Eugene Weekly : Music : 11.11.10


That Classic Country Sound Lives On

It’s encouraging to hear young acoustic performers who are still strongly influenced by some of the greats of country music. Crooked River bandmates Teri Jacobs (guitar/vocals/harmonica), Lana Dishner (guitar/vocals) and Rob Jacobs (mandolin/guitar/vocals) are old friends who, over the years, have shared laughs, food and their love of the classics — Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Marty Robbins, to name a few. Less than a year after Rob Jacobs taught Dishner to play guitar, the three of them (with Teri on harmonica), were performing their treasured classics for friends and at summer garden parties.

Once bitten by that performance bug, Teri learned guitar and began writing songs like a woman possessed while Rob and Dishner continued to polish their musical skills and also write songs. Rob also picked up mandolin, adding a crisp fresh layer to their already true-to-the-classics sound. Soon they had an impressive assortment of original songs.

The collection became their debut album, My Troubled Heart, which is filled with tales of anguish that a broken heart holds, starting with the title track’s lonely story of betrayal, ranging to the blithe account of loss (but just leave the beer) in “6-Pack” and closing with the tranquil journey of “I’m Home.” Staying true to their inspirations, Crooked River recorded My Troubled Heart in mono, giving it the warmth of a candlelit living room performance. Join Crooked River as they celebrate the release of My Troubled Heart with The Whiskey Chasers and Kingdom County at 10 pm Friday, Nov. 12, at Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. Free. — Blake Phillips

Not Just Any (Boom) Chick

What’s in a name? Boomchick. Is it the sound of the bass drum followed by snare? Is it the galloping boom-chicka-boom-chicka sound innovated by Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Two? Or is it something else? Perhaps it’s an attitude. An ethic. A Boomchick knows what she wants. She works hard and she plays hard. She drinks hard and she loves hard.

Eugene punkabilly outfit Boomchick is all these things. Frontwoman Suzanne Benorden makes like a tough customer on their current release Joyland, recorded and mixed in Eugene at Sprout City Studios. With the swagger of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and the grit of Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, she leads her band as they swerve dangerously through 13 tracks of boozey, gin-soaked rock and roll.

The album opens with the Rolling Stones-meets-Ramones-esque “TGTW,” a tight burst of energy that is easily the album’s strongest offering. The song is what Boomchick does best: fuzzed out power chords, a driving backbeat and a killer chorus that explodes into a screaming wall of guitars and harmony. 

Boomchick celebrates the release of Joyland as part of this year’s Grrrlz Rock! festival with other local female-powered bands Demimonde Slumber Party and Station Wag, with a special appearance from the Emerald City Roller Girls, at 9 pm Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. Free.  — William Kennedy

Frenzy and Finesse

You could draw plenty of parallels — some more apt than others — between Eugene’s Leo London, who officially releases his self-titled album this weekend, and Portland’s And And And, who share the bill: sometimes raucous songs; standard pop/rock instrumentation and then some; attitude and sweetness sharing space in melodies that hold up under more scrutiny than first listen might suggest. But what really links the two is the self-assurance that marks both London’s singer-songwriter work as something ahead of the curve, and And And And’s scruffy, riotous, band-members-on-the-floor-in-a-hail-of-confetti energy as so much more than a schtick. I walked into the end of an AAA set during Portland’s MusicfestNW and immediately wanted to know more about the ragtag musicians; there was shouting and melody and the room was practically vibrating, even in the middle of the afternoon. Later that night, during the band’s set at Backspace, Willamette Week’s Michael Mannheimer tweeted, “Can I write the Best New Band cover right now?” Somewhere between Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the half-drunk, short-lived, yelling-prone band that forms in your friend’s basement during a housewarming party, AAA sounds like nerves and frenzy. “We belong living in houses made out of sticks and mud,” begins “Chorus Line,” which comes, on the band’s A Fresh Summer With And And And, right after a song called “Blood, Slugs, Sticks & Stones.” Slow and reflective, “Chorus Line” nevertheless maintains the sense that there’s a visceral drive powering the six-man band’s combined wounded yowl.

London’s infectious, piano-tinged songs have been floating around town for a while now, issuing from bars during his shows and, bizarrely, turning up in a Jersey Shore promo video on London’s classic pop roots are right there on his sleeve (he names The Beatles, Otis Redding, Patti Smith, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan among his primary influences), but a little farther into his CD (on which London and producer Justin King play everything), streaks of something else start to shine through. “The Single,” a desperate, furious plea that barely reaches three minutes, begins with a stomping pulse that briefly suggests The Cure, quite put out about something and playing really old, tired pianos. That tired-piano note — London says his North Eugene studio/home “houses two pianos, three organs and a wall of janky amplifiers” — crops up in many of the record’s best songs. “I need you now / Come out somehow,” London sings on “Where Are You Now?” — but the song itself is confident and breezy; the achy piano on “I Don’t Know” gives the energetic first track a contradictory yearning note. London, like so many great songwriters, works the space between certainty and longing for everything it’s got. 

