The Crocodile, Thurs Dec 20 & Fri Dec 21, $8.
Seattle is home to a huge number of extremely long-lived bands. Young Fresh Fellows, Pure Joy, and the Fastbacks have been around since the late '70s--or at least the early '80s--and a good many more bands have long since passed the decade mark. Though bills featuring a couple of these bands at a time are not uncommon, a two-night bill showcasing most of them is a rarity. This Thursday and Friday night at the Crocodile, that bill is to become a one-time reality.
The World of Dr. Illteams is a disc put together by Kurt Bloch, a longtime Seattle rock producer, scenester, and guitarist for the Fastbacks, Pure Joy, Young Fresh Fellows, and Once For Kicks, all of which are featured on the record. Also on the disc are Scott McCaughey's the Minus 5, the Chris and Tad Show (Chris Ballew and Tad Hutchison), the Congratulators, Visqueen, Shuggie, and Model Rockets.
Portland's the Maroons, featuring John Moen and Jim Talstra, is a special inclusion here. The Oregon five-piece's singer possesses one of the Northwest's sweetest voices, a lovely mid-range croon that will melt the heart of the listener whether Moen is singing about love or Los Angeles. It's been years since the Maroons played in Seattle, and even longer since the band had a new album. Thankfully, the last time Talstra was in town--when his other band, No. 2, played the Crocodile--the guitarist reported that a long-awaited new disc is finally recorded, soon to come out on In Music We Trust Records. The Maroons songs on The World of Dr. Illteams are previously unreleased tracks. In fact, every song on The World of Dr. Illteams is a special heard-here-only affair.
On the record, Model Rockets kick things off with the rollicking "This Is a Valentine," before the Fastbacks ring in with "New Painter Man," a boppy power-pop jewel. Young Fresh Fellows play it melodic with a '60s vibe on "One in a Row," followed up by the Congratulators' "No Love Left," which finds Johnny and Jim Sangster in a dark, reverb-drenched mood. Andrew McKeag's admiration for fat '70s arena rock shines brightly in his horn-laden tribute to muscle cars, "Got the Machine" ("I've got the machine if you want to ride easy and feel the breeze...").
Pure Joy's hilariously titled "Shat Out a Mule," led by Rusty Willoughby's ever- adolescent-sounding vocals and roaring guitars, alternately speeds and saunters, and Once for Kicks makes great, sugary pop fun out of "If I Were Lucky." The sweetness quotient is upped by Rachel Flotard's youthful voice, which layers nicely with Kim Warnick's equally honeyed harmonies on Visqueen's "My House."
The Chris and Tad Show, led by a former President of the United States of America, adds humor to Dr. Illteams with "Black Hole Canyon," which features an actual sneeze in the mix. And mystery act James Jimmy offers two songs about celebrities, "Robert Blake" and "Everett True." Bloch is being very tight-lipped as to the identity of James Jimmy, which will be revealed at the show.
The Minus 5 revels in arrested development with a cowbell-fortified ode to teenagers called "High School." The Minus 5's second track, "How Many Bones," is ominous, sinister, and a bit more grown-up. All the bands, save for Visqueen, appear twice on The World of Dr. Illteams, and "A Little Thunder," the second track from Once For Kicks, is the album's finest track.
The CD can be had for the price of admission to either or both of the live shows. Young Fresh Fellows, Model Rockets, Shuggie, the Congratulators, Once For Kicks, and Visqueen play on Thursday night, and the Fastbacks, the Minus 5, Pure Joy, James Jimmy, the Maroons, the Chris and Tad Show, and special guest the Four Knives take turns onstage Saturday night.
As cross-pollinated and old-school Seattle as these bands are, expect to see a lot of the musicians making several trips into the limelight. Jason Finn, another former PUSA member who figures on Dr. Illteams in the Fastbacks, the Minus 5, and the Congratulators, will sit behind the drum kit no less than three times. You can also expect a few surprises, as the Minus 5's revolving roster of players always ensures at least one unexpected guest.
Whatever and whomever the case, the evening will be nothing short of history making history.