Eugene Weekly : Music : 1.24.08

Traveling Double Happiness

You may not know Steve Poltz the man, but there’s a good chance you know Steve Poltz the voice. Sounding kinda Jeff Tweedy-ish, his bouncy tune “You Remind Me” plays in a TV commercial while Jeeps drive around a large sandbox with pails and shovels. You may know Steve Poltz the punk folker as he was frontman for The Rugburns, a band I know from their funny songs “Dick’s Automotive” and “Me and Eddie Vedder.” Actually, pretty much all the Rugburns songs were funny. I’m thinking of “My Car Phone’s On the Pill,” among many others that were on their three mid-’90s albums. There’s a good chance you also know Steve Poltz the writer of songs for other people; he wrote one of Jewel’s most popular tunes, “You Were Meant for Me.” He wrote the song “UPS My Heart” for Mojo Nixon and “Hot Shaved Asian Teens” for Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze. I’m turning crimson just typing those words, but the song itself isn’t really about, you know, that. But maybe that gives you some idea of the type of songs he’s famous for — songs that are about so much more than they seem. Songs that can express joy, sorrow, love, life, loss and friendship with cornball humor, a twangy, everyman sort of voice and a hummable guitar line. Poltz is touring behind a new album, Traveling, due out January 22.

Poltz will be appearing with The Truckee Brothers, out promoting their newest CD, Double Happiness. The Bros Truckee are pulling double duty on this tour, performing both as Poltz’s opening act and as his backing band. Steve Poltz, Truckee Brothers and Fred Van Vactor play at 9 pm Thursday, Jan. 31, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Vanessa Salvia


Musical Mixed Bag

Eugene prides itself on its ability to engage, accept and appreciate all walks of life. Nowhere is community and camaraderie more visible than in our music scene. Hardworking musicians don’t wait for shows to happen upon them; they actively search them out and encourage their musical equals to participate. And we, the community members, are rewarded with a local showcase loaded with diversity. Get ready for The Tunnel Kings, The Ineffectuals, The Arithmetic Danger Club and Blast Wagon.

Given the diversity of musical genres and abilities, the night’s showcase should offer something for everyone. The Tunnel Kings are a politically conscious band with a dance factor. The band (River Donaghey, Jason Waldrip, Anna Ponto, Asa Clifford) plays with an angsty lo-fi sound on “Smoke Like Rain Clouds” while Donaghey belts his Bright Eyes-like vocals, which demand to be in the forefront of the song. More danceable is “New Freedom Fighter,” but it’s just as political and self-aware. The song will put the worn dance floor to work.

Much like other local favorites The Ingredients, The Ineffectuals combine pop, jazz and indie rock with help from influences like the Pixies, Radiohead and Built to Spill. With loads of effect pedals, guitar fuzz and crashing cymbals, The Ineffectuals redefine jazz.

If you’re worried about too much rock on the horizon, The Arithmetic Danger Club provides some electronica to move to. These UO students describe themselves as a progressive indie rock monster. “Helmets Forever” recalls Super Mario 3 water-level music. It’s fun, energetic, silly, but also complex. Layers of keyboards combined with lyrics that prompt you to “…dance the night away” should encourage even the most stubborn of observers to shake it.

Blast Wagon is the male counterpart to Michelle Zauner’s Little Girl Big Spoon. In fact, they’re so similar and complimentary, it’s a shame the two never played music together. The songs are lyrically narrative and deceptively simple. But better than the lyrics are the vocals, which sound raw and real but also warm and relatable. “West Virginia” is an acoustic folk song that somehow feels naked when Max Schramm sings, “Don’t let me catch you dancing Saturday night.” Blast Wagon isn’t all folk music, though. He transitions with ease from swelling guitar to light acoustic, from Modest Mouse to Iron and Wine. All styles work for him, and the varied styles featured in this show are sure to bring some diversity to your life. The local showcase starts at 8 pm Friday, Jan. 25, at the WOW Hall. $6 or $5 with student or military ID. — Amanda Burhop


Real Horrorshow

Looking to stretch your aural horizons to the breaking point (and maybe earn yourself a few bruises)? Spend your Saturday evening at the Samurai Duck for a musical sampler of your friendly local doom, Satanic, black and experimental metal bands.

