I am now an iPod owner, but as someone who also still drives a car with a cassette deck and refuses to throw out the countless boxes of compilation tapes I've accrued since high school, I heartily support anyone stubborn enough to put out their music on cassette. Local sci-fi surf trio Diminished Men will do just that at the Rendezvous on Wednesday, November 22, when they release American Volume Swells, a limited-edition, cassette-only release of their unique and menacingly beautiful compositions (think David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone drinking in a bar owned by Link Wray). If you can't make it to the show, you can pick up a copy at Wall of Sound for a mere $3.
Also celebrating a new release are the brash boys in the Earaches, one of the city's most undervalued treasures. Time on Fire (Steel Cage Records) gives off all the noxious fumes a classic punk manifesto must, seething with carnal yearnings and deranged melodies, and acted out with enough dangerous attitude to make it worth the risk of giving yourself, well, an earache (their volume knows no bounds). They'll be playing at the Funhouse with the Boss Martians and the Coloffs on Friday, November 17. They also have an all-ages show Saturday, November 18, at the L.A.B. (Seattle Drum School).
Good news for Swedish metal fans: After having to cancel their show last month when customs officials turned them away (approval of their temporary work visas had been delayed) psychedelic doomsayers Witchcraft will return to play the Sunset on Monday, November 20. Plenty (ahem, too many) of bands get compared to Black Sabbath, but Witchcraft truly deserve that association. They go on at 10:30 p.m., but if you're a horror-movie fan, you'll want to show up early for Kung Fu Grindhouse, the monthly movie night featuring plenty of obscure, gore-fueled flicks. The films start at 6:00 p.m. and this month include Blood Freak, Cannibal Apocalypse, and the fetchingly titled We're Going to Eat You.
It's not easy to find motivation to venture out for Sunday-night rock shows during this chilly and soggy season, but a trip to the Funhouse on Sunday, November 19, will be worthwhile for fans of Oblivians-style songwriting. Milwaukee, Wisconsin's the Goodnight Loving travel those same tear-and-beer soaked channels, melding their melodic, barroom rock with a charming smidge of vintage soul. They're currently touring with their slightly noisier friends in Night Terrors (also from Milwaukee). Noteworthy locals Autolite Strike headline the show and the Fatigues will open.
Although it saddens me deeply to make room for yet another obituary in this column, any female rock journalist worth her salt (or hell, any rock journalist, period) would be remiss not to address the passing of the great Ellen Willis on November 9. A self-defined democratic socialist, Willis was a true pioneer in the late '60s and early '70s, offering a fresh, fiery, and unabashedly feminist voice to modern pop-culture dialogue. Along with peers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, she was an early practitioner of New Journalism, championing the value of a subjective, first-person perspective that didn't sacrifice intellectual analysis. She initially rose to prominence as a pop-music critic for the New Yorker and went on to write for the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Dissent, the Nation, and Salon, among others. She was an outspoken, articulate activist who fought for abortion rights via her involvement in powerful protest groups like Redstocking and No More Nice Girls; she was also markedly ahead of her time as a pro-sex feminist, publishing an influential essay in the Voice in 1981 entitled "Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex?" a merciless critique of what she saw as the rise of antiporn feminism. At the time of her death at the age of 64, she was a journalism professor at New York University, also directing its cultural reporting and criticism program. If you're interested in exploring her work further, I strongly recommend tracking down a copy of either Beginning to See the Light: Sex, Hope, and Rock-n-Roll or the anthology No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays.