Rubber Rodeo's space-age cowboy music almost does it on "Rubber Rodeo," a six-song LP that tries to wed synthesizer-based pop with western themes and musical motifs. On Dolly Parton's "Jolene," they get it right, using a swirling mix of synthesizer and pedal-steel guitar to create a forlorn setting for Trish Milliken's edgy vocals. This song, Bob Nolan's "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and their own instrumental, "Theme from Rubber Rodeo," suggest that the romantic melancholy of western music can be set in a more modern and sophisticated musical environment. Unfortunately, most of Bob Holme's originals feel like affected, alienated Roxy Music rather than the estrangement of no home on the range.
Label-mates The Incredible Casuals seem content to play the role of an unassuming, whimsical rock'n'roll band, full of surf music and the harmonies and melodies of the early Beatles and Beach Boys. The only memorable song in "Let's Go," their latest album, is from NRBQ's Joey Stampinato: "Gotta Have You" is good romantic pop rock that temporarily shakes the Casuals awake. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUMS RUBBER RODEO -- Rubber Rodeo (Eatum 009). INCREDIBLE CASUALS -- Let's Go (Eatum 012). THE SHOW RUBBER RODEO & THE INCREDIBLE CASUALS -- This Friday at the 9:30 Club.