WT2010 – USA – Day 24/25 – Portland, OR

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 7, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 24/25 – Portland, OR
[On the iPOD] The Libertines / The Sonics

Sunny sunny Portland! I’d found something out from the locals, they discern who ISNT from Portland by the simple fact they carry an umbrella. Apparently the done thing is everyone wears hoodies to fend off the rain and rain it does in Portland (a little too much this week) It is the most bizarre weather I’ve ever seen. You could compare Portland to Melbourne but the fact of the matter is it never rains more than 5minutes, not sure if it’s the way the landscape surrounding Portland is organised but those rain clouds roll in and roll away before you’ve had a chance to get our umbrella wet. Mostly it’s sunshower drizzle and a trusty hoodie will get you through the day.

I headed over to the Portland Craft Museum, it doesn’t sound very enticing does it? I had my doubts too but I was running out of options in the rain. Some interesting subversive ‘hack-art’ mostly surrounding clothing. A local artist had modified two bicycles and rigged them to a sewing machine to faux canvas clothing. It was a human-powered production line, perhaps protesting modern production line clothing or the hours it takes to produce such clothes using human power in protest of sweat shop labor. I’m not too sure frankly, its rather subjective. Interesting none the less. Another display featured giant blanket with the Nike swoosh which was collectively sewn by hundreds of people around the world and then delivered to a CEO at Nike in protest of their sweat-shops. The piece I liked the best however was a bunch of letters stuck to a wall.

They were letters written by a former gulf-war marine address to various heads of organisations such as America’s ambassador to the UN, the secretary of Defence and so forth. Next to them were the replies. Basically they were short and to the point letters (half a paragraph) praising efforts of the recipient on sticking to their intended goals re: the current wars in Iraq/Afghanistan and mildly suggesting an opposition to it. Enclosed with the letters were home-made pots with Army-inspired themes as gifts to the recipients. It’s kind of jading reading the robotic replies. The last was addressed to the representative of China to the UN praising China’s efforts to oppose to the war, next to the letter was the pot (returned to sender unopened) It’s funny how American politicians are happy to play the game and be all smiles whilst the Chinese just don’t give a toss. No photos of most of the exhibition (not allowed)

I later headed to a popular music store called Jackpot Records (bands play in-store showcases frequently) See The Cribs doing so right here I was after an album by a local band called Yacht and found a cheap used copy but they couldn’t find the CD! So I asked if they had The Cribs latest album on vinyl which they didn’t. The guy felt genuinely bad for me leaving empty handed so he ended up giving me a Cribs T-shirt which were made specially for the in-store appearance (a limited set) for free! Radness. I also picked up a present for a friend.

The rain was picking up so I again headed to the only point of comfort nearby The Powell’s bookstore. I’m not sure if I put into perspective what this store is to Portland, it’s more than a bookstore it’s like a meeting-point and hangout for all of Portland it seems. The place is ALWAYS packed they have a cafe in there which serves epicly good coffee and tea and the independent feel of the store and it’s selection of new and used books make it a place you can keep going back to without getting bored. Did I mention it has 4 levels and spans a city-block? I stayed in there reading The Zinesters guide to Portland. Written by a local bunch of Zinesters (A Zinester is someone who makes Zines; home-made, photocopied magaZINES which usually contain creative writing on topics of sub-cultural themes which are mostly autobiographical) That’s a poor description but you get the jist.

The book apparently started as a zine itself, with a bunch of ‘cool places to go and see’ in Portland written for out-of-town zinesters visiting for a zine symposium. If I say zine one more time i’m going to explode. But anyway it’s now a 100+ illustrated book, its quite amazing actually. I learnt a few things like theres actually 5 quadrants to the city (NW, N, NE, SE, SW) and Portland has 12 bridges! (8 in the immediate city area) Bridgetown indeed. Sipping Japanese sencha tea I totally lost track of time.

No cool gigs on Friday unfortunately though the night before I’d headed to see a band at a venue called Holocene. “The Morning Benders” out of San Francisco. They’re opening song was brilliant kind of an oldschool british post-punk vibe to it with working up rhythms. But then they settled into the ‘sound of today’ or falsetto folk-pop. They’re ultimately a soft folk-pop band along the lines of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend. But not as memorable really. If only they’d stuck to that post-punk opener instead of conforming to what’s cool right now. I kind of left not really that interested. Good venue though.

