While it's great news for Sub Pop that the Shins "saved" Natalie Portman's life and the Postal Service are delivering the lovelorn billions such blissful electro-pop salve, I miss the more reckless punk elements of the mighty label's catalog. Nothing against the newer indie-heavy lineup (I count myself among the fan base for many of their pop-leaning acts), but I long for the roster of real hard-rock misfits—the whiskey-swilling, mood-swinging, rough-playing types with lighter-fluid nerve endings, bands that simply exploded upon provocation. I'm thinking of the Catheters Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days, the Black Halos' The Violent Years, or any fragment of the Murder City Devils' catalog, recordings that still sound as visceral, resentment tainted, and rebellious as they did when they came out. So it's fitting that in the midst of this nostalgia, I stumbled into a show from Bellingham's Black Eyes and Neckties, a band with a strong penchant for that recent-turn-of-the-century Sub Pop sound. This young band very reverently stands in the shadows of the Devils, conjuring the ghosts of its elders at every turn.
Although Black Eyes' female keyboardist was sick for their Crocodile gig last week (forcing frontman Bradley Horror to do double duty), the band expertly busted out gallows balladry, desolate barroom sing-alongs, and generally gothic, Misfits-meets-MC5/Alice Cooper rock. As Horror performed his best Spencer Moody meltdowns, the music was thoroughly manic, generating the unnerving energy of an ER ward filled with adrenaline addicts hovering over every song. The physical appearance of the band definitely helped hammer home their death obsession—all the members took the stage with black makeup imprinting raccoon eyes on their faces—as the lyrics delved into the worlds of zombies and other living dead. Their graveyard aesthetic is further imprinted on their Stiletto CD (which takes its look from the campy gore of the Devils' 2000 release, In Name and Blood). Stiletto is splattered in red ink, the band members (who use last names like Horror, Grimm, Cadaver, Homicide, Bloodbath, and Crypt) staring hollow-eyed from black-and-white photos. And while Black Eyes wear their influences on their tattered shirtsleeves, they re-envision the Devils sound so well it's hard to be anything but compelled by their passion. On stage, Black Eyes were completely unhinged, one guitarist rabidly pacing the stage, biting the bassist's back during a particularly enthusiastic moment. It was just the dose of the raucous good ol' days I needed, and I look forward to seeing this (relatively) local band again soon. Check out their MySpace page for a sampling of their bloodshed. (And speaking of the Devils, one side note: former Devil Dann Gallucci is now a "former member of Modest Mouse," as the guitarist left the latter band several months ago).
In other hard-rock news: Chinese Fingercuffs' Pat Brown and Don E. Paycheck from Zeke are opening a "rock 'n' roll barber/tattoo shop" in Tacoma called Supernova. Brown recently e-mailed me to say that his new business is located in the stadium district (at the home of the old Mother Records shop), below a coffee shop called Satellite operated by Ron Heathman (Supersuckers). Just your average, everyday Tacoma business complex, no? The ink should start flowing at Supernova in early December.
The ROCKRGRL Music Conference lined Seattle venues with female musicians of all ages, but the biggest name of the festival was definitely Patti Smith. In addition to selling out the Crocodile for her Friday night performance, the legendary rocker took time to tour EMP with Lenny Kaye, as the two were curious to revisit the mixingboard from Electric Lady Studios usedto record Horses (a release that celebrates its third decade this year).
Coming up this week, Def Mode is sponsoring a hybrid fashion show/dance club/cocktail party at ConWorks on Saturday, November 19. The event features a showcase of local clothing designers and artists as well as performances by Phyzikal Graffi-t and the Kittykats. Ten bucks and a food donation (for Northwest Harvest) get you through the door and onto the dance floor. Check www.electronicmusic.net/ for more details.
If soul music's your thing, Wednesday nights at the Viceroy should make for a good, cozy late-night stop. DJ Self-Administered Beatdown recently launched the debut of the Soul Hole, a weekly featuring obscure and old classics of the soul, funk, and R&B variety. For the next two weeks, his guests come from KEXP's roots shows: DJ Johnny Horn on November 16 and Greg Vandy on November 23.