There's been a bit of a Beach Boys revival as of late. From Animal Collective to The Besnard Lakes, Brian Wilson's falsetto coupled with surfy guitar paddles on. The latter group shares the Jagjaguwar label with buzzing band Women and their presence confirms the Indiana-based label's ever improving status.
Thursday night, the five piece from Calgary played a tight, speedy set of numbers from their self-titled debut, released last October. Like young pyros, Women lit the fuse of every track they played, strumming and waiting before watching them each go up in flames. Perhaps it was on account of the tour's end, perhaps it was the encouragement from the fair-sized Portland crowd; either way, the lo-fi wizards enjoyed the creative destruction of every tune.
The guitar work was caffeinated and quick, a dampened, less static version of that of fellow countrymen Wolf Parade. The Velvet Underground comparison has been made with Women before, perhaps prematurely, but not entirely off base. Their frankly sung lyrics, rock ‘n' roll riffs and clever time changes do reflect flashes of Lou Reed. Refreshingly, there's a focus in Women on the bass, the string that weaves their muffled, melodic chaos together.
And while the vocals were a bit short of the encapsulating rhythms, Women demonstrated its fuzzy experimentalism with skill and candor. Eventual headliner Chad VanGaalen manned a few smaller instruments stage right, quietly orchestrating from his corner perch. He would take the stage later to not only play, but screen his twelve minute stab at animated film--a six-month, extremely involved effort he thanked the Canadian government for.
“They'll give you retarded amounts of money,” he said of the government and the many grants they award to artists.
One more reason Canada is quietly securing its place in history as the best country ever.
Photos courtesy of Mark Stock