Saturday involved getting out to “the real portland” on my own. The NE and SE. Basically these quadrants all have ‘suburbs’ or areas but when someone asks where your from people usually reply by the quadrant. In the NE it’s Alberta St that featured a bunch of cool little shops and restaurants, it was a shame about the heavy rain or I would’ve explored more. I settled for lunch however and next headed to SE Hawthorne Pde. This place reminded me most of home, or that is Newtown in Sydney. Not as big or as crowded but good original stores and restaurants. Theres the best damn used clothes store I’ve ever seen called Red Light. I tried on two jackets, 1 of which was too big and the other too small (DAMNIT!) because they were an utter bargain and totally cool. Theres racks and racks of vintage used t-shirts. Girls would probably go insane in this place. There was only a small section for mens clothes with the rest of the store for women. A Madonna album played in the background whilst I flicked through original run Simpsons T-shirts. Early 90’s flashback much! Ack.

I tried to go to a park East of Hawthrone Pde but it turns out it was a damn Forest again, PDX likes its inner-city forests. After shopping around for a bit I ate and then headed back early to relax for a big gig that night.

A show at the Doug-Fir (a snazzy newish-looking venue) I don’t like that “new-polished-bar” venue appeal but I’ve gotta say they have the best sound tech/setup I’ve probably ever heard. Utterly perfect. I say ‘big gig’ because headlining was current hyped “IT” band “Surfer Blood” from Florida. Even JJJ back home has been sprucing them loudly. They’ve got a sort of Surf-Pop 60’s vibe to them, but not in a raw-garage way. More in a Beach Boys kind of way (minus the keys and multiple voice harmonising or epic genius layering) I’d like to say they were all that, but they looked about 17 years old and though they were tight they pretty much had the appeal of a young band. IE; Not much. They have some stand out songs but overall it’s a bit too simple in parts. The venue was packed (near sell out) but no one seemed to be dancing to it. All hype? No, there are some points to write home about, but they’re no Arctic Monkeys (and look where they’ve gone) Time will tell I guess.

But but but the band before them by the name of “Turbo Fruits” from Tennessee were wholey entertaining and in parts; a flat out riot. This is probably due to the fact they have a former member of “Be Your Own Pet” It’s raw 60’s garage rock/pop meets a Southern-knee-slapping good time. At times a little too much so (I almost mistook one of their songs for Kings Of Leon) but thankfully the vocals sound nothing along the lines of that accent. They played two covers; CCR – Bad Moon Rising (in a garage style) and then The Undertones – Teenage Kicks, which was spot on. If anything the band doesn’t have the songs as yet (a short set with two covers) but they’re one to look out for. I met some cool people later on and then stumbled home. Just like that Portland came to an end. Farewell Bridgetown, Beervana, PDX, Stumptown and The City Of Roses.




The Cribs @ Manning Bar, SYDNEY 19-02-2010 Review + Rant

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on February 20, 2010

I don’t want to start reviewing live shows on here really, but last nights show will be the exception because, well I need to get this rant about this band off my chest. So let me indulge;

I was actually pondering if me and my drunken posse of friends were going to be the only people turning up to this show. The general rule of thumb is if a band is Indie and British they usually carry a truckload of hype wherever they may travel, in most cases un-deserved. As far as The Cribs go, it’s quite astonishing to me they’re not filling 5,000 “seat” venues. There is no hype, It’s beyond me how they’ve managed to fly under the radar in Australia and many other places. The Manning Bar being a small-mid sized venue (capacity 900) and It wasn’t sold out last night.

Sure they’ve had a bit of exposure in the UK, but it took 2 full-length albums for the mainstream media to START to take notice. It’s probably a combination of various factors varying from indifference; people simply ‘not listening’ and painting them with the brush of ‘just another brit-pop band’ to the ignorant and mind-numbingly stupid; per PITCHFORK MEDIA and their review of second LP “The New Fellas” which stated the band were essentially a rip off of The Strokes. This is a fundamental and glaring mis-understanding of the history of music. The Strokes didn’t invent Garage Rock. It’s the equivalent of saying The Ramones are a rip off of The Sex Pistols (with UK v USA rivalry noted, hence the analogy) The Cribs have their own list of classic garage/punk/post-punk influences however varying from understated bands Orange Juice and Comet Gain to Johnny Thunders, The Ramones and Nirvana to name just a few.

Not many bands/people understand those latter artists for what they were, most see/hear/think ra-ra-ra + violence mixed in with leather jackets / tight jeans or flannel. A band like The Ramones were really about; 1-2-3-4 cover up our inner frailties and love of classic melody/pop/hooks with an assault of raw energy, Nirvana likewise.

The Cribs get this, it comes naturally.

