Word to Northeast Portland's aficionados of garage-greased crap-rock obscurity: Just quit cryin' in that finely poured pint of PBR at the Jockey Club or Billy Ray's, because contrary to the PacNorWest rock-and-roll rumor mill, YOUR FAVORITE BAND FROM SEATTLE HAS NOT BROKEN UP. But beware anyway, because soon the rest of the world may discover the joy you take in the Spits' dunderheaded, downbeat, Ramones-esque odes to dropping out, hating pussies and wishing A-holes dead. Soon there may be a whole pop movement turned on to early-'80s West Coast outsider fashion meltdown, the sartorial realm where Repo Man meets Taxi Driver. Three-quarter-length trench coats, floppy, inch-wide mohawks, mustaches and cop sunglasses may become all the rage.
Could happen. If the Briefs, Jet City bleached blonds, could turn their caffeinated New Wave pogo into a million-dollar Interscope deal, who's to say their good buddies and former tourmates--not to mention YOUR FAVORITE BAND--couldn't do the same with tight-jawed Neanderthal punk? And who's to say that would be a bad thing? After Green Day, the public deserves the Spits.
One unquestionably good thing, however, the thing that at least half of you NoPo "garage rockers" have already told me (that makes--what?--ten of you?), is just how great the self-titled Spits full-length is. And you're right. These nine steady blasts of loser-goof bad attitude are posture-perfect, unflinching and hysterical.
As far as the-Spits-breaking-up business goes, a guy who plans on putting out more music by the band assures me its members are still together. They just have a hard time finding themselves in the same city at the same time. Don't worry, you'll see 'em live again, and chances are, the show won't be crowded. Sorry to scare you like that. Sam Dodge Soule
This local duo's album evokes the sleepy feel of a rain-washed afternoon, when everything seems to slip into a pleasantly narcotized half-coma under gray skies. The 14 instrumentals trace quotidian rituals and ephemera, from "Dawn" to "Sundown," with muted meditations on "Phone Lines," "Bathrobe" and "Fashion Magazine" scattered between. Rather than lapsing into the mundane, however, Eric Diaz and Eric Mast invest these understated, mostly electronic essays with quiet patience, the Zen opposite of boredom. Zach Dundas
Child of the Ghetto
(Bad Boy Records/Arista)
Hip-hop mogul Sean "Puffy Puff Daddy P. Diddy" Combs plucked G. Dep right out of a Harlem project, dressed him up and turned him out. The Deputy, as he's now called, rasps a fierce chronicle of the urban oppressed--spliffs, clips, plush sluts and dust share wax space with government cheese, broken elevators, hunger and depression. Cool G Rap, Rakim, Black Rob and P. Diddy himself make guest appearances. The most ominous turn comes from Shyne, sentenced to hard time in the same trial that acquitted Combs of the '99 Club New York shooting. Shyne won't be eligible for parole until 2010, so this might be his last appearance for a while. Reality bytes. Sherron Lumley
Christmas at Rao's
Nominally connected to a venerable New York Italian restaurant, this comp looks like something you'd find in the discount CD racks at Jubitz Truck Stop. Corndog-scented oblivion is, indeed, the likely fate of this Yuletide fondue. However, there is some grade-A kitsch here. José Feliciano's all-singing, all-dancing "Feliz Navidad" from 1970 gives way to Jerry Vale's maudlin "O Holy Night." Spaghetti 'n' meatballs nuttiness in the Eye-taliano mama-mia vein comes from Lou Monte's mind-bendingly moronic "Dominick the Donkey" and Louis Prima's roaring "Shake Hands With Santa Claus." The perfect gift for the guy on your list who thinks Junior Soprano embodies the American Man. Zach Dundas
Cinemaphonic Vol. 2: Soul Punch
Cinemaphonic is the musical equivalent of those "retro" paperbacks on the back shelves of every Goodwill, crumbling pulps with titles like Dragstrip Harlot and Bachelor Asteroid. This generic jazz and funk, canned for use as instant soundtrack material by no-budget '70s Brit movies, stirs visions of men in powder-blue jumpsuits, the women they loved, the Aston Martins they drove and the spies who killed them all. Titles range from vaguely Japanese ("Number One Spy") to hedonistic ("Mile High Swinger") to oddly disturbing ("Flute Salad"). We have here a life manifesto for thrift-store secret agents and coffeehouse ninjas of all nations. Zach Dundas