The cassette may be dying, but once in a while one is resuscitated. File this under Brought Back to Life.
BY KAI HSING 243-2122 ext. 317
Sometimes there are second chances in life.
Just ask Sean Brooks, who will be re-releasing his full-length Microcassette Quatrains under the nom de roq Minmae on July 1. The intentionally lo-fi affair was recorded and released on cassette four years ago, and now this collection of gritty analog experimentation will be seeing a more widespread distribution as a CD.
Going digital wasn't something the Portland-based Brooks was seeking, until he was contacted by Indiana's BlueSanct Records about a year ago.
"I'm afraid it might be confusing for some people," Brooks says of his old-yet-new CD. This will be his seventh overall release under the Minmae moniker, which has appeared in various formats on other labels such as Blackbean & Placenta and his own Airborne Virus. "A few people will have known us already, but it will be something new for others, and it's good that the record will see the light of day."
Brooks wrote all the tracks and played all the instruments on Quatrains, a journey through noisy melodies, fuzzy guitars and lethargic vocals all blended together with layers of electronic static and pitch tones. The result is a record that occasionally drones on but draws you back in with a more structured approach, at times sonically referencing Sebadoh, Jim O'Rourke and Lou Reed.
The Minmae project started when Brooks was living in San Diego and decided that he wanted to record on his own after disappointments playing in a few bands. "I sometimes felt let-down working with other people, and I also wanted to perfect my recording technique. And it seemed that nobody else had the same ideas that I had, anyway," Brooks says.
Even though Brooks has in some ways grown musically beyond Quatrains, recently opting for a more refined, hi-fi songwriter style, he now views that recording in a new light because he is welcoming other players on stage with him (Josh Kempa will be playing bass and Stephen Kozik will be on drums for Friday's show at Disjecta) and has had to rearrange some of the songs to accommodate other players. This show's a warm-up for Minmae's upcoming West Coast tour and an official CD-release show at Berbati's on July 17.
Minmae plays Friday, June 20, at Disjecta, 116 NE Russell St., 335-6979. The Mouse That Roared and the Tuftees also appear. 9 pm. $4.
Better Living Through Reviews
We went to last week's shows while you were chasing each other around with Super Soakers.
BY GODFRE LEUNG 243-2122
Monday, June 9: Dismemberment Plan, Enon, Gold Chains @ Meow Meow
Seeing as it was Dismemberment Plan's last-ever Portland show, someone was bound to ask, "Why stop?" Plan frontman Travis Morrison's response: "Do you have dinner with ex-couples and ask why they broke up?" The Plan took requests all night long but found the time between fans screaming "THE ICE OF BOSTON!!!!" to make fun of Portland bands, Quasi taking the brunt of its ridicule. Morrison even mockingly sang the chorus of Sleater-Kinney's "You're No Rock and Roll Fun" in the middle of the aforementioned "Ice of Boston." Just what does Dismemberment Plan have against Quasi and S-K drummer Janet Weiss? I don't know, but the crowd couldn't have cared less (and there was more than one Sleater-Kinney T-shirt in attendance). The Plan gave the crowd everything it asked for, playing all of its classics except the pro-dancing number "Doing the Standing Still." It was just as well: The crowd's enthusiasm would have cushioned the song's ironic impact.
Wednesday, June 11: The Buzzcocks, Billy Talent, The Exploding Hearts @ Berbati's
When a retro band copping your sound opens for you, you know you're old. Portland's own Exploding Hearts did Pete Shelley and Co. justice, but the Buzzcocks were clearly the show. The sneering vitriol was at a minimum, and, thankfully, not a single Buzzcock spat at the crowd. It's not exactly 1977 anymore. Still, the last three songs of the encore were "Orgasm Addict," "What Do I Get" and "Ever Fallen in Love." What more could anybody at Berbati's ask for?
