Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Grates - "Turn Me On"
An conceptually abstract video from one of the most awesome art-rock bands from Australia.
The Grates are an amazing act from Australia who have just released their third full-length album Secret Rituals on which you can find "Turn Me On".
Florence and the Machine - "Not Fade Away"
A haunting rendition of Buddy Holly classic, that evokes the magic of New Orleans.
High art and beautiful music Florence and the Machine are a new find for myself and I hope you can enjoy them too.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, July 1st
Doug Fir Lounge
830 East Brunside
Doors:8PM / Show:9PM
Adv.:$8 / Day Of:$8
21 & Over
Take cheap cigarettes, bad coffee, and the open road and mix in enough Old #7 to raise Jack Daniels himself from the grave and you'll have the sweet gravel sound of Truckstop Dralin'. Balancing the powerful growl of rock'n'roll with the country wail of Telecasters and the petal Steel makes this band, in my opinion, one of the premier country-rock acts of the Northwest.
Storyteller songwriting that drips of blue collar honesty, this is the music of the rough handed underdogs and the blessed losers we all love to rout for.
Having caught the band several times as the opening act, I'm excited about seeing what the guys will do with a headlining slot. Joining them is the strutting groove of the The Tumblers' dust bowl country swing. Their swaying twang feels like listening to old Hank Sr. 45s on a Wurlitzer jukebox. Finishing out the line up is the train yard folk of McDougall. All dust and gravel his songs have the chugging power of a steam locomotive and sometimes strike you like a steel spike through the heart. I can't think of a better way to start this Triple Crown so grab a friend and make your way to the Doug Fir for a great night of music.
Saturday July 2nd
Abolitionist / No More Train Ghosts
Ash Street Saloon
225 SW Ash St
21 & Over
Between all the political posturing and teen angst, sometimes we forget that punk music can be about having fun. Thankfully the Thundering Asteroids! haven't forgotten.With songs about classic video games and Rowdy Roddy Piper movies, this is music you don't have to anguish over or heavily ponder to enjoy. Energetic and wildly fun this band is a true joy to see live. Led by the bouncing hyper-power of Minn and backed by three of the tightest punk rockers to grace the dim neon of some of Portland seedier bars.I doubt you can find a better formula for a good time. I'm certain that three chords into the second song you'll find yourself bouncing off the walls of the Ash Street and is the reason that this band has quickly climbed to the top of my list of favorite live bands in Portland.
Also on the bill is the primal echo of No More Train Ghosts who's thunderous punk rock is powerfully aggressive and forcefully accurate. While the molodic punk of Corvallis' Abolitionist is catchy enough to be enjoyable and political enough to be relevant. No matter how you stack it this should be a great night at the Ash Street and with their normally low cover it makes it easy on the pocket book. So shake off the week and claim this second jewel of your Triple Crown.
Friday, July 8th
2126 SW Halsey St.
Neko Case, no matter where she calls home, will always be a Northwest darling. Raised in Tacoma Washington, the high mournful pitch of her voice is the wind off the Puget Sound whispering through a stand of Fir trees. Through it she channels the spirits of some of the best musical matriarchs to ever walk this earth. Eerily beautiful, the music of Neko Case has been skirting the line between classic and timeless since her first album hit the shelves. Wonderful in recording, she is even more amazing live, and this concert at McMenamins historic Edgefield is a wonderful chance to see her in the purest form. This in fact might be one of the first not-miss concerts of the summer. We can only hope that the weather will cooperate but you might want to pack a poncho, cause this girl is use to the rain and I doubt it will deter her one bit if we are blessed with a little bit of the Northwest sunshine. If you have kids this might be a great opportunity to introduce them to some great music, and with the hotel right there you could make a little vacation out of it. Or leave the kids at home and make it a romantic get away for the two of you. Either way, make sure you don't miss this great opportunity to give Case a warm welcome home and to finish off your Triple Crown with a bang.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
1) Lucero's been around almost 13 years now, what would you say is the key element to your survival as a band?
