Seattle Subsonic - August, 2011
It seems about once a year I catch Witchburn, and always at El Corazon. They’re one of my favorite Seattle metal bands, and they do rock the Sabbathy riffs, and really at the end of the day, what can be better than that? Not long ago I was supposed to see Black Sabbath tribute band Supernauty. I traded a couple emails with the bass player, but somehow the signals and wires and what have you got all mixed up so that when I showed up with notebook in hand, I was told I wasn’t on the list, and the bass player seemed not so interested in getting me on the list so I left. And better for it really. I’ve seen the original both with Ozzy and Dio. What did I need of a tribute? I prefer the rock and the riffs and the grooves to be new and unheard, to be a kind of learned thing that only one band does in its own way. Witchburn does just that, Sabbath-like to be sure, but heavy and original.
So I got to El Corazon and ordered a Blue Moon in that odd place of a bar that is in a separate room from the music. And I drank a few and scribbled in my notebook of original riffs and grooves when the music started at what by my watch seemed to be about twelve minutes early. It was a Witchburn song called “Be Purified” and liking that one I had no choice but to chug the rest of my beer and make a dash for the other room where bodies and arms and hair were already in motion. It was a riff I learned how to play a long time ago when I first wrote about them after running over a cat. It was a riff that made the memory of the dead cat go away because good music does that. It heals.
One thing about Witchburn is that they tune low, very low, E string all the way down to C. That’s a large part of the reason they can chunk as heavily as they do being minus one guitar these days after the bass player left last fall and guitarist Jacy Peckham switched to bass where as each song went on he certainly seemed at home. I was apt to think the bass suited him better and thus the band better. They were a four piece now, a four piece in no need of a fifth.
As they played, I laughed and thought in a God-like voice in my head, “And lo, the band played, and the riffs were heavy. And all was good.” The first time I saw them two years ago, I was inspired to write about music that moved the soul and got one to thinking about shaking an angry fist at the moon for all the things that one was up against in life. That piece actually made it into early versions of my book, and Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote previously that sometimes I need some heavy rock in the face of all the acoustic music happening in Seattle right now. And I do. Don’t get me wrong though. I love a lot of it, and even my own next musical project will be acoustic (a rocking acoustic to be sure), but still, sometimes I want to see a band that just rips it to the point of making my ears bleed, to the point of making me mimic Bruce Dickenson from Live After Death when he said, “When I go away from Long Beach back to England, I want to be able to go to the hearing doctor and go, ‘Doctor, Long Beach fucked up my hearing for good.’” Enter White Orange from Portland at the Sunset Tavern.
Now, The Sunset is not a large place, but White Orange had two guitar players and a bass player, and each of them had a speaker cabinet with two 15 inch speakers in it and amps that knew not the meaning of quiet, that knew only the tones of heavy and heavier, loud and louder. Case in point, the bass player ran his rig through not one but two overdrive units, Big Muff if I remember correctly, although by the time I learned that detail the beers had flowed, and I forgot to note it down. Either that or it’s one of those illegible scribblings from the end of the night. Anyway, no matter because talking to the band after the show, I learned that their tone was simple derived from that volume, even in small clubs, even if it meant not hearing much of any of the vocals. They would not sactifice tone. One had to admire that. They believed in the music enough that there would be no compromise, or rather vocals could lay buried but amps could not be turned down. The music would always rock.
OK, so I go from suggesting a CD you need to buy now to one that will be available in the near future. I’ve seen Alabaster a few times in recent months and they get better with each show, a little heavier each time, and heavy is good. I like heavy. Sometimes I need it in the face of all the acoustic music happening in Seattle right now. And well, I like a band whose guitar player wants to meet at 10:00 on Sunday morning to talk of band names and addictions and soon to be published novels after trading books and CDs and poems that touch on similar themes.
“i feel like I’m drinking myself to death
drowning in mistakes that taste of feathers smashed w/ tar…”
“The beer bottles
fill the counter
the night stand
so that only
Sunday morning with coffee rather than beer was a little more upbeat though, as is the song in this teaser video from the Alabaster sessions at London Bridge Studios. CD hopefully to follow soon. The song is “Overcome”.
