The Missionary Position, All My Mistakes, The Right Ones

December 12th, 2011

I met one photographer, Stacy Albright, at the Sunset. The other photographer would meet me at the Tractor. Stacy took the picture on the cover of Chris Cornell’s Songbook, and when I first met her the morning after Thanksgiving for that album’s release, she recommended over coffee and signed phgotographs the Missionary Position as one of her favorite Seattle bands. Being inclined to trust the suggestions of artists whose work I like, I took her up on the idea, and so there we were in the Sunset a week later sharing pizza and beers with a few friends of hers before the show.

Missionary Position - Diamonds in a Dead Sky“You’ll love these guys,” she said of the band when I arrived. I bought a round of drinks, and there was talk about photographs and books and local bands, local artists, and since among our group there were photographers, writers, and musicians, we spoke about how people are often surprised when local artists create something that actually moves them, how they act surprised that someone playing in a small club in Ballard could dare to shake the firmament with a few chords played just so and make them pay attention. All of us had experienced it, the look, the question, “You took this photo?” or “You wrote that? … it’s, like, actually good.” What can an artists do but laugh at such statements and keep on playing and writing and creating?

After Stacy recommended the Missionary Position, I listend to one song online, and I had one thought, “They have something here.” And I wasn’t surprised. On any given night in Seattle there are loads of good bands playing, shaking and rattling the very core of things. One has only to be open to the idea. After lingering on beers and conversation at the Sunset, we got to the Tractor just as the Missionary Position was getting ready to start. I noticed there was no bass player. It seems a trend these days (more on that someday), but I wasn’t worried for I knew the keyboard would fill that space.

I got a Manny’s, settled in the corner, and they started. They wore white tux coats and had a good Morphine vibe with a sax and the keyboard bass parts. I once had a woman who was a huge Morphine fan tell me Mark Sandman’s voice was a “Fuck Me” voice. I imagine some women might feel the same about Jeff Angell’s voice for the way it oozes a gritty kind of confidence. And they kept playing, and there were moments when it almost sounded like “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” or The Doors or one AC/DCish bit. They have some new kind of blues infused rock, modern with electronic elements, heavy grooves, and textures from the hips that caused both of the photographers I was working with to groov as much as they took photos.

The Missionary Position

I took notes in my customary role of separating myself from the moment, of becoming the observer, alone in the corner with a beer and notebook, but that’s a good place to be because in a way the music comes at me full force since I shut all else out. And the music did come, and in one moment near the end of their set, it brought me down, way down. There was a song called “All My Mistakes”, the first on their 2009 CD, Diamonds in a Dead Sky. It was a mellow tune, soulful, a little gospel-like. Angell sang:

“I’ve been throwing my nights away just trying to forget that
That there used to be something you liked about me…
And I think about who I could have been
And who I couldn’t be.”

I wrote in my notebook, “good number to hold woman!” But there wasn’t a woman. I wondered if the “you” in the lyric was a reference to anyone in particular, if the song was meant for someone. I dedicated a book to a woman who I let down because of who I couldn’t be, and the words came again as the song continued and the audience swayed, “And I think about who I could have been. And who I couldn’t be,” and it made me sad, empty. Music like no other art can grab hold of a moment and echo out bits of the listener’s life; the refrain, the phrase, can lift or drag down, but it has to be played by the right group of musicians. These guys were the right ones.

The Missionary Position

I damn near left after that tune. In a way, it was too good. I didn’t want to hear any more songs after being drawn into the sadness, but then, they switched. There was a bass line and a kick drum, a vocal in, “There’s no time like the present.” It had a quick pace. It shook things a bit. It lifted. There was the repeated line in the chorus, “Let’s start a fire!” There was the pounding unison of snare and kick drum, guitar, bass, and sax all on the same thumping riff, and indeed, I wanted to, “Let’s start a fire!”, not for sadness or anger or anything else in my life, but for the joy of the moment, for the sake of lighting up the night. Good music will always do such, but it has to be played by the right musicians.

When they finished, I had the thought that my initial impression was right. They have something here. They played a few chords just so, and more importantly, they struck others.

Dave

Photos by Stacy Albright and Sandy Lane

The Missionary Position: Website || Facebook

Their next gig is in Olympia on New Year’s Eve at the 4th Avenue Tavern.

Posted by davemusic | Filed in Music


4 Responses to “The Missionary Position, All My Mistakes, The Right Ones”

  1. December 28th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Jared C said:

    Great article Dave! I am going to load up Grooveshark and check these guys out right away!

  2. January 10th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Ryan Crase said:

    How about when Jeff Angell pulled Jordan Cook a.k.a. Reignwolf up on stage to finish the set before ripping the strings off of Mr. Angell’s Les Paul! That show was mind boggling!! I love The Mish Posish, and all that they stand for. The absolute real deal!!

  3. January 12th, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Stacy Albright said:

    This band NEVER ceases to blow my mind with their heartfelt vocals, and incredible lyrics and stage presence. Everyone of them is a pleasure to watch perform. And yes, I always have to set my camera down and just rock out! Thanks for reviewing them Dave. Great job!

  4. January 12th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Dawn Sakumoto said:

    The Missionary Position is one of my favorite local bands along with Jeff Angell’s previous band, Post Stardom Depression. I have been a fan of his creativity for a few years now and his talent & ambition never cease to amaze me. They are definitely not just another local, rock band, they are unique to the core and I hope they get a lot more exposure and recognition, because they deserve it. Thank you for the great article!



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