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MUSIC: Ventura County | LOCAL ANGLE

Making Music : Rock, punk and blues are among recent CD releases by area groups.

July 02, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Capsule reviews of recent releases by local bands or groups that play Ventura County with some frequency:

Zelig, "Race You to the Sun"

There are a lot of cool covers plus some originals on this 22-song epic debut CD. Zelig is, in fact, Brian Wurschum and Laurel Hoffman, the voices behind the greatest rock band in all of Newbury Park, majority DOG. Just two voices and an acoustic guitar, Zelig starts off with a Beatles' classic, "I've Just Seen a Face," which pretty much sets the tone. These two can sing with Simon & Garfunkel intensity.

GRADE: A-

Next gig: July 18 at Cafe Voltaire, Ventura.

*

The Chortelers, "The Chortelers"

This is a pumped up, punked out two-song tape, and a typical testosterone-laden kid band with lots of energy. The wild guitars are OK, but the vocals are merely adequate. Still these guys would be fun at a party--until the cops showed up.

GRADE: C+

*

The Paul deLay Band, "Nice & Strong" (Evidence)

At first they begin like any other basic blues band, but then deLay's harp playing starts to grow on you. This Portland-based blues man has been performing and touring for decades, and seems more dedicated than ever after a stint in jail for selling drugs. Clean and sober and full of the blues, deLay plays it fast and loose on this collection of mostly originals.

GRADE: B

Next gig: July 12 at the Central Coast Blues Festival in Santa Barbara.

*

Curve, "Come Clean" (Universal Records)

Curve plays weird Gothic industrial trance rock featuring the frequently abrasive vocals of Toni Halliday. Her buddy, Dean Garcia, is the head noise meister. Some of this stuff sounds like the band KMFDM, other times like straight pop and still other times like a cat fight in a machine shop.

GRADE: C

Next gig: Saturday at the Ventura Theatre.

*

Toni Land, "Karaoke King" (Wondergirl Music)

This former Santa Barbaran and UC Santa Barbara grad followed half of California and relocated to Portland. In the Northwest, according to her voluminous bio, this six-song extended play is getting airplay on more than 50 stations. It should. This is a professionally done, supremely confident effort by a singer-songwriter who has the pipes to pull it off. When she blasts out the first song, "I Don't Like You," she delivers it with religious fervor. All the musicians are first-rate.

GRADE: A-

*

Dorian Michael, "The Way We Dance" (Nightjar Music)

I don't think Michael has to worry about too many dancers getting in the way when he plays--he does solo acoustic guitar stuff, and very well, too. Although technically proficient, Michael plays sit-and-stare music, or even background music for conversation. Someone's gotta do it, I guess.

GRADE: B+

*

The Henchmyn, "Two Thumbs Down" (Studio 15 Records)

This one is recorded live at the Living Room, an all-ages venue in Goleta. It's basic, frantic ska with the horn guys and the keyboard player working overtime. The title tune works best. The CD itself is black-and-white checkered--like Spicoli's Vans in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Cool dance music for junior.

GRADE: B

*

Mike Welch, "Catch Me" (Tone-Cool Records)

Formerly "Monster Mike," Welch has reassumed human form as a young blues guitar player. He's got a couple of incendiary guitar solos, particularly on "Mole's Blues," and everything else is thoroughly professional. Yet that something that could take him to the next level is lacking.

GRADE: B-

Next gig: July 12 at the Central Coast Blues Festival in Santa Barbara.

*

Indigo Swing, "All Aboard!" (Time Bomb)

These guys are kings of the San Francisco swing thing. Big band, jump jive and cool clothes combine on a bunch of songs even mom and dad could relate to. The soundtrack begins with "Indigo Swing," a raucous instrumental, and later gives the swing treatment to an early Oingo Boingo tune, "Violent Love." Baron Shul on sax, William Beatty on boogie-woogie piano and vocalist Johnny Boyd are standouts in an outstanding band.

GRADE: A

Next gig: July 11 at Yucatan Cantina in Santa Barbara.

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