Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.14.10

Nothing Gold Can Stay

It’s always been impossible to listen to Tim Kasher’s songs — whether with his best-known band, Cursive; his side project, The Good Life; or now, on his own — and not hear them as autobiographical. All that doubt, self-reflection, self-laceration, sarcasm and the self-conscious urge to transcribe it all; all the ordinary panic, seen through a relentlessly sharp and witty eye — the press release can say “Kasher’s protagonist,” but we’re going to hear it as Kasher. 

This is no less true on Kasher’s new solo record, The Game of Monogamy, a pointed, painful album on which the first lines, sung a cappella in Kasher’s raspy, ragged voice, are, “I am a grown man / How did this happen? People are gonna start expecting more from me / but this is all I am.” 

Monogamy’s cover image is a tiny plastic Monopoly house. It looks like a book cover — “by Tim Kasher” reads the byline — and it sounds a collection of short stories, each filled with dread, guilt and uncertainty. “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here” translates life into a too-short obit (“I better write another chapter!” Kasher wails); “Cold Love,” with its sarcastic horns and jaunty chorus, is a catchy, bitter pill about a relationship in a rut (a theme that comes back on “No Fireworks”: “We spend the weekends on the couch / Sure, we’d go out, but we’re trying to save money.”) Monogamy is like a mismatched bookend to Domestica, Cursive’s eviscerating 2000 album about the damage people in relationships inflict on each other. Now, the damage is less conscious, less overt. It’s just what happens in the meantime. 

Horns, harp and woodwinds decorate Monogamy, adding unexpected, fragile delicacy to songs like “The Prodigal Husband,” which drips with nostalgia and need. But “Husband” leads straight into “Monogamy,” an ominous, string-soaked, five-minute track that pulls all the record’s thread together and holds them in a fist: Growing up, growing apart, failing when you expect to succeed, and just settling in anyway.  “At least there’s a mortgage over our heads / no, no, no; a roof’s what I meant to say,” Kasher sings. His tendency to correct himself — saying one thing, meaning another, maybe thinking about a third —  keeps “Strays,” the record’s sweetest song, from being the oddity it first appears. Tucked amid the chronicles of dissolving relationships and muddled goals, dissatisfaction and grasping, conflicted neediness, “Strays” is a quiet ode to change and to building your own world, even if it doesn’t stay. Minus the Bear, Tim Kasher and AM play at 7:45 pm Monday, Oct. 18, at the WOW Hall. $15 adv., $17 door. — Molly Templeton


Burning Down the House

Infamous Israeli metal band Monotonix rarely gets invited back to venues twice — between the climbing onto unsafe surfaces and penchant for playing on the floor, these guys are as likely to burn the room down as they are to sell it out — but there’s no question that the band can entertain. But it’s worth saving some energy for Ty Segall, a Thee Oh Sees affiliate who’s filled out his one-man garage rock project with an actual band to delectable results. Melted, Segall’s latest release, is a jangly, lo-fi piece of pop brilliance for people who dig garage revivalists like the Black Lips and King Khan but prefer something a little, well, weirder. Monotonix and Ty Segall play at 9 pm Friday, Oct. 15, at the WOW Hall. $8 adv., $10 door. — Sara Brickner

Uke, Too, Can Have a Festival

YouTube sensation Danielle Anderson (the primary member of Danielle Ate the Sandwich) is coming to town for the Eugene Ukulele Festival, aka Uketoberfest. Anderson will play material from her latest release, Two Bedroom Apartment, and lead a workshop on how to use YouTube to promote your music if you’re an aspiring rock star.

Anderson’s songs are perfect for cafés and coffee shops (Starbucks, are you listening?). Tracks like “Where the Good Ones Go” play like a lazy trip down a river in a gondola, with Anderson’s lush vocals and beautiful ukulele strains serenading the locals along the way. Her songs tackle everything from loneliness and longing (“Two Bedroom Apartment”) to the harsh realities of life, as on “American Dream,” where Anderson croons about paychecks holding her ransom while a chorus of background voices sings, “Go to school, get a job, find a wife, settle down,” in a depressingly sing-songy sort of way.

A lot of the album is about juxtaposition: the upsetting with the happy, the serious with the absurd, songs that sound perfectly happy — if the vocals and music itself are any indication — with words about something decidedly unhappy. It’s a clever trick by Anderson, who is plaintive one moment and a total smart-ass the next. Danielle Ate the Sandwich plays at 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 15, at Uketoberfest at the Eugene Faith Center (1410 W. 13th Ave.). See for full schedule. $15 for one-night concert ticket; weekend prices vary. — Brian Palmer

Still Hooked On These Junkies

You probably didn’t see The Ascetic Junkies last time they played Sam Bond’s. I feel pretty safe making this assertion on account of that show was the weekend of the Oregon Country Fair, and Sam Bond’s was as quiet as it ever is on a weekend. 

