Sub Pop

TDoL Best of 2012: 10-1

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 | musiX | No Comments

1. Tilts – Tilts (Robotic Empire)

2. Swans – The Seer (Young God)

3. Lisabö – Animalia Lotsatuen Putzua (Bidehuts)

4. King Tuff – King Tuff (Sub Pop)

5. Ozarks – Ozarks (Wil-Ru Records)

6. Sic Alps – Sic Alps (Drag City)

7. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes (4AD)

8. The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)

9. Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II (In The Red)

10. Gaytheist – Stealth Beats (Good to Die Records)

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Go to Jaill. Go directly to Jaill.

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 | musiX | No Comments

You know me, I’m a sucker for a good power pop band. I don’t need experimental or existential—just shiny hooks cranked out by a guitar-bass-drums combo (power trio preferred).

Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Jaill is a four-piece that makes rock ‘n’ roll that probably won’t dramatically change anyone’s life. It’s just … good. The band has been quietly doing so for almost a decade, but their Sub Pop debut—That’s How We Burn—is quickly making Jaill as buzzworthy as a warm can of Blatz. It should be noted that three of the members have spent time in another TDoL fave The Goodnight Loving, who are in limbo after just releasing a great record in The Goodnight Loving Supper Club.

That’s How We Burn is a pure slab of power pop. Some songs—like first single “Everyone’s Hip”—have actually been sculpted and polished over the last few years. These tunes go down almost too easy, especially on a warm day … though I don’t advise washing it down with a warm can of beer.

“Everyone’s Hip”Jaill

“The Stroller”Jaill

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Blitzen Trapper can’t keep a secret

Friday, May 7th, 2010 | musiX, pdX | No Comments

Live: Blitzen Trapper and friends at The Woods, 5.05.10

It was a casual affair as evidenced by Blitzen Trapper frontman Eric Earley‘s casual attire—beige shirt, and faded black jeans tucked into the tongues of a pair of old-school, white (and rather clean) Converse.

More A-List party than rock show, Blitzen Trapper celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a low-key bash at the cozy confines of Portland’s funeral-parlor-turned-music venue The Woods. Wednesday night’s not-so-secret, secret show had the band in loose, fine form. And seeing the Trappers again—especially in such an intimate space—reminded me what makes them such a good band.

Blitzen Trapper’s set was largely comprised of songs from their forthcoming LP Destroyer of the Void (June 8 on Sub Pop), which offered fleeting glimpses into ’70s Southern rock, Abbey Road-era Beatles and even a little Queen pomp—the title track might have included all three. While it certainly doesn’t hurt that Earley is a fantastic songwriter/storyteller and a musical wunderkind (he bounced from banjo to piano and then proceeded to effortlessly rip into some guitar shreddery), it’s the rest of the crew that makes Blitzen Trapper a keeper. Guitarist/keyboardist Erik Menteer traded his own echoey solos with Earley throughout the night, and added spacey noise on keys. Same with Drew Laughery, who cut in and out with rumbling keyboard bursts while guitarist Marty Marquis and drummer Brian Koch contributed to those stunning harmonies. A musical collective in the truest sense.

Portland songstress Alela Diane also joined in on the fun, adding some understated, beautiful harmonies to new song “The Tree,” as well as playing a few of her own tunes beforehand. Prior to Blitzen Trapper taking the stage, it was a rapid-fire barrage of songs from local musicians, friends and tourmates, including some banjo pickin’ from Earley in his country-covers project Denver.

Blitzen Trapper won’t return to Portland until late July. By then Destroyer of the Void will have been fully absorbed, and the Trappers will be in full-on festival mode. If you were there, consider yourself lucky … you caught them in full-on festive mode.

Photo by Greg Schroeder

“Heaven and Earth”Blitzen Trapper

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Can you feel my love buzz?

Monday, September 14th, 2009 | musiX | 5 Comments

Of all Kurdt Kobain‘s issues—the self-loathing, the heroin addiction … those unhealthy obsessions with Frances Farmer and The Vaselines—the thing that perplexes me most to this day is how he ended up with Courtney Love.

I bring this up in light of Love’s most recent attempt (and certainly not the last) to make a buck off her deceased husband’s name in what is probably the last thing Kobain would ever want to be associated with—a video game. Guitar Hero 5 was just released, and with it a digitized version of Kobain sporting his ratty cardigan and Daniel Johnston T-shirt performing two of Nirvana’s hits “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium.” Creepy enough. But you can also toggle Kobain’s likeness (whose face sort of resembles a young Stephen Baldwin) to strike B-Boy poses along to Public Enemy‘s “Bring The Noise,” or perform (guitarless) songs by Bon Jovi, Billy Idol and—of all bands—Bush. Geez, might as well throw him into a pair of assless chaps while performing a Guns N’ Roses song (Maybe “One In a Million”?). Of course, Love is now denying she gave the game’s publisher Activision permission to use Kobain’s image and is threatening to sue. Kobain, meanwhile, is looking at all of this probably wondering, “What the fuck was I thinking?”

