Here It Comes
(Devil in the Woods)
Rural art-rockers take a battle to the stars.
What is it about rural places—say, Oklahoma or Modesto, Calif.—that inspires alt-rockers to set their sights not on the rich soil but up in the sky? Maybe we're talking correlation rather than causation here, but there's no denying that Modesto's Fiver chart a spacey territory quite similar to that explored by their crosstown pals Grandaddy and those arty Okies Flaming Lips. Still, while they write about planets and moons and scientists, Fiver, G-daddy, and the Lips don't have to; their songs revolve around relationships more than they do black holes. Fiver's third album, Here It Comes, is pockmarked with intangibles: waves, frequencies, sequences, light, and more often, darkness. If "pockmarked" and "intangibles" seems an odd pairing, then check the cognitive dissonance caused by the confrontational lyrics Fiver attach to their trippy, meditative soundscapes. "It's not too late to wage a riot," the helium-voiced Dave Woody sings in the sleep-inducer "Tiny Waves." In "The Only Ones," he challenges us to, "Decipher these thoughts and words/That keep the fear that keeps us here/Keep fighting." Keep fighting what? The dark, rootlessness, laziness—words that have lost all meaning. But here's the hitch: You could listen to this album 500 times and never get the kinda pep talk you really need to wage such a battle. Don't get me wrong, Here It Comes can be inspirational. It's calling you to leave your stereo and go stare into the sky. Chris Nelson
Fiver play the UW Campus' North Husky Den at 8 p.m. Sat., June 1. $15 adv.
Collection of garage goodies from forgotten Sacto combo.
This Sacramento foursome's early history is mundane enough. The teen quartet commenced operations in the early '60s as a high-school garage band; the Jaguars eventually became Moss & the Rocks, mustered an ultra-obscure 45 (the jangly, folk-rock "There She Goes"), then discovered the joys of drugs, long hair, and authority-baiting as the rechristened Public Nuisance. The subsequent trajectory included big-deal opening gigs for Buffalo Springfield, the Dead, and the Doors; numerous ill-fated recording sessions; and at least one completed album that got shelved at the last minute when their label head, Equinox Records' Terry Melcher, freaked out courtesy of that wacky Charlie Manson cat. By 1970, Public Nuisance were a memory. As '60s collectors have long memories, we now have a 28-song, two-CD archival set. And boy howdy, does it hold up, encompassing everything from flower-powerish baroque pop ("Ecstacy") and mystical psychedelic prog-funk ("Holy Man") to groove-heavy avant-punk ("Daddy's Comin' Home") and fuzzed-out intergalactic rock ("Pencraft Transcender"). Also included is an amiable, if slightly gothic, take on the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping," a monumental slab of Yardbirds/Pretty Things skree-angst called "Time Can't Wait" and the aforementioned rare 45. There's a fat booklet loaded with photos, a colorful biography, and lengthy testimonials from notable garage scholars. Readers can consult publicnuisance.net for further details, but as with most such artifacts, don't delay—eBay will be the set's final, pricey stop. Fred Mills
Stab the Unstoppable Hero
SoCal joy-mongers unleash familiar pop attack.
A smart pop band—not necessarily a good one, mind you—knows the importance of a killer disguise. Ever lend your best shower baritone to the new Pearl Jam single, only to have the DJ bear the unfortunate news that you were just listening to Creed? This sophomore jumping bean from Los Angeles-based Arlo functions on a similar principle, minus the foul aftertaste. Hero's first run-through should produce at least five "Hey, I know this one" moments, but at least pioneers like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Replacements, and R.E.M. will be hopping around your subconscious. Nate Greely and Sean Spillane know harmonies, and more importantly, know how to augment their spit-shined bon mots with choppy, good-time riffage. "Runaround" is a supercharged, indelible relationships-suck anthem that doesn't brake for the fey chorus "You know it's so attractive to treat me like you do/ I wouldn't take this torture from anyone but you." Arlo successfully pulls similar rip cords in "Stoned" and "Working Title," but haven't quite displayed enough of their own chops and ideas to generate a signature sound. They should hit their stride in time; in the meantime, we can look forward to the day when the songs sound like Arlo, not their many influences. Andrew Bonazelli
Arlo play the Showbox at 8 p.m. Thurs., May 30. $15 adv.