Joe Davis of Portland's Pinehurst Kids has taken some hits in life, but he's always found a way to rise above, usually through the escape and salvation buried in the deep riffs of his guitar. Davis was born and raised in Pinehurst, Idaho, a town whose silver mine leached lead into the surrounding land, air and water. It also poisoned Davis, who was diagnosed as having three times the normal amount of lead in his bones, accounting for a youth spent in and out of hospitals. Such fucked-up, uncontrollable circumstances can at least produce great art, which is what Davis made on the Pinehurst Kids' 1997 debut, Minnesota Hotel, full of cleansing, ultimately therapeutic lyrical rages against a faceless, monolithic, corporate machine. The follow-up, Viewmaster (out March 7), moves along similar pathways, with Davis dropping even subtler allusions to his upbringing—though he's adept enough as a writer to make his own particulars a universal. Themes of disillusionment and distrust percolate throughout Viewmaster, with perhaps a hint of vengeance, too: in "Lumper," Davis asks, "Are you my friend now?/Are you my new enemy?" and on "Don't Worry," he's shaking a finger in the face of an unseen overlord ("The boy is broke/But don't fix him/'Cause the truth/Will play a joke on you"). Some of his angriest lines are reserved for "Short Bus," which finds him railing, "Born just in time/To see it hit the fan/Hope I get to meet/The man with the plan/Tell him where to stick it/Tell him where to go." All the songs are built around thick, ringing, intricately humming guitar moans that echo with moody melodies, held together by Davis' sweet, disenchanted-but-still-hanging-in-there voice, which simmers with an admirably controlled fury, especially considering his personal history. In a creative sense, then, maybe it's a good thing Davis grew up amidst the Pinehurst pollution—at least he's not writing whiny songs about how he hates his parents because they never bought him an Atari. (Rich Kane)
Pinehurst Kids play with Limbeck, Velcro and Driving by Braille at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $5. All ages; and with Nuzzle, Four Letter Words, the Rattlesnakes and the Von Steins at Koo's Art Cafe, 1505 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 648-0937. Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. $5. All ages.
The Ziggens Live: Tickets Still Available
"Breakin' the law, breakin' the law! Breakin' the law, breakin' the law!" Thank the Ziggens for resurrecting the archetypal Judas Priest tune—simplistic yet irresistible, like the Ziggens themselves. From the opening moment on this, their new live album, when they order the crowd to "hail the Ziggens" (or is that "kill the Ziggens"?), they mesmerize. If these Long Beachers were a cult, I'd sell my '70s thermos collection, twist a sheet into a toga, and give them all my money at the door. Thankfully, though, I can get the album for less than 20 bucks and make my own Kool-Aid in my own room. Aside from the nifty covers on Live, there are plenty of Ziggens favorites—perfect for playing air guitar to while jumping up and down on your bed. Yet it's not all ranting and raving: "Big Salty Tears" brings the excitement level down to a twangy, kickin'-it Long Beach front-porch style. The guys rant out a medley of "Waitress," coupling it with a souped-up "Outside." They scared me as they segued into "Dickie Built a Halfpipe," sauced with a little "Etn umpin gumpin globin," or whatever the hell Def Leppard (or is it the Offspring now?) crap out of their mouths. Knowing that many Ziggens fans are big-time computer junkies, they've made Live an enhanced CD for those late-night geek-outs: take a video tour of where they hang; cook up something special with Brad; check out live video clips; tour Linda's world-famous Doll Hut with Dickie (without squeezing around the L-shaped bar or dripping dry in the bathroom). Plus, there's an extra-special trivia section that unlocks all the Ziggens' mysteries. But do you dare entertain such knowledge? (Arrissia Owen)
The Ziggens play the Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 966-6660. Wed., 6 p.m. Free.