Sunday, August 30, 2009

SMMR BMMR Festival- Oh See's Can You Say?

As you may have noticed from my last post, I haven't dedicated very much time to the summer festivals this year. The weekend of PDX Pop Now just happened to be taking place at the beginning of our heatwave, and I couldn't imagine enduring ubearably high temperatures inside Rotture. From what I heard, it was a sweatbox inside there, but well worth the money (Free!!). There were a couple other festivals that I didn't make it to due to high costs (Pickathon) and bad timing (No Fest), but the one I finally managed to squeeze in was well worth the money and time.

I was perusing through the local weeklies when I came across a small ad for the Rotture's SMMR BMMR festival featuring Sic Alps, Eat Skull and Ty Segall. While I have been getting seriously interested in this lo-fi, noise-damaged pop revival that has been taking the nation by storm lately, the main reason I was attending this festival was to see Sic Alps. Their set, while cathartic and pleasingly melodic, was not the highlight of the evening for me, as it was too shambling and unfocused. This honor would quite deservedly go to the Oh Sees, the latest project from John Dwyer, formerly the leader of experimental noise bands the Coachwhips and Pink and Brown.

Prior to checking out the Oh Sees at SMMR BMMR, my exposure to their music was limited to their fantastic lo-fi garage masterpiece "A Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In", released on Tomlab Records in 2008. I had absolutely no idea that I was in store for one of the most viscerally thrilling rides of my life.

The Oh Sees began setting up their gear outside on the deck of the Rotture while the Box Elders continued to play their uninspiring, faux punk set on the main stage. I had entertained the notion of leaving before checking out the Oh Sees, as I had been there since around 7:15, and was growing increasingly tired as the night grew old. But thank God I had the energy and the wherewithal to stick around for one of the best live bands working today.

I was chatting with a friend about his thoughts on the bands he had seen throughout the evening while waiting for the Oh Sees to take the stage. He didn't seem too blown away by anything that he had witnessed so far that night, but that was all about to change. Once the Oh See's plunged into the first chord of it's hyped up version of "Block of Ice", the crown began to manically jump around like a horde of speed-addled mental patients who forgot to take their medication. There was absolutely no way for anyone to stand still as there were over 250 people steadily pushing towards the front, practically toppling over the band's instruments in absolute delight. I managed to finally make my way to the front during the middle of the second song, and I slightly avoided knocking over Brigid Dawson's keyboard, as the entire deck began to sway under the weight of the entire crowd. At this point, every song seemed to be extended to an infinite amount of time, even though most of these songs actually clock in at under three minutes.

Towards the end of the band's set, it was interrupted by someone from the Rotture's management saying something to the effect of "You guys are going to die". When I first heard this, I thought that he was referring to us dying due to hyperventilation or dehydration. Little did I know that the enormous sea of people had managed to make the deck sag an inch or two, and the manager was worried that we were all about to plunge to our deaths. I don't know if it was this realization, or the sheer power of the music, but I began to feel a profound combination of euphoria and nausea while the band launched into the final song of the evening.

After the management agreed to let the Oh Sees play one more song, I stood their transfixed by the intense and visceral music that was deeply affecting my body. I managed to wait until the band finished this last song of the evening before I raced to the bathroom to relieve myself of this nauseous feeling, Unfortunately, someone was using the bathroom stall when I got there, so I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity to get in there. Once I was in there, it was so disgusting that I couldn't imagine getting close to the toilet. I stood there in the stall, slowly taking in deep breaths to calm myself down, and I was surprisingly able to escape the confines of the Rotture without losing my lunch.

I've never felt so alive in my life as I narrowly escaped death and nausea within the course of one evening. There is probably no way in hell that the Oh Sees can top this performance, but that doesn't mean I won't give them the opportunity. If they are coming to your neck of the woods, do not, I repeat DO NOT miss out on the opportunity to catch them live. You will thank me for this later.

If you are interested in checking out some of the actual footage from the Oh Sees SMMR BMMR show as well as Sic Alps, Eat Skull, Ty Segall and others, a person by the name of ZachsBooks has uploaded a breadth of lo-fi footage from the show at the following You Tube link:

For recommendations on the Oh Sees recordings, you can't go wrong with 2008's The Masters Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In or the band's latest record on In the Red Records called Help.

