| The Minders |
IMAGE: CRYSTAL HALL
WHAT YOU MISSED LAST WEEK ON WWW.LOCALCUT.COM.
City Commissioner Sam Adams' plan for a free concert to take place at City Hall, July 19. The lineup includes the Minders and Quasi. * A sneak peek at the new Viva Voce video for "The Devil Himself." * Amy McCullough's exposé on a Magnet writer eating up lies about Norfolk & Western. It turns out the band doesn't tour or rehearse in a train. * Casey Jarman's re-post of a diatribe on superhappywax.com
by PDX emcee Manic D, who has quite a delightful distaste for the
co-optation of hip-hop by Snickers and the Black-Eyed Peas. * Streaming MP3s of unreleased tracks by Loch Lomond, The Better to See You With and more. * A clip of Storm Large's performance of "Pinball Wizard" on Rock Star: Supernova, along with Mark Baumgarten's take on the show and why, even if Storm wins a spot in Tommy Lee's band, we all still lose. * A memorial to notable Portland standup bass player Tom Miller, who died last month at the age of 54. * Michael Byrne's review of the Magik Markers at the Towne Lounge, where he was mesmerized by fighting, screaming, blood, a noose and Elisa Ambrogio's refreshing spectacle. * Jason Simms' ode to the Curse of the Carousel Pony, and a review of a recent house show performance by its offspring, Deer or the Doe.
Don't miss your daily Portland music news and views at www.localcut.com. Anything you think we should know? Email email@example.com.
DJ TAN'T Thursday, July 13
Working for cake and punch ain't bad, but electronic Portland's got other ideas.
[ELECTRONIC] Give a 4-year-old kid a pair of turntables, and Paul Lynch is what might happen. Performing as DJ Tan't, Tantrum and (((in mono))), Lynch possesses production-whiz fingertips and a give-a-fuck-less attitude on self-promotion that could put him on stage at Holocene as easily as in a dank basement for a crowd of five. Tours? Nah. Singles? Nope. Label whoring? Only if the label's the whore (not to imply that there's anything whorish about his current label, Dismal City). Add all that to the fact that Lynch plays under three monikers—Tantrum is Tan't with a band and (((in mono))) is indie-rockified Tan't (occasionally performed, in epic fashion, with Leb Borgerson of Quiet Countries)—and he is begging to stay in the underground, working for "cake and punch," 4-year-old style.
But then again, you don't drop a record like Notes of Abrasion (Dismal City) and expect to stay buried. The disc is proper. It's the sort of album DJ Alias might have done four years ago, before he found violins and pretty vocals: often dark, effected and glitchy, but never ditching the party. The vocals on the record—Tan't's second full-length—are delivered by Sleepyhead, an emcee who also calls local hip-hop label Dismal City home. He rhymes briefly on one of the disc's highs, "On the Gallows," an unlikely jam of crushing beat and mini piano concerto. It's good company.
Another "then again": Tan't's got history with a strong crew, playing early in college with Laserhawk member Tyler Evans, and in Only Connect with Kevin O'Connor of Talkdemonic fame. The latter helped get Lynch on the Lucky Madison label roster with the hope of releasing what ultimately became Notes of Abrasion. The local upstart label took off too quickly, though, signing on with a national distributor and trimming down its roster, including Lynch. Label boss Ryan Feigh admitted later, "I was bummed that I couldn't put out some small-run releases from some extra-sick friends like DJ Tan't." No matter; Tan't wore his don't-give-a-fuck badge like a champ. "It would've been nice," he told me afterward, but continued with a shrug, "Someone else will put it out." And they are this week, but with Tan't's credo, "creating and playing music is better than sex," it hardly matters.
DJ Tan't performs with Wilding; DJs Casio City, Poindexta P & Honeydripper; and MCs Sleepyhead, Colin Jones & A.E.D. at Holocene. 9 pm. $4. 21+.
Bark, Hide and Horn Friday, July 14
Andy Furgeson leads a trio of very complicated campfire revelers.
[ONE-MAN BAND TIMES THREE] I had listened to Bark, Hide and Horn's new self-titled EP (Boy Howdy Records), but it wasn't until they played a show at the Towne Lounge on the hottest day of the year that I got it. After a couple of songs, the band had asked that the stage lights be turned down. Then, when the threesome was lit by a single warm orange light, I started to ponder vocalist Andy Furgeson's somewhat epic red beard and the high-waters all three bandmembers were wearing. When I started to get the urge to hear them play the song about the honey ants, it hit me. This washboard-toting, American-folk-influenced band that sings songs based on National Geographic articles is the ultimate campfire band.
"I ran out of love songs," says Furgeson, sitting on the Towne Lounge's lawn after his set. "So I changed 'girl' to 'bird.'"
The most memorable track on the EP, "This Abdomen Has Flown," is told from the perspective of an "enslaved" honey ant whose job it is to store honey in its abdomen to feed the colony. With its underdog hero and allegorical narrative, the song is the stuff American music was founded on. And there is familiarity in Furgeson's vocal as well, his rising pitch at the end of each line recalling traditional folk. "It feels like it comes from a bizarre American consciousness far outside of myself," Furgeson says.
