Of course it's uneven . . . so?

Are You Hungry for Music?: Harvest Showcase 1994 (Snail & Rocket Productions)
various artists

By Bob Bahr

Whether by choice or necessity, Are You Hungry for Music? is an abbreviated look at Louisville-area music. A mere ten tracks means plenty of bands and plenty of styles aren't represented, but Chaz Rough's endeavor is a fine snapshot of this town's mainstream flavor. Anyway, it's refreshing to have a CD that isn't longer than the movie "Ghandi."

On Are You Hungry for Music?, A&R reps won't see instant superstars, but they will see budding talent. Nearly every track is self-produced and nearly every track could use vigorous editing.

What can you do? When left to their own devices, young bands often lace their tracks with too much fat or with ill-advised choices. When in the hands of record companies, their vital juices are sometimes squeezed out completely.

For now and with this sampler, the fan gets the undiluted, unedited version of local groups The Uglies, Voo Doo Love Taxi, Goodnight Maxine, Unknown Assailants, Big Head, Speaking in Tongues, Dana, Mojo Filter Kings, Cherub Scourge and the Kelly Richey Band. Some tracks go down easy — like the Nine Inch Nails-like techno terror of Big Head ("Suck") and the airy, bouncy pop of Chaz ("Look Around"). Others are laughably bad, if you were mean enough to laugh at someone's efforts. Forget the missteps and select from the best of this compilation.

A new act, vocalist Dana, gets powerful support from 4/5ths of the Edenstreet crew. Her powerful singing lounges on fine musicianship from Todd Smith, Chuck Mingis, Matt Thompson and Robert Marston, but the song is a bit slight. Conversely, the Mojo Filter Kings ' tune "Rode Hard" is endearing, but the playing is sinewy and simplistic, like an underfed chicken.

Rubber chickens would fit right in with The Uglies' "Dirty Dishes," a funkified testament to the limits of love. It's fun, funny and full of surprises, but it could have been a couple minutes shorter with no real loss. Voo Doo Love Taxi's "Give a Little" meanders, but the mood is infectious and the tone is a balm for world-weary hearts. "Do Something About Her," from Cherub Scourge, is further proof that this proto-punk band is vastly unappreciated. That's one track that will make it onto my future compilation tapes.

Kelly Richey's track ("Travelin"') communicates everything that is good and bad about the hot Lexington guitarist. We hear her bold, mind-blowing guitar licks and leaden blues-rock riffs, we hear her sub-par vocals, we hear the powerful structure of her blues trio, we hear a production that sounds like a muddy Cream album. "Travelin"' is hot, but this is one listener who can't wait for Richey's upcoming album — produced by local soul sheik Sam Anderson.

Are You Hungry for Music? may be too disparate for comfortable listening and too brief to be a comprehensive sampling, but it's getting the music out there and under the microscope. And that's a necessary step that many bands and local industry folks seem to miss.