-- Sam Prestianni

The New Morty Show
The Cocktail Nation is here to stay. Used-clothing stores are "vintage"; jazzy supper clubs adorn every city block; nightclubs that aren't jazzy supper clubs at least offer cigar rooms; Rhino Records has an excuse for stocking old film soundtracks; 24-year-old men employ cobblers; cars have "lines" and poor gas mileage; and everyone is taking dance lessons. There are magazines (like Swing Time) to help with your image, and movies (like Swingers) to help you escape reality. While all this may seem horrifying to forward-thinkers, one thing is certain: The music is fantastic! Among the creme de la creme of the San Francisco scene is the New Morty Show. Combining theatrical stage antics with faultless musicianship, this nine-piece big band has drawn attention from swing fans up and down the coast, even causing hipster bands from Hipster Central (aka L.A.) to drive up for the occasional "Swing Rumble." As a matter of taste, a winner has never been announced, but it would be pretty hard to beat the New Morty Show's combination of glamour (see Connie Champagne's smoky, Keely Smith vocals), flash (see Vise Grip's impeccable evening wear and Cab Calloway croon), and red-hot dance beat (see bandleader Morty Okin with his crazy trumpet, backed by six premium players). Get that swing, or you won't get a thing.

-- Silke Tudor

Sloe Gin Joes
Despite the lack of a CD and a recent lineup purge by bandleader Frank Novicki (pictured), the Sloe Gin Joes have maintained a fiercely loyal following. With Duane Eddy twang, sizzling yet subtle rockabilly beats, and echo- and reverb-drenched vocal effects, the Joes' catalog speaks back eloquently to all manner of bygone hayseed music. Their definitive number, "Chicken Stew," furthers the cause of pullet consumption as sex metaphor -- even more so than "Chicken" by those consummate rockabilly perverts, the Cramps. And when track No. 2 on the Joes' demo is titled "Hot Link," you know that Novicki's lips are smacking for more than mere vittles. The new Sloe Gin Joes incarnation promises to keep the stew flowing.

-- Meltya Chabit

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