Watching Woolen Men at this past weekend's PDX Pop Now! fest was especially a delight, because even before they played a single note, it was obvious the trio was going to perform with an extra bit of fire in their bellies. Guitarist/singer Lawton Browning was having issues with his guitar cable, and all three looked downright peeved at having to follow Portland Cello Project's half-hour of cover tunes—or, as Browning put it after the band tore through a rendition of a Minutemen song, "See we can do covers, too. But we also know how to write originals. Sorry."
That wonderfully snotty and pointed attitude is spilling over into the band's original work these days as well. On Saturday, the trio played "City of Ghosts," a scathing song about the social upheaval still tearing through Portland. And on its latest release, a split 7" with fellow garage-pop outfit Lame Drivers, the Woolen Men send out a overdriven, lo-fi plea to "inward artists" to help keep the country awake and aware of our country's still shaky financial-political situation. The song's appropriate title: "Deaf Americans."