By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Back in the day, Pete Thomas--perhaps the most clean-cut and nicest of all metal-band frontmen--used to scream about how you're so fucking great but he sucked; back then, when he and Mike Daane and the rest of Last Rites were packing the pre-mallrats Trees, Thomas was the Robert Plant of Deep Ellum, a hirsute funk-rocker who seemed in on the joke. Now, he's growling songs like "Everyone's a Liar," "All She Needs is Benadryl," and "Friends I'd Like to Kill," and it's becoming harder and harder to tell whether he believes such things or just believes they sound good when snarled over riffs Scott Minyard stole out of a 1987 Guitar Player magazine. Not that it matters. It still rocks.
Nominated for: Female Vocalist
She has always been so hard to figure out, this woman with a fighter's body and an angel's voice. Even those who know her well will say they hardly know her at all; she keeps her clenched-jaw secrets to herself, buried beneath the tattoos and leather and denim and short-cropped hair. She once revealed that she began performing in Washington, D.C., in metal and jazz-thrash bands; she also mentioned she had moved to Dallas in 1991 on "intuition," knowing no one here but taking the plunge nonetheless. But other than that, she's a proud enigma--a woman scared to death each time she gets on the stage but determined to do it nonetheless. She swears she hates the sound of her own voice, and then turns around and releases a 12-song CD filled with nothing but her voice and her guitar. Perhaps to figure her out would ruin the surprise.
It seems like forever ago she was lost standing in the shadow of Johnny McNabb and Bill Longhorse during her days as Rumble's bassist, playing bass in silence as she and Pete Coatney kept time. Once a night, Spyche would step to the mike and bring the set to a dead-quiet stop, whispering Prince's "The Beautiful Ones" as though it was about everyone in the room; even on a worn-out old tape made during a set a thousand years ago, you can still hear the crowd's hearts beating. Her next band, 39 Powers, had local star power but not star quality; every member of the band seemed better than the material they were coming up with. Now, she's in Darlington, and it all seems like so much fun for Spyche, the been-around-the-block veteran playing with such eager punk-rock boys; she says she's having a ball.
But her first solo record seems to be her real passion, no matter how she denies it; after all, it takes real guts to lay yourself this bare when you claim to abhor it so damned much. So Blue You Shimmer captures those shaky Club Dada gigs with accurate, piercing intimacy. Produced by Matt Pence and Dave Willingham, the album is so heartfelt, it hurts. "The only time you'll hear from me is when I'm blue," she sings in a voice that sounds as though it's coming from the bottom of a bottle. Who the hell is Spyche? Why, she's you and me.
Nominated for: Cover Band
Conventional wisdom would say being in a cover band is easy. You don't have to write any songs. You have the entire history of music to mine from. So you pick surefire pieces, songs that not even a cranky Dallas Observer critic would dare not like--say, the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" or "Let's Spend the Night Together" or "Bitch." You make sure you get a guitarist that can at least speak the same language as Keith Richards. You get a drummer who understands that Charlie Watts was really the man holding the plan in that band; maybe you even land a seasoned Young Turk such as Bryan Wakeland on occasion. Although it's not mandatory, somewhere along the line you might even stumble upon a lanky youth with the right sass and strut--or at least some big ol' honkin' lips. If you can get all these things, you'd think you'd be set.
But you won't be. After all, there's more to the Rolling Stones than just the words and the guitar licks and the backbeat and the stance. So Sticky Fingers, the Thursday-night version of Club Dada's Insert-Classic-Rock-Band-Here tribute show, won't start you up. But to be fair, they won't shatter you either. They'll just roll out a couple of rough-and-tumble sets of hits that'll make you long for the real thing. Which isn't really so bad. After all, that's pretty much the same effect you get these days from watching the real Glimmer Twins in action.
Nominated for: Metal, Industrial/dance.
Ah, smell the machismo--sweat, beer, tattoos, guitars on overdrive, and the exaggerated throatiness of boys playing men. Rap meets metal, metal meets funk, funk meets industrial. This is Hard, Fast, Loud, and Mean, and one hell of a catharsis (beating?) for those standing near the stage. The title of the band's full-length debut, Dynamic Domination (Last Beat, 1996), pretty much says it all, as do the song titles: "Beast," "Mouthful of Shit," "Outhouse." The onslaught of noise makes it hard to really nail whether the band views shock value as an inside joke or a dead-serious endeavor. (Given the photo on the inside of the CD cover--the guys mooning a photographer--my guess is that they're sometimes laughing behind those throttling screams.)