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FOOD REVIEW: ROSE. RABBIT. LIE.

Jan 29, 2014 3:41pm

You have probably seen the billboards, the blogger posts, the banner ads, the news spots, and maybe even the TV commercials (apparently people still watch TV?). Even a faux demonstration of grammarians protesting the gross...

PIZZA MAKING ART

Jan 08, 2014 2:19pm
<p>Same Sex Mary band members, from left, Jason Aragon, Tsvetelina Stefanova, Tyler Huddleston, James H. Adams and Mike McGuinness. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES</p>

Same Sex Mary band members, from left, Jason Aragon, Tsvetelina Stefanova, Tyler Huddleston, James H. Adams and Mike McGuinness. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES

James Adams is sitting at his computer, a comically massive rectangle in contrast to his cozy, thrown back, record-full living room in Boulder City. He’s clicking through hand-sketched album artwork. Blind contour drawings of each member grace the inner cover of what’s going to be Sex Cells, the debut full-length of his band, Same Sex Mary, released on vinyl March 8.

“Tsvet did this one of me on almost the first try,” he says about the near-uncanny resemblance of the sketch his longtime girlfriend and bandmate Tsvetelina Stefanova drew. “She has to look at me a lot.”

It’s been a long time coming. Like, the band wasn’t even the Same Sex Mary you’ll hear today when the idea for Sex Cells gleamed in the couple’s collective eye. Back then, and by then we mean 2010, it was Same Sex Mary, adorable if demure his ’n’ hers folk duo, guitar-and-organ perpetual show opener. “The songs weren’t being written as rock songs,” says Adams. “We were writing something with a message … there was a story to the songs. Most of the songs we recorded on this album were those songs. But then we added band members.”

They grabbed Shiny Boots of Leather’s Tyler Huddleston for lead guitar, and Jason Aragon from The Clydesdale/Dusty Sunshine for bass, filling out and deepening the otherwise shallow pool in which the duo swam. But to Adams it was the drums that turned Same Sex Mary 2010 into Same Sex Mary 2013. “Mike [McGuinness] and the drums gave us the ability to rock out,” Adams says. “You can’t really rock out without giving someone something to dance to.”

So they swung the drums. Psyched out the guitar. Walked the bass. And since then everything’s sounded like it’d fit a Coen brothers’ neo-spaghetti Western, enough dance for Las Vegas but enough country to invite their Boulder City neighbors. “There’s a lot of older people, that has a lot to do with it,” Adams says. “We spend a lot of our time out in Las Vegas, but it’s a different world here. I’m sure the music wouldn’t be what it is if we didn’t live here.”

While it’s inevitable some of its Boulder City roots would permeate Same Sex Mary’s recordings, the degree to which it occurs is the most striking. Sex Cells feels like that long drive down the 95, especially at night, when the only lights for at least 15-20 minutes are those of car butts, the Strip glowing in the rearview mirror, weirdly symbolic of the removal between the two homes, the real and the adopted, underlined as the album rolls to a close — quieter, sweeter, what you’d imagine reel-to-reel love to sound like. And the way album-closer “Growin’ Up” feels like it was written specifically for the exaggeratedly slow drive down Nevada Highway … well, goddamn.

“Musically, it’s reminiscent of classic rock from the ’60s [and] ’70s, when bands pushed the envelope of music, creating six- or seven-minute songs that have several rhythmic changes, key changes, mixing rock, blues, jazz and psychedelic,” says Aragon. “In today’s genres, you don’t see too many bands that are able to pull that off and still be entertaining on a broad scale.”

Increasingly, Same Sex Mary is the party band. And any given night, live Same Sex Mary is the Same Sex Mary that keeps its crowd moving. “We like to respond to the crowd,” Adams says. “It’s good to let ’em mellow out once in awhile, but most of the time people just want to dance. We kind of molded ourselves after seeing what was going on. Not like, ‘What does everyone like? Let’s play that!’ We do what we like. But you’re dumb if you aren’t paying attention to what the crowd’s responding to.”

Back to the album, recorded analog, and live, on two-inch tape, the pressing for which Same Sex Mary started a Kickstarter campaign, which was successful, which is going toward paying for 500 records, which won’t include three of the band’s 11 recorded songs (which will, according to Stefanova, be released on a 7-inch in the near future). “Saving the money is what took us so long to release,” she says, detailing circumstances under which Adams broke his ankle, missed weeks of work and couldn’t afford to drive down to Wavelab Studio in Tucson for mixing. “We recorded over a year and a half.”

By the end of the evening, what sounded nuts slowly made sense. The band isn’t delusional. It knows 500 is a shitload of records, and there aren’t 500 kids clamoring for fresh plastic, despite it being dubbed onto high-quality 180-gram (thicker! Lasts longer!) vinyl. But that isn’t the point. The first album, like the band, is a labor of love. “We went into it saying we want the album on a record,” Adams says. “We like listening to records and decided we’d do that. We buy vinyl after a show. Because we’re those kids.”

SAME SEX MARY with Dusty Sunshine. Friday, March 8, 9 p.m.; The Bunkhouse, 124 S. 11th St., $7.

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