The thing is, you missed out. You missed out on a lovely rendition of the Portland quintet’s “Amsterdam” and an intimate crowd-pleaser of a show. So now’s your chance: Saturday, the Junkies are back in town celebrating the release of their second record, This Cage Has No Bottom. Cage takes all the things that were already charming about the Junkies — sweet harmonies from Matt Harmon and Kali Giaritta; jaunty melodies that tie pop sensibilities through Americana footstomps; a careful blend of smarts, sincerity and cleverness that keeps the big-heartedness from tipping into sugary-sweetness — and tightens it all up. The songs feel quicker to come into focus, and there’s new confidence in the songwriting, which, this time, involved all the Junkies (as opposed to just Harmon and Giaritta). There’s not a weak track to be found, but if I had to play favorites, I’d point you at “The Eyeball,” with its circling, pulsing closing section, and “Renegade Salesman,” which closes Cage with banjo, uplift and a nudging optimism. If you want to stay cranky, stay home. The Ascetic Junkies, Bad Mitten Orchestre and Shoeshine Blue play at 9:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 16, at Sam Bond’s (21+; $5), and the Junkies play a free, all ages instore at CD World at 6 pm the same day. — Molly Templeton

Speak for Yourself

Just in time for Halloween, a team of MCs from all over the Northwest are putting out a mixtape called Deadly Duos to serve all of your costume party needs. The mixtape features Portland’s DJ Wicked and DJ Wels (who also collaborate as Style Molesters), Focused Noise’s Serge Severe and Gen.Erik, Luck One, Common Market’s RA Scion and Sport’n Life’s Fatal Lucciauno and Spaceman. Stylistically, these guys don’t have tons in common (Spaceman’s party jam “L’s Up” comes paired with Serge Severe’s 16-minute track featuring samples from the obituary of Walter Kronkite), but if you’re not acquainted with most of these artists, Deadly Duos is a solid introduction. Other highlights include “Cry for Help,” a laid-back joint featuring Luck One and Fatal Lucciauno. If there’s anything wrong with this mixtape, it’s that it spends a lot of airtime promoting the upcoming Deadly Duos release shows — even though most of the songs are good enough to speak for themselves. The Deadly Duos show takes place at 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 16, at Diablo’s Downtown Lounge. 21+. $5. — Sara Brickner

Musical Pluralism

In one photo on the Ryan Montbleau website, the group of five guys looks every bit the classic bar-circuit band: plaid flannel, zip-up hoodie, leather blazer, just a tad scruffy. In another photo, they’re posh and polished in suits and ties. That visual clue is also indicative of how their music swings — the band has practically become the definition of versatility. Just this year, Ryan Montbleau’s namesake band opened for Dave Matthews Band and played Bonnaroo with Martin Sexton. They’re playing increasingly bigger stages and venturing farther away from their home base of Massachusetts and their East Coast stomping grounds. (They played WOW Hall this past May with Sexton.)

The recording career that began in 2002 with Begin has entered its eighth year with Heavy On the Vine, their brand new album. Heavy is as musically plentiful as the name suggests. With a little Americana acoustic, a little of G. Love’s brash R&B, a smidge of Jason Mraz’s reggae-tinged pop, a dash of Bobby Bare’s sharp witted country — and that’s just four songs into the album —  Montbleau’s musical pluralism ensures that just about everyone can find something loveable about it. 

The jam circuit likes to claim this band as their own, but with time they’re steering farther from that path. The band is training themselves to write shorter, catchier songs, and it shows. RMB’s music is definitely built for dancing, but perk your ears up, because there’s a lot to listen for, too. Ryan Montbleau Band and Jason Spooner Trio play at 8:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 17, at Sam Bond’s. 21+. $10. — Vanessa Salvia

Pirates, Gypsies, Whatever.

Remember that part in Peter Pan where Captain Hook and his crew sing and dance around in a loud and unruly fashion while accordion music plays in the background? Gogol Bordello brings this exact image to mind every time their aptly classified “gypsy punk” music blasts through my headphones.

Currently, the group stands with about nine members hailing from all kinds of different places — Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Scotland, Israel, Ecuador and the U.S. — and this enormous collective gets as rowdy on stage as any other punk band. The real difference, however, is that gypsy punk is an entirely different breed of music. For starters, most of the instruments are acoustic — à la Violent Femmes, perhaps — and many more elements are incorporated into the music: Cajun influences with accordion and fiddle, a thick background of percussion that takes drumming beyond the “doo-ka” rhythms of traditional punk, and heavy inclusion of dance all blend together to create an entity quite unlike anything else under the punk umbrella.

Fans of DeVotchKa and Motherhead Bug will certainly feel at home in the crowd at a Gogol Bordello show, and while many of the lyrics are difficult to make out, it’s really not hard to find yourself humming along with the catchy melodies that often shine through the chaos. So whether Gogol Bordello reminds you of Captain Hook having a good time with his crew or just a bunch of crazy Europeans putting on a freaking awesome show, this is sure to be a sweaty night. Gogol Bordello and Forro in the Dark play at 8 pm Sunday, Oct. 17, at the McDonald Theatre; $22.50 adv., $25 door. — Andy Valentine