The Purrs Are Back (In Paisley)

A Paisely Popsicle
Last week while I was listening to Kevin Cole on KEXP he played a song from Purrs‘ new album followed by the Dream Syndicate‘s Tell Me When It’s Over which reminded me of a couple things.  One, how much I love Kevin Cole’s kid in a candy store approach to his daily show (you never know what he might grab off the shelf) and two: how much the Purrs seem to be influenced by the Paisley Underground.  About a year ago when I saw them across the street from the Green Pajamas, I made the connection, and now with the new record (as well as Kevin Coles’s playlist) that Paisley Underground connection has been reaffirmed.

Back in the early 80’s the Paisley Underground scene was a somewhat unheralded movement that produced a lot of great albums that to this day seem to go unnoticed and unheralded as the great works that they were. The Bangles are probably the best known (Prince penned Manic Monday or the goofy Walk Like an Egyptian anyone?) band to emerge from the scene, and also Rain Parade‘s David Roback went on to form Mazzy Star, but bands like The Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, The Long Ryders and the Three O’clock put out a a whole bunch of druggy, jangly, 60’s tinged, psychedelia inducing albums that hold a special place in my heart. A few years back Magnet magazine featured the Paisley Underground on the cover of their magazine, which I thought was one of the coolest things an American music magazine has done in the last ten years. Finally, a scene that created such great songs was got some recognition. Well that was nearly 10 years ago, back when magazines were still semi-relevant. So since then who has been carrying the torch of the Paisley Underground you may ask? Well look no further than Seattle and the Purrs (note to self, must do another blog post on Seattle’s godfathers of psychedelia, the Green Pajamas).

Yes, the Purrs are back with the follow-up to 2007’s The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together, an album that  just didn’t get old for me, with it’s strong pop back-bone and it’s spacey vibe. Their new album Amused, Confused and More Bad News, just released last week, carries on that same vibe  while adding an extra layer of psychedelic haze that makes you work just a little bit harder at pulling out he pop hook. Bassist and vocalist Jima has essentially upped the ante with this set of songs making them less immediate but in the end more gratifying.   The first couple listens of the new record, had me looking for songs as immediate as She’s Got Chemicals and Drive and coming up empty. It wasn’t until third and fourth that I realized that Purrs were making me work for it, and songs like Stay With Me, Baby I Want You Back, A Century of Rain and The Outpost began to reveal themselves.  The guitars still sound like they were played somewhere in outer space and sent back to the studio on some kind of sub-warp frequency giving the songs an extraterrestrial vibe, but with this new batch of songs Jima’s disaffected vocals are less in your face catchy and more intertwined into the songs as a whole.  The band leave a trail of bread crumbs with the  more immediate Fear of Flying and they momentarily doff the paisley and go for the pop jugular with the Verve/Oasis style sounding Feeling Fine. A song I bet Oasis wish that they could still write in. The real payoff comes with patience as this album is the kind that reveals something new with every listen.  It’s an album that holds its own with anything that got released by anyPaisley Underground band back in the early 80’s as well as the high standards already set by the Purrs themselves on their previous records.

The CD release party is 29 August at the Sunset Tavern with Black Nite Crash and Blood Red Dancers.

mp3: The Purrs – Stay Here With Me (buy the new record Amused, Confused & More Bad News)

After the click, a bunch of songs from the Paisley Underground Read More

The Purrs at the High Dive

The Purrs getting psychedelic, or my camera really sucks.

Just when you thought it was safe to come back here…Seattle week continues! Only by coincidence really, the Purrs were playing down the hill from where I live so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to go to the gig after being smitten by their latest album the Chemistry that Keeps us Together.

The band took the stage to about half the crowd that was there to see the previous band Feral Children. Not sure why people vacated, but it was their loss, because the Purrs put on a clinic on how to rock out. They came off as a lot more garage-y sounding live, kicking it up a notch as that one chef on tv is wont to say. I had a feeling I was going to like the Purrs live before the show even started. As they were setting up, I caught a glimpse of the effects pedal boards of both guitarists. They both had a veritable smörgåsbord of pedals, I would have needed a menu to keep them straight, but these guys have got them down. My prognosis for the show was good (in my book more effects pedals = better show), and I was not disappointed in the least, though my ears are still complaining a little.

Earlier this week I compared the Purrs to the Church and after seeing them live I’d like to reitterate that one, because not only is Jima a bass playing front man, but guitarists Jason Atkin and Jason Milne are like a Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes duo, expertly playing off of one another and creating a wall of blissful noise that is something to behold. The entire band were solid, exuding a cool confidence with their playing that I rarely see. They hit all of the highlights from the new record, starting the set with a full-throttled version of Waiting for the Asteroid. Frozen in Time, She’s got Chemicals, Junk and Jill and Miles Away all hit the same highs that they do on record. They also threw in three brand new songs, one of which Jima mentioned that the band might get around to recording, but in the meantime we could hear it on his home answering machine. I guess he’s got some kind of They Might Be Giants dial-a-song thing going on over at his place.

Why these guys aren’t signed to a label and way more known than they are is beyond me. For now, I just count myself very lucky to be able to go a few blocks and see a Purrs gig.

I got there just as the Feral Children were beginning their set. This is the second time I’ve seen them and I still can’t say I get these guys. They feature two drummers front and center, one of them that seems to run in place while he hits stuff and sings. They kind of remind me of a Fall incarnation minus Mark E. Smith. Their proggish sound does at times hit a catchy patch, but I think what they’re going for is more of a groove thing. I thought the best song of the night was the opener that showed a restraint that seemed like the band was just itching to blow out of and go into one of their freak outs, but never did.

Seattle Week: The Purrs

the purrs being kept together by chemistryWelcome to day two of my week long post-o-rama focusing on the Jet City. Day two is dedicated to The Purrs , who have been around for a while but never came across my radar. They’ve gotten a lot of support by local radio station KEXP, but I hadn’t heard of these guys until Mat, who I work with, asked me if I’d heard them. He had only heard of them because a girl in his akido class was wearing their t-shirt which caught his attention. So those t-shirts do work for selling cd’s, wow! The band sound like they could have been born in the LA Paisley Underground, think the Rain Parade, but less jangly guitars. They also remind me a bit of Australians the Church both from their layered guitar sound and Jima’s cool voice having a few similarities with Steve Kilby. Their new album the Chemistry that Keeps Us Together which was self released back in November of last year is a real beauty. It’s got great three minute pop songs and then some longer ones that let the band crank up their a hazy mellow, psychedelic blues thing. I’m pretty excited to see these guys live and it looks like I’ve got a couple of chances in February, dates below.

mp3: the Purrs – She’s Got Chemicals(from the The Chemistry that Keeps Us Together)
website: the Purrs – where you can download all of their old records and buy their new one

Upcoming gigs:
Friday, 8 Feb at the High Dive
Tuesday, 26 Feb at Chop Suey (opening for A Place to Bury Strangers)