Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Rhythm & Views

OCTOBER 20, 1997: 

VARIOUS

NONSCD50
North Of No South Records

AS LABEL SAMPLERS go, NONSCD50 is supremely cohesive and listenable, offering a few songs each from a wide variety of bands--stylistically disparate though they may at first seem owing to a wide range of influences, all are squarely within the realm of pop/alternative. The fabulous band names, some of which may ring familiar, further add to the impression that the Swedes have pop music down cold: Carpet People, Pinko Pinko, Doktor Cosmos, Day Behavior, Cloudberry Jam and Colonel Blimp, just to give you an idea. All 24 tracks are cleanly produced and well mixed, with the song selections sounding something like a mixed tape a friend would make for you if you were heading out on a long trip. Honeymoons' "My Honey You" resembles Lifter on a happy holiday with an organist, and Trio Lingo's art/folk "Moona," replete with harp work, has an almost, dare I say it, desert-rock edge. Cloudberry Jam's "Come Back and Stay" is a retro classic of '60s pop, right down to the congas and three-part harmonies--by virtue of their pure pop gloss and Mary Tyler Moore Show feel, Cloudberry Jam would easily fit next to Ben Folds Five on a radio playlist. Ray Wonder's brilliant "Anykind," regrettably their only contribution, offers elements of Pavement, Folk Implosion, and, more distinctly, the Geraldine Fibbers' "California Tuffy," with the edges softened by the addition of a horn section. Day Behavior's etherial cover of Depeche Mode's "See You" gives the song an entirely new personality with an airy ambiance devoid of the dated original's urgency. Fivel's "Alex" rides in the very tight space between a Swedish band you may know, Sludge Nation, and one of their divine inspirations, the Pixies. Fun all the way through, NONSCD50 is going to be tricky to locate, but well worth the effort: Here's a tip for the curious--visit the label's web page at http://www.nons.se.

--Lisa Weeks


MIKE STERN

Give And Take
Atlantic Records

STERN'S A MONSTER on guitar. He's got an unmistakable signature tone, a ballsy personality to his playing, and a penchant for the same degree of power he used back when he was working for Miles Davis (check him out on We Want Miles if you haven't already). He'll cut a path through your head with his juggling of Coltrane's "Giant Steps," then make you snot-nose sentimental with his own gorgeous "Everything Changes." Doesn't hurt that Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Jack DeJohnette and John Patitucci are in on the show. Stern's the perfect player to introduce to your metalhead guitarist nephew if he thinks of jazz guitar strictly in terms of Herb Ellis. Lay Stern's version of Hendrix's "Who Knows" on him/her and see if you don't get a little more respect next time you visit. The guy epitomizes the successful outcome of all that '70s jazz-rock-fusion brouhaha.

--Dave McElfresh


TENDERLOIN

Tenderloin
Time Bomb

TENDERLOIN HAS A big beefy ear-piercing sound, like a sledge hammer bashing a cow skull courtesy of the local slaughterhouse, and as meaty as Captain Beefheart's saucy blues rock shepherd's pie if it were still served today. Picture the demented Beefheart fronting Soundgarden at the Tucson Blues Fest. Tenderloin is a prime filet-mignon blues-punk hybrid: Take equal parts Beefheart, Soundgarden and the Supersuckers and stick it on a slow-roasting spit, add baked beans and chili powder, and enjoy the pungent barbecued flavor. Sink your teeth into "Fat Side Up," a harp-driven ode to the 'Loins penchant for blood-dripping climactic delight. On "Lights Out" and "Pawn Shop," lead barker Ernie evokes the twisted-but-brilliant dementia of Beefheart fueled on corn squeezin's and some late-night, juke-joint indiscretions. The speedy punk raunchiness of the hooch-guzzling "Bourbon" confirms the 'Loins preference for over-indulgent alcoholic libation and some serious damn head banging. This behemoth Austin four-piece even manages to mangle ZZ Top's "Precious and Grace," as if the sharply dressed, bearded shitkickers brandished nose rings, tattoos and spiked dog collars.

--Ron Bally


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