[There are only so many music columns one man can write in a week, so while Ezra Ace Caraeff is covering for a vacationing Cary Clarke's Our Town Could Be Your Life (pg. 29), Mr. Tonry will be filling in here on Once More with Feeling.]
Here at the Mercury we spend so much time looking at acts headed to town I thought it'd be nice to look at a few outside that sphere.
With a reportedly wild, scorching live show and skills to back it up, White Denim earned a lot of ink at this year's South by Southwest festival. The Austin trio's punches swing and smack from a rhythm section bound at the hip, pulsing and breathing as a single entity—lungs and hearts joined, pumping in triplicate. And while the band convincingly wails through Hendrix-like runs and MC5 drivers, their more modern, slightly experimental tunes are the most visceral. Employing bits of electronic blips, beeps, and other samples alongside classic, righteous rock chops, White Denim appear to be unearthing a sound all their own. The bright, spastic, repetitive guitar pricks above shifting rhythms of "Don't Look That Way At It" is the highlight.
THESE NEW PURITANS
Alienation and paranoia run rife through the back alleys in the minds of These News Puritans, a half-electro, all-serrated group from the UK. You might even call them a punk response to grime—covered in dirt, dust, razor-wire, and broken glass. Forever left all alone, TNP cultivate a futuristic deconstructionism. Emphasizing rhythm over melody, shots whiz past and repetition abounds as singer Jack Barnett chants cryptic apocalyptics that may or may not hold some savage encoded secrets. Occasionally the band leaps into the clouds, sustaining a note or a melody, and the contrast is beautiful. A recent release, Beat Pyramid (Domino), has These New Puritans touring all over their native Europe, and one can only imagine the group will head west soon.
Inspired by Hindu philosophy, Alice Coltrane and her supremely talented group—featuring famed free-jazz drummer Rashied Ali—create the most spectral, psychedelic, beautiful, soothing soundscapes on her fourth album, Journey in Satchidananda (1970). Coltrane's fingers glide and dance up and down the harp, anchored by the deep heartbeat of the double bass and brushed drums, until Pharoah Sanders' sax begins to steer the drifting ship through distant space. Coltrane's interest in Indian music and culture is represented by the tambura, a sitar-like sound of buzzy drone. The title track is some of the most ethereal, stirring music you'll ever hear. Lay on the floor, dim the lights, crank the volume, and you'll be hovering in no time.
To listen to this playlist, visit endhits.portlandmercury.com