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October 12th, 2005 MARK BAUMGARTEN | Music Stories
 

Spitting Blood

Joe Haege's 31 Knots soundtracks this horrible, confusing world.

     
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"Just in case we were mistaken, this is dedicated to the messengers of the left coast; to the Bush league soothsayers of the right side. I don't want to imply that there is a wrong side, but lest we forget that everybody's got to eat, so this goes out to all the allies and eyesores; all those making fact or fiction that we can listen to; and so, here it is..."

—Prologue to "City of Dust" by 31 Knots

Joe Haege is speaking your language. As leadman for 31 Knots, the 30-year-old has developed the ability to soak in his surroundings and deliver them—condensed into blustering poetry—over his band's churning apocalyptic pop. Haege is also a realist, pulling most of his subject matter from the stories of deception and destruction emblazoned on newspaper pages and TV screens every day. And while he doesn't pull any punches, Haege also doesn't push a hard-line agenda. That much is made clear in the prologue to "City of Dust," the first and best track off 31 Knots' new release, Talk Like Blood, a powerhouse album that places Haege among Portland's best songwriters.

I've always found Haege's songwriting both frightening and irresistible, much like the information clusterfuck that his song subjects are pulled from. Haege never makes sense of all this nonsense, but he does make it sound beautiful, creating a stunning soundtrack to your everyday interactions with the world. So, pick up the newspaper, cleanse your political palate with "City of Dust," listen on and read accordingly:

"I see the pretty gavels. They will make all the choices for me." —"Hearsay"

Between the Oregon right-to-die case and Harriet E. Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court, this track will be on heavy rotation.

"Supply demands that you hear the voice of waste." —"Thousand Wars"

A short burst of intensity, this song is a perfect accompaniment to rising pump prices.

"Seems like now the chances we make fair as well as the chances that we fake." —"Intuition Imperfected"

Dig out that Downing Street memo and give it another go.

"And the decimals jumped a space, raping the database, slitting the wrists of my statistics." —"Chain Reaction"

A powerful vocal performance to watch your computer crash to.

"I remember Ritalin and all the days, oh boy, before it came to stay." —"A Void Employs a Kiss"

An unlikely upbeat classic rocker to read heady reviews of Thumbsucker by.

"Was it boredom or a war call? Regardless, we patrolled the crooked straits." —"Proxy and Dominion"

Take your pick.

"If you keep a secret, I'll offer rewards, a bloodless percussive muscle of warmth." —"Talk Like Blood"

Employ when a politician denies anything.

"Busy is bold. And bold is a plank that you must walk." —"Busy Is Bold"

The sound of unions dying.

"Operator under pressure from the maker to take apart the tempered moments of decision."—"Impromptu Disproving"

Haege serenades reactionary liberals, righteous Republicans and religious fanatics alike.


31 Knots play with Jim Yoshii Pile-up and Dead Science on Friday, Oct. 14, at Holocene. 9 pm.
 
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