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August 24th, 2005 WW Editorial Staff | Album Reviews
 

ALBUM AND LIVE REVIEWS

     
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The Cancer Fags

NICK jaina Monday, Aug. 29

Binary Dolls leadman argues that misery sought is still misery.

[FOLK] "I've always willfully put myself into painful situations," says Nick Jaina, looking every bit the sad bastard you would think he is after listening to his latest solo release, The Bluff of All Time. For Jaina, a life lived without the tangled plight of poverty and wanderlust is a life lived in oblivion. "I grew up middle-class, and then, at one point, I decided to quit college and live a life surrounded by buses, bums and being a busboy. Comfort, to me, just became a lie."

Now before you turn your nose up at this ungrateful 27-year-old for "slumming it," remember that by choosing the hard road Jaina is carrying on a literary tradition that has yielded some of the West's greatest works by the likes of George Orwell, Henry Miller and Knut Hamsun. These authors believed that real life was found in the gutter. Or, as Jaina explains in "Wrecking Ball," "I play the rhythm of the wrecking ball/ I play destruction 'cause it grips us all."

His first solo work since 2000's Snakes & Umbrellas, The Bluff of All Time was written and recorded during a low point in Jaina's life. The leadman for Binary Dolls had split from his wife and had his heart broken by another woman. He also had no job and only "two cans of beans to eat." Plus, his bandmates in Binary Dolls threatened to pull the plug on the band if he didn't become a better singer. Fortunately, Jaina did have access to a studio while housesitting for a friend. There he laid his existential woes down on 12 tracks of dark rumination set to warm acoustic waltzes and beautiful piano ballads. His voice-fittingly subtle, subdued and much improved from his last release-describes personal destruction while maintaining a fittingly odd faith in humanity.

"The only reason we have bad things is because there are great things to be torn down," Jaina says, with a backhanded optimism. "Like Sept. 11. Those towers were an example of humanity's great ingenuity. Their destruction isn't ultimately sad. It would truly be sad if we were sitting in the dirt banging rocks together." MARK BAUMGARTEN. Nick Jaina plays with Liam Carey, Kaitlyn ni Donovan and Myrrh Larsen at the Towne Lounge. 9 pm. Cover. 21+.

LKN Aug. 15 at Acme

The show did not look promising. Five minutes into the set, Lauren K. Newman's guitar pedal went on the fritz, and, for the next 15 minutes, her amp emitted little more than periodic and deafening static. By this time the crowd she'd attracted had moved out to the patio, and the CD release party for LKN's second album, January 2005, 10 Songs, seemed dead. Then a kind soul lent his pedal to the leadwoman. "Thanks so much for the Blues Driver," Newman said a few minutes later. "I want to give you my body when I kill myself after this show." With that, Newman let loose a short and intense display of jagged heavy-metal acrobatics, miraculously resuscitating the set as her able rhythm section pushed her on. Newman announced the final two songs with this summary: "The first one's about you can't touch my pussy and the second is about you can." The first, a song called "You Seem Determined," was a whirling dervish. The second, which she announced as "I Fucking Adore You, You Fucking Motherfucker," was the ballad.

Lauren Newman, it must be said, is frightening on stage. She tears at her clothing and kicks sporadically, every once in a while screaming with a look of abandon in her eye that makes you believe that very soon, something is going to get seriously messed up. Tonight it was just my head and, during this song, a chair that Newman grabbed briefly and then spun away. She doesn't respect much during her shows but does respect that guitar. She held the instrument out from her body at the most intense moments, as if protecting the instrument from the heat of her passion. And then, at the end of the final song, she fell to the floor and cradled it, making its strings wail discordant, fractured melodies as the song died. Who's the motherfucker she adores? Well, it's red, and it needs a new Blues Driver. MARK BAUMGARTEN.

threesome For Singles ONLY

Holy Sons, "Getting Old" from I Want to Live a Peaceful Life

Portland folk hero Emil Amos hums the line "You know I feel my best when I'm alone" like a softer Johnny Cash, and when he hits falsetto, it pierces your heart. The simple bass and lilting guitar wouldn't sound out of place on any late '60s country record, but Amos turns it into deep soul. KEVIN SAMPSELL.

BILLBOARD #6

Mariah Carey, "Shake It Off" from The Emancipation of Mimi

All we here at Threesome Central hoped for was the throttling of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" from the top of the singles chart, and what do we get? Another Mariah Carey song, quickly climbing the chart to join its milquetoast sister near the top. Aside from solidifying Mariah Carey and her songwriters as the most unoriginal song titlers in the free world ("Shake It Off," like "We Belong Together," has been used as a title by no fewer than 20 artists), this track offers production that moves, some interesting undulating vocals, and a theme that is more realistic than the fake love of "We Belong Together." Here, our protagonist must "shake it off" and leave her cheatin' lover. So she puts her diamonds in her Louis Vuitton bag and splits. Or at least that's what she says she's gonna do. She'll probably stay, though. After all, they belong together. MARK BAUMGARTEN.

The Cancer Fags, "Penelope (Upstairs)"

Julian Tulip, lead singer for the Cancer Fags, wants to take you to his favorite Chinese restaurant, where he knows the code to get a table out back. He's a Marc Almond-flavored licorice pastille-pale, '80s sweetness on the outside, dark and intense in the center. Live, extemporaneous lyric-welding occurs before your very eyes, as DJ (and WW contributor) Corban Lester spins whorls of wafty sugar and danceable spice around the words. TIFFANY LEE BROWN.

 
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