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MUSIC: Ventura County | LOCAL ANGLE

Making Music

Psychobilly roots rock, semi-ska and techno-pop CDs pump up the volume.

October 22, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Here are capsule reviews of CDs by groups that play in the area.

Danny Blitz and the Jet Age Hoods, "Hopeless" (Punks on Nitro Records)

This is psychobilly roots rock with some insightful lyrics as postulated by Blitz, the gearhead who lives for racing, his '55 Chevy, his beautiful girlfriend and beer, in whatever order. Blitz more than lives up to his name with a Blitzkrieg approach to rock--louder and faster. The title tune makes a convincing case for giving up, and the covers rage--"Folsom Prison Blues" and "Roll Over Beethoven."

GRADE: A-

Next gig: Friday at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura.

*

Don Haney Band, "Won't Take Me Long . . . Again"

All the way from Deadwood, S.D., Haney these days is a Long Beach-based bluesman with a day job, a life and all that stuff. His night job is that of a meat and potatoes blues man with lots of sturdy originals. Haney's not going to set the joint on fire, but nor is he going to incite a mass exodus. The funked-out version of "It's All Over Now" doesn't work for me, because I always thought the moment you finally got rid of her was supposed to be a moment of exuberance.

GRADE: B

Next gig: Sunday at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura.

*

Carl Verheyen, "Slingshot" (Mighty Tiger)

One of the best guitar players you've never heard of, Verheyen is an accomplished studio musician with credits longer than this whole section of The Times. This is his fourth studio album, and once again he surrounds himself with able players. The music is mostly blues, but other times he goes off beyond Deep Space Nine to places where even Eric Johnson has never been.

GRADE: B+

Next gig: Saturday at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura.

*

Blue Stew, "Destination: The Blues" (Main St. Records)

Laid back, totally comfortable but rockin' blues by this tight local quartet. The guitar players, John Boutell and Michael Miller, write most of the songs, and they excel. Booze, Ms. Wrong and the other timeless blues topics get special treatment. Solid all around.

GRADE: A-

Next gig: Saturday at Hi Cees in Ventura.

*

Ska Daddyz, "Ska Daddyz"

This is the soundtrack for Party Central in Silver Strand, and after six tumultuous years, half the original members are still aboard for this, their second album. Their beer-drenched past is mostly behind them. One constant, however, is the shredding guitar-playing of Darren "Zorba" Cruz, who lends a searing solo to just about every song. Not really a traditional ska band, but with definite ska influences, the Ska Daddyz are getting some local airplay with their new and improved version of "Hotel California."

GRADE: A-

*

Alejandro Escovedo, "More Miles Than Money" (Bloodshot)

Escovedo has a more than 20-year resume, having been in such bands as the Nuns, the True Believers and those roots-rock legends Rank and File. On this live one, Escovedo plays tunes he wrote in the mid-'90s, mostly intense, introspective love-gone-wrong songs. The backup musicians are first-rate, especially the cello player. Serious stuff.

GRADE: B+

Next gig: Saturday at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

*

Soulfly, "Soulfly" (RoadRunner)

This is the kind of music our parents warned us about and it was the only time they were right. It's not the content but rather the context, as Soulfly offers more screaming than most people can put up with. Soulfly has zero soul, and this CD will not fly.

GRADE: F

Next gig: Oct. 30 at the Ventura Theatre.

*

Howard Jones, "People" (Ark-21)

The soundtrack for techno-pop sunshine during the '80s, Jones is still making happy songs despite the fact there are probably fewer smilers in the '90s. A consummate pop craftsman, Jones has lost none of his songwriting skills, and he still has that cool voice. So, if you're in the mood for relentless, syrupy pop, check out "Tomorrow Is Now" or "Back in Your Life." "If You Love" is as good as "What Is Love" or any of his '80s hits.

GRADE: B+

Next gig: Oct. 28 at the Coach House in Santa Barbara.

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