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New Music worth digging:

Death Valley High
Doom in Full Bloom
Minus Head Records
Label Contact:
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

This slick, dope-metal outfit has Hollywood written all over it: the shiny veneer, PVC practically showing through the speakers. It’s got a primal sexual urge to it that only reaches a humanoid catharsis through cocaine or speeeeed. Dope In Full Bloom is a killer rock record – one that gets you shakin’ all over and ready to gyrate on the dance floor – dope-style.

As for some of the songs: well, #2, “She Wants to Kill” has a certain mania to it that brings to mind a wired, scared freak running through the backstreets of Hollywood, circa 1986, running, trying to get away from either something real (a pissed off pimp) or something imaginary. Either way, it’s a fun gig to listen to as we see the action in our mind’s eye. “Multiply” is kind of a slower, more of a “love song” in their tradition anyway, they lose the maniacal ravings that are present on the first two tracks.

Doom In Full Bloom is basically a nihilistic romp, Hollywood-style, meaning with lots of make-up, wigs, leather mini-skirts and fishnet stockings and, of course, with the ever present, axe-wielding maniac (real or imagined) -what would a Hollywood slasher flick be without the “man-in-the-mask” chasing after you with a machete or a chainsaw? Right? And Doom in Full Bloom seems to provide just the right vibe to this kind of action.

While they may have a classic “Hollywood” style to them, Death Valley High are actually from San Francisco and their members include: Reyka Osburn, Adam Bannister, Chris Sanders and their new bass player, Huffy Hafera.

Kudos to them for not tagging along with a typical “Bay Area” sound, and going for what’s in their hearts & minds. While at first glimpse they are going to be labeled as just another “metal” band, but I’d say they’ve more a bit of pop thrown into that crushing attitude-drive. But once you get on into the midst of the CD you start getting used to it – songs like “The Twist”, “Bring it Down” and “Thru Hell” all have consistent attitudinal action. Also, songs like “Cursed Mary”, “EVOLution” and “Mist & Debris” have a feel that would fit in just perfectly at a dark and dank club, where everyone’s drinking Rolling Rock and Gin & Tonics and alternatively moshing or gyrating to the voices in their heads.

While you might just hear them on a local show in SF, like the ones they play on Sundays on modern rock stations, don’t expect heavy rotation to be their future, which is a good thing – for them. They’re better off with a cult-following and a solid base from which to look for inspiration and to gauge their credibility and success.

Lesson number one in an indie band that has no interest in some fat record company’s money: if you’re hard-core fans tell you that you’ve sold-out, well, then you need to make some changes quickly to avert that notion because in the indie universe there is no worse insult than to be called a “sell-out”. Sure, it’s ok to make money, but not at the expense of your fan base or selling your song rights to make a car commercial or a clothing company. That’s bottom-feeding at its lowest.

Stay true and keep that free-thinking, free-associative head-banging ever-fresh and dark-as in driving down the streets of LA in a 1970 GTO with a loud stereo blasting. -KM

Tigger Clarkson
Forget You EP
Autokinetic Records
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

This new Autokinetic-released disc by Tigger Clarkson from Wilmington, North Carolina is a five-cut display of what he’s put together so far and it’s definitely got a certain patina to it. It’s called Forget You and it is a rather introspective look through some of his personal moments.

The first cut, “Empty Space” is a rockin’ song about, well, what’s left when you take away the phoniness and metaphors and the masks that abound in relationships – unless you happen to be a match made to be together, there usually ends up just being “empty space” when you shake loose the veneer of the persona we all wear to try and fit in with who we think we need to be this or that in order to win over their love and/or affection.

The title track (“Forget You”) is a ditty about one who can’t get over the one that got away but shouldn’t have. He talks at first about how he brought home some other girl one night but all he could think of was “you” and goes on to lament the things that led him to let her walk out and keeps on singing how he can’t forget her and wish he could just “forget you” – but the listener knows that it is only a futile attempt and that the only thing to put things right is to humble himself and get her back since otherwise it will just eat at him and tear him apart.

The other songs – “Long Since”, “Better Them Than You” and “If and When” all have a kind of adult AOR sound to them – and I don’t mean that in a bad way or negatively at all, it shows a maturity of style and that he can switch things up from soul-infused, Ben Harper-style sound, without the political overtones and the sincerity of an Owen or a coffee-shop folk/jazz crooner.

This is one that is hard to put in any box. You’ll just have to hear it for yourself. It’s definitely not heavy nor masqueraded with noize and bells & whistles, just a sparse mix of acoustic guitar and his smoky, softly sung vocals. -KM

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