The wit in his songs and stage banter reveals Furgeson to be a charming guy, but, strangely, a BH&H show isn't as electrifying as it could be. While singing and playing guitar, Furgeson also beats a suitcase he found on the street with a kick pedal, as well as manning a foot-operated tambourine. The band is rounded out by two more multi-intrumentalists, bassist/vibraphonist/percussionist Peter Valois and trumpeter/keyboardist/percussionist/mandolin player Brian Garvey, who says, "Playing so many instruments allows us to wear a lot of different hats." Which is cool, except that some hats just don't mesh that easily, like fireman and cowboy, or coonskin and rickshaw or, in Furgeson's case, programmer/percussionist and frontman. Furgeson is working with an odd mix of variables that battle each other for his attention. The main battle occurs when, as in the song "Firefly," he is controlling the rhythm, as well as the melody, which could be fantastically raucous with all the gimmicky instruments feeding off one another, but ends up constrained, tame and just sloppy. Valois says that BH&H "is like three one-man bands," which is a really interesting concept. But to turn that concept into a great band, this trio has got to spend some time around the campfire checking to see if all those hats really fit.
Bark, Hide and Horn plays with Modernstate, Run Chico Run and Sounds Like Fun at the Artistery. 8 pm. $5. All ages.
John Weinland Friday, July 14
Adam Shearer and Co. release a great folk hope.
[FOLK-POP] Adam Shearer, the lead singer of the band John Weinland, is one of the strongest young songwriters in this city. An acoustic strummer, Shearer is, in his whispered lyricism and his gift for imagery, an heir to Elliott Smith. He also shares that late songwriter's obsession with distance and an unattainable peace of mind, as heard on John Weinland's first official release, Demersville (self-released). But there is also a great divide between the songwriters. Here among the country-tinged arrangements and patient instrumental interludes, Shearer has managed to interweave his sad songs with something that rarely occurs in Smith's compositions: hope.
"Other Folks," where Shearer musters a Neil Young drawl against Alia Farah tender harmonies, shows the beautiful complexity hope and despair can create when in the hands of Shearer. "I hope you don't regret a single day you spent/ draggin' my old heart around," he sings as the lap steel whines. The rest of the album covers the same ground with little musical repetition, from the "it's all in how you're layin' it out" of "The Loaded Gun" to the "I've got hope, but she's got reason" of "Young and Smart" to the—dammit, there's that word again—"I've got a little hope up in my heart" of "Scene 30."
It's amazing what a talented backing band can do for music rooted in darkness. The other players on this album manage to paint Shearer's guarded hope with joy (the instrumentals on "The Letters" burst with it). But when hope is absent in Shearer's songs, the band becomes a burden.
"Piles of Clothes" is the best song the Portlander has ever written. It's an earnest lament of an absent love filled with distance, doubt and indifference and led off with a telling image: "I'm sleepin' next to piles of clothes/ That I can't even manage to fold/ Clean or otherwise." It's a painful, miserable song, but it's hard to imagine that Shearer is really that miserable with the instrumentation here. Played with a full band, plus violin, cello and piano, this song of loneliness sounds almost like a pose. A song like this is meant to be played alone in a room cluttered with clothes, not musicians. Hopefully Shearer will realize that when the hope disappears, so should the band.
John Weinland will be playing with Mbilly at Mississippi Studios. 9 pm. $10. 21+. Listen to two versions of "Piles of Clothes" at www.localcut.wweek.com (search "John Weinland").
The Minders Friday, July 14
The Minders have nothing to feel guilty about on this disc of pop perfection.
[INDIE-POP] Bow down, Portland. With It's a Bright Guilty World (Future Farmer), the Minders' fourth full-length disc, this local foursome may have touched indie-pop perfection. They have, simply, missed nothing here. The album is catchy: Mates of State catchy. Plague catchy. And as its title suggests, Bright Guilty World harbors a cynical snarl along with moments of lo-fi dust set in a downbeat blue hue.
That blue hue is only relatively so, though, as this is the Minders, a band born of the Brian Wilson-worshiping Elephant Six collective. Though the band is certainly getting tired of that reference, their sound—generally speaking—hasn't strayed far since the band moved here from Denver eight years ago. As such, instead of being depression pieces, the disc's bits of blue are simply sweet. "Remember, Remember" is smooching music for summer nights on Mount Tabor, while "Saturday Morning" is a straight "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" throwback. And "lo-fi" is, likewise, relative, found on the fuzz-filled "Guns of August" (the disc's chanson de resistance) and in small musical cracks by those of the Mountain Goats cult who have a supernatural ear for it. The disc is filled with grand magnetic crests, from the refrains of "Don't you stop/ Every move you make/ means so much" on "Don't You Stop" to the (sort of) periodical improvisational hooks of "3-5-7," a track I've been in love with since hearing it live months ago as a 10-minute jam. Even for its pop grandeur, the album's best cut still may be its humblest, "Jenny," with its short bits of lyrical sweetness: "You just sing/ and I'll fall into" and "I have to sink/ before I believe." Mr. Wilson has never been treated so properly.
The Minders celebrate the release of It's a Bright Guilty World, Friday, July 14, with Boat. Towne Lounge. 9:30 pm. $6. 21+.