B.V.:Not Breaking up. Not Quitting. I don't know if it's every band or just us but pretty much,we don't have anything else to do. We love playing music but it's not like I put my law degree aside to play music . I'm going to wash dishes or I'm going to play rock'n'roll and I love playing Rock'n'roll and I hate doing dishes. This is what we do. I think we've done it so long, we don't know how to do anything else.
2) Lucero is known as one of the hardest touring bands on the road today, is there a secret to spending all that time on the road with out killing each other.
B.V.:You have your out bursts. It's like a family, there's always going to be "that person is driving me nuts right now." But underneath it all you love each other or you wouldn't spend so long with that group of people. You are 4, 6, 12 people crammed in to a box 9 to 10 weeks at a time. Basically, you can't get rid of your family and you can't get rid of your band. It's that kind of attitude where "we're going to do this forever and to think that your going to be together forever and not fight . . . you know what I mean. Understanding and a lot of ignoring.
3) How was it opening for Social Distortion?
B.V.:It's a Blast! We did 6 weeks with them before Christmas. So this is like a family reunion. Like schools back in. Sometimes it's tough just doing 40 minutes a night, but getting to hang out with Mike(Ness) and the boys is like a touring summer camp, with Chuck Ragan especially.
Also, as a punk rock kid growing up listening to social distortion, I'm still pinching myself. If you would have told me when I was 16 and skateboarding, that 20,30 years later I'd be playing with them I would have said you were crazy.
4) Of all the bands that you've played with, what has been the band that you like the most opening for and which band did you like opening for you?
B.V.:Each experience is different, you can't really rate them. We kind of made a pact that we wouldn't open up for, or take anyone to open up with us that we didn't like. We've never had any real surprises, never opened up for anybody that were complete dicks about it. We Looked into it. Opening bands are all different and fun. We've taken out all kinds of Memphis bands, like the (North Mississippi) Allstars did for us, so you're hanging out with your friends. We've gone out with Drag the River and bands like that, pretty much family. That's a blast too, but it's all different experiences. We've turned down, not substantial but bigger bands because we've heard they're crazy and because we rather take out this other band. It's a determent career/business wise but if you're going to spend 6 weeks with someone we'd rather take out our friends than the flavor of the week. So sometimes we'll take the hit.
5) I read an interview in which you mentioned that the two albums whose songs most excited you were Tennessee and the latest 1372 Overton Park. Both of these albums have uniquely different flavors so what is it that excites you so much about their songs?
B.V.: At each of those places it was a leap of some sort. If you look back now, Tennessee doesn't sound that crazy because it's 10 years old. We were moving from twangy alt-country to a new sound. Tennessee was our indi-rock album. You get so excited about something that's so different. When Tennessee came out nobody liked it. Now out of the whole catalog Tennessee is everybody's favorite. Ben was going through some crazy girlfriend drama and it was showing. The songs were about that. It was like catching fish and eating them fresh. You were getting the fucking heartbreak right there. "Sweet Little Thing" has 20 guitar tracks on it. We were trying stuff just to see.
The same is with 1372. We had made so many records just to make records, but with the addition of the horns and a new producer that was actually pushing us. Once again it was something different. We were trying things that weren't traditional. With the horns you're pushing it and you don't know how the kids are going to take it because some people don't know soul music. It came out so amazing though, that you get so excited you don't care. You think obviously people are going to love this record because I love it so much. Which isn't always true, but it gets you to a point of saying "I don't care, we love this record."
Those were both situations(Tennessee & 1372) where we were trying something new and it worked successfully. Sometimes your excited about something it translates to tape and that would be those situations. Not that every record we don't love, but some of them you have these song so you make a record versus those where you're taking a step into something you don't know, a leap of faith. Hopefully they're (the fans)going to like it and we're going to like it too.
6) Speaking of the latest album, there was a decisive move toward Memphis Soul with the addition of horns. Was there anything that you did to your guitar parts to adapt to the new sound?
