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Eye on the Scene

Local CD Review

Kit Rodgers
Naked Coffee (Gwenmo)

On the cover of Naked Coffee, Kit Rodgers is shrouded in darkness, surrounded by candles, holding a cup of coffee, and, presumably, naked (not recommended with especially hot coffee, by the way). It's an apt image: Naked Coffee is as intimate, raw, and as redolent of late-night ruminations and reevaluations as its cover would suggest. Rodgers writes tight, melodic songs and accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, only occasionally overdubbing his own background vocals, harmonica, percussion, or skittery, Latin-flavored single-note acoustic guitar solos. While the result sounds more like sketches for a great album than the finished product, it's a compelling, promising work.

Naked Coffee hits an early peak with "Spoken Out Loud," Rodgers wrapping his own call-and-response vocals around a dramatic melody before coming to an abrupt halt. Indeed, one of the virtues of Rodgers' songwriting is its tautness and brevity; the 14 songs packed into Coffee's 48 minutes each make their point, then get out of the way. The directness of approach and purity of intent that permeate the album come in especially handy when Rodgers veers toward preachiness on "Don't Ask Me" or soppiness on "Caution." "Heather's Season" benefits most from a stark treatment, with its sentimental lyric coming off as genuine as Rodgers intends. Elsewhere, the breezy "Naked All My Life" could be Rodgers' theme song, perhaps the jauntiest song you'll hear about how it feels to be an emotional open wound. "Holy Ground" opens the album bracingly, although Tori Amos beat him to the line about being addicted to nicotine patches. "Louisiana" is such an evocative travelogue that Rodgers might be able to supplement his income by licensing it to that state's tourist board. Hey, aspiring singer-songwriters have to eat too, you know.

Coffee's high point is "What About the Shadow," its indelible chorus making eminently singable a lacerating broadside against unswerving faith in an angry god. "Shadow" exemplifies what's right about the album—Rodgers' knack for melodies that stick to your ribs married to a deeply considered, deeply felt lyric.

The similarly catchy "Trying to Understand" is fleshed out with what sounds like a drum machine, and it offers a taste of what Rodgers might sound like with a full band, which seems a logical next step. In the meantime, however, the skeletal beauty of Naked Coffee does the trick.

The Pox is Cured

Finally, the boys of Snack Crapple Pox (one of which is our own beloved John Sewell) have wised up and realized that their tongue-twister of a name was confusing the heck out of club owners, poster designers, and hapless editors. Now, the SCP will be known as Kid Snack, which is, apparently, how SCP/KS member Greg Swift likes to refer to himself. What that means, we'll never know, thank goodness.

But the 'Snackers E.P. Jimbo is finally out on Shady Troll records, produced by the lovely and talented Mass Giorgini. The yellow vinyl version—which Zippy just finds simply adorable—will be available at gigs and all of the usual outlets. And if all that weren't thrilling enough, the boys will also be featured on the soundtrack of the upcoming indie soon-to-be-cult-classic 6 A.M, directed by underground filmmaker Brian Darwas. Kid Snack may even be in New York City, where the film is being, uh, filmed, in enough time to sneak in a cameo a la Hitchcock or Courtney Love or Pia Zadora.

Onward and Outward

Remember future scenesters, more detailed info can be found in the calendar section.Thursday: The Faint with Catasterik at Tomato Head. The Faint are sweet boys from the Heartland doing the midwestern melodic poppy thing. Catasterik is subbluecollar-lite—think the Lady Kat with a cello player and half the calories.

Friday: Judybats with Immortal Chorus at Moose's Music Hall. Yes, folks, they are back. And they are ready to rock.

Saturday: Shaken Babies with Limousine at Longbranch. Shaken Babies are some of the Tennessee Kingsnakes tossed in a blender with some electronica-type gadgets and a dose of humanity. Limo is from Chattanooga, but can still do a pop/rock thing despite their origins.

Sunday: Tibetan Nuns at World's Fair Park. How can you say no to a singing nun?

Monday: Kimberly Causey at Barnes & Noble. Ms. Causey will be signing her new tome The Furniture Factory Outlet Guide. And, admit it, you could really, really, really use a cheap, new sofa.

Tuesday: Lynx with Dark Logik at Tomato Head. Lynx is Don Caballero gone geometric. And Dark Logik is local shy pop.

Wednesday: Atomic City Rhythm Rascals at Barley's. Yup, all this great bluegrass, a radio taping, and dozens of great beers on tap. Could one want anything else from life?

—Zippy "Easy to Please" McDuff