UNSIGNED ON THE DOTTED LINE

by: Syd Edwards


Welcome to the first installment of my new column for THE ROC. Each issue, I'll be covering the better unsigned/indie-label groups out there and occasionally we'll take a look and see how they have come along since their first appearances. If you would like to submit your band's demo/latest release for consideration send it, along with a bio, presskit, a list of your most recent Elvis sightings, merchandise (I love t-shirts, XL or XXL, thank you) your girlfriend's unmentionables--use your imagination folks--to: Syd Edwards, P.O. Box 448, Point Pleasant, WV 25550. Also check out the ad rates on page 27 of this issue, THE ROC gives discounts to you, the little guy. You can help in the war against censorship and get national coverage at the same time!


CALIFORNIA

Bound by chance in the late 20th century, LA' s DRAIN THE DOVES have all but abandoned the live performance medium to allow themselves the freedom to further explore their obsession with manipulation, abuse and perversion of the frequency spectrum within the confines of their respective studio/laboratories/torture chambers. The result of their experimentation so far, "Mouvaisong" and "Injectible Gods" are mildly hallucinogenic and profoundly disturbing trips into chaos, yet you will find yourself compelled to give these two releases repeated listenings.

This duo, Michael Rozon and Michael Ciravolo, use drills, electric razors, t.v. speakers and other non-musical items in an abstract approach to music while tackling such heavy subject matters as The Bitch of Buchenwald, a Nazi woman who collected the tattooed skins of concentration camp victims. This is not music for the closed minded or easily offended, so of course, I recommend you get your hands on it pronto! Contact: Drain The Doves, 5214 Strohm Ave., N. Hollywood, CA 91601.

Bigger than Texas and heavier than God, LUDLOW are everything those so called "raw and hard" California bands on MTV (i.e. The Offspring, Green Day, etc.) pretend to be. Their debut release, "I Give God A Headache," is a swirling vortex of sludgy heaviness with flesh scorching vocals. Witness Joel Whitcomb's voice on the opening cut, "Trusting." I haven't heard that kind of conviction in years! Listen close and you'll hear Billy Joe Armstrong melting in the background.

This quartet are destined for greatness. Not quite metal, grunge, punk or any other label-of-the-month, their creedo of Intelligent Expression Through Cathartic Volume is one many lesser bands should adopt. Guys doing hard time in prison love Ludlow and so do I. Contact: Ludlow c/o Screaming Tree Productions, P.O. Box 93664, LA, CA 90093. The Ludline: (213) 427-8557.

Soulful, bluesy and loaded with talent, I FOUND GOD are a potent combination of late '60's-early '70's rock 'n' roll and '90's slickness. Vocalist Christy Gerhard is blessed with a set of pipes that can send chills down your spine and guitarist Stress has mastered the rare art of tasty licks. Their latest release, "Lure" is a tapestry of emotional depth that contains no less than three could-hits, "Glad I'm Not You," "Crying," and "Go To Hell." I also love the remix "Junkie" produced by Drain The Dove's Michael Rozon and Michael Ciravolo.

Also of note is the fish hook/crucifix on the cover of "Lure." Let's hope that when I.F.G. are signed the label will allow them to keep using it. Snatch this one up today. Contact: I Found God c/o Stress Mgmt., 7095 Hollywood Blvd. #394, Hollywood, CA 90028.

Fans of Lycia and The Ascension will probably already be aware of Santa Barbara's TRANCE TO THE SUN, who have appeared with these groups - among others - on their most recent tour. Their brooding and hypnotic music incorporates elements of gothic, ambient and ethereal music into an elegant brew that has continued growing through their releases, "Ghost Forest" and "Bloom Flowers Bloom!" and their soon to be released third offering. Multi-instrumentalist Ashkelon Sein and vocalist Zoe Alexandra Wakefield create aural landscapes of stark beauty that are best listened to on a rainy evenings with a bottle of red wine and some candlelight. When you finally slip into the arms of sleep you'll swear you were visited by angels wearing halos of flowers.

This is some of the greatest "dark music" I've come across and as that genre of music gains the mass acceptance it should, Trance To The Sun will be there. Catch them live. Contact: Tess Records, POB 206, Santa Barbara, CA 93102.


NEW YORK

From Binghamton, VITRIOLA (formerly known as Evil Twin) are a trio who have created a highly unique sound via unusual instrumentation and combining elements of various musical genres. Their nine-song demo, "The Silence Soiled" (recorded under their old moniker), showcases the vocals and cello of Karen Mittelstadt and defies all attempts to being pigeon-holed. Suffice it to say this band is "alternative" in the truest sense of the word.

