Off the record

After seven wacky years, 14 Records prepares to close its doors

"I want to inject all the wrong colors into this painting. And in the process of operating this store, I was rebelling against the average retail format in that I wasn't afraid to be stupid. At most record stores, the clerk acts like he's cooler than you, and if anything I believe most of my customers are cooler than me--which ain't sayin' much."

Daisies, reverends,and toads
After so much endless and pointless talk of a music-scene-not-a-scene, here's a lineup that renders the debate moot for an evening: a local-music all-star game (no oxymoron there) certain to bring out the locals en masse. You've got it all--the major-label success stories (Tripping Daisy, Reverend Horton Heat, the Toadies), the should-be famous and would-be geniuses (Funland and Dooms U.K.), and the X factor (UFOFU)--collected on one giant stage, our own Local-palooza (or, more accurately, a Would-Be-Stock).

While there's no denying the attraction of hearing Tripping Daisy and Reverend Horton Heat and the Toadies perform back-to-back--that is, a revisionist rockabilly hero sandwiched between psychedelic pop stars and psychotic pop stars--the addition of Funland and Dooms U.K. to the bill elevates this from a mere Concert of the Signed to a local music event with added credibility. Todd Lewis, Jim Heath, and Tim DeLaughter might be the hearts of local music--the talented men who garner a burgeoning amount of national press, their faces making the occasional appearance on MTV and their voices screaming out from transistor radio speakers--but Peter Schmidt and John Freeman are the local rock scene's souls.

Right now, there is no better local album around than Funland's unreleased disc, recorded in Nashville and sitting in Schmidt's vault--though it now appears the album will indeed be released, with some changes, on the local Crystal Clear Sound imprint Steve Records in the fall. And it's about time: The disc is a remarkable piece of music, its emotions and sounds revealing a range perhaps unfamiliar to those who'd dismiss Funland as "power-pop." For every catchy song like "Angry Girl" or "Spinal Music," there's something like "Spark Loser," which begins as a Bedhead-like whisper, explodes into an unexpected roar, then subsides again. It's a roller-coaster ride, thrilling and bitter and beautiful, so perfect that when Schmidt performed it acoustically two weeks ago at Borders Books & Music, it lost none of its power and actually became more wrenching--less anthemic, perhaps, more a cry for help.

Freeman might well be the anti-Schmidt, his passion for rock and roll outweighed only by his willingness to slay the beast. As frontman for Dooms U.K. and so many other projects, Freeman is unabashed about his love for rock's cheesier side, embracing Journey and Black Sabbath and Adam and the Ants with equal adoration. That he can pay homage to them, deconstructing Sabbath into a polka or Steve Perry into a bluesman or Adam Ant into a folkie, only serves to underline how fine is the line between genius and idiot. So arrive early, stay late and, for one night at least, consider yourself lucky you live in a town that boasts such men.

Tripping Daisy, Reverend Horton Heat, Toadies, Funland, Green Apple Quickstep, Dooms U.K., and UFOFU perform July 29 at Artist Square, next to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Hall.

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