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Those local reviews just keep coming.
Available on Denver's Fahrenheit Records is Mirror Image, from Images, a four-piece that operates in the contemporary-jazz arena. That means that Bob Rebholz and his sidemen concentrate on soothing sounds that no one will confuse with the work of Ornette Coleman. The disc includes lots of affable, mid-tempo stuff (like "Doin' Just Fine") that resembles TV theme songs by super-hack Mike Post. Those of you who like that kind of "art" should place your orders now (Fahrenheit Records, 2170 South Parker Road, #115, Denver 80231). Dead World's Thanatos Descends, put together by recent Westword profile Jonathan Canady ("World of the Living Dead," November 6), is utterly, uncompromisingly bleak. "Warhammer" and "The Scourge" call to mind standard-issue death metal, but Canady isn't content to hew too closely to the style; on "Thanatos I," he leaps into pure industrial racket--is that a speed saw whining throughout it?--while "Thanatos II" subtly uses electronic accoutrements that take on a more lethal character during subsequent experiments. The brave among you will find much of this fascinating (Malsonus Sonic Warfare Technology Systems, P.O. Box 18193, Denver 80218).

On the disc Jesus Satan Buddha Voodoo, Filmstrip eschews the bass-guitar-drums setup in favor of a heavily synthesized sound that harks back to the days when Bauhaus ruled the black-lipstick set. Pop moments such as "Sunday" aren't terribly convincing; the combo, led by Brendan K. Russell, is at its best when it goes for the gloom. "Stains on Silk," "Circle Dance" and "Fry (Alice D.)" are appropriately atmospheric, and while some will dub them throwbacks, at least they don't sound anything like Pearl Jam (available in area record stores). The new Dexter Grove CD, 420, sports an illustration of unclad hippies dancing ecstatically to the sounds of guitars and bongos; for their parts, bandmembers Steve Drizos and Charley Orlando describe what they do as "aggressive acid-folk music." I'm guessing that you, dear reader, could probably finish writing this review for me--but just to go through the motions, the results resemble the music that folks used to play in parking lots prior to Grateful Dead concerts. Which is all fine and dandy: A lot of Dead ticketholders seemed to like it--and they'll probably like this, too. And those of you who won't? You should keep eating mushrooms until you change your minds (499-3933). The Receders are a cover band, pure and simple, but one with pretty decent taste: Among the offerings on their self-titled demo tape are Stevie Wonder's "I Wish," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," performed in a manner sure to make you thirsty. Beyond that, well, they're a cover band, pure and simple (922-8991).

The self-titled disc by Satellite bears a 1995 copyright but only recently made its way to me. Although the band is based in Tempe, Arizona, the disc was recorded at studios in Denver and Boulder--so it's only appropriate that the results sound like a mix between the Gin Blossoms and Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Ashbrook has a deep, throaty voice, a bluesy soloing style and a way with lyrics that's a little too familiar (reference "If only one road leads to heaven/That leaves many roads to hell," from "10,000 Henchmen"). Aficionados of the aforementioned combos may find "I Don't Mind," "Watch You Through Your Window" and "I Know I'm Right" to their taste. Then again, since they've no doubt already got discs by the Blossoms and the Monsters, they're just as likely to find Satellite superfluous (available in area record stores). The Crisman Quintet has been around for a decade now, and during that time it's provided Colorado jazz buffs with music that splits the differences between old-school and new-school influences. So, too, does the combo's latest disc, Jim Jam. The opening track, a Drew Morell original called "O! Thelonius," offers an appropriate tribute to Monk even though the title misspells his name (it's actually "Thelonious"); "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," a salute to the children's book of the same name, is childlike without being childish; and "Happy Song" moves to a bouncy Caribbean rhythm. A few of the cuts here (most notably, "Where's Lisa") tend to evaporate on your CD player, but the album as a whole makes for enjoyable, occasionally enriching listening (available in area record stores).

On Moodswing, the Czars (lauded in the November 14 profile "Mood Swingers") use subtlety to great effect. Lead singer John Grant's voice is delicate and spectral, drifting over spare, evocative soundscapes. No, cuts such as "O" and the Gene Pitney-esque "Cold" don't rock, and even "The Dark Sky," a venture into Jim Morrison territory, wouldn't be considered a scorcher by anyone who's heard a Doors song. But thanks to the atmosphere (so thick you could carve it like a ham) and the unswaying confidence of the players involved, Moodswing captivates from start to finish. How many tapes can you say that about? (615-5022).

Kerry and Ashton, the KBCO morning team, phoned me up the other day to tout their station's toy drive (call 444-5600 for more details) and a sold-out Saturday, December 21, show at the Fox Theatre featuring John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin. Then, after lauding me for including them in a list of the ten worst DJ teams in town published earlier this year (apparently because even they know they suck), they casually hung up on me. I should have been pissed off, but given the dullness of the conversation, the call's end came as blessed relief.

Electrolux's Mike Elkerton is your host for his annual Christmas benefit, Saturday, December 14, at Cricket on the Hill. (This year Elkerton says proceeds won't be going to the Roundup Fellowship, as has been the case in the past; rather, funds are earmarked for "the developmentally disabled friends of me--Mike Elkerton.") The lineup, which includes Denver Joe, MK Ultra, Fox Force Five, the Commerce City Rollers, New Country Boy, a reunited Ruby Hue and "a bagpiper," is staggering--and given the amount of drinking that's apt to take place among participants, "staggering" is a good way to put it. Guaranteed to be more interesting than a telephone conversation with Kerry and Ashton.

Hey--former president Jimmy Carter is set to appear at the next E-Town taping, scheduled for Sunday, December 15. No word as to whether Amy's dad will be kicking out the jams--but here's hoping.

The following performers have never been elected president. On Thursday, December 12, Sister 7 engages in sibling rivalry at the Fox, with Chief Broom; the Russian Dragon Band, featuring Art Lande, celebrates the release of its new CD, When Kentucky Was Indiana, at Vartan Jazz; Durt collects at Market 41; and However... explains the proper use of ellipses at Wazoo's. On Friday, December 13, Bad Bax makes good at the Skyline Cafe; and Michelle and the Book of Runes opens at Franklin's. On Saturday, December 14, Westword contributor John Jesitus is among those participating in a program called "Songwriters Under Cover" at Penny Lane. On Sunday, December 15, Ben Stevens travels to Old Chicago, 1415 Market, and R. Carlos Nakai joins William Eaton and Will Clipman at Unity of Boulder Church (call 443-0083 to learn more). On Tuesday, December 17, David Syme, touted as "the human jukebox," plays for the first of two nights at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, at 1750 Welton; Space Team Electra explores the cosmos at the Bluebird Theater as part of a MusicLink Christmas celebration also featuring the aforementioned Czars; and Bile Geyser spews at the Blue Room (formerly the Key Club), with Gina Go Faster. And on Wednesday, December 18, Brendan's is the place to hear Joanna Connor perform material from Big Girl Blues, her latest CD on Blind Pig. Seeing is believing.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com


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