FISTFUL OF CASH, THE GREATER MIDWEST, LOW RED LAND, BIRDS & BATTERIES
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Like a poor man's Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Fistful of Cash has a clever gimmick: punk and hard rock Johnny Cash covers. But unlike their punk-cover brethren, the tongue that's planted in FOC's collective cheek overshadows the brilliance of the original songs. Something about the vocals seems insincere, like he's aping what he thinks a vocalist should sound like, instead of just singing his guts out. Perhaps it all works better live. This brand of tribute-but-also band can spawn some serious joy when done right; play the Beatles/Metallica cover band Beatallica for anyone familiar with either, and dare them not to giggle. With FoC, though, I find myself looking for the Cash, but feeling robbed. JIM WITHINGTON
ADRIAN ORANGE, THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?, NARWHAL VS. NARWHAL, KM FIZZY
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) I hold a great deal of respect for Adrian Orange, which makes it tough to compress all of the things I would like to say about him into one small blurb. Many other articles have commented on how prolific and young he is, or outlined Phil Elverum (of Mt. Eerie) looming over him as mentor. These are relevant, but there's another reason I'm indebted to him. Adrian has had an unflinching commitment to acknowledge and include the part of OUR community that is under the age of 21. When not playing all-ages shows at spaces like the Artistery, he allows younger folks to attend his 21+ shows by putting them in his band for the night. Which is totally awesome if you are a kid—not only do you get to see an artist that you really appreciate, but you get to participate first hand in a musical community and bring down the invisible barriers that stages and booze place between audience and performer. The kids are gonna take over, there's no debating it. What I don't understand is why so many of us as artists continue to exclude and ignore them. And as for living in the shadow of Mt. Eerie, a guy in Florida related this bit to me: "I was watching Adrian perform and during the set Phil seemed kind of distant and bummed out. I asked him why and he replied: 'This kid is the best, how can I follow that up?'" O.RYNE WARNER
QUASI, ALL SMILES, THE BROKEN WEST
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!, pg. 31.
ZEPPARELLA, DROP HEAD LEGS, WE GOT THE MEAT
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) The hardest working women in show business, NYC-to-SF transplants Bottom toured relentlessly for years. When they did the Warped Tour, they also booked their own evening shows in every town, eventually doing 250 shows in a single year. By the end of this tenure, the band was strained and had spent WAY too much time together. Singer/guitarist Sina broke up the band and reformed it with other (male) musicians. From the rhythm section, Nila and Clementine took their well-worn dynamic and plugged it into some of the greatest music ever made—the Led Zeppelin catalog. As Zepparella, these ladies are able to channel classic tunes and make them look as sexy as Page and Plant could want it. Certainly no man should be able to hit those high notes. It's fitting that women are taking such highly gendered bands as AC/DC and Zeppelin, and liberating them from their cock-centric bondage. NATE CARSON
THE MORALS, TRACTOR OPERATOR, SHREDOSAURUS REX, STAR FUCKER
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) Casey Moral writes with some Morals news: "We're releasing our first-ever full-length album, The Warming Light of Dawn, on February 8 at the Towne Lounge. It's on an upstart label called Hanfed, run by our friend Aaron, who recorded it and plays all the drums as well as some other stuff. It features appearances by Brian Mumford of Dragging an Ox Through Water and Mike Barnhill from the Courtesy Clerks and Self Run Will. We know Brian from Eugene, and he self-released and hand-stitched our first real release, If You Want to Find True Love, You Must Learn to Hold Your Tongue on his Publishersclearinghaus label. That was the last thing we did, which was like three years ago. This album has taken forever, mostly because it was our first time making a real album and Hanfed's first album, too." Casey also says, "I think it would be a good album for people who are getting over a breakup or a dead pet or something. This show will be our first show ever with a full band. Our first drummer was Eric (Tractor Operator) Jensen, and he's going to do some singing with us at this show. We're a really sing-along-y band. Oh, and the album was designed by Adam Grano from Fantagraphics. He designed the last Joe Sacco book, But I Like It! I think it was called, and a lot of other stuff that they've put out." Now, while I should say I've only had their record for about an hour, it's already won me over. The Warming Light of Dawn has a nice, sincere, no bullshit/irony/over-artsy vibe about it. The switch off between fuzzy, tough little indie-Americana rockers and the acoustic tracks feels natural, like the right thing for that perfect little moment. On the second track, Casey sings, "Words don't mean a goddamn thing," but one of my favorite things about the album is the attention put into the lyrics, in the messages and stories, little details that make the songs sound a million times better than any vague, love-love-me-do crap. This 13-tracker should make these boys a ton of new fans. ADAM GNADE
