By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
El Gato will celebrate the release of its first full-length, We're Birds, on January 18 at the Gypsy Tea Room, with a shindig featuring performances by Hi-Fi Drowning and French Touch. (The disc hit stores January 15.) The group will also toast to its own accomplishment on February 2 at Good Records, with a smaller-scale par-tay at 4 p.m. The band--singer-guitarist John Vineyard, guitarist-keyboard player John Burgmeier, bassist Evan Hisey and drummer Kevin Dotolo--recorded We're Birds, the follow-up to 1998's Everybody's a Piñata EP, with The Polyphonic Spree's Mark Pirro producing. Pirro's not the only member of the Spree involved in the record; the female members of the PS choir back up the group on "Christmas in My City." We had a chance to listen to a few songs off the disc in December, when the band and Pirro were finishing up mixing the record at Last Beat Studio, and it's nothing if not a major step forward from Everybody's a Piñata. From the little bit we've heard, it sounds as if the band has weeded out most of its Jane's Addiction records for its collection since Piñata and moved on to repeated spins of The Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin. This is not to say that the group is merely aping Wayne Coyne and company this time around. Even if they were, well, they'd at least be stealing from the right place. Should be worth your money...
Seems the Tea Room is hosting everyone's CD-release get-down these days. The day before the El Gato soiree, Nate Fowler's Elixir will unveil its self-titled debut at Gypsy (see the full story in a page or two). And on January 25, Chao (Captain Audio captain Regina Chellew's solo project) will officially, and finally, fete its own debut, Hitsthemiss, with a show including Pleasure Club and Emily Wells. Pleasure Club--if you're wondering and, hey, even if you're not--is the latest band from James Hall, who's played in town so often you might as well consider him a local boy. Pleasure Club, which happened to be the name of Hall's second solo album and debut for Geffen Records in 1996, also includes bassist Grant Curry, guitarist Marc Hunter and drummer Michael Jerome, late of a number of local outfits, Pop Poppins and Course of Empire among them. Guess what? Pleasure Club is also supporting a brand-new record, Here Comes the Trick. So it all works out, sort of. Sorry, we got a bit confused near the end there...
Long as we're talking 'bout CD-release parties, here's one that's not at Gypsy Tea Room: The Deathray Davies will debut their third disc, The Day of the Ray, on February 23 at Trees, with a lineup that hasn't been nailed down just yet. The group's two previous efforts, 1998's Drink With the Grown-ups and Listen to the Jazz and 2000's The Return of the Drunk Ventriloquist, weren't really the work of a band at all; the debut was recorded almost entirely by singer-guitarist John Dufilho, and the follow-up was only a bit more collaborative. The Day of the Ray (again released by Idol Records) is a different situation, recorded by the entire band at various studios in the D-D-FW area, including Edge of the World Studios (with Aaron Kelley) and The Echo Lab (with Matt Pence). Deathray heads out on the road for a bit after the release show, including dates with Dressy Bessy. In the meantime, you can catch them at the Groovy Mule in Denton on Friday with Chomsky and Lucy Loves Schroeder and on January 31 at Trees with The Breeders. Know we've mentioned that before, but it bears repeating. Maybe...
In related news, the fifth installment of the Buzz-Oven series of local band samplers is finished, and for the first time, it features four bands. The lineup is aforementioned Deathray Davies, [DARYL], Bee (who won a battle o' the bands to be included), and rounding out the disc will be a couple of selections from The Burden Brothers, the new band from former Toadies front man Todd Lewis and Taz Bentley, late of the Reverend Horton Heat. (You'll notice we didn't make any snide reference to the Rev just then. It's part of a New Year's resolution. Or maybe the well's just running a little dry this week.) The standard Buzz-Oven all-ages shows will happen in April, and to give everyone a little preview, Deathray and Chomsky will perform at Good Records on Sunday. If you're wondering why Chomsky's on the bill, it's a little thank you to the Buzz-Oven volunteers for pushing the band's "00:15:00" single. (You might know it as "15 Minutes to Rock.") Be there and be square...
OHNO isn't releasing a record this week, but it sounds like the group will later this year. The band is set to record a few tunes with producer John Alagia, who has worked on everything from the first Dave Matthews Band recordings to Ben Folds Five, Vertical Horizon, Edwin McCain and more. OK, other than Ben Folds Five, that's not exactly a list that perks your ears up, and if it is, you probably wouldn't be that big a fan of OHNO, based on what we've heard and seen. The main problem with the list is there's not a single British band on it, and that seems to be more what OHNO's going for. Go down to Good Records and listen to some Super Furry Animals albums--singer-guitarist Steven Holt admits to being a big fan--if you want to get a better idea. Or just check 'em out for yourself on January 19 at Trees, when they play with Sugarbomb and Girl.