Tag Archives: Pwrfl Power

Hoquiam, PWRFL Power, Johanna Kunin, Husbands Love Your Wives – King Cobra

The King Cobra website said 7PM when I checked as I was eating a permanent bachelor lifestyle dinner of quesadilla and top ramen. So I consumed my meal with a hurried aplomb and made it to the venue by 7:40. Only to find that the show was going to start at 9:30. Curse you! Therefore, I went on adventures of sorts.

First, I decided to stop by Value Village to check out the ever changing trends in 1970’s men’s fashion. Unimpressed with my clothing options, I perused the vinyl. Though I was tempted by some classical and swing offerings, I moved over to the books. The idea dawned in my head that I would quickly pick up a book and go read it at the coffee shop while drinking a fine hot chocolate. “Quickly” meant about 20 minutes, apparently. I ended up picking up an issue of Analog from November 2007 and then I walked over to the local coffee shop and ordered up a 12oz hot chocolate. Thanks to my purchase at the hipster Value Village, I had exact change for my drink. Woo hoo! I read a sci-fi story about Mars moving closer to earth and then being a clever advertisement for aliens to sell us a terraformed planet and then it was time for the show. Sorry to ruin the story for you, but I’m pretty sure no one else in the world will read that story.

King Cobra was playing some good movies. Tank Girl with French subtitles. Another one I can’t think of because it’s 1:20 in the morning. Despite their fine selection of films, the venue was not particularly full. I’m thinking about going back next week for Emerald City Soul Club, I bet it will be packed then. I bet there will be more single ladies, too, not that it matters.

Husbands, Love Your Wives
According to her myspace, she plays Black Metal / Minimalist / Regional Mexican, but it turns out, this is just the cute female version of Damien Jurado. Which is pretty weird since Mr. Jurado was backing her up on second guitar. Perhaps we can say she’s a more serious Rosie Thomas. Or a less serious Tiny Vipers. You get the idea. She plays simple songs with lots of verses and few choruses that would fit perfectly on a sad summer Sunday. Where you’re looking good lying in the sun, but perhaps you’re alone at the beach instead of next to the one you love when she falls asleep and gets a sunburn that doesn’t go away for a year. Like everything might be better, but then again it might not.

Johanna Kunin
Ms. Kunin played solo tonight, which is how I first saw her, so I was pretty excited. Since that first time, she’s been doing a lot of work with loops. Basically, record a short phrase and hit a button that repeats that short phrase until you tell it to stop. Ms. Kunin uses it for vocal layering and to create drum tracks by hitting the mic and clapping and making that tick-tock sound with her mouth and breathing. Similar to Sweet Potatoes, but more… professional. I prefer Johanna Kunin solo to the orchestrated version. I feel like the solo stuff is more real. And it is pretty amazing. Her voice is ridiculous, her piano/keyboard playing is immaculate, and the loops are well done and tasteful. Where HYLW makes you think that you can be a rock star, Johanna Kunin makes you think twice about it. It might not be possible to get that good. It might be one of those things where you just have to be that good in the first place. It would be wonderful to just be that good.

A while later I went to pick up some Ms. Kunin merchandise. She talked me into buying the last handmade book of the sheet music for her latest record (plus one song). However, I was a dollar short. Since it was the last copy in existence, I asked if it was possible to purchase it anyhow. I volunteered to mail the extra dollar at a later time. She said that was not necessary, but made me pinky swear to buy the new record when it came out. Now my low-talent-high-ambition pinky has hopefully gained something from the touch of the pinky that has more talent than most people as a whole.

What’s this? An electric guitar? Standing up? Rocking out? This is a side of PWRFL Power that I have not had the pleasure of experiencing. He spends a lot of time walking around the stage and standing on things. I liked very much that he was wearing all white and playing a white guitar. And his stories between songs are great. “Do you guys ever go to house parties? Do you ever feel wrong?” “I think there is something between Google and drug dealers…” Near the end, he was rocking so hard, he had to jump off his tiny amp. By doing so, he knocked over a mic. I think he’s been watching a lot of Pete Townsend live footage. Luckily nothing was broken.  His set was definitely the most fun set of the evening.  I laughed out loud several times.  However, I think his ridiculous guitar playing is easier to recognize on an acoustic guitar, though he did know a lot of tricks on electric as well.

Hoquiam is Damien and Drake Jurado. Drake, by the way, is an awesome name. Looking up at the Jurado brothers, I imagined them like Christian Bale. Drake is Christian Bale in The Machinist: ridiculously skinny and erratic. Damien is Christian Bale in Batman: beefed up and toned down. Drake wears sunglasses on stage for some reason unbeknownst to me. Damien constantly scrunches up his face in concentration or consternation. Though they appear to be opposites, they are clearly brothers. Between songs, they mumble and talk in hushed tones about what to play next, speaking in a language that is not intelligible by anyone outside of their brotherly bond. Then, they play songs which sound exactly like I imagine the city of Hoquiam must be: full of despair and desperation. I just drove through there last week, so I must be an expert. The songs sound like some of the houses there look: barely hanging on, going two directions at once, urgently asking for some sort of help. The songs also have a lot of Northwest references which make them more personal, perhaps too personal. The songs are great. You can check them out for yourselves at Full-Tilt Ice Cream on March 14th.

