Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.18.07

Universal Language of Funk


If music is the universal language, then Galactic must be its international ambassadors. The popular band is celebrating the release of their sixth album, From the Corner to the Block, and they’ve taken their funk to the farthest reaches of urban sprawl with a hand-picked guest list of some of hip hop’s most dynamic lyricists — Juvenile, Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Lyrics Born, Ladybug Mecca (Digable Planets), Mr. Lif, Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Vursatyl (Lifesavas) and Boots Riley (The Coup).

The five men of Galactic — drummer Stanton Moore, bassist Robert Mercurio, saxophonist/harmonica player Ben Ellman, keyboardist Richard Vogel and guitarist Jeff Raines — began more than 10 years ago as an instrumental act in the tradition of fellow New Orleans acts the Meters. The band has frequently toured with hip hop acts such as the Roots and Jurassic 5. Over time, that urban grit invaded their homegrown funk, and came to fruition on this new CD.

While the hip hop vibes lend a modern sensibility to Galactic’s music, there are still plenty of old-school New Orleans echoes throughout the album. “Bounce Baby” and “Tuff Love” offer a taste of New Orleans’ brassiest horn talents. “Second and Dryades” is a perfect parade anthem, with strong percussion and narration by well-known Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Monk Boudreau about being an Indian on Fat Tuesday. The album is funky through and through, and despite the many guest vocalists, Galactic’s signature style is never diluted. Galactic will be joined by Chali 2na, Lifesavas and Boots Riley at 9 pm Saturday, Oct. 20, at the McDonald Theatre. $20 adv., $22 door. — Vanessa Salvia


A Cozy Cool

Christian Kiefer
Nice Monster. Photo by Pistol’s Photoography

A warm glacier sounds like Al Gore’s worst nightmare (or just his personality in general), but it seems like an apt description of Christian Kiefer‘s music. The Sacramento-based singer-songwriter crafts songs that move at a glacial pace, yet aren’t as icy as that might suggest. There’s a warmth that wraps itself around Kiefer’s downtempo soundscapes like a shabby house sweater. Acoustic guitar and piano provide the backdrop for his flights of fancy where accordions, cellos, banjos and field recordings of birds and brooks float as contentedly as dust specks in the midday sun. At times, the music evokes the austerity of slowcore bands like Low, Ida or Galaxie 500, and bit parts from Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low on Kiefer’s latest album, Dogs and Donkeys, only strengthen those similarities. But what sets Kiefer apart from those delicate minimalists is his voice, an intoxicating blend of Will Oldham’s woozy shamble and Mark Linkous’ (Sparklehorse) slightly unstable whisper. Contributions from Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, who asphyxiates his ax in some unexpected places, and the legendary Garth Hudson of the Band, who tickles the keys and the accordion on two songs, make the album stronger and shade in the understated parts.

Unfortunately, we won’t see any of those cameos live, but Kiefer will be backed by his friends and opening act, Nice Monster. A five-piece that also hails from Sacramento, Nice Monster and their dense and noisy take on folk is more like a tree falling down than an iceberg idling by. And as long as we’re speaking in metaphors, no one should get upset. Christian Kiefer and Nice Monster play at 9:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 20, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. —Jeremy Ohmes


The Old Via the New

Kingston Trio

YouTube, quite simply, folks. Yes, that’s right, I just watched the Kingston Trio singing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” on The Andy Williams Show in 1966. They’re so … clean-cut! (Even William F. Buckley liked them, if my father’s album collection is to be believed.) And yes, lo these many years later, they’re still clean-cut (though I hope they’ve thrown off the yoke of having Mr. National Review liking them — blech). Like the long-lived Rolling Stones, except in a cheerful, asexual, goofy, tight-harmony-and-Hawaiian-shirts kind of a way, the boys still tour — that’s right, they’re still singing the awesome “Tom Dooley” (oh, how that reminds me of Girl Scout camp) and reminding audiences why the movie A Mighty Wind made folk fans mix tears of laughter with painful winces of recognition. The guys have shuffled around a bit (there are former New Christy Minstrels and Limeliters), and founding member Bob Shane’s heart attack in 2004 stopped him from touring, but the Kingston Trio motors on.

Now, I can laugh at the fact that I know songs like “Three Jolly Coachmen” and “Hard, Ain’t It Hard” (know them so well from repeated listenings as a 5-year-old that they will never leave my brain), but I still enjoy the fact that the guys are coming to aging-white-bread-folkie central — that is, Corvallis (sorry, Corvallis! But it’s true, you’ve got us beat!), for their 50th Anniversary Tour. If you, too, remember humming along to “Scotch and Soda” long before you had any idea Scotch wasn’t tape, you should head out to the gorgeous Corvallis High School Theater at 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 20. $42.50. — Suzi Steffen


Joyful Refrain

Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate,” as one might guess from the Latin words, tells the story of a glorious celebration. No matter if you believe the meaning of the words; for those who aren’t Christian, the exquisite music of this religious solo motet (almost always performed by a soprano) calms, inspires and revivifies on even the grayest Oregon day, with the closing “Alleluia” a sparkling finale. I listen to the recording we have (Elizabeth Schwarzkopf) whenever I need to settle down and focus on anything —cleaning, writing, grading, working out. A live performance? I can’t wait. But this stunning work stands as merely one of the gorgeous classics in the Eugene Concert Choir‘s season kickoff “Mostly Mozart” concert.

From Mozart’s also lovely Coronation Mass to what the press release rather hilariously describes as “classic and reverent chamber works of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms and C.P.E. Bach,” this program should charm newcomers and experienced concertgoers alike. Mozart’s well-known, contemplative “Ave verum corpus” balances the joy of “Exsultate,” and the Mendelssohn anthems (Sechs Sprüche) combine with the rich, calm Brahms motet “Wo ist ein so herrlich Volk” to give weight to Mozart’s fizzy brilliance. Help the Concert Choir, with soprano soloist Laura Decher Wayte on the “Exsultate,” start the season in style at 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 20, or 2:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Hult. $14-$29. — Suzi Steffen


Making the Band

Steve Goldberg and the Arch Enemies

If you create it, they will come. Steve Goldberg hadn’t planned on composing music or becoming the lead vocalist for his own indie pop band when he started college. Originally he had intended on studying computer science but changed his mind after Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum visited him in a dream and commanded he start a band. Luckily for Goldberg, this apparition didn’t steer him wrong.

Now the mastermind behind Steve Goldberg and the Arch Enemies, Goldberg created the vision, lyrics and melody for his band before he even had a band. Some of his first shows were acoustic, and Goldberg used whichever instruments he could find players for. But soon enough the band members did come, bringing with them a slew of instruments and a realization to Goldberg’s dream.

Goldberg has a ’60s pop sound, and with the Arch Enemies sounds like a modern day von Trapp family (minus the family part). Every track on the group’s self-titled album brings with it a different style of music (Irish melody, ’80s electronica, ’70s folk rock) and utilizes a plethora of instruments: flute, trumpet, cello, violin and a bunch of other contraptions I’d never even heard of. What the heck is a glock or timpani? The best songs on the album are “23rd Century Identity Crisis” — think classic Nintendo soundtracks — and the love song “Julia,” which has the playful lyrics “We’ll start a family / Play lots of D&D / And watch The Goonies on VHS.” Thank you, Jeff Mangum.

Steve Goldberg and the Arch Enemies play at 8 pm Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Black Forest. 21+ show. Free. — Deanna Uutela