The Black Tones, “Mr. Mines” (Sub Pop)
Welcome to the late-Covid-era* revamp of the Slog column formerly known as Inbox Jukebox. It's been two years since the last IJ post; the gist of this recurring feature was reviews of the top songs that had infiltrated my inbox of late. The process involved—and still involves—sifting through dozens of tunes per week to find the gems worthy of Slog's valuable real estate and your discerning ears. Thanks for your attention to this important matter, triple-vaxxed reader.
Let us resume service with Seattle rock luminaries the Black Tones, led by singer/guitarist Eva Walker and drummer Cedrick Walker. They are twins and they rock hard, as we've documented in these pages—back when you could use The Stranger to swat flies. Seattle institution Sub Pop Records continues to give back to the local music community by including the Black Tones in the label's vaunted Singles Club series. “The End of Everything” / “Mr. Mines” 7-inch is only available to paying members, of course, but you can score the digital copy for cheap here. The A-side is a gorgeous apocalyptic power ballad that shows a shift in style from the Black Tones' often explosive 2019 debut album, Cobain and Cornbread.
Even better is “Mr. Mines,” a live favorite that didn't make the cut for that aforementioned LP. Here, Eva's massed chants, coos, and wails soar over her articulately wah-wah-ed guitar cascades, while the bass and drums form a funky, slinky foundation. Eva expresses so much without even uttering a word—one mark of an exceptional vocalist. (UPDATE: The track's riffing is courtesy Ednah Holt**) The track's full of riveting dynamics and stands as the Black Tones' most psychedelic effort to date. This single foreshadows a potential strong follow-up to Cobain and Cornbread. Is Hendrix and Ham Hocks already taken?
**Praise also to Holt:
Thank you for the love! The other vocalist on the song Mr. Mines is Ednah Holt previously of the Talking Heads! She’s doing the vocal riffing on the track. 🎉🎉
— The Black Tones (@The_Black_Tones) March 3, 2022
Idol Ko Si, “Hex Du Jour” (self-released)
Way back in 2018, The Stranger alerted you to the enigmatic charms of Idol Ko Si, three Seattle underground-music MVPs who conjure crepuscular soundtracks for movies too unnerving to get green-lighted. The discographies for these iconoclasts run long and deep, but a fraction of their endeavors includes stints with A Frames, Climax Golden Twins, Dreamsalon, the Intelligence, and Universe People. With that impeccable pedigree, Idol Ko Si—Min Yee, Robert Millis, and Matt Ford—can't help being a must listen for adventurous psychonauts. So it goes with Idol Ko Si 5, their latest momentous upload to Bandcamp. It was difficult to choose just one track to spotlight among the eight brain-bafflers here. Nevertheless, I persisted and selected “Hex Du Jour.”
Idol Ko Si maintain a remarkable consistency of mood throughout the record, a trawl through dank, depopulated doomscapes. “Hex Du Jour” might be the epitome of this mode. At 2:54, it's also the most concise, concentrated package of Idol Ko Si's extraordinary otherness. Moving with the sepulchral stealth of Holger Czukay and Conny Plank's Les Vampyrettes, “Hex Du Jour” creeps into your mind on Yee's chthonic bass line, Millis's spidery guitar calligraphy, Ford's stark conga patter, and what sounds like a recorder solo executed while under duress. It's a mood you rarely experience in the clubs or even in your earbuds, but once heard, it will haunt you for years. Let us hope that some bold local talent buyer books Idol Ko Si soon.
*Let's be optimistic about this, shall we?