A Week of Bad Manners

Orange County will get a little louder and tuffer on Saturday night, when local rockers THE BLEEDERS host a release party for their new self-titled EP at Club Mesa. The boys are giving away a CD to everyone who turns out, so there's no excuse not to show up and wallow yer ass in their oily brand of dark-hued, gear-shifting mayhem.

The Bleeders sound like bored, liquored-up troublemakers in search of something to vandalize (their liner notes thank "anyone who remembers when rock & roll was the devil's music"). Flashing the influence of such proto-thug guitar heroes as Link Wray and Davie Allan & the Arrows crossed with the venerated head-banging and riff-slinging of groups like Metallica and even Deep Purple, the band meshes early '60s biker/hot-rod fetishism with more modern speed metal and punk rock energy. The vocals and guitar tones snarl like shirtless, bleeding-gum criminals from an episode of Cops, and the rhythm pounds and pulsates like a young Bo Diddley cranked up on some pernicious powders. The overall vibe is something like a Robert Williams painting come to life.

The opening "Two Lane Blacktop" is one mean hook cookie that comes off as an updated "Who Do You Love." "Got It in Me" is a live-fast-die-young anthem about a Betty Page-look-alike stripper screaming, "Fuck me harder!" "426" is a tale of eluding the cops on a high-speed chase down Highway 666, in the spirit of Gene Vincent's "Race with the Devil" and the Robert Mitchum film Thunder Road. There's a properly worshipful tribute to Evel Knievel (including some words from the man himself), followed by a plodding, quasi-Spanish instrumental track that would have sounded at home in a '60s Roger Corman exploitation flick. This is lovely stuff that the world needs a lot more of, and you can get it absolutely free Saturday night at Club Mesa. Also appearing will be the Pushers, the Go and Upside Down Room. Be there!

It's been nearly two years since SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS—the royal family of cracker-culture rock & roll—released their last CD, the excellent Plastic Seat Sweat. That's because Geffen Records unceremoniously dumped the group in the middle of a tour promoting the album. Last year, they self-released a limited-edition Halloween CD available only through their Web site (www.scots. com) and at shows. Meanwhile, no record deals are on the horizon, but you can check them out Friday night at the Foothill.

It's hard to understand the lack of a label deal. SCOTS is one of the best bands in the whole wide fucking world, and I want them to release more records. Eschewing the humorless, conformist piety too often associated with roots bands, this North Carolina-based trio mixes swamp rock, hillbilly, rockabilly, soul music and blues and then presents it live with nyuk-nyuk showmanship, including diaper-wearing band members, fried-chicken food fights and masked Mexican wrestlers terrorizing the audience.

According to SCOTS front man Rick Miller, though, there's no rush to get back with a label. "We're playing to more people than we've ever played to before," he says. "The shows are more crowded than ever. We're sitting pretty. We're determining our own future. We've done the independent thing, and we've done the major-label thing [here Miller makes a big, juicy fart noise]. Independent guys might have more cred—I dunno. But this is still a lousy business for bands, either way. I'm fed up with it. I'm looking for something that might be a little bit different."

Meanwhile, whatever ends up happening for the band, life goes on as—uhhh, normal.

"I don't know if Dave [Hartman, their drummer] is gonna wear his diapers or not when we play there," Miller says, straight-faced, "but he still wears them at home, you know. He does. Sometimes you're watching that movie and drinking that beer, and you don't feel like getting up to go to the bathroom."

The fact that THE DERAILERS are playing this Saturday night at the mainstream country venue Crazy Horse rather than a rockabilly room like the Foothill speaks loudly to the direction this celebrated Austin-based band is headed. The Derailers' latest album, Full Western Dress, is a mite more contemporary-country friendly than their past two efforts, but they haven't sold their souls to the company store just yet. Instantly memorable Buck Owens knockoffs still abound (they even got ol' Buck to sing with them this time out), but their harmonies are getting stronger with each outing, reminding you more of Lennon/ McCartney than Don and Phil Everly. The group's songwriting strength and pop sense are sharper as well, and it's conceivable that they could be CMT-bait someday when modern country fans realize that you needn't have a really stupid haircut and an inordinately large belt buckle to make acceptable music. If the Derailers can become the first country band with musical integrity to cut down the barbed-wire fences to the morons and their millions, I say more power to 'em.

The Bleeders play Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-6634. Sat., 8 p.m. $7; Southern Culture on the Skids perform at the Foothill, 1922 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill, (562) 984-8359. Fri., 9 p.m. $12. 18+; The Derailers play the Crazy Horse Steak House & Saloon, 1580 Brookhollow Dr., Santa Ana, (714) 549-1512. Sat., 8 p.m. $12.

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