We All Scream for Thora-Zine

Bear with me here. It's Thursday afternoon, long past deadline, and outside these windows is one of those rare days that starts around 2 p.m. with open windows, slacks through a couple of lazy hours listening to records and smoking butts, starts to get pleasantly bent around 5, and only begrudgingly drives to the office. One of those days when Sammy Hagar's "Three Lock Box" being beamed into the Olds sounds like a gift and not a curse.

Arrived here at Press Command Central to find that yes, indeed, someone reads the paper. In fact, one of you someones read my ad looking for freelancers and decided that a good way to get my attention would be to hand-scrawl a six-page missive, impale the sheets to a chunk of two-by-four with a rusty wood knife, drip fake blood down the blade and leave the mess on my desk. Sample concert review reprinted in its entirety by permission: I went to a bar. It was a shithole. There was a band. I am. They were. Need I say more? And so it goes. P.S. -- I drank a lot and puked. Thank you.

No, thank you, for making a cheery day just a little bit cheerier.
I'll be at the Ramones show coming to Bayou City Theatre on Monday the 21st, just to see if the grand old men of punk rock can still keep it up. Doubt is inspired by the band's latest, Acid Eaters, a collection of late '60s hard-rock freakouts originally anthemized by the Amboy Dukes, the Who, etc. The disk hit these ears as supremely uninspired ("It blows," said an accurately direct acquaintance), so I called drummer Marky Ramone to get the scoop.

"We didn't necessarily pick psychedelic songs for any reason, we just thought that it was the thing to do now, because we're between studio albums, and we felt that with the '60s trend it would be a cool thing to put this out at this time."

You gotta love a band with a mission.

If you're the sort who likes to dance about architecture (and, er, if you're reading this, you must be), check out issue numero four of Houston-produced Thora-Zine. I'll be the first to admit that when this thing hit the stands last year, I didn't give it much chance of floating, but the issues keep getting bigger and glossier and fuller of ads and music stuff, from international to local, though Houston stuff doesn't seem to be as emphasized as it has been in past issues. The mag covers a sort of alternative/metal/hip-hop spectrum, but the editors are hip enough to admit that they dig Cheap Trick. Sorely missed are the show fliers Thora-Zine reprinted in past issues, but if it's interviews you want, these Q&As are some of the best in the biz. A "Kibbles 'n' Bits" section in the back takes pot shots at whoever the staff thinks is an ass, mostly PR types, and U2/R.E.M. star-photog Anton Corbijn is listed in the staff box as a contributing photographer. Which is probably illegal or something, but I don't care if Thora-Zine don't. Punk watchdog publication MaximumRocknRoll -- humorless schoolmarmish prig that it is -- reviewed Thora-Zine as not true punk (all that glossy paper, I guess), which is a backhanded endorsement you can add to my wholehearted one. Buy yourself one of these before the copyright cops shut it down.

Local stuff you might want to see: Traditional Celtic group Ceili's Muse (Stephany Freeman and Mary Maddux) had been looking for a third member, but, Freeman says, "We didn't think we'd find anyone who'd fit into our little reality bubble." Then along came the Texas Renaissance Festival, and with it Melanie O'Sullivan, vocalist and traditional Irish percussionist. O'Sullivan joined the Muse permanently at the end of January, and the group is presently booking a six-week tour of Britain and Ireland for May. Hear them play at the Mucky Duck on Thursday, March 17.

Former locals Nothing in Return were rewarded with just about exactly that on a recent four-week tour, and the band decided to call it quits after a gig in Boulder. According to Matt the drummer: "We were strong as the Brady Bunch when we went out, but the tour just proved that we were a pretty incompatible touring machine." Thus, that Nothing in Return show scheduled for Friday, March 18 at Fitzgerald's is the last chance you'll get to see the four-year-old lineup. Over the phone, it sounded kinda personal, and as Fleetwood Mac proved to my satisfaction, bad blood makes great music.

And finally, now that Houston's had its pump primed by terribly exciting and diverse national releases from Galactic Cowboys and King's X, March 22 marks the Giant Records release date for Atomic Opera's For Madmen Only. I remember sitting in on an interview with King's X's Doug Pinnick some months back wherein he remarked: "Man, if the Galactic Cowboys think they got compared to us, Atomic Opera's really gonna catch it bad, cuz we sound a lot alike." That Pinnick guy... he's got a good ear.


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