The fusion of erstwhile bands Longview and Old Tale culminates in Jupiter Effect, featuring the Spokane trio of Dan McElfish, Nerek Neu and Armando Arguello. Their fiery amalgam of jazz, funk and rock is as pleasing to the ear as their CD art (appropriately, of the planet Jupiter) is to the eye, with plenty of buzzy riffs, strong vocals and some nice bass work by Arguello (formerly of Seeking the Elephant).
The songs, all original, incorporate everything from the occasional harmonica (on "Sixties" to the effervescent psychedelica of "Yellow and Blue"). The lyrics, too, have their moments; we appreciated the amusing simplicity and pop psych inside joke of "I'm okay if you're okay, we can get along today," refrain of "Sixties." And "Grinch" effectively chronicles the breakdown-of-a-relationship-blues. "I'm Gone" sounds a little bit like old Supertramp and hearkens back to the late '70s, which is a bit of catchy fun. "Density," parts one and two, are melancholy and introspective little numbers, punctuated by the sounds of rainfall.
-- Sheri Boggs
The Rock Ness Monsters
14 Lo-Fi Songs
The Rock Ness Monsters debut long player, 14 Lo-Fi Songs, is as forthright, uncluttered and sonically primitive as its title would suggest. This collection of Ventures/Dick Dale-inspired, mostly instrumental rock numbers sounds like it was recorded in somebody's garage (actually, I hear it was somebody's barn - and a haunted one at that) over the course of a beer-soaked afternoon with one crusty microphone swinging from the ceiling overhead. It's damn near perfect -- effectively capturing this quartet's high octane, balls-out enthusiasm and inspired amateurism. That's not to say that the band -- Scott Rickard (guitar), Pat Flynn (bass), Buzz Fadeley (guitar) and Nate Mooter (drums, vox) -- can't play. In fact, they are quite accomplished instrumentalists. It's just that they seem to value ferocity and intensity over such niceties as perfect meter and note-for-note precision.
With honesty and slavish, unwavering devotion to their chosen rock idiom, the Rock Ness Monsters keep the adrenaline surging throughout this predominantly original set (bearing such intriguingly bent titles as "Fight the Shower," "Fly Swatter" and "Enjoying Knives"). Though Mooter's vocals are used sparingly (as on the appropriately demented, howling version of the Sonics classic, "Strychnine"), they are used to great effect, complementing the rawness and power of the backing rock 'n' roll din.
Though 14 Lo-Fi Songs provides listeners with a fine introduction to the band's sound, the Rock Ness Monsters are definitely best enjoyed live, where their showmanship and frantic energy only adds to the fun and mayhem.
-- Mike Corrigan
10 Minutes Down
Leave it up to 10 Minutes Down to make a CD that completely captures the band's live feel -- energetic, bouncy and youthful. If you've ever seen a 10MD live performance, the band's second CD Fluke will transport you right back to the show. Fluke is 10 songs (plus one hidden) full of playful, fast and sassy ska tunes -- that popular garage-pop-with-horns style that crept its way into the '90s with bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and took off like a bullet. The kind of music that no good summer festival could do without (just ask the Vans Warped Tour folks, who have hired 10MD to perform three years in a row). The kind that gets audiences jumping.
Released last year, Fluke has had successful circulation around this city and beyond. Recorded at Malta Records in Spokane, the mostly ska album also turns the listener on to the occasional heavy metal guitar solo and powerfully fast drum sets.
Keeping true to their "good guy" reputation, the band's lyrics embrace awareness and integrity. The song "Faggot" (which is dedicated to Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was murdered because he was gay) addresses the hypocrisy of Bible followers who support gay bashing (in fact, the liner notes further reveal the band's Christian slant). "The French Song," sung completely in French (French ska!), is so surprising to the ears that one can't help but be compelled and amused at the same time. Tres cool!
-- Kari Tucker
Wow, a greatest hits CD when the band has only been in existence for a little over a year? That's impressive. Actually, the Spliffs are merely having a little fun with us. Their debut CD is indeed packed with greatest hits, but being covers, they are the greatest hits of other artists -- for instance, Bob Marley, one of their favorite influences.
The Spliffs have clocked in for gigs all over town this past year, including the Blue Spark, Mootsy's and Ichabod's, as well as making an appearance at the occasional barter fair or Earth Day celebration. The quartet of Steve Jackson, Dave Held, Laurie Jackson and Jeff Omeron puts out a reliable reggae and ska-influenced product and Steve Jackson's lead vocals have an effectively smoky quality. Look for their energetic and bluesy rendition of "Get Up, Stand Up" and their groovy take on "Lively Up Yourself."