Eugene Weekly : Music : 9.4.08

True Fiction

Leopold and his Fiction are from San Francisco, but just judging from their sound they could easily be from Detroit. What era? Well, that’s harder to pinpoint. Vocalist Daniel James has a gritty, soulful, swaggering manner of singing that recalls the Detroit Motown era as easily as the White Stripes’ Jack White. Their stripped down, energetic guitar sound is not so far from that of The Stooges, and there’s a sense of physical yearning for redemption that wouldn’t be out of place in a gospel revival. 

On songs like “Shakey Mama Blues” and “Come Back Now That I’m Here,” drummer Jon Sortland and bassist Micayla Grace let out just enough rhythm rope for the song to wiggle and shimmy while still keeping things simple and tight. The garage blues of “Ain’t No Surprise” and “Gonna Be Your Boy” is very early White Stripes-y, and there’s a strong Southern rock vibe permeating just about every riff and rumble. There’s even a moody, reflective number, “Miss Manipulation,” replete with slide guitar and an almost hokey country vibe. Ultimately though, James’ tattered vocals and the train’s-a-comin’ melody elevate it away from filler material status. 

While Jack White is busy descending into mediocrity with The Raconteurs, we have James carrying his basement blues torch out of California. And while The Strokes eventually seemed to grasp for any new genre to invigorate their once-promising rock, Leopold and his Fiction extended their tentacles and found just what they were looking for on the first try. 

If you still mourn what The Strokes could have been and are equally as excited about what the Black Keys are becoming, put Leopold and his Fiction on your bands-to-pay-attention-to list. Leopold and his Fiction, Grimis, The Daveys and The Mood play at 9 pm Saturday, Sept. 6, at Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+ show. No cover. — Vanessa Salvia

By Land or By Sea

Usually, skipping from genre to genre like a frog hopping around on so many lilypads suggests a case of muddled identity, the mark of a fledgling band that shows promise but hasn’t decided on a sound. But Your 33 Black Angels, though they skip from rock and roll (“Once I Dreamed the Future”) to Devendra-esque freak folk (“Town and Country”) on the same record, Lonely Street, do so with amphibious expertise. Not to be confused with the straight-up Black Angels, the unsigned New York band ended up on Rolling Stone critic David Fricke’s picks for Lonely Street, their self-released debut. But the West Coast seems to still be figuring out what the East Coast already knows: This very excellent rock band is going to get snatched up by some prestigious indie label someplace. And when that happens, every college student and musician-bartender in Eugene who doesn’t show up to this performance but considers him or herself musically savvy will live to regret it (although I guess MusicfestNW is a decent excuse). Your 33 Black Angels just released a new record, Tales of My Pop Rock Love Life, which because the band is unsigned and probably operating sans distribution deal — you can only get if you order it online or at the show. Your 33 Black Angels plays at 10 pm Saturday, September 6, at Luckey’s. 21+ show. $5. — Sara Brickner