B.V.:Not really. With that many people I actually work less. So I have to make my parts count more. That's something that Ted Hudson who produced us, worked on. He just ground me. He told me "you have to do this" and I'd fight him. It was definitely drinking in anger. In the end though, with the petal steel taking up this register, the piano here, and the horns, it slowly shrinks my workspace down. Some songs I might just pluck a note or two, but it fits. Other songs I do a blazing-ass solo and you pad my way around it. When they take away stuff, what you play means more. That was a good lesson to learn. I really didn't change my guitar parts, not that I don't pay attention to it, but you have to pay more attention to things because you got a lot of shit going on. Everyone has got to stay out of everybody's way and they got to make it count.
7) I read that your father was a Beale Street musician. Do you find there is a legacy of musicianship that runs through your family and do you ever use him as a resource?
B.V.: Oh yeah. He's a great guitar player. My dad still plays on Beale Street. We're shoe repairmen. He's a shoe repairman and owns a shop; I grew up fixing them here and there. I was raised to be a shoe repairman to some degree. He loves the fact that I'm playing music. He's been trying to push me since I was a child. Then it was something I didn't want to do. Then when I decided to do it he got real excited. The Attic Tapes were recorded in his attic. For years I'd wouldn't know how to do something or go to him when my guitar would break. He'd always be my dad about it. Loaning me stuff and not really expecting it back.
He's the guy I can go and talk to about anything when there's no one else. I can talk to him about business or personal stuff and he'll tell me the truth because he's living vicariously. My son's two and a half now and he's bought him a full sized guitar he can't even play yet. He doesn't care if he's a doctor or a lawyer, but he knows he's going to play music. For me not wanting to do it for so long and him wanting me to do it. He gets excited.
He's definitely a resource. I'll go over and we'll pick a little bit together, but we've never actually played out together. We'll just hang out and go to the music room and he'll show me something or I'll do something. I'm actually learning enough now that I can swap with him. He'll ask me where I learned something or how I did it while when I was young I didn't know anything
8) In your arsenal of instruments do you have any special Guitars?
B.V.: I have a Flying V that I played for a while but that I need to work on. I have a friend Travis Perkins that builds guitars. I got hammered drunk one night and and don't remember the conversation we had about this perfect guitar. He went home and started building it. A year later he shows up and it's a Flying V, Burstbuckers, my name on it, and a leather pickgaurd. He built everything from scratch. I play that a lot. I don't like to take it out because it's one of a kind, but then he gets mad. He says I need to tear it up and play it. But if it breaks or is stolen it's not like I can go to Guitar Center. It's gone.
9) Your home base is Memphis so take a second and play tour guide. Where is the best place to:
Get a Tattoo?
B.V.: Underground Art -It's won all the awards and we know Angela who owns it. It's like BBQ sometimes. If you say you like just one, you get in trouble. But I know Angela so I always vote for Underground Art.
Play a show?
B.V.: The Hi-tone Cafe
Buy a record?
B.V.: Goner Records - Is the best used record store with new stuff in it. It mostly caters to us(Vinyl lovers).
10)Name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of?
Hearts of Palm
William Elliot Whitmore
Tuesday Double Feature: The Funhouse Strippers "Murderer's Thumb" & The Big John Bates' Grindshow "Bad Pussy"
The Funhouse Strippers "Murderer's Thumb"
Punk rock + Femme Fatal = Awesome !!
Like most writers I hate the town I grew up in, but knowing that The Funhouse Strippers are from Salem Oregon too makes me hate it just a little bit less.
Big John Bates' Grindshow " Bad Pussy"
There's no real rhyme or reason to this video, it's just fun.
Big John Bates and his grind show are in the lab mixing up a new kind of musical madness which they're dubbing "rustic Punk" which melds the best elements of Americana and garage rock.
Monday, June 20, 2011
1) What excites you the most about your new album Heart of a Dog?
KA: The fact that it sounds like a band, not a "singer-songwriter" backed by studio musicians. Making the record was a collaborative effort, and I think that comes across clearly. This is not to say that the previous records weren't also collaborative efforts - they were, very much so - but Heart of a Dog sounds like four guys in a room playing, because that's exactly how it got made.
