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January 18th, 2006 Casey Jarman, Michael Byrne | Album Reviews
 

Album & Live Reviews

     
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Monkey Trick Jan 14 at Dante's

Homesweet and Leery

Celilo (self-released)

A glossy sheen obscures a promising band.

[SUBDUED ALT-COUNTRY] There is plenty of beauty on Homesweet and Leery, from the haunting, ever-present slide-guitar work to frontman Sloan Martin's charming, lisp-laden vocal delivery. Most promisingly, Celilo plays the near-impossible role of a young country-rock outfit that sounds sincere and unforced, a quality which unfortunately is undermined by production that sounds so clean it leaves you longing for just a little dirt.

Martin's lyrics are a grab bag of extended metaphors and incomplete thoughts. Sometimes Martin delivers a straightforward message, as on "Christmas Cash," which starts with a dreary, "Hotel California"-esque intro before giving way to an encouraging tempo change and rapid-fire chorus. "I'd like to take you back, but it can't be unsaid," he spouts, sounding eerily like an alt-country Isaac Brock. But more often, Martin is too busy delivering clever line after clever line to imbue his songs with any sort of coherent theme. "The promises we made fell on deaf wooden ears/ from a parallel distance impossible to keep," he sings on "Winter Bloom" (incidentally, one of the prettiest songs on the album). Lyrical schizophrenia like this would feel at home in typical Portland indie rock. But Celilo's subdued rainy-day country is the perfect platform for storytelling, and on that front the group often fails to deliver.

Despite the lyrical issues and the gesso of occasionally adult-contemporary sounding production, Homesweet and Leery is a brilliantly played and tactfully crafted release. If Celilo can recapture that gift and combine it with more adventurous production on its next release, I will be first in line to shit my pants over this band. CASEY JARMAN.

Celilo plays with Isolade and the Sort Ofs Saturday, Jan. 21, at the White Eagle. 8:30 pm. $4. 21+.

Monkey Trick Jan 14 at Dante's

Jesus Lizard cover band delivers the right kind of mayhem.

[ROCK] By the time Monkey Trick hit "Bloody Mary" Saturday night at Dante's, frontman Trevor Solomon looked hurt, as if he'd taken a hard blow—as if, maybe, he wanted it to be over. Rivers of beer merged with rivers of blood on his bare torso as the leadman for Portland's Jesus Lizard cover band collected himself between manic wails of "Ma-rrrry!!" Then, looking into the crowd, Solomon's brow furrowed, betraying his version of original Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow's onstage chaos: those horizontal lines instead posed a question. Namely, "What the fuck?"

Indeed.

The front-row-cum-mosh-pit was a whirlpool of missing-the-point. Caught in that little sea of thrown elbows and broken glass, one would think the Jesus Lizard were a bullshit testosterone punk band. The since-departed Chicago band's shows were notoriously filled with mayhem, and far from lovefests (of that front row, Yow once remarked, "They're softer than the floor"). But that mayhem wasn't coming from rebellion and rage as much as it was the absurdity and pathos of Yow's melting circuits.

That front row might have been in the dark, but Solomon knew the score. Thank god, too, because the crowd was also filled with people like me, who missed their chance at David Yow insanity and were forced instead to make their own. Saturday, obviously, wasn't a match—the band's water bottles outnumbered beer bottles, and that fifth of Jack Daniel's was mainly a prop—but in its raw, most charged moments, Solomon's performance proved that his creased brow hid a mind grasped by noise. He lurched and careened around stage as if getting high-voltage feedback from his own microphone and Christian Rouiller's guitar. And then, thrashing half-naked in a pool of beer and broken glass, screeching Yow's decades-old free-associations, we knew we had our glimpse back. MICHAEL BYRNE.


Celilo plays with Isolade and the Sort Ofs Saturday, Jan. 21, at the White Eagle. 8:30 pm. $4. 21+.

 
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