The greatness of “The Strokes – Is This It”, noted (and voted album of the decade by NME) “The Cribs – The New Fellas” is just simply a better album. It does everything “Is This It” does (down to it’s raw, lo-fi and real ‘splashing in the sun’ innocence) and then just does so much more. The Strokes could never write a song like “The Wrong Way To Be” let alone anything like the songs off The Cribs third LP “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” which is testament to the growth of the band. Any similarities with other classic lo-fi garage/punk rock bands was left behind with the release of MNWNW. Hit Single “Men’s Needs” gave the band real exposure and is a staple on Indie dance-floors the world over, the problem being most DJ’s have NFI and don’t play anything else by the band and hence most Indie hipsters I talk to either say Who? or “Oh yeah that Men’s Needs song”. The Cribs are so much more.

Take track “Be Safe” off MNWNW for example, the track features a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Lee Ranaldo, who contributes a chilling and blunt spoken word lamentation about modern day living. It’s 6minutes long and has a building drumroll leading to a final chorus near the end that can only be described as ‘epic’. Hold on? Weren’t The Cribs a lo-fi innocent raw melody pop garage band. Where the hell did this come from?

It’s called progression and growth without loosing your core sound/values and without completely abandoning your original style. The amount of bands that have pulled this off in ALL of music history I can honestly count on one hand. Think about this… think about one of your favourite ‘big’ bands and compare their first album to their most recent/last. Either it’s the same or it’s unrecognisable. I’m not saying bands don’t grow, I’m saying they grow and essentially sound the same, or grow and completely shift away from their early sound.

When The Cribs latest LP came out late 2009 I thought my little theory as stated above had been shattered. Sure they managed to pull it off after 3 albums, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was all ex- Smiths/ModestMouse guitar god Johnny Marr’s fault?

Their 4th LP “Ignore The Ignorant” is altogether more clean and neater sounding than MNWNW. So have they broken my little ‘growth rule’ and abandoned their raw low-fi history? Well yes and no. MNWNW was already a step-up from purposely going for a lo-fi sound but it still had that rawness and more growth than a pumpkin on steroids. Johnny Marr joined the band officially in 2008/09 this automatically broke the rule of the ‘classic’ 3 piece band formula. But how did that change effect the sound?

On the first few listens, it all sounded ‘too safe’ for me. The clarity and neatness of the songs seemed to me like they’d gone too far away from their previous album. Or so it seemed, perhaps it was just the production? Perhaps it’s just the next logical growth step-up. I wouldn’t know until I saw it all come together.

Well last night, along with my apprehension of me/friends being the only people there due to everyone seemingly not knowing much about the band. I was also wondering if the band would sound “too safe” if the new songs would stand out like sore thumbs. If Johnny Marr’s well known docile stage presence had rubbed off on the band?, had they forgotten how to be punk? Forgotten how to turn a standing crowd into a chorus chanting riot? Or was that riot chanting chorus?

They kicked off with Ignore The Ignorant opener We Were Aborted and pretty much all I can conclude after that was people yelling at their top of their lungs, dancing, shouting, people crowd surfing and falling happily to their deaths over the barrier arms in the air… still singing. It was an utter fucking blur. I then noticed near perforated ear drums, these guys were loud. I then noticed Johnny Marr swooning about the stage like a possessed mad-man guitar in awkward positions aimed at the sky, or some random point in the crowd. We’ve all seen him in Smiths footage, I’ve seen him live in Modest Mouse… it was nothing like this. The Jarman brothers have rubbed off on Marr rather than the other way around. He’s apparently 20years their senior, but last night he looked their age easily matching the energy levels. We’d later joke that he’s a superhero whose super-power is un-aging immortality.

Hey Scenesters!, the crowd goes into sing-along overdrive and its only their 2nd song. It’s a lament about one of the bands early-on fascinations; Interacting with the pretentious scenester-crowd.

Then it hit me, It was utter consistency. Somehow those previously thought ‘safe’ sounding songs were now ‘full’ sounding raw numbers that slotted in the set perfectly. Old raw-riot offkey distorted song Direction slots near reserved clean-tone newy We Share The Same Skies and it works? How does it work!? Gary and Ryan (who share vocal duties) shout at their mics as if the inanimate objects themselves are their own worst enemies.

Drummer Ross stands up on the seat of his drumkit to the close of various songs making sure he can hit the crap out of those cymbals as hard as physically possible. The timing of the songs is perfect, none too slow and with the energy of some of the numbers you’d think The Cribs would get carried away and speed through things. Not a chance, they play like they’ve been doing it for decades with the energy of a band whose just kicking things off. In a way they kind of are, Johnny Marr onboard is a kick up the butt to any stale thoughts of repetition the Jarman’s might have started to aquire after doing this for eight years or so.

