Hot-weather jams and high-school Spanish
What you listened to on your summer vacation: The summer record-release horizon continues to hold great promise. I can’t offer too much detail just yet, but experimental pop band Doombird, whose Cygnus EP continues to age well, will put out a new record in August. In the meantime, stream Cygnus on the group’s Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/doom-bird). I’m rather impartial to “An Die,” which feeds the pristine measures of Swedish electronic pop into an airy, stargazing retreat along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Elsewhere, Stevie Nader, an electro-soul singer-songwriter and collaborator with DLRN, is placing the finishing touches on his debut, 333, set for release in August. His first single, “Take You On,” is now streaming at his website (http://music.stevienader.com). Meshing the deep rhythms of a Voodoo-era D’Angelo vibe and the synth flourishes of Balearic beat, Nader approaches “Take You On” with a bravado that hints of a debut that will likely have little space for tender-footed hesitancy.
In fact, Sacramento will have a record for every genre in August, as teenage punks Dog Party are also set to join the schedule. It seems like only yesterday that the Giles sisters were singing covers of TV on the Radio’s “Young Liars” and writing songs about summer vacation. Now they spend their months off from school earning their stripes on the road with Kepi Ghoulie in preparation for their Asian Man Records debut, Lost Control. Given my working knowledge of records produced by Chris Woodhouse, I feel safe in declaring Dog Party the youngest band to record with one of the Hangar studio’s finest, with Gwendolyn being 17 and Lucy having just recently celebrated her 15th birthday.
Straight out of Portlandia: On the evening of June 28, a small but mighty crowd converged for a house show for the Portland Bike Ensemble. By name alone, I had this pegged as a group of punks that would defy expectations by deftly performing classical suites during a tour traveled strictly on bikes that they referred to, with only a whimper of irony, as their “whips.” That guess proved dead wrong, except for the “whips” referral, when three unassuming individuals casually flipped their bikes over on the living room floor, propped up on the saddle and handlebars, and hand cranked the pedals as they held contact microphones to the rims, spokes and tire treads. The result was a 15-minute amplified and distorted cacophony that emerged as—at least according to one observer—“the sounds of the worst city in the world.” Jackhammers, chain saws, obnoxious farting noises—those sounds were all there in the bicycle, laying dormant until drawn out for a crowd and administered with an eerie lack of emotion on the pedalers’ faces, as if they too were unsure of exactly how to feel.
Deportation is pretty punk rock: Later that night, Los Headaches, on tour from Mexico City, arrived late to its gig at Luigi’s Fun Garden, fresh off its 15-hour Greyhound ride from Portland, Ore. But the venue had been changed at the last minute to The Press Club, where the band found itself double booked, joining an already hopping show in honor of Mike C, a.k.a. MC Ham’s birthday. I sat at the bar with Nico Ventura, the group’s bleach-blond guitarist, who stood drinking a whiskey with his sunglasses on, looking like a young Richard Hell. He pointed to the stage where roadhouse rockers the Scouse Gits were performing in full form and taking no prisoners, the frontman dancing wildly and running around the crowd with his harmonica. “You like this type of music?” Ventura yelled over the band with an approving grin.
Los Headaches took the stage next, launching into a jolted and haphazard set. Two of the group’s four members were deported back to Mexico at the start of tour a few weeks earlier, leaving Ventura and Pepe to vast improvisation. Unfortunately, most of the merch was deported as well, leaving them revenueless and vanless. They split a 30-minute set with their tour mates the Vincent Black Shadow, who launched into a similar vein, albeit more fleshed out, of Clash-era garage rock. The drummer wailed away in an MC5 shirt as the lead singer danced around the mic for a cover of the Modern Lover’s “Roadrunner” closing out the night. “Uno mas!” the audience cried at the end, invoking the only high-school Spanish they could muster. Whether they were crying out for more tunes or cerveza was debatable, but the celebratory mood lost nothing in translation.