By Lisa Weeks
GO, GRRRLS! Rarely do we have the opportunity, in this apparent boys' club out here in the Wild West, to witness the singular phenomenon of a chick band (I can say that because I'm a chick). Not since being completely won over by the captivating Austin femme quartet Morning Wood at South By Southwest have I been tickled pink by female chic--a sad testament to how few women (sorry, Gwen, but you're just a girl) and all-female bands of substance serve as landmarks on the alternative music landscape.
Enter six self-proclaimed "gender-shattering, bomb-toting, shit-talking, ass-cutting carpet munchers with a vendetta, baby," known as Cypher In The Snow. Out and in your face, Cypher is raw sexuality dressed up in pirate's garb, and the treasure boxes they sing of are not buried on an island in the South Seas. Rather, their songs run the gamut of feminine issues, from sex and sexism to guns, homophobia, eating disorders, empowerment and, of course, love and all its trappings.
Carnival-esque with a robust Pirates of Penzance-meets-primordial-West Coast-punk sound, Cypher's circus of influences is evidenced by the scope of material found on their debut release, Blow Away the Glitter Diamonds Stolen From the Crown. Love songs like "Psycho March" cozy up sweetly next to gems "Rent-A-Gash" (with lyrics that rant: Peepshow sweets store, jack-off booth bore/Tats hid, wigs worn, punk girls make porn), and the even more blatant "Femme-Kata," in the midst of songs like "Rock Opera," a pointed lament of literary misogyny: Carmen, Tosca, Lulu, Isolde, Electra, Mimi/Alas they died for you/And alas they died for me.
However, unlike so many pro-active, pro-gay outfits that use music as a soapbox to stand on while they harp their politics, Cypher marries pride and musicianship in an open arrangement that allows their ideology and aural inspirations to cavort freely between the sheets. It's a militant lesbian frolic that's both honest and humorous in its naked charm. In addition to the standard four-piece set-up, Cypher boasts talents on the accordion, lap steel, banjo and trumpet.
Docking in from San Francisco, Cypher in the Snow has set sail in support of Blow Away the Glitter, recorded in their practice space on an eight track with the help of Toni (Gogin) and Live Transmission. Toni Gogin, of Sleater-Kinney, CeBe Barns Band and the Fondled fame, will be joining them on their national tour as a special guest guitarist. Cypher in the Snow appears with Slingshot at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, at Toxic Ranch Records, 424 E. Sixth St. Call 544-2427 fro more information.
SKA'S THE LIMIT: As unlikely as you are to have heard Cypher in the Snow on KFMA, or any other station in town for that matter, you probably have heard Save Ferris, yet another band surfing the breaking "3rd Wave" of ska out of South Cali-- Orange County in this case--and into the mainstream of alternative rock playlists. Like No Doubt, Save Ferris is a female voice in front of an all-male band, but the likeness effectively ends there. Combining pop, punk, ska and swing in a mixture far less saccharine and far more genuine than No Doubt, Save Ferris, with their spirited up beats and horn section, is closer kin with OC neighbors and high-school chums Reel Big Fish. See for yourself: Save Ferris appears with one of Tucson's most popular and successful bands, Shoebomb, on Sunday, June 22, at the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $5 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more information.
Progenitors of today's enormously popular third wave of ska, eight-piece two-toners Let's Go Bowling are skankin' into the Naked Pueblo for an all-ages show at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21, in the UA Senior Ballroom. Don the swank, hop on the Vespa, and scoot on down for a lesson in ska direct from Fresno. Tickets are $6 in advance or at the door. Call 321-4973 for more information.
Emerging local ska finds no better form than super-tight, supremely energetic and consistently sensational Warsaw. Shakin' down with three special guests--3 Ball Combo, Id and the Super Egos and Maga Dogs--doors open for Warsaw at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 8 tonight, Thursday, June 19, at Skrappy's, 3710 N. Oracle Road. Cover is $6 at the door. Call 408-9644 for more information.
FLASH: Calling all local bands: Skrappy's and Back Alley Productions are offering 10 hours of free recording time. What's required to score this particular plum is a bit of a mystery, but odds are frontal nudity is not involved. More information is available by contacting Skrappy's at the number above.
FREE SHOW: What could be better than hanging outside, grilling kabobs and enjoying some great local music with as many of your friends as will fit in the car? Get ready, it's a Punk Rock Bar-B-Q Party Saturday, June 21, at Ramada No. 38 in Kennedy Park, at La Cholla and Ajo Way. The grilling starts when you get there, but the music gets underway at 5 p.m. with those fabulous funk punks Fugue, followed by old-school hardcore with Saphead at 6 p.m., new-school agro-hip-hop hardcore with Gat-Rot at 7 p.m., and one of Tucson's finest and least acclaimed bands, Spill Blanket, rounding out the evening at 8 p.m. Bring your own everything. Call 578-3023 for more information.
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