By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
If you saw the punk-rock baby emblazoned on the cover of last week's RFT, you'll know exactly why A to Z has been so frazzled lately. (A 4,000-word story doesn't write and research itself, let her tell you.) But now that her epic piece is finished, she can focus again on her real job: discovering and writing about new music.
In fact, over the past few months the music department Chez RFT has received a ton of local discs/MySpace profiles to peruse and absorb. Lest bands think A to Z has been ignoring these pleas to listen, here are merely a few who caught her ears. And oh yeah: She has seen plenty of bands advertising their CD-release shows on MySpace and such, but hasn't received music from a lot of people. Send in those discs for consideration!
Jumbling Towers: Echoes of early-'80s UK post-punk shoulda-beens, the weirder side of the seminal Rough Trade label and modern, cut-and-paste indie-rockers permeate Jumbling Towers' eerie, synth-spackled pop ditties. Gloriously off-kilter. Catch four fantastic MP3s at www.myspace.com/jumblingtowers.
Long John Thomas and the Duffs:A to Z has written quite a bit about this swanky garage trio, so it's gratifying to hear that its debut, Presenting...Long John Thomas and the Duffs, captures the crisp economy of the crew's live show with fifteen three-minutes-or-less rave-ups that are perfect for letting loose.
Dos Dedos: The diversity on this trio's self-titled full-length and the difficulty fitting 'em into a genre took A to Z by surprise. Especially notable are the danceable power-pop/punk barbs propelling "Dive," the skronking, stoner-billy basslines everywhere else and vocalist Dan Salmo's muscular growl; think the unholy union of a non-manic Reverend Horton Heat and Girls Against Boys. A promising debut. Dos Dedos plays Wednesday, November 22, at the Way Out Club (2525 South Jefferson Avenue; 314-664-7638.)
Harmonycomb: Fiddler Kevin Buckley (who lists Magnolia Summer and Tim Easton as collaborators) is the man behind Harmonycomb, a harmony-drenched (duh) outfit that's a welcome addition to the local scene. A demo passed along to A to Z contains songs indebted to: the Beatles' melodic smarts; Guided by Voices' songwriting quirks; Superchunk's sunny, grungy riffs; and, yup, Magnolia Summer's faint twang. See www.myspace .com/harmonycomb.
Chingy: Sure, Chingy's third album, Hoodstar, has a major label's promotional and marketing dollars behind it. But it's nice to hear how down-to-earth Chingy sounds on the album, a party-worthy platter that's slick and professional without losing its sense of fun. A to Z is partial to "Nike Aurr's & Crispy Tee's," a sinfully catchy ode to sneakers and, er, new T-shirts.
Spark Thugs: As A to Z mentioned on our blog (www.riverfronttimes.com/blogs) a few weeks back, the latter-day lineup of Queens of the Stone Age should take heed of what the Spark Thugs are doing on their debut. Vocalist Tony Stone growls like the second coming of Queens frontman Josh Homme, while his bandmates unleash a viscous stoner-rock low end that's melodic and focused despite sludgy nods to Sabbath, Danzig and SST-era Soundgarden.
The Monads: Punk rock with a banjo? That's what springs to mind from the first few forceful minutes of "The Flood" on the Monads' seven-song mini-album. Jenna's upright bass is surprisingly unobtrusive (not in a bad way), while her spiraling, sweet vocals add pleasing contrast to the band's three-part harmonies and brisk high-stepping.
Will Rock for Food III: This Time It's Personal: The do-gooders over at Maplehood Rekkids are still donating proceeds from this year's model of their annual benefit CD to St. Louis Area Foodbank. In other words, purchase this CD and you can hear great music and contribute to the greater good. Among the highlights of Personal's 24 exclusive tracks: the Adversary Workers' "Empty Stomach" (an At the Drive-In-reminiscent no-wave punk screamer); Bear Cub's "Running with an Armful of Knives" (a minimalist instrumental with thudding bass and danceable percussion); and a dreamy pop nugget from the Floating City.
What happens when old-school hip-hop goes head to head with new-school electro? Find out Saturday, November 18, at the Upstairs Lounge (3131 South Grand Boulevard; 314-773-3388) when DJ Yoshi drops some hot science and DJ 486 gets his bleep on. Admission is $4 before 11 p.m., $6 after.