Check out the guitar-cello trade off between Mittelstadt and guitarist/flutist programmer "Fist of Love," and the sometimes industrial "drummage" of Generic Mike on tracks such as "Purge." This is also highly recommended for its restrained production. Contact: VITRIOLA c/o Generic Mike, 58 Wilson Hill Rd., Binghamton, NY 13905.

In the past few years Brooklyn has proven to be a hot bed of great music and the next group to claw their way to the top could very well be URANIUM 235. This quintet's live show is non-stop, in your face, and more exciting than many of the groups they've been opening for, and that is not to detract from their four song demo.

Best described as Type O Negative meets Nine Inch Nails and Sisters of Mercy, tracks such as "God Thing" and."Bleed My Disease" rock with a powerful bite, yet there is some serious thought behind the lyrics. Also outstanding is their live medley of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Right Around." U235 are on the cutting edge of '90's music and will soon be carving out a niche of their own. Contact: Uranium 235, 1314 78th St., Brooklyn, NY 11228-2720.


OHIO

Cleveland's WARCHYLDE are currently at work on their fourth release and are riding the waves of success from their self-titled masterwork, released earlier this year. Powerful '80's-tingled hard rock is their forte' and tracks such as "Money Maker" and "Land Of The Free" are ripe for even more radio airplay. The twin-guitar attack of Butch Whitney and Casey Moore harken back to the heyday of Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy while vocalist/bassist/producer Cal Moore's Ozzy-esque voice blends neatly into the fray. I caught this quartet numerous times in their decade of touring North America and their over-the-top live show packs a wallop of arena size groups, complete with pyrotechnics and a Destroyer-era Kiss light show. A European distribution deal has been signed, a Japanese distribution deal is pending. I predict Warchylde will be in record stores nationwide in the near future. Contact: WARCHYLDE, POB 194, Canal Fulton, OH 44614.

Those of you who like your music on the side should check out Toledo's DAMIEN, whose latest track offering "Angel Juice" is a full blown assault that's guaranteed to give you whiplash. Guitarist Chuck Stohl's Malmsteen flavored fretwork leads this four-headed monster through some powerful metal offerings culminates with the album's final cut, "The Legend of Trotis," instrumental roller-coaster of grandiose riffing.

Anyone who's convinced that Metal is dead need to take a listen to Damien, you'll find yourself moshing with abandon from start to finish whether or not anyone else is in the room. Pass me that neck brace...Contact: DAMIEN, c/o MS Productions, 69 Cooper Sq. #1102, NY NY 10003, or DAMIEN, POB 4245 Toledo, OH 43609.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Take equal parts of Prince, James Brown, Led Zep and Living Colour, mix well, and you've got THE ROOT DOCTORS prescription to keep your toes tapping and butts shaking. Their latest release, "No Bones About It" is one of the hottest doses of funk I've heard since the debut of Infectious Grooves, and vocalist Walter Hemingway easily outclasses Psycho-Mike Muir's whining.

Also notable is bassist Donnie Sowell, whose pop and slap rivals brother Louis Johnson's best, and that doesn't mean the rest of this Columbia-based quintet are slouches. Take a listen to their remake of "Eleanor Rigby," the outrageously cool "Booty Song" or their single, "Home," all of which are just what the doctor(s) ordered. I love it! Contact: ZDS Management, 160 Garden Springs Rd., Columbia, SC 29209. (803) 783-5733 or (803) 738-9053.


WEST VIRGINIA

Charleston's CRAZY JANE have been causing quite a stir throughout the U.S. with the debut "Choice Oranges" and numerous treks to the four corners of the country. Fronted by vocalist Karen Allen, whose powerful voice rings like a bell whether she's whispering or belting it out, this quartet deliver the goods with a combination of tribal rhythms and chunky guitarwork, the latter of which is courtesy of Andy Park. My favorite cut on the CD, "Whore," is a lush trip through the mind of a mistress, and the self-produced video for that song conveys the loneliness of said mistress in layers--making it the perfect compliment.

A second release is supposed to be in the works at press time, and a new bassist has been brought into the fold, both of which hint at some big changes in the group's sound. Several major labels have been lurking in the shadows, one better sign them up soon. Contact: Crazy Jane, POB 5119, Charleston, WV 25361.

Last, but not least, we have MADIAN, a Parkersburg-based quartet who are hell-bent on making it. Their cross-pollination of metal and alternative music first caught my ear live a few months ago at a local club. The band captured the attention of a normally Country & Western audience with their intense all originals set. Their current demo doesn't do the music justice, but vocalist Tony Breeden had assured me their next one will.

This group has the hunger and fortitude to make it, no matter what obstacles are put before them. Given some time, some fine tuning and some plain old fashion luck Madian may well achieve their goal. Contact: Madian, 2001 Core Rd., Parkersburg, WV 26101.

Until next time, take it any way you can get it! Next time: LYCIA, NO EXCUSE, PIST-ON, THANATOS and more.

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