Chaos on Deck
Captain vs. Crew mutinies against expectations.
Captain vs. Crew's website describes the 4-year-old Portland band as "an amalgam of aging personalities." What are they, the Rat Pack?
Not quite--it's just that rock and roll imposes such weird notions of what age means. A punk band full of stroppy teenagers--like Seattle's Catheters, say--is tagged as young. But if you're old enough to run for Congress and you're campaigning for an opening gig at Satyricon instead, prepare for someone to question your judgment.
And if, like members of Captain vs. Crew, you're in your late 20s or early 30s, with babies on the way and full-time professional jobs--a life that only rarely involves stealing cars and snorting coke off hookers' chests at dawn--forget it. There's no model for your rock-and-roll dream, so you might as well invent your own.
Captain vs. Crew has done exactly that with its new album, Sometimes Up Is the Only Direction. Released on CvC guitarist Rob Jones' Jealous Butcher label, Sometimes could be described as mature, if only that word sounded any fun at all. Rampant guitars and Shawna Ervin-Gore's blustery drums suggest Sonic Youth before SY settled for elder-statesmanhood. Captain vs. Crew indulges a taste for uncontrolled, brainy, angry-nerd rock epics--"Warn the Duke!" chronicles the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in four explosive minutes. Remember when indie rockers wrote songs before deciding what haircuts to get and which Devo records to rip off? Captain vs. Crew does.
"We don't really feel like we have a 'sound,'" says Shawna Ervin-Gore, whose husband, Tim, makes up the other half of the quartet's guitar firm. "It seems like it's really important to have a 'sound' now. There doesn't seem to be a lot of bands willing to experiment, throw things together and have a really good time doing it."
"Bands do seem more calculated," says Jones. "Everything needs an image--'we want to be a power-pop band, so we'll write a bunch of power-pop songs.' We don't really take that approach."
"And that's what's wrong with us," says Tim Ervin-Gore.
Wrong, or so wrong, it's right? Captain vs. Crew may not know the answer, but at least its smart enough to ask the question. Call it the wisdom of the ages. (Zach Dundas)
Captain vs. Crew plays Saturday, April 19, at Disjecta, 116 NE Russell St., 335-6979. Made for TV Movie and "surprise guests" also appear. 9 pm. $5. All ages.
MUSIC NEWS & COMMENT
HISS and VINEGAR
WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF ROCK STARDOM?
We're not entirely sure how to answer to that question, but some scientists believe ex-Pond member Charlie Campbell has discovered this unusual state of being with his new record, Goldcard, on Off Records. The record is a quixotic
collection of naked, delicate pop glazed lightly with psychedelia, complete with agonizingly confessional liner notes
by the reclusive Mr. Campbell. This sonic oddment has reportedly been the object of a private cult among select Portland musicians for some years. Campbell, who bagged his music career years ago after Pond's dalliance with the Majors, released it only after badgering described in the liner notes as "almost to the level of harassment." These gorgeous space-outs feature guest appearances by Pond's Chris Brady, Quasi's Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, and members of Grandaddy, and a single listen leaves one glad Campbell's friends bugged the hell out of him.
His agreement with Off Records' Chris Slusarenko (see feature, page 31) apparently stipulates that Campbell will not be called upon to perform Goldcard material in any format or forum. Read the aforementioned liner notes, and you'll get some inkling as to why. However, in keeping with the unusual nature of the release, Jackpot Records' downtown outlet (203 SW 9th Ave.) will host a Goldcard listening party this Saturday, April 19. According to Off Records' website, Campbell has agreed to participate...so long as "no one can see him or touch him." Allegedly, the auteur will while away the party inside a "special box" constructed within the store, while punters communicate with him through a slot. "It is expected that Mr. Campbell will cooperate by signing CDs and chatting with those in attendance," the website says.
BETTIE IS SERVED
Bettie Serveert's first visit to Portland in six years brought great joy last Wednesday to a midsized Dante's crowd. Numerous bald men shouted "I love you, Carol" at the adorably pigtailed, husky-voiced singer-guitarist, and one fan claimed the band was "the Dead Moon of Denmark." (He might be on to something there, though the band, named after a tennis instructional manual, is Dutch, not Danish.) The closing songs were drawn out into gorgeous pop jams, but with most of the audience nestled at tables amid the red-walled, in utero warmth of Dante's, these extended versions nearly brought on naptime.
Last week's DIY Music Guide described music scene capa Alicia Rose's job incorrectly; Ms. Rose is director of sales and marketing for NAIL Distribution, a division of Allegro. Rose also worked as a DJ at San Francisco's KUSF for five years. WW regrets the errors but stands by its allegations regarding Rose's "taste for human flesh."
WHERE THE HELL ARE THE CROSSWORD ANSWERS?
Coming next week. Keep your frickin' shirt on.
Tipola? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paolo Conte/ Notwist/ The Murder City Devils
Paolo Conte: Reveries (Nonesuch)
The sixtysomething crooner leads a loopy, surrealist binge on Reveries, an album uniting dusty tangos, tarantellas and faded-elegant jazz; it's like Conte has gathered a zoo of crusty crooks to pull One Last Big Job. Singing mostly in Italian, Conte saunters along in tobacco-stained Leonard Cohen mode, plinking sweet nothings on piano and busting out the kazoo a few times. All of his lyrics are smooth non sequiturs, and maybe they make more sense in Italian, but it hardly matters. This fruitily tipsy album is the lovemaker's stealth choice for spring.
The Notwist: Neon Golden (Domino)
The Notwist, German since 1989, surfaces miles from the noise of its early efforts, unveiling a spring rain of an album rather than a shrapnel blast. Beats, indie pop, loops, jazzy instrumentals--its influences and instrumentations shimmering just beneath the surface, the four-piece ticks through Neon Golden's 13 cuts (10 from a 2002 European release) with an efficiency that belies the assemblage of tracks. Fans of Clinic, Broadcast, and terse lyric sheets should cotton to Markus Acher's deadpan delivery in this hit parade. In "Pick Up the Phone" he intones, "Today I will step out of your past"--with all our favorite records in tow. (JD Suntan)
The Notwist performs Wednesday, April 16, at Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 248-4579. Styrofoam also appears. 9:30 pm. $12. 21+.
The Murder City Devils: RIP (Sub Pop)
Consider the strange case of the Murder City Devils, a willfully gory throwback to greasier rock-and-roll days when they began in '96. In the next five years they went from retro-styled bad boys to the next big thing to grand, old men of the Northwest. After the Thelema EP's comparatively muted, romantic and melancholic last bow, they disbanded in the fall of 2001. Ironically, not 15 minutes later, everyone started freaking out about a species of nancy-boy "garage rock" poseurs who dreamed nightly in their Williamsburg flats of stumbling upon a single crumb of the Devils' all-out grit. This recording of MCD's very last show is a messy testament to just about everything that made the band ridiculous and sublime, a furious and torrid crash, a rare live album that actually captures a show's desperate energy. Crazy life, a good death: What more could a band ask for? (ZD)