Devil's Music The Quags (Remote Listening Records)
Dually characterized as a "good old-fashioned four-piece rock band," and "power pop" (two very different realms, in my mind), Portland's Quags probably fit best somewhere in the middle. The band's sophomore effort, Devil's Music, released earlier this summer, consists of 12 tightly packaged, lighthearted, hooky tunes with lines like, "In between your legs I'm feeling so enamored/ Oh would you miss me if this dream life came to a halt." But the longest song clocks in at a whopping three minutes, 27 seconds (most are around two and a half minutes), so the Quags don't really leave time to get into any emotional brooding, which is probably for the best considering the quality of lead singer Dennis Mitchell's voice. Though not as whiny as the little brat who starred in the John Hughes-penned 1993 movie version of Dennis the Menace, this Dennis Mitchell, also of the Crack City Rockers, affects a British accent (he's from Tucson) and holds his notes just a bit too long. But it's OK, because his vocals are offset by ballsy but not overly aggressive guitar parts provided by himself and Craig Stahr, and the strong rhythm section of Jon Beyer (drums) and Andy Ricker (bass) keeps everything together and moving along briskly. Devil's Music hints at a raw energy I imagine the Quags possess when performing live, but probably had to subdue a bit for the sake of making a workable record. And this record is more than workable. It's a half-hour of pleasing pop-rock that could get mired in its adulation for its forebears. But by the time you might start thinking about the band's similarities to the Faces and the Kinks, the song will probably be over. DAVID MULLER.
Bobby Birdman & Little Wings, "Dreams," from the Bro Zone compilation
Portland pop-rock quartet keeps it short and sweet...and derivative.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking: There should be a law against covering Fleetwood Mac. But Bobby Birdman (pictured) & Little Wings' cover of this Rumours classic is weird, haunting and really beautiful. It almost makes you forget the original. MIKE MCGONIGAL
Silentist, "Power Lines," from Nightingales EP
M. Evan Burden of Silentist is a unique master of piano and black-metal compositions, and this outstanding record-closing epic demonstrates his ability to shred sludgy, timeless and familiar riffs in a way any fan of metal would understand, while highly distorted screams slice through the mix like a tortured soul enslaved in a celestial abyss finally breaking free. Extremely fist-pumping. JAMES SQUEAKY.
Lifehouse, "You and Me," from Lifehouse
Mariah Carey continues to rule the Billboard singles chart for the 435th week in a row. In that time, Threesome has reviewed every song that has threatened to toss her from her lofty position. But it's taken a while to get to this, the top "rock" song on the chart. The lack of such songs signals the sad state of slick corporate rock, but not as strongly as this song does. Starting off as a clenched-jaw acoustic slowdance, "You and Me" builds into a clenched-jaw acoustic slowdance with strings, before ultimately ascending to a clenched-jaw acoustic slowdance with strings and drums, before, of course, everything drops out and we are left with a clenched-jaw acoustic slowdance and singer Jason Wade, who once rocked in Portland, singing, "'Cause it's you and me and all of the people with nothing to do/ Nothing to lose." The only good thing that could come of this band is if Mike Watt started a new project called Lifehose and tricked all of the people who love Wade to hear some real rock. MARK BAUMGARTEN
The minds behind Bishops Barbershop open on indie-tinged Coyote Ugly.
"That looks like fun!" shouts a blonde, khakis-clad bar patron in her 30s, her voice nearly drowned out by Axl Rose's earnest plea for someone to take him down to Paradise City. She's referring to the 10 leggy female bartenders who have spontaneously decided to dance atop the Dixie Tavern's ground-floor bar. Swarms of men in polos and rock T-shirts stare while sheepishly sipping from cans of Pabst. Not me. I like my Coyote Ugly impersonators sloppy drunk and sopping wet, rather than self-consciously swaying to an allegedly spontaneous dance. This may be fun for some of the gawkers, but no one would call it an all-out hootenanny.
