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March 19th, 2003 John Graham | Music Stories
 

CALL KUPL TO REQUEST DIXIE CHICKS SONGS: (503) 733-5000.

     
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SCHOLARLY OVERVIEW
Author! Author!
Bands + books = a match made in heaven.

With both Gogol Bordello and Shai Halud hitting Portland stages this week, it's time to survey bands named with literature in mind. Here we see a few bands who dug their name out of the library, along with an unscientifically determined Relevant Accuracy Factor (RAF).

Gogol Bordello: Nikolai Gogol beat back institutionalized tedium with Kafka-esque surrealism. Yet even he would be surprised-probably thrilled-by Gogol Bordello's spazztastic mashups of Eastern Euro folk, mondo-punko rants and Cossack dance mania. RAF: 9.1

Shai Halud: Frank Herbert, sci-fi godhead and creator of the quasi-mystical Dune series, never listened to metallic hardcore. That doesn't stop psycho thrashbastards Shai Halud from stealing the spirit-and name-of the giant conqueror worm from the planet Arrakis. The worm is the spice, after all. RAF: 8.2

Mome Raths: The cool local freak-o-geek band is known to play skronky prog and minimalist electronic oddities. Not your normal workaday lovesongs, that's for sure. But they still have a ways to go if they want to out-Jabberwocky the original source. RAF: 7.8

Big Orange Splot: The Daniel Pinkwater kids' story strikes a blow for nonconformity. The slightly-psychedelic PDX rockers likewise aren't about to triumph on TRL. A fairly happy match. RAF: 7.6

Rm. 101: In 1984, George Orwell called Room 101 "the worst thing in the world." That's unfair. Although Rm. 101's local version of Radiohead alterna-pomp might not be the most amazing creation in the History of Music, they're actually pretty good. The name choice, then, probably comes from the band's wish to face down their worst emotional fears-through song, as it were. RAF: 7.4

Dharma Bums: An overrated Kerouac novel. An underrated old Portland pop band. Either way, hard to see what one really has to do with the other. RAF: 5.1

H. Chinaski: These sometimes math-rock, sometimes screamo HC, and sometimes sloppy-emo punks were great in their day. But I seriously doubt Charles Bukowski, a.k.a. "Hank Chinaski" in his stories and poems, would have traded his Beethoven for them. Sorry, lads. RAF: 4.8

The Birthday Party: Harold Pinter's play was a riot of absurdity, paranoia and latent cerebral violence. Nick Cave's groovy old goth-punk group was a riot of absurdity, paranoia and latent cerebral violence. See the connection? RAF: 9.2

Kilgore Trout: Kurt Vonnegut's recurring character Kilgore Trout was both inspired by author Theodore Sturgeon (Trout/Sturgeon... get it?) and his own travails. While the band of Seattle jazz-rock nutjobs may or may not be struggling sci-fi writers themselves, there's enough genre jumps, timeshifts and just plain strangeness in them to account for them stealing the moniker. RAF: 8.7

Fant™mas: When ADHD metal monsters Mike Patton, King Buzzo, Dave Lombardo, et al., chose this early-20th-century lit figure as their inspiration, they chose wisely: the original Fant™mas was an evil anti-hero extraordinaire, a proto-Joker criminal who terrorized the French with his sadistic trickery...just for fun, of course. RAF: 8.9

Moby: The balding techno-pop icon's birth certificate reads Richard Melville Hall. Yes, he's related to Herman Melville of Moby Dick fame. But how do Gwen Stefani duets connect to tales of obsession, revenge and salty old nautical dogs? And where does Gregory Peck fit in? RAF: 5.1 (including +5.0 for actual blood relation)

Pennywise: Though it's questionable to call Stephen King "literature," these poppy SoCal skatepunks are inspired by the supernatural villain in King's novel It. So let's see...they're based on a clown that kids think is all bad-ass and scary, but adults ignore? Yup, sounds right to me. RAF: 7.0

Machines of Loving Grace: Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace" pined for a time when benevolent technology and beatific nature could cohabitate. Did they in this defunct band? That depends on whether you like your pseudo-industrial alt-rock stew cooked with extra cheese. RAF: 6.4

The Soft Machine: Unlike Steely Dan, these '60s/'70s prog rockers filled their music with enough warped psychedelia, meandering passages and druggy burbles to make you think they actually, y'know, read the William Burroughs book from which they took their name. RAF: 8.2

