Taking after Gang of Four, Joy Division, Dead Kennedys and more recently Viet Cong, Savak stir up the pot right from the get go by naming themselves for the Iranian secret police under the Shah of Iran. They probably won’t be invited to play at Oberlin College in Ohio, but I doubt they care. Featuring members of Obits, Nation of Ulysses, the Cops, Holy Fuck, Edsel, et al, these punk rock veterans know what they’re doing and will not be dissuaded or deterred.

Former Obits guitarist and Edsel front guy Sohrab Habibion and former Cops front guy, Mt Fuji records proprietor and Seattleite Michael Jaworski share vocal duties throughout. Their styles mesh well and lend themselves well to the earnest and tempestuous songs. You can hear the old DC punk influence of the Dischord sect mixed in with some good old fashioned That Petrol Emotion acerbic energy on Alive In Shadows, Drop the Pieces, Call It a Night and Early Western Traders. Traders also features some great skronky saxophone that makes it an easy highlight of the record. Elsewhere you can hear some REM influence on Reaction and Burned by a Fever which should keep listeners with fainter hearts engaged.  Best of Luck In Future Endeavors is a solid record with something on it for old punks, new punks and punks in training.

You can stream and buy the download at Savak’s bandcamp page, or buy the vinyl and CD version from the record label Comedy Minus One.

The Long Winters Off the Grid

Long Winters, the Cops and Boat at Showbox, Seattle | 5 July 2008

The Cops singer Mike Jaworski was ribbing John Roderick throughout their set, and in between songs he says, “John Roderick, I’ve got three words: Off the Grid” He did kind of look a bit mountain man like with his fully fuzzy beard, long hair, and erm…horn rimmed glasses? On second thought, he’s more part the Dude from the Big Lebowski and part tenured college professor. Roderick is kind of the tenured indie rock prof around town and something of a renaissance man, as evidenced in the column he writes for the Seattle Weekly, but music is his strong suite. He’s been around, put his time in with Harvey Danger and fronting a number of his own bands. He’s finally come into his own with the Long Winters and now he and his band are reaping the rewards. After the Long Winters‘ 2006 release Putting the Days to Bed, they seem to be on the verge of something big. The only problem is recording a new record, something they are about to do. But before going into the studio, the band have scheduled a handful of dates on the West Coast and one in New York. Saturday night’s show was a stellar Seattle line up featuring Boat and the Cops opening for them.

The night started off with Boat, and their first time ever playing the Showbox. It’s likely the biggest room they’ve ever played, and they seemed pretty chuffed to be playing. The regular four piece Boat were augmented by a fifth member this night who provided a third guitar and saxophone. The additional fifth guy really seemed to flesh out their sound. It gave them a little more polish, and I don’t think they’ve ever sounded better. They plucked songs from both albums, played all three songs from their new single Topps and even threw in a brand spankin’ new song at the end of their set that seemed like it was written especially for the night, name checking the afore mentioned man of the evening.

Second of this Seattle trilogy line up were the Cops. I wasn’t sure what to expect from these tightly wound post punkers. Their second album Free Electricity which came out last year is good. It’s Gang of Four crossed with Jawbox, loads of attitude and lots of hooks, if a bit same-y sounding at times. After seeing them I can tell you that the Cops totally bring it, and they leave nothing. From the first chord, these guys where whirling, jumping, posing and just totally rocking out for their entire set. I thought there was now way they would be able to keep up their energy for the entire set, but I was wrong. Guitarist John Randolph made me dizzy with his constant whirling and jumping, and singer Mike Jaworski punished the mic with his intense delivery. Their showmanship was made easy buy the super tight rhythm section of David Weeks and Drew Church. This band have the songs and the chops to go beyond their obvious post punk roots and to the next level, I’m looking forward to what comes next from them.
mp3: The Cops – N. 99 (from Free Electricity)

The Long Winters are Roderick’s show, this is very clear when you see them live. Roderick is the guy everyone is there to see. Numerous women around me could be heard squealing such things as he’s soo cute, and I just want to squeeze him, and I’m in love with him. That’s not to say his band are just session guys. Even though there seems to be a revolving door with band members, the Long Winters are truly a band who tour and play on the records. The band seemed to be having as good a time as the rest of the Showbox, laughing at Roderick’s banter. And why not, he is a gregarious fellow, engaging the audience between every song with bon mots a la Billy Bragg. In fact like Bragg, I would say he enjoys the between song part of shows just as much as playing the songs. He had some funny one liners like, ‘look at all these beards. What, is Ballard closed tonight?’ And he wasn’t afraid to put his hair into pony tails or break into classic rock songs from Pink Floyd and Van Halen. He had the place singing Wish You Were Here without even trying. As for the songs, I was expecting to hear some new ones, but they stuck mostly with stuff from the last two albums. There were many shouted requests, that didn’t get played, but I was happy to hear the hits from the last two albums, since it was my inaugural Long Winters show.

mp3: Long Winters – Fire Island, AK (from Putting the Days to Bed)

Three Imaginary Girls were there and have a set list, though somewhat out of order, and I have more pictures from the evening over at my flickr.