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Notes From The Underground

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Slow and Steady: Slow Gherkin rides the ska wave
on 'Another in Your Life.'

Battle Skas:
Slow Gherkin converts a ska-phobe, and Palookaville hosts a mix of good and bad

'I DON'T LIKE SKA. ... I don't like ska." I repeat that mantra every night before my homemade Darby Crash blow-up punk doll. Then one night, Darby refused to take part in our special ritual. Instead, he handed me Slow Gherkin's latest 7-inch, Another in Your Life, and said, "Give this a chance, bro." I then crushed all the air out of Darby because I don't like to be proven wrong.

All three of Gherkin's percolated tracks are 110-percent rock & roll candy. The big-time crescendo at the ending of "Another in Your Life" is as thrilling as sipping Cisco on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. There are entrancing keyboards from Peter and smooth bass from Zack. With the sinfully soulful James firmly in charge at the microphone command, Gherkin's tunes never lack an edge.

The song "Michael Jackson" set my hair on fire. (I like the clever "What does it matter if this kid is not my son" part.) I also loved AJ's power chords that were followed up by the trapezelike lead lines. The moody instrumental "ZK III" sports more high-flying brass and woodwind kicks than watching a Ritalin-deprived youth soccer team rush the goalie. So to all 27 members of Slow Gherkin, I say: Don't downsize like the record executives want you to--I like you just the way you are.

For a copy, write Bad Monkey Records, 473 North St., Oakland, 94609.

Industrial Stength

I had heard quite the buzz about Watsonville's Cara Dura and didn't want to leave Palookaville last week without getting stung. The band danced through an upbeat, Bosstoneslike set that was every bit as super as a super veggie burrito from Jalapeños. Roger Ebert was seen skanking in a trance with his thumb directed up to these lads. Cara Dura's front man provided solid, hammy punk vocals, and the guitarist effortlessly wove through many intricate twists.

I saw Nuclear Rabbit years ago at the Omni, and they were doing that Mr. Bungle/Disciples of Id metal-funk-punk stuff that was the cat's meow back then. Now they're doing more ominous Tool-like material with an occasional funk excretion. Their animated vocalist was truly fantastic with his multi-octave cries of dementia. If Spaceboy and Dojo had a baby, Nuclear Rabbit would be the result. "Midgetaur" was a loopy jaunt that made me forget the fact that the members of this band stole my hacky sack before the show. When all your band members are above-average musicians, it isn't too hard to bite the carrot of perfection.

Headliner Puya had an explicit Rage Against the Machine fascination going on that didn't spike my cup of Earl Grey, but the rapid-fire drumming from both drummers was neat--even if one of them had a penchant for the bongos. The staccato-sick guitarist and grungy bassist were too loud for their own good. The fact that I couldn't understand a word the lead singer was grunting made me want all the more to grow a big goatee and get those hair extensions. OK, I obviously can't keep these secrets pent up in the interior of my heart anymore--I rocked out to Puya's generic set, and the check for my Spin subscription is in the mail.


On Monday, March 8, Dimensions of Leon and the Hostiliteens play the Junxion/KZSC (7:30pm).
Matt Koumaras

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From the March 3-10, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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