Pere Ubu: Punk embraced baseness and vulgarity, and Pere Ubu were originally part of punk's first wave-but they were intellectual, too. Naming themselves after the base, vulgar namesake of Alfred Jarry's infamous 19th Century play, Ubu Roi? A fine solution-both literate and lewd. RAF: 7.9

Eyeless in Gaza: The Doors may get all the headlines, but they weren't the only band named after an Aldous Huxley book about transcendental mysticism. These long-running British eccentrics mixed ethereal pop and tweaky folk with more experimental forays in ways Jim Morrison wouldn't have done-unless he's secretly still alive and signed to 4AD Records. RAF: 8.5

The Boo Radleys: The reclusive, almost invisible hero of To Kill a Mockingbird got a second life in this '90s Britpop band. Similar to the Harper Lee character, the band started as shy, droopy shoegazers, suddenly got all friendly-like, then disappeared into nowhere again. Art = Life = Art. RAF: 7.6

Veruca Salt: Roald Dahl created the character of Veruca Salt, a bratty "bad nut" of a girl who got her comeuppance in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The bratty, all-girl, alt-funk band Veruca Salt hasn't been heard from in years, either. Coincidence? RAF: 6.3

Mona Lisa Overdrive: As the final book in William Gibson's original cyberpunk trilogy, Mona Lisa Overdrive was something of a literary landmark. As a wholly forgettable electro-industrial pop band, Mona Lisa Overdrive was something of a musical skidmark. Pah-next time steal a title from L. Ron Hubbard, wouldya? RAF: 3.3

...for more, see your local independently-owned record- and/or bookstore.

Gogol Bordello plays Friday at Berbati's Pan ($10+ advance at Fastixx). Shai Halud plays Saturday at Meow Meow ($12+ advance at Fastixx). And library cards are free.

PREVIEW
Dirty Deeds Done Le Freak
Electric Six plugs into disco and punk--fancy that!

Imagine it's New York City, 1978.

Now, suppose the Dead Boys played like the Village People. With AC/DC's Bon Scott singing. Or that the Bee Gees swapped members with the Dictators.

That's the Electric Six.

The Detroit sextet's debut single, "Danger! High Voltage," entered the U.K. pop charts at No. 2 in January. No doubt, perky backup vocals by a mysterious fellow credited as John S. O'Leary helped--he sounds suspiciously like Jack White of the White Stripes. Cameo star power aside, the song's catchy syncopated funk-rock recalls the Rolling Stones' disco era (i.e., "Heartbreaker" and "Miss You").

"Don't you wanna know how we keep startin' fires?" vocalist Dick Valentine and "Mr. O'Leary" yelp. "It's my desire!"

The band that called itself the Wildbunch until last year, when some DJ threatened to sue for the name, now has its breakout hit in the bag. Dick Valentine breaks down the band with mathematical precision. "It's one-third rock, one-third dance and one-third nervous energy," he says.

Now with a huge Brittannic hit, a video on MTV and songs debuting on American "Modern Rock" radio last week, the Electric Six is crackling. The band is definitely cartoony--members will not reveal their real names, instead insisting on aliases like Rock'n'Roll Indian, Disco, Tait Nucleus, Surge Joebot and M. All the same, songs like "I Lost Control (of My Rock'n'Roll)" and "Remote Control (Me)" prove the band has some genuinely great, novel hard rock stored in its generators.

"We take ourselves more seriously than one would think," Valentine says. "But we want to entertain ourselves as well as everyone else."

Go punk? Go disco? Thanks to the Electric Six, we now can enjoy the best of both worlds. (Dave Clifford)

Electric Six plays Friday, March 21, at Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. The D4 and Goddamn Gentlemen also appear. Cover. 21+.

THIS GODDAMN MACHINE JUST LOST MY COPY, WHICH NEVER HAPPENS WITH, SAY, A TYPEWRITER
HISS and VINEGAR

FREE IS A VERY GOOD PRICE
As mentioned last week in Hiss & Vinegar v. the Malevolent Music Monkeys, this Newspaper is about to publish its second Portland Music Directory. In addition to other helpful editorial product, this tome will include FREE LISTINGS for all and any Portland bands that want them. Go here and sign up using our patent-pending electro-form. Catch is, you have to do it pretty much NOW. So get online, get a future: even the Kalahari is Googling now. Send photos to 822 SW 10th Ave, PDX 97205, marked Attention Music Directory. You have to play in order to win.

