Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Pharmacy at Balagan Theatre Friday

If I wasn’t such a creepy old dude I’d hit the Balagan Theatre (1117 East Pike St) tomorrow night to check out The Pharmacy, Wildild Life, TV Coahran, Sioux City Pete, Taco Kitty, Stabbings, Greatest Hits and Emeralds. It’s an all ages show, starts at 10pm and costs 5 bucks.

The Pharmacy

Being the creepy old dude that I am I’ll be hitting the Skylark Café for The Doll Test’s CD release show instead.

Free Cute Lepers Show Tonight

The Cute Lepers are playing a free, secret warm-up show tonight at Café Racer (next to Trading Musician on Roosevelt). They go on about 10:30 after a D.J. set by Nils Forever. They’ll be off touring the US for the next 5 weeks – Tacoma tomorrow, Missoula Saturday, then on to Salt Lake, Colorado Springs, Denver, Kansas City, Saint Louis, Chicago and on and on: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, and more…

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 7/27/08

Monday the 28th:
The Subways/Thee Sgt. Major III at Chop Suey

Friday the 1st:

The Doll Test/The Lund Bros. at Skylark

The Shy Ones at Full Tilt Ice Cream Parlor

The Cute Lepers/Avenue Rose/Powerchords at Hell's Kitchen (Tacoma)

Saturday the 2nd:
Boss Martians/The Greatest Hits at King Cobra

Chopperfest! w/ Duff McKagan’s Loaded/Guns & Rossetti/Girl Trouble/Red Jacket Mine/The I Love Myselfs at Sunset Tavern

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Send The Lund Bros. to Austin

If you’ve been reading SPB for a while you might already know that The Lund Brothers are one of my fav bands and hopefully they’re one of your favorites too. So now’s our chance to show ‘em a little love by helping to send The Bros. to the Austin City Limits Music Festive. They’re in an on-line battle of the bands called The Sound and the Jury (ha, Faulkner allusion that) and they need our votes to advance to round 2 next month (they should call round 2 “Fight in August”) so follow this link if you will and cast your vote. Gwon tells me we’re allowed to vote once a day so I guess the old cliché really applies this time – vote early and often.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jim Basnight Interview, Part 2

We pick-up where part 1 of this interview left off: with a question about The Moberlys.

Steve Pearson (The Heats) and Jeff Cerar (The Cowboys) were both early members of The Moberlys, did either of them play on any of the recordings? Do you still keep in touch with those guys? I saw that you participated in the Ian Fisher Tribute Concert at the Tractor a while back.

JB: Steve never did, but Jeff played on that Mick Flynn session. I keep in touch with most of those guys and was really happy to be able to contribute to the Ian Fisher Tribute at the Tractor. Ian and I lived together a couple of times during the beginnings of The Moberlys and The Cowboys and have always had fun together singing songs. Steve and I have played a lot of gigs together. He’s always appeared on my gigs and I used to always get up with his bands. We recently played a number of acoustic duo gigs together. I’ve often thought that a spectacular show would be Steve and me on guitar and Jack Hanan from The Cowboys and The Rockinghams on bass doing songs from The Moberlys, The Heats, The Cowboys, The Rangehoods, The Rockinghams and other songs of ours.

SPB: I think you eventually had three different versions of The Moberlys, the first here in Seattle, the second in New York and then a third in L.A., hence the album Seattle–New York–Los Angeles which made writer John M. Borack's list of "The 200 Greatest Power Pop Albums."

JB: The first Seattle line-up I went over pretty well. The NY line-up featured a couple of guys from Seattle, Dave Drewery and Al Bloch (Fastback Kurt’s brother) and a NY guy named Jeremy Bar-Illan. Jeremy was in the band before the Seattle guys and also after both returned to the west coast. He and I have stayed good friends over the years, though I’ve lost track of most of the other guys, except bassist Greg Morongell, whose cousin Mike Morongell and I became really good friends while I was in LA. Greg also sang some back-ups on Pop Top. Jeremy and I played with a rhythm section of NY guys from a band The Locals that I met through Anne Deon. I later was married to Anne in LA for a year and a half. Anne was Alan Vega from Suicide’s girlfriend when I met her and after that David Johansen’s for a lot of the time that I was playing in her band The Cool Tigers. Through her and by bumping around NY I met a lot of musicians and played and/or jammed with a lot of folks, including Alan, Johnny Thunders, The Smithereens, The Fuzztones and many others. I remember Madonna as a girl that used to hang out at Danceteria, a club that I performed at and hung out at on a regular basis. She was in a band called Breakfast Club with the first bass player that I played with in Anne Deon‘s band. I also met Billy Idol through Anne and Vega. I worked in a few record stores in Manhattan and met a number of the early pioneers of hip hop and rap like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and Africa Bambatta.

SPB: Recently I've really gotten into The Modernettes (Vancouver B.C. band, circa 1980) and The Moberlys cover my favorite Modernettes' song "Rebel Kind" on Seattle–New York–Los Angeles. Did you ever play any shows with the Modernettes back in the day? If so just how sexy was Mary-Jo Kopechne?

