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Notes From the Underground

Nerdcore:
Punkoid geeks and four-eyed ukestars entertain the kids

I'VE BEEN STRUCK recently by what appears to be an epidemic of integers invading the nomenclature of indie-rock ensembles. Screw 32, Redemption 87, Engine 88, Tina Age 13, Fury 66, Automatic 7 ... when will it end? There's also Nexus 6, who opened at the Basement last Friday. Their loud "Satan" vocals a la Victory Records and warp-speed drumming made for a powerful set. 17 Queen (see what I mean?) played second with wildly lurching guitar licks that revealed serious talent on the part of frontman Rex Shelverton. At their best, the vocals recalled some tracks off Sonic Youth's Dirty album, which made me wonder what they'd sound like with female accompaniment. At times, they stuck their paws a little too deep in the emo jar, but overall the intensity was positive.

Then the Four Eyes came on and drove any remaining morbid atmosphere straight out of town. They played geek rock at its very finest, with hyper-catchy tunes that reeked of pop-culture obsession. Guitarist Joel Goulet, the only member who still lives in town, sang pencilneck anthems like "Compucore" off their 7-inch (on Dirtybear Records). Lyrics like "We watch Kojak and then some hockey/Letterman's sure getting cocky/I buy my baby Old Milwaukee" exemplify their absolute refusal to take life seriously. Soon the spectators were giggling like idiots, even though they were sucking on lollipops, not 40-ouncers.

Whimsical ukulele maestro Oliver Brown finished up with a set of eclectic covers, including Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge." The whole show had the unpredictable emotion of a premenstrual mood swing. Maybe it was the full moon.
Arwen Curry

Beat Your Cereal

Get some milk and a spoon ready, because local label Off-line Records has released a compilation called Crunchy Smacks, including local yokels the Whistle Pigs, Junk Sick Dawn and Poppy along with CD-ROM bios, pictures and live video clips of each band. The computer I used to check this thing out was kinda slow, so the graphics and sound weren't too good, but on a regular stereo the production was nice and crisp. Junk Sick sounds extra gritty on "Bag of Brown," like they might relocate to Seattle. The Pigs start off funky then send it into the bowels of heavy-metal hell with "Release the Kraken." And Poppy (which has since moved to SF) breathes and growls through the simply titled "Tune." This sort of thing is a darn fine way to hear and get some background on bands before seeing them live. It's great to see some hometown folks making their way into the 21st century ahead of most major label acts. Right on.
Squid

Upcoming

Don't miss intense San Diego trio Tanner, playing on Sunday with local bands Vessel, Junk Sick Dawn and the What-Nots at the Basement (all ages, 7pm, $4).
Michael Mechanic

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From the May 9-15, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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