But I’m here to talk about happy things. Sub Pop is set to release a remastered reissue of Nirvana’s Bleach—you know, their first record … most people don’t own it. It’s been 20 years (to put it into perspective, Bleach came out the same year Milli Vanilli released Girl You Know It’s True). I am We are old.

If In Utero is Nirvana’s best album, Bleach is the most compelling and raw, taking the extremes of punk rock, pop and even metal (double-bass on “School” and “Scoff”!). It’s a rather unsettling and ugly record where melodies miraculously emerge from beneath an unruly tangle of riffs and feedback. Kobain’s vocals are more often slurred than sung, and lyrically he was at his most esoteric (even for him) and wrote a lot of the lyrics the day before recording. With Jack Endino manning the board, the album’s 13 songs were recorded over the course of 30 hours for about 600 bucks.

The Sub Pop reissue, which was overseen by Endino and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, will be released Nov. 3. The first run will come on white vinyl (like the original) and will include an unreleased live recording from 1990 of a performance at Portland’s Pine Street Theatre.

It’s interesting to think that when Bleach was released on June 15, 1989, the members of Nirvana were just a bunch of young punks in their early-20s probably wondering if the band would even make it three years—let alone change the world. Am I naive to think I will never see the day when Kurdt Kobain’s face is plastered on a lunchbox, or “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” appears in a Chevy commercial? At least I can sleep soundly knowing that Love, in fact, has got everything to do with it.

“Blew”Nirvana

“Love Buzz”Nirvana

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The Vaselines enter The Days of Lore

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 | interviewZ, musiX, pdX | 5 Comments

Like many, my introduction to The Vaselines came via Nirvana’s Incesticide record in 1992. “Molly’s Lips” and “Son of a Gun” were cheery pop songs that sounded a little less Nirvana-like than the rest of the album. Of course, Nirvana would later cover “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” for its Unplugged album and, as with the brothers Meat (who incidentally have a new record out May 12), The Vaselines were soon on everybody’s cool-and-hip radar.

The Vaselines weren’t even a band by that point. Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee (for whom Cobain would name his daughter after) broke up—personally and professionally—in 1989, only three years after they formed. The band have only a pair of EPs and one full-length—Dum-Dum—released a few months before they called it a day. Ever since Mr. Cobain professed his undying love for the Scotland duo’s jangly garage pop, The Vaselines have maintained indie-rock cult status, and in 1992 Sub Pop re-released The Vaselines’ first two EPs and Dum-Dum as The Way of The Vaselines.

On May 5 Sub Pop re-released the re-release with a much more grandiose title Enter The Vaselines. And with that Kelly and McKee will also play a few U.S. dates, including one here in Portland at the Doug Fir on Wednesday, May 13. The show, no doubt, will be packed. Gee, imagine a world where Kurt Cobain didn’t endorse bands. Who could blame him? The Vaselines are everything I like about music: Sweet, catchy, naughty, ramshackle, strange, beautiful.

Eugene Kelly took some time to talk to TDoL about the upcoming tour and his first encounter with his biggest fan.

TDoL: When you formed The Vaselines in 1986, how did you think it would end up?
Eugene Kelly: We just wanted to write songs and play gigs. We were lucky that we released a single soon after we’d formed, but we didn’t have any plans. It was one day at a time and we were both at college so it wasn’t a full-time job being in The Vaselines.

Is it strange performing songs you wrote over 20 years ago, considering the fact that The Vaselines could have just as easily ended up long-gone and forgotten?
We could’ve been dead and gone and no one would’ve missed us if it wasn’t for Nirvana then Sub Pop introducing us to a new audience. It’s not strange to play these songs after 20 years at all. They feel new and fresh to us. We didn’t perform many of them live 20 years ago as we split soon after the Dum-Dum album was released.

Kurt Cobain asked you to reform in 1990 to perform with Nirvana in Edinburgh. It was obviously before Nirvana broke. What made you decide to do it?
I was interested in meeting these guys from far over the ocean who seemed to be fans of ours. It was a positive thing in my life at a time when—post-split, post-break up, post-college—I didn’t have much to be cheery about.

How did Kurt react to meeting you two?
We were introduced and chatted before the show; he seemed very shy and introverted.

You’ve both been involved in projects post-Vaselines. Does The Vaselines still satisfy a musical part of you that hasn’t been tapped into since?
I’ve played mostly folk-based acoustic music for the last few years and played solo shows, so playing electric guitar again is fantastic. I’ve missed making a racket.

What are you most looking forward to with the tour?
Simply getting to go to places that The Vaselines haven’t been before and seeing who is waiting to see us play. I can’t wait.

“Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam”The Vaselines

“Sex Sux (Amen)”The Vaselines

“Molly’s Lips”Nirvana

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