JB: The Modernettes are one of my favorite NW bands ever. I really like Buck and Randy’s songs. Mary was Buck’s girlfriend at the time and I never really looked at her as a sex object, probably for that reason. She was a “hottie” though. I should have named the album Vancouver-NY-LA, because almost all of the songs we recorded in the NW were up there. That band, with Dave Drewery, Toby Kiel and Glenn Oyabe used to play a lot in Vancouver. We were kind of outsiders in Seattle after I moved back there from NYC. We sort of carved out our own niche at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square in Seattle because none of the main clubs that most of the bigger Seattle bands in the mid-80’s played at would let us work there. We really got the Central going in a direction that later spawned the grunge movement to flourish there in it’s infancy in the later 80’s. We moved to LA and were very prolific there, but never really got a push from the industry, other than recording a few songs with Peter Buck from REM producing for the EMI label. All 8 of the songs that he worked on with us were either released on Pop Top or Seattle-NY-LA. The band became again disappointed by the major labels reaction to our work and started splintering after we fired Drewery and replaced him with Fuzztones drummer Mike Czekaj. Mike and I were prolific writing partners in LA and knew each other in NYC, where I turned him on to The Sonics. He said that it was because of his performing "The Witch" with his band that he met the Fuzztones leader Rudi Protrudi. Mike and I wrote a number of songs that have become staples of my show over the years like “My Vision of You”, “What I Wouldn’t Do”, “Guilty”, “Red Light Moon”, “Love and Hate” “Don’t Wait Up For Me” and “Princess in Rags”.

SPB: After The Moberlys split-up you formed The Rockinghams, which like The Moberlys played a cool blend of punk and power pop but with a lot more distortion. Was that in reaction to the grunge sound that was prevalent in Seattle at the time?

JB: I don’t really believe that to be true. I started playing a Marshall because I finally got my hands on a good one. I did that more to emulate Johnny Thunders and all of the British punk guitarists like Steve Jones, Mick Jones, Captain Sensible and Tony James than any grunge artists. Thunders used to play the Marshall with the Fender Twin and that was what I did a lot of the time in the ‘Hams.

SPB: For the last ten years or so, with The Jim Basnight Thing and now The Jim Basnight Band, you've been playing a more sophisticated, more adult oriented style of pop music although it also has a certain childlike element to it. It's a very idiosyncratic sound but I think I hear bits of The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Jonathan Richman. What led you in that direction?

JB: I don’t know why I do the music I do. I really love all of those artists that you compared it to. That is very flattering to be compared with such important artists. I’ve been listening to those artists for a long time. I played “Gloria” at my very first gig. My favorite Jonathan Richman song is “I’m Straight”. The “Johnny Hippie” that he refers to there reminds me of Johnny Thunders. Anything to do with the Beatles or the Stones is both unique and spotless. We were talking on the way to a gig the other day how either of those bands could play any note and it would sound right, especially notes that everyone tells you are wrong.

SPB: You played briefly in Johnny Thunders' band. I assume he was sort of a hero of yours. What was that experience like?

JB: I played with Johnny in the summer of 1982 in NYC. The band consisted of Walter Lure, Billy Rogers, Johnny and I played bass. I guess his bass player was mad about something and I just filled in for a while. It was a meaningful experience to me. We played all of his tunes like “I Love You”, “Chinese Rocks”, “MIA” and “In Cold Blood” and covers like “Seven Day Weekend”, “These Boots” and “Ramblin’ Rose”. It was a blast. I didn’t make any money, but I had an amazing time. I saw Walter Lure when I was back in NYC playing solo a while back and it was really nice to see him still carrying on the torch of that incredible and unstoppable rock and roll band.

SPB: Tell me about Precedent Records. Is all of your music available now on CD?

JB: As a matter of fact we have all 6 of the CD’s available which include over 100 songs. There are also a number of songs that have been recorded but not released. I would say that there is a really fine album that would stand the test of time there amongst those 100 or so tracks. I’ve written about 500 songs and there are also a number of worthy songs that I only have cassette demos of that really have lasting appeal as well. I also have a number of films, videos and DVD’s that I’m in the process of compiling for use in a DVD. I’d like to release the DVD and the best of unreleased stuff as a two CD set.

SPB: Have you always made a living as a musician? Ever worked any day jobs?

JB: I’ve worked a few jobs in LA and NY in the 80’s, the last one in 1986. Since then I have only worked as my own boss. I was an investment broker in the late 80’s and early 90’s in LA. The next job I had other than playing gigs and selling my recordings was co-composing the musical comedy Little Rock. My next departure was booking and concert production in the late 90’s through about 2003. That was only so I could book my band as a side benefit and learn how to produce my own shows better. In mid-2005 I started running a sports site for Yahoo on the internet, which allowed me to travel. I published it and had a staff of writers. I owned the business, or franchise you might say. I just vacated that spot for someone else to run as of August 1st 2008. Having that extra income has allowed me to build up for my future and give me security, but now I feel that I can use the time better to promote my music full time again. It was also a good chance to learn a lot about the internet and web sites, while making money.

