Sounding the 805

. . . Four Space Panthers, four night Owls, three Jetstreaming teens, 30 Blackbird albums, and a partridge in a …

By Chris Mastrovito 12/23/2010

Performing last Saturday at Zoey’s Café, which is quickly proving to offer patrons more than just a singer-songwriter and a barstool, Ventura’s new extraterrestrial glam rock band Space Panther brought us a blast from a distant past when heavy metal was sexy, before it became vulgar. A decade before Poison urged us to talk dirty and W.A.S.P.  was being blunt about its style in bed, earlier mid-’70s heavy metal bands wore long hair and spandex, and suggestively wrestled out 10-minute guitar solos as if doing the deed onstage. Space Panther gives us a dose of that tradition in neon hot pants and capes. Plus, the frontman/lead guitar shredder promises to be a new contender among Ventura County’s best guitar soloists and young Ted Nugent look-alikes. Throw in some trippy space-age delay effects and music comparable to bands like Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep, and you have a band that is pure rock and roll entertainment, straddling that fine line between homage and parody that most of us find pretty awesome.

Taking the stage next was Night Owl, another throwback metal band in an even more macho vein. Picture a cross between Motorhead and ZZ Top fronted by SNL’s Fred Armisen dressed as Kirk Hammet of Metallica. Then imagine that frontman with a primal scream somewhere between Jim Morrisonand Tom Arraya of Slayer. If that description is too much to wrap your head around, it means only that the English language is too cumbersome a descriptive tool for such eclectically assembled homages (or aperies, depending on whom you ask) as these bands put forth.

The East County teenage rock success story Jetstream showed up for a stop at Rock City Studios in Camarillo to work out new material opening for local bands Erbes & Pedersen and Holliday last Saturday.  The near-embryonic band that broke on the scene in 2008 and has since enjoyed almost unimaginable opportunities (including signing to Sony BMG and being discovered by and recently touring with none other than Stone Temple Pilots) will continue to make other local bands spitefully jealous in 2011. Lauded for their grasp of ’70s progressive and classic rock style, the guys in Jetstream have, since playing arenas for thousands, begun to hone a more polished contemporary rock sound, which the band plans to unveil soon in a full-length record — that is, when they find the time. The band members are all still in high-school and going back on tour with STP in February. Did I just write that last sentence?

Local label Blackbird Music, which in its 12 years has released albums by such local legends as The Missing 23rd, All Seeing Eyes, Franklin for Short, Lovebird and Le Meu Le Purr, has raided its vaults and created a limited-edition complete music box set of its entire catalog. The Frankenstein’s monster set is inclusive of everything (and really, everything) it has released since it started in 1998. The First 12yrs includes a ridiculous 30 albums (three vinyl LPs and 27 CDs), and of course, the Christmas timing of its release is certainly no mistake. Supporters of local music can revel in some of Ventura County’s best recorded music accomplishments, including some long-hidden-from-the-masses releases. Go to  www.blackbirdmusic.com/store. Ho Ho Ho.

Sounding the 805 is Ventura County’s only biweekly local music column. If you have a tip, a suggestion, a complaint, some dish or just a kind word, shoot Chris Mastrovito an e-mail.


cmastrov@yahoo.com

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