Mandarin Makes Its Debut

Chomsky, Brutal Juice and others make the news

Mandarin's debut, Driftline, hits stores this week (October 1, to be exact) courtesy of Two Ohm Hop Records, but at least one member of the band is too absorbed in another project to notice. Well, that's probably not entirely true, but guitarist Brian Smith is pretty busy these days, about a month away from the planned grand opening of his new record store in Denton, Johnny Law Records. The store, located at 112 Fry Street, happens to be right next door to the former home of The X, which closed earlier this year, leaving Denton without a real record store. Which is where Smith comes in: For the past two months, he and co-owner Jennifer Marrero have been trying to secure the right location for Johnny Law, and now they're busily renovating the store, tearing down walls, building others, trying to get everything ready as the door-opening date nears. But even with its location, Johnny Law Records is not merely a resurrected version of The X. While Smith says the store will feature a wide variety of indie rock and pop, hip-hop, and punk records, the fare will be "a lot different than The X. I'm ordering pretty much all non-mainstream type music, trying to get a strong selection of avant-garde, jazz, foreign music, stuff you wouldn't usually find at most record stores." It's a selection he refers to as "the unknown essentials"--krautrock, prog, tropicalia, and a bunch of other styles that warrant blank stares from clerks at Tower Records. "It's something I've always wanted to do, and The X and Bone Daddy's closed down pretty close to each other," he explains. "It was a weird feeling, Denton not having a record store with such a hard-driving music community." Looks like that won't be true for much longer. The store will open with a party featuring a few of Denton's finest on October 31. "Give or take a week or two," Smith says. Don't feel obligated to wait until then to pick up the Mandarin disc; the band celebrates the new disc with a show at Dan's Bar on September 29...

Chomsky may not be quite ready to release a follow-up to last year's A Few Possible Selections for the Soundtrack of Your Life, but it does have a label to distribute it: Erv Karwelis' Idol Records. The band's first official recording for Idol, which will rerelease A Few Possible Selections, will be its contribution ("Christmas Time is Here," from the Peanuts' annual X-mas fiesta) to the label's forthcoming Christmas compilation, Electric Ornaments, due in November. (We're still wondering why no one has herded all the project's participants into the studio for a take on Band Aid's 1984 classic, "Do They Know It's Christmas?") While Idol doesn't have a new Chomsky record ready and waiting, it has a pair of new albums from Centro-matic and The Falcon Project that more than fill the void. On the shelves as of September 26, Centro-matic's South Gabriel Songs/Music and The Falcon Project's Lights Karma Action will be feted in a handful of shows in the area, starting with The Falcon Project's gig at the XPO Lounge on September 29. The bands will team up for in-store performances the following two Saturdays, with a show at Good Records on October 7, and another at the Borders' Fort Worth location on October 14. South San Gabriel Songs/Music has also been licensed for European release by Holland's Munich Records (which recently did the same with Centro-matic's last disc, All The Falsest Hearts Can Try), so the boys are planning a trip across the sea in November. In anticipation, a Dutch television crew has been hanging out in Denton all week, interviewing the band and such. Since we don't want to prove that we are about as worldly as a Denny's waitress in DeSoto, we'll refrain from making the one Dutch joke we know. For the record, the joke did, in fact, involve wooden shoes and dykes...

Brutal Juice may be doing at least one reunion gig later this year, and maybe more from what we hear. The band--singer Craig Welch, guitarists Mike Gibson and Ted Wood, bassist Sam McCall, and drummer Ben Burt--have been broken up for some time, going their separate ways after releasing their Interscope Records debut/finale, 1995's Mutilation Makes Identification Difficult, which featured such hits as "Kentucky Fuck Daddy" and "Curbjob." Since then, McCall has moved to New York (though he played in town a month or two ago with his new band Chaotic Past), and the rest of the band plays/played with various local outfits, including The Tomorrowpeople, Clutch Cargo, International Sparkdome, and Pinkston. Though Brutal Juice's former players seem to be settled with their new pursuits, word is they'll all be getting together for a gig in the near future, possibly leading to the kind of arrangement under which Hagfish currently operates--a few shows a year, maybe some recording. We'll see. If you can't wait any longer to see the band back together, just say its name three times. Or don't...

Pantera appears alongside The Supersuckers, Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Joe Strummer, and Fastball's Tony Scalzo, among others, on Free the West Memphis 3, a disc benefiting Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, three teens from West Memphis, Arkansas, wrongly convicted--or so many people claim--of murdering three children in 1993. Well, Pantera doesn't actually appear on the disc, but the group's song "Fucking Hostile" (from 1992's Vulgar Display of Power) is included, rendered almost unrecognizable by former Breeder Kelley Deal. If the cause sounds familiar, you might have seen one of the two fascinating documentaries on the so-called West Memphis 3, 1996's Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and this year's sequel, Revelations: Paradise Lost 2. The album, compiled by Supersucker Eddie Spaghetti, also includes contributions by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (who fronts the Supersuckers on a cover of X's "Poor Girl"), and a reformed Killing Joke. You can hear for yourself when Free the West Memphis 3 hits stores on October 10, courtesy of Koch Records and Aces & Eights Recordings...

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