The Austin Chronicle


By Christopher Gray, September 17, 2004, Music


Lone Star Eagle/activist Don Henley mostly let his song titles do the talking at Sunday's Backyard gig, which benefited the Texas League of Conservation Voters. Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" was pointed, though perhaps not as much as Henley's remembrance of playing Austin frats, "You're Not Drinking Enough." Encores "I Will Not Go Quietly" and closer "Desperado" got the point across nonetheless.

Kiwi Conundrum

Even though they've been spending most of their time lately as the more alt-rock-oriented Unified, Vallejo has scored a major hit with "So Damn Beautiful." In New Zealand. That's where New Zealand Idol runner-up Michael Murphy recorded the song and reportedly tried to pass it off as his own. He's since acknowledged the song's true origin, but the story made headlines for weeks in the land of Lord of the Rings and still amuses the Vallejo brothers to no end. "We're having fun with it," says drummer Alex Vallejo, who swears singing brother A.J. is New Zealand's "latest Latin heartthrob." Besides raising their profile in Kiwi country, "So Damn Beautiful" has given Vallejo the last laugh of sorts on former label Sony. The group co-wrote the song in February 2002 with Miami-based Chris Rodriguez and submitted it as part of what they thought would be the follow-up to 2000's Into the New. Sony "didn't hear a hit" and dropped the band soon after. It appears on 2002's self-released Stereo, and Vallejo admits the karmic rewards will probably outweigh the financial ones. "We're probably not going to make two cents off it," reasons Alex. "New Zealand's about as big as, what, Alabama?"

Night Train

They've won raves as G'N'R alter ego Mr. Brownstone, so perhaps it's poetic justice that Cruiserweight's long-awaited first album won't be out for a while yet. But, unlike Axl, at least they know when. Sweet Weaponry is due Jan. 25 on Toledo-based Doghouse/Heinous, onetime home to the Get Up Kids and All-American Rejects. It's now more than three years since the catchy, heartfelt This Will Undoubtedly Come Out Wrong EP helped the quartet nab a 2003 Austin Music Award for best alternative band, but the band is hardly sweating a few more months. "It took the Riddlin' Kids 21/2 years to put out their first record," laughs drummer Yogi Maxwell. What they're really itching to do is get back onstage, which happens Friday at Emo's inside with Chomsky, CD releasers Vise Versa, and the Broadcast. "We've only played two shows since June, so I'm going insane," Maxwell says. "And one was a Sweet 16 party in a parking lot."

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