SPB: What are you working on now? Writing? Recording?

JB: I’m not writing much other than some songs with the other guys in the band right now. As I’ve mentioned I’ve got a lot of tunes and have written for all of my life. I’ve actually taken a break since I finished Recovery Room, but now that I’ve accomplished some important goals financially, I intend to start work on a whole new direction of writing as well as compile the two Disc set.

SPB: How about playing a show in Seattle? Anything scheduled?

JB: Right now we play once a month in Seattle, though we play about 15 dates or so a month in total. Right now those Seattle area dates are at the Twisted Cork in Bellevue, which is on the main floor of the Hyatt Hotel building. We will be playing much more in the greater Seattle area in the future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jim Basnight Interview, Part 1

Jim Basnight’s got quite a rock & roll resume – his band Meyce played one of the first punk shows in Seattle in 1976 and in 1977 they opened for The Ramones. His next band The Moberlys recorded a great self-titled album that made Trouser Press’s “Underground Top 10” list in 1980. Basnight has been making consistently great music ever since, both as a solo artist and with Jim Basnight and The Moberlys, The Pins, The Rockinghams, The Jim Basnight Thing and currently with The Jim Basnight Band. His records have been sited in various Best of Powerpop lists over the years including John Borack’s "The 200 Greatest Power Pop Albums".

Seattle Powerpop Blog:
Are you having a good summer so far? Over the years you've written some great songs celebrating summer like "Live in the Sun" and "Summertime Again" so I assume you enjoy it quite a bit.

Jim Basnight: I’m having a great summer so far. I’m getting ready to put out a new CD on the NYC based Disclosed label. It’s a career retrospective with two new tracks that I recorded with my current band, the Jim Basnight Band. It’s titled “We Rocked and Rolled: The First 25 Years with Jim Basnight, Moberlys and Beyond”, by Jim Basnight. It has selections from all 6 of my unique CD’s, Sexteen by the Moberlys, Seattle-NY-LA by Jim Basnight and the Moberlys, Pop Top, The Jim Basnight Thing and Recovery Room by Jim Basnight and Makin’ Bacon by the Rockinghams. The reason I call those “unique CD’s” is because tracks from them have been compiled in other releases like Sexteen a vinyl LP released in 1985 on Lolita Records in France, The Moberlys vinyl LP released in 1980 on the Seattle based Safety First Label, Jim Basnight and the Moberlys Return CD on the Japanese Wizzard-in-Vinyl label in 2006 and the Pop Pleasure LP by Jim Basnight and the Moberlys on the Italian Rave Up label.

My consistent love for summer songs and sunny days is based on my inherent spirit and optimism and hope and belief in the goodness of life and people. I’ve been disappointed along the way, but my relentless optimism has kept me upright. I basically was blessed with parents that showed me a lot of love and shared so much with me to thank for that. I love summer songs as well, as they often bring out some of the more positive and happy moments in pop music. That’s not to say that I only love that kind of music. I guess I may be identified by some for that style, because some of my best work has been when I was singing about those kinds of experiences. I feel that there are many other top notch songs of mine and those that I co-wrote that are not in that vein and I guess only time will tell as to whether others look back at this body of work and feel the same.

SPB: I checked your concert calendar and it looks like you're playing 4 to 5 shows a week for the next couple of months.

JB: I’ve been performing between 175 and 225 shows a year with the Jim Basnight Band or myself solo or in duo line-ups for about 10 years now. Mostly in the NW (WA, OR, ID, MT and some parts of UT, WY and CA), we’ve carved out a niche by playing literally everywhere and every type of gig, from coffee houses, concerts and colleges to casinos, clubs, fairs, festivals and private parties. We’ve developed a very good show, if I do say so myself, that pulls from all kinds of influences. I feel that we can play the power-pop, glam, punk, garage, new wave and roots rock that I’m known for very well, plus we have successfully brought in influences like soul, funk, old country, blues, jazzy-pop and classic rock. Our show right now is playing a lot on Washington’s San Juan Island, but after summer we will be doing more traveling around the NW and probably back to NYC around the release of the CD, as well as to parts on the SW. I’d love to take this band overseas, as I feel strongly that our show would be very well received in Europe and Japan.

SPB: Who's in The Jim Basnight Band and what's your set-list like?

