BABIES s/t

What happens when Cassie Ramone (The Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods) take a break from their acclaimed projects? They make Babies – and it’s a beautiful rosy cheeked love child of sound. Just after Valentines Day The Babies released their self titled full length on Shrimper, and since then it has been a favorite rotating on my turn table. The record flows from hit to hit with lo-fi catchy gems perfect for the coming summer. If you like garagey boy/girl vocals it will be hard to ween you off The Babies. It’s no surprise that opening track “Run Me Over” has been deemed an unofficial single of the album. The track starts slowly with a surfy guitar before breaking into a propelling garage rock jam, setting you up for a collection of nicely crafted pop tunes. Over all, The Babies sound is easy to digest and isn’t to be taken too serious. After all, the band was formed to be a fun side project and the songs have a timeless quality. “Breakin’ The Law” will make you flash back to the moments when you met your first partner in crime. Mid album Babies go on to channel the Velvet Underground in campfire sing-a-long “Voice Like Thunder” while “Meet Me In The City” showcases Morby’s raw vocal quality that is similar to a young (un-jaded) Frank Black. The tail end of the album is more artistic and jam oriented with tracks “Wild I” and “Wild 2” where Ramone and Morby each tell their own perspective of the demise of romance. “Caroline” serves as the perfect closer to the album, beginning with a drawn out instrumental where the guitar carries the melody until the buildup is too much to bear and the band explodes into one last hurrah of up tempo hollers and shouts. While the Babies was formed to be a fun side project for Ramone/Morby to return to simpler times and smaller audiences, this record is too hot to keep them cooped up for long.

One Nation Under Wild Flag

The heads of critics and fans alike imploded when it was announced that Wild Flag was being waved into existence. Everyone loves a super group; especially one full of some of the most talented women in indie rock history: Carrie Browstein (Sleater Kinney/Excuse 17), Mary Timony (Helium), Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney/Quasi), Rebecca Cole (The Minders).

Before the band had even played their first show, the hype was building over the Internet. Not even a demo had been leaked pointing to their musical direction, and the band had even laughed off the buildup stating that unbeknownst to their die hard fans they could be a polka band! Instead of giving into the pressure by throwing a lo-fi demo on the Internet, the ladies of Wild Flag decided to keep their audience in suspense as they crafted their sonic identity. Finally, the mystery was unveiled to the public when they set out on their first tour during the fall of 2010. Sold out shows to curious fans was the result. Still no recordings were available (except for online-aired bootleg video taken by fans at shows).

Flash forward to 2011: Merge Records releases Wild Flag’s debut 7” – available in advance on the band’s tour to SXSW, and to officially release to select record stores on Record Store Day. The record opens with “Glass Tambourine”, fronted by the charming Mary Timony, the former front woman of seminal shoegazey prog rock outfit, Helium. Years later, her low alto croon is mesmerizing as her sonic army supports her in a style reminiscent of the epic tunes she composed during Helium’s heyday. Each band member is allowed to shine in “Glass Tambourine” as it twists and turns through a proggy song structure. Janet’s calm backing vocals are matched with the fury of Carrie’s guitar solos layered underneath a space storm of otherworldly effects. “Future Crimes” boasts Carrie Brownstein’s spitfire vocal presence while showcasing her signature guitar talent. Rebecca Cole also hones down her skills on the keys with an extremely catchy arpeggio while Janet Weiss keeps the beat steady and sweet with complementary backing vocals. It is a pop song that is easy to follow, yet channels the live energy the four women have possessed like magic.

Since their first shows in the Northwest, Wild Flag has polished out their sound and have proven their ability to be more than just a short lived – yet rad – side project. Their live shows are growing in numbers and musical intensity, sure to win over veteran fans and newbies alike. More importantly, they continue the legacies they have earned as individuals in the past with a fresh new sound that is bound to start a revolution for generations of young lady rockers united under Wild Flag.

Adam Gnade – B-sides and Rarities

I love me a good B-side or rarity collection. It is like uncovering a lost treasure chest, sunken in the depths of the sea of creativity. Adam Gnade seems to have an ocean of lost words in his “talking songs”, and has compiled them into From Farm Houses to Tour Vans. The collection is simplistic and acoustically arranged, topped with Gnade’s luring brand of storytelling. All of his past works have been thought provoking and emotionally charged to send a haunted wind through your ears, and this one is no exception. It is dusty, yet a rewarding listen like uncovering hidden family secrets in the attic.

Download the album at adamgnade.bandcamp.com

Orca Team…Proves Rock n’ Roll Saves the Night

Picture this: it’s cold and rainy on a typical Portland night and you have just been stood up. Suddenly, you find yourself alone in a strip club (which really isn’t your scene but you wanted to live on the edge for a night). There are no familiar faces – yet is jam packed full of meat heads… the world never seemed more lonely. You start to bike home, defeated, but refuse to let the night go to waste. You decide to swing by the Hungry Tiger Too – a dingy dive that is sort of making a rock n’ roll come back – to see what is happening. Once you arrive, you hear sounds of sunshine permeating through the windows. Such sounds are vaguely familiar. You grab a whiskey, and enter the performance room filled with girls in cute dresses, and guys gently bobbing their heads to the catchy tunes. Suddenly, your horrible letdown of a night turns into a miracle of synchronicity proving that rock n’ roll can save the soul. You realize you have just randomly walked into a random bar only to catch a free show by one of your favorite Portland bands: Orca Team. The trio is clad in matching outfits: tight yellow shirts and dark bottoms, slightly resembling bumble bees as they bob up and down to their uplifting montage of 60′s surf, garage, and soul! The night is looking a lot brighter from there on out.

Cat Power: What Would The Community Think?

I recently bought What Would The Community Think by Cat Power on vinyl. Of course, I had loved the album since high school, so it seemed fitting that I would add it to my collection. I have always been a big advocate of Moon Pix and the Covers Record – stating these were my favorites. However, as I listen to …Community I am realizing it is probably one of her best cover to cover record ever!

Old School Nirvana Rehearsal Tapes

After searching for live footage of Nirvana I found this super gritty rehearsal video filmed in Crist Noveselic’s mothers house back in 1988. It was during the Bleach era and is pretty raw. With only a few friends watching them practice, Kurt Cobain sings while facing the wall. Regardless, the video is showcases the band before they blew up.



Black Mountain: Wilderness Heart

I am becoming obsessed with Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart. The band released the album at the tail end of 2010, and has proven to be one of the best records of the year. Many of the songs are slowed down a notch, played out on acoustic guitars whilst showcasing rather intimate vocal duets between Stephen McBean and Amber Webber. The collection is rather soulful and folky in stark contrast to their face melting heaviness of their previous works. However, long time fans can still expect a few rockers including the title track “Wilderness Heart” which is becoming one of my fav songs in the new year.

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