It is now about 2:20 and I’m real tired. I hope you’ll forgive any errors I may have made above, but I cannot correct them at this time. I’ll get to them tomorrow after I cook a huge batch of homefries for myself.

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The Oregon Donor, The Braille Tapes, Pwrfl Power, The Mission Orange, Kids and Animals – The Greenhouse

Friday is adventure night. It’s been a long week and a nice show was about all the adventure I could take.

The Greenhouse was having fun. This show was put on by .jpg concerts which is impossible to find on google. However, I think it is this kid because he said his name was Adam and he’s myspace friends with one of the bands. He put together quite an eclectic show and gave out free raffle tickets for tiny bottles of things from the beach (sand from New Jersey, a sand dollar from Biloxi, a starfish from somewhere…) so that was entertaining. I meant to talk to people this time around but it was all kids, pretty much. Ah well, next time.

Kids and Animals
The bass lines for this band were pretty exciting. Lots of notes all over the places. The bassist had a Berklee College of Music t-shirt on, and he could probably go there or does. It actually reminds me of another east coast band, Ashes. The vocalist reminded me of a young Tom Waits, much before Mr. Waits had drunk all that whiskey, smoked all those cigarettes or eaten all that glass or whatever he did to ruin his voice just the right amount. The vocals were very… lackadaisical in both delivery and tone, probably due to the difficult PA at The Greenhouse. But I sort of liked it. The kids seem nice enough. I hope they keep practicing and tighten things up. I was glad to see all their parents there standing in the back with me.

The Mission Orange
I love going to shows. I get pretty tired from it, but I go there and then I find bands that are awesome. Like The Mission Orange. They are a guitar/drums duo from Mount Vernon of all places. They have the same energy as The Last Slice of Butter but a more polished sound. At The Greenhouse they sounded a lot like No Knife but more minimal. I was particularly impressed with the lack of pedals, just a guitar and two amps (stereo for fullness!) and a simple drum kit. Super! Recorded, they lose a bit of that pre-emopop sound and gain a bit more Northwestern flavor. I’m a bit more partial to the live set I heard tonight than the recorded songs on their myspace. Their song Hammer Fever has a particularly familiar introduction, but I just can’t place it. It will annoy me for quite some time. At any rate, their uptempo songs are both fun and interesting and toe-tapping and melodic at the same time. Yes, I know that was four things. It’s like that. I think these guys would be great with some of the Northwest’s finest, Police Teeth, Madraso, etc. Perhaps paired with some mathy bands like Panther Attack and Bronze Fawn? I should open my own venue.

Pwrfl Power
If you don’t like Pwrfl Power, you’re a jerk.  Tonight he was sporting his grandma’s homemade knitted pin (brooch?), of which he also had several for sale. He told us ridiculously funny stories like “She was the girl that I moved to New York for and then I realized that she was psycho so I moved back.” or something similar. You had to be there. At any rate, I guess Kaz has practiced the required 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell requires for people to become awesome at what they do.  He gets the craziest guitar sounds out of just a simple acoustic guitar.  His simple lyrics are always hilarious, though I question whether or not he intends them to be.  They definitely come from dark and strange places.  I particularly enjoyed his new song “I am google” in which he claims to know everything.  Genius.  He said after all that touring last year that he was feeling “post stupid.”  I think the only logical conclusion is that Kaz is the Nicola Tesla of singer/songwriters.  And even though he made us all sit down (which I always have a hard time doing), he made us all happy.

The Braille Tapes
Think about At The Drive In and then think about Small Brown Bike. That’s the range of awesome that The Braille Tapes wander between. I’m going to go order their CD’s right now, actually. I first saw them at Reverb Fest and was impressed with them there.  Tonight, they were just as good.  They yelled and were loud and a little bit RAWR and awesome.  I need to learn some lyrics and they need to play more shows in my town.  They brought two drum sets with them this time around.  It turned out to be necessary as the vocalist/guitarist broke a string and did not bring a spare.  So he played drums for their last two songs.  Two drum sets is difficult to pull off, particularly when bother drummers are just playing the same thing.  It all seemed like overkill for no particular purpose.  But I’ll forgive them because the songs are all still awesome and powerful.  Also, the side project of the drummer, rooftops, is amazing.  I wish they were playing Cumulus Festival.

The Oregon Donor
At the beginning of their set, they played this schizophrenic song with multiple tempos and starts and stops. I was pretty excited. They seem like pretty talented musicians, but something was bothering me. They seemed very fond of the yodeling pickle that they brought. That was pretty funny. They seem like they’d be a great pair with Slender Means. They seemed out of place at the house show. A helpful crowd member adjusted the PA for them but I don’t think the PA was the problem, I think it was just that they didn’t really fit there. They’d work better at the High Dive or the Nectar or some fancy bar. They’re just too safe. There’s no feeling of danger or excitement. Just like Oregon. I’m sure KEXP will be very appreciative of their radio-friendly sound. Good luck out there gentlemen.

Friday is adventure day. Tomorrow is no internet day, so I think I’ll be watching my Rhodes Repair DVD or perhaps getting the rest of the parts for my bed or maybe sneakily checking the internet every five minutes or so and feeling guilty about it. We’ll see.

Five shows next week! I might die!

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