25 Years On The Edge-A Benefit For Outside-In
A satisfying line-up of thirteen artists guest upon this benefit venture, recorded live last Summer.And while the live aspects of the recording wreak havoc upon the sound quality of the advance cassette that we received, the unique performances captured offset that liability quite adequately.
Hitting Birth’s contribution[no songtitles on the advance copy] is classic Industrial sludge topped by a strong chorus and the first use of an air-raid siren as recurring hook that I have ever heard.Anzio Bridgehead follow with an energetic ditty, overpoweringly propelled by drums and bass to such an extent that distortion renders their sound to sonic pudding.I have heard them sound like this in several rooms, this is an honest representation. Scary, but honest.The guitar dogfight near the end rescues the attack.
20/20 provide a winded rap, decrying the disparity between the social classes in this great nation of ours. Their hysterical off-mic asides (“Ain’t no one in the house”) offer candid insight into the performers sometimes lonely position in the spotlight.The “Tobacco Road” shuffle of the verses on Power Chicken’s entry is contrasted neatly by the goose-step uberstomp of the chorus. And Heatmiser furnish scorching proof regarding their position as one of Cloudy Town’s premier alternative Pop/Slam bands; leaving no dispute as to the validity of that status. This cut rages harder than a wind blown forest fire.
The inclusion here of a fine live version of 30.06’s “Huck”(if Portland has a sound, this song defines it), with its’ rousing chorus and thick chordal underlay, transforms the entire collection into a “must have” set. Lonesome Taxi have been making some waves on the Eastside circuit, with an idiosyncratic sound that includes a drummer with a very unorthodox kit and an approach to match; an anachronistic lead guitarist who owes far more to Lowell George than he ever will to Stone Gossard; and Indigosish vocals that work more often than not.Their presentation here, in a chunky Deady setting, aided by esoterically affable harmonica, shows quirky promise in the Cowboy Junkies realm.
Barstool Mountain Boys’ rendition of George Jones’ “Bottle By Bottle”, once it gets going, is the strongest indictment against alcohol use yet recorded in the Western world.With a Pearl Jammy center, Molly Cliff deliver up a smoldering slab of sludge; giving every indication of being competitive in a strong local field of flannel-singeing grunge slingers.
Holgator’s lead singer probably attended Patti Smith High with PJ Harvey, but a strong rhythm section cast an unique light upon her droning moaning vocal, arriving at an arrestingly moody space.Carrie Widger’s piece, inspires to mind a caveat too often overlooked by young musicians preparing for performance battle: “It’s ok to tune your guitar before you play.” In recent years many amazing devices have been invented to aid the tonally deprived among the musical minions [see last months TL‘s Robo-Roadie Report]–to insure that when fans greet you after a show, that they will not be speaking through clenched teeth. Just a suggestion. Ms. Widger is not without talent, she is simply without a tuned guitar.
Tender folky Billygrass is the sound that Mr. Kennedy renders here with characteristic aplomb. Dan Haley’s easily identifiable mandolin stylings are as comfortable as a favored blanket, atop the brass bed of Billy’s guitar.As down home as sweet potato pie and a rootbeer float.
But for it’s occasional sonic faults, 25 Years On The Edge captures several special performances and many memorable musical moments in yet another compendium to catalogue the rich abundance and variety which lies at the core of our local musical community. That the receipts from this endeavor will go to serve a long standing and mostly unheralded bastion of good health to the impoverished, only underscores the importance of obtaining this recording.
No, there is little doubt that Cliffster lead singer Bob Patrick has studied at the digital feet of the Vedder, chanting heow heow instaint cawuhpay. But once past that stylistic tic, we find a band of serious musical substance and refined melodic sensibilities.
” Mr. Underground” features a strong chorus, underpinned by guitarist Kevin Colgan’s jagged wah wah and solid back-up vocals.Powerful vocal harmonies weld “Where” into the synapses. Colgan’s tightly woven guitar brocade, is nailed to the wall with the hammer of Alex Russell’s drums. And again it is the vocal harmonies that stand out above the Pondish Whigs drone of “Pastoral.”
The band’s take on Dylan’s “Baby Blue” is refreshingly unusual; thankfully executed without unnecessary torturement for the sake of quixotic anarchy. “Boats,Floats and Poles”adds an effective acoustic guitar to the mix and develops for the band an original sound that seems less derivative and more focused than some of their other material.A standout track.
A cute intro and some inspired twin-lead guitar work drive “Do I Know” across the sinewy rhythmic highway of funky sludge laid out by Russell and bassist Brooks McPhail. “Traffic” succeeds upon Patrick’s urgent vocals, and the fabulous restraint demonstrated by the ensemble throughout the song. Another winner.
