Watoosh! (Crunchy Frog) Rating: NNN
Mississauga/Montreal foursome Pezz -- soon to be known as the less litigious Billy Talent -- would be a wacky but rather ordinary power punk crew, mashing up ska beats with hardcore energy, were it not for the voice of Ben Kowalewicz.
On Watoosh, the spirited shouter makes a real stab at most-annoying-singer-of-the-moment, squealing through 10 tracks in a voice that's alternately whiny and snotty. Headache-inducing, yes, but Kowalewicz still manages to inject some life into Pezz's punk grind, and what's irritating on record could be thrilling live. Pezz play June 8, 1 am, at the Rivoli. MG
*THE SPECIAL GUESTS!
First Album (Song) Rating: NN
Victoria pop upstarts the Special Guests! turned out to be one of the buzz bands at NXNE 99, and they're returning with a label deal in hand and a professional-sounding full-length debut, First Album.
That generic title is perhaps more appropriate than the group may have imagined. The reshaping process perpetrated by producer John Webster (Tom Cochrane), which transformed their short, sharp pop ditties into grandiose "modern rock" radio dross, has cost them the slapdash feel of genuine spontaneity that originally made them special. The Special Guests! showcase at the Horseshoe June 10 at 1 am. TP
*SUPER XX MAN
Volume IV (Peek-A-Boo) Rating: NNNN
The low-key Super XX Man project that began as a home-recording sideline for singer/guitarist Scott Garred of Austin pop outsiders Silver Scooter is now threatening to eclipse his paying gig.
For this fourth instalment in the ongoing Super XX Man saga of displacement and despair, Garred widens his scope by collaborating with like-minded pals Tom Hudson, Eric Metronome and John Troutman, who enliven the sound without shattering the fragile pillow-talk ambience. Sweet. Super XX Man's bed-in downstairs at the El Mocambo June 9 at 10 pm could be the sleeper hit of this year's NXNE festival. TP
Spklanng! (Tri-Pop Records) Rating: NNN
When he's not guesting on every second record churned out by local musicians, bassist/vocalist Maury LaFoy heads up Toronto's shiny, happy Supers. While the presence of star producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda pretty much ensures sonic success, it's the quartet's hooky, hummable pop that keeps you coming back for more. The Supers play the Rivoli June 9, 1 am, as part of North By Northeast. KH