Who wants to be Albuquerque's next rock idol? The mad scientists at Grandma's Music & Sound and 104.7 FM The Edge are teaming up to craft New Mexico's Ultimate Band. The idea is simple: Take four weeks to hand-pick the best musicians in the city, divvy them up into two blistering rock groups of unsurpassed talent, then turn them loose on each other like ravenous hounds at a majestic cock fight. Battle of the Bands meets Evil Dead II? Oh man, I think I just crapped my pants! If you think you've got what it takes, Grandma's will hold mini-competitions every weekend through mid-April, starting with a guitarist roundup this Saturday. Future auditions will include bassists (April 3), singers (April 9) and drummers (April 16). The top musicians from each category will form two bands, eventually going head to head at the Launchpad on May 14. When the dust clears, one group will walk away with "ultimate" bragging rights plus some sweet-ass booty. That's right, booty. Prizes include a guaranteed spot at this year's Edgefest, six hours of recording time, a chance to perform live for a Virgin Records A&R rep., free stuff from the Gas Pipe and brand new equipment courtesy of Grandma's. Check out www.1047edgeradio.com/ubc.html for complete contest details. Then head west and register at Grandma's Music & Sound. They're located at 9310 Coors NW, just north of Paseo del Norte. And tell 'em Large Marge sent you.
Saturday, March 26; Brickyard Pizza (all ages, 8 p.m.): Perhaps it's his James Dean, just rolled in, screw you kind of approach that really speaks to his fans. Whatever it is, Eric McFadden makes it work. McFadden is in town to do the kind of music you won't hear from his well-known trio or from the P-Funk All Stars. With some impressive notches in his career belt, McFadden has managed to strut his stuff with some of the best, such as the Reverend Horton Heat, Primus man Les Claypool and Bo Diddley. Tonight he will be joined by Wally Ingram, a percussionist from McFadden's latest project Stockholm Syndrome. Ingram has a long list of performing credits including tours and performances with Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal and Neil Young.
with the Burning Brides and the Hidden Hand
Monday, March 28; Launchpad (all ages, 8 p.m.): Having nabbed the 2004 album of the year award from Kerrang! magazine, Leviathan, Mastodon's newest full-length offering, has been making, and please indulge me, a mighty big splash. Perhaps history's only 45-minute metal song cycle based on Melville's impenetrable opus Moby Dick, the new record pays little attention to elementary heavy metal cliché. That shouldn't suggest that Mastodon doesn't proudly weave the influence of bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath into their angular, post-hardcore sound, because they do. Nor should one assume that a literary metal record need be any less dark and frightening, because it's plenty dark and plenty frightening. Somehow Mastodon manages to appeal to people who don't necessarily listen to heavy music, while still blowing the minds of the most staunch metal purists. With the unavoidable saturation of the contemporary music market, that sort of quality is rare and reassuring. Having built a reputation as a technically and emotionally explosive live act, their stature should only continue to grow. Add to this that Mastodon has enough musicianship to live off the interest, creating expansive soundscapes, virtuoso guitar riffing and time changes that'll make your stomach drop, and it becomes pretty clear that Monday's show isn't one to miss.
In the early '80s you'd get your ass kicked for riding a skateboard or being a punk rocker. Back then, the world was not ready for Social Distortion. If you liked this kind of music, you were a rebel, an outcast, one of maybe a handful in your city. But these days, being a punk is as normal as being a preppy was back in the '80s. It seems like everyone rides a skateboard, wears a crooked trucker cap or proudly displays a plethora of ill-advised tattoos. Punk rock has found its way to mainstream radio and penetrated our high schools and shopping malls. It baffles me how so many whiney pseudo-punk bands of today attain such a high level of mainstream success while bands like Social Distortion go relatively unnoticed. It's been 25 years since their inception, eight long years since the last record and five years since the tragic death of founding guitarist Dennis Dannell. I was starting to wonder if we'd ever see another Social Distortion release. But punk rock survivor and fiery frontman Mike Ness and his pals have come through with another uncompromising, solid and hard-rocking record full of genuine, reflective and heart-felt songs that rival the Social D classics.
It is a little known fact that St. Patrick was actually not Irish at all, but British. To keep in the spirit of having a good excuse to drink beer, talk a bunch o'blarney, and vomit corned beef and cabbage among family and friends, the Launchpad presented its own we're-not-really-Irish-either celebration. It was a night in which legends were born. Unfortunately, no one will remember any of them due to the ever-flowing Guinness and Jameson and Bushmills, oh my.