A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to take a trip to a wedding in New York City that coincided with the record-release party for the Hold Steady's third release, Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant). Release parties are almost always joyous affairs for both audience and artist; it's essentially the musical equivalent of a birth or graduation. In the case of the Hold Steady, a Brooklyn-based bar band that elevates beer-soaked bravado to literary levels that would please Don DeLillo, the night was exceptionally exuberant. That Sunday started off with a lavish feature in the New York Times and ended with a victorious, two-hour performance within the sold-out confines of Irving Plaza, a notable accomplishment for a band who has historically played markedly smaller venues. As for the object of the festivities, Boys and Girls was a slow burn for me, but I'm now a convert. Its audience appeal will undoubtedly be broader than the first two records, simply because frontman Craig Finn's previously detail-heavy character sketches are now painted in much more universal, Everyman shades. For a lesser writer, such a widening of perspective would feel like a flattening of voice, but Finn is smart enough to still choose intriguing subjects, and the band surrounding him has never sounded better. The Crocodile is sure to be packed Saturday, October 21, when the group rolls into town with Sean Na Na and Neutral Boy.
On the local tip, fearless freakazoid Pleaseeasaur is celebrating the release of his debut for Comedy Central Records. Entitled The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur, the DVD and CD double set is a collection of 11 music videos tied together with help from a "30-minute cartoon adventure" animated by the same artists responsible for Adult Swim's series SeaLab 2021. You can congratulate our resident furry-suited comedian in person at Chop Suey on Saturday, October 21, when he shares the stage with deadpan jokester Neil Hamburger and electro-pop outfit Velella Velella.
There will also be cause for kudos that same night in Ballard, when the good folks at Nada Mucho commemorate 10 years of their entirely volunteer-run, community-based website. Along with Three Imaginary Girls, Nada Mucho is one of the most dedicated champions of local music we have. They'll be throwing down at the Sunset with help from At the Spine, Open Choir Fire, and Eastern Grip.
On a much sadder note, this weekend will also mark KEXP DJ Lisa Wood's farewell to Seattle. Wood was a tireless advocate for independent radio programming, a regular host of KEXP's Audioasis, and a big-hearted ally of local rock artists, who she regularly featured on her second gig as host of the Funky Monkey's Garage Monkey show. Before Wood heads south to conquer Portland, she'll be having one last blowout on Friday, October 20, at the Sunset, with a suitable noisy soundtrack provided by the Beautiful Mothers, Beat Senseless, the Valley, and the DJ stylings of Visqueen drummer Ben Hooker. Best of luck, Lisa; you will be sorely missed.