I am posting a couple of my favorite tracks from these aforementioned records for your listening pleasure. I would love to hear if anyone has the actual recording of this SMMR BMMR set, or any other Oh Sees live recordings out there.

From: The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In [Tomlab Records, 2008]

The Oh Sees: Enemy Destruct and Ruby Go Home
From: Help [In the Red Records, 2009]

Until next time...

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Long Hot Summer

It's been one of those summers where it passes by so fast, you don't even realize what's happening right before your eyes. My first week of August can literally be chalked up as wasted time, as most of my waking hours were spent devising new ways to stay cool. I can't recall a summer where I endured such hot temperatures when relief (A/C) was not just around the corner. The rest of my time has been consumed by the daunting task of being a first-time home buyer. Even though I don't have a home yet, most of my summer has been spent searching for a better place to call home. This is one of those phases in my life where complex life decisions seem to be taking precedent over my creative endeavors. However, since my girlfriend and I are closing in on making a decision on buying a new home, I hope to be able to post more often in the near future.

Since most of the music I have been listening to in my car has turned into a Plain Brown Wrappers post anyway, I have decided to kill off the What's Playing on My Stereo feature. I hope this doesn't cause you guys too much distress and anguish(Cue up the scene of the distressed guy poking his eyeball out with a plastic fork).

I have been listening to lots of exciting new bands, as well as a healthy dose of classic 60's psychedelia and funky afrobeat tunes. I look to bring back the Local Music Showcase feature, mainly due to the recent onslaught of creative talent bubbling under the surface of Portland's music scene including Nice Nice, Explode Into Colors, Grouper, Purple Rhinestone Eagle and LKN.

Here are some random thoughts and tidbits of things I have recently been diggin' :

The latest release from Analog Africa called Legends of Benin "Afro Funk- Cavacha- Agbadja- Afro Beat" is one of the most stunning releases of the year. After hearing this, there is no doubt in my mind that you will believe that music indeed soothes the savage beast. If you are looking for more of the same artists, please make sure to check out the blog called Oro. Oro features more Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, Gnonnas Pedro and Antoine Dougbe than your ears can possibly handle. This is all out-of-print stuff that has never graced the independent record stores of America.

The second Heliocentrics record with Mulatu Estatke recalls the heyday of Ethiopiques Vol.4,
while putting a fresh spin on that sound with spacey electronics and a more jazzy feel. Highly, highly recommended!

As of late, I am really digging this new lo-fi movement including Blank Dogs, Wavves, Crystal Stilts, Sic Alps, Eat Skull and Dum Dum Girls. This is ear candy for people who like music to feel like it is a living, breathing animal ready to unleash itself on you when you least expect it. I will probably be featuring tracks from some of these bands on here soon, so keep your ear to the ground.

New blogs that have been catching my ear lately include:

By Chance Upon Waking- features a majority of bands that were new to me, and a few old-school surprises that had me grinning from ear-to-ear

Allegory of Allergies- eclectic batch of artists ranging from loner folk to avant garde; from free jazz to electronic. Here are a few examples of the gems I picked up on this blog: The Ceyleib People, Lamonte Young and Marian Zazeela, Charlemagne Palestine and Freedom's Children.

Dharma Krusher- mainly intense experimental stuff like Black Dice, Masonna, Eric Copeland and High Wolf, with the occasional hip-hop joint from Quasimoto or MF Doom to keep people on their toes.

Flabbergasted Vibes- a heavy dose of afro-cuban, afro-beat, funk and jazz that never stops. After I sampled the music from this site, I had to change my shirt from sweating so much.

Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys- Can, Albert Ayler, Frank Lowe and Popul Vuh, and that's just the first page of this amazing blog. These tales will keep you coming back for sure.

This might go down in Eclectic Groove's history as being the longest post ever, but I have been bursting at the seams with new ideas of music to share with you all. If I ever decide to buy a USB turntable, you guys will be in for the ride of your life.

I leave you with this rare gem taken from the archives of Eclectic Grooves from a little known band called Dull Schicksall. This was first posted on here back in October of 2007, but I have recently received a request for a re-up. Here is a link to the original post for this record.

So, I hope you all enjoy this trip down memory lane with four bald tires and a cracked windshield. You will never be the same again after listening to this record. Without further ado, I present to you Dull Schicksall's They Saved Hitler's Brain.

Dull Schicksall- They Saved Hitler's Brain