JB: The band consists of Mikel Rollins on bass, guitar, flute, Sax and vocals. Mikel and I have been playing since the beginning of this band in 1996, right as the Rockinghams were coming to a close. He is a really strong musician who has had a ton of jazz training and experience as a pro player. He also has a quick sense of humor on stage and a keen sense of style. He says that I have been his teacher over the years as a guitarist and front man and I’ve picked up a lot from him as well. The drummer is Brad “Mr. D” Dolsen. I met him on San Juan Island. He’s an accomplshed drummer and a really high energy showman. He does a lot of things image wise that make it easier for me to do crazy things and not stand out or appear random and out on a limb. He and Mikel both do that. Brad went down to LA for a while to work as a session guy and also worked in the fashion and art gallery world. He moved back to Seattle to do the band and so he could play drums full time. The 4th member is Mike Rain, who plays bass and guitar. He is an outstanding harmony vocalist and has done very well with creating his own vocal arrangements on my tunes. Mike has a good voice and plays a very nice complimentary guitar style to mine and to Mikel’s bass playing. He also plays good solid bass, which allows Mikel to play sax and flute as well as guitar. We do songs from all 6 of the CD’s as well as some new songs. We also do a number of our own versions of other people’s numbers. Some of the better tunes that we do regularly are Telegram Sam, Ballrooms of Mars and The Slider (T-Rex), The Passenger (Iggy), Too Much Junkie Business (The Heartbreakers), What You See is What You Get (The Dramatics), Lovely Day (Bill Withers), All The Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople) and Just to Satisfy You (Waylon Jennings). I also play a number of songs in my solo acoustic show like “Tonight” by the Raspberries, “1-2-3” by Len Barry, Hank Williams “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in the Al Green mode and “Venus De Milo” by Television.

SPB: When did you first fall in love with music? What were some of your favorite records when you were growing up?

JB: I first fell in love with music when I got a transistor radio in about 1966. My first records were what we had around the house, which was mostly Jazz and adult pop of the day, but my folks got a few 45’s that we had around like “Bobbie’s Girl” by Marcie Blaine, “The Watusi” by the Orlons and “See You in September” by the Happenings. My dad finally broke down and bought me Revolver by the Beatles when it came out. He also felt compelled to broaden my horizons a bit in the pop music genre by giving me the Mothers Absolutely Free and the Fugs on ESP. He also played a lot Lenny Bruce around the house. I really liked the music on the radio, but it wasn’t until I started going to the store and buying my own records that I found the stuff that really expanded my appreciation and realization that this was what I wanted to do with my life. My first records like that were the Kinks Greatest Hits, Kinkdom, the Stones High Tides and Green Grass, Flowers, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced, Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow, The Who Sell Out and all of the American radio pop of the day like The Buckinghams, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Grassroots, The Raiders, The Rascals, The Beach Boys and a ton more. From there I got into the glam movement of the early 70’s. I wasn’t much of a fan of the Woodstock scene and the early arena rock, but when Bowie, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, NY Dolls, MC5, Roxy Music, Slade, Mott, Flamin’ Groovies and Iggy Pop came out in my early high school years I was hooked. I also always loved the early power-pop, specifically Badfinger and the Raspberries, as well as all of the bands around in the 70’s that were influenced by that style. Soul music always appealed to me as well and I was hooked on albums like Superfly by Curtis Mayfield, the Al Green and Isaac Hayes stuff, The Temptations, Sly Stone, The Ohio Players and Marvin Gaye. I wasn’t a huge fan of the big top arena rock acts of the day, but now I appreciate a lot of the big names of the 70’s more than I did back then. It was not a huge jump to spin right into the punk thing, as it started to appear in the mid-70’s.

SPB: What impact did punk have on you? I think I hear the influence of Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Heartbreakers and The Modern Lovers in your early stuff along with The Raspberries and maybe The Rubinoos?

JB: I feel that I was influenced very much by both punk and power-pop. Both styles have irrepressible energy, melody and so many fantastic artists and songs. I’m really drawn to good songs. When I went to NYC in the spring of 1977, it was a life changing experience. I would also mention bands like The DMZ, Wayne County, The Tuff Darts, The Dead Boys, Suicide, Alex Chilton, The Fleshtones, The Nerves, Patti Smith, Blondie, The Real Kids, Generation X, Tom Petty, The Heats, The Cowboys and Vancouver B.C.’s Modernettes as big influences from that era. I was writing songs well before I heard most of these bands, but they all shaped my musical development as a songwriter. There’s also no way to discount the value The Ramones to my upbringing.

SPB: Your band Meyce opened for The Ramones here in Seattle in 1977 when you were what, nineteen? How did you land that gig and what was it like?

JB: The show was promoted by a friend of mine from high school, Robert Bennett, under the banner of a local rock fanzine that the drummer in the Meyce published and that I contributed to, Chatterbox (named for the Dolls tune). It was at the Olympic Hotel, which was in the same building that is now the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. It was a classy room for Seattle at that time and a good place to kick off the punk movement in town in style. The Meyce did a very good show in my opinion and the Ramones band and crew said some very encouraging things to us. The Ramones were just incredible. They did most of the tunes from their first two albums. They stayed in touch with all of my crew in Seattle over the next few years and Johnny and Dee Dee wore Chatterbox T-Shirts all over the place. Johnny wore it in the movie Rock and Roll High School. I have some 8MM film footage of part of the Meyce (pronounced Mice) performance that night that I will be including in a DVD that I’m compiling right now.

SPB: I love The Moberlys' album Sexteen. I think everyone who loves punk or power pop should own a copy. Tell me about that CD. Is it the whole first Moberlys album plus some singles and some live tracks? What do you remember about making that album?

