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Stunning Tonto Presents Vol. 1

Posted by September 22nd, 2003 No Comments »

"Tonto say, How!"Stunning Tonto Presents Vol. 1
Various Artists
Stunning Tonto Records
By Matt Brown (going for the world’s record in parenthetical asides…)

One Friday night in Tucson, I was staggering around the all-ages area (read “fenced-off parking lot”) of Club Congress at the latest Chango Malo record release party. I was trying not to repeat my drunken misbehavior from a few weeks before (and eventually failing, but that’s another tale…) when somebody pressed a copy of last year’s Stunning Tonto Records comp into my gnarled paw and hissed “Quit looking at my girlfriend’s ass, grandpa!” Or something that sounded like it, anyway…my hearing is selective these days.

"Tonto say, How!"Stunning Tonto Presents Vol. 1
Various Artists
Stunning Tonto Records
By Matt Brown (going for the world’s record in parenthetical asides…)

One Friday night in Tucson, I was staggering around the all-ages area (read “fenced-off parking lot”) of Club Congress at the latest Chango Malo record release party. I was trying not to repeat my drunken misbehavior from a few weeks before (and eventually failing, but that’s another tale…) when somebody pressed a copy of last year’s Stunning Tonto Records comp into my gnarled paw and hissed “Quit looking at my girlfriend’s ass, grandpa!” Or something that sounded like it, anyway…my hearing is selective these days.

Anyhoo, I’d been meaning to pick this stinker up for a while now because everydamntime (twice a month or so) I pick up the Tucson Weekly (usually to read James DiGiovanna’s incredible movie reviews. I really don’t think this putz even likes movies…) and thumb through it, the words “Stunning Tonto” are usually next to alarming phrases like “putting Tucson on the musical map,” “brimming over with diverse talent” or “gives fantastic head to Tucson Weekly columnists.” I just never got around to buying it (generally it works like this; I go to a show. If I haven’t spent all of my cash on bourbon by closing time, I buy a CD from each band who didn’t completely suck. The CD sits in a big pile of other CDs for months unless a) the band has insisted I take their CD for free, then buy me a beer and swear they want my honest opinion, b) the band actually took the trouble to press the album on vinyl or c) they mention my name in their liner notes. In these cases, we’re talking mere weeks in the pile!)

So here I am listening to Stunning Tonto… (somehow I didn’t lose it in the pit during Chango Malo’s set…) for the fifth time, replaying Gat Rot’s track “This Is Not My America” and wishing more CDs included lyrics in the liner notes. It was hard to decipher, but I think vocalist Charlie Touseull is screaming something like “Rama-lama status quo, we’re actually parodying Pantera rip-off bands, we’ll beat them with baseball baaaaaaats!!!”

I can tell I’m honestly going to enjoy seeing Gat Rot live, but Truck are the cats I’ll be purchasing recorded products from in the near future. “Bloody Beaten Partially Eaten (Fields of Joyous Love Puppies)” careens from Dick Dale backing the Hollies to what sounds like two lunatics looking for their imaginary friend in the bathtub to a full-on instrumental freakout and back again. Less psychotic but just as creative, The Beating burst out with a joyous little pop explosion called “Love 2.” Don’t get too excited, but Kim Howell appears to have the best freakin’ voice in town… she makes all of the boys on this album sound pathetic, to say the least. Maybe she can give lessons to poor Carl from The Retainers. Their cut “Runaway” begs the question, “Is it worse to actually sound like a band from the American Pie 2 soundtrack or to fail trying?” Good Talk Russ kicks off the album in a promising fashion with some promising riffage and savage double kick drums, but ends up playing the same old “alternative” song, aptly named “Ennui”.

Local superstars Red Switch (smartass pop rawk, early 80s style,) The Last Call Brawlers (rockabilly deluxe. Not to be confused with The Last Call Girls, who cleverly swiped a double entendre when they copped the name…) and the ubiquitous Chango Malo (“Horncore”? Hell if I know) all appear here, showing off that “diverse talent” I’ve read about. Love Mound was a pleasant surprise with the riff rock head-nodder “Wind and Rain,” as were Manifold, whose “Sunder” somehow managed to capture their onstage energy (props to Thomas Beach at Groove Slave. Most of these tracks were recorded by different folks at different studios and it matters, believe me. How’s it hangin’, Vikas?)

Let’s see, what else… Lloyd Dobbler, Gabriel Palacios, Mankind (funny stuff… tight rhymes… go see if Vikas or my man Tom Beach will record you – I have old Egyptian Lover cuts recorded onto cassettes I bought at Safeway back in the 80s that bang harder than your shit does here,) scratchingthesurface (idugyoursong”manofsteel”exceptforthewackchorus) and Great American Tragedy (cool squishy noises at the start and finish of your song. Have your singer line up behind Carl to get lessons from Kim Howell. Yeah, I know, but tone-deaf metal singers are so late-90s, man. Even Tom Araya from Slayer makes some kind of melodic sense, dammit.) Oh yeah, and Ladies and Gentlemen. “Meet My Girl.” Your words all rhymed nicely. I met your girl and she told me she’s been sneakin’ around with Carl from The Retainers. Sorry, guys.

Overall, roughly 50% killer, 50% filler. Not bad for a label comp. I’ll give it an extra point for Kim Howell’s voice, though I recently heard a disturbing rumor that she hasn’t been making music lately. Come back, Kim Howell! I promise to try not to look at your ass… (6/10)


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