the big oh-four
Music We Trust
There's this local hell-themed club (I won't mention names) that
happens to be a great place to see a show: a stygian cabaret with
diabolical drinks, damnably good sound and a layout with Mephistophelean
attention to functionality. Plus it's dark and cozy, and they've
got fire dancers right out on the street.
So when the nostalgic strains of Betty Already reach diminishing
returns, we turn our heads toward Burnside Street watching
baffled tourists leap out of the way as a sexy young thing weaves
scorching circles in the air like a whirling dervish who got too
close to some open flame.
day: Betty Already helps In Music We Trust celebrate four years
as an indie Web site.
Betty Already opened last month's birthday party celebrating In
Music We Trust, Alex Steininger's Portland indie empire.
We Trust is a fan-friendly review site spawned from the '80s
drunk-punk philosophy of the Replacements. As a middle-aged (four-year-old)
free content site, IMWT has definitely made the grade.
But there's more!
IMWT is also a growing label and promotions company and
that's where the music for tonight's celebration comes from.
Betty Already is fortunate to have Steininger doing promotions;
the live set paints the band as a bit of a hard sell. What do you
do with a mix of Bay Area punk, the B-52's and Brit-sleaze tendencies?
The band hearkens back to the weightless party-rock of the B-52's,
both in lyrical content and vocal style. Ever popular boy/girl vocals
combine cheerleader-style exhortations with enough shakes and shimmies
from Miss Kitty to evoke Daisy Duke at an amateur strip competition.
Undeniably tight and catchy enough, Betty Already parties through
songs that rely heavily on dense riffs and less on melodic focus
leaving little room to breathe. Finally, the last tune opens
into a funky lope with airspace and a genuinely crafty pop melody.
But that's it for the ass shaking.
vacuum: Spare Change, Luther Russell's latest CD, doesn't
suffer from room conversations.
IMWT's own Luther Russell wedges himself between Betty Already
and the show-closing Pinehurst Kids with his end-of-millennium acoustic
Russell's latest CD, Spare Change, overpowers with immediacy:
beautifully smart guitar, strong melodies, distinctive voice.
This night's set, however, is a different story ... different circumstances
different times. Right now Russell is swallowed up by conversations
in the room. His delta moans and quiet strumming almost disappear
in the loud pop vacuum, sucking the blues away from his performance.
The talkers aren't giving him a chance.
At last Russell summons the Pinehurst Kids to back him on a crackling
version of his "John Hardy," which wakes everybody up.
But too late to save the set.
to please: The Pinehurst Kids as polished punk-pop machine.
The veteran Pinehurst Kids have grown from a two-piece impersonation
of the Tasmanian Devil to a polished four-piece punk-pop machine.
However, consummate professionalism doesn't hide main-Kid Joe Davis'
sincere enthusiasm and bratty charm both of which might be
construed as either completely genuine or shamelessly contrived.
The Kids' blistering confections and confessionals are crafted
to please, even if Davis and crew create a wall that's too dense
at times for my ears.
Davis' solos fight for recognition in the squall. Jam-packed distortion-drenched
pummeling chords do the trick (though one overdriven bass note hitting
the root of each chord would serve almost as well). Such pummeling
tends to numb one's head after awhile.
I almost order another cheap slop beer, but instead decide it's
time to grab the wife and leave. Why spoil a good thing with discount
drunkenness? IMWT wants us to feel fulfilled, not ill.
Certainly, the Pinehurst Kids and Betty Already make sure we don't
go hungry. And Luther Russell's Spare Change awaits us at
home if we need a midnight snack. But we're left with more than
enough chords to serve as leftovers well into next week.
Hear Betty Already:
The band's CD, Amerimaniacs, is available on Fly Lyla Records.
Hear Luther Russell:
His CD, Spare Change, is available on In Music We Trust
Hear the Pinehurst Kids:
The Kids' CD, Bleed It Dry, is available on Barbaric Records.
And see the Pinehurst Kids all month:
Sept. 1: Roseland Theater; Portland (opening for Guided By
Sept. 3: Skychurch; Seattle (part of Bumbershoot; all-ages)
Sept. 7: Los Gatos Outhouse; Los Gatos, Calif. (w/Alien Crime
Sept. 8: Capitol Garage; Sacramento, Calif. (w/the Bell Rays)
Sept. 9: Paradise Lounge; San Francisco
Sept. 10: 3 of Clubs; Los Angeles (all-ages)
Sept. 11: Mr. T's Bowl; Los Angeles (all-ages)
Sept. 12: Chain Reaction; Anaheim, Calif. (all-ages)
Sept. 13: The Casbah; San Diego
Sept. 16: Spaceland; Los Angeles (w/the Shins)
Sept. 21: Cobalt Lounge; Portland (part of MusicFest Northwest)
Sept. 27: Breakroom; Seattle (w/Arlo; all-ages)
Sept. 29: Fox and Firkin; Corvallis, Ore. (w/Gravity and