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February 15th, 2006 Mark Baumgarten, Michael Byrne, Jason Simms | Music Stories
 

LOCAL REVIEWS & PREVIEWS

     
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POISON IDEA
IMAGE: MURIELLE DIY

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THE YOUNG, THE FAMOUS AND THE PROLIFIC.

Lucky Madison, the label that has brought us the wonderful music of Talkdemonic, the Snuggle Ups, Quiet Countries and more, has adopted a new baby band, signing Horse Feathers late last month. The acoustic duo of Justin Ringle and Peter Broderick is currently recording its debut with Skyler Norwood of Point Juncture, WA; expect a release some time this summmer. >> When Colin Meloy took the stage at Town Hall in New York for a solo set Jan. 26, the Decemberist wasn't just playing to sensitive indie-guys and crushed-out geeky girls. He also had an audience with rock royalty as Lou Reed, Sufjan Stevens and possibly David Bowie took in the show, according to a review of the concert published at pitchforkmedia.com. >> Kind of Like Spitting fans eager to bury themselves beneath the catalogue of their favorite hard-luck artist got one step closer to full immersion when Redder Records released yet another of Ben Barnett's masterpieces earlier this week. The Thrill of the Hunt, released on Valentine's Day, is pulled from the same pool of music that resulted in the prolific artist's recent Hush Records release, In the Red, but where that album showcased Barnett as a bandleader, this offering looks to be more "pared-down," according to the label. This should make even the saddest bastard somewhat happy.

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Quiet Countries Friday, Feb. 17

Leb Borgerson: sole horseman of the band apolcalypse?

[LIVE RECORDING] Bands are out. Or going out. Songwriters are ditching bandmates and cutting down to the electro skeleton crew. Guests are fine and collaborators are unavoidable...but whole bands? Dinosaurs.

And what if that were really the case, a mass death of communal music? With Leb Borgerson—a band survivor—on the side of the solo, it would be a bit harder to mourn the loss. The 27-year-old has spent much of his music-making time playing with bands like Laserhawk, Dykeritz and, currently, Alan Singley's Pants Machine. In those bands he has proved himself an able musician, but with his current project, Quiet Countries, Borgerson is something more. He is composer, player and, in a sense, band.

On his first full-length, No One Makes a Sound, Borgerson doesn't absolutely maintain his isolation (Kevin O'Connor and Lisa Molinaro of Lucky Madison labelmates Talkdemonic are featured on "A Wicked Word"). But otherwise Quiet Countries is liberated from band drama and creative conflict. "This is the first time I've just been able to do the music I was thinking of," Borgerson says, "and I really like that."

The first step in replacing the band is re-engineering its best asset: memory. Borgerson does this through the use of recall devices—delays, looping rigs, a repeater, a sampler and a drum machine—that are all linked together in a grand tangle of thick black cables, blinking boxes and knobbed pedals. It's a frightful mess, but it makes possible the one-man choir and baritone guitar orchestra that appear so often on No One Makes a Sound and in Borgerson's performances.

A Quiet Countries show, according to Borgerson, is a "live recording." That is, the instrumentation and arrangement occur almost entirely on stage. The music—the final product—is a mix of jagged deep beats, soft gloomy melodies and vocals that are an odd mix of plaintiveness, bite and hope. Save for the wisely restrained use of samples, most everything coursing through the onstage Quiet Countries tangle is off a live input, whether it be keys, a microphone or guitar. Trapped in their little boxes, the sounds that Borgerson creates are chopped, looped and remixed, resulting in an aural hall of mirrors, with Borgerson singing and playing live guitar against a backdrop of sound recorded minutes before. The vocals are pained, the instrumentation is shadowy, and by the time Borgerson has layered vocal track upon vocal track to create a choir of self-harmonization, the listener is defenseless. I'm terrified to think that I'm wrong, and bands aren't going out, just evolving into four-person versions of Quiet Countries, an exponential symphony limited only by the circuitbreakers in the basement. MICHAEL BYRNE.

Quiet Countries plays with Point Juncture, WA, and Antlerand (formerly Invisible) at Doug Fir. 9 pm. $5. 21+.

Jerry A. of Poison Idea

OK, Poison Idea isn't breaking up, but Pig Champion is dead. We think.

[PUNK] For the past month, rumor and tragedy have surrounded local hardcore punk institution Poison Idea. A show at Sabala's at Mount Tabor on Jan. 9 was billed as the group's last show but ended up being postponed due to a purported lack of practice. Word had it that vocalist Jerry A., a group founder and its backbone, was moving to New York and the band was splitting up. Amid this uncertainty came the news of the passing of Tom Roberts, known to Poison Idea fans as Pig Champion. As the group's guitarist, Roberts became as famous for his obesity and alcohol-driven antics as for his downstroke-heavy crunch guitar sound. WW got ahold of Jerry A. to discuss his bandmate's passing and quiet the rumor mill. JASON SIMMS.

WW: So Poison Idea is finished.

Jerry A.: [Laughs] No, we're still going on. We have a new record that's coming out. We have a European distributor, but we don't have an American distributor right now, and I went to New York for a while to talk to some labels. It kind of got blown out of proportion. Everyone was saying I was leaving, but I'm not leaving.

