Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Purloined Rock

By Dave Chamberlain

FEBRUARY 1, 1999:  Last January 23 (Saturday), a truck containing all the touring equipment for Fear Factory, Spineshank and System of a Down was stolen, forcing the bands to postpone the next twelve dates of their North American tour, including the sold-out, January 30 show at the Metro (tickets purchased for the show will be honored when the show is rescheduled). The van was stolen in broad daylight.

The real downer to this, in addition to the whole "sucks to have stuff stolen" thing, is the tour delay will postpone the first visit to Chicago by Puya (whose equipment was not stolen). The first surprise of the year, and the first metal band to whup me upside the head in a long time, Puerto Rican natives Puya could very well be the first rock-en-Espanol band to crack the hardcore crowd in a big way. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have said that salsa horns have no place in head-jacking hardcore, but now I know that it's simply a matter of doing it right. Puya does it right. If the band just stuck to thrash, it would still be refreshing. On its debut record, "Fundamental" (MCA), Puya masters the high-energy, high-speed, lets-go-to-war, metallic crunch - in spades - and lead singer Sergio Curbelo seamlessly flips between the Hetfield-like viking song and the gravel scream - the best gravel scream since Snot's Lynn Strait (R.I.P. brother Lynn) or Pantera's Philip Anselmo. What sets Puya apart from the Panteras and Korns is its ability to change it up and knock down salsa-infused metal, complete with syncopated Latin beats and pleasant vocal balladry (like the title track), straight salsa ("Solo") or even jazz hop ("Keep it Simple"), but always returning to the blood-boiling hardcore. And blood boiling it is. "Remora" is so blazingly fast and unrelenting, and so tightly held together, that it's embarrassing both S.O.D. and Half Life even as you read this. On "Fake," Curbelo does a vocal MDC imitation, testing the limits of speed like a 60-year-old amphetamine freak. Puya sings in a pretty even mix of Spanish, Spanglish and Puerto Rican slang, with smatterings of English popping up here and there - so you won't catch many of the lyrics (unless you know Spanish, of course). But who cares? This is hardcore, and in Puya's case it's flesh-frying hardcore with the impact of a teeth-shattering check into the boards.

Chicago's Music Over Business festival, the brainchild of former Avalon owner Roger Janssen, has announced the dates for its 1999 incarnation. The third annual MOBfest will be June 24-26, and though bands and venues have yet to be announced, you can bet that the usual array of mediocre, signed and unsigned bands will participate.

Spiriting success:
Speaking of unsigned bands, Jim Beam's third annual "Band Search Rock Edition" is scheduled to take place at the Hard Rock Cafe, April 15. All you unsigned bands can get information about auditioning by calling WXRT, (773)777-1700, or scoring information from any area Guitar Center.

A little country:
Local release score of the week (due out February 9) is a seven-inch from Bloodshot records called "The Shortening Sessions: a Tribute to Loretta Lynn." Side one, "Rated X" done by Neko Case and the Sadies, uptempos the original a touch and is all Neko - power cowgirl hollerin' galore. Its crazy how she can sound like she's just screaming her lungs out, but all the time keeping a tune on key. It's a quality which makes her music irresistible, especially when she sticks to the faster material.

The other side, "Hanky Panky Woman," is the second (the first was with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts) recording by Kelly Hogan; a little more rock-like than side one, but once again it's all in the voice. Hogan's voice, much less boisterous than Case's but with an addictive pitch, is always right on target when she's on stage. It's good to see it carries over in the studio.

Another Victory:
It was extra, extra, extra good news to get three new Electric Frankentstein songs on a CD single released by Chicago's Victory Records: "I'm Not Your (Nothing)," "I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk" (a cover of the Tubes' original) and a live version of "Right On Target." New Jersey-based Electric Frankenstein has been blowing out records in the past four years, and as a result has perfected its brand of hard-edged - but not hardcore - punk rock, making three of the best rock, punk or otherwise, records I've scored in the nineties. These three songs don't break the mold, and look for a full-length on Victory towards the end of April.

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