Thursday, June 12: The New Pornographers, Cinerama, The Organ @ Aladdin
Earth to soundman, Organ singer Katie Sketch's Ian Curtis-via-Morrissey vocals were most definitely not supposed to drown out the band's droning synths and plodding basslines. Cinerama frontman David Gedge's microphone fed back several times during the band's set. Hello? Still, even incompetent miking couldn't put a damper on the New Pornographers' set. The harmonizing was spot-on, and it would have taken David Bowie (circa Raw Power) to make the band's pop songs seem less than perfect. OK, Neko Case has the most powerful voice this side of Kathleen Hanna and hardly needs amplification at all, but is too much Neko Case--or, for that matter, head Pornographer Carl Newman--even possible? Incidentally, I wouldn't be a journalist if I didn't draw attention to the happy coincidence that it was former adult theater the Aladdin playing host to the New Pornographers and its indie-pin-up Case (see www.kutie.com for details). P.S. Janet Weiss seemed to have survived the Dismemberment Plan's barbs: She was spotted outside with "Sleater" Carrie Brownstein and Stephen Malkmus.
MUSIC NEWS, GOSSIP, TROUBLEMAKING
HISS and VINEGAR
NEW VENUE ALERT!
Field correspondent Caryn B. Brooks checked in with Hiss about Saturday night's inaugural show at the White River Amphitheatre northeast of Tacoma. Her report: Situated on an Indian reservation, owned by the Muckleshoot tribe and run by He Who Controls the World (a.k.a. Clear Channel Entertainment), the WRA is poised to compete for the outdoor shows normally unfurled at the Gorge Amphiteater in George, Wash.--and will most likely win. The WRA offers a much more pleasant three-hour drive from Portland (as opposed to the nearly five-hour haul to the Gorge), open-air--yet mostly covered--seating, and scenic vistas with the occasional appearance of Mount Rainier. It also offers bottles of water for $5, the smell of fresh manure and occasionally overzealous workers. The kickoff show starring the Northwest's favorite sister act, Heart, went off without a hitch. The Wilson sisters are a rare breed. They eschew the age-delaying mummification some other older female performers cling to. But do they act their age? If pogoing around with more bounce than Gwen Stefani and windmilling your guitar (Nancy) is post-menopausal behavior, bring on the years, Mother Nature. If surviving the 1970s means having a powertrain engine that allows you to rev up more horsepower for "Barracuda" than when you were wee (Ann), welcome 2020! "Magic Man," "Crazy on You" and "Dreamboat Annie" filled the air. "All I Wanna to Do Is Make Love to You" stayed at home--thankfully.
FRIENDS OF JEFF AUCTION NETS THOUSANDS
Legions of heavy-metal fans emerged from years of confinement last Saturday for the Black 'N Blue concert, opening their wallets to benefit the Friends of Jeff Foundation at a packed Roseland event. Swag-hungry bidders dropped more than $18,000 for signed guitars, front-row KISS concert tickets and, reportedly, a chance to sleep with the night's host, KISS frontman Gene Simmons. Mothers of Portland: Where were your daughters Saturday night, and what really happened to that missing hundred-dollar bill?
MUSICFEST APPLICATIONS SWAMP WW OFFICES
Online applications for this year's Musicfest NW reached mammoth proportions last week--and proved once and for all that musicians can play instruments, operate computers and (God love y'all) successfully meet deadlines. Talk about multitasking! The almost 1,000 applicants then went on to submit CDs, press kits and heartfelt love letters, effectively clogging Postal Service routes for weeks.
Now, Musicfest's highly trained, highly unpaid team of Swiss experts will spend every waking hour listening to all the band applications--twice. After countless debating, a couple of arm-wrestling competitions and tons of booze, the team'll pick finalists and make announcements around the Fourth of July, so keep yer freaking shirts on 'til then. Selected bands will play Musicfest NW at some 20 clubs around town Sept. 4-6.
SCHOOL: OUT. BAND CAMP: IN
Young rockers from around the globe converge this week for the world-famous Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls--six full-up days of lessons and workshops on the biz (see girlsrockcamp.org). When not banging on the drums or whaling on the guitar, the girls (ages 8-18) will hear talks from industry insiders on how to navigate their own musical path at the camp's newly minted NoPo digs. Subjects covered this week: Zine Writing and Publishing, Sound and Lighting, Self Defense and Stage Presence. Guest speakers include Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and WW arts-and-culture boss Caryn B. Brooks. At lunchtime, the girls will hear a host of bands, including the Quails, G.A.A.G, King Cobra and Australia's Origami. A week-ending blowout concert on Saturday, June 21, at the Aladdin Theater showcases the girls' talents.