Warning Broken Machine, Eugenian Don Haugen’s one-man ambient, tech-y metal act, picked out one of the most descriptive band monikers I’ve encountered in a long while. The music sounds like it crawled out of your TV on dislocated forearms to slurp out your soul. Ever wonder who makes the background music for the murder scenes in slasher flicks? Guys like Haugen.

Warning Broken Machine performs with Eugene contemporary Vivimancer, who constructs his experimental metal stylings by scratching up old records and, he explains on his MySpace page, “churning up the old sounds into fodder.” All this is set to an abstract visual backdrop for a fascinating sensory experience.

The Rye Wolves, a local doom band with a penchant for cacophonous noise guitar and guttural vocals, offer a more traditional metal line-up; in other words, expect skinny, sun-starved, tattooed guys fraying their vocal cords and snapping some guitar strings. The band plans to release an album on London-based Paradigms Recordings within the next two months, so fans can expect some new tracks as well as some collaborative work with Vivimancer.

And then there’s Soulscythe, a righteous death metal band that members allege originally formed in prison. Touring act Bloodson Drifter, a group that hails oh-so-appropriately from Death Valley, Calif., tops off the lineup for what’s sure to be a real horrorshow time. The show starts at 9 pm Saturday, January 26, at the Samurai Duck. 21+ show. $5. — Sara Brickner



When you’re walking the rainy streets of Eugene in the winter, the rain often seeps in and dampens the crevasses between your toes. The thin material between the shoe and toes absorbs the dampness, and for the rest of the day you’re left with wet socks. How Wetsock got its name remains a mystery, but this rainy effect could be the Eugene band’s inspiration. Just as rain and wet pant legs are essential to Eugene, Wetsock is essential to the local music scene.

Wetsock has coined a style all its own. “Ghetto punk” blends ska, punk, rock and dub with “politics, hangovers and passion.” If that isn’t Eugene, I don’t know what is. The ska infusion and overall sound reflect a possible Fishbone influence that will have you skankin’ all night. Listen to Wetsock’s “Barrio Boy” from the new album Another Day in the Life followed by Fishbone’s “Skankin’ to the Beat” and you’ll get it. There’s just something about the trombone …

“In Da Summertime” kicks locals a hint of Eugene and reminds us that the rains will eventually subside. “Breaking through the clouds comes that sweet sunshine / So I throw on my Dickies and I’m right out the door / To get me a 40 at Hilyard Street corner store.”

Arguably essential to a concert is dancing. Unlike some of the emo crap “the kids” listen to these days, Wetsock’s new album suggests that dancing will not be suggested but rather required. Standing still won’t be optional; it’ll be prohibited.

Wetsocks opens for The Toasters (speaking of skanking; they’re billed as “the longest running ska band in the United States”) at 8 pm Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Anne Pick


Infectious Grooves

Some combinations are just winners from the get-go. Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and chocolate. Peanut butter and celery with raisins … the list goes on and on. At some point in time, a genius decided it was a good idea to pair music and fundraising, and one of the most feelgood combinations ever was born. Eugene’s own funky soul band (or are they a soulful funk band?) The Essentials are taking that feelgood formula to the next level with their support of a child in need.

The makeup of The Essentials belies their name; they have, count them, 10 members. No skimping on horns or harmonies in this band. But the substance of their repertoire puts the moniker into perspective. The Essentials dip into musical genres that have yielded the catchiest melodies and baddest-ass bass lines known to Western ears. As a band they have sought out the most organically appealing tunes to cover and used their collective musical brain in the creation of many original songs as well. From Bob Marley to Prince to Jaco Pastorius, The Essentials take their audience on a journey through the history of grove. You can take the journey while helping a local family offset the cost of medial care and transportation related to their daughter’s heart surgery.

Isabelle Costa is barely a year old, but she has already spent more time in the hospital than most adults. Born with an exceedingly rare combination of heart defects as well as a condition which caused her organs to grow on the reverse side of her body, she underwent surgery at 6 days old and has since traveled to Michigan for additional corrective procedures that have taxed her parents emotionally as well as financially. The Essentials will provide entertainment at a dinner benefit, hosted by Cozmic Pizza, in support of Isabelle and the Costa family, helping them not only pay some bills but also feel the support of the community, all set to a soulful soundtrack guaranteed to put people in a giving mood. The Essentials play at 7 pm Friday, Jan. 25, at Cozmic Pizza. Donation. — Adrienne van der Valk