And And And, Leo London and Sean Flynn and the Royal We play at 9:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 13, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Molly Templeton

Lie Easy in the Shade

There’s something oddly haunting about Casey Neill & The Norway Rats. When considering the song titles on Neill’s ninth album — Goodbye to the Rank and File — it might seem strange that tracks called “When I Came to You,” or “Radio Montana” could be considered haunting, but that’s just it: Casey Neill’s music isn’t designed predictably. Looking at a song title isn’t going to help you learn the words to his choruses, nor will it yield any results for your subject matter expectations. In fact, the only way to really understand what this guy’s all about is to listen through every song with your ears wide open and ready to receive. Along the way, you’ll probably end up figuring out a lot more about Casey Neill than you expected. His ballads are poignant, and his lyrics hold the kind of weight that indicates he’s singing nothing but personal truths.

The Norway Rats, who have been working their way towards becoming a fully fledged collective for some time, have finally been able to spread their wings with Rank and File. Featuring performers from The Minus 5, The Decemberists and Lucinda Williams’ band, the Norway Rats allow the entire project to tie itself up with a bow. The twinge of country in Casey Neill’s voice, those beautiful lyrics and the Rats’ clean instrumentation on Rank and File add up to make this tour all the more appealing. Neill sums it up perfectly, as usual, with lyrics: “My work here is done.”

Casey Neill & The Norway Rats and Ezra Holbrook play at 9 pm Thursday, Nov. 11, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $5. — Andy Valentine

Leaving in Synchronicity

The careers of the five siblings and cousins who make up the band Eisley have been filled with many ups and downs. They have opened for Coldplay, been signed by Warner Bros. Records and won an adoring fan base over the last decade. But earlier this year they were released from their contract. Now, the band is preparing to release their third LP next year through a new label, and since all of the members are still in their 20s, the sky’s the limit for the band’s future. While touring in support of their latest release, Fire Kite EP, vocalist Stacy DuPree King says the band feels free now.

“We’re all breathing this big, collective sigh of relief that the whole thing is over,” she says of their split with Warner Bros. “The new songs definitely paint a picture, and they’re from real experiences and emotions we’ve had. Our old records were just done for art’s sake, I guess. We were more interested in fantasy and love, and I think now that we’ve been through some more personal things in our lives there’s this bravery to the lyrics that brings that fantasy into focus.”

On the EP, winners like “Ambulance” and “The Valley” highlight the sweeping piano pop rock sound, vivid imagery and chill-up-your-spine vocals that have become synonymous with the band’s efforts. It is a rare thing to hear vocals, lyrics and music blend together seamlessly, but this is what happens in Eisley’s songs, and the results are splendidly gorgeous.

Eisley, Ives the Band and Christie DuPree play at 8 pm Sunday, Nov. 14, at the WOW Hall. $14 adv., $15 door. — Brian Palmer

Wine, Dine, Over the Rhine

Over the years, Over the Rhine has achieved indie cred, gained notability and had the opportunity to open up for Bob Dylan, Adrian Belew, The Cowboy Junkies and many more. They have been featured in Paste Magazine’s Top 100 Living Songwriters and Indie Rock A-to-Z lists. They span genres from folksy singer-songwriter pop to jazzy, sultry gospel to rustic, storytelling Americana. Whichever “sound” Over the Rhine produces, husband-wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist live their lives in their songs. They are a treasure for those who know their work: the gentle tinkling of the keys, melodic strumming on an old acoustic guitar, pontifications and allegories of their daily life on the farm outside Cincinnati and the ambrosial poetic words from Bergquist’s microphone oozing through the cracks amongst the notes. Detweiler makes being a musical beat poet a realistic modern possibility. Bergquist’s provocative voice is offset by her down-to-earth charm and humor. That charm makes what they do seem more tangible, real and relatable. They could very well be in your living room, singing for you alone. 

Fresh off their “Across the West” train tour, Over the Rhine’s stop in Eugene will be a special, intimate duo show — featuring an array of songs from Detweiler & Bergquist’s 20 year history and their forthcoming album, The Long Surrender (due out 1/11/11). Over the Rhine and Lucy Wainwright Roche play at 7:30 pm Monday, Nov. 15, at WOW Hall. $20 adv. , $25 door, $30 reserved. — Dan Temmesfeld

50 Octaves Below the Drone of Space

In 2008, the Lawrence, Kansas-bred doom band Samothrace burst onto the scene with their debut recording, Life’s Trade. Now ensconced in Seattle’s hip metal scene, they seemingly came out of nowhere with a fantastic debut that Decibel magazine gave nine out of 10 stars. Their name was mysterious (it evokes Tolkien and possibly a race of Emperor guitarists, but the band actually took their name from a rugged Greek island that was the site of pre-Hellenic religious ceremonies), and their sound, a bit like Neurosis at their heaviest tinged with black metal pathos, was unlike other doom bands. Since then, their following has grown considerably, but if you read most reviews, their music is tagged as despondent, depressive, mournful, soul-draining. Those elements are present, but it’s unfair to overlook the sparse, glimmering beauty and evocative layered guitar work. The band’s own MySpace description makes a lot of sense: “Heavy, tuned to the eons-long drone of the darkest creations of space and the ever evolving galaxy clusters that lie therein . . . give or take about 50 octaves.” 

Samothrace and the other two non-local bands on the bill (aside from Eugene’s H.C. Minds), Austin’s The Roller and Seattle’s Lesbian, have each played here before to small but appreciative crowds. Each band’s unique approach (sludgy and crusty, jazzy and progressive) pushes them away from the pack of riff-led stoner doom. This is a lineup that just might leave you gushing like a schoolgirl with a crush. Samothrace, The Roller, Lesbian and H.C. Minds play at 9 pm Sunday, Nov. 14, at Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. — Vanessa Salvia