Last weekend saw Halloween on a Saturday, and at The Ash Street Saloon’s 15th year Anniversary Party were one of Portland’s finest bands, Hillstomp, just back from a hugely successful European Tour. Hillstomp (who did this opbmusic in studio session in ’08) just keep getting better - remarkable energy, reminiscent of early Pogues madness held tightly together so that it always seems as if the lid’s about to blow off, as it sometimes does. There has been much talk lately on whether “the blues” will survive in decades to come, here’s the answer - the blues ratcheted up to date; expert & electrifying - some of the most vital music to be heard anywhere.
Hillstomp are now back in the studio preparing a “unrushed” album for 2010, now there’s hope for a good new year.
Also a quick mention for their truly unique opener “Frank Furter” - who plays a whole one man set dressed as a hot dog in which every song is about the food type. I’ve heard about him before and purposefully avoided it, but it turns out that Nathan Fasold delivers a manic energetic set with some ham conviction and a whiff of liberated punk ethic that’s damned good fun.
The day after Halloween, on a cold Sunday is a tough night to perform, but the bill at Holocene was irresistible; Princeton, who may have this year’s pop hit song, and the UK’s almost unique punk-pop act Art Brut.
Princeton are a four piece with the twin Kivel brothers both delivering droll, clever lyrics with almost monotone nasal vocals. It would be a dirge but for the pop sensibility in the writing, think of The Only Ones, or if that’s too obscure, The Kinks.
Princeton’s fine new storytelling album Cocoon Of Love also feature female vocalist Meredith Metcalf and various strings and horns. Take a listen to Metcalf’s delicious interchange with Kivel on the album opener "Sadie & Andy," it has that perennial charm of classic pop duets.
Art Brut’s Eddie Argos gave a storming performance, spending 50% of the night imposing his 6’3” bounce among the audience so he could hear the band (Holocene is definitely one PDX’s best venues but the acoustics can be a challenge).
Art Brut get compared to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, but are much better. True, there’s a similarity of style (driving post-punk rock with ‘talking’ vocals) and Argos laces his songs with references to other’s lyrics (it’s fun to spot them), but Carter USM were dependent upon pun & reference; Art Brut are telling very revealing personal stories with plenty of humour: Ian Drury or Pulp at their brief best would be more akin. “We’re taking our clothes off in the wrong order/your leaving your shoes on to make you seem taller”. It’s sex and booze and rock ‘n’ roll but also observations on the quality of life: about the value of the lyrics in the CD jacket “am I fooling myself? Does anyone read them?” “Wet trousers in the washing machine, but I rather be damned than seen in jeans...”
Watch the video of Alcoholics Unanimous, buy the album (Art Brut vs. Satan produced by Frank Black) and one day in your life make sure you see Art Brut live, it’ll be a night to remember.
PS: I bought the mug - Bring me tea... bring me coffee!!!!
Copyright: Zaph Mann 2009. Reproduction with attribution is fine. Original publisher: opbmusic.org 2009
Tagged: live review