Music Reviews: September 2006

The Front
You can separate this Seattle band from the current trash-heap of country-fied rock bands by virtue of some nice songwriting and a tremendous lead vocalist by the name of Darren Golden. Golden sounds like some sort of alt-country Eddie Vedder leading a band that draws equal inspiration from Lucinda Williams and American Music Club. Catch them outside for free this month at Mizuna.

Principals of Combustion
Seattle is short on loud, true blue rock bands. SHIM is an exception, as is ASOW. The new disc was produced by Jack Endino. Sold yet? It’s filled with loud, raunchy riffs and wailing vocals. If you’ve forgotten what it feels like to rock out (too many frail, skinny boys in bands these days!?), then check out this latest effort from one of Seattle’s hard-rockin’ darlings.

No Midnight
Oh damn this album is so great. Whether frontman Peter Arcuni is busy sounding like he’s British, Australian, American, or Ryan Adams, Birdmonster is an absolute gem. This is really really (really!) charming music. Even better than the album? The frickin’ live show. Just wait. (Birdmonster and LA-based Division Day hit Spokane on September 21.)

The new cover of “Paint it Black” = pretty frickin’ rad. The rest? Worth checking out if you were intrigued before, though I think my own personal interest in Deadsy peaked at “Brand New Love” (refer to first album, Commencement).

A Plan Designed At Home
Promising, if not impossibly mellow, indie rock from a Pullman crew that sold themselves based on their “web-savviness.” Love it. It’s strong enough to make a mark in the scene … in Pullman? Maybe even in Spokane. Check them out. (Apologies to the Ether Hour crew, this disc has been sitting around for months.)

The Get My Balls Out of Your Gutter Mind EP
The Gutterballs seem determined to take me back to my high school years. In my day (oh, six or seven years ago) Spokane bred high school pop bands like Paradox and World Exempt, which gave way to screamers like Coney Island Pilot (yes, I was in the Mead School District). This band seems a great combination of the two. The vocals are unrefined and a bit undeveloped. The guitars and drums are riotous and often out of place. But high school bands are supposed to be a little out of tune and a little on the rash, abrupt side. And their ultimate aim? To refresh our jaded post-high school minds. Gutterballs-by way of songs, disc packaging, and EP title-accomplish just that. A hearty “thank you” is in order.

Get Steady
(Eleven Seven Music)
The world has had enough dapper gents and if you’re going to stand out at this stage in the game, you’ve gotta realllllly be offering up something interesting (see Jim Noir). This is pretty mediocre and boring. Nick Valensi from the Strokes makes an appearance on “Clich”, so it’s not all bad-but then again, it’s coming out on the indie label that’s about to expose the entire world to Art Alexakis again. So … just say “no.”

As The Twilight Auguries
There whole lot of “quiet music” making the rounds these days. Seems every middle age alt-rocker out there is trying to convince you they’re more profound now that they’ve unplugged their amp. L.A.’s Kelly and David will convince you the past means nothing and that the time for beautiful music is now. Delicate but never precious, soft yet with emotional force, As the Twilight is filled with melodies that land inside your head and find a home. This gently flowing record draws as much from old time as art rock and makes a case for quiet music better than anything I’ve ever heard. Can’t get it out of the CD player.

Tower of Love
Looking for charm? How about a derby hat? How about a coy smirk? How about a British accent? Jim Noir is your guy. “My Patch” and “Key of C” are charm in song form. The video for the former involves Noir being pelted with eggs from above by a giant chicken (that he fights back against later!). Lyrics like “If you don’t give my football back, I’m gonna get my dad on you/I only kicked it over your fence and broke a silly gnome or two” only serve to sweeten the deal. Invest in this album because it will put a smile on your face.

The Birds in the Bushes
Close the door to your bedroom (or if you’re me, shut the main door to your smaller-than-a-bedroom-entire living space), turn out all the lights, crawl under the bed and/or lay down and pull the sheets and blankets over your head. Then crank this album up on the stereo (logistically this will have to happen in a different order). You will freak yourself right out. Inca Ore’s scratches, scrapes, bells, unnerving wails and other various quirky sounds sometimes remind me of things I used to hear on tapes my sister and I made when we were little-but other times they remind me of some otherworldly creation that is so creep-out-worthy that it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

“Mama Your Boys Will Find A Home”
(from Underhanded Romance, Rough Trade)
A single review, you ask? Yes. Indeed. Scissors for Lefty are a crew from San Francisco with enough spunk and energy to win over any heart. Their electro-pop tunes are the happiest you’re likely to hear. Especially this one, which lead singer and lyricist Bryan Garza wrote about the frustrations mothers have as their boys grow up in the music business with no end to their flirtatious ways in sight. He sings halfway in, “Marriage, I’m sorry to kick you to the curb.” While I work to get them to Spokane, you should check out this single, and their others, on their MySpace page-they are teasers (annoyingly cut off three-quarters in) for their upcoming fall album, which will be released everywhere BUT the U.S. by Rough Trade.

Remain Instant EP
Art punk gets a face lift by the Sharp Ease. This takes from its past and carves its own niche with flavorings that vary from Blondie to Pretty Girls Make Graves, and maybe even a little Le Tigre-but don’t let that last one scare you from looking into it. Worth it, very worth it. Frontgal Paloma Parfrey’s scratchy voice is just perfect.

The Body, The Blood, The Machine
Hutch Harris goes all concept-y on us with this, the third release from that too-good-for-words trio from Portland, the Thermals. Harris takes on modern paranoia by alluding to Hitler-esque takeovers, a Christian-based society, and other tragedies, brought to life by the Thermals frantic, frenzied punk rock sound. They are ever-so-slightly less edgy this time around, but their characteristic awesomeness (you know it!) is still, like, way intact.

Trying to Never Catch Up
It’s not that WMMF are especially original or “new” in anything they are putting out there-it’s that they are putting whatever it is they are out there in a really, really great way. It’s not a huge surprise that Seattle’s indie rock label Barsuk nabbed these fellas. They were the only band in the history of Austin City Limits to play the show as an unsigned band. And, they shared the night with moment-madams Franz Ferdinand. They’ve come a long way from the want ads that lead singer Michael Kingcaid placed in the Austin Chronicle. Trying is a great first effort, and it’ll help the band gain fans far and wide … especially if they keep touring with cool cats like French Kicks.

Share this Post

Scroll to Top