Sounds good to me.
P.S. Not sure when the next Seattle show is, but Alabaster will be at Louie G’s in Fife, WA this Friday.
That a non-traditional and not-exactly-accessible musical outfit such as THEESatisfaction (partners in crime and life Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White) can garner such community support (warranted, of course, if you’ve experienced them live) so as to parlay that into a relationship with the most successful record label in Seattle’s history, well, that’s just a win for everyone. Cheers to Sub Pop for their continued efforts to step outside the box. And cheers to smokey, space-cadet soul!
Prior info on the new record here. East Mercer micro-venue/vintage boutique/workshop/mixtape purveyor Cairo is now in the record label business. Check out their new online store for Golden Fjord, as well as other great local albums such as Lunar from Secret Colors, USF’s Jamaica Plain EP, Flexions’ Leisure Time LP, and Stephanie’s self-titled EP for GGNZLA.
“Her War” is a bouncy, giddy-up tune and the strikingly goofy visuals presented here are a nice match. I’m not really sure why you wouldn’t like this.
Flexions West Coast Tour Dates:
Friday, August 5th – CD Release Party at Chop Suey, 8 PM^*
Saturday, August 13th – Family in Los Angeles
Sunday, August 14th – The Smell, Los Angeles, 8 PM †
Friday, August 19th – K Records Helsing Junction Sleepover
Saturday, August 20th – Cairo presents VIBRATIONS Outdoor Music Festival^
Friday, August 26th – Neumos, Seattle w/ Sleepy Eyes of Death, 8 PM
^with Metal Chocolates
*with Seven Colors
Simply put, the next CD you need to buy is Alone in This Together from Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs (released by Local 638). To quote from another, “Star Anna is an American original. I am a huge fan of her music and especially her voice. She sings from a place of beauty that takes me to a higher place. Her CDs rarely leave my player.” Mike McCready of Pearl Jam said that, and I agree 100%, even to the point of getting Star to sign my copy of the CD which is something I haven’t asked of a musician since I met a couple of the guys in Iron Maiden way back in 1986.
Back in February at the Hootenanny for Haiti, McCready sat next to guitarist Justin Davis and asked a simple question, “So when are you guys going to release another CD?” Justin could only answer that he wasn’t sure since they needed to save money for studio time and such, and the subject was dropped as the Hootenanny continued. But that’s when Mike showed he believes that bit he’d said about Star because not long after Justin got a got call from Mike and Mike simply said, “OK, let’s do this,” and thereby offered to finance the recording
And they did it.
Mike even lent his guitar to a few songs, one of which is the excellent title track (my favorite on the album). As good as Mike is though, I can’t help but feel his solo on “Wolves in Disguise” to be a bit much. Or perhaps that’s not the best way to put it. It’s a great solo for sure, and I love the fact that Mike is helping these guys, money where his mouth is for sure, but the chemistry in the band is special. It’s one of those undefinable things that anyone who has ever put a group together will understand. So often the best players aren’t really the perfect ones for the band. So I’m sitting here this afternoon with a Blue Moon in hand listening to “Wolves in Disguise” and the solo, and yes, it’s an excellent solo, certainly better than I could ever do, and I crank it and it rips, but I find myself wishing for the live performace where the band comes together in their own way as only they can and Justin lays in one of his tasteful solos that is channeled from somewhere deep within the song.
Other stand out tracks on the CD are “For When I Go”, “High Water”, “Just Leave Me There” … It’s the voice of course. “If you really cared, you’d just leave me there.” Yeah, buy the CD. Your heart will thank you.
You can catch them live at the shows listed below. The obvious choice is Pearl Jam’s Destination Weekend, but budgets being what they are, the Seattle Subsonic travel bus probably won’t be making the trip. Hmmm, perhaps I should contact the Destination Weekend folks and see about the need for an official chronicler of events.
Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs upcoming gigs:
Saturday, Aug 27 – Live on KEXP, 8:00 PM
Saturday, Aug 27 – The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
SEPTEMBER 3rd & 4th
PEARL JAM 20 – DESTINATION WEEKEND
Alpine Valley Music Theatre, E. Troy, WI