Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Rhythm and Views

APRIL 24, 2000: 

ZEKE Dirty Sanchez (Epitaph)

Here are 15 astounding punk rock salvos that clock in at less than 30 incredible minutes. Rocketship-fast instrumental thrust and gruesomely screamed vocal pyrotechnics from these heavily tattooed gear heads haven't sounded this ruthless since the Dwarves charged on the scene a dozen years ago. Zeke, thriving near the grunge-ravaged bowels of the Pacific Northwest, shares the same speed-driven and crack-fueled angst as the band's sex-obsessed mentors. "Dirty Sanchez" is a masterpiece of drunken thrash punk mayhem unequaled since the Dwarves' carnal tour-de-force "Blood, Guts and Pussy." The strangulated yelp of Blind Marky Felchtone accompanied by the rat-a-tat guitar power of Mark Pierce, and anchored by the tank rolling rhythmic fortitude of drummer Donny Paycheck and bassist Abe Zanuel Riggs III gleefully maims and castrates all the NOFX's of this world. This is accomplished quickly, bluntly and without shedding an ounce of remorse. From inspiration as diverse as H.P. Lovecraft ("Horror At Red Hook") to fellow hooch peddlers the Murder City Devils ("Liar"), Zeke tackles the same blood-soaked cerebral terrain. On the Dwarves-dedicated "Razorblade," gore flicks, liquor, sex and drugs are favorite topics of group discussion. The bonus "hidden" track, a malicious cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon," is virtually unrecognizable with its distressful shrieked vocals and the crumbling wall-of-noise instrumental backdrop. If Stevie Nicks heard this cataclysmic mess, she'd damn her newfound sobriety, and head straight for the nearest coke dealer. -- Ron Bally


ROBBIE FULKS The Very Best Of Robbie Fulks (Bloodshot)

Anyone lucky enough to catch twisted alt-country maven Fulks being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR recently got treated to an earful. On full display were Fulks' vitriolic fuck-Nashville sentiments (clearly justified, as Fulks near about ground himself up in the town's songwriting mill), his particularly twisted spin on what passes, surface-wise, for traditional country and honky-tonk music (the man's a genius, but his cynicism and dark humor perpetually surfaces), and even a unexpected cover or two (demonstrating how smelly cheese can be turned into rich cream, he recast Abba's "Dancing Queen" as a heartbreaking acoustic ballad). For those who missed the broadcast or haven't heard Fulks' previous efforts (one, Let's Kill Saturday Night, marked a blink-you-missed-it stint on Geffen) -- and especially if you're sick of the local media's incessant, embarrassing fawning over every sappy country-pop shitslinger that comes to town -- he's got a greatest hits package just for you.

Well, sort of. Despite these 14 songs bearing original album credits like Adultery For Beginners, I Loathe My Fans and Don't Knock My Boots! All-Night Top Cowboy Party Music Live In Norway, they're all new compositions. But great introductions to the world o' Fulks just the same. The music, of course, is spot on, from the Western swing of "Love Ain't Nothin' " and the tears 'n' whiskey pedal steel balladry of "I Just Want To Meet The Man" to the straight-up, beatifically twangy Gram Parsons stylings of "Jean Arthur" and the rumble-in-the-roadhouse swingin' rockabilly of "Roots Rock Weirdos." Yet as that last title might suggest, Fulks' has a few things on his mind. In "Weirdos" he basically sends up the entire genre that his record label has unflaggingly championed, while "Parallel Bars" employs a heretofore overlooked metaphor to sketch the eternal male-female condition (that's Kelly Willis giving her side of the story, by the way). And in one of the finest tales of obsession ever penned, "That Bangle Girl" (from the LP Hoffsapalooza!, natch), Fulks promises his love and, uh, other stuff to sweet Susanna while his backing band The Skeletons stalk like Egyptians. I'm not gonna give away the John Denver joke here, but suffice to say, your life's not complete without it. -- Fred Mills


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