Sound Advice: C'mon Sac, represent
Ugh: I would like to issue a formal apology to Seattle’s Western Haunts on behalf of all of Sacramento. Seriously. Sorry.
Since exactly three other people were at the show last Thursday, allow me to tell you about Western Haunts. The four-piece plays alt-country that’s shoegazey and psychedelic, with lots of reverb, airy vocals, lush keys and sad stories. It’s the kind of noise-Americana you’d expect and want out of the Pacific Northwest. And sure enough, Western Haunts gets frequent nods from Seattle’s taste-making public-radio station KEXP 90.3 FM. Its new self-titled album, due out this fall, is a collection of dreamy, mature tracks that would probably please fans of Grizzly Bear, Beach House or Fleet Foxes.
I was expecting a lovely night.
I got to the Blue Lamp just before the second band, the Echoics, took the stage. The poor Auburn kids had to wait outside the bar-venue all night before and after their set because they were only 20 years old. With skinny jeans, vintage shoes and cool hair, they have the makings to be alt-rock teenage heartthrobs in a few years. Unfortunately, their audience that evening consisted of their family members, an SN&R music writer, her housemate, the other musicians and the bartender.
Mid-set, a ridiculously drunk woman marched over to us, seated on barstools. She put her hands on our legs with surprising force.
“Your hands,” I said, not sure what else to say.
She gripped tighter.
“I’m the mom,” she said.
“Oh. Congratulations,” I said.
Her hazy eyes said she wanted to dance. My friend got up, grabbed her hand and attempted to spin her around a bit. She fell. It was sad.
When the Echoics stopped playing and were forced to flee the building, half the audience left, too. That left just the SN&R music writer, her friend, a couple musicians and the bartender.
It was midnight. Oddly, Western Haunts ended up being a great soundtrack to Kung Fu Hustle, which lit up the flat screens.
“So, there are four of you here,” frontman Jake Witt said after about 20 minutes. “It’s late. We could just play our last song now. What do you say?”
That retro feeling, made fresh again: Fans of old-school Sacto pop, take note: Brent Bourgeois is set to self-release a new album on June 2. Bourgeois, of course, was part of the 1980s-era pop group Bourgeois Tagg (with Larry Tagg). That band’s 1987 album Yoyo birthed two big hits, “Waiting for the Worm to Turn” and “I Don’ Mind at All”—both tracks highlighted the duo’s knack for smart, catchy Beatles-esque pop. Now, fast-forward 27 years, and Bourgeois’ first album in nearly 20 years, Don’t Look Back, hearkens back to that era (despite its title), with a batch of songs that, yes, show a knack for smart, catchy Beatles-esque pop. The proof is in the credits: The record features a duet with Julian Lennon on “The High Road” as well as collaborations with Todd Rundgren, Charlie Peacock and his old buddy, Tagg.
Impressive cameos aside, the musician says the record’s greatest accomplishment is, in a way, its very existence.
“To me the best part of the story is the idea [that I last made] a record in 1994 when the music business was completely different,” Bourgeois wrote in an email. “The Internet was in its infancy, record companies were still king, budgets were huge, CDs were the thing, record stores were still where you bought music. … Now, in 2014, I am Chief Cook and Bottle Washer; everything is done on the Internet, there are few record stores; I am my own company. And I made this record for around $5,000.”
Bourgeois funded the record via Kick-Finisher, an “upside down” alternative to Kickstarter that, Bourgeois explains, pays fans to sell records via incentives (instead of the other way around). For the project, Bourgeois partnered with Lennon’s White Feather Foundation, which distributes safe drinking water to those in need in Africa. For every album sale, Kick-Finisher contributors may choose to take a commission or, instead, donate to the foundation. Visit www.brentbourgeois.com for more details.