Interestingly Last Years Snow is played early in the set, I pictured it more of a ‘hold lighters to the sky moment’ but it yields a strong singalong with kids still ready to mosh about. Continuing the theme from Hey Scenesters! is Mirror Kissers “You aren’t allowed to say that you’re better. You aren’t allowed to say that cos you’re the hipster type” This is a straight out dig at the hipsters of the world; pretentious self obsession is everything this band is against. I’m reminded of the popular film clip for the song which is pure parody. By the time this song started, I couldn’t hear the vocals. The crowds combined singing got so loud and the crush to get to front reminded me of attending crazed metal gigs as a kid. This was Intense.

I then wrongly thought that would be the highlight and couldn’t be topped. When MNWNW opener Our Bovine Public kicked in people really did lose their shit; people began jumping the barriers to get on stage, weave between the band and launch themselves superman style into the crowd for a surf. I’m reminded of some of the better/crazy punk shows I used to attend as well some footage of fans incessantly doing this at Nirvana shows.

A break in the songs and one of the Jarman’s get on the mic to talk about something I can’t make out because Im deaf. But I do catch something along the lines of; “this next song was written over 8years ago and thousands of miles away” the crowd reacts with cries of “Wakefield, Wakefield, Wakefield” (the bands rough and tumble blur-collar hometown in Yorkshire England where they grew up, where according to an interview people would start fights with them just because they’d be carrying a guitar to practice) This band has literally fought people to do things their own way. Debut self-titled album song Another Number then kicks in. It’s utter simplicity and pop perfection is one of my favourites.

By the time Be Safe rolls around, I’m stepping away from the second row towards the back to take in the sound from a different perspective. Lee Ranaldo’s giant head is projected onto a screen behind the band leaving them in silhouette for his spoken word. Pretty good value; The Cribs an ex-Smith and a member of Sonic Youth in one night. I then realise there is actually a half-forming circle-pit starting from row 4 or so back. What the? Kids are still crowd surfing. I actually didn’t mind one bit at the several kicks to the head I copped. So many venues have banned crowd surfing, despite people normally acting like dickheads or what you might think of it. It was great to see people just completely lose it.

I’m pretty sure they closed with Ignore The Ignorant or was it City Of Bugs? which screeched to an end with waling feedback and drum crashes. I could be wrong as I’ve said it was an utter blur, even when I stepped back to try and get some air the sound was full on and completely overwhelming. There’s no getting away from this band when they’re on, the energy radiates to all corners of the venue.

Then it was all over, my friend copped a drum stick square in the forehead as people scurried to pick it up. No souvenirs for us and no-bullshit-cliched-pretendwalkoff-encore. The Cribs are the real deal and I’m going to go home and listen to Ignore The Ignorant having settled it in my mind, it is yet another level of growth for the band with no compromises.

Setlist? (from drunk memory, I’m actually certain it’s way off in bits including omissions) So leave a comment if you remember better.

We Were Aborted
Hey Scenesters!
We Share The Same Skies
Hari Kari
Last Years Snow
Mirror Kissers
Our Bovine Public
Another Number
Be Safe
Men’s Needs
Cheat On Me
Ignore The Ignorant
City Of Bugs

Sonic Youth – What We Know. Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on May 1, 2009

I’m declaring May: Sonic Youth month. Because after a few listens of their 16th album “The Eternal” …basically they’ve still got it. No other band in History has been able to pull this off in my opinion; that is not making rehashed or dull or just plain dinosaur music after 30+ years. Maybe Bowie… or The Beatles.

The Eternal is as fresh as their 15th effort Rather Ripped but rather than emitting a cleaner lighter vibe that album had it has memorable heavy/dirty hooks as if giving nods to albums like “Goo” and “Dirty”. Full review in the coming weeks.

But here’s the band playing “What We Know” on Jools Holland (above). Jools rightly mentions the band played way back on the shows debut in 1992. So I’ve tracked down that performance (below) 18years later, its all still there. Bravo.


Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 13, 2009

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s perform 2 songs off their latest album “It’s Blitz!” on UK show Jools Holland. First up is “Zero” followed by “Heads Will Roll”. Enjoy


The Smiths, Live @ Derby 1983.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 2, 2009

So this is nothing new in the least. But I’ve heard a few bootlegs in my day (I was swapping/trading them with strangers at the age of 16… mostly Nirvana and the like) But I randomly came across some Smiths live stuff on the youtubes nothing new there. But wow does it sound amazing. So I did some googling. It’s a bootleg released under the name “Sorrow’s Son” CD format, and the recording is from Assembly Rooms, Derby on the 7th of December 1983.

Check out the set on youtube via a playlist I made here It’s worth it for the sheer brilliance of how good it sounds. Especially one of my favourites “Still Ill” Morrissey’s vocals are spot on. It’s a great recording.

Here’s an excerpt; the aforementioned “Still Ill” which is off their 1984 self titled debut.