Just rolling through town: With sandpapery guitar, jolting tempo change and a loopy irreverence, Sacramento’s Tumbleweeds have a slight bit of Woody Guthrie in them. And, if you listen hard enough, maybe even a little Lemmy Kilmister. At six songs, their CD, Tumbleweeds, is tiny, but offers a few very nice, big surprises. Take, for instance, the track “Love Bug,” which begins as a straightforward rock ’n’ roll song but crumbles instantaneously into a beautifully destructive riot. The rumble only lasts for a second—enough to excite the mind and offer a little bit of a shock, but to polarize the song into two very distinct sounds is at once pleasing and nerve-racking. That’s to say: The Tumbleweeds know exactly where to take a listener to keep them interested, and even a bit on edge. Just when a song threatens to drag (which “High Chair” might if it wasn’t for the stellar guitar work), something extraordinary happens. Like on the final track “Working Day,” which sounds dangerously close to a Folgers commercial (“Monday morning rush / it’s the working day / fix me up a cup of coffee … ”), until, that is, Michael Richardson puts his fingers on the keyboard and Kyle Moore provides an intensely satisfying beat. And by the two-and-a-half-minute mark, the song’s tempo and melody change completely into a loveable little carnival of sound. And Richardson’s unsure voice paired with Emily Richardson’s backup vocals is a perfect melodic match.
The Tumbleweeds obviously have fun playing their instruments; it comes out in the music, and that chemistry will most likely surface in their live performance. So check them out when they play on Friday, February 6, at the Fox & Goose (1001 R Street), with the Len Brown Society and the Cowboy Killers. (Josh Fernandez)
Last-minute show: The outstanding indie hip-hop group Aquifer plays with Portland, Ore., duo the Chicharones, which consists of Josh Martinez (who got his start in the heyday of Anticon) and one of the finest performers to ever grace a stage: Sleep. Martinez is Canadian, and since you seem to love those people, you should check out this show. That’s right, I said those people. Plus, Sleep’s daughter needs braces, so she can’t get them if you don’t go to this show. Plus, it’s Monday, so you have nothing else to do. Plus, check out www.myspace.com/thechicharones to hear why you should be at this show. Plus, I’m going to be there, so if I don’t see you there I’m going to go apeshit on you. Apeshit. Seriously, I’m gonna kick you in the nuts. That’s on Monday, January 19, at the Fire Escape Bar and Grill (7431 Madison Avenue in Citrus Heights). (J.F.)
Deejay bros before house shows: Sipping bitter lager at the Old Ironsides’ bar while Shaun Slaughter and Jon Droll take turns bumping the subwoofer is a slick way to kick off a rock show, which begs the question: How come more bands don’t have deejays open for them? Seems like a no-brainer.
Anyway, it worked for Free Blood on Saturday night; the place was packed—and with divergent scenes. Which was appropriate: Free Blood’s set was a mix of dissonant, almost-emo rock and electronic-fused dance.
Not everyone was pleased: 20 or so bounced after the first couple songs. I too wanted to jet, confused by John Pugh and co-singer Madeline Davy’s uninspired, innocuous back and forth. But things changed.
Davy grew more inspired, bouncing up and down in her long white bedtime shirt, red faux-blood stains around the collar. Pugh became more gracious with his energy, generating a rapport with Davy that was part reckless lullaby, part impassioned duet.
Dance rock, but gutted and stuffed with cacophony and Pugh’s inimitable falsetto—by the end, Free Blood made sense.
I wish I could say the same for Syrup, an experimental thrash-jazz fusion act from Portland who headlined a house show on Monday in Midtown. The four piece (guitar, drums, bass, vocals) had set up in a Craftsman’s living room underneath a black light. Crunch of an out-of-tune snare, noodling runs on an Ibanez, out-of-sync bass musings—Syrup is in-your-face right out the gate. Onlookers, or at least 10 of a couple dozen, bailed en masse. But I stuck around with the shoegazers in the front, soaking up the madness.
And lunacy it was: Each song began with a catchy but jarring riff, then quickly wandered into improv land. By the end of each song, or fascinating dud, the vocalist had fallen over himself and was lying on the hardwood, mic stand tossed aside, feedback nonstop.
Syrup was cool, but the bitter night air filling my ears after removing their plugs also was nice. (Nick Miller)