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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Tying the Nots:
Local four-piece releases CD, and now it won't shut up

PERHAPS THE LEAST SPOOKY BAND in SC, the What-Nots has won the most-candy-corn prize for greatest flurry of activity close to Halloween. The carefully planned official release show for its spanking-new self-titled CD happens on Nov. 7 at the Vets Hall, but the local quartet has been unable to restrain itself from a couple suspense-building shows in the meantime. The first of these, held last Friday, resounded in one of the city's more squalid living rooms, though you never would have guessed from the abundance of spikes and chains adorning young necks that the headlining band was so unabashedly harmonic. The parade of punky youngsters (who, much to my accessorizing delight, kept losing bits of their jewelry in the dirt) probably showed up to see Puke's opening set.

The stylistic disparity in the lineup, with Meat Pizza Sandwich thrown in the middle, was undoubtedly a source of confusion to many. It can be explained by recalling that Puke's intoxicated front-punk Lumpy has often, in fits of affection, declared the What-Nots his favorite local band and has even been heard to publicly fantasize about the band playing in his living room, just for him, every night.

Meat Pizza Sandwich, which itself has recorded a decent demo tape, played a rousing set that helped further dispel my initial impression of the group as a goofy pop band with few redeeming qualities--the songs had energy and spunk, shall we say, nicely bridging the lineup gap between vomit-punk and the What-Nots' rigorous pop.

Finally, the guests of honor started up, and promoters stood on-hand with the new CD at five bucks a pop as the weary-looking band lullabied a room packed with faithful admirers. Combatting shoddy acoustics that muffled the clarity of guitarist Eden's precise vocals and equipment that shot static through the pregnant pauses, the set might have misled a first-time listener. The What-Nots' fans, however, performed the feat of filtering out the circumstantial crap and let some pure form of the songs filter through--a gift enabled by prolonged familiarity with a band's repertoire.

Unfortunately, the shiny new release was recorded too low, and even after hiking the volume, the levels are screwy--Brendan's bass is muffled, and the vocals are too prominent, even for the main feature. While it doesn't compare to the What-Nots' live sound (sans equipment hassles), the CD is still a good likeness. And for a band that has worked as hard as the What-Nots to play and participate in local music, it's certainly about time.

Upcoming

On Wednesday, Mocket, Love Is Laughter, Starlight Desperation, Violence Jack and Low-down play at the Vets Hall (6pm, $5, all ages). On Friday, Dammit Jim! plays a CD release show at the Catalyst (8:30pm, 21 and up). On Saturday, Visitor 47, Reliance and Erik Core play at the Three Spirits Gallery in Sand City (8pm, all ages). On Monday, Nov. 3, the What-Nots play at Streetlight (7pm, free, all ages).

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From the Oct. 23-29, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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