Brother Andy. Photo by Brian Chilson.
No weather to blame this time. So I'll just say that I've been busy gazing intently at the picture above since last Thursday night.
We packed out Sticky Fingerz more than in weeks’ past last Thursday, and all those who squeezed in were rewarded with performances by four relatively new acts, none of which sounded much alike. As they do, the judges judged and Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth
came out on top.
And really how could it not have? This is a band born to stand apart. Led by the Searcy-born, Russellville-bred Brother Andy, a bear of a man with an Old Testament beard and haircut and a natural metal holler to match, the trio specializes in elegant pop songs that always seem close to exploding.
Lyrically, Andy comes across as religion-damaged/obsessed as Roky Erickson. “Rot Gut Redemption” remembers “what we did in the baptistry, when you got your holy water all over me,” before rhyming “chapel” with “smoke some grass from an apple.” And those are the tame bits.
Another favorite, “Prayin’ for a Rainy Day,” starts with Andy holding back, singing evenly, “I met a lovely girl and beside her I did lay / her legs were long as summers, her eyes were deep as wells” — before launching into a metal holler — “I knew she’s Satan’s daughter and she’ll take me home to hell / Cause I’ve been in love before / and I know how it feels to have your heart fall out your ass and hit the floor.”
At least on Brother Andy’s MySpace page
, the band sounds a lot like Slobberbone in recording, but live, it’s as dynamic as the judges suggest.
Andy’s a casually expert guitarist and Bad Chad (on drums) and Jonny D. (on bass) offer a rhythm section that can compete with anyone in town. Can’t wait to see them again in the finals.
Flash LaRue. Photo by Brian Chilson.
In the opening slot, Flash LaRue
played well enough to advance to the wildcard round. If the group sometimes sounded like a collection of individual pieces struggling to congeal, the moments everything did come together more than made up for those that didn’t. Especially when Bryan Frazier, Jeff Dunman and Shaun Hartman harmonized, and when often, soon after, the band shifted to full-out rawk. These guys are infectious.
Dangerous Idiots. Photo by Brian Chilson.
, in the third position, played as tightly as you’d expect of three veterans of beloved local acts. Theirs is a playful pop, with a sardonic edge. It works on songs like “I’m Cooler Than You” (“I lead a pathetic life, but I know that I'm still cooler than you”), but less so on tracks like “Titties,” which includes lines like, “I want them all the time / Give me big ones, give me small ones / I don't care, I just want them all the time,” but is mostly a lot of harmonized “Tittiiiiiiiiies.” Special props to drummer Shayne Gray, who played the show with a ruptured disc and an abdominal hernia. That, friends, is what the Showcase is all about.
Rah hoWard (in background) with Duke. Photo by Brian Chilson.
In the closing spot, Rah hoWard
showed that he’s a local rapper to watch. But he leaned way too heavily on a reference track. Attention would-be Showcase entrants who rap: You’ll never advance by rapping over a reference track (music with lyrics) that drowns out your vocals. Imagine a band playing along to its CD onstage. It’d get laughed off in no time. Also, Little Rock rappers, please stop writing songs all about how Little Rock’s not getting it’s due. No one beyond Little Rock — and probably few within — cares about our rap scene’s plight. Create an extraordinary song. Then we’ll break the rap curse. All that said, maybe Rah hoWard’s got the tools to do it.