NEW BLOODS, RED HERRING, QUERENT, HORNET LEG, DJ FREDDIE FAGULA, DJ ADEE LICIOUS, BRICE NICE
(Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny) Chris Sutton's nickname is Hornet Leg, but that's probably only because "that guy in all those fucking bands" doesn't have much ring to it. From Olympia, Sutton is part of Dub Narcotic Sound System, C.O.C.O., Spider and the Webs, Nudity, and now... Hornet Leg. He's been playing solo stuff as Hornet Leg for a few years, but now Hornet Leg is a full-fledged band, with multiple members. Ever the chameleon, with Hornet Leg Sutton is exploring stripped-down, minimalist, indie garage blues—if there is such a genre. If there wasn't, there is now. Combine Sutton's garage blues with the New Bloods, their indie punk repertoire, and the celebratory release of the band's first 7-inch, and Friday at Valentine's should be better than doing blow with Barack Obama. MATT DRISCOLL
DAGGER OF THE MIND, MR. DIVISADERO
(Dunes, 1909 NE MLK Blvd.) Take ye some metalle, and bringest thine fairest Shakespearean words. Bestow unto thine guitars a thrashe nature, and include vocalists both fair and of a deathe metalle persuasion. Bardcore shall be the resulting assaulte, and Daggers of the Mind shall be its finest purveyour. Not a terrible concepte, as any knave might note that the metre bestowed upon Shakespeare's fine playes dost lend themselfs to thy spoken worde, and mayhaps even lend themselfs to METALLE. Yea, laying thine eyes upone such fine bards will certainlie be even more entertaining than merely hearing their words on thine speakers at home. They shall even performe Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, condensed to a mere five minutes. CliffsNotes Core! JW
MERLE HAGGARD, NEKO CASE
(Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 10 SW Broadway) It has been a true pleasure to watch Neko Case bloom from a small-time underground singer with a passion for country into the true legend and phenomenon that she is today. This is a voice that will be with us our whole lives, like Dolly, like Patsy, like Loretta. I had the pleasure of seeing Case five times on her Furnace Room Lullaby tour, the era in which she really started hitting the road. In every case, whether with a full band and session slide player from Nashville, or a small ensemble that was flown in and didn't necessarily know the songs—she was down to earth and professional; her voice parted the clouds. Follow-up albums like Blacklisted cemented the fact that she is here to stay, and getting more original with the passage of time. Now, she's reached the ears of her heroes, and inarguable masters like Merle are taking her show on the road with them. It's a fantastic meeting of classic stature and modern relevance. NC
BLACK SUNDAY W/TECUMSEH, THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH, DJ NATE C
(Ground Kontrol, 511 NW Couch) The Better to See You With is a very good, loud band. They're out there on some deserted perimeter left over from the post-hardcore apocalypse. Placing an extremely volatile group like this inside the arcade Ground Kontrol reminds me of the time I was detained at the Ghana border. I was questioned in Yoruba for a few hours and then magically whisked away to a private cell. After stripping my clothes and tying my forearms and thighs together, they forced me to squat over a blender while my testicles dangled just inches above the whirling blades. You just had to have been there, I guess. Which is all well and good, but now to brass tacks: The whole reason the locals were so jumpy was spurred by a few simultaneous power plant detonations in the area. Someone had snuck in and strapped some plastic to the side of the generators, leveling the whole grid. Later, on the train ride to Lagos, a man informed me that the deed was the handiwork of a group of indigenous musicians. Their water supply was being poisoned and the children had been made sick by the effects of the electrical stations. In addition, they weren't even allowed access to the power: It was all fueling one ex-general's personal bar and concert hall. There are those whose mantra is "fuck it, just turn it up and let's rock like we're going down in flames." But there are also those who are actually going to GO down in flames, driving a pickup full of nitroglycerin out to a dam in the middle of the night, and thus finally giving us that post-apocalyptic playground we all love to romanticize so often. It takes a lot of hydro to pump all those videogames... Fuck it, my money's on the pickup. ORW
