GEARING UP TO CRAWL AND COVERFirst off, a couple of notes on the local tip.
If you don't have your wristband yet for Fall Club CrawlTM, which will take over downtown Tucson on Saturday, Oct. 8, what are you waiting for? There are plenty left for purchase at CD City, and if you get there soon, you'll receive a copy of Club Crawl Volume 2, a local compilation CD that goes home free to the first 2,000 lucky purchasers. Oh yeah, and you'll also save a couple bucks off the price by getting them early. They're a mere $8 if you pick 'em up soon, and $10 on the night of the event, which we, as Club Crawl's proud sponsors, should remind you is the mack daddy of local music festivals.
Also, submissions are still being accepted from local bands for participation in this year's Great Cover-Up, which will take place at Club Congress from Thursday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 3. We're looking for a few good bands--more than a few, actually--who normally perform their own music, to play a 20-minute set of music by another band or artist. All proceeds from the event will go to Brewster Center, a local service organization that provides shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Please be advised that the deadline for submissions--which should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14. For full details, check out Soundbites in our Sept. 1 issue. Thanks to those who have already submitted.
SUBLIME POWER-POPLike any musical genre worth its sodium chloride (not so fast, smooth jazz), power-pop is a rather difficult beast to summarize in a tidy description. It encompasses everything from the simple, easily swallowed melodies of Cleveland's the Raspberries, to the huge guitar-centric workouts of Matthew Sweet, to the near anthemic rush of sugar that is Cheap Trick. One of the best practitioners was Big Star, the Alex Chilton/Chris Bell vehicle who in the early '70s changed power-pop in a very significant way: They made it a bit more challenging.
Where most power-pop relies on the fact that, the first time you hear a song, you'll be singing it before it's over, Big Star's music took a few listens to really absorb what exactly you were hearing. The hooks (which are, after all, the hallmark of all power-pop) were there in spades, but they took a while to sink in. Vancouver, B.C.'s New Pornographers follow the Big Star model of power pop, which is to say, they're more challenging than most. They're about as eclectic as any power-pop band could be, and still be labeled power-pop. The band is often referred to--and rightly so--as a supergroup, since they count among their ranks A.C. Newman and Neko Case, both of whom have successful solo careers, as well as Destroyer's Dan Bejar. But none of that would matter if they hadn't over the course of three truly fantastic albums churned out what amounts to the finest power-pop of the last 10 years.
The first time you hear one of their albums, you realize there's something special going on, but as with Big Star, you don't realize just how special until about the third spin, when the hooks become truly sublime. The band's latest release, Twin Cinema (Matador, 2005), is better than Electric Version (2003, Matador), its predecessor, and on par with Mass Romantic (Matador), the band's 2000 debut. There are killer harmonies throughout, which are aided by the combination of male and female vocalists, and the band is as tight as can be. But it's the intricacies of the songs themselves that set New Pornos apart. "Broken Beads" sounds like a long-lost Robyn Hitchcock nugget--British accent included--from when the Egyptians were still backing him. The Case-sung "These Are the Fables" starts out as a pretty, mid-tempo near-ballad, then subtly accumulates richness as it progresses, finally culminating in a lush, piano-driven swing. And on a somewhat personal note, my jaw nearly dropped when I first heard "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras," not only because it manages to spin a somewhat difficult melody into pure gold, but mostly because that difficult melody is almost identical to one by the Champaign, Ill., band Menthol, who were once signed to Capitol. Under similar circumstances, I might cry plagiarism, but since Menthol didn't sell too many albums outside of their region, I can only assume no member of the New Pornographers has ever heard the song in question. Since it's such an odd melody, shared by both songs, I am suitably freaked out by the whole thing.
But that's neither here nor there. All you need to know about the New Pornographers is that they are releasing the best power-pop out there today, and that if you have an ear for this stuff, you should not miss their show here this week. If you need a taste, check out Last Call With Carson Daly tonight, Thursday, Sept. Sept. 29, on which they're scheduled to be performing one of these tasty nuggets.
The New Pornographers perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Oct. 1. Things begin at 8 p.m. with opening sets by Destroyer and Immaculate Machine. Tickets for this all-ages show are available in advance for $15 at the Rialto box office. For more information, call Solar Culture Gallery, which is presenting this show, at 884-0874, or the Rialto at 740-1000.
MORE MOTLEY BY THE MINUTEMetal fans seeking a kickstart to the heart, rejoice! The cretins that go by the name of Motley Crue finally make their way to town this week as part of their Carnival of Sins tour, which reunites all four original members of the band. As evidenced by his reality show, Tommy Lee can't cut it as a college-band drummer, but as anyone who's seen the Crue live before can testify, no one can nail a drum solo while levitating over the audience quite like him. See 'em while you can: Mick Mars has looked dead for the last 10 years, and Vince Neil recently tore a calf muscle during a show in Atlanta, so they're not exactly aging gracefully.
Motley Crue takes the stage at the TCC Arena, 260 S. Church Ave., at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Advance tickets are available for $29 to $64 at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more info, call 791-4101.
BUSSING INTO TOWNThose still bemoaning the fact that the Pogues haven't hit these shores since lord knows when might want to sate their need for punk-influenced-but-otherwise-fairly-traditional Irish music by checking out The Kissers this week. In fact, the Wisconsin-based band was born as a Pogues cover band, but has since released two albums comprising a mix of original songs and traditional ones. Its latest, Good Fight (Skeptic Rock/Oarfin, 2005), finds the group delving into the realm of politics; there's an anti-war song ("No War"), an anti-death-penalty one ("Pictures at an Execution") and a proletariat-empowering anthem inspired by Howard Zinn ("What They Can"). For those less politically minded, tune out the lyrics, and you're left with some mighty powerful jigs and reels.
The Kissers play Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Oct. 1. The measly $3 cover is made even sweeter by an opening set from Tom Walbank, who begins playing at 9:45 p.m. Call 798-1298 for further details.
ON THE BANDWAGONClub Congress hosts the annual Greaseball, a celebration of all things rockabilly, this week. At least we thought it was all about rockabilly--unless headliner Al Perry has started slicking back his hair, we're a bit confused. Still, the bill also includes slightly more event-appropriate acts Shrimp Shaperone and the Cadillac Angels, as well as Greaseball organizer DJ Hot Rod Ron. As usual, there will be loads of hot rods on display, as well as greaser-related vendors. It all kicks off at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30. $5 gets you in. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Their number is 622-8848.
This year's model of the KFMA Fall Ball features yet another underwhelming lineup of bands including P.O.D. , MxPx, Hawthorne Heights, Story of the Year and the Bled. Gates open at noon for this all-ages show at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way, on Saturday, Oct. 1. Advance tickets are available for $30 at all Domino's Pizza locations. For further details, head to kfma.com.