2) What is the significance to the album title, if any?
KA: The album's title is taken from the title of a novella by Mikhail Bulgakov, which contains a passage I really love:
"By kindness. The only method possible in dealing with living creatures. By terror you cannot get anywhere with an animal, no matter what its stage of development. I’ve always asserted this, I assert it today, and I shall go on asserting it. They are wrong thinking that terror will help them."*
*That sums up my general worldview pretty well.
3) In Heart of a Dog I can hear the influences of electrified Bob Dylan and the blues of The Rolling stones. Do you have any musicians that inspire your work but with whom your music shares no resemblance?
KA: Plenty. Mos Def, Thelonious Monk, Slayer, The Runaways. There are too many to name.
4) The past three years you’ve been consistently productive, releasing an album a year. Do you foresee a continuation of this momentum or are you ready for a break?
KA: I think I'll probably slow that pace down a bit over the next few years so I can catch my breath.
On the other hand, given the way I lived for most of my young adulthood, I'm pretty fortunate to be alive. I'm also very lucky to have this job. I'd rather not take either of those things for granted.
5) Name 3 locations in the Portland Area that can be or have been the best inspiration for a song?
KA: I think the city of Portland is inspiring in general, in that than the weather keeps people inside for the majority of the year, which gave me an excuse to hole up and write for weeks at a time without feeling like a recluse.
Aside from Nowhere Nights, my records are largely works of fiction. There hasn't really been a lot of, "Here's a number about the ol' neighborhood," and I'm not sure there ever will be. I'm not typically compelled to write that way.
6) If it was just you and your guitar in what Portland venue would you enjoy playing the most?
KA: I love Mississippi Studios, Doug Fir, and the Aladdin Theater.
7) So what happens to the materials that do find their way into songs? Having a storyteller’s style to your song writing, dose it find its way into different formats like prose and poetry? Or is it the other way around?
KA: Plenty of influences work their way in, sure. But I think that's just the nature of writing; it's difficult not to have the things you take in influence the things you put out. Nobody's writing in a vacuum. The hope is that you're able to find your own voice and filter those influences through that, instead of letting them dictate your voice.
8) In your arsenal of instruments, do you have favorite Guitar? If so, what brand is it? Dose it have a name? What’s the story behind it?
KA: I've got a 1964 Gibson J-45 I play at home; it's never seen the stage. I just bought a Rickenbacker 330 that I like a lot. I don't name my guitars, no. I had another J-45 - one that was given to me by one of my closest friends - that I left at an ex-girlfriend's house while I was on tour and she sold it, so I try not to get too sentimental about instruments.
9) The summer touring season it coming upon us quickly and I see that you’re playing several festivals including Bumbershoot and the Slowroots Music Festival. What it is the music festival you’ve enjoyed playing the most and what festival would you like to play in but haven’t had the chance to yet?
KA: We had fun at SXSW this year, the most fun I've had out there, anyway. Festivals can be tough because there are so many moving parts. I know for people who attend, the festivals are supposed to be an orgy of music and debauchery but, for bands, that's not the case. We played nine times in three days at SXSW this year; it was exhausting.
10) Name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of?
KA: There's a band from Bellingham, Washington called Federation X;
Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs from Seattle;
70 Proof, also from Seattle;
Then there's Radiohead and The Beatles. I think those last two bands are from Germany.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This week we have two amazing songs by performers that couldn't be more different.
But differences matter little when the art created is this beautiful.
So take a gander and then share it with all your friends.
The Civil Wars "Poison & Wine"
Simple and lovely, the imagery of this video is a perfect compliment to this devastatingly beautiful song.
The Civil War will be playing the Aladdine Theater on June 21, check out the Triple Crown to read all about it.
Sarah Blackwood "Lonely Parade"
As for video's, I've seen better but this song will haunt you in ways the dead or regrets never could.