JB: It was done in a few different sessions. First there was the single that I released in January 1978, “Live In the Sun” backed with “She Got Fucked”, which made the album. That was prior to the formation of the Moberlys. The second session was at a “demo” studio owned by Seattle guitarist Mick Flynn. That line-up which included Jeff Cerar (who later helped form the Cowboys) recorded 5 songs and “Leave the Past Behind”, “I Trust You” and “When the Night Comes” are on “Sexteen”. The third session was backed by Brian Fox and self produced by the Moberlys and engineer Dave Perry. From that four song session “Don’t Fall into Darkness”, “Blow Your Life Away” and “I Want You” are included. We then went into Triangle Studios in Seattle and did a live broadcast for local commercial FM KZOK. From that “Country Fair”, “Papa Loves Mama”, “Love/Hate”, “You Don’t Give Me Love”, “I’m In Fire” and “Come and Gone” are included. After that Ned Neltner, who led a very successful local club band in the NW, Junior Cadillac (which also included original Wailer Buck Ormsby) took us into Paul Revere and Neil Rush’s (Marilee’s husband) studio. From that session came “Sexteen”, “Live In the Sun”, “Last Night”, “Lonesome Crying Sigh”, “Give Me Peace” and “You Know I Know”. Steve Grindle on bass and Bill Walters on drums were there from the beginning of the band. Jeff was replaced by Steve Pearson, who played one gig with us. Don Short, Pearson’s band mate in The Heats was in the band for a few rehearsals, as was Ben Fisher, who later co-wrote “Summertime Again”, “Hello Mary Jane” and “Middle of the Night”. Ben passed from cancer a few years ago and was one of my best friends. He and I wrote a number of other songs and had real chemistry together. Finally we hired Ernie Sapiro, who later replaced Jeff in The Cowboys. Ernie played on all of previously mentioned sessions besides the single and the Mick Flynn tapes. After the session with Neltner, due to a few rejection notices from major labels, Bill Walters left the band, soon to be followed by Ernie. Steve and I tried to keep going, but were unsuccessful in finding the right replacements. Bill Rieflin from The Blackouts and now REM helped us record a couple of tracks. Those were “We’ll Always Be in Love” and “Love is Beautiful”, which are both on “Sexteen”. After that session Steve joined a Rockabilly band and I joined a club band that was playing a lot of the same clubs as The Heats and The Cowboys called The Pins. After working with them for about 6 months I decided to move to NYC. Pearson later joined them after The Heats broke up and they changed their name to The Rangehoods. In NYC I put together a band and called it The Moberlys, to follow up on the LP and it’s underground success and we recorded a number of tracks some of which that were later included on the “Seattle-NY-LA” CD, but one of them, “I Return” was a standard of the first band, so I included it there.

Part 2

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Doll Test – Mosque Alarm Clock

Here’s another great release from Unsmashable Records, another excellent Johnny Sangster production and another contender for SPB’s album of the year.

Unsmashable Records describes itself as “Northwest powerpop rock music from the seasoned over-30 crowd” and while the kids might enjoy it too, Mosque Alarm Clock is clearly an album for people who’ve lived a little: wry, poetic observations from someone who’s been around the block a few times.

The Doll Test is veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist Scott Five (Sutherland) and fellow ex-Model Rockets Boyd Remillard on bass and Graham Black on drums and Riffbrokers frontman Nick Millward on guitar and organ. They’re a formidable band and with Mosque Alarm Clock they’ve delivered an exceptional record. Five calls it “a concept record…about what happens between when the alarm goes off and when the wine runs out.”

I hear the classic ‘60s powerpop influences: The Beatles, The Byrds and The Who, but The Doll Test’s music never sounds derivative or retro, it’s timeless and relevant with plenty of great melodies, hooks and harmonies, skillfully arranged and played.

Lyrics touch on politics both personal ("The Last Rung") and national ("The Decider"), strategies - including denial and self-medication - for dealing with the pain and monotony of life ("Everything’s Fine"), bittersweet relationships ("Fall Away," "Every Night You Break My Heart") and life-affirming love ("The Bell, The Map, The Stars").

With its chiming guitars, gorgeous melody and succinct yet killer Roger McGuinn does John Coltrane guitar solo, “The Bell, The Map, The Stars” is possibly my favorite song on the album, but with a dozen songs of such high caliber it’s nearly impossible to choose one standout track.

“My Future Self” is one of those great originals that sounds like a cover - a song that you heard on the radio once when you were young, immediately fell in love with but never heard again. I can’t put my finger on who it reminds me of exactly, The Byrds singing Dylan maybe (a coworker suggested Tom Petty). It’s got ringing Rickenbackers, wheezy organ, half-spoken, half-sung repeated-line verses, a swelling, soaring chorus and lyrics “I saw my future self handicapping an Emerald Downs racing form” that might have made Charles Bukowski proud.

