SWEET RELEASE!'Tis the season: Another week and two more local CD release parties, this time both on the same night, at the same venue--Club Congress on Saturday, Nov. 18.
The early show comes courtesy of Is to Feel, on behalf of their second CD release, Llorona, which we would probably report is "harder than their debut" if Soundbites had been supplied with a copy. Since we weren't, we'll just give you the show details and report that Llorona is harder than their debut. Details: Doors for this all-ages show open at 6 p.m. (which is when Soundbites is usually rolling out of bed), and there's a designated slot for each one of these opening acts: Camp Courageous, The Funeral March and The American Black Lung. Cover is $5.
The late show is reserved for Found Dead on the Phone, who are releasing their debut album, The Ballads of Kaspar Crow (Knife and Sheath). Though the band has only been playing out for a year or so, its members are veterans of esteemed Tucson rock ghosts such as Mala Vita, Pathos, Spillblanket and Spiral Fix. (Anyone remember the DPC?)
I've seen the band perform live on several occasions. The first was their dead-on take--down to bags of what we assume was fake cocaine resting on the keyboard--of Fleetwood Mac at last year's Great Cover-Up. When we caught them doing original material, we were impressed but somewhat nonplussed by the prog tropes and extended song lengths, gussied up for a post-indie world. But the next time we saw them, and knew what to expect going in, we liked what we heard a bit more. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Which brings us to The Ballads of Kaspar Crow. Upon reading the press release that floated across the Soundbites e-desk, which attempted to describe the disc in highfalutin', concept-album terms, we were a bit skeptical. A rather lengthy, unedited excerpt to illustrate our point: "the words (by the band's principal lyricist, Gabriel Palacios, with contributions by vocalist/pianist James Tiscione) outline the life and times of a feral child, Kaspar. in his early years, Kaspar Crow is adopted into a brutal and bloodthirsty priesthood which he manages to escape only to face the hardheartedness of a world that is distrustful of Kaspar's questionable origins. he is also being stalked by agents of the depraved order of zealots which he has rejected. In case this condensed version should strike you as humorless, it seems appropriate to mention here that 1.) the band rocks hard enough and with sufficient swagger to pull it off 2.) the tone throughout the story is probably closer to grim and grotesque rather than sentimental or maudlin. 3.) the band strives to make grown up music, not babyfood. this little story was a demon that needed to be exorcised. and it is possible that this little story may hold continuing relevance to the current state of affairs wherever you may live."
Though I haven't had the chance to absorb it to the point where I could tell you whether any of that makes any sense once you hear it, I can tell you this: Listening to it has given me more than a few holy shit! moments--something that doesn't happen all that often. This is an album that, upon hearing it for the first time, made me run into the other room to tell my girlfriend how great it was, even though I knew it wasn't her cup of tea. It's got a sort of "dude-rock" music-geek vibe about it, after all. But I also told her that even though I didn't think she'd like it, I think she would appreciate just how well done it was.
If prog is the new black--and one listen to the Decemberists' rabidly accoladed/praised The Crane Wife would have you believe that it is--then Found Dead on the Phone's timing couldn't have been any better. But beyond the prog memes, there are dozens of fleeting influences present: blue-eyed soul vocals, '70s AM rock tendencies (including 10cc-like backing vocals), elements that remind that being tagged as "emo" wasn't always an insult, huge guitar riffs and ancient keyboard sounds (as well as unadorned acoustic-sounding piano playing), and the precision of dual lead guitars with room for feedback-addled guitar solos. In other words, it's everywhere at once, while still remaining easily digestible.
Maybe my girlfriend will like it after all.
Found Dead on the Phone take the late slot at Congress on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 10 p.m. with openers The Crowd. The show is free to anyone older than 21 with a valid ID to prove it. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for more information on both shows.
REMEMBERING THE BANDA guy I knew in college was present at The Band's final 1976 performance, which featured a who's who of guest performers (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, and Neils Young and Diamond to name but a few) and was captured on film by Martin Scorsese for 1978's The Last Waltz, widely acknowledged as one of the best rock movies ever. He was just a tot, but I made him regale me with what scant details he could recall (not much, as he wasn't the brightest bulb on the marquee). Which demonstrates nothing except the fact that yet another reminder of my oldness comes in the form of this week's celebration of the film's 30th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, one Ted Abrams has teamed up with the fine folks at the Loft Cinema to present a big ol' shoutout to a bygone era.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Loft will present a combo of live performances of songs from the film by local artists along with a screening of the film itself. Performers include Howe Gelb, Al Perry, Tom Walbank, The Sand Rubies, Van Christian, Jeff Grubic, John Ronstadt and Brothers, Chris Holiman, Randy McReynolds and Golden Boots, and the screening of the film will follow. It all starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $15, or $10 for students and Loft Cinema members. The Loft is located at 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., and you can call 322-5638 for further details.
ON THE BANDWAGONFans of the heavy stuff would be well-served by heading to Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd., on Friday, Nov. 17. That night's show will be headlined by the fantastic Seattle combo and Jade Tree recording artists These Arms Are Snakes, and will include opening sets by Ohioans Mouth of the Architect, San Diego's The North Atlantic and Tucson's own Chango Malo, who are currently at work prepping a new album with new guitarist Tom Beach (ex-Manifold). The all-ages shindig begins at 7 p.m., and cover is TBA. Questions? Call 358-4287 for answers.
Organized each year by Rich Hopkins, the annual Casa Maria Soup Kitchen Benefit arrives at its home of Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Nov. 22. This year's roster of performers includes Kevin Pakulis and his band, Mark Insley, Stefan George and Nelly and Javier Mazon, who begin the proceedings at 8 p.m. A $5 donation and a can of food get you in the doors. Call 622-8848 for more info.
Following their successful appearance in July at the Rialto Theatre, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, the subject of the documentary film The Refugee All Stars, return to the Rialto in a show co-promoted by KXCI FM 91.3 and the Loft Cinema this week. Bring your dancing shoes to the theater on Saturday, Nov. 18. Locals Spirit Familia open the show at 8 p.m., but get there early to purchase a West African dinner to set the mood. Advance tickets are $21, or $17 for members of KXCI and the Loft Cinema, available at Antigone Books, CD City, the Loft, the Rialto box office, KXCI, Zia Records and Bookmans; by phone at 623-1000, ext. 13; or online at kxci.org. They'll be $3 more at the door. The Rialto is located at 318 E. Congress St., and you can call them at 740-1000 for further details.
Finally, Rhythm and Roots closes out its fall season with a performance by the Battlefield Band, one of the leaders in the revival of Scottish music. They'll be at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. Advance tickets are available for $22 at Antigone Books, CD City, Enchanted Earthworks, online at rhythmandroots.org or by phone at (800) 594-8499. For more information, call 297-9133.