Willie NileBeautiful Wreck of the WorldRiver House Records


In one of Manhattan's few remaining punk-era haunts that has yet to be converted to a Starbucks, Willie Nile punches out another three-minute epic with his sweet-and-rough, Buddy Holly-meets-Springsteen lilt. This could be one of the joints where he made his name 20 years ago, engendering great expectations (and eventually going on to open for the Who), only to lapse into obscurity by the mid-'80s. Nevertheless, on this particular night, let's imagine, amid the vestigial leather of the Blondie-era crowd filling the room, there's a pair of shorts, the wearer being that least-camouflaged of birds found in NYC, the out-of-towner—let's say an out-of-towner from Cali—looking a little overanimated. So Nile wraps up another gorgeous street ballad, and the show ends. Our clued-out tourist approaches Nile and says, "Dude, you remind me of Petty." It could happen. Like Tom Petty's best, Nile's music is folk-rock without the hippie affectations that date the genre. It shares Petty's Byrdsian chime, though with a beatnik's pen and a springy dose of Holly instead of Petty's drawling Creedence. But the crucial difference is that Petty is rich and drifting, while Nile is . . . well, not rich, but as sharp as Petty ever was. Beautiful Wreck proves it, from the beguiling ballad "The Road to Calvary" (written for the late Jeff Buckley) to the hilariously astute rave-up "Brain Damage" (penned for all you morbidly infatuated romantics). For the rest of us, there are lines after relevant lines, such as "All you geeks and prima donnas/Who are you to be blind to wonder?" You don't have to be from New York to love rock & roll street poetry like this. (Andrew Marcus)


Santa Barbara punkdixielandjazzmayhemcore band the Mad Caddies are quirky, tongue-in-cheek, maybe a bit lazy. But they've finally abandoned the curb outside their local AM/PM long enough to mosey into a proper studio to record The Holiday Has Been Cancelled. Typical skate-punkers, the Caddies are mostly about fun, but sometimes it's a somber sort of fun, espousing an it's-hard-to-die-when-you're-already-dead type of punkthink. Some tunes here, like "Nobody Wins at the Laundromat," have a zippy, Sublime vibe peppered with a poppy cadence—it even has that "Date Rape" tough-shit-I-can't-feel-sorry-for-you vibe, with nasty lines like "Backstabber/How's it feel now/To live the life that's fake." "Something's Wrong at the Playground" is a big dis on public edumacation—ironic, since the System keeps churning out not-too-bright kids (like the Caddies?) who then go off to start punk bands that rail against the System that spawned them. Less seriously, the band members choose not to agonize over putting their names with the right faces in the liner notes. "There are too many of us. We don't even know who or how many of us there are. In fact, you could probably come on tour with us and we wouldn't even notice." And on the road, they'll never be far from a convenience-store run. (Arrissia Owen)

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