And a search for the truth

On the West Coast, Jeff Liles shoots and scores

Jeff "Chate" Liles is one of the few people who appears in Street Beat and has had enough. Exposure, that is--the swimming pools and movie stars of the glamorous music biz. "Oh, man, don't put that in," he said when discussing his move out to Los Angeles a few months ago. "Then every time I run into someone down here, they'll say 'I thought you moved.'"

Of course, it's hard to blame him; if ink were high in cholesterol, Liles' heart would have been replaced with a machine years ago. As an early Deep Ellum mainstay, Liles was a club owner and performer. His activities with respected groups such as Decadent Dub Team and his flair for PR made him a natural winner in the media's quest for Homo Deep Ellumus, or Deep Ellum Man. He's one of the few from the old days who's still doing something now--as guy at the wheel of his spoken-word (for lack of a better term) vehicle Cottonmouth, Texas. In 1995 he released White Trash Receptacle, an album that featured Liles telling tales of fringe-element madness while looped grooves, found sounds, and sparse riffs eddied underneath him.

Liles moved to LA to maximize Cottonmouth's potential, and it appears to have worked: He just signed a five-album deal with Virgin Records and is releasing White Trash as Anti-Social Butterfly. More experimental and noisier than its precursor, Butterfly retains most of Liles' stoned, ruminating monologues and their deadpan humor--particularly the four best-known tracks, for which videos have been made ("Hoops [and a search for the truth]," "Last Four Bucks," "Ugly People," and "Clock Radio")--trimming some, adding to others. The vibe is the same, but with much better production values.

"I don't know if I can get five albums out of Cottonmouth," Liles says from the offices of The Underground, the production company he works with on various video and musical projects. "But I should be able to come up with something." To help with the establishment of that all-important Cottonmouth vibe, Liles has recruited members of several noteworthy local (or locally affiliated) groups, including the Slip (Kenny Withrow, Scott Johnson) and Course of Empire (Mike Jerome).

Cottonmouth, Texas plays the Dark Room November 30.

Surfin' with Otto-man
If you run into Colin "Otto-man" Boyd on the streets of Deep Ellum, he's likely to tell you the same thing he's printed on the insert of his new cassette, Peggy Sue Went Surfin': "buy this here tape so I don't have to deliver pizzas to finance my new CD!!" Boyd, one of the nicest, most affable guys around and an affecting singer-songwriter to boot, has attempted to leaven his generally adorable appearance (guys: ask your girlfriend) by growing a stubbly goatee, lending himself a vaguely devilish air.

Peggy Sue is definitely a continuation of Juliet, a collection of pure and funny folk-pop songs that came out in 1994 with a voice that was equal parts David Wilcox, Buddy Holly (or the ghost thereof), and Wally Pleasant. The new eight-song tape, which is available at most area record stores, is a mere $5. There is one notable departure on this collection of live favorites (Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door"), new songs ("I Wanna Be the One," an Everly-esque number co-written with fellow singer-songwriter Matt Iddings, and "Anything Renee," a surprisingly rocking tune delivered with a full band), covers, and a few slightly different versions of songs that appeared on his first album: "I Know What She's Saying to Him" is a welcome bit of post-romance bile in which Boyd bemoans not only the predictably fickle vagaries of love but--implicitly--his own deluded status.

Boyd handles the vinegar of romance as ably as the vim, and it'll be interesting to see if this--and, of course, the facial hair--presage a slightly more cynical Colin. For the most part, the album avoids a sense of the stopgap, although the joke behind the live, full-band cover of the Bee Gees' "I Just Want to be Your Everything" wears thin long before the rest of the album. Essential for fans, less so for the rest, Peggy Sue Went Surfin' is a nice expansion of Juliet's promise.

Colin Boyd plays November 29 at Java Jones (Mockingbird location) and November 30 at Cafe Society.

Moe, Larry--the cheese!
Mouse and the Traps--anointed as seminal proto-punks by none other than Lenny Kaye for producing classic garage obscurities such as "Maid of Sugar, Made of Spice" and the Dylan-esque "A Public Execution"--play their traditional brace of Thanksgiving shows, appearing in Fort Worth at J&J's Blues Bar on November 27, in Arlington at Tin Lizzie's on November 29, and right here in Dallas at Poor David's Pub on November 30. Mouse (Ronny Weiss), et. al, formed in 1964 and broke up in '69; local legend Bugs Henderson was their lead guitarist. In 1986, the band reunited for a Sesquicentennial concert, and members have since decided to get together at least yearly. Mouse and the Traps are a living signpost pointing back to an underappreciated moment in Dallas musical history, when bands like the Nite Caps got the attention of a culture hungry for rock 'n' roll and earned Dallas a blip on the pop radar. They usually draw a crowd heavy with hipsters from scenes long past, and if you keep your ears open, you can hear some fascinating reminiscence. Although they can start out a bit creaky, all the band members remain music pros, so it's hardly geezer sympathy night, and a reissue of their hits on Ace Records is upcoming.

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