“Ballad of Your Blue-Eyed Boy” sounds like it could be a great, lost Beatles track from the Let It Be sessions – Phil Spector-like production, a Harrison-esque slide guitar solo, a terrific, expressive Lennon-esque vocal by Five and smart, sad, funny lyrics: “They handed you a suitcase and they shot the starting gun/now what’s the matter cupcake ain’t you havin’ any fun?”

I hear echoes of Buffalo Springfield in the jingle-jangle, harmony-drenched “Shoot the Tambourine Man” while “Amphetamine” reminds me of prime Neil Young & Crazy Horse with its drug related lyrics and cathartic guitar maelstrom via Five and guest guitarist Ryan Maxwell of Unsmashable label-mates Young Sportsmen.

The stacked harmonies, layered acoustic and electric guitars, woodblock and background oohs and ahhs in “One Lie Too Many” are reminiscent of The Who circa ‘68. This song starts with the great line, “First a thorn, then another/till the rosebush that grows from your side has made you fall.” It’s a powerful, vivid image, like something from a Frida Kahlo painting.

Scott Five has really come into his own as a songwriter and the excellent playing by the band and Johnny Sangster’s skillful, sympathetic production provide the perfect showcase for the twelve perfectly sequenced gems that make up this outstanding album.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Powerpop Needs Energy

Powerpop needs energy – cheap, clean, renewable energy. Act now to keep the power in powerpop.

"America must commit to producing 100% of our electricity from cheap, clean renewable energy sources like solar and wind within 10 years."

You can get more info and sign the petition here:, and here:

Recommended shows for the week of 7/20/08

Tuesday the 22nd:
Boats/The Greatest Hits/The Shy Ones at Funhouse

Earlimart/The Capillaries at Chop Suey

Wednesday the 23rd:
Young Sportsmen at Re-bar

Thursday the 24th:
The Zombies/Jon Auer/Guns and Rossetti at El Corazon

Songs of Summer Night at High Dive with Sister Psychic/Young Sportsmen/more…

Ms. Led at Comet Tavern

Friday the 25th:
Jon Rauhouse Sestet at The Sunset

Saturday the 26th:
Chuck Prophet & Mission Express at Ballard Seafood Fest

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stuporhero - Weightless

Stuporhero’s lovely new album Weightless consists of nine charming, skillfully arranged, concise little pop songs featuring acoustic guitar, piano, synth generated strings and horns, handclaps, kazoo, and male/female vocal counterpoint. There’s less than 20 minutes of music in total but it’s mostly compelling (the final track is a bit of a throw-away since it plays backwards, although it does have a nice ambiance consistent with the overall feel of the record) ranging in mood from giddy to melancholic to pensive to dreamy and it holds together well like a modest, scaled down Pet Sounds or In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. This also reminds me of the softer side of The Vaselines and should appeal to fans of twee and indie-pop.

The whole album is available as a free download at stuporheromusic. Go check it out but be warned: you may find this sweet little pop confection quite addictive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Chris and Tad Show

Here are a couple of nifty videos of Chris and Tad recorded back around the turn of the century. One rarely sees such shining examples of male sartorial splendor these days and the music isn’t bad either.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mr. Suave and the Wild Weekend

Mod Seattlite Mr. Suave has dedicated his latest “modcast” to highlighting some of the artists performing at the Wild Weekend Power Pop Festival in Austin next month including Avenue Rose, The Cute Lepers and The Boss Martians. Cheek it out at Mr. Suave’s Mod, Mod World.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 7/13/08

Wednesday the 16th:
The Jesus and Mary Chain/The Turn-Ons at The Showbox SoDo

All Girl Summer Fun Band - Outdoor Concert Downtown Portland 5:00pm next to The Arlene Schnitze

Thursday the 17th:
Telekinesis at The Sunset

Sugarcane Mutiny at Skylark

Friday the 18th:
The Quit at Easy Street Records (West Seattle)

Saturday the 19th:
The Boss Martians/The Pranks/Mexican UFO at Slim’s Last Chance

The Color Bars at Chop Suey

Friday, July 11, 2008


Candyfest is tomorrow at King Cobra and The Comet Tavern. It’s only $12 for a whole day of music with bands from Vancouver B.C. to Los Angeles. Here are some details (courtesy of organizer Nils Larson) about all the great groups that will be performing.

So here is what to expect; (in alphabetical order):

Apache, from San Francisco are about to release their full length LP, “Boomtown Gems” on Birdman Records. This fantastic band is one part “Killed by Death” style punk rock and one part Trash/”Glitter from the Litter Bin” glam and rock n roll. Apache features Carlos who used to play for The Cuts!

Audacity - On tour with Thee Makeout Party; Audacity from Fullerton, CA; play fast, aggressive, distorted, and garagey punk rock. It’s a little bit melodic and very noisy and fun. They have a record out on Burger Records.

Avenue Rose - With a west coast tour with The Greatest Hits under their belt, an EP on Slab-O-Wax, and 6 week US tour with The Cute Lepers in August, Avenue Rose is out to prove that there is something other than experimental noise and screechy grrrl rock coming from their hometown of Olympia. They have a sound similar to The Saints or The Fast Cars but more poppy. They are also playing the “Wild Weekend Powerpop Festival” with The Boys this summer.

