While last week's escape to Portland was as enjoyable as my trips south always are, driving back to Seattle on Sunday may go down as the most unpleasant return road trip of my life. Stop-and-go traffic meant that the journey took almost six hours, while the presence of a mild hangover, the absence of air conditioning and nearly 100-degree temperatures inspired me to dump ice water on my head in the car and beg my companion to take me to the nearest Dairy Queen so I could sit on the ice-cream machine.
My heat-induced delirium actually took me to a point where I decided that the music we listened to could affect our internal temperatures to such an extent that we needed to adjust accordingly. As much as I was enjoying the Unwound singles collection we were listening to, a wall of guitars feeding back doesn't exactly cool you down—nor does cranking up old demos from Black Flag or the debut from the Sultans (essentially Rocket from the Crypt without the god-awful horn section). We didn't have anything by Sigur Rós on hand (or anything Icelandic, for that matter), so I opted for the sprightly psychedelic pop of Oklahoma's Starlight Mints, whose excellent debut for local label Barsuk Records was released this past spring. Their crystalline vocals, mirthful lyrics, and triangle-sprinkled harmonies proved to be remarkably effective; however, the most successful mercury-lowering choice was the self-titled second album from Detroit's the Go, a record I've decided might be the most underrated of the last few years. Released in 2003 on Lizard King Records, it's '70s-inspired glam-pop in the tradition of T. Rex and the Zombies—and essential listening for anyone obsessed with the art of the perfect pop song (check out "Hardened Heart Blues" for a textbook example). Sub Pop Records released their debut (which featured guitar and vocal contributions from fellow Motor City resident Jack White) in 1999; why they let them get away (and where the Go have gone since) is beyond me.
Despite my exhaustion, when we rolled back into Seattle I hit the High Dive to catch a set from the Histrionics, a local trio purported to be channeling the spirit of Babes in Toyland and a band that many a Stranger reader has recommended I check out. Indeed, their frontwoman has her Kat Bjelland homage down pat, and some serious passion is obviously running through the veins of these teenage girls, but their performance would benefit immensely from a little more structure and focus. Despite that unevenness, it's exciting to see such young women looking so fearless onstage; I've yet to hear their forthcoming full-length, so I'm reserving judgment. The Histrionics play the Snitches Get Stitches record-release party at the Funhouse on July 8 and their own all-ages record-release show on July 9 at the L.A.B.
What really impressed me at that show were headliners the Fatigues, a garage-rock band that sounded nothing like typical garage rock. Drawing inspiration from the Vietnam movies of the '80s (films of that era play on a black-and-white TV set in front of the band onstage) and embodying the proto punk swagger of early SST bands, they toe a fascinating line between satirical goof-off and pointed political posturing. Whether you take their Vietnam vet garb and military-film-fetish format as a reflection of current antiwar sentiment or simply a source of serious comedy, their presence is wildly entertaining, especially frontman Spenser "For Hire" Hoyt, a boisterous character who reminds me a lot of Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington. They don't have anything booked at the moment, but I'll definitely write about it when they do.
Lastly, two shows of note this week that are worth your time and money: local lads Vindaloo headline Nectar on Thursday, June 29. Their hard-hitting, angular rock is logically paired with the always-engaging freakazoids in Iceage Cobra, another local band that seems to be getting better with every gig. If you can't make the Sonic Youth show at the Moore on Friday, June 30, you should head over to Neumo's to see Black Heart Procession, whose quietly gorgeous new album, The Spell, is more minimalist than their previous efforts, but no less email@example.com