What about Tom?

He's had kidney problems for a while. When we went to Japan last year, we just did it without Tom because he was too sick to travel. We just played as a four-piece, so we can do it.

Why was Jan. 9 billed as your last show?

That was [Jason] Sabala trying to get people to come to the show. When I went to New York, we didn't get to practice, but there was no reason to think we were breaking up. Like I said, we have a new album coming out.

What's it called?

Believe it or not, it's called Last Will and Testament. It was called that before [Tom's death]. The sheet inside the record is written like a funeral page. We didn't plan it to be like that, but it's already being pressed.

Would Tom have thought was funny?

Oh definitely; he named it. We all threw out a few names, and he came up with that one and we all liked it. That's the cool thing about Poison Idea: the sense of humor. We don't take too many things too seriously. But, I've been thinking, maybe he knew something we didn't.

Velabonz Feb. 11 at the Aladdin Theater

Velabonz vela-bombs at the Aladdin.

[POP METAL] Oh, the high-school talent show: A few dozen parents, siblings and friends are scattered sparsely throughout the auditorium to watch some kids play rock star. And these kids are angsty—you can tell by the way the singer drops to his knees at the end of the set and the players pout as they walk off stage.

But hang on a minute—is that a beer in someone's hand? Wait, is this the Aladdin Theater? Oh, that's right. I'm here to see Velabonz, a Portland band that is rumored to have the ear of a major label and boasts 60,000 hits on its MySpace.com page. And that emotionally flat, angsty-at-the-last-minute band that just left the stage was Sidestar, the opening act.

As a fog machine clouds the stage in anticipation of Velabonz's entrance, I calculate the patron-to-employee ratio at about 4-to-1 in the theater. The band emerges attractive and well dressed. Like a boy band, each member has a slightly different style: The drummer, in his Cons, is a little punky; lead guitarist Elijah Russell is sort of Mötley Crüe with his jagged bleached hair and designer jeans; and frontman Rob Daiker is goth, but tender.

Despite his band's professional look, Daiker is visibly nervous, probably because he's about to undertake the arduous task of trying to put on a good show for a nearly deserted theater. About a third into the set, 10 of 40 onlookers are standing as the band begins "Fuck or Fight," which, following some generic nu-metal guitar in the verse, features a catchy, punk-buttrock chorus that recalls Turbonegro's more anthemic moments on Scandinavian Leather.

Unfortunately, Velabonz never gets 'er done, and the show pretty much plateaus at this point, with Daiker stationary for most of the set. I'm also unconvinced by Russell's downstroke-only solos that he could be the next Slash, although he does produce a few impressive wails.

Afterward, I talk to Daiker, who believes that a high ticket price ($15, set by promotion company 21st Century) kept fans away since, he claims, the group's $5 shows at Dante's have attracted up to 350 people. The band's energy may be low from working for 12 hours on a music video the previous day, but I reckon if Velabonz want to become like the stars they're aping, they're going to have to learn to win over a small crowd, even when they're tired. JASON SIMMS.

White Rainbow Zome (States Rights)

Finally, the rest of us can fall in love with Adam Forkner, too.

[ELECTRONICA] A love letter of sound: 42 minutes of time slowing into a suspended musical mirror-image of the place where everything between two people is gentle, sanguine and sovereign. This is Adam Forkner a.k.a. White Rainbow's four-song release Zome, an album created three years ago for Honey Owens (of Jackie-O Motherfucker, Nudge and World), not us. But now, copy in hand, I confess: I am, myself, falling in love with White Rainbow.

We're shuffled into Forkner's Zome by "Gilded Golden Ladies," a soporific play in psych folk that pushes its weave of gentle vocals and rolling guitar delays forward with the slightest of cymbal tapping. For a musician who's been most often at the fringe with chopped and twisted electronica, it's unexpectedly demure, a feeling of dropping a feather onto the still surface of an indie-rock pond. Those slight ripples continue on through the second song, "How High a Ridge I Could Climb," but the delay effects lengthen, the melodies turn to repetition, and Forkner's vocals turn from words to sound. It's a hint at the suspension to come on the title track. On "Zome" the sounds remain the same—the shimmering guitar voices, the echoing synth—and there's a reference back to the album's melodic beginning. But it's elevated into an ambient polyphony, free of the subtle beats and rhythms of the prior three song, and the temporal constraints of vocals, as unnecessary here as they would be on the moon. The song's an arbitrary 20 minutes long: It could be stretched forever or be over in a moment, encapsulating not a period, but a sense. And even without being a part of Honey Owens' or Adam Forkner's little world, Zome gives enough of that sense to make us bow down to the power of love. MICHAEL BYRNE.

White Rainbow plays with Bonus and Argumentix, Sunday, Feb. 19, at Holocene. 9 pm. Free. 21+.


Quiet Countries plays with Point Juncture, WA, and Antlerand (formerly Invisible) at Doug Fir. 9 pm. $5. 21+.

White Rainbow plays with Bonus and Argumentix, Sunday, Feb. 19, at Holocene. 9 pm. Free. 21+.

 
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