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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

[whitespace] Cheap Dates:
Low costs keep local bands and zines in swift circulation

T HE WORD "FREE" HAS A STUNNING POWER--everyone's enticed by the invitation to tear open those Publisher's Clearinghouse envelopes. Fortunately, not everything gratis is a mere cheap gimmick--every once in a while, the jaded consumer may stumble across something of actual value without a price on its head. On that note, check out some of the free publications in circulation, like Jank, a brutal comic pamphlet with art that resembles Lynda Barry's and a dry wit like Matt Groening's, but without the friendly edges.

Copies appeared on Saturday at Streetlight when Splashback, resident proof of the ageless charm of the instrumental surf band, made an afternoon appearance (you guessed it, for free), and local bands harassed overworked the store's Andy Pitman for a chance to play live.

Of course, you can't blame folks for trying to pay for production costs, but the same sentiment (and incentive to buy) is kept when the margin of profit is kept low. Local independent bands deserve their fans' loyalty on that level, almost across the board.

The newest notable, and hopefully inexpensive, releases include Live From Mars, a benefit compilation for KZSC which should leap like a puppy into the arms of young ska fans, and the one from P.A.W.N.S./Political Silence. After watching both these bands perform at the Santa Cruz Still Sucks! extravaganza, kids should be moshing over this one in their rooms where no band members will admonish them for "pitting." Fans and bands alike deserve praise for their mutual loyalty--not to mention resisting the capitalist regime.
Arwen Curry

Better Than Cosby

How can you not adore a band that sings, "We are the Huxtables, and don't you fuxtable with us," and has a cover photo of a donut-fueled nerd at a video game I used to dig-dug (an honorable mention for you old school Atari 2600 fans hiding out there).

The Huxtables' melodic sound kind of reminds me of Screeching Weasel carjacking Sha Na Na. "Mail Lady," with its nasally "whoa" chorus is my favorite tune on the Santa Cruz Still Sucks ! CD. Guitarist Matt Porter's punchy new-wave riff is the finest I've heard since my mom last cleaned the wax out of my ears.

On "Around," vocalist Colt Hangen croons, "Last night when we were eating, I had trouble putting small bites down." This ballad is more heartfelt than any TNT movie (the cable station, not the band, although I'd pay $7 to see that, too) The syrupy backing vocals probably get a stamp of approval from the original Huxtable Malcolm Jamal Warner, too.

I may have steered you wrong with that Corey Haim/Enya gangsta polka album, but this time I do not jest. Grab all your quarters and Miss Pac Man merchandise and check out the Huxtables. For more info, write: The Huxtables, 314 Swift St., Santa Cruz, 95060.
Matt Koumaras

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From the January 29-February 4, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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