By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
Tommy Hall Schedule
No less an authority than Ray Wylie Hubbard has pronounced the Thirteenth Floor Elevators the coolest band ever. Recently there has been renewed interest in Tommy Hall, the enigmatic University of Texas philosophy student credited with conceptualizing and founding the band. In a recent Austin Chronicle interview, Hall denied any further interest in the band or its music and detailed his continuing exploratory study of the human psyche and mind expansion, which includes regular weekly dosages of LSD. Back in the band's heyday (1965-67), Hall was asked how often he took acid, and he flippantly replied with the old Dr Pepper slogan, "At 10, 2 and 4." Hence the name of Fred Mitchim's spot-on Elevators cover band, Tommy Hall Schedule.
Mitchim is a former Clear Lake resident now living in Austin who maintains ties to many of the legendary Texas trip-rockers from back in the day. In addition to his Tommy Hall Schedule project, Mitchim has put out several albums of futuristic "space music" and has written several film scores. In a recent look back at the Elevators' album Easter Everywhere, Mitchim described the music as "a collection of poems put perfectly to music and sung in such a way as to create a sort of musical astral plane where all things come into perspective."
Take Mitchim's authentic re-creations of some of Texas's most hallowed music, and mix in a couple of pints of Wrecks Bell's litigation-inspiring Star Bock beer and Craig Malek's captivating light show. The result, no doubt, will be some form of levitation taking place on Monkey Island, baby, right here in the middle of the zoo. -- William Michael Smith
Summing up the Melvins' contribution to rock and roll is a fool's errand at best. While the band introduced the world to a slow-plodding sludge later marketed as grunge, the sound's early pioneers moved from Washington to San Francisco well before the megahype hit the fan.
Former Melvins roadie Kurt Cobain once pined for a role in the outfit and sang its praises after achieving sainthood himself. But his friend and mentor Roger "Buzz" Osborne, along with mainstay drummer Dale Crover (one of Nirvana's many timekeepers), gave marketing execs migraines from day one. The Melvins spoofed KISS solo albums; they offered cockeyed covers of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with help from fallen teen idol Leif Garrett; and they burned bridges by releasing Prick, an unlistenable monstrosity that made Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music sound tuneful.
But for all that experimental aggression, the Melvins (whose revolving roster of bassists includes Shirley Temple's punk-rock daughter, Lorax, Osborne's former paramour) endured two decades of being unfairly tagged as Black Sabbath clones. Perhaps Ira Robbins of Trouser Press gave us the best working definition of them: "Oppressive in the best possible sense, the Melvins produce richly sensual, stunningly ugly music that gives the feeling of being crushed by a friendly fat guy tripping his brains out." -- John La Briola
Tuesday, October 5, at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease, 713-654-7846.Sahara Hotnights
Damn! Things must be pretty boring for teenagers in Sweden. It seems that the only things they can do for fun these days are grow sugar beets (a primary crop: thank you, Universal Almanac) and start rock bands. The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Nicolai Dunger, Sahara Hotnights and -- most famous -- the Hives all have sprung from the cold country's frosty sod, making rock the country's second most fervent religion behind evangelical Lutheranism (thanks again, Almanac).
Of course, Sahara Hotnights is the only one comprising four smokin' hotties who fuse punk, rock and bubblegum pop, teetering on the edge between the Go-Gos and grrrl power. Front woman Maria Andersson, drummer Josephine Forsman and sisters Jennie and Johanna Asplund (guitar and bass, respectively) have been best pals since childhood in the town of Umea (not a "major city," according to Almanac). Though they made their debut in 1997 with an EP, it wasn't until a 2002 U.S. rerelease of their second full-length, Jennie Bomb, that worldwide audiences took notice, setting the stage for the just-out-of-the-box Kiss & Tell.
Full of punky, spunky rippers such as "Who Do You Dance For?" "Empty Heart," "Hot Night Crash" and "Stupid Tricks," Kiss & Tell has the Hotnights serving up three-minute blasts of primal estrogen energy. And though Andersson's vocal pitch is more sing-songy and cotton candy than the tough chick growl some of the material requires, she and Forsman (who co-wrote all the songs) have a solid grasp of their genre. How much they can grow beyond it remains to be seen. Note: Please be impressed that the above review does not mention the Runaways or Suzi Quatro once. Until now, that is. -- Bob Ruggiero
There has to be a place for the Starlight Mints. How many other bands will make "If you pull me apart, don't swallow my heart" (from "Submarine No. 3") the catchiest line you've heard in more than two weeks?