February 24th, 2012 | by CHRIS STAMM Music | Posted In: Upper Extremities, Columns

Upper Extremities #28: Punk Blues

Chris Stamm's punk column gets seasonal depression.

     
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How are you feeling? Yeah, I know. Late February is rough. I’m right there with you. The queasy realization that warm joy is still many deadly months away has dawned in all of its baleful glory. That sad circuit from bed to work to bar and back to bed seems longer and swampier every day. You’ve probably developed a baroque self-flagellation routine in order to punish the dumb body and brain that decided this great nation’s northwestern corner would be the perfect place to build a snug carapace resembling a happy life. Keep it up. Summer scars are sexy.

I am coping. I’ve dedicated myself to practicing my mewling on a daily basis, which keeps the throat chakra fresh and clean. I am also well on my way to perfecting my tear-infused vodka, in which you will be able to drown your sorrows at certain swanky watering holes come murderous March. Drink me up, friends. Know my sorrow. It will fuck you up and make you think insane things like: “Music peaked with Hot Hot Heat” and “Die Antwoord really isn’t THAT bad.”

More often than not, I simply pin my comforter to my window and lie in bed and wish I had an extra comforter to hide beneath while listening to music that speaks to the deep despair in my chest. You know what’s even better than that, though? Going to a show and losing my shit in a sea of strangers. Try it. Humiliation will hustle sadness out into the cold and you will be left feeling like a raw nerve ready to take on the world.

The next few days will offer plenty of opportunities for such public victories over grief. The bands below aren’t particularly well known for sadsack balladry, but Elliott Smith ain’t the only salve worth smearing on a malfunctioning heart. Elliott is dead anyway, and these are the bands worth seeing in Portland this weekend, so you make do, you know?

And if you’re feeling like I’m feeling, these songs will get the job done. They’ll make you cry until you’re feeling good again. Get out there, let it go, wail, it’s okay. I have your back. And any other body parts you wanna part with, if you’re into that.


Divers, “Glass Chimes”
This killer by Portland’s Divers (a new concern fronted by Drunken Boat dude Harrison Rapp) recalls Hearts of Oak-era Ted Leo. Hearts of Oak-era Ted Leo could make a dead man weep. This is a radio hit in search of a radio station strong enough to cope with its beauty.
LISTEN 

Gun Outfit, “Your Will”
Olympia’s Gun Outfit has yet to top this two-minute gem of throwback melancholy from 2009’s Dim Light. I might be way off base here, but my soggy head always imagines Silver Jews morphing into a Dinosaur Jr. cover band when I hear “Your Will”. Those fuzzy, swirling guitars; that helpless, deadpan vocal delivery. Sheesh. Shivers and goosebumps.
LISTEN 

Big Eyes, “Since You Left”
Last year’s Hard Life LP established Big Eyes as one of the country’s most skilled revivers of classic 90s pop-punk. Yeah, the 90s are “classic” now. Think about that while you blow a hole into your hankie as “Since You Left” makes like the Muffs and destroys that barely-pumping fist in your rib cage. You’re old.
LISTEN 


Waxahatchee, “Clumsy”
Waxahatchee is Alabama’s Katie Crutchfield, late of PS Eliot and Bad Banana, bands you should know if you’re into cathartic yearning. This solo deal jettisons the boisterousness of those bands and digs into wracked downer vibes exclusively. It’s college coffee shop music, but in the best way.
LISTEN 

The Business, “Streets Where You Live”
The Business? On a mixtape (or whatever this is) honoring wintry devastation? Believe it. Forget the band’s rep and rowdy fans and what you’ve got with “Streets Where You Live” is a classic pop tune cut with just enough bittersweet weariness to justify those tears falling into your beer. Oi! peaked here, in the pits.
LISTEN 


SEE THEM:
Gun Outfit plays the Reed College Student Union on Friday, Feb. 24 with Broken Water and Hausu. 9pm. $5. 18+.


Divers and Big Eyes play the Know on Sunday, Feb. 26, with Freedom Club. 8pm. Cover. 21+.


Waxahatchee plays at a secret location you can find out about on the internet on Sunday, Feb. 26 with Erica Freas, Spoonboy and Onyx.Black.Heart. 8pm. $5.


The Business plays Rotture on Sunday, Feb. 26 with the Downtown Struts, Rum Rebellion and Shock Troops. 9pm. $12. 21+.

 
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