The Prids Ride the Wave
With a icy-cool new album, the Portland band prepares for blast-off.
You might think the Prids had it easy. After all, Atlanta's Luminal offered the new-wavy Portland group a deal late last year, before anyone from the label even saw the band perform. Luminal released the Prids' first full-length, Love Zero, in April.
In the coming months, the band will take a 60-city national tour, then head to Europe next year. With sympatico artists like Interpol on the rise, the Prids are likely to keep gaining momentum.
But, make no mistake, this foursome has done its time. When bassist-singer Mistina Keith and guitarist-singer David Frederickson first got together in a podunk town outside of Kansas City in 1995, neither even knew how to play instruments. Keith persuaded Frederickson to quit singing with his band of the time, buy instruments and start playing together. They did, then moved to Lincoln, Neb., where they snared keyboardist Jairus Smith and drummer Lee Zeman.
The band moved to Portland in 2000, crowding into a studio apartment for a couple of months before finding a house in Southeast Portland. Why Portland?
"It's on the West Coast, it's really liberal, and the kind of people flocking to Portland at the time were the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded by and inspired by," Frederickson says.
The transplants recorded Love Zero in their living room over two months. The dark album features somber, sometimes jagged guitars, commanding basslines, haunting vocals and synth-pop's trademark cool detachment. The sound sometimes draws comparisons to the Chameleons and Wire, though the Prids say they never listened to those bands before coming together.
"We do have somewhat of a New Wave sound, but it was never really intentional," the fair-skinned, black-haired Frederickson explains. "I never really imagined myself playing it."
Early on, the two set out to be a more aggressive band in a Sonic Youth mold. But now they've found their niche, and the right place to shine.
"I want to be a band that gets Portland some attention, to have people believe Portland is a place where really great music comes from, again," says Frederickson. "I think at one point they did, but now people think of Portland as a bunch of strip clubs." (Liz Brown)
The Prids play a "triple release party" with Greencircles and the Vanishing Kids on Thursday, May 8, at Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 248-4579. $5. 21+.
Verdicts on new music.
RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK: Compliments of the Mysterious Phantom (Hyena)
Jazz could use a guy like Rahsaan Roland Kirk right now. Kirk, as the record will show and this live album demonstrates, was an atomic avant-garde player, capable of piling notes in fantastical ziggurats around buck-wild soul, funk and bop rhythms. He played two saxophones at once; he sang and played flute simultaneously; he used to stage takeovers of TV talk shows to demand more airtime for black artists. Before his death at the age of 46 in 1977, Kirk waxed an incredible archive--every recording afire with playful adventurous spirit, self-taught genius and righteous social conscience. This live album documents a downright freaky 1974 San Diego show, including Kirk standards like "Volunteered Slavery" and "Blacknuss," along with his hilarious 'tween-song raps and constant demands for "bright moments." Compliments, like Kirk's whole career, is a gloriously liberated mess--a rebuke from the vaults to a genre too often approached with a dour schoolmaster's air these days. (Zach Dundas)
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Oxford American Music Issue (Oxford American magazine)
I wish there were a magazine that approached the West with the partisan intensity Oxford American lavishes on the South. The Little Rock-based publication's annual music issue comes with a serious compilation CD, with tracks corresponding to sharp essays in the magazine. So while you listen to the celestial Blind Boys of Alabama, you can read writer Michael Perry's investigation of the jazz singer King Pleasure, who has the single best stage handle in pop music. Writer Kevin Canty excavates his personal history with the singer Little Milton, while Li'l Milt himself represents on disc with the churning "Grits Ain't Groceries." Dixie laureate Roy Blount Jr. extols Memphis Minnie; Minnie, for her part, extols a hard-living, bad-ass life of crime, so everyone's happy. Predictably, there's one of those R.L. Burnside joints someone thought to outfit with a hip-hop DJ (cool!!!). But such is life. The magazine makes you feel a lot smarter, while the CD simply makes you feel good to be alive. (ZD)
YOUR ONLY SOURCE FOR MUSIC NEWSSATYRICON: FLUX, SORROW AND MYSTERY
When owner George Touhouliotis put Old Town's institutional punk dive Satyricon on the block in March, no one knew what the move meant for the West Coast's oldest rock club. Now, with a sale apparently in the works, Satyricon's future seems murkier than ever.
According to Touhouliotis, a sale is pending, but not a done deal. (Last week, this column reported the Rumor Mill's nomination of Craig Harris, owner of the Tonic Lounge, as SatCo's buyer; however, Harris says he's just facilitating the deal on behalf of someone else.) Come what may, Touhouliotis says, his decades-long reign at 125 NW 6th Ave.--scene of more legendary, notorious and semi-mythical occurrences within the Northwest rock scene than mere mortals could guess--ends when the month of May does.
Trouble is, no one seems quite sure what happens next. This uncertainty prompted booking agent Josh Blanchard, who worked with the Blackbird's Chantelle Hylton to resuscitate SatCo's stagnant booking policy in recent months, to yank the EJECT handle.
"The club is locked in a confusing pre-contractual nebula right now," Blanchard writes in an email, "which makes it pretty much impossible for me to operate as a booking agent." Last week, Blanchard announced he'd stop booking shows at Satyricon after May 17. On May 1, Hylton dispatched an email press release announcing "SATYRICON'S LAST WEEKEND," promising celebratory blowouts this weekend.
Despite these notes of finality, it's not clear whether the club will shut down for a while, change name or format, or otherwise molt its punk-rock past. At least one key core of SatCo talent, the gonzo pseudo-grapplers of Portland Organic Wrestling, is said to be hunting for new digs.
Whatever the outcome, Satyricon's changing of the guard marks a bittersweet milestone for Portland's cultural scene. "I think George has invested 20 years of his heart and soul into the place," Blanchard writes. "He deserves to be drinking red wine on the coast in Greece, as opposed to worrying about slow bar sales and cleaning animal blood off the stage."
LIVE: "BONNIE PRINCE BILLY" AT JACKPOT! RECORDS
Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy, perennial contender for the coveted title of Most Poorly Groomed Man in Independent Music Today, turned the downtown Jackpot! into a human sardine show on Monday. Li'l Bill is in the midst of an unusual spring tour to promote his new album, which features a photo of his bearded face looking absolutely terrifying in the manner of a Civil War pre-battle portrait. The free in-store show marked his only Portland appearance, and a couple hundred kindred spirits on the hipster/hippie frontier crammed into the shop, with scores more spilling over the sidewalk and down the block wearing worried expressions. The music? Eh. The band--drums, guitars, accordion--wandered into and out of tune and time. However, Prince Billy's creepy quaver redeemed the affair, drawing appropriately faux-rural whoops.
Apparently, one of those last (?) shows at Satyricon will be the third-annual Cretin Hop, a benefit for the Lymphoma Research Foundation honoring late Ramones chieftain Joey Ramone. The Romanes, the Punk Group and Blondage play the $5 show on May 16, and it all seems very appropriate... RETAIL ALERT: Mississippi Records and Repair, a new shop featuring used-vinyl booty and turntables, recently opened at the corner of North Mississippi Avenue and Shaver Street.