AROUND THE WORLD IN SIX CDS

North to Seattle: Spastic boy-kings of the ADD Rock genre, The Blood Brothers just hatched Burn Piano Island Burn (Artist Direct). Hard-rock super-producer Ross Robinson spins the band's suicide keyboards, inflamed guitars, noise sludge and bipolar screams into ornate and angry froth. Plus, the fact that this is a one-time underground band's major-label debut will no doubt have scene fascists oiling jackboots and getting their outrage out of hock, and that's always fun to watch.

Rock Over London: The Anglo-American duo The Kills will release swaggering, menacing, sex-fiending Keep On Your Mean Side (Rough Trade) on April Fools' Day. The music is stripped to the bone, so will no doubt be compared to the White Stripes' and popular in Brooklyn. Even so! These 12 songs are all coiled little beasts, oozing hormones and not-so-latent lust-hate.

Prenez Paris...S'il Vous Plaît: I desperately want to say something nice about French "downtempo hip-hop" DJ Cam's Soulshine (Koch), if only to annoy Ari Fleischer. However, just 'cause he's French does not make Cam's thin gruel "freedom hip-hop." In fact, this double album (et pourquoi?) labors under the misapprehension that there are still dot-com launch parties at which to play it. Beaucoup suck.

Havana!: Buenos Hermanos (World Circuit/Nonesuch) is the first album by unthinkably ancient Buena Vista Social Club singer Ibrahim Ferrer since '99's luminous ...Presents. The old guy's voice has a few more crinkles, but producer Ry Cooder drums up a sound rougher, clubbier and stranger than the earlier Ferrer recording's slick, Sinatra-esque sound. The title track runs wild with Arab-esque horn blasts and punchy doses of the singer's genius.

And Finally, Exotic Portland: Weird how the opening guitar passage of the first song on Everclear's Slow Motion Daydream (Capitol) sounds just like the beginning of "Ice Ice Baby." I mean, that is just so weird! Isn't it? The single tells of an ex-stripper who is now a "Volvo-Driving Soccer Mom," an early bid for the Grammy for Best Use of the Term "Gang Bang" in a Bland Alternative Rock Song.

On a much...let us say, different note, Norfolk & Western conductor Adam Selzer's solo album
All the Walls Are Bare (Film Guerrero)
is gorgeously melancholic. Breathy vocals keep it simple and direct over chiming acoustic guitar and subtle, spot-on
instrumental touches. The harmonica on "Sanctioned" is as wrenching as anything on Nebraska. And, just me, that's an album I like a lot more than To the Extreme.

SCHOLARLY OVERVIEW
Author! Author!
Bands + books = a match made in heaven.

With both Gogol Bordello and Shai Halud hitting Portland stages this week, it's time to survey bands named with literature in mind. Here we see a few bands who dug their name out of the library, along with an unscientifically determined Relevant Accuracy Factor (RAF).

Gogol Bordello: Nikolai Gogol beat back institutionalized tedium with Kafka-esque surrealism. Yet even he would be surprised-probably thrilled-by Gogol Bordello's spazztastic mashups of Eastern Euro folk, mondo-punko rants and Cossack dance mania. RAF: 9.1

Shai Halud: Frank Herbert, sci-fi godhead and creator of the quasi-mystical Dune series, never listened to metallic hardcore. That doesn't stop psycho thrashbastards Shai Halud from stealing the spirit-and name-of the giant conqueror worm from the planet Arrakis. The worm is the spice, after all. RAF: 8.2

Mome Raths: The cool local freak-o-geek band is known to play skronky prog and minimalist electronic oddities. Not your normal workaday lovesongs, that's for sure. But they still have a ways to go if they want to out-Jabberwocky the original source. RAF: 7.8

Big Orange Splot: The Daniel Pinkwater kids' story strikes a blow for nonconformity. The slightly-psychedelic PDX rockers likewise aren't about to triumph on TRL. A fairly happy match. RAF: 7.6

Rm. 101: In 1984, George Orwell called Room 101 "the worst thing in the world." That's unfair. Although Rm. 101's local version of Radiohead alterna-pomp might not be the most amazing creation in the History of Music, they're actually pretty good. The name choice, then, probably comes from the band's wish to face down their worst emotional fears-through song, as it were. RAF: 7.4

Dharma Bums: An overrated Kerouac novel. An underrated old Portland pop band. Either way, hard to see what one really has to do with the other. RAF: 5.1

H. Chinaski: These sometimes math-rock, sometimes screamo HC, and sometimes sloppy-emo punks were great in their day. But I seriously doubt Charles Bukowski, a.k.a. "Hank Chinaski" in his stories and poems, would have traded his Beethoven for them. Sorry, lads. RAF: 4.8

