PLEASE RELEASE ME: A few weeks ago in this column I made a reference to the phenomenon of local bands taking the summer off from playing live shows, either to vacate the premises entirely and avoid the stifling heat, or to hole up and record new material. While it's a bummer for those of us who stay here and endure those three (is it really only three?) months, the fruits of the hiatus are always extra nice to sink your teeth into upon ripening. Bands you might have almost forgotten about emerge with new albums and a show-and-tell attitude about how they spent their summer, ready to flash snapshots of their little babies for our approval. The busiest record-release season of the year kicks into gear this week with two CD release parties.
Following a couple of lo-fi releases--a two-song CD single and the Grey EP--Tucson's Quadratics--singer/guitarist Matt Lewon, bassist Aaron Bonsall and drummer Andrew Skikne--have finally put together their debut self-titled full-length. Recorded in July at Wavelab, the album--to the best of my knowledge--reprises only one song from the previous two discs. Easily the best tune from those earlier releases, "Anti Nothing" appears here in a newly recorded version that retains the oomph of the earlier take, studio sheen and all, partly by speeding things up considerably. A tribal drum pattern backs guitar, alternately chiming and dirty, while atmospheric vocals swirl over the top until a pummeling, screaming chorus takes over, ultimately landing in the realm of math-rock changes and definitely kicking mondo tush.
Meanwhile, "Love Song to a Boy" sounds like a slightly glammed-up Foo Fighters tune, "Me--You--Them" is a start-stop heavy riff-fest and "But I Do" is a hooky ditty straight out of the emo fakebook ("Boys don't cry, you know / But I do, I do, I / Do you miss me?"; "When someone understands / Gonna give my life away"). Elsewhere, the singsong verses of "Baptist Song" give way to a chorus Nirvana-esque in both sound and theme ("If God was gay / What would you say?"), while a few tracks on the second half of the disc fade away without distinguishing themselves. Still, it's a strong first effort and a giant leap from the band's output up until now.
Before heading out on a three-week tour of the Midwest, Quadratics celebrate the disc's release with a show at 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 20 at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. For further details call 670-9202.
I know we just recently spilled some ink on Tucson-by-way-of-Paris avant-poppies Amor Belhom Duo (their recent Solar Culture outing was the musical equivalent of French cuisine--rich and delicious), but hey, they got a lotta stuff going on, OK? This week finally sees the domestic release of both of their CDs, previously available only as limited edition self-pressings or outrageously priced imports. Amor Belhom Duo and Wavelab will both be released on September 24 by Chicago indie Carrot Top Records, and following a local date this weekend the twosome embark on a three-week tour of their own across the eastern U.S., including a couple of dates with Shannon Wright and a bundle with SoGoth country duo (and now labelmates) the Handsome Family. Order a glass of a nice merlot and settle in as the Amor Belhom Duo takes the stage of Plush, Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 20. For more information call 798-1298.
DUTCH TREAT: Local jazzed-up blueswoman Lisa Otey will present a nifty little cultural exchange this week as she plays host to Netherlands-based singer/pianist Eric-Jan Overbeek, who records under the name Mr. Boogie Woogie. In exchange for her setting up a handful of Tucson shows for Mr. Woogie this week, he's bringing her to his home turf in January for the same treatment, including a performance at Overbeek's own Boogie and Blues Haarlemermeer Festival in Holland. There'll be no shortage of opportunities to catch Overbeek (who likes a dash of bluesy, blue-eyed soul with his boogie-woogie) this week, as he's performing an exhausting seven shows in six days during his stay.
Lisa Otey & Friends, featuring Mr. Boogie Woogie as well as Kathleen Williamson, Hurricane Carla Brownlee, Steve Grams and Jon Westfall, will perform at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 24 and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 29 at the Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Advance tickets are available for $10 by calling 886-9428. Overbeek will be making additional appearances throughout the week at Boondocks, Plush, Chicago Bar and Kingfisher; check Club Listings for more information on those performances.
JESUS SLAVES: Jesus-lovin' pop punks cum Jesus-lovin' even poppier punks MxPx hit town in support of, well, nothing at the moment. The band's last release, The Ever Passing Moment (A&M), goes back some 18 months, so expect to hear some new tunes being road-tested throughout its set on Friday, September 21 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Mest opens the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $15 through all Ticketmaster locations or online at www.Ticketmaster.com. For more information call 798-3333.
LINER NOTES: A few other local shows:
Two of our humble burg's heaviest hitters team up for a bargain basement outing this week as nu-rock darlings Tongue Dried Sun and two-turntables-and-a-microphone-plus-guitars-'n'-MCs hardcore combo Gat-Rot takes to the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 22. Sponsored by 96.1 KLPX-FM, admission to the show runs a mere 96 cents. Any questions? If so, call 798-3333.
Featuring members of Spacefish and Crawdaddy-O, sonic adventurers Ex Old Ladies will make an increasingly rare appearance this weekend. The combo, which veers from country roots to jazzy funk to riff rock quicker than you can throw back a shot, will perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 22 at Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave. Admission is free to those with proper ID. Call 623-2088 for additional info.
And finally, Greyhound Soul teams up with frequent opener Truck for a gig this week. Always an engaging live act, GHS has been on fire lately, putting new tunes like the sublime Mott the Hoople-esque "Drag Queen" through the patented Greyhound wall-of-sound treatment to great effect. (That tune and a number of others are available on bandleader Joe Pena's recently released solo acoustic disc, Immigrant Train, which recalls Ben Harper in its downtrodden subtlety.) Truck, meanwhile, has been busy recording its debut disc in between playing local clubs, deservedly increasing its fanbase. The two bands perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 22 at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. For more 411 call 670-9202.