Strange Fruit

The kings and queen of "Fruit Pop," Culture Queer, unveil their latest release Saturday at the Northside Tavern. The free show also features The Thirteens and The Woos, and CQ's Jeremy Lesniak spins

The kings and queen of "Fruit Pop," Culture Queer, unveil their latest release Saturday at the Northside Tavern. The free show also features The Thirteens and The Woos, and CQ's Jeremy Lesniak spins "bastard Pop mash-ups" between bands.

A CQ EP is 10 tracks showcasing the less linear, somewhat more adventurous side the band has been exploring more deeply since the release of their highly addictive, nearly flawless debut, last year's Super Size It Under Pontius Pilate. The move is ideologically similar to Radiohead's brash shift from OK Computer to Kid A, giving the band a chance to revel in their mutual overflow of creativity. With Lesniak — who as a solo performer has always tended toward more experimental sounds — as a full-time member for the first time on EP, it would be easy to suggest that his membership was the sole catalyst for the more exploratory tendencies. But there are many parallels between Pilate and the new release, suggesting a more natural full-band evolution.

The EP still contains a high dosage of colorful melodies, which crash and collide with each other for an almost dizzying effect (see: "fade the line.aif" and "birthday song for sam.aif," both of which have an endearingly strange World Folk vibe anchored by plaintive acoustic guitar picking). The electronic and sampling adornment is prevalent throughout, alternately creating lysergic atmospherics and cage-rattling turbulence. When the electro musings become more than just decoration, the results are ecstatically unusual: "popcorn penis.aif" is a scratchy collage of percolating noise, while snippets like "a hot evening.aif" and "no nanner no.aif" are what I imagine schizophrenics might hear in their heads all day long.

Culture Queer's ambition isn't to be on the cover of some magazine or to get ass-raped by a major label; they seem to exist purely for the love of playing mad scientist with the aural arts.

Their insistence on growing and avoiding expectations other than their own isn't just admirable — it makes for some intriguing listening. (culturequeer.com)

Up Comes Frazier
The Danny Frazier Band releases its new self-titled album Saturday at Jack Quinn's in Covington. G. Burton and Hyde Park Outrage and Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pick-Ups open the 9 p.m. show.

Frazier's name should be familiar to nightclub revelers and anyone who's paid close attention to the local scene for the past decade. The Texas native wound up in Cincinnati after being spit out by the Nashville hit machine in the mid-'90s. His band, Frazier River, released a major label debut in 1996, which left him disillusioned with the industry and with "cookie-cutter scars on his backside" (as it says in the new album's liner notes).

Listening to Frazier and his band (Brian Baverman, Chris Goins, Vernay Numsen Reindollar III) on the new album, it appears that Frazier simply had too much soul to make it in the plastic world of Country Pop. The acoustic-based album has a Country/Blues feel steeped in tradition, not trends. The band crafts sturdy, emotive scaffolding around the songs, with a little outside help from local musicians like Ed Cunningham and Jimmy D.

But it's Frazier's voice and writing that are the biggest draw, pulling at the listener's ear with a twangy gruffness, while the songs emit a timelessness that suggests a rich knowledge and understanding of Roots music's history. Highlights include the loving ode to the forbearers, "Hank to Thank," which praises pioneers like Merle Haggard and Hank Williams for their life-changing influence; the maudlin weeper "Hell To Pay"; and the ethereal, graceful "Hard World to Love In."

The Danny Frazier Band is a charmingly diverse album with an honesty and intimacy that makes it fit comfortably in a record collection between Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt. You can just toss out the Big & Rich CDs to make room. (thedannyfrazierband.com)

More Local Notes
· Sudsy Malone's hosts a label showcase for Artemis Records (home to acts like Kittie and Dope) on Friday. Locals Pain Link, Seven Orchids, Croatan, A Present Day Nightmare and Dark Soul perform. The show will be attended by the label's Steve Seabury, who also runs Barley & Hops Management. Those not performing are encouraged to bring Seabury a press kit (bio, press clips, promo photo, CD).

· Ric Hickey, P.J. Harrington of The Ropers and Brad Schnittger of The Sundresses will leave their bands behind for a night of solo acoustic goodness Friday. The three songwriters will each play solo sets at Arlin's in Clifton.

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