I must stink, or something. Mere weeks after two of my absolute favorite bands of all time (sorry, Morrissey) fled the misty boroughs of Washington state to settle in Portland, they had to go and tour. HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ME--I'm yearning, I'm yearning! What's even more devastating, is that their last shows before they left were in odd, sparsely-attended spots--not because they're not amazing and brilliant, but because not many people knew about them. But for the sake of our thirsty, aching ears, thank heaven, The Intima and Carissa's Wierd are coming back home this week. You owe it to yourself to see them.
I last saw ex-Olympians The Intima in my friends' basement, where they played to about five people, barring the occupants of the house. (Coincidentally, they were so good that not only did I buy a CD and a t-shirt, but have sent them desperately pleading emails throughout the duration of their absence: "Where are you? I NEED YOU. I LOVE YOU. COME BACK.") They were captivating. Although they employ the increasingly common line-up of guitar, bass, drums, and violin, each instrument has its own squiggly-chaotic identity, melodies rushing out with the sensibility of urgently rousing, intellectual punk. If you think of the instruments separately, they'll leave a colorfully astounding weight inside your heart. If you distance yourself and listen to The Intima as a whole, they return unto themselves like a sharp-eyed gypsy pack, determined hollers and gold coin necklaces clanking together like a hymn. No Lullaby for Sleep, their first CD on Zum magazine's offshoot label (appropriately titled "Zum Records"), is far too short--seven perfectly executed songs of strong-willed, rough-skinned beauty--but then, 25 songs would probably still be too short. They've been on a US tour for about two months (sad emails from Iowa put the band as tired, restless, and missing their own beds). But they're finally back. This Monday, they'll transform the Meow Meow into a real live shrine, what with you and me on our knees weeping like little baby boys.
Ex-Seattleites Carissa's Wierd, on the other hand, are the lilting, chiffon-like dream to The Intima's impatiently tailored buzzing. You may have seen them open for Modest Mouse at the Crystal Ballroom earlier this year. They were the band making eyes-tight-shut, whisper-voiced, sway-music. They probably inspired you to get bundled up on an autumn afternoon, sip whiskey in the park, and sink into the glorious throes of lament.
Less likely, though, is that you saw them last First Thursday playing in the parking lot next to the Jules Gallery. The humble trio was worried about how they sounded--there was no soundboard, and no real walls to add acoustics to their ultraviolet, introspective songs. But to the listener, it was a rare moment, a night where the music was sewn into the fabric of the air as the dusk settled over the lot--it was so touching, you could practically see quarter notes floating into the sky, for pete's sake.
Only, new Carissa's Wierd drummer/ lovable new Mercury employee Jeff Hellis has been out of town, serving as roadie and bodyguard for Sunshine on their US tour. For the past month, I've been sitting on my hands. How hard it's been to live, knowing Carissa's Wierd's winsome heartbreak is practically waiting at my doorstep! So close--yet so far. Listening to their amazing album, Ugly but Honest: 1996-1999 (Brown Records), has been little consolation. But now, on Saturday night (there was not a more fitting day for their green-tea melancholy), we'll be able to surround ourselves with the beautiful music that enchanted even the most hardened yuppie passersby last First Thursday.
You'll see more interviews, photos, and shameless drooling over The Intima and Carissa's Wierd in the future, and I'd actually like to apologize now if I get redundant in my wanton, panting love for these brilliant musicians.
So, Washington--our air is cleaner, our rent is cheaper, it's easier to get shows here, we have no sales tax what bands are you going to give us next? (This is where I rub my hands greedily then I weep.)