Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

The Old Haunts, Fuel
on Fire, Kill Rock Stars

Fuel on Fire is that rare recording I took to right from the start. (None of that "it had to grow on me" stuff.) Is it because Craig Extine has one of those intense, yet reedy voices, like Jack White or Jeffrey Lee Pierce? (Alec Ounsworth, of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, also comes to mind.) Is it because the Olympia trio adds a generous helping of blues and rockabilly to their rock-based recipe? Is it because the tracks on their Johnny Sangster-produced sophomore outing conjure up the Bayou (though layed down in Seattle)? Yes, yes, and yes. The rollicking threesome kicks up a nice little ruckus indeed. Just when you think they're a guitar band, they throw a piano into the mix ("Filled In"). Just when you think they're a garage group, they toss a ballad into the equation ("Unveil the Key"). Well okay, "ballad" may be a stretch, but "Unveil" does prove the Old Haunts can slow down the pace without destroying the momentum.

Mountain Con, Sancho Panza, Hidden Peak

Hmmm, the Plastic Constellations have a song called "Sancho Panza" on their new CD. Something in the air? The water? (More likely, these young musos were all simply assigned Cervantes in high school.) As for the tunes, I can't think of any reason alt-rock kids shouldn't hip-hop up their rock & roll. I'm not sure who was the first, but it seems to me that Beck, circa the still-amazing Odelay, got the balance right before anyone else--and has been struggling to maintain it ever since. This local sextet doesn't sound like a hydra-headed Mista Hansen, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were one of their inspirations. Then again, I prefer their music when they leave the rapping and the electronic beats behind. "Devotion is So 20th Century," for instance, evokes T-Rex in a most appealing way, while "The Silver Age" is a slow, Eno-styled burner. Of course, I'm a big time Glamster, but I really do think it's on these numbers where Mountain Con best finds their voice.

Note: Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest, aka "Little Kids Bring Zucchinis and Stay All Day," is the title of the Young Fresh Fellows debut. Probably the first local indie-rock release I ever heard--and still one of the best (especially "Rock 'n' Roll Pest Control"). Old Haunts images from their website.

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