The Industry, a local music monthly, just went belly-up -- our condolences to fans of hack writing, crappy graphics and press-kit puffery on mostly worthless local bands (the ones that can afford to advertise, anyway). Actually, with the exception of Kevin Johnson, the pop-music "critic" from the Post-Dispatch, it was hard to find anyone with anything remotely positive to say about The In-duh-stry, as one local wit calls it. Although the publishers obviously sank a lot of money into four-color processing, the photos always looked like absolute shit and the layout "artist" might as well have been a precocious seventh-grader with a Macintosh.
In an article in last week's "Get Out" section, Johnson informed local musicians that they have only themselves to "blame" for its demise. Radar Station says, "Way to go, local bands!" We'd call it a mercy killing or justifiable homicide. Maybe, as Johnson notes, the advertising rates were cheap -- starting at $25 -- but only a fool would throw his hard-earned dollars down the black hole of pure suckitude that was The Industry. The failure of The Industry proves that the St. Louis music community isn't as moronic as some might suppose. According to Johnson, "The Industry succeeded in being more musically inclusive than the rock-heavy Riverfront Times and the black-music-oriented St. Louis American" -- which is to say that they wrote about all the bands we ignore because they blow. (And as for the RFT's being "rock-heavy," where the hell have you been, Kevin Johnson? When's the last time the P-D spilled any ink on Nobukazu Takemura, Western Robot or Mouse on Mars?) Most nauseating of all, however, is the quote from publisher Kevin Hopkins, which goes without commentary from Johnson, who apparently missed that day in J-school when they talked about the sanctity of the wall between editorial and advertising: "[W]e know [local musicians] know we were out there, because we get requests to cover their events. But why not run an ad, and cover your own event? Don't ask us for a cover story if you can't support us." In other words, local bands, you gotta pay for play. Good riddance to that rag and to such shameless extortion tactics.
Two excellent local bands are holding record-release parties this week: On Thursday, June 28, Climber performs at the Creepy Crawl to celebrate the release of the band's fine EP Virginia Heart Attack. Climber makes moody, dissonant guitar rock, sometimes reminiscent of the Pixies or Throwing Muses but with an undefinable something that sets the group apart from the rest of its college-rock ilk. Climber's strong suit is definitely vocal harmonies: Guitarist Heather Dahl and bassist Julie Butler both have sturdy, tuneful voices, and when they weave them together, it's captivating.
On Friday, June 29, Fred's Variety Group holds a release party at Frederick's Music Lounge for its first CD, Pretty Blue Pills. Radar Station is ashamed to confess that we've not yet seen Fred's Variety Group, but, after hearing an advance of the CD, we plan to correct the oversight very soon. The band is composed of Sunyatta Marshall on rhythm guitar and vocals, Sherman S. Sherman on double bass and vocals, and Mark Stephens (of Highway Matrons fame) on lead guitar and vocals; no Freds are to be had, it should be noted, although Fred Friction used to play drums for them (hence the name, we're guessing). The strongest tracks on the CD -- most notably "Slow Car" -- wouldn't be out of place on a Bloodshot compilation; they certainly stand out in St. Louis' overcrowded, often-predictable alt-country scene.
Scurrilous gossip it might be, but as long-time X fanatics, we feel compelled to report that the great Exene Cervenkova is living in the St. Louis area and has been sighted at the Way Out Club. According to the rumors, Cervenkova's made a love connection with a certain local drummer; our sources, damn them, are too discreet to name names. In any case, we're glad she's here, and we hope she sticks around and makes some music. Wouldn't it be cool to hear Exene sitting in with Sexicolor or Kamikaze Cowboy?
Speaking of famous people in St. Louis, none other than MC Hammer will perform on Thursday, June 28, at the Greater Pentecostal Church of God, 6080 W. Florissant Ave. in North St. Louis. According to Larry Rodgers (the self-declared hype man of gospel music whose band, Word of Truth, is opening), Hammer's gotten religion but is still bringing down the house (or the church, as it were). Radar Station will be there with bells on, of course. Please, Hammer, don't hurt us! Next week, we cover underground local hip-hop, which may or may not include the Rev. Hammer.