FIGHTING WORDS: Last year's winners of the TAMMIES award for Best Roots-Rock act, the Last Call Brawlers, are releasing a new album this week, and with it comes the requisite CD release party.
The self-released, self-titled disc, the band's second, shows just how far they've come in recent months, likely due in no small part to a month-long tour with the 440s last fall. (The triumphs and tribulations of touring as a largely unknown band will usually either bring a band closer together or drive them apart, but it pretty much always guarantees they'll be a hell of a lot tighter musically when they get back home.) Following the tour, the band headed into WaveLab to record the new platter and, in turn, to document the group's (sorta) new direction.
When they began playing around town a few years back, the Brawlers were pretty much a straight-up rockabilly band, albeit a bit harder than those with religious reverence for its purist traditions; with Last Call Brawlers, they've graduated to full-blown psychobilly. Boasting more in common these days with the Cramps and the Reverend Horton Heat than with Charlie Feathers or even, say, the Stray Cats, the Brawlers have integrated surf-reverb guitar, the occasional skronky sax or blues harp, and devil 'n' zombie references into their tunes, which are almost uniformly played--in the spirit of punk rock--at breakneck speed; still, they haven't veered so far from their roots-rock, er, roots that it sounds out of place when, at the end of "El Diablo," they reference the guitar refrain from Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues."
In writing workshops, the ultimate goal is to "find your voice": to get past aping other people's styles, or merely trying to do so, and get to the point where what you're doing is yours alone. It's difficult to say whether this second disc accomplishes that, or if it's another milemarker on the trip to the Brawlers' final destination, but whatever it is, they're certainly speeding along the right highway.
The Last Call Brawlers' CD release party begins around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., with performances from Mickey Sixx and Joel Ford, Cum and Go and a burlesque dancer. For more information call 622-3535.
OUR OWN WOODSTOCK: This week brings us the fourth edition of the now-annual KFMA Day, a celebration of what it means to be "Tucson's New Rock" station. As usual, it means a few veterans (Foo Fighters, in their first-ever local appearance; Eve 6, currently bucking their former one-hit-wonder status with a left-field comeback, complete with an arrest for parading around a hotel lobby clad in nothing but shaving cream; and the winning, arena-sized goth rock of AFI) and a pack of mega-hyped contenders (modern power-popsters the All-American Rejects; screamo acolytes Finch; generic Incubus worshippers Hoobastank; and Christian rockers Evanescence, who just may be the first band to merge goth and Jesus--or at least to do it seriously).
The fact that there are a dozen corporate sponsors for the event means two things: that tickets are cheap compared to most shows on the summer circuit, and that the word "sell-out" means nothing in 2003.
KFMA Day 4 hits the Pima County Fairgrounds (take Exit 275 at Houghton Road off I-10) on Sunday, June 15. Gates open at noon, so goth kids will want to bring plenty of extra sunscreen to protect their pallor. Advance tickets are available for $29.50 (plus service charges) at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 321-1000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For further details log onto www.kfma.com.
BANG GANG: Playing their second local show in six months, Olympia, Wash.'s Bangs make a return appearance to Tucson in support of their most recent EP, Call and Response (2002, Kill Rock Stars). Boasting a stable of short, sharp power-pop-punk ditties that bear very little resemblance to mallrat pop-punk, and the occasional straight-up power-pop tune--"Kinda Good" and "Leave It Behind" sound like the Go-Gos in a post-riot grrrl world--the trio never forsakes a catchy melody for benefit of a message.
Bangs perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Sunday, June 15. Openers Origami and the Okmoniks open the show at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. For more info call 884-0874.
YOU CAN'T BE SERIAL: On its debut full-length, White Sex Male (2003, Good Science Recordings) Scotland's Serial P.O.P. brings together a plethora of sounds and influences that merge the '80s with the '00s: fuzzy bass lines, alternately live and programmed drum beats, vocals that sound like a bit like a cross between Damon Albarn and Ian McCulloch (albeit with a bit more sneer), driving guitars and plucky synths. A portion of the album seems at once to be perfunctory and as if it's trying too hard--filler that badly wants to appeal to fans of the electro-rock revival (and "Money Shot" nicks the vocal melody from Blur's "Song 2" without shame); but at its best, as on album opener "Action Boy," it's effective Brit-pop that manages to be simultaneously melancholic and uplifting.
Serial P.O.P. performs on Friday, June 13, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Amor and Nik Freitas open the show at 9 p.m. For more details call 622-8848.
FLAMIN' GOOD TIME: The mighty High on Fire specializes in sludgy, groove rock epics with a guitar tone thicker than Rosie O'Donnell's ankles. They'll take the stage of Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 15, with Watch Them Die and Great American Tragedy as openers. That number again is 622-8848.