Buzzer - Well first ya got Andy from The Cuts/The Time Flys singing the coolest song ever about feeling cool. It just makes ya feel good listening to it. There going for that pub punk sound almost like Eddie and The Hot Rods but AMERICAN! Oakland never fails.

The Girls - Of all the new wave sounding rock bands in Seattle, The Girls hold the crown. You can tell they actually listen to The Cars and Devo. They got an LP on Dirtnap Records with another full length coming out on the same label. You know who these “guys” are!

The Greatest Hits - They opened for The New York Dolls, have toured 3 times, with another 6 week tour coming in fall with The Fishnet Stalkers. Seattle’s only punk/glam band filled with harmony and melody. They have a CD out on Desert Island Discs. They also have 3 EPs coming out on Desert Island Discs and Silly Girl Records before they play the “Wild Weekend Powerpop Festival” in Austin with The Boys!

The Knast - It’s hard to figure out if these guys should be playing shows with The Clash in 1977 or with Supergrass in 1995 but it’s awesome to know they are from Seattle and are playing Candyfest! They have an EP out that’s part of a 4 EP set from Antarctic Records as well as the same songs on comp on Holy Ghost Revival’s label 1965 Records along with Holy Ghost, Emeralds, and Kings English (RIP). They just did a west coast tour and are ready for a festival!

Luxury Sweets - They got 2 self released CD’s out. This will be this Santa Cruz 3rd time up in Seattle. This time they are on a month long US tour. The Luxury Sweets put the sweet in Candyfest and have a sound like the Beach Boys/Jan & Dean meets the most catchy of the powerpop bands old and new, especially if ya like Exploding Hearts! They have a split EP with The Greatest Hits coming out on Desert Island Discs and are playing the Wild Weekend Powerpop Festival in Austin with The Boys!

Thee Makeout Party - Most people’s favorite candy tends to be bubblegum so what would Candyfest be without Thee Makeout Party from Anaheim, CA (home of Disneyland). These guys are on tour with Audacity and would make Kasenetz Katz and The Flying Orchestral Circus proud with their super-catchy light poppy bubblegum rockers. They got lots of releases on their own Burger Records and a full length coming out on Recess Records.

The Pranks - Erik Foster teams up with his brother Evan Foster from The Boss Martians and the result is Seattle’s #1 pop-punk/powerpop group, The Pranks. These guys have an full length of very catchy melodic songs called “Modern Communication” coming out on Germany’s Screaming Apple Records.

Pretty Vanilla - If Marc Bolan wrote songs for Big Star back in 1955, the result would Vancouver B.C.’s Pretty Vanilla. These guys call themselves “The Gay Ramones” but their gonna get nothing but girls with their heartfelt poppy and catchy songs. There is even a little brit-pop influence (the good stuff; not The Smiths).

Razrez - It’s been a while since Razrez played live. They’ve been going through lineup changes and working on recording new material. They have a very glam/early 70s rock sound a little like Alice Cooper, especially on their new material. They have a new album coming out this summer, but wait it’s already summer! Where is the album???

Sgt Major III - This all-star band features Kurt Bloch of The Fastbacks, Mike Musburger of The Posies, Jim Sangster of The Tripwires/Young Fresh Fellows, and Bill Coury of the Visqueen. You can guess what the music sounds like…Yes, poppy, varied-speeds, harmonies, and melody galore. Just a fun band to pogo to…

The Spurts - This band has two members of the Luxury Sweets and yes, they are from Santa Cruz but guess what? They sound like they could be from NYC CBGB era 1976. If this band took a time machine to 1974, people would say that Richard Hell was a phony. But you also hear the elements of the newer rock of bands like The Libertines going on. Plus, they have an EP coming on Desert Island Discs so you know they are the level…

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Video of the Model Rockets Show

More good stuff for Model Rockets fans: Chris Force recorded the show too and his videos are much more upfront and exciting than the SyncLive video. Here are the first two songs of The Model Rockets’ set – “Pay for the Gas” off their last album Pilot County Suite and “Ditched at the Grand Illusion” from their first album Hilux which has just been reissued by Paisley Pop. You can watch the rest of the show in nicely produced two song increments over at CForce33 YouTube.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Model Rockets Reunion Show on SyncLive

All of you Model Rockets fanatics who couldn't make it to the reunion show on the 4th are in luck; SyncLive recorded it. It was an amazing show and this doesn’t really do it justice but still I think you’ll enjoy this.

Watch this show and more at

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Recommended shows for the week of 7/6/08

Thursday the 10th:
Derby at Jules Mae Saloon

Friday the 11th:
Tullycraft at Easy Street Records (West Seattle)

Saturday the 12th:
Candy Fest with The Greatest Hits/Avenue Rose/The Pranks/The Knast/Thee Makeout Party/The Girls at The Comet and King Cobra

Boat/Tullycraft/Fishboy at The Sunset

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Andy Werth Interview

Andy Werth and his band play buoyant, upbeat piano and horn driven pop. You’ve got two chances to see them perform this weekend – 1:30 PM Friday at Legion Park in Everett at the Everett Fourth of July Festival and Saturday night at The Tractor Tavern with Gary Reynolds and Dept. of Energy opening.

