Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.4.09

Music of the Mountains

The three brothers Felice, along with bandmates Christmas Clapton on bass and Greg Farley on fiddle and washboard, bring their Catskills-infused folk rock to the WOW Hall this weekend, giving Eugeneans a chance to sample their powerful blend of gritty vocals, strings, accordion, organ and percussion. The band is a throwback to the music of the mountains with some Bob Dylan, country and indie rock thrown in for good measure.  

For their second major album Yonder Is the Clock (the title comes from Satan’s prognostication of three men’s deaths in Mark Twain’s unfinished The Mysterious Stranger), The Felice Brothers recorded songs in a room built from a rundown chicken coop: “tales of love, death, betrayal, baseball, train stations, phantoms, pandemics, jail cells, rolling rivers and frozen winter nights.” Released April 7, the album has been hailed for its depth and vibrancy, its black humor and imagination.

The Felice brothers got their start as children, playing together at their father’s backyard barbeques. But the rest of the band formed in New York, where its members treated commuters to their music at Greenwich Village subway stations. That sound has evolved into an original, multi-genre folk, country, rock, roots, indie amalgamation, and with The Felice Brothers’ electric stage presence, you’d be a fool to miss the show. The Felice Brothers play at 8 pm Sunday, June 7, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Katie Kalk

Frenetic Spectacle

Kentucky’s Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers have been called the “rockabilly version of the Sex Pistols.” Their sound is a scalding, caustic melting pot of hillbilly, punk, gypsy, blues, southern rock and showmanship combining to form one thing: a helluva good time. 

Coming off the release of their newest album, Swampblood, the band is all frenetic energy and rhythm, and listening to their cuts is like trying to tame something wild. With this record, the band professes to be the Creedence Clearwater Revival of the 2000s, “all ‘Run Through the Jungle’” and “Commotion,” and it’s an adept comparison. On tracks like “Hellwater,” “Eastern Flesh” and “Agony Wagon,” the Shakers’ bluesy, polka punk rock comes off a little bit Creedence, a little bit The Clash and a little bit Deliverance. I don’t know what the hell I’m listening to, but I like it.  

Frontman and band founder Col. J.D Wilkes says the music “takes the muddled influence of [his] new home in western Kentucky, pours it through the funnel of eerie south Louisiana bayou culture, and shakes it up ‘til it explodes with the thick swamp blues of Slim Harpo.” Whatever that means. You’ll probably have to see the spectacle for yourself to find out. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and Los Mex Pistols del Norte play at 9 pm Thursday, June 11, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+. $10. ­ Katie Kalk

The Kid’s All Right

The track list for The Kid Espi’s new EP, Sweatshirt Dinner Party, reads like a who’s who in Northwest hip hop. Producer Sapient (Sand-people) and MCs Geologic (Blue Scholars), Onry Ozzborn and JFK (Grayskul) — among others — all chipped in on this one, and having those big names on his EP can only improve The Kid Espi’s chances of joining their ranks. One of Northwest hip hop’s best qualities is the tendency for MCs not to take themselves too seriously, and The Kid Espi’s a perfect example of the rapper whose rhymes work best when he’s clowning around. In the song “Bailout,” The Kid asks the question we’ve all asked ourselves post-financial crisis: Where the hell is my bailout, motherfucker? 

That said, serious political prosely-tizing isn’t The Kid Espi’s strong suit. But being funny is, and it’s a skill he displays not only in his rhymes but in the skits between his songs. Many MCs attempt to use the humorous interlude to transition between songs. Few succeed. The Kid Espi is one of those few, and while it’s hard to explain what makes something funny (or not funny), it might have something to do with his willingness to poke as much fun at himself as he does at AIG and Lil Wayne. The Kid Espi, The Wright Family and The pHormula play at 10 pm Thursday, June 11, at Joe’s Bar and Grill. 21+. $5. ­ Sara Brickner