Tina Alvarez on music
March 1997

Tina Alvarez has been covering the Aizona music scene
for more than two decades.

She regularly publishes in Phoenix publication "Music Voice" and has been a
contributing writer to EMOL and Entertainment Magazine for a decade.

Hoodoo Gurus

Phoenix Music Scene
National Music Report

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"We're all suckers for a good pop hook, but then again, who isn't," attested Ryan Maxwell of Muzzle. "So, what we like to do is get our guitars drunk before we play, and that way the songs kinda take on a life of their own.

"At the very least," injected guitarist Wesley Nelson, "it makes our music louder and more obnoxious than us."

Muzzle is yet another group that comes to us via Seattle. Although the band formed in 1994, it didn't jell until 1995 when bassist Greg Collinsworth came on board. And as the band told The Rock, the Northwest Music and Entertainment Magazine, even scheduling gigs in their hometown could prove to be a daunting experience.

"At first it was hard because bands were moving to town from all over the world, so we'd have to wait two months just to get a show down the street," Nelson remembered. "There wasn't any resistance to our sound, we just didn't have any connection to the scene."

Their music came to the attention of KNDD dj Marco Collins, who, after seeing several shows, issued a three-song Muzzle single on his own record label, Stampede. From there, it began to catch the ears of other people. Muzzle decided to sign with Reprise Records.

"We settled on Reprise because its roster of bands is really impressive and smaller than other major labels," Collinsworth told The Rock. "They all seemed happy and enthusiastic about the music rather than just the business of recording."

"Betty Pickup" is the name of their first LP, inspired by an episode of "Laverne and Shirley." Content to tour, they do not have any plans at the present time to release a video. Collinsworth feels their power is in live performance.

"The shows look good, they smell good, and you'd step over your own mother to see another one," he quipped.

(from "Music Voice" Dec. 5-29, 1997)

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Negative + Positive = Morcheeba

Brothers Paul and Ross Godrey took their less than idyllic childhood and made it work for them.

"We didn't have a particularly smooth upbringing and we found music was the one thing that kept us sane," Paul acknowledged. "We simply shut the world out and played music. And I feel as a result we share an understanding that music will get us through anything."

The founding members of the London-based Morcheeba, as youngsters spent their time listening to Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

"We would listen to those records a lot. Growing up, they imparted the only sense of real calm we knew," Paul described. "And now we find an honesty and purity in that music that we both feel intuitively drawn to."

While Paul's strengths lie in the technical area, Ross' penchant is the blues and playing slide guitar. The two ran into their lead singer, Skye, nearly two years ago. Also a sixties folk aficionado, this woman with a background in fashion design immediately clicked with the two brothers.

"When she came into the picture, the work Ross and I were doing became whole," proclaimed Paul. "She's quite an amazing character really. She's just naturally enchanting. I think we mesh well with her. She really understands how to express emotion and feeling in a very simple way."

The mood that swirls in Morcheeba's musical den is a tranquilizing shroud of Skye's sultry vocals and the Godrey Brothers' confident, adeptly-delivered grooves.

Their Discovery Records debut, "Who Can You Trust,?" is a truly enjoyable piece of work. It has the right elements of diversity, balance and a well-honed professionalism that's indicative of lots of hard work. Songs on the album deal with the darker side of human nature to emotions not so dismal.

"It's just that there's so much negativity around and it's very easy to tune into," Paul said. "For us, the challenge is coming from a negative way of looking at the world and trying to make things positive." One song, "Trigger Hippie," was derived from "trigger happy," in which Paul termed the title as a "bad play on words.

"It's a slick track but I really wanted to express that feeling of wanting to be happy, wanting to be in a state of love but coming from a violent background and having fantasies of violence. It's like the record," he confirmed. "It's about the extremes of life where you have love and warmth on one side and complete fear and loneliness on the other."

(from "Music Voice"Dec. 5-29, 1996)

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Ex-Go Gos, Jane Wiedlin Is froSTed

"Really ,there isn't a big difference, except I had to get used to women being talked about in the most crass fashion," Wiedlin admitted," which I don't have a problem with because in the Go-Gos we did the same thing but were talking about men."

With froSTed's debut album, Cold," Jan Wiedlin enters into another chapter in her evolving musical career. The former Go-Go, a co-founding member who penned the single "Our Lips Are Sealed" for the pioneering all-girl group, in now in a band of her own with three guys.

froSTed, formed in 1995 with Los Angeles musician Brian Waters (guitar), Sean De Mott (bass) and Lance Porter (drums). They gigged around in the area and released a two-song indie debut on Sugarfixx Records, "Bed," with the title song and "Call Me Crazy," both which appear on "Cold." "My brain just slowly fills up with ideas until I can't stand it anymore," Wiedlin said of the LP's 13 tunes. "And then I have these huge bursts where I'll write five songs in a day."

Their power punk sounds have enough twists and quirks on the album to make it interesting, like on the song "Amerinoid."