Seattle Powerpop Blog: What kind of music did you grow up listening to? Were you brought up in a musical household?

Andy Werth: My dad was a great trumpet and sax player growing up in the New York jazz scene, but had hung it up by the time I came along. We always had a piano, but not much music was made in the house. I never turned on the radio, and didn’t listen to my first record until I was in seventh grade. That’s when I found my dad’s trumpet in a closet, started playing it (badly), and dug through his jazz collection to see what it should sound like. He wasn’t much for giving lessons, but those records helped a lot, and eventually I found a really good teacher. All I listened to was jazz until I was 16, when I heard Jerry Lee Lewis for the first time and immediately dusted off the piano and started figuring that out. When I was about 17, an ex-hippie teacher lent me an old vinyl copy of Rubber Soul after I told her that 60’s music “was crap” (actual quote). That record changed a lot of things. I permanently borrowed a friend’s guitar and a chord sheet and started singing. So I slowly turned it into a musical household, though I’m not sure how the rest of the house felt about that.

SPB: So you taught yourself piano and guitar? Do you read and write musical notation or do you play by ear?

AW: We had an old beat-up piano, and when I was in elementary school I started playing songs that I’d hear coming out of cars or through church doors or that my parents would hum. Unfortunately, this led my parents to enroll me in piano lessons. I was difficult to teach, so my teacher and I usually wound up talking about her many, many cats. I never learned how to sight-read piano music, though I did learn that Manx cats have no tail. My parents let me quit about a year later when I agreed to take swimming lessons instead. Those lessons scared me off of piano enough that I didn’t mess with it again until I heard “Whole Lotta Shakin.” Luckily I know a lot of theory and have a pretty good ear, so I can usually listen to a song and figure out what’s going on. I have to notate music for a variety of instruments, so I’m a good note writer but a bad reader!

SPB: What’s your songwriting process?

AW: For me, there are three stages of songwriting: inspiration, building, and editing. Inspiration comes when I’m sitting at the piano or guitar, or playing a bass line, or screwing with a drum track, and something catches. I record the idea and put it in a folder with hundreds of other ideas.

Later, I troll through my folder of ideas and pick the most promising one to build on. Once I’ve built the song, I rehearse it with the band and then play it on stage. Playing for an audience makes an uninspired melody, a dead spot, or a bridge that destroys momentum very apparent. Sometimes I can work out the problems, but this is often where a song dies. It’s really important to feel good about killing a song that doesn’t work. The day my mind says “good enough” rather than throw away a song, it’s time to stop writing songs for public consumption.

If a song survives a few stage performances, I start editing it for a record. That’s the most fun part for me. I try to get inside a song and figure out how to shape it so that it hits people the way I want it to. I fill up a notebook for each song with production ideas, and I’ll use that in the studio. I just opened the notebook for the song I’ll work on tonight, and the latest entry says, “Bright, choppy piano chords on chorus like ‘Star’ on Ziggy Stardust.” The entry before that says, “Harmon mute trumpet/drum combo for intro like Dizzy Gillespie on ‘Lorraine’ live.” So I’ll go into the studio with these scratch tracks and notebooks and work with the engineer to get the sound I want. For me, writing and recording are part of the same process.

SPB: How do you work out the arrangements?

AW: After I lock the traditional instruments down I try to arrange other instruments so they enhance the song rather than muddy it up, which is the goal of any arranger. I grew up listening to great arrangers like Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and George Martin, and I’ll pull out “Martha My Dear” or Miles Ahead to remember how it’s done. I’ll often go through a dozen arrangements before I find one that starts to work. For the record I’m working on now, I’m arranging for a lot of instruments that I can’t play, which is new for me and kind of weird.

SPB: What are you working on now?

AW: After our show on Saturday, we’ll be taking a break from shows until late August to work on the recording. It’ll be our first full-length (I’ve put out two EPs), and I’ll be using traditional rock instruments, orchestral instruments (played by humans, not machines), ambient sounds and just a bit of electronica.

SPB: What shows do you have coming up?

AW: We’re playing a two-hour show for Everett’s Fourth of July festival, and then the next day (Saturday) we’re headlining the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, and then we take a break until the Lake Union Festival in late August--we’ll be playing at the end of the night with Harvey Danger, and I think the Blakes might be playing that one with us. Then we’ll probably go missing again until our CD release sometime in October.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Doll Test/Tripwires/Model Rockets @ Tractor

This is big. This is the equivalent of Son Volt and Wilco opening for an Uncle Tupelo reunion show – no wait, maybe it’s more like The Plastic Ono Band and Wings opening for The Beatles. Would you believe Humble Pie and The Faces opening for a Small Faces reunion? Anyway you get the picture. This is gonna be great.