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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Subtle Oak
Oaky Dokey: Subtle Oak's 'Architect and Designer' gets a loving nod.

Subtle Flavors

Subtle Oak Complexity puts on a pretty face for its new CD, and Love and Rockets made the old new again

SUBTLE OAK COMPLEXITY's Architect and Designer CD is a pretty record. Not pretty like Brad Pitt waxing his chest for the paparazzi at the Cannes Film Festival but pretty in an affectionate, Harold and Maude kinda way. "Summer of Sweetness" roars with Tony's enthusiastic catcalls and a fuzzed-out, Beach Boys-like progression. "Countess of Pembroke," a catchy, Unrest-like jaunt, is kerosene to any chateau. "A Beach in Darwin" shall convert the tanning-booth militia to the world of Subtle Oak scientology--the "And I have already stormed the beach" refrain splashes rock grandeur all over the floor.

"Picture It Too" is full of poppy guitar bites. Thawing out in dramatic perfection is "Mother of Ice," which features smoking drumrolls care of Mike. It sounds like Smashing Pumpkins in their less irritating moments. Justin's vocals on "The Oil in Engines" features some witty Built to Spillisms.

I'm throwing away my entire collection of nude National Geographic photos and starting my own private collection of Subtle Oak releases because Mr. Brady couldn't architect a finer collection of indie-pop devastations.

Contact the Subtle Oak members by email at: Royalwe@hotmail.com.

A New Love (and Rockets)

Love and Rockets fired full-on electronica at Palookaville last Wednesday with songs off of their new release, Lift. The show had me wondering, "Hey, didn't you guys used to be part of Bauhaus? This is more like bad house." But that would not keep what appeared to be a cast of Porter College Dining Hall body doubles from dancing spirit-style to "My Drug." Guitarists Daniel Ash and David J luckily protected themselves from the retina-depleting light show with monster sunglasses.

Ash, scrapping his demonic Fabio look for a sporty buzz cut, cranked out some vicious guitar lines between technoitis. David J's Circus Vargas bass lines still maim everything on the earth, sun and moon. During three encores (which strangely did not include their hits "No New Tale to Tell" and "So Alive"), Love and Rockets scrapped their Prodigy worship to prove they could still rock the roll senseless. "Kundalini Express" was a train bound for glory led by Ash's razor guitar surgeries. The faster version of "Mirror People" was a splendid update. The acoustic-to-electric breakdown in "Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man," during which Ash chanted "Alcohol is your yoga, baaabby," proved there's a psychedelic heaven above. Immediately after Kevin Haskins' machine-gun drum intro in "Ball of Confusion," the crowd's Pergolesi vampire gang morphed into bats and fed upon everyone with caffeine circulating in their veins.

Opener Lisa Dewey's opulent tapestries were prime music to take a bubble bath and write introspective haikus to. The brisk tempo of "I Don't Wanna Be Your Lover" had my Pacemaker shredding through my rib cage. Plus, the last song, in which she sadly laments something about "soup and salad," had all the makings of a Fresh Choice dance sensation.

Upcoming

On Thursday, the Lonely Kings, Papa Roach and Three Left Standing play the Catalyst. On Friday, Good Riddance, Nerve Agents, the Missing 23rd and Jet Lag play Palookaville, while Hate Mail Express, the Hostiliteens and the Beeties take over Pizza Junxion (7:30pm). On Saturday, Agent Orange, D.I., Mock and Lost Cause play the SC Vets Hall. On Monday, the What-Nots and S.F's Madderhorn and Dolores Hayes invade the Red Room.

Matt Koumaras

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From the May 12-19, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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