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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Chrysalis
Launch the Mistletoe: Herbert's album 'Chrysalis' kissed the sky in 1998.

Don't Look Back:
Surprise! A look back at the year in the Santa Cruz underground

THESE PROUD TEARS are dedicated to a local music scene that, as Vince Vaughn's Trent noted in the movie Swingers, is "all grows up." Bands lassoed the musical bull by the horns and carved up some beefy works of art. Spaceboy's Getting Warm off the Trail of the Heat was an epic CD from the all-star hard rockers. The underappreciated KZSC compilation included tasty live tracks from the What-Nots, Slow Gherkin, Jen Wood and Oliver Brown. The Gorehounds' Bringing Stockton to the Slopes featured punishing rock instrumentals ideal for those misty afternoons playing Stratego with the family. Herbert's Chrysalis French-kissed the devil under mistletoe and shaped more emotions than the "pretty ugly little head" of the Bride of Chucky.

Riff Raff's Kustom Made Hell kept the trailer park rocking in unison. The Great Divide's dashing second seven-incher on Fiver Records was effective emotherapy. The Champs' double CD offering was the finest double whammy since the Wonder Twins formed a Big Gulp the size of the fishhook.

For best zine, Concussion brought out the smelling salts twice, but Cosmo, with its essential "Dos and Don'ts" and "DIY Fun With Sideburns" columns, ran a very respectable second.

On the horizon for 1999 are new releases from Herbert, Vincent's Ear, P.A.W.N.S., Dilligaf, the What-Nots, Riff Raff, Exploding Crustaceans, the Peggy Hills and many others.

Not so strangely, myriad great shows graced Santa Cruz this year. Top-of-the-pops props go to Zeke at Palookaville, who reaffirmed just how debased and primal rock & roll can be. Zeke rocked like a nonstop chainsaw from the hell mouth in the Motorhead/old Dwarves vein. Seeing the great David Yow with Jesus Lizard plus the added bonus of Herbert was reason enough to postpone my free initial consultation with Dr. Kevorkian. The Good Riddance/AFI/Fury 66 bill was a jolt of good clean fun, too.

Personal faves the Huxtables charmed me with enough smooth vocals to shake a Naired leg at. American Steel roared like the Commitments with liberty spikes. Buddy's Riot and Soda Pop Fuck You took the cake at the Santa Cruz Still Sucks marathon.

Meat Pizza Sandwich played a lethal set at the Aptos Club, and Spaceboy and Riff Raff sounded gargantuan in such small quarters. Lost Cause sliced and diced things up old-school style. Vincent's Ear cruised through a couple dizzying sets of fun. Queens of the Stone Age and Time also played memorable and sturdy sets.

At the Santa Cruz Vets Hall, Krupted Peasant Farmerz and the Force scratched punk with a capital "P" on everybody's arms. The Muggs harvested quirky riffs of glory. Youth Brigade drank those Viagra smoothies again. The Great Divide conquered the hearts of many with an inspired set.

The Damones, What-Nots and Volunteers show at Skinny's added just the right percentage of hoot to hootenanny. P.A.W.N.S. k.i.c.k.e.d. a.s.s. over at the Catalyst. Sloppy Seconds baptized the masses to their demented blend of chub rock. The Lonely Kings can never be impeached due to slick pop bloodlines. Junk Sick Dawn, sporting a feisty horn section, was fiendish fun, too.

R.I.P.

The original P.A.W.N.S. lineup, Reliance, Soda Pop Fuck You, Origami Switchblade, Norman Fell and Tim Yohannon.
Matt Koumaras

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From the December 31-January 6, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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