Friday, March 04, 2005

The week flies by... I'm burned out, tired, and I just read the whole M.I.A. thread on ilx - it's long and intense. But now it's time to talk about some super inspirational West Coast bands.

Mecca Normal have to come in first, hands down. Since they are from nearby Vancouver BC, I have gotten to see them at least half a dozen times in the last 15 years. They are an exceptional live band, their duo format allows them to stretch and morph songs in really amazing ways. They had a brief moment of popularity on Matador in the 90's, but their new album has barely been available and I heard their latest tour was less than successful. A real shame. When they last played Eugene (in my basement) singer Jean Smith noted that a lot of the indie scene of the 90's was fading - all the clubs and bookstores and venues are going under in the new harsh economy. What inspires me most about Mecca Normal is the emotion that they convey in their music. Since I don't have the new album, I want to post a really heartbreaking track from the one before that.

"The Family Swan" is the title track from the album of the same name on Kill Rock Stars.

Oakland's Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are one of the best live bands I've seen in this new decade. Featuring former members of Idiot Flesh and folks from Charming Hostess and the Tin Hat Trio, this band of visionaries create apocalyptic prog-metal with a seriously surreal art twist. Last time I saw them they had a butoh dancer along with them! They are currently touring the Southern USA, and I couldn't think of a better live act to recommend. My most inspiring SGM moment involves memories of them in post-future Mad Max pajamas all falling asleep on stage at the same time. From their debut...

"Sleep Is Wrong"

Seattle's Tiptons used to exist in a different lineup as the Billy Tipton Saxophone Quartet and released at least three CDs under that name. The two big names here are Jessica Lurie and Amy Denio. Lurie has played in Living Daylights, and Amy Denio deserves an entire week of Mystical Beast to herself. Playing with three other badass women as sax-quartet-with-drummer band The Tiptons, they just put out a new CD called Tsunami. They inspire me through sheer musicianship, composition, and technical chops. Here is their version of the traditional song

"Gypsy Wedding"

The Epoxies are a great Portland band that present a glossy Devo/Cars/Rezillos hybrid that is nothing short of awe-inspiring on stage, where they all have these crazy space age laser hats. They played a show here last year that had me enthralled. I'm inspired by their singer's "80's tweak dance", as a friend of mine coined it. I believe they only have a debut CD, from that here is:

"Need More Time"

Another member of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum clan is singer/songwriter Faun Fables a.k.a Dawn McCarthy. She used to play with SGM member Nils Frykdahl as The Two Dimensions (best duo name ever?) and now Nils backs her on a lot of the FF material. She has played some of the most luminous, life-affirming shows that I have seen in the last few years. Drag City just reissued her early records, from 2003's Mother Twilight here is:


So I just heard that San Francisco's Slow Poisoners broke up. I'm sure that guitarist/singer/songwriter/artist Andrew Poisoner will create more amazing things, but it's sad to see them go. At their Eugene gig they broke more strings and other equipment than I've ever seen in one set, but persevered somehow. Andrew is a great networker and is very good about setting up shows for touring bands in SF, and I respect that. From their excellent (and IMHO underrated) CD Days Of The Soft Break, here is:

"I Walk A Lonely Road"

Wrapping things up for the week is Seattle's Tart. What inspires me most about them is, once again, their commitment to network/advise/help out within local indie scenes. They also have a lot of focus and savvy about DIY business, it reminds me of the days of Simple Machine or something. From what I believe is their third self-released CD, here is:


Damn, I'm exhausted. I hope y'all like some of these tracks and are inspired to investigate the bands further. They are all worthy of support.

Until next time...

Back to your regularly scheduled Mystical Beast programming...

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