Wild Flag

2011: The vinyl countdown … and then some

Friday, December 30th, 2011 | musiX, pdX | 1 Comment

Well, hello there. Remember when we used to hang out? Right here? I would tell you about the music I liked. And you’d get me up to speed on everything going on in your life—that new job, your new love interest, or that new zany electro-twee trio from Brooklyn—in the comments section. I miss that.

It’s been a fantastical year for The Days of Lore, filled with all sorts of life-shaping events … ahh hell, here it is in digestible list form:

1. I got married! Yes, married! Me! Married! To a wonderful woman who puts up with all of my quirks. It was an incredible ceremony, and the good times with friends and family lasted for daze. It was one of the most overwhelmingly happy events in my life. And everyone cried, per my plan. I captured the musical portion of it on the official Days of Lore Wedding Mix. Grab your copy here.
2. I also performed my first wedding ceremony, and I think it’s even official.
3. A couple of my good friends brought new little bundles into the world. Both of those little bundles have Willie Nelson onesies.
4. My beloved St. Louis Cardinals miraculously won the World Series.
5. My wife Alexis got a Master’s in teaching and a teaching job … all within four months.

Yes, 2011 was pretty darned swell. That said, TDoL suffered a little amidst all of the excitement, neglected like a Fleet Foxes CD in the stack of life. But I have a couple of goodies to offer before we call 2011 a year. Like this here year-end, rock and roll buffet (minus the all-you-can-eat crab legs).

I should note that I didn’t delve very deep into new music this year, instead spending all waking hours with my head buried in musty vinyl bins (I’m even working on a cologne called “Musty Vinyl Bin”) buying up old country and metal records. This year, instead of a comprehensive list of 2011 releases, I’ve compiled sort of a grab-bag of notable musical this and thats. Hope you enjoy. Here’s looking to 2012 with charged batteries and more good times.

Top five 6 Shows
1. Wild Flag at Doug Fir, 11.9.11
Windmills, leg kicks, noise, all performed with a certain je ne sais quoi—these ladies renewed my faith in rock and roll.
2. Danava at East End, 10.8.11
The best rock band in Portland. Period. Earplugs and diaper recommended.
3. Rush at Sleep Country Amphitheater, 6.28.11
I’ve only recently jumped aboard the Rush train, and finally seeing them live proved once and for all what I’ve known all along: These guys are nerds. And they fucking rule.
4. Deicide at Hawthorne Theatre, 3.5.11
The venue smelled like an 8th grade locker room, and a fight broke out within the first five minutes I arrived. Now that’s a metal show.
5. Ke$ha at Roseland Theatre, 2.16.11
I had no clue what I was getting into here, and I ended up having a blast. Throwaway pop and good ol’-fashioned schlock in the form of human sacrifices and a dancing penis.
6. Zola Jesus at Mississippi Studios, 10.6.11
Less goth and more grandiose than I expected. I felt like I had eaten a Ziploc bag of mushrooms. And Ms. Jesus was very down-to-earth.

Top 5 Albums
1. Koko and the Sweetmeats - Sacrifice
Seattle’s best kept secret is also Seattle’s best band.
2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
I miss the Mint Chicks … but not that much.
3. Old 97′s - The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2
Even better than Vol. 1. So where’s Vol. 3 and 4?
4. Anthrax - Worship Music
Who woulda thought? They bring back Joey Belladonna and release their best album in 20 years.
5. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream
Album number two of 2011 from Jim Dwyer and Co. is numero uno in my book, and number five on the list.

Top five 6 Vinyl Purchases
1. The Saints – Eternally Yours
The gift that keeps on giving.
2. Steve Young – Rock Salt & Nails
Brilliant country gospel featuring Gene Clark and Gram Parsons.
3. Bollywood Bloodbath: The B-Music of the Indian Horror Film Industry
More funky than frightening—the dance-party soundtrack for 2011 and beyond (the grave).
4. Willie Nelson – Phases & Stages
Willie’s best, and I finally snagged it on vinyl.
5. Iron Maiden – Powerslave
I forgot how great this album was, and I played it for weeks at maximum volume. Now my neighbor Earl knows how great this album is, too.
6. Celibate Rifles – The Turgid Miasma of Existence
Australia’s answer to the Sex Pistols (get it?), only noisier and better.

Odds and Ends
Interview: A morning with Stephen Malkmus
I spent a few hours at Mr. Malkmus’ pad for Spin Magazine, talking to him about sports, guitars … oh, and his best solo record to date.

Record Store: Crossroads Music
I spent many an afternoon here this year. Spent many a dollar. Took home many a record. Made many an ill-advised decision. And for that, I love/hate/love it.

Book: Ace Frehley – No Regrets
The Space Ace drank enough booze and did enough blow to kill an adult male rhino, and he lived to tell about it. Guitar Gods never die—they clean up their acts and write rock bios.

TV: Wonder Years on Netflix
After years and years (and years), Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper (be still my beating heart) came back into my life, along with the laughter, tears, and the music … even if it’s not Joe Cocker on those opening credits. See you next year, eh?

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Electric Company

Friday, November 11th, 2011 | musiX, pdX | No Comments

LIVE: Wild Flag and Drew Grow & the Pastor’s Wives at Doug Fir, 11.9.11

Supergroups are never super. Therefore, Wild Flag can’t be considered a supergroup. The former Sleater-Kinney/Minders/Helium members have formed a great American rock band—incredibly fun songs, endless energy—I almost forgot what it’s like to experience a real rock show. Rock ‘n’ roll mythology seems to be what fuels Wild Flag. They unabashedly celebrate it in their songs. They act it out onstage. And I love them all the more for it. So did the sold-out crowd at the Doug Fir, which on this night might as well have been Budokon … save for the fact audience members stood rather than sit and clap politely.

Drew Grow & the Pasture’s Wives led things off with an eclectic, slightly overwrought set of strummy rock jams. The energy was there, but the songs weren’t all that memorable. Then again, I need to be beaten over the head … which is where Wild Flag comes in.

I’ve always thought the best bands were the ones in which you could pick out the individual personalities. And Wild Flag has plenty of it. Former Helium axetress Mary Timony’s controlled guitar lines and (comparatively) prim stage presence were met with Carrie Brownstein‘s Joey Ramone hiccup and Jimmy Page-meets-Pete Townshend flash (complete with lots of leg kicks and windmills). Basher Janet Weiss and keyboardist Rebecca Cole make up the concrete-slab rhythm section, and occasionally exchanged wide smiles while providing the bulk of the grrrl-group harmonies.

Musically Wild Flag is somewhere in the neighborhood of Cheap Trick meets Sonic Youth meets The Supremes—gloriously tight and sloppy all at once, compact power-pop songs occasionally giving way to extended noise freakouts (most notably on the terrific “Glass Tambourine”). Wild Flag ran through the entire record, hitting on eternally endearing songs like “Boom” and “Electric Band.” These old-hands tap into the primal innocence and reckless abandon of teen punks with more conviction than any of this week’s hot blog’s yesterday’s news. Probably because this is no act.

It remained that way right on through the encore, which led off seamlessly with The Ramones’ “Judy Is a Punk.” The only lapse of the evening was when Brownstein slipped into Portlandia mode. It seems the ladies of Wild Flag had received coupons for free acupuncture. Brownstein explained how she thought she would have to cancel because of prior plans, only to realize that those prior plans included an acupuncture appointment. “Only in Portland,” she said. I feared Fred Armisen might appear onstage in a dress at any moment. That surely would have been no rock ‘n’ roll fun.

Photo by Mark Lore

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