If the Drugs Don't Kill Us, the Boredom Will
(Green Card and No Theme)
LOCAL COMPILATIONS ARE always a crapshoot. The desire to represent a scene accurately usually results in a mess of overly disparate tunes. People like to think they're eclectic, but I wonder how many garage rockers who buy this record for the tracks from The Fells and The Spites are going to appreciate the gloomy dirges of Absinthe, or the goofy antics of Sierra Vista's My Gun Named Trina; and for the fan of the clinical but obtuse sound of Teeth, what is he to think of the engine block cockrock of Helldriver, or the retardo-punk that was Beergut?
Be that as it may, this collection of Tucson bands is worth having, as much for its future nostalgia as for the quality of its content (since about three quarters of these bands are already kaput, I'm getting a little misty-eyed listening to it even now). Los Federales take the cake with their national anthem for peons, "(We Ain't No) Rich Kids," probably the best song these Tecate-guzzling fools have ever written. Stuck, The Blacks, and Failure To Appear get honorable mention for supplying a trio of punk stand-outs.
Tucson's godfathers of hardcore (and skater-fashion kingpins), F.U.C.T., dare to piss off the vegetarian mafia with their bufoonishly heroic pro-meat rallying cry, "Rabbit Food." Of course, there's some stuff on here I think is crap, but my good breeding and fear of being punched forbid me from naming names. My major complaint, though, is a technical one: the record was mastered so low that it's not that loud even with my stereo's volume maxed. When it comes time to put out their next release, I hope the boys over at the Hoff House can take time out from their constant gerbil-piping for a little quality control.
-- Greg Petix
Balade du 10 Mars
FRENCH PIANIST SOLAL may be under-appreciated here in America, but his influence on the European jazz scene has been significant since his early recordings in 1953. Perhaps his status here is a left-handed form of acceptance -- after all, don't we as a culture neglect all of our greatest jazz artists? This outing features two former Bill Evans Trio members: founding drummer Paul Motian is teamed up with bassist Marc Johnson, the last bassist to play with Evans. Rather than recreate Evans-esque textures, Solal follows his own instincts. Disjointed rhythms, dense harmonies, and convoluted melodicism combine to produce a sound that teeters on the brink of avant garde. There is a sense of fun here. His reworking of "The Lady Is A Tramp" is a romp through a toy store with an empty credit card. Johnson swings and solos with his usual aplomb, displaying beautiful arco work on the title cut. Motian can play the groove, but prefers to toss it around like an innertube at sea. With these two sidemen, Solal finds not only empathetic support, but players accustomed to an equal partnership in the trio setting.
-- Ed Friedland