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Notes From The Underground

[whitespace] Peggy Hills
Hills on Fire: India (left) and Miya of the Peggy Hills fired up Skinny McDoogle's last week.

Hill Bound:
The Peggy Hills played Skinny's while the Applicators rocked Pizza Junxion

THE Peggy Hills fired up Skinny McDoogle's last Friday with a tank full of percolated propane-pop. India's ethereal vocals made me all teary-eyed--and not because I was slicing onions at B.K. prior to the show. Tough-as-metallic-hangnails fret work and smooth choruses from Eden and Miya, too. Even without the rad Stonehenge props, nothing could have stopped this talented trio from getting on the motorway to serious rockdom. The songs had the audience moving with more passion than the Olivia Newton-John "Physical" aerobics session that's jammed in my VCR.

Before you max out your Visa and call Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends, I can tell you that she only foresees two things for '99: (1) Dionne will indeed find the way to San Jose and play to disenchanted faces at Rock 'N' Tacos on Tuesdays. (2) The Peggy Hills will have their own animated sitcom and redefine arena rock.

Sweet Nothing also played and reminded me of the What-Nots lite. Mellow sounds filled with dreamy hooks in the arty middle--just like a backstage pass to MTV's Surreal World. The Four Wheel Jets needed energy training wheels. Whatever folk cells I had in my body were crushed by this sinister outbreak. In Siskelian terms, their cover of PJ Harvey's epic "Plants & Rags" was as grim as Harvey Keitel playing the piano in the nude.

Indie Heaven

The Applicators, previously known at the Wash 'N' Dry as the Panties, chiseled precious blood from the indie stone at Pizza Junxion on Jan. 18. Mix equal parts K-Records charm and K-Tel Records swagger, manic ditties about Costco, Joan Jett and GQ gorillas, and the result is complete fun. Melanie's steady drumming and hilarious lyrics would make the little drummer boy drag his kit back to the music store and throw a hissy fit. Michele's decadent guitar lines cut sharper than a Fargo wood-chipping machine. Michele's high-altitude nursery-school vocal rants possess more zeal than knocking all the scooters down at Pergolesi in a caffeinated haze.

Signs & Symbols dished out musical symbolism as easy to understand as the scarlet A I must wear over my chest for my previous sin in the nine-items-or-less line at Frenchy's. Michael, the band's spark plug of a drummer, was fantastic. The vocals seemed forced, but the richly textured guitar tapestries whited-out everything hazy. The neato keyboard work soothed the audience like a visit to a Calgon bathhouse.

The Nervous System from Olympia headlined the show. Question: What's with all these Greek bands invading our town with their false mythology and pet Minotaurs who bully shows away from decent local bands? And then to have the gall to ask for money for a first-class ticket back home? Answer: When you have a wise-ass lead singer succumbing to convulsions and a rhythm section constantly touching perfection, you rule more than old-skool Yanni--you can do what you want.


The Spaceboy/Unida Concussion benefit show was last Sunday (Jan. 24), not the 31st as printed in last week's column.


The Lost Cause CD-release party, along with Séance and Chaos Lounge, enters the Aptos Club on Thursday. The Lonely Kings play the Catalyst on Thursday with Towards an End and Greater Than, Less Than. On Friday, the What-Nots, Jargon and Dolores Hayes play Pizza Junxion.
Matt Koumaras

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From the January 27-February 3, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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