The self-titled CD by Santa Fe's Milo De Venus starts innocently enough, with "Little Big Hair," a simple, catchy little surf rocker. But by the third track, "Goddess of Sloth," you get the feeling that if you went to see the group play and requested "Wipe Out," you'd be more embarrassed than the band, who would probably stare you down and then break into something like "The Ed Tube" - punk energy, squawking fuzz guitar, and an inescapable, mantra-like bass line. Or the melodic "The Last Dance" - understated and moody while eschewing self-conscious lounginess.
Revolving around guitarist Jason Goodyear and bassist Susan Holmes (with Mark Clark and Jon Gagan alternating on drums), Milo De Venus has carved its own niche in the sea of instrumental surf and lounge bands. It doesn't sound as though it consciously resisted falling into either camp as much as it simply created its own.
There's a sparseness, with the guitar tones sounding like the amp is never cranked beyond 3, with more emphasis on grooves than virtuosity, and a welcome sense of humor - like the Jew's harp tone Goodyear gets in the middle of the funky "Nonsequitor." And he answers the Plungers' "Spring Break" with "Tremolo King," inspired, he writes, by love - "the love of a good man for his Roland tremolo pedal." Well, someone had to have the courage to say it.
A bit of surf, a touch of instrumental Meat Puppets and just a pinch of Camper Van Beethoven when they weren't fighting each other for the spotlight. Damn fine.
1.Little Big Hair 2. Osage City 3. Goddess of Sloth 4. Ed Tube 5. Last Dance 6. Backyard Betty 7. Bonehead 8. Nonsequitor 9. Prime Time 10. Tremolo King
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