STALKING JANE, SON OF RUST, DJ MANTIS
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) This is a fashion show benefiting independent artsy-music-fashion centered mf magazine. Inevitably, a band like Son of Rust is going to get the Depeche Mode comparison, because they've got that same kind of ringing keyboard bells over bass-heavy synth sound (and a song appropriately named "Violator"). Their cleaner, straight-up vocals sound far less like they are singing to the abyss, though, and their made-for-movie-trailers sound should provide an excellent backdrop for the show. Likewise, the DJ stylings of Mantis are a great soundtrack, with samples and atmospheric electronica perfect for the runway. JW
THE AX, DRUGS, DJ NATE C
(Tube, 18 NW 3rd) A band only needs two people. It's been proven. Quasi, Viva Voce, Brooklyn's Shellshag, they all kick major ass with only two sets of legs. You can add the Ax to that list—if you haven't already. The Ax chugs up the mountain like the Little Engine That Could, if the little engine burned diesel, rocked some facial hair, and only had room for two—the monster guitar of Chris Pierce, and the thousand-pound drums of Adam Jelsing. Pierce, in an interview with Andrew R. Tonry of the Mercury late last year, reported that the Ax wasn't stoner rock because "we don't really smoke pot." Oh, contraire, I say. You don't need pot to make stoner rock, like you don't need pot to make poor decisions... it just helps. Call the Ax whatever you want, just don't take them lightly. There's nothing light about them. MD
SPARKLEHORSE, JESSE SYKES & THE SWEET HEREAFTER
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See Music, pg. 35.
braille, theory hazit, ohmega watts (dj set), barry hampton & the triple grip
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See Once More With Feeling, pg. 51.
ERIN MCKEOWN, ELENI MANDELL
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) God. This is why the music industry is so fucked—because you can sit in your own little indierock island, firing arcades at your shins, bloc-ing parties with your radio-playing TVs, and you'll never step far enough outside of your Sufjan-stupor to listen to great stuff like Eleni Mandell. She's far, far too cool for you anyway, but like any fool, you'll keep trying. And you'll be glad to rub elbows with this one, chump: Smooth, hushed vocals with a Waits-like smuggler-sneer, and wordplay that'll remind you that the loved one who makes you laugh is the one you'll want to stick around. While similar artist Jenny Lewis explores faith, and fellow alto Cat Power broods, Mandell sticks to poetic non sequiturs ("I'll make you money whenever you're gambling") followed by direct questions like, "Do you still cry about girls, girls, girls?" and she ends up the most interesting of the three. Her charming kind of exasperation will win you over, and make you feel a little better on a lonely Valentine's night. JW
PROJECT PERFECT, WORLD, LIGHT WHITE, SMOKE & MIRRORS, DJ BROKENWINDOW
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See Music, pg. 33.
CAMERA OBSCURA, PORTASTIC
(Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell) See Music, pg. 35.
CLIMAX GOLDEN TWINS, FACTUMS, ILYAS AHMED
(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) This character has been getting a lot of handjobs in the press lately: Ilyas Ahmed plays acoustic guitar in a "virtuoso" style akin to Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny. Like Bishop, he has a tendency to veer toward merely demonstrating scales and modes (yeah, the sharp sevenths sound mysterious and "ethnic") and makes a point to emphasize the "art" in his music. This is a style that you either like or don't: taking the big bang from Fahey and ironing out a full-on genre. But we're not talking about the entire genre, which at its best is like reading Slaughterhouse-Five for the first time, and at its worst is a slightly more pompous Berklee recital. No, we are talking about one man named Ilyas, whom I was asked to write about. Personally, I don't really dig this guy's playing, but I didn't want to just hate on the poor fella simply because some critic wet his pants. So I asked my friend why people are going batshit for this particular bruiser, and she gave me a pretty decent answer: "He's the only game in town." Fair enough. As always I encourage all of you to go and think for yourself. ORW