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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Santa Cruz Trainwreck:
Local favorites finally get their hits together

MOUNTAIN VIEW'S PROLIFIC Trainwreck Recording studio's head honcho Tom is seeking a new base of operations, but not before lending his services to SC bands. The hype, unfortunately, has been minimal, but some local favorites have--finally--recorded and produced material with his assistance for consumption by the bloodthirsty masses.

Buddys Riot, too often overlooked due to the frequency and consistency of its local shows, slams out a dazzling lo-fi production on its new self-titled 7-inch. Recorded in December, the four-song disk has simmered on the pot till now, but it's proven savory enough to be worth the wait. By paying vast attention to the slap bass, Tom and the band managed to extract the essence of the confusion of a live performance and give room to the fun-lovin' trailer-trash sensibility of the band.

Soda Pop Fuck You recently released a 10-song CD, a split-label cooperative effort with Bad Monkey and New Disorder Records, now available at Cymbaline and Logos and soon at Streetlight. Like its rockabilly colleagues, Soda Pop scored a great recording--not immensely polished but intuitive, shying away from the obvious emphasis on gimmicky cuteness. Buddys Riot recorded with a garage-y naturalness, allowing the band its own sound. Soda Pop, similarly, is presented as a complete unit, the ska riffs sounding raw and energetic rather than vapid and pre-fabbed.

The selections on the CD further attest to wise planning by the band and its supporters--early material that captures the original spontaneity of the band was chosen. The short list includes proven favorites (like the staple "Fuck You," featured on the Santa Cruz Sucks compilation) while pulling up enough old material to spark new interest in the familiar sound.

With smoothed-out, slower, Op Ivy-style moves, the mature pop of Cristina's vocals and occasional spice thrown into the mix--with bilingual vocals on "Spanish Song," and cheesy guitar-rock vocals by bassist Victor on "Shotgun Fury"--the CD sets in digital history the true sound of the group. And God knows, with the insidious, insulting direction "ska-core" is taking in the mainstream media, I, for one, need some reassurance it's still a valid genre.

The album is a little short for complete satisfaction, but with simple, exuberant layout by Mike Mechanic and art by caricature king Ken Houser, the package is enticing. Buddys Riot's introductory recording wraps up a gift to twang-starved locals in an even more basic form, with its signature logo headlining a photo of the threesome carefully avoiding eye contact while bonding over a relaxing visit to the boy's room. Thanks to the skillful and sensitive manipulation of sound at Trainwreck and the ever-lagging but eventually fruitful efforts of these locals, we can finally leave town for the weekend with proof there is something to come home to.

Upcoming

On Wednesday, The Offspring plays with the Dwarves at the Catalyst (7pm, $15, all ages). Vessel plays on Friday at 267 Woodland (9pm, free). On Tuesday, July 9, check out a great show over the hill with Apeface, Ringwurm, Betty's Love Child, Mylai and Woodpecker (contact NFU for details). Watch out for another great local release by the What Nots on Fiver Records very soon.

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From the July 2-9, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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