September 20--the night of the fourth annual Westword Music Awards Showcase (poor Buzz was not a nominee). The disc stands out for its lovely graphics (the Westword logo gets satirized) and its hideous production values. Buzz has got a swell sense of humor, as witnessed by his ludicrous version of the theme to The Banana Splits and "Beating Up My Best Friend," a rewrite of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" that targets Jerry Springer. But it's doubtful that most folks will stick around long enough to enjoy it, because this is the worst-sounding CD I've ever heard. Betcha Buzz takes that as a compliment (FUH-Q Records, 1820 15th Street, Suite C, Denver 80202). Nod66's demo--or Daemonstration, as it's called--doesn't sound much better than the Bomber's effort: In order to hear it, I had to turn up the volume on my boom box so loud that the band seemed to be accompanied by a nest of hissing vipers. As near as I could tell, the group specializes in strummy acoustic rock and throwback glam (like "Heroine Dreams," which nicks early David Bowie) that's okay without being much better than that. But given the tape's sonics, I can't really be sure (303-623-8161).
Cosmic Pond, a part of the Alley Records family, gets hippie-dippy on its self-titled CD. "Cosmic Healing," the opening track, goes on for nearly eight minutes and includes Jefferson Airplane harmonies, an overtly psychedelic guitar solo and lyrics like "In the night/The love light shining bright/Pick it up, man/Pass it around." Inhale at your own risk. The San Francisco-in-the-Sixties vibe works on occasion--"Dyin' to Love You" and "Elmo Mosquito" are hook-filled opuses that sound like the second coming of It's a Beautiful Day--and the fact that this particular shtick isn't being done to death these days provides a little paradoxical freshness. But Cosmic Pond's impressions are so precise (and so generally loopy) that I would have thought I was experiencing an acid flashback had I ever taken acid in the first place (the disc is available in area record stores). Blow Up the Spot, Volume One is a project tied to the Spot, an Denver urban-youth center about which you may have read in these pages. But the album isn't merely a good cause on disc, the equivalent of those inedible candy bars that students sell to raise funds for new soccer uniforms. Rather, it's a new-talent showcase in which some verifiably new talent participates. "Keep 'em Open," by Problemchild, is a hip-hop effort that works despite thin production, Leshay's "Forever Be My Love" is a showy smooch number, and BLK MSamERIKA's "Honey Coated" has a pleasantly seductive edge. If you buy the CD, do yourself a favor and actually listen to it (Inner Places Inc., 2100 Stout Street, Denver, CO 80205).
Westminster's Colorado Sound Recording Studios recently played host to Steve Miller, who recut portions of his Seventies smash "Fly Like an Eagle" for use in a campaign for the United States Postal Service. The result has got to be one of the most bizarre marriages of pop music and advertising ever--and that's saying something. After all, the lyrics of "Eagle" include a litany of social demands ("House the people/Living in the streets") and a hook line that urges listeners to "fly to the revolution." Now, let me ask you: Do people who work at post offices need any more reasons to revolt than they've already got?
At least they didn't use "Take the Money and Run." On Thursday, November 5, Immigrant Suns set at the Bug Performance Center; Phillip Walker strokes his ax at Brendan's; and the Robyn E. Band burrows into the Catacombs in Boulder--the first of half a dozen area gigs for the band during this month. On Friday, November 6, Joe Louis Walker performs material from his latest recording, the impressive Preacher and the President, at the Casino, and Joanne Shenandoah gets back to nature at Unity Church of Boulder. On Saturday, November 7, the Damn Shambles wreck the Lion's Lair. And on Tuesday, November 10, Tom Zingaro and the Reals play for the benefit of recently injured singer-songwriter Tony Achilles at the Mercury Cafe; Joe C. Wail's Gang, Dame's Rocket, Love 45 and Mad Bastard play for the benefit of Euphony magazine at Cricket on the Hill; Beth Quist & ishWish celebrate the release of a new CD at the Fox Theatre; Sphere, featuring saxophonist Gary Bartz and pianist Kenny Barron, appear in the round at the Mount Vernon Country Club; and the Queers, a Westword profile subject ("Queer Power," February 5), take over the Bluebird Theater, with the Mr. T Experience and the Parasites. If it feels good, do it.
Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com.