Walla Walla, Washington is known for its onions and wines, not so much for all girl punk bands. Come to think of it I don’t know of any all boy punk bands from there either. Being stuck in the southeast corner of the state subsisting on onions and wine can do funny things to a person. To prove it Chastity Belt have moved to Seattle with tall tales of dudes with ponytails, alien abductions, giant vaginas, big pick-up trucks and sleeping with the dead.
Their latest EP called Dude is three short sharp jabs of melody and hilarity. Ponytail is a raucous minute and half that totally disses a dude for his ponytail comparing him to Steven Seagal, Thomas Jefferson and a Barbie doll. Aliens is about lusting after the apparent many aliens that land in less populous places, and Cadaver is, um, well a love song that doesn’t really contain a laugh, but instead shows that they can be not funny too. Chastity Belt are parts Young Fresh Fellows, Wimps and Tacocat. Funny on the outside, but yearning on the inside .
The Young Fresh Fellows have been around since the early 80’s, making records with Conrad Uno in his Egg Studios before most kids today even existed. As local lore states, they were formed in a garage, or a basement, or both. Influenced by the Sonics, but with a sense of humor, the band originally started out as a trio led by Scott McCaughey, but later becoming a four piece and somewhere along the way recruiting Fastback Kurt Bloch. Some of the humor in their songs may be a little dated as far as pop culture goes, who remembers Amy Grant? If you want to see what you missed before you were alive, just want to relive old times, or want a quick history lesson in Seattle rock, you should make your way over to the Tractor in Ballard today (19 June) to catch a rare glimpse of a Seattle institution that was an institution before Sub Pop, grunge, pastoral folk and no beer on the stage were institutions in this town. The Fellows were writing funny topical songs before They Might Be Giants were out of high school. They kind of immortalized the Pacific Northwest for me with their first album The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest and it’s tourist promotion-like narration. The songs were always short concise power pop nuggets that put a smile on your face or better, made you bust out laughing.
The Fellows have been inactive for quite a while, with Scott McCaughey spending his time playing bass for Robyn Hitchcock and his other band the Minus 5, and Kurt Bloch busy with his new band Thee Sgt. Major III. It seems like the guys have set aside some time to record a new album, their first since 2001’s Because We Hate You. They’ve christened it I think This Is, and they’ve got Yep Roc to release it and Robyn Hitchcock to produce it. Since lead Fellow Scott McCaughey plays bass in Robyn’s band the Venus 3, so it’ really no surprise he got his friend to produce the record. Fellow Venus 3 guitarist Pete Buck also makes an appearance on the new album. The record comes out on 7 July, and in celebration, the not so Young Fresh Fellows are playing two, and only two shows. The first one is tomorrow night at the Tractor in Ballard and the second is Saturday night at Dante’s down in Portland. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hichcock and/or Buck make an appearance at the Tractor tomorrow night. It should be a trip!
You can stream (and buy) the new record in its entirety over at Yep Roc. And in case that’s not enough here are a bunch of classic Young Fresh Fellows songs to get your butt over to the Tractor tomorrow night.
On Sunday I was in Silver Platters down in Lower Queen Anne perusing the used cds. I ended up with a handful cds including Ian Hunter‘s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic, Toots and Maytals‘ Reggae Greats, and the Young Fresh Fellows‘ The Men who Loved Music. When I got home and took a look at them, I noticed they all had been signed by Mike Cox, who must have been their previous owner. Apparently Mike and I have quite similar random taste in music, or quite the opposite since these were all in the used bin. I can only hope that they weren’t stolen from him and sold. If that’s the case Mike and you’re reading this, leave a comment and I’ll give them back to you.
I suppose an explanation is in order as to why I would buy such a random assortment of music. This blog tends to lean toward obscure indie universe, but I do listen to other stuff. I’ll start in comfortable territory with Seattle’s Young Fresh Fellows. I first became aware of the Young Fresh Fellows when I got to university, where their song Amy Grant got a lot of play at my college radio station. I should also mention that I’ve seen Amy Grant in concert. Why on earth you ask? It was one of my many jobs in college to work as an usher for events at the WVU coliseum and one of those events was Amy Grant. So yeah , I got paid to see Amy Grant. I was happy to find this disk on Sunday. These songs are still funny after all these years, and not the song Aurora Bridge has much more context for me living in Seattle.
Veteran’s Memorial Bridge photo from rtompstyle’s flickr
As a kid growing up in a small town outside of Cleveland, Oh I did a lot of hanging out. A lot of my time was spent next door with my older cousin Jeff. He was seven years older than me, but didn’t seem to mind me and my friend Jack being around. Jeff was a skater who also had a pretty voracious appetite for music. If I can look back and identify a beginning to my music obsession it would probably start with my cousin.
When you skate, you have to have music and the music was never the same. He listened to everything from Van Halen to Prince to the Germs, to Agent Orange to Wasted Youth to Ian Hunter. I was nine when this came out but remember Cleveland Rocks quite well, hell it was constantly played on Cleveland radio station, WMMS. It was later covered by Seattle band the Presidents of the USA and used as the theme for the Drew Carry show. Yeah it’s probably played out, but the rest of Ian Hunter’s Schizophrenic album is just as good. He’s joined on it by Mick Ronson and John Cale as well as a bunch of E Street band. Second song Big East sounds like it could have been a Springsteen song, but a lot of the record has a Bowie feel to it. Although Barry Manilow did not appear on the the record, he did later cover the song Ships from it, taking it into the singles charts.
Jamaican bridge photo from tell me about your mother’s flickr
I don’t have a story about Toots and the Maytals, like a lot of post punk fans, I was introduced to Toots and the Maytals by the Specials covering Monkey Man. I picked this up because it was playing at the store. It was that random, but maybe not so random since one Mr. Cox had previously owned this cd as well. Reggae Greats is a good collection of the some of Toots and Maytals better known songs. It must have been some extraneous force guided my mind and body over to the reggae section to pluck this cd from the bin. So no need to worry Mr. Cox, your cd’s have found a good home.