THIS ONE TIME, AT BAND CAMP --: With Jeff Buckley's corpse rotting somewhere at the bottom of the Mighty Mississip, and his mom's source of existing recordings seemingly finally depleted, when you're in need of some new songs with that fabulous swooping croon, who you gonna call? Camp Courageous!
The local fivesome follows up a three-song demo CD this week with the release of a debut full-length, Circadian Rhythm, an event they'll celebrate with a CD release party, natch.
The album opens with singer Danny Moreno intoning, a cappella, "You wake up looking like a train wreck/Your eyes, they're always watching me/My mother laughs, the things you're wearing/The anger makes you feel so --," then the rest of the band--guitarists Bobby Saavedra and Jon Mancuso, drummer Brian Martin and bassist Jon D'Auria--kicks in with the aural equivalent of the aforementioned train, just before the wreck, chugging along the tracks with the guitars as the steam engine and the rhythm section holding down the caboose. The first verse repeats during the melee, and then the tempo and volume drop into an atmospheric, jazzy groove, as Moreno completes the tale of the girl who "just get(s) in my way," telling her, "You should know when it's over for you."
The song is a neat encapsulation of CC's M.O.: Over the course of the album, ambient excursions give way to driving guitars, and vice-versa, with all sorts of inspired segues connecting them--in other words, true to its title, the dynamic changes on Circadian Rhythm are everywhere. And, best of all, they pretty much always work, since the band is as tight as Rush Limbaugh's asshole before he started popping those Oxycontin. But it's Moreno's voice that'll really turn heads, veering from soft 'n' pretty to, well, loud 'n' pretty, as needed. While the campers of Courageous inform us that his sac is still in place, we've heard eunuchs who can't hit some of the notes Moreno hits here. A truly impressive debut showing.
Camp Courageous celebrates the release of Circadian Rhythm on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The show begins at 9 p.m. with sets from the Jons, Manifold, and Is To Feel. Troy Hill will spin old-school reggae and dub between bands, and copies of the CD will be available for a mere five bones. Cover is $3. For more information, call 798-1298.
FROM THE "FORMERLY OF--" DEPARTMENT: Ah, the "new project" conundrum. What do you do when your former band was successful, but you have a new band, and you're branching out in a different direction and having a hard time getting noticed? If you're Vaden Lewis, former lead singer of the Toadies, you form the Burden Brothers with your good pal Taz Bentley, who, coincidentally, also has a pedigree of note: namely, drumming for the Reverend Horton Heat and Izzy Stradlin. (Does that make him a JuJu Hound?) There was a time when Lewis' scary wail of a question ("Do you wanna die?!") was ubiquitous on modern rock radio; so ubiquitous, in fact, that at the height of their popularity, the Toadies nearly sold out Club Congress.
Find out what happens to good musicians after they get their tit out of the corporate ringer at the very same venue on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cover'll run ya a fiver. An opening band was yet to be announced at press time, but whoever it is will start at 9 p.m. For more info, call 622-8848 or log onto www.hotelcongress.com/club.
GIRLS GONE WILD: So, you're an aspiring pedophile, but you're also a law-abiding citizen. What's a dude to do with these conflicting traits? We recommend a healthy dose of Juliana Hatfield, whose sweet little-girl voice has, throughout her years with the fabulous Blake Babies and as a solo artist, always sung about big-girl issues. Hatfield brings her new band, Some Girls (which also includes fellow former Blake Baby, drummer Freda Love), to town this week, in support of their recent debut, Feel It (2003, Koch).
And, if your conscience is so strong that listening to Hatfield still makes you feel guilty about those pesky urges, or alternately, that you don't feel guilty enough, and are scared of what you might do, we recommend that you chop your balls off.
Some Girls perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Oct. 17. The Pieces open at 9 p.m., and cover is $7. Questions? Ring 'em up at 798-1298.
ARNOLD SAYS: "WEA DEAS SMOKE, DEAS FIYAH": We get oodles of press kits dumped on our desk for '70s-inspired bands that try really hard to sell us on how their "patented brand of rawk" will "bludgeon us with thick riffs and righteous grooves." About how their "guitars are set on 'attack' " and how they'll "leave us in a bloody pile on the floor" of whatever venue they've been booked at to "rock our town." Each of these bands, it seems, is a "heavy, evil combination of rock 'n' roll's darkest forces," but the problem is, most of 'em sound alike and simply aren't very good, despite their PR flack's best attempt to sell them with flowery prose.
All of which makes us happy to report that L.A.'s Smoke is the first band in a while to truly bludgeon us with thick riffs and righteous grooves, based on their debut full-length, Smoke Follows Beauty (2002, Kozmik). With their guitars set on "attack," we anticipate their patented brand of rawk will leave us in a bloody pile on the floor of Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Oct. 19, the day they pull into Tucson to rock our town. Also on the bill are openers Solid Donkey and Wasted Aces. It all goes down around 9 p.m., and you can call 622-3535 for further details.
MARS ATTACKS! The Boss Martians are strange-looking guys, a quality that probably goes with the territory when you're from the Red Planet. But now that Elvis Costello has been pussy-whipped by Diana Krall into a torching crooner, someone needs to hold up the punk-inspired songwriting tradition he pioneered. Leave it to the BM's, whose new disc The Set Up (2003, Musick) has that snotty "young Elvis Costello feeling" in spades. Tucson's Okmoniks open the show at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Club Congress. That number again is 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON: Blues-rock guitarist Jonny Lang has been churning out albums for the faithful longer than he's been allowed by law to drive a car. His latest, Long Time Coming (2003, A&M), is his first release in five years, and it will bring him to town to promote it at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $30 at the Rialto box office, all Zia locations, Hear's Music, online at www.calproductions.com, and by phone at 1-800-514-ETIX. They'll be $32 on the day of the show. For more info, call 740-1000.
As far as gentle-on-your-mind singer/songwriters go, it's pretty tough to beat the extensive catalog of hits that James Taylor boasts. And, while he seemed to be resting on his laurels for the last couple decades, last year's mostly self-penned comeback album, October Road (Sony), was a return to form that, somewhat surprisingly, rocketed up the Billboard charts. Expect to hear 35 years' worth of songs you recognize, when James Taylor hits the stage of the AVA at Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. Advance tickets are available for $55 (reserved seating) and $35 (lawn) at www.ticketmaster.com or 321-1000. For further info on tickets, call 883-1700 or log onto www.avaconcerts.com.
COVER-UP, DAMMIT! And finally, since we're such nice guys, we've decided to give you slacking jackasses in bands one last chance to toss a submission our way for the upcoming Great Cover-Up, by extending the deadline for submissions to Sunday, Oct. 19 (and this time we mean it, man!). This year's event is slated for Nov. 19-21, at Club Congress. For full details on how to toss your hat into the ring (and what the hell we're even blathering on about), see Soundbites from the Sept. 25 edition at http://www.tucsonweekly .com/gbase/music/Content?oid=oid:49433.
Also, one more act to add to the "forbidden fruit list," i.e., bands already performed, and therefore, off limits: John Mellencamp.