Come to think of it, it's hard to know what, exactly, to call Dixie Tavern. The structural elements of the interior-a strong, clean blend of dark wood, an oversized antique bar and a mile-high ceiling-are uniformly striking. But Dixie's ambition to attract a generation-spanning clientele makes for an awkward mishmash of rock music and swank decor. The prominent merchandise booth sells $20 trucker hats, welcoming visitors to Planet Kutcher, but the massive deer head looming high above the bar suggests Planet Nuge. And the walls, half exposed brick, half papered with colorful indie-rock posters, are an odd backdrop to the bar's mechanical bull-which, sadly, will only be appearing on Thursdays and Sundays.
John Plew, CEO/president of Concept Entertainment Group-which also owns local haunts like downtown's Lotus and outer Southeast's Duke's (which, incidentally, also uses the mechanical bull on Friday and Saturday nights)-envisions the new space as "a classic American rock and roll bar." He says it took nine months of demolition and construction to reinvent the interior of the building that previously housed the Cobalt Lounge. "That's the nice thing about rock, is it's not just for young 21-year-olds," Plew says, drawing attention to the sounds of the Who playing on the sound system.
While this hodgepodge is merely an attempt to reflect the myriad changes in rock history, it also illuminates how clashing and antithetical many of its subgenres are. Sure, everyone loves burgers, but attempting to please fans of old-school Beastie Boys and Styx under one roof takes some doing.
Dixie begins to make more sense when you consider who's behind the bar. Leo Rivera, who once poured drinks at Concept Entertainment's Gypsy, now owns the indie scissor chain Bishops Barbershop and assisted Plew in conceptualizing the Dixie Tavern. Behind them both is Richard Jones, who is not only a member of the Bishops Barbershop design team and responsible for Dixie's logo and merch, but serves as Dixie's DJ on Wednesdays. The club's live music is booked by John Guffy, who-surprise, surprise-also books Bishops' West Coast punk-rock shows. Yup, the Dixie Tavern is essentially Bishops: The Bar.
Minutes into the stage-directed counter-top dance, the music morphs into Modest Mouse's "Float On," and the Dixie ladies are suddenly thrown off-kilter. They hop down from their perch as if they've collectively deemed the indie hit unworthy of a bar-top boogie. But somewhere in the crowd, surely, someone is starting to dance. karla starr. Dixie Tavern, 34 NW 3rd Ave., 234-9431.
"You Don't Want Your Nails Done"
Director: Rob "Whitey" McConnaughy
Somebody spent a long time assembling the set for this music video. With the amazing things that can be achieved in post-production editing now, most music videos are usually enhanced after the original shots are taken. There are always exceptions: Michel Gondry's stop-motion LEGO fiesta for White Stripes' "Fell in Love with a Girl," Motion Theory's Mad Magazine tribute for Beck's "Girl," and now Rob "Whitey" McConnaughy's all-cardboard set for Panther's "You Don't Want Your Nails Done." You heard me right. All cardboard. Cardboard room, cardboard iPod, cardboard record on a (functioning!) cardboard turntable, cardboard dog that does a quick stop-motion two-step, cardboard plants, and so on. Panther (otherwise known as Portlander Charlie Salas of The Planet The), clad in a threadbare suit, shimmies around this tan recyclable room screeching histrionic gibberish into a cardboard mic while a sizzling electronic beat with blurts of bass keeps time and keeps the notoriously fitful Salas in motion. He spanks himself, slinks on his back while rocking cardboard stereophones, and basically puts on a better show than Mick Jagger or David Byrne has in the past 20 years. At the end (oh so Portland!) he grabs a cardboard sign reading "Need A Lil Help Will Dance For Food Thanks," exits his cardboard box and emerges on the corner of a busy intersection. Frankly, I'd give him a nice salmon bento box for the performance. JESSI KRAMER. Go to www.whiteyfilms.com/panther.html to watch this video.