The lead singer of the rockabilly band The Creepshow, Sarah Blackwood has an amazing voice and once I heard this song I knew I wanted to share it with everyone who would listen.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Wednesday, June 15th
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Maria Taylor/Kasey Anderson
Doug Fir Lounge
830 East Burnside
Doors: 8PM/ Show:9PM
21 & over
One of the great truths I learned by the dim light of the stereo is that there are few things in this world more honest and compelling than a Southern songwriter. Portland is blessed to have one of the newest and greatest of these velvet tongued gentleman grace our streets when Jason Isbell plays the Doug Fir this coming Wednesday. Have earned his chops as one of the stellar song writing team of the hard rocking Drive-By Truckers, Isbell has no problem holding his own when it comes to creating amazing songs. The last few years he's been perfecting his craft piloting his own band the 400 Unit. Known for a blue collar honesty that's at time raucous and other times bitterly heart breaking Isbell and his band have captures the power of Tennessee river at flood stage and the strength of mill workers hands.
Opening the night is the storytelling mastery of Portland's own hometown troubadour Kasey Anderson. With an amazing skill of narrative Kasey has earned himself soft spoken comaprisons to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. With company like that you can believe that he can hold his own. Joining them on stage is the satin-voiced Maria Taylor. Like Isbell, a fellow Alabama native, Taylor makes songs that range from yearningly soulful to playfully lighthearted. Her sultry vocals will bring a lovely feminine touch to the night. At 16 bucks this show is a steal, so gather a friend or two and make sure you order up some smooth Southern Bourbon to start your triple crown off right.
Tuesday, June 21st
The Civil Wars
James Vincent McMorrow
3017 SE Milwaukie Ave
Doors: 7PM/ Show: 8PM
Adv.:$15 /Day Of:$15(Sold Out)
Minors Accompanied by Parent
Emotionally raw as the exposed nerves of broken teeth the music of the Civil Wars is brutally honest and mournfully heart breaking. Minimalistic in the extreme, the achingly beautiful songs this Nashville duo create with just the smokey voice of Joy Williams and the picking of John Paul White on guitar are awe inspiring. You need to catch this band now as their star is rising fast. The last time they were in town they played the Woods and now headlining the Aladdin theater; with this trajectory soon they'll be playing the bigger venues where the intimacy of their live show won't be as personal.
Opening the night is the folksy soul of Dublin Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow. Having come across the pond with his unique style of high mournful dirges and energetically danceable songs, McMorrow excites near mystical visions of the misty isles and the wonderful people who populate them. Perfectly matched, these two bands are sure to enhance each other and the over all experience of the show, the way the right glass of wine paired with a meal will make the experience of both more enjoyable.
This is a must see show. You'll hate yourself if you miss it. So do whatever it takes to get a ticket, remember you can live just fine on one kidney.
Wednesday, June 22nd
Bad Weather California/The Black Box Revelation
Doug Fir Lounge
830 East Burnside
Doors: 8PM/ Show:9PM
21 & over
As godfathers of proto-punk and forefathers of grunge, there would be no Nirvana without the The Meat Puppets. Having been born of the raw, guttural fire of punk rock these mad genius of auditory experimentation have molded and warped the fabric of music for over a decade. Touring in support of their newest album Lollipop, a collection of wonderfully crafted tunes so unique in their style that they defy classification. Exotic is the music that has returned with the Meat Puppets to the stage and I can't wait to see it live.
The supporting acts are sure to turn this night into a gritty psychedelic free for all. The distorted gutter blues of The Black Box Revelation is the awkward love child of two-part broken blues and underground indie rock. Drenched in copious amounts of gain and fuzz-effect this band makes songs that make you want to groove in all sorts of dirty ways. While Bad Weather California is a trippy cornucopia of musical styles that seem to be part Bob Marley and part The Grateful Dead. Swirling all these elements together this band has created a tie-dye of sound that will make you want to grab a beer and listen to them for hours.
