"Synthesized" The Epoxies
So many things make the Epoxies awesome. Roxy Epoxy is easily one of the best frontwomen around. The songs, massive exploding synthy pop-punk, make even Portlanders dance (at times). Live, the band is chock-full of energy, making fans and critics alike stare in awe at their supernova shows. So why does this video for "Synthesized" drag on? Originally released as a 7-inch in 2002 and resurrected for the band's second full-length album, Stop the Future, the song pokes fun at how much of our culture is ready-made. The video mimics this idea, co-starring the Punk Group (see page 32) as lab-coated researchers synthesizing the Epoxies via some kind of electro-scanner, then presenting the project/band onstage. The editing is fast-paced, the camera makes frenzied moves, the band does what it does. But somehow, for a video just under three minutes, it takes forever and is kind of boring. The band just does not look nearly as fun as I know it is. Maybe that's exactly what it means: Pop culture is now fast becoming a facsimile of entertainment, losing the very essence of creativity and energy art needs to have. Probably not. In the end, it's a good attempt to enclose a band on screen that cannot be contained, even on stage. JESSI KRAMER. See the video at www.theepoxies.com.
Adam Gnade (Loud and Clear)
Portland storyteller takes us to where we've already been.
[STORYTELLING] We can imagine the nine tracks of Adam Gnade's Run Hide Retreat Surrender as nine messages from a weary traveler left on our collective Portland answering machine. The album plays as a travelogue, relayed to the listener right before the narrator turns back, freezes to death or finds himself, finally, exhausted at the foot of the Interstate Bridge. Maybe there's an incidental melody in the background or maybe there's the dead air of a dirty motel room, but at its root, it's just talking until the miserable end.
The album is an unpoetic saga of hopelessness, beginning with a post-Christmas living-room portrait described by an outsider peering in through a frosted window. Slowly, in the background, a rolling guitar melody shudders, fades and disappears. On the next track, "So Long Darling, It's No Use," we're sunk into Gnade's drug nightmares, which creep at the border of cliché but, by their lack of poetic adornment, at least seem genuine ("bleeding into each other's bleeding holes"). And so the desperation and homesickness continue through the next seven songs: a poisonous Deep South, a soulless New York City, and the small towns and long roads between. Folk guitars, a church organ or a cigarette lighter often accompanies the tales. It is, however, instrumentation as accessory: This is an album of stories. But they're stories we've already heard—our fingers hover above the answering machine's fast-forward button.
Adam Gnade isn't the first person to run to Portland looking for a retreat, surrender, or hiding place. Undoubtedly, some of the others are musicians, too; let's hope they're creating something far more poetic and meaningful than this. MICHAEL BYRNE. Adam Gnade plays with emBROWNLOWe Thursday, Jan. 5, at Towne Lounge. 9:30 pm. $4. 21+.
3 Leg Torso/David Greenberger (Self-released)
Portland's chamber/tango quintet gets old with David Greenberger.
[SPOKEN WORD WITH CHAMBER MUSIC] The fourth track on Whispers, Grins, Bloodloss and Handshakes, "Electronic Music," features the words of an elderly woman whose philosophy in the face of changing times is "It's today and tomorrow that counts, because yesterday's gone." Spoken-word artist David Greenberger shares this philosophy when it comes to the elderly: For years, his zine Duplex Planet has been dedicated to individualizing a group of people commonly lumped together by their age. Like his magazine, the New Yorker's second collaboration with Portland chamber/tango quintet 3 Leg Torso focuses on the experience of being elderly, rather than remembrances of the past.
The wonderment of the woman on whom "Electronic Music" is based is perfectly mirrored by 3 Leg's Gary Irvine and T. MacAoidh's playful vibraphones, which sound almost like a music box. Throughout the album, 3 Leg's instrumentals interact with and comment on the narratives they accompany. As the speaker of "Only Natural Worries" dismisses the "worries" of aging, Michael Papillo's bass repeatedly and sinisterly swells before falling silent before a burst of percussion. This effect sounds almost like a guillotine and functions as a reminder of the only looming "worry" the speaker doesn't mention: death.
Most of the album's 14 tracks are under two minutes long. This brevity, and the prosaic style of the monologues, gives a deceiving appearance of simplicity, but the tension between the words and music makes it difficult for the listener to determine what's at stake in each track, provoking multiple listens. Plus, any of the short tracks would make a great parabolic interlude on a mix tape. JASON SIMMS. 3 Leg Torso (without David Greenberger) plays Friday, Jan. 6, at Mississippi Studios. 8 pm. 21+.
See the video at www.theepoxies.com.
Adam Gnade plays with emBROWNLOWe Thursday, Jan. 5, at Towne Lounge. 9:30 pm. $4. 21+.
3 Leg Torso (without David Greenberger) plays Friday, Jan. 6, at Mississippi Studios. 8 pm. 21+.