Soundscraper: Talcum, Goth and Glitter

Pleased to meet you, hope you maybe recognize my name? OK, probably not, so allow me to introduce myself. I’ve written about Las Vegas music for more than a decade in the local alt media, penned an unauthorized bio of The Killers (for which I’ve yet to receive royalties, damn it!) and developed a bad reputation for getting drunk and scaring audiences at Champagnes Café with deeply personal karaoke renditions of Morrissey songs. In other words, I’m the ideal Vegas Seven music columnist.

The objective of this column will be to dig deeper into what’s happening in Las Vegas music—whether it’s breaking news, mindful gossip or show info—so let’s get right to it. There’s usually lots happening in this city, so why does Pollstar say it’s slim pickings this week? Well, here are two off-the-radar-but-must-see shows.

First, Joe Jack Talcum performs at 10 p.m. Feb. 9 at Boomers (3200 W. Sirius Ave., 368-1863, $5). If you’re not old enough to remember The Dead Milkmen and their 1988 MTV hit “Punk Rock Girl,” look it up on YouTube. The band never repeated its commercial success, but Talcum, the song’s author and singer, has been quietly releasing solo albums (and various non-Milkmen band efforts) for the last 20 years. Now, armed with acoustic guitar and harmonica, he continues to mine the catchy-yet-ramshackle territory that made the Milkmen infamous. Talcum’s set emphasizes recent solo material, but he’ll throw in old classics like “Smokin’ Banana Peels.” Get your ’80s satirical punk on, people! On the nearly opposite end of the spectrum, Stargasm plays Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Drive, 645-4139, $5) at 9 p.m. Feb. 10. How to describe this darkly glammed-up yet intensely musical quartet? Imagine if Gene Roddenberry and Marilyn Manson formed a gothic-industrial pop act during a post-apocalyptic bondage convention on the Strip. Led by enigmatic ex-black metaler and Russian-born UNLV student Schmerz Meister (hopefully a stage name) on vocals and guitar, Stargasm fashions pure razor-bladed candy. Co-vocalist and keyboardist Princesse DeGlace is the band’s blatant weapon, marrying pretty, operatic melodies to dance beats and dirty riffs. The new album, Cyber Lovers, produced by Eric Gast (Britney Spears), suggests Stargasm is destined for weird mega-stardom. Save me elbowroom and a PBR at the Cheyenne so I can enjoy my new favorite group, OK?

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