So make sure to catch this return of legends to the stage and the rest of these great shows. If you can't do it for your self, do it for the music.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
With an apparent need for speed, musically the boys of Pitchfork Motorway put the foot to the floor and don't let up. Raw and aggressive front man Barry Williams dose more with three chords than Einstein could have imagined in all of his quantum thinking. Backed by the thick bluesy smut of Shiggy on lead guitar, who can peal iron from ore with his vicious licks. While the on the rhythm end, keeping the mad timing of the band is Doug Layton's drum attack that's worthy of state ordered anger management and the rambunctious bass fills and on stage antics of Swede reveals him as the obvious love child of Paul Simonon and a kangaroo. This foursome is a wildly fun band whether live or recorded. Their 2010 debut self-titled album is a hyper-speed collection of great tunes that captures the bands fun loving punk energy.
If you don't know about them yet make sure you take the chance to, as this band is well worth mention.
Here's a little of what they have to say about it:
BLS: Putting asidemoney and notoriety, what is it that you'd like to accomplish with this band? What makes you continue to do it day after day?
PM: I feel we have already accomplished what we set out to do. Initially all we wanted to do was to be part of the Portland R'n'R community and now I feel that we are. In the future we would like to grow our audience as well as our presence in the press. We also want to continue to release our music ourselves; desiring to release 1 album a year starting with last years self-titled CD.
As far as why we continue? We are four guys that never grew up and are still chasing a dream. Also it is a wonderful excuse to hang out with your buddies and drink beer. The only time we ever question continuing what we're doing, is in the morning when we have to crawl out of bed and go to work after a late night.
BLS: In your own words how would you describe the sound of your band?
PM: I would have to say we have a lot of Ramones influences in our music. I learned the guitar playing to the Ramones and after 20 years I haven't really gotten away from the 3 chord progression. Shiggy on the other hand is a very skilled guitar player and is influenced a lot by Johnny Thunder. All the raw bluesy energy comes across in his style of playing and which complicates the band very well.
Doug, our drummer, just beats the hell out of the drums at all times with an explosive energy. He just doesn't know how to play softly which also works for us. I had another drummer describe his style and similar to DJ Bonebraker from X.
The final piece of the puzzle is our newest member and bassist The Swede. His style changes from song to song and plays with a lot of spirit, heart and soul. He has also nailed the art of jumping.
So to describe our sound of the band I would say: The Remones meet Johnny Thunder while partying with X and jumping around a lot.
BLS: You always have great flyers ad posters for your shows. Why do you work so hard to cultivate the visual persona of your band? Do you guys do them yourselves or dose someone else do them for you? Who?
PM: Swede is in charge of the fliers. He has a brilliant and twisted sence of humor and is an Art school grad. We did the math and he was hired on the spot as the flier guy. He is very fond of monkeys and congenital twins and these things come across in his art.
BLS: If you could design the perfect concert to showcase your band and other local acts. Who would be your dream lineup and at which venue would you hold it?
PM: We'd like to do one of those parking lot shows that Centaur Guitar dose each summer, where it's and all day and night event. It's fun because they showcase so many Portland bands and the PBR is flowing.
BLS: I know that there is an endless list of great Portland bands, but give me the name of three bands worthy of mention?
PM: The Vacillators
The Food (Which Sweed fronts.)
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
So grab a soda and don't worry about the size, cause I'm sure you can hold it until intermission.
Girl in a Coma - "Walking After Midnight"
An ode to Patsy Cline, who like Girl in A Coma, kicked ass in her own way.
Girl in a Coma played a wonderful show last night with Detroit Cobra here in Portland. Check out the show review that will post later this week.
The Creepshow -"The Garden"
This gem from 2009 is by a great little band from up North. "The Garden" video was the final appearance with former lead singer Jen "Hellcat" Blackwood. Luckily she left the band in the very capable hands of her younger sister Sarah "Sin"Blackwood.
The Creepshow has a new album "They All Fall Down", that just came out this last October. This summer they're making the rounds on tour, so check them out if they come your way. Unfortunately they're skirting the Northwest, but maybe sometime soon they'll make it up our way.