The Birthday Party: Harold Pinter's play was a riot of absurdity, paranoia and latent cerebral violence. Nick Cave's groovy old goth-punk group was a riot of absurdity, paranoia and latent cerebral violence. See the connection? RAF: 9.2

Kilgore Trout: Kurt Vonnegut's recurring character Kilgore Trout was both inspired by author Theodore Sturgeon (Trout/Sturgeon... get it?) and his own travails. While the band of Seattle jazz-rock nutjobs may or may not be struggling sci-fi writers themselves, there's enough genre jumps, timeshifts and just plain strangeness in them to account for them stealing the moniker. RAF: 8.7

Fant™mas: When ADHD metal monsters Mike Patton, King Buzzo, Dave Lombardo, et al., chose this early-20th-century lit figure as their inspiration, they chose wisely: the original Fant™mas was an evil anti-hero extraordinaire, a proto-Joker criminal who terrorized the French with his sadistic trickery...just for fun, of course. RAF: 8.9

Moby: The balding techno-pop icon's birth certificate reads Richard Melville Hall. Yes, he's related to Herman Melville of Moby Dick fame. But how do Gwen Stefani duets connect to tales of obsession, revenge and salty old nautical dogs? And where does Gregory Peck fit in? RAF: 5.1 (including +5.0 for actual blood relation)

Pennywise: Though it's questionable to call Stephen King "literature," these poppy SoCal skatepunks are inspired by the supernatural villain in King's novel It. So let's see...they're based on a clown that kids think is all bad-ass and scary, but adults ignore? Yup, sounds right to me. RAF: 7.0

Machines of Loving Grace: Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace" pined for a time when benevolent technology and beatific nature could cohabitate. Did they in this defunct band? That depends on whether you like your pseudo-industrial alt-rock stew cooked with extra cheese. RAF: 6.4

The Soft Machine: Unlike Steely Dan, these '60s/'70s prog rockers filled their music with enough warped psychedelia, meandering passages and druggy burbles to make you think they actually, y'know, read the William Burroughs book from which they took their name. RAF: 8.2

Pere Ubu: Punk embraced baseness and vulgarity, and Pere Ubu were originally part of punk's first wave-but they were intellectual, too. Naming themselves after the base, vulgar namesake of Alfred Jarry's infamous 19th Century play, Ubu Roi? A fine solution-both literate and lewd. RAF: 7.9

Eyeless in Gaza: The Doors may get all the headlines, but they weren't the only band named after an Aldous Huxley book about transcendental mysticism. These long-running British eccentrics mixed ethereal pop and tweaky folk with more experimental forays in ways Jim Morrison wouldn't have done-unless he's secretly still alive and signed to 4AD Records. RAF: 8.5

The Boo Radleys: The reclusive, almost invisible hero of To Kill a Mockingbird got a second life in this '90s Britpop band. Similar to the Harper Lee character, the band started as shy, droopy shoegazers, suddenly got all friendly-like, then disappeared into nowhere again. Art = Life = Art. RAF: 7.6

Veruca Salt: Roald Dahl created the character of Veruca Salt, a bratty "bad nut" of a girl who got her comeuppance in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The bratty, all-girl, alt-funk band Veruca Salt hasn't been heard from in years, either. Coincidence? RAF: 6.3

Mona Lisa Overdrive: As the final book in William Gibson's original cyberpunk trilogy, Mona Lisa Overdrive was something of a literary landmark. As a wholly forgettable electro-industrial pop band, Mona Lisa Overdrive was something of a musical skidmark. Pah-next time steal a title from L. Ron Hubbard, wouldya? RAF: 3.3

...for more, see your local independently-owned record- and/or bookstore.

Gogol Bordello plays Friday at Berbati's Pan ($10+ advance at Fastixx). Shai Halud plays Saturday at Meow Meow ($12+ advance at Fastixx). And library cards are free.

PREVIEW
Dirty Deeds Done Le Freak
Electric Six plugs into disco and punk--fancy that!

Imagine it's New York City, 1978.

Now, suppose the Dead Boys played like the Village People. With AC/DC's Bon Scott singing. Or that the Bee Gees swapped members with the Dictators.

That's the Electric Six.

The Detroit sextet's debut single, "Danger! High Voltage," entered the U.K. pop charts at No. 2 in January. No doubt, perky backup vocals by a mysterious fellow credited as John S. O'Leary helped--he sounds suspiciously like Jack White of the White Stripes. Cameo star power aside, the song's catchy syncopated funk-rock recalls the Rolling Stones' disco era (i.e., "Heartbreaker" and "Miss You").

