Stroke of Genius
It's official; this week the boys of Boy Genius became the umpteenth Knoxville band in the last couple of years to sign with a biggie label when they inked a deal with Warner Brothers subsidiary Tommy Boy Records, a label usually better known for rap/R&B powerhouses such as Coolio and Naughty By Nature.
You may remember that the local punk/power pop trio had received a verbal commitment from the label after a September showcase at Barley & Hopps went over very well with Tommy Boy talent scouts. Rep Max Nichols was reportedly so impressed with the band that he cut through most of the usual A&R rigamarole and prodded his higher-ups into giving B.G. a seven-album deal (although the label will have options to terminate) complete with videos and national tour support.
No word yet on when recording will commence, although bassist Scott West believes the band will hit the studio for their first platter very soon. In the meantime, look for a headlining show at B&H on Nov. 6. (The band promises they'll start after Prince, er, "Artist," is over.)

Malcontents Wanted!
The premier issue of a local 'zine called Malcontent's Home Journal has recently made its way into the MP office, and its brash tone is making all of us feel, well, quite old. Published in true DIY fashion by Greg Siedschlag and Forest Waddell, MHJ has a punk rock fanzine quality to it—local teenage punk band C4 is interviewed and reviewed—but that's probably due to the personal tastes of Siedschlag and Waddell, who, though they are almost entirely responsible for this issue, plead for more contributions. They hope for a less punk-oriented 'zine with "more of a general overview of politics, culture, entertainment, science, some miscellaneous topics too broad to mention, and a good deal of humor thrown in to round things out," writes Siedschlag in an editorial. Sort of an underground New Yorker? It's an ambitious effort, full of that peculiarly post-Baby Boom mix of idealism and disillusionment, with a few outbursts of venomous cynicism but an overriding sense of fairness in its choice of targets. (My personal favorite was "Heaven's Gate's Favorite Source of Compound Fun...It's Tic-Tac-Do!") Advertisers are on tap for the second issue, due in early November, but Siedschlag repeats that contributors will be necessary to the enterprise's continued success. Malcontent's Home Journal is available at both Disc Exchange locations, McKay's, and Lost and Found Records. To order or submit a contribution, write to MHJ c/o Second String Productions, P.O. Box 50144, Knoxville 37950-0144.

Ghostly Return
After a long and distressing (for us, anyway) layoff, The Holy Ghosts are storming back onto the local music scene. Well, actually they're just beginning to play regularly again and the storming won't come for awhile. But they are definitely back, with a new bassist, Mr. Fabulous (who is known by his co-workers at The Daily Planet as John Luttrell), and 15—20 new songs, of which "only a few are Elvis songs," according to guitarist/vocalist Brett Winston. Of those tracks, 11 were put on tape at Nashville's famed Disgraceland recording studio, and these greedy little fingers are twitching in anticipation of getting hold of a copy. Winston says the band made the trip to Music City "just to see what would happen," and the recordings "sound incredible, much better than I thought we could do." And the addition of John Paul Keith (ex-Viceroys, now fronting The Nevers) on a couple of tracks couldn't have hurt much, either. Regardless, the band is now searching for a manager, perhaps in Nashville, and will play on Halloween night at the Great Southern Brewing Company and probably keep their steady gig at Hawkeye's on Saturday nights.
In other lineup changes, John Jensen has come from Chattanooga to beat the drumskins for Jada Blade, a modern rock band that has toiled around town for several years. He will be joining Bruce England, the band's guitarist, and vocalist Leslie Swim. The band is finishing their debut CD Clean Water and look to release it by the end of the year.

Take the Music Challenge
Who knew? The Foundry at the World's Fair Park hosted a now-defunct series of free music shows over the past months, held in the spirit of showcasing "difficult music which challenged the audience as listeners," according to Scott Key of the band Or. Some of the bands who played at The Foundry in the recent past have been Free Barrabas, Chugalug Donna, Idle Hands, and Ether, none of them regulars on the Strip. Access to the club was facilitated by Rachel Greene, who has since moved to the Big Apple; the demise of the Foundry as a site for Knoxville's avant-rock bands is all the more lamentable for its nearly being unnoticed. But then, it wouldn't have been progressive music if it had filled the Bijou, would it? Or will play what seems to be the last show for the foreseeable future on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 9:30 p.m.

A list of stuff, in no particular order, that got us through the week...

  • Ben Folds Five with Venus Flytrap Girls at the Bijou on Sun., Oct. 26
  • Lots of pre-Halloween Halloween candy
  • House of Wax and Wait Until Dark double feature at the Tennessee Theatre followed by free beer (oh yeah, that .guy played with Shinola, too) at Barley & Hopps on Sat., Oct. 25
  • DanceBrazil at Clarence Brown Theatre on Thurs., Oct. 30

—Zippy "Malcontented and Difficult" McDuff