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Jinkies' last stand... Leave it to the Jinkies to turn in what was possibly their finest performance ever on the eve of their unraveling. And leave it to a Houston audience to barely acknowledge that irony, let alone pry their asses out of their seats and cheer the glorious passing of one of the city's finest rock and roll bands.

On Friday, January 30, the Jinkies called it a career with a startlingly precise and energetic set at Rudyard's Pub, ramming home the minor tragedy of their unrealized stardom with a woozy, well-executed mix of brave covers and brawny originals. Taking the Rudz! stage to a smattering of applause from a sizable crowd, the band lit into a blistering rendition of Paul McCartney's "Jet," its primary vocal viciously rendered by bandleader Carlos DeLeon, whose impending move to New York is what prompted the quartet's breakup. Along with giving a propulsive flexing to such superior Jinkies originals as "Electric Stained Glass Sunshine," "Big Fall" and "Here She Comes," the group also rifled through its stash of golden Bowie oldies, letting fly an especially unhinged rendition Ziggy Stardust's oft-overlooked opening epic, "Five Years."

It was soon after that song that estranged Jinkies founder Matthew Thurman ambled onto the stage for a round of tunes that included "Melting," the irreverent centerpiece from Everest, the band's 1997 debut CD, and an amphetamine-paced version of Echo and the Bunnymen's "Do It Clean." Donning a tight-fitting Who T-shirt and pulling off Townshend-worthy windmill guitar moves with abandon, Thurman appeared at ease with his old mates. It was as if the falling out between him and DeLeon, which spilled out onto the Rudyard's stage in an ugly drunken display last year, never took place.

Indeed, throughout the night, the Jinkies came off exactly as they'd always intended, leavening their self-destructive tendencies with a pure pop mentality and a heightened awareness of their '70s roots. In doing so, they finally delivered on a promise that had been sullied in recent months by personal turmoil. Yet another sad case, it seems, of too much too late.

Still, the Jinkies will not be going out without a proper coda. DeLeon reports that another full-length studio CD is now being readied for release. The as-yet-unnamed effort should be out in March, he says. As for his relocating to the Big Apple and the rumors that this might just be a phase that will eventually result in him returning home with his tail between his legs, DeLeon isn't ruling out anything at this point.

"I'm just gonna go up there and live and get a job, get my feet on the ground," DeLeon said before the Rudz! show. "[Maybe] I'll end up like John Voight in Midnight Cowboy. I'll come running back to Houston saying, 'Oh, I sucked too much cock. New York, it made me a whore!' "

DeLeon made it clear that he's not headed north solely on the hope of making it as a musician. Even so, he knows himself well enough to concede that getting involved with another band might be unavoidable.

"It's like herpes," he says. "You can't get rid of it."

Release activity... For Houston's Shadoworld, grunge never went away. It just got meaner. Indeed, the heavy-riffing foursome's new CD, Vent -- the release of which they'll celebrate Friday at Millennium -- may have Soundgarden fans doing a double-take.

When he's not busy sounding like Sammy Hagar with a nasty chest cold, lead singer/guitarist Matt Weaver is quite capable of pulling off a respectable Chris Cornell. And as for the band in general, something tells me they could give "Loud Love" a serious working-over, live. Their pugnacious power chords are as meticulous and reliable as a human pulse.

All of which would seem to imply that Shadoworld really doesn't have anything new and different to add to the flannel-metal equation. But that's more than okay, seeing as Soundgarden is history. And you have to respect the band's blatant disregard for weapon safety: "Raise it up / Just to bring it down / Twist it once or twice," a blood-hungry Weaver snarls on "Bleed Me." Ouch.

Etc.... Word is in regarding the Houston acts picked to perform in Austin at the 1998 South by Southwest Music Conference. Brace yourself: The results are as disappointing as they are predictable. Out of a whopping 47 Houston applicants, only four made the cut -- not that those four aren't deserving. Jesse Dayton and Carolyn Wonderland certainly deserve to repeat after last year's strong showings (especially Dayton). And, without a doubt, a Hollisters showcase at SXSW has been long overdue. It's also nice to know that Caedmon's Call will get an opportunity to loosen the confining Christian-rock tag that's always been their cross to bear, and do so in front of an industry crowd.

Well, it appears as if the hard work might finally pay off for Houston's Sonnier Brothers -- and none too soon. On Monday, the Sonniers play a showcase for a representative of a major label reportedly interested in signing the band. (No label names have been made public, as that would be bad karma.) The group is scheduled to take the stage at the Satellite Lounge following the El Orbits' weekly gig. If all goes as hoped and the A&R scout likes what he hears, the sky-blue victory martinis ought to flow like water.

-- Hobart Rowland

 
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