"I wrote this about all those militia guys that seem to have sprung up since the Oklahoma City bombing," she explained. "It is short for 'American Paranoid.' It was a lot of fun adding all the crazy noises on this, since we all felt the more chaotic it sounded, the better."

"Between Jane's poppiness and our hard sloppiness, it blends into a really cool thing," Lance Porter agreed of their style. Plus the addition of Marc Waterman (Elastica, Menswear, Tuscadero) as producer, they all had the opportunity to experiment with their levels of noise creativity.

"I've worked with a lot of producers and he's by far the best," Wiedlin conceded. "So fun, so focused, always making everyone comfortable." Added Sean De Mott, "It was amazing making the record with him. He's into noise, we're into noise."

With her all-male line-up, Wiedlin feels the only difference between froSTed and the Go-Go's is anatomical differences. "Really there isn't a big difference, except I had to get used to women being talked about in the most crass fashion," she admitted, "which I don't have a problem with because in the Go-Gos we did the same thing but were talking about men."

(from "Music Voice" Dec. 29 - Jan. 18)

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Australia's Hoodoo Gurus
Come Out of Their Blue Cave

Formed in the early '80s, Australia's Hoodoo Gurus released their first LP "Stoneage Romeos" in 1983. In Australia, the band received the "Debut Album of the Year" award, and in the United States it was a hit on the college charts. The band, whose members include Faulkner, vocalist/guitarist Rick Grossman and drummer Mark Kingsmill, make for an in-sync combination that is proof of their time working together. Most of the material for the album was written while on tour by Faulkner and Shepherd.

With "Blue Cave," the band chunk together thick guitars with symphonic sounds, melodic vocals and supergroup-styled tributes.

"We assembled a bit of a team, with the idea of drawing on various talents and bringing them together to create a cohesive record," vocalist/guitarist Dave Faulkner pointed out. "We hoped it would work and we're glad it did. It could have easily been a disaster mixing all the styles like that."

The crew that he speaks of consisted of Charles Fisher, who produced; Paul McKirsher, who engineered; and Silverchair producer Kevin Shirley; who mixed. Fisher produced the band's second album, "Mars Needs Guitars," back in 1985. "Blue Cave" is the band's seventh album.

"I mostly write on the road, and I had a really nice creative period during our tour," Faulkner reminisced. "In the past I might let a lyric get through because I was writing from a songwriter's view, as opposed to from-the-heart point of view. But this time there was no expediency. I really made sure the lyrics counted. I always try to be diligent."

And the lyrics do count, very to-the-point, cutting and biting in most numbers, nicely executed. Topics are varied. "Waking Up Tired" deals with going out and over-indulging and waking up the next morning feeling like shit. "If Only" focuses on making a poor choice and regretting it.

"It's about making a big blunder and feeling the guilt," Faulkner explained. "No matter what anyone might have said, it couldn't dissuade you from your course, and you wince every time you think about what you did. It's basically an 'I'm ok, you're ok' prescription."

Abundant in its diverse presentation, "Blue Cave" offers an interesting listen into the Hoodoo gurus.

"We started out thinking we were making a really layered, intricate record -- a 'Pet Sounds' type of thing," Faulkner concluded. "But we got a really full-throated rock 'n roll album. I think this record is pretty much the pure essence of what we are. I guess you can't suppress who you really are."

(from "Music Voice" from Jan. 18 - Feb. 7, 1997)

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new adventures in REM

I'll always remember "Bittersweet Me," from R.E.M.'s new cd, "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," as my honeymoon song. When my husband John and I tied the knot in October, we were flown out to Tampa by John's grandma for him to reconnect ties with his family -- and receive our wedding gift -- her '93 Crown Victoria. We stayed two days helping grandma and John's mom move from their respective condo and house to their duplex villas. Then we had to get on the road back to Tucson.

"Bittersweet Me" was constantly on the stations no matter where we went (cool!). I'm gonna let you know that I really like this group on a personal (fan) and professional (journalistic) level.

Anyway, 1996 was a heck of a year for these guys -- Bill Berry had a brain aneurysm, and two of the three other members got sick. Together for 10 years, this band knows how to hang tough. After Berry recovered they were back touring and writing material.

"The idea (for their new offering) was to graft together stuff that was recorded live with stuff that was done in the studio, so you can't really tell what's what," vocalist Michael Stipe illustrated. "We didn't want to lose the momentum of the stuff that we'd written and recorded during the tour, so it's kind of like we're still a little bit on the road, and when you're on the road, you do things fast, so we made this record a lot faster."

The other band members agree. "We talked about trying to capture the kind of swirling, chaotic aspect of touring without actually writing songs about being on the road, " clarified Pete Buck.

Stated Bill Berry, "We've never been able to make a record and tour at the same time. And it was very exciting. There are definitely live elements to this that you don't hear on our other efforts.

"This record really epitomizes what it is to be in a band," added Mike Mills. "You tour and you write songs, then you play the songs and put out a record. It really defines the best things about being in a band ... very simple and straightforward."

