This one’s a four-fer!
First up is my review of Aughts icons Minus the Bear and the Velvet Teen, at the Doug Fir on Nov. 8:
Minus the Bear entered with “Thank You For Being A Friend” blaring on the P.A., their Velvet Teen compatriots standing off in the back row hollering in support. Vocalist-guitarist Jake Snider and bassist Cory Murchy, having long lost their tousled, early-indie-era locks, both sported full, messianic beards and long hair. Pulling largely from the recent Planet of Ice and Omni era for their first five tunes in advance of delving into Highly Refined Pirates, the latter was definitely the highlight for the crowd, which lit up palpably as soon as the opening seconds of “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco® Twister” could be made out beneath the waves of applause following the previous disco beat-heavy but surprisingly flat rendition of “Fine +2 Pts.”
Read the rest at Spectrum Culture.
Next up is local favorites and the Willamette Week’s Best New Band of 2010, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, at the Wonder Ballroom Nov. 18:
…loping onstage piecemeal to overly raucous appreciation from the front rows, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside spared no delay before ringing in “Nightmares,” the slow-burning closer off their debut LP Dirty Radio, vocalist Ford’s full-voiced delivery cracking ever so slightly (“Sometimes I wish it would all collapse/ And I could finally fall on my ass“) as bassist Tyler Tornfelt, drummer Ford Tennis and guitarist Jeff Munger glided through the rendition. After transitioning directly into the title tune off 2009 EP Not An Animal, a simple “Thank you s’much” from Ford was sufficient to launch them into another stretch of tracks mining the young outfit’s favorite territory: freewheeling and jazzy, Golden Oldies-style rock ‘n’ roll imbued with raw punk irreverence and topped with Ford’s abdominal yowls and Etta James purrs.
The rest, again, can be found at Spectrum Culture.
Third is the odd pairing of Chicago’s easy, breezy indie jazz-rocker veterans the Sea & Cake with New York’s young upstart songstress Lia Ices, also at the Doug Fir, on Dec. 8:
For all the enthusiasm shown by the crowd for up-and-comer Lia Ices, seconds after the show’s jazzy Chicago headliners took the stage, it was pretty clear who most of the sold-out audience had paid to come watch. The crowd erupting immediately in whistles and howls at the appearance of the quartet; several concertgoers began hurling mild personal insults as well as song requests, ignored or fielded by co-vocalist co-guitarists Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt. Mostly ignored, except in the case of a surprise dance-inducing rendition of “Jacking the Ball” (off their 1994 self-titled debut) that Prekop introduced halfway through the set with, “I’ll take what I can get.” But in terms of gain and contribution, Prekop, Prewitt, John McEntire (drums) and Eric Claridge (bass) brought more to bear than a willingness to appease listeners desiring them to dig deep into their discography (although they played material from several of their nine studio LPs). Wielding an almost preternatural unity on all 19 songs performed that night, the Sea and Cake had no trouble marching through a wide range of moods, from the lurching experimental valleys of earlier records to the tight, poppy strains of “Crossing Line” (from 2007′s Everybody), the latter enveloping Prekop and Prewitt’s capo tones on guitar and the rich brassy twang of Claridge’s bass.
The rest be here.
Last is the most recent — Papercuts at Portland’s Bunk Bar, December 10:
Dreary nights… have little on Papercuts’ quietly defiant preciousness, nor on the painstaking arrangements [lead guitarist/vocalist Jason] Quever puts at the center of nearly every Papercuts tune, even below the vaulted ceiling and pale, dim lights of combination sandwich shop/art gallery/drinking hole/music venue Bunk Bar, situated in Portland’s gritty industrial east waterfront district. Inside, the casual vibe and low-key setup (Bunk Bar lacking a stage in the traditional sense of the word) lent Quever, backed by frequent contributors David Enos (keys), Frankie Koeller (bass) and Graham Hill (drums), the air of someone playing an open mic, or just charitably scoring bar patrons’ Saturday evening with lush compositions pulled in at least some small part from a decidedly bygone, and more lo-fi, era.
And the rest of this piece is located, of course, back at Spectrum Culture.
Whew! More Spectrum reviews, Poetry365 (365ish?) and other content to follow soon. Thanks for reading!