But “Brenda Lee” baldly imitates Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow;” but adds enough of Cream’s “SWLABR” to keep the tune interesting. “Come On Down” finds Patrick sounding like Eddie doing Bono–a combination that probably never crossed your mind before; over a decidedly country-gospel Mellancampy kind of song.Weird, to be sure, but not without allure. “Punk” is, oddly, the most straight ahead pop song of the set–sounding influenced by Cheap Trick or Material Issue perhaps.
“Finger” works on every level, rocking smartly–with an eye winking lyric that touches all the bases; and drips with raw adrenaline and bawdy gusto.Handsomely Cobainian in cogency.”Sexed Off” sounds like a musical drive around Seattle with elements of Alice in Chains, Sound Garden and PJ congealed into a familiar vehicle.Colgan’s spirited guitar solos help the song to transcend the confines of it’s influences.
Clearly, half the material on Molly Cliff resonates with originality and an energetic spirit of versatile invention. If they, and more specifically Patrick will step from the shadows cast by the pedestal erected to their heroes– a bright future for Molly Cliff would seem a certainty.
Say kids, next time you wanna freak out the nosy neighbors in the apartment next door, just pump up the volume on Fall From Grace’s “Blowhole.” That oughta do the trick. If Dane Petersen’s ungodly, other-worldly vocal doesn’t scare ’em off, it’s time to move. This track grows serious hair.
“Something Wrong” orbits around James Trujillo’s chiming guitar figure in the intro, intimating a Blue Oyster Cult-like atmosphere.Quickly, drummer Mike Reese ups the ante with a thunderous fusilade. Peterson enters driving a pretty hate machine, gargling spleen from deep within his bowels.Pitch shifted vocals dominate “Primal” too,sounding not unlike the Friendly Angel from the original Star Trek episode. How you feel about Trent Reznor will have a considerable bearing as to how you’ll feel about Peterson’s vocals. Melodic no. Thought provoking–I’m not sure. Scairee? You bet.
It’s uncertain what the man’s voice actually sounds like. There are so many effects on it, it definitely sounds inhuman–I guess that was the point. But by the time you get to “Black Eyes” you lose track of a very tight three piece band scorching molten metal behind Dane.The beast almost becomes something of an annoying distraction.Bassist Andy Raymond is quite adept at fleshing out the punch of the guitar movements. But much of his effort seems wasted .
“My Best” works because it is slightly less bile ravaged vocally. The cut is thus allowed to breathe–and you can actually discern Raymonds nifty turns in the verses and Trujillo’s sonorous solos through the chorus. One of the more accessable cuts.”Adversary” negotiates several stylistic hairpin turns, the band steering through them like a Penske Team Indy car. Trujillo squeezes out a series of majestic metal riffs. And voila you can actually almost make out Dane’s real voice. He doesn’t sing so much as scream melodically, but it does not seem to be a crippled voice–in need of all the bionics. The band shines here.
“Lambs of Slaughter” is Sab tempoed sludge, where the vocal approach seems more in accord with the violent punchout of the arrangement. The band pounds like a lead fist at the end of the cut. Speaking of Black Sabbath, the Fall guys do a credible job of “Lord of This World,” offering a beefy rendition, quite different from the original. Trujillo cuts loose with his most inspired solos of the set. Reese’s handwork is superlative. Lightning rocket fills.
“World In Line” rounds out the action, a boiling cauldron of menacing sampled phrases, whacked out solo work and demonic vocals. The final minute of crackling record static is distinctive.
Fall From Grace display the attributes of a well endowed Death Metal band– tight well executed ensemble work, with hairtrigger arrangements.Regardless how one feels about the sonic quality of Dane Petersen’s vocals, there is no denying that they are extremely effective given the sentiments conveyed. Both Dane and the band throw enough change-ups into the procedings to keep the material from becoming predictable or boring.
So, if your world is in need of a little darkness, rest assured that Dogod will provide it.
Hatful Of Rain
Hatful of Rain were around about a year and a half ago, led by singer/songwriter John Lowery. After disbanding HoR last Summer, Lowery returned to Los Angeles. Ostensibly: end of story. But ho! Merely a year later and Lowery has returnedto Portland with ex-Dramarama guitarist Mark Englert tightly in tow. And Englert’s presence is obvious from the first bar of the first cut.
