If you don’t live on the West Coast a band named Honey Bucket probably won’t have any bad connotations for you. For those of us not so fortunate, well let’s just say that we will just have to try not to touch anything and hold our noses as we listen. Port-a-potty influenced name aside, Portland trio Honey Bucket have just released an excellent debut record that has elements of their pals Woolen Men, the Clean and some Elephant 6 collective in its pop innards.
Recorded to a Tascam, the aesthetic of the album reminds me of the early Elephant 6 records by Beulah, The Apples In Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s sort of geeky pop fun at its core with cheap sounding keyboards and some free jazz horns interspersed into its pure pop.
Versing blasted their way into my life early last summer at the Sunset in Ballard. Their Wire meets Pavement, meets Number One Cup meets Seam meets Swell Maps elixir is a combination often tried but rarely done well enough to actually contribute to the plot line. Right out of the gate Versing have written a new chapter to the story. Protagonists in their story include jagged guitars rumbling bass and choruses that have you hoping for a quick sequel. Nude Descending is their seven song debut EP that blazes a trail through the boredom inducing clutter of today’s new bands who just merely play music.
So at this point it’s looking like Protomarty‘s Under Color of Official Light is the record to beat this year. But, hold on a minute, coming up fast on the outside lane is Pittsburgh’s Gotobeds with their debut album Poor People are Revolting. Just by their name and the album title you know the band have a sense of humor and relish double meanings and have some smarts. You may be scratching your head wondering if it’s pronounced like Robert Gotobed or got to bed? Do the band hate poor people or are they trying to incite a riot? The Gotobeds seem to have an irreverent sense humor and they are adept at letting loose with angular jabs of impertinence.
In the song Jenna Rations there’s a part that references Lou Reed, followed by someone letting the singer know he’s dead and then a sample that sounds like Lou himself uttering an expletive. The Gotobeds move pretty fast and if you snooze you miss a lot. They will likely remind you of Pavement from the way they sound. They’re certainly as sharp as Malkmus, Kannberg and the gang ever were and they bring a certain mania to their songs that keeps you wondering if it will all come crushing down into a giant pile of debris. It doesn’t. In fact it blows away so much of the mundanity of today’s scene that it (along with Protomartyr) may actually restore your faith in rock n’ roll. Nah, but it’s good!
The Gotobeds album is available on vinyl from 12xu and on mp3 via bandcamp.
Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. In the case of Posse, they decided to forego the process of trying to get signed to a record label and started their own. It’s called Beating a Dead Horse Records. The first album that the fledgling label put out was of course their own album. It’s called Soft Opening and it’s their second album. Actually Posse put out their own first record too , but that was two years ago, before BADH.
Soft Opening is nearly perfect. While the trio is based in Seattle, they sound like the wide open dusty roads of the desert that lies on the other side of the Cascades. The songs have a lonely, melancholy and druggy feel to them similar to Acetone and Galaxie 500. The guitars seem to be inspired by Dean Wareham’s watery, lackadaisical sound while the playful boy-girl vocals create some healthy sexual tension. Both Paul Wittmann-Todd and Sacha Maxim play guitar and sing while Jon Salzman is solely relied upon to keep the beat. Posse keep things tight, putting only eight songs on the record. Maybe they thought keeping it short would circumvent short term attention spans in this internet age, but Posse are good enough that they could have snuck another one in and nobody would have hit the skip button.
For its second release BADH have just put out Neighbors third album Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? The record’s title made me get out my Raymond Carver books and reminded me of when Paul Kelley and the Messengers named So Much Water, So Close to Home after one of the well known Northwest author’s short stories. Neighbors write songs that straddle Pavement’s Range Life, REM’s Harborcoat and the Meat Puppets’ Up on the Sun. Like those bands, there is more to their sound than what is on the surface. Beneath the psychedelic, country sheen you can hear the influence of Gang of Four, Wire and the Wedding Present. The band smartly pulled the best tracks from last year’s tour only cassette Power Country and included them here. Muscle Girl on Muscle Beach which features some sweet guest vocals from Lexi Lee, and Hot Jack get things off to a rocking start. Muscle Beach . Newer songs Loretta and Heather have a twangy angular feel to them that hints at the band getting better and progressing into new territory. After cassette and download releases it’s nice to see that Neighbors have finally released an album on vinyl for posterity.
Beating a dead horse have a small catalog and don’t seem to be in a hurry to grow fast. It’s more of a means of documenting themselves and their friends. Sounds like a good business plan to me.
Traams, walk the fine line of angular post punk and hypnotic motorik inspired grooves. You get the feeling listening to their debut album Grin that they were eavesdropping while the Wedding Present were recording Seamonsters with Albini, were in Stockton at Pavement‘s inception, have th’ Faith Healers Lido stuck in their van’s cassette deck, have drank at the fountain of Klaus Dinger, and hang out with the Hookworms. I know that last one is true since MJ of the Hookworms along with Rory Attwell recorded Traams debut album.
Grin is a blood brother of Hookworms’ amazing album Pearl Music. Singer and guitarist Stuart Hopkins has an unhinged voice that could go off the rails at any moment giving the songs an unpredictability while the underlying guitar bass drum hypnosis by way of spiral scratch grooves keep you tied to the tracks. The last couple of weeks as I’ve been tethered to this record I’ve felt like the cartoon damsel in distress tied to the tracks as Traams locomotive rumbles down the tracks. Are the Traams Snidely Whiplash or are they my Dudley Do-Right? Tune in next time for “This is the very last traam” or “Blogger on the tracks.”
Lou Reed once sang “It’s hard being a man living in a garbage pail”. Amida kick off their new EP with a brash rocker called My Life as Trashcan. Undoubtedly, living in a dumpster is be hard, but what about being the dumpster? All those dirty people violating your personal space, diving into you, taking your stuff, not to mention getting picked up by the forklift of a big truck and getting turned upside down. It’s an attention-grabbing single, kind of dirty, kind of dangerous, and kind of weird.
Amida’s slightly off kilter pop reminds me of Franklin Burno’s Nothing Painted Blue who could bookishly rock it like nobody’s business. There’s some laid-back meandering that reminds me of Pavement and some go- it-your-own-way pop of Washington DC’s High Back Chairs. With all those American references you might be surprised to find out Amida hail from the north of England. Manchester to be precise. They’ve recently released a new EP on Seattle’s very own Jigsaw Records. How does a Seattle label end up releasing a record from a Manchester band? Haven’t you heard? The world’s a small place, even for trashcans.
More Seattle goodness, this time from the friendly neighborhood Neighbors who are about to release their second album on Lost Sound Tapes. The easy reference point of Neighbors is Pavement, and I’m sure the band intend it, but their new album John In Babeland is not just paint by numbers. Pavement weren’t created in a vacuum, and Neighbors have more than just one single influence. Since I don’t personally know them I couldn’t tell you what they are, but bands like Firehose, REM, Camper van Beethoven, Neutral Milk Hotel and Hefner all come to mind. John In Babeland is their second album and vastly improves on their first record Puros Exitos, which had some good moments, but was really a young band kind of feeling its way around.
The album is named for their now departed bassist and a sex shop here in Seattle. Besides sex, the album exudes an easy confidence. Its 12 songs are quirky and immediately likable. Sometimes you think they’re punks, sometimes they’re arty smart-asses and other times they give the impression that they’re crusty hippies. Those three things (plus the sex) of course, are the main ingredients of most of the great bands throughout rock history.