The numbers on "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" were culled from their Monster tour. The version they played in Phoenix of "Binky the Doormat" is on the LP as well as the Phoenix soundcheck of "Electrolite." Other cities include Seattle, Memphis, Boston and Atlanta, among others. The LP is also graced by some special guests, like violinist Andy Carlson, Scott McCaughey (of Seattle's Fresh Young Fellows), Nathan December (second guitarist on the Monster tour) and punk rock icon Patti Smith joins Stipe on vocals in "E-Bow the Letter."

Of working with Patti Smith, Buck contends she was a big inspiration to R.E.M. over the years.

"It was really an amazing experience. I remember going to see Patti when I was 17, and to be in the studio with her singing on a song that I wrote was just incredibly moving. And she did just an amazing job ... kind of a demented Ronettes girl-group feel."

Stipes said this album makes the group reflect where they started from.

"If there is something thematic to this record," muses Stipe, "it's that it is very similar to our first album, 'Murmur.' When we were on the road for the first time in '82 and '83, traveling from town to town and playing small clubs, the songs that were about travel and movement and being away from home, wherever home is.

"And this record has at least a little bit of the same feel," he concluded. "The songs we wrote on the road have a feeling of movement, of passage, a feeling of being distant, whether it's geographic distance or otherwise."

(from "Music Voice" from Feb. 7 to Feb. 28, 1997)

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Random Musings for March 1997
by Tina Alvarez

Phoenix, Arizona

The Tempe-based Refreshments have recorded the theme song for "King of the Hill," a new animated series created by Mike Judge, the creator of "Beavis and Butt-Head." Throughout the season, friends and visitors on the program will be voiced by such notables as Chuck Mangione, Burt Reynolds, Laurie Metcalf and M. Emmett Walsh. "We're getting a big kick out of working on 'King of the Hill,'" admitted frontman Roger Clyne. "We admit that we are products of pop culture, raised on cartoons and television, and it's pretty cool to be able to have our music be a part of it." The Refreshments will work with the series through the season and will also score an entire episode.

National Music Report


will begin his U.S. Tour March 3rd at New York City's Symphony Space Theatre. All performances will be solo acoustic. "In many cities on the tour, playing theatres will allow younger fans, kids who can't get into the night clubs, to see my show, " Donovan relayed. "And that's really important to me, because I see that 'Sutras' is really connecting with young people."

Chris Isaak performed a special concert in Baja California's Cabo San Lucas in December. The climate and surf of Baja provided the inspiration of his recent Reprise Records LP, "Baja Sessions."

Fleming and John had planned to begin recording their second CD for Universal Records, but other projects beckoned to them. John Painter was asked to arrange strings on Jewel's upcoming LP, due for release early this year. Then, buddy Ben Folds asked John to add strings to two of his songs on his new work. Now Fleming and John are finally back in their home studio, producing their album which is due out this spring.

"Costello & Nieve" is a limited edition five-CD set of live acoustic sets by Elvis Costello and pianist Steve Nieve. This box set ranks as the second one to receive the seal of approval by Costello, the first being "Live at The El Mocambo," released over 18 years ago.

The live techno/space funk/trance British quartet The Egg has been signed to Discover/China Records, a free-standing label of the Warner Music Group. Their debut album, "Albumen," was recorded at Cornwall's Sawmills studios. The Egg will begin a national U.S. tour in March at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin.

Some of the names that the Warner Brothers family suggest you watch for in '97 include Gabriela Anders, the spiritualistic Caedmon's Call, country singer/guitarist Anita Cochran, Australian dance music singer Gina G, pop rockers Kara B Flowers and jazz saxophonist Mark Turner.

Crown Heights' debut release, "More Pricks Than Kicks," on American Recordings, is due for a March 11th release.

Addicted to Noise, the on-line music magazine, is presently highlighting the debut "Big Fine Thing" by Darlahood and "Ima" from BT which contains "Blue Skies," a collaboration with Tori Amos. Both discs are on Reprise Records. This album preview service provides monthly screenings in conjunction with participating record labels -- a service unique to the Internet.


The Fox network weekly drama series "Party of Five" now has an accompanying soundtrack that features numbers exclusive to the program and new releases as well as season favorites. Cuts are featured from the Bodeans, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Chaka Khan with Bruce Hornsby, BT with Tori Amos, Joe Jackson, Holly Palmer, Rickie Lee Jones, Laurie Sargent, Nanci Griffith, Stevie Nicks, Howard Jones, Rusted Roots, Shawn Colvin and Syd Straw.

TVT Soundtrax will be issuing two covers for "Kama Sutra Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" due to the objections of several retail chains. The controversial cover pictures the stars Indira Varma (Maya) and Ramon Tikaram (Jai) in a passionate embrace. The second cover features the solo image of Varma. A soundtrack is due for release February 11th and consists of a fusion of modern and classic Indian sounds by composer Mychael Danna (Exotica). The film's director, Mira Nair, is deciding whether "Kama Sutra" will be released in India due to the editing restrictions.

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