The few of you who caught the band the first time around will recall them as sort of Dead-like. Not anymore. Here they sound like, uh Dramarama, sort of.”Why Hide Away” has that jangly feel, acoustic guitars and Englert’s singular lead guitar style. Lowery’s hoarse croak of a vocal combines elements of Lee Hazelwood and Michael Stipe. Gritty. “Devil’s Saints” hinges on the bending notes of Englert’s guitar figure.A memorable chorus elevate this cut above the commonplace. Lowery’s songs deal with the seamy side of everyday life–here recounting the modus vivendi of a woman who “pays her rent with a one night stand.”
“Shantytown” continues the mood, though advancing a slightly more optimistic tenet.Gina Noel adds melotron-like vocal harmonies. And Englert’s solo is a thing of beauty. The pretty ballad “Trip of Truth” rings poignant and wistful, washed subtly by Englert’s moaning guitar. Reminiscent of Dream Academy.
John Lowery is a good songwriter whose delivery won’t appeal to everyone. But his artistic sensibilities are razor sharp. And Mark Englert’s contributions, while minimal, are highly proficient–adding something special to every song. The rhythm section of Fred Nied and David Pearce is competent, if somewhat faceless.
So Hatful of Rain are back, before you even knew they were gone, and they’re better than ever. Some time on the live stage will help their presentation, which seems a little stiff at times. But this is a band with indisputable possibilities.
Here’s the first release from Revolution Records–the record store part of the Mt. Tabor Pub complex. Producer Troy Woody has acquired quite a name for himself within the short span(6 months) of the record store’s existence, specializing in local recordings and hard to find reggae singles.Troy has been studying at the feet of the master Michael Lastra at Smegma Studios.Here he assists Lastra in the engineering chores on this four song debut by Furnace.
Drummer Eric Rader and bassist/vocalist Scot Schiele create a stark, taut groove for “Scallywag.” Guitarist Dave Murphy adds a metal flavor to the Nirvana mindset displayed. The song sounds like the mutant love-child of Cobain’s “Polly” and “Dumb.” Don’t get me wrong, this band is tighter and heavier than Nirvana ever was, but the inherent stylistic similarities are recognizable, just the same.
It’s rooted in the four-chord progression that you can hear on “Curly Q’s.” Granted, these are rock cliché that date back,at the very least, to Paul Revere & the Raiders and the Kinks; but in this era, those cliché are the property of Nirvana. Despite all that, Murphy manages to turn in a masterful solo and the band wander in interesting directions when they are of a mind.
“Favors” crunches savagely, Schiele’s vocal a pinched wail above the storm.Less derivative than the other cuts, this one stands out as distinct.Schiele’s twining arpeggio lines gnarl neatly around Murphy’s flashflooding leads. More of this please. As if answering that request, “Coming Home” showcases the bands abundant strengths: which include monster ensemble work over some clever songs, complemented by Murphy’s incendiary guitar.The kick into overdrive at the end of this song is instantly addictive.
Furnace know how to turn up the heat.They can rock with the best. And they have their own sound buried among the tracks of this well recorded project. If they can shed the dead skin of their influences, they could be a rattlesnake band of serious contention.
Oh, I get it. The title, I mean. Think about it. It will come to you. It’s a two-parter.
I love “Option 9” with it’s frenetic metal framework and the charming sample of a chainsaw cutting down a tree–which sounds eerily like Robert Plant at the end of Zep’s “Heartbreaker.” Weird. The body of the song is a contemplative erudition thrust over intense funk/metal undercurrents: with satisfying results.
“B.O.D.” heads off in a completely different direction. A jazz-influenced piece with Donald Fagenish piano stylings, muted trumpet solo and syncopated drum accents on 3 and 6. Oddly compelling. “Home of the Brave ” brings to mind Steve Miller fronting Mercury Rev. If you can imagine that, you’re ready for these guys. It’s a perversely funky little ditty with bizarre Doobiesish acoustic guitar, Santana-like solos and solid rhythmic support.
“Rat Star” indicates that the band has listened to Frank Zappa records from time to time–a startling instrumental, combining all the aforementioned elements into a Mingusesqe pastiche of cool angular bop with red hot splashes of funk. “Killer Green” rides a crystal wave of shimmering guitar across an undercurrent of dark organ tones through a marvelous extended intro; before resolving into a fairly mundane rant. Some valiant guitar solos fail to save this cut from the reject bin.The punch line “Killer green/ you know what I mean” would never play the Snobud songbook.”Iguana” manages to install enough flamenco flare to give the latin send-up a hint of fire.
Lickdestatic can’t make up their minds what they want to do. Their jazz work is more appealing than their occasional more metalized forays; though the guitar work sometimes stirs to Satrianian heights. The songwriting lacks focus, and certainly cannot keep up with the instrumental prowess the band often exhibits.What to do? What to do?