"Don't you wanna know how we keep startin' fires?" vocalist Dick Valentine and "Mr. O'Leary" yelp. "It's my desire!"

The band that called itself the Wildbunch until last year, when some DJ threatened to sue for the name, now has its breakout hit in the bag. Dick Valentine breaks down the band with mathematical precision. "It's one-third rock, one-third dance and one-third nervous energy," he says.

Now with a huge Brittannic hit, a video on MTV and songs debuting on American "Modern Rock" radio last week, the Electric Six is crackling. The band is definitely cartoony--members will not reveal their real names, instead insisting on aliases like Rock'n'Roll Indian, Disco, Tait Nucleus, Surge Joebot and M. All the same, songs like "I Lost Control (of My Rock'n'Roll)" and "Remote Control (Me)" prove the band has some genuinely great, novel hard rock stored in its generators.

"We take ourselves more seriously than one would think," Valentine says. "But we want to entertain ourselves as well as everyone else."

Go punk? Go disco? Thanks to the Electric Six, we now can enjoy the best of both worlds. (Dave Clifford)

Electric Six plays Friday, March 21, at Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. The D4 and Goddamn Gentlemen also appear. Cover. 21+.

THIS GODDAMN MACHINE JUST LOST MY COPY, WHICH NEVER HAPPENS WITH, SAY, A TYPEWRITER
HISS and VINEGAR

FREE IS A VERY GOOD PRICE
As mentioned last week in Hiss & Vinegar v. the Malevolent Music Monkeys, this Newspaper is about to publish its second Portland Music Directory. In addition to other helpful editorial product, this tome will include FREE LISTINGS for all and any Portland bands that want them. Go here and sign up using our patent-pending electro-form. Catch is, you have to do it pretty much NOW. So get online, get a future: even the Kalahari is Googling now. Send photos to 822 SW 10th Ave, PDX 97205, marked Attention Music Directory. You have to play in order to win.

AROUND THE WORLD IN SIX CDS

North to Seattle: Spastic boy-kings of the ADD Rock genre, The Blood Brothers just hatched Burn Piano Island Burn (Artist Direct). Hard-rock super-producer Ross Robinson spins the band's suicide keyboards, inflamed guitars, noise sludge and bipolar screams into ornate and angry froth. Plus, the fact that this is a one-time underground band's major-label debut will no doubt have scene fascists oiling jackboots and getting their outrage out of hock, and that's always fun to watch.

Rock Over London: The Anglo-American duo The Kills will release swaggering, menacing, sex-fiending Keep On Your Mean Side (Rough Trade) on April Fools' Day. The music is stripped to the bone, so will no doubt be compared to the White Stripes' and popular in Brooklyn. Even so! These 12 songs are all coiled little beasts, oozing hormones and not-so-latent lust-hate.

Prenez Paris...S'il Vous Plaît: I desperately want to say something nice about French "downtempo hip-hop" DJ Cam's Soulshine (Koch), if only to annoy Ari Fleischer. However, just 'cause he's French does not make Cam's thin gruel "freedom hip-hop." In fact, this double album (et pourquoi?) labors under the misapprehension that there are still dot-com launch parties at which to play it. Beaucoup suck.

Havana!: Buenos Hermanos (World Circuit/Nonesuch) is the first album by unthinkably ancient Buena Vista Social Club singer Ibrahim Ferrer since '99's luminous ...Presents. The old guy's voice has a few more crinkles, but producer Ry Cooder drums up a sound rougher, clubbier and stranger than the earlier Ferrer recording's slick, Sinatra-esque sound. The title track runs wild with Arab-esque horn blasts and punchy doses of the singer's genius.

And Finally, Exotic Portland: Weird how the opening guitar passage of the first song on Everclear's Slow Motion Daydream (Capitol) sounds just like the beginning of "Ice Ice Baby." I mean, that is just so weird! Isn't it? The single tells of an ex-stripper who is now a "Volvo-Driving Soccer Mom," an early bid for the Grammy for Best Use of the Term "Gang Bang" in a Bland Alternative Rock Song.

On a much...let us say, different note, Norfolk & Western conductor Adam Selzer's solo album
All the Walls Are Bare (Film Guerrero)
is gorgeously melancholic. Breathy vocals keep it simple and direct over chiming acoustic guitar and subtle, spot-on
instrumental touches. The harmonica on "Sanctioned" is as wrenching as anything on Nebraska. And, just me, that's an album I like a lot more than To the Extreme.

 
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