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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Solitary Consignment:
Distro for local bands back in gear at Streetlight

SOME ARTISTS ARE CONTENT with the temporary impact of performing live, but most bands that take themselves even slightly seriously eventually come to the same hurdle in their musical adolescence--recording material. Perhaps hearing familiar songs on tape lends the tunes the weight of a tangible contribution to the vast history of music. More likely, it's the personal gratification so lusted after by struggling musicians. Once the decision has been made to join the documented ranks, long and costly steps must be completed before the tape, CD or vinyl disk sits neatly in hand. The question now arises: Who will hear this product of sweat and blood, and how will they get it?

Many bands--especially those notorious in the good, old-fashioned counter-culture realms of punk and hardcore--care less for merchandising as an end and distribute crappy demo tapes for a minimum charge on tour and at home. Others--their eyes twinkling with the shocking realization that there might actually be a market for their creativity--attempt more complex and expensive methods, lingering on sound quality and cover art. In either case, the finished product must eventually reach the grubby hands of the fans.

In Santa Cruz--where many locals have steady, if small, fan bases--putting material on consignment has proved the most convenient way to keep local music available. Rising from the ashes of locally supportive stores--Beat City and Baseline Records--Streetlight Records, opening in July, has decided to dedicate a section of its retail space and energies toward promoting local music, publications and random stuff. The importance of this effort seems obvious, but has been overlooked as a priority by other stores. The ramifications are hopeful--when we have another space in town to distribute music, we will also have a space to trade information, support each other's projects and renew a self- respecting community that for some months has wasted away in excommunication.

Tape Review--Cenobytes

While good shows have been scarce recently, it seems that many local artists are devoting their energy to recording rather than performing. One tape you're sure to see on the consignment shelves at Streetlight is the Cenobytes demo, a six-song, cleanly recorded piece of work from this local three-piece. Still wet behind the ears as a unit but practiced as musicians, the band is busy filling a void in local sound with its hard-edged, technologically advanced power that calls to mind the slick aggressiveness of Steve Albini (of Big Black and many other projects). Combining honest intensity with elements of noise, hardcore and titles like "First Blood" and "Skull Fuck," the Cenobytes is a group destined to find its gruesome niche soon.


On Friday, Cypher in the Snow, Moralyson and 3 Speed play at 320A (6:30pm). Saturday, check out Apeface, Betty's Love Child, Ringwurm and Ashes & Crumbs at the Farmhouse (4pm). Both shows are all ages and donations are gleefully accepted. Dammit Jim! plays Sunday in Felton (2pm, look for fliers).

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From the June 19-25, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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