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Pussy Power: Brazilian Girls contemplate the joy of kittens.

Groping Toward Babylon

It would be easy to blame Brazilian Girls for the two gropings a friend endured at the Attic were it not for the fact that she had already left the club by the time the band launched into Pussy. Frontwoman Sabina Sciubba emphasized the vagina-envy aspect of the song through an audience participation shtick in which she got the pussy-starved to chant, "I want one," the appropriately endowed to reply, "I got one," and the former to then turn to the latter and demand, "Give it to me." Happily, most of the sexuality Sciubba worked overtime to exude from the tiny stage was of a less Neanderthal variety, and the mulitnational foursome transcended its murky opening numbers, laying down a series of inspired grooves and ending up with a performance that surpassed the already high expectations fostered by their much acclaimed debut album. Extra credit to Sciubba for taking the kazoo to previously unknown instrumental heights during the chorus of Corner Store, to Didi Gutman for his hypnotic arrangements and understated analog synth solos, and to the band's sinuous rhythm section (featuring homecoming hero Jesse Murphy) for transforming songs like the set-closing Don't Stop into bass-heavy, dubbed-out potential pop classics. Definitely a band (and--in the case of a few idiots--an audience) to watch out for.

Bill Forman

Roots Natty Roots

While the Brazilian Girls are known for the carefully crafted layers of artifice surrounding both their tunes and their true identities, the men and women who make up Israel Vibration are way more up-front about both their images and their music.

Fronted by Skelly and Wiss, the group was a portrait of joyful un-pretension, shaking both their dreads and their bodies to the beat of true roots reggae. While none of the crew may have possessed the sensuality of Sabina Sciubba, their moves were ultimately more inspiring to behold.

The set list wandered in easy cadence through dub, roots and upbeat numbers and the boisterous crowd ate it up enthusiastically. It's a rare thing to see real joy emanating from a stage. Life on the road is a bitch, especially if you have to negotiate an endless series of bus rides, hotel rooms and non-ADA-accessible clubs on crutches, but both Skelly and Wiss seemed excited to be up on the stage, trading off lead vocal duties and exhorting the crowd to ever growing plateaus of excitement.

On keys, Tee Bird managed to evoke the sounds of a for-real horn section from his Korg while bassist Flabba laid down the laziest, sickest lines ever to bounce off the rafters of the Catalyst. Best of all, although someone offered a joint, no one grabbed my friend's ass the entire night. Irie.

Contos Loves the Ladies

Those who wandered out to San Lorenzo Park on Aug. 28 were privileged enough to hear Paul Contos' old compatriots the Hy-Tones trot through some classics of jazz. On Sept. 9, Contos will head up his own group at the Kuumbwa in a benefit for the Santa Cruz Women's Health Center. The evening will be officiated by Robin Roberts from KUSP-FM (88.9) and the Great Morgani will also show up (he'll be the one with the accordion--hopefully no one will grope him). As if supporting the cause of women's health wasn't enough reason to show up, chew on this: there's a dessert tasting.

Peter Koht

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From the September 7-14, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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