Friday, August 07, 2009

Transcendence in Mind

"Possibly the greatest Brit-pop band to ever come out of Seattle."
-- Devil in the Woods

The Purrs, Amused, Confused, &
More Bad News, Big Damn Deal Music

Formed in Seattle in 2000, the Purrs sound more like British
shoegazers from the 1980s or '90s, such as House of Love or the
Verve. Then again, paisley-patterned rock once ruled the Emerald
City, too, as embodied by Pure Joy, Room Nine, and Ron Nine's
Sub Pop spin-off Love Battery, but the Northwest variant never
broke as big as the UK or West Coast models, i.e. Rain Parade, the
Three O'Clock, and the Plimsouls (Jason Milne's guitar-playing
on "Baby I Want You Back" recalls "A Million Miles Away").

This quartet keeps those traditions alive on their fourth, reverb-
drenched full-length, which means you can probably predict what
Amused, Confused & More Bad News sounds like, but there's
nothing wrong with a little predictability, especially when it's ex-
ecuted with this degree of finesse. Plus, they throw a few small
surprises into the mix, such as the Beatles-esque "Mostly" and
minor-chord "Good Times to Come," which veers into bad-trip
psychedelia, as opposed to the happy-go-lucky Tommy James
model—or maybe I should say sad-trip, since the Purrs never
plunge into the same sort of abyss where the Black Angels dwell.

Next to Curious Mystery's Rotting Slowly, Amused is the
strongest psych-pop record to emerge from Seattle so far this
year. To quote the band's own "Feeling Fine," "The beat is pure."

Round Mountain, Windward, Red Shield Music [10/20/09]

Maybe the trouble that surges
through our lives is built into us
with its own transcendence in
mind. We just need to survive the
burning, like the water that must un-
dergo evaporation to become rain.
-- Char Rothschild

Soothing, but not somnabulant,
this Santa Fe duo has been around
for awhile and shares sonic similarities with higher-profile outfits like Andrew Bird and Devotchka who work gyspy and klezmer in-
fluences into their alt-pop, so they're not bandwagon jumpers as much as zeitgeist jumpers, to coin a (rather awkward) phrase.

Further, Windward hues closer to the falsetto-fueled folk end of the spectrum. On "I'm Gonna Dig," they come on like Canned Heat without the blues or Will Oldham with some of the rough edges sanded away, while "I'm Gone" brings images of the Incredible String Band to mind—if that twosome had emerged from Scotland rather than Britain (wavery vocals plus highland pipes will do that). Recommended to aficionados of any of the aforementioned.

Endnote: For more information about the Purrs, please click
here or here. You can also catch them at the Sunset Tavern on
8/29, while Round Mountain plays Egan's Ballard Jam House
on 10/30 and 31. Images from The KEXP Blog (© 2006 Justin Dylan Renney) and Round Mountain (Jennifer Esperanza).

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