Friday, September 16, 2005

New stuff, III

First Strike- live at Damian’s, 8/20/05

The annual party, unblemished by rain. A bunch of little kids running around the kegs on the lawn. We all think we’re hot shit playing wiffleball, trying to throw curves and sliders. The peninsula doubles as the smoking area. Radios play classic rock. Fake and real meat on the spotless new grill.

First Strike was the first (and best) band of the afternoon. I told Earl and Damian how much I enjoyed the set afterwards; they both shrugged and assured me that they had in fact sucked, not fucked up enough to be really good. Okay.

Damian had walked out from under the confines of the band-sized tent, wearing this expression on his face like ‘hell yeah, we are totally rocking OUT!’ as he played the meaty bits of the pummeling soundtrack to the Worcester barbeque, with Ryan, stage right, providing the sauce. You could almost read the word balloon above Matt’s head as he played his bass parts with lips pursed:

“Okay, F. Now E. Now F. Now E. F. E. I’m doing good. Yeah! F. Uh, shit. Wait. Okay. E. F. E…..”

Bryce, back there, pounding away, pounding away, witnessing everyone doing there thing, ruefully laughing his ass off.

And Earl!

Spitting out raspy chunks of sandpaper in tones that would make any grindcore band proud, mic cord wrapped a full two times around his neck, swigging Beam during the quiet parts, staggering around, mouth agape. He knocks his own glasses off and (get this) DOESN’T PICK THEM UP, just keeps stumbling around, either in complete control of his fine motor functions, avoiding his missing specs with each step, or just not giving a shit.

Those guys all said they sucked. I’ll have to see ‘em a couple dozen times and weigh in.


Lucero- That Much Further West

A band with enough namechecks and buzz to make me walk to the register with a cheap used copy.

I can only imagine how sick fans are of both the notion of the ‘alt.country’ genre and the word itself. Jesus, I’m tired of it and I’m not even a fan of the genre- a few (mandatory)Wilco records, some Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash stuff providing meager old school cred, a couple issues of ‘No Depression’ buried underneath stacks of punk fanzines and cruddy Xeroxed show flyers in a box moldering away in a closet somewhere. That’s it.

Why does Lucero, a band that I think is very good, get the a.c tag? It can’t be because of the singer’s voice, because he sounds like Kurt Cobain (though Kurt’s well-documented fascination with the Meat Puppets isn’t a bad thing to mention in the context of this review). Sometimes the bass does the box-step, a well-known/used signifier, but there are other times when the band plays songs that clearly deviate from the formula. “Hate And Jealousy” would sound like Sabbath if it had different production. “Tonight Ain’t Gonna Be Good” is a song that could easily fit into John Cougar’s canon before he added the ‘Mellencamp’, plus it has drums that sound like “Footloose.” Talk about mixed messages!

Raw sheets of guitar bleed Replacements blood. The songs tend to be straight ahead and no-frills, evoking Rancid and the aforementioned Mr. Cougar as points of reference. Maybe the whole a.c. thing is because the band says so (if they do), or maybe it’s just that they’re the most countrified band around when they’re out on the road playing with punk bands.

In the time it took me to discredit all of the suppositions, I could have been listening more and worrying less, dig? Better sometimes to shed the bullshit, put the press release through the shredder and just listen. Some example I am.

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