Tuesday, February 22, 2011

AFS v. 302 ~ The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Milwaukie!

This week in AFS...

* A triple-low-brow scuzz block of Rancid Vat
* Remembering a time when Portland was no hipper than Sacto
* Further investigating the solo career of Peter Hammill
* The K-Holes can kill...coming soon from HoZac

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or STREAM IT HERE by next Monday night.

MAN THE HUNTER | Dance With Me | Less for You 7" | Ginkgo *new
CHARLIE & THE SKUNKS | Pay No Attention to Time | Take an Ice Cream Scoop Out of My Brain 7" | Eradicator *new
SWIMSUIT | Dolphins | Dolphins 7" | Lifelike *new
PETER HAMMILL | My Experience | Sitting Targets | PVC 1981
PETER HAMMILL | Pushing Thirty | The Future Now | Charisma 1978
WIRELESS | Sign Right Here | Positively Human Relatively Sane | Mercury 1979
SAMUEL LOCKE WARD & THE BOOHOOS | Tell it to the Man of Diminishing Clout | split 7" w/ Mumfords | no label *new
RANCID VAT | Joy to the World [Three Dog Night] | v/a: Flies Like Holidays | Pigface 1982
RANCID VAT | Hot Cages in Vietnam Rattle | Stampeding Cattle | Pigface 1982
RANCID VAT | Destroy Nature | Justice (This is What We Do to Traitors) | Horton/Reflex 1989
TRUE SONS OF THUNDER | Butt Bong | split 7" w/ Wizzard Sleeve | Jeth-Row *new
I.V. LEAGUE | Caucasian Fear | Songs of the North American Anglo | Mind Drum 1989/90(?)
CULTURCIDE | The Heart of Rn'R (Is the Profit) | Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America | no label 1986
WHITE SAVAGE | Orphans [Teenage Jesus & the Jerks] | Destroy Your Style 7" | HoZac 2007
K-HOLES | Short Zippers/Werewold with a Tan | self-titled | HoZac *new
FIFTY FOUR FORTY | Long Goodbye | v/a: Things Are Still Coming Ashore | Mo=Da=Mu 1982
HALF CHURCH | Attention Span | In Turmoil 12" EP | WiN 1981
BILLY & THE BUTTONS | Want Want | Whole Fam Damily 7" | Button 1983
PASTICHE (THE MINI-BAND) | Running in Place | v/a: A Wicked Good Time, vol. 2 | Modern Method 1981
SWINGERS RESORT | Hit List | v/a: A Wicked Good Time! | Modern Method 1981
ENGLISH SINGLES | Grey Skies USA | Splashing Past the Action CDR | English Singles *new
SHARK TOYS | I Don't Fit In | v/a: Under the Covers vol. 2 | Volar/I Hate Rock n Roll *new
BELREVE | Nothing | Nothing 7" | Anyway 1993
MOVIOLA | Color Copy | Frantic 10" | Anyway 1995
FLIPPER | Way of the World | Album Generic Flipper | Subterranean 1981
DEAD C | Maggot | Eusa Kills | Flying Nun 1989
LAST FEW DAYS | Megaphobia | Pure Spirit and Saliva Live | Dead Man's Curve 1986
SANDRA BELL | Gilt | Angel 7" | Zabriskie Point 1995
AMATEUR CHILDBIRTH | Venus in Flames | Brighter Futures Dialysis | self-released *new
DEAF WISH | Freeze the Sound | self-titled | self-released *new (orig 2007)

Five episodes into Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's Portlandia (airing weekly on the IFC network), I've enjoyed some great laughs. As buffoonish as the many characters of Portlandia are--the hardcore vegan fixed-gear bike-punk, the overly cautious locavore, feminist bookstore owners, etc.--they really do ring true to the generally-true generalizations of Portland people and their subcultures.

If you haven't seen the show 'cos your cable company sucks, I bet you've probably seen their music video for "The Dream of the 90s" [in case you did miss it]...which they proclaim is so alive in Portland. But that's the only thing I don't totally agree with about Portlandia, 'cos I remember Portland in the 90s...when a sandwich was really just a sandwich, and Miracle Whip was exotic. There was no slathering aioli with capers and fresh herbs from the chef's own backyard garden on brioche. An omelet at Cobblestone Cafe was just an omelet...a really big lumberjack-gut-bustin' omelet, and nobody thought to ask about how far these eggs had traveled to get to the table, or how many acres the chickens were free to roam. Whereas today there are carts, trucks, and trailers in every quadrant of the city serving food from every culture you didn't even expect to encounter in Portland, the 90s was a time when there was not even one decent Mexican or Chinese restaurant, and people were slow to accede to the few fledgling Thai places. Nobody knew of pho or bahn mi or pupusas. The clothes at thrift stores wound up being worn by poor people instead of on the racks of pricey vintage boutiques where they're washed, repaired, or cut, re-sewn, and re-contextualized.

The other thing that seems incredible about Portland--especially in the early to mid 90s--was that good bands were nearly as scarce as a good taco. It had been years since The Wipers had made a great album, and they were already taking a long lead toward Arizona. Poison Idea had just released Pajama Party with a cover of The Gogos's "Vacation". They still ruled when I saw 'em play, but I was also kinda depressed by watching Pig Champion's severe joint pain as he took over a minute to walk up four steps to the stage with the help of two spotters. Smegma was sorta in a flat spot with their recordings, and they bored me to death the couple times I saw 'em then. (Smegma's next heyday was a great reinvigorated run in the 2000s, and I think it still continues!) Rancid Vat were also leading off to Philly, where they went on to make predictable records for fans of the Confederacy of Scum. Dead Moon was the only great band in the midst of their prime at the time, and I was too young to go to a bar to see 'em play. Aside from a burgeoning crust/HC scene centered around Resist, I didn't see a lotta stuff happening when I was there in 1992-1993. Other kids in my college dormitory were way into the deplorable Crazy 8s, a band that local papers compared to The Clash and The Specials, but if they were punk, they were the least-threatening punks ever, and if they were ska, they stripped all Afro-Carribean elements to create a distillate of the kinda party music preferred by Docker-pants-wearing middle-aged middle-class white tourists. They thought they were funky, too. The Crazy 8s were cut from much the same cloth as those despicable Cherry Poppin' Daddies, who were the one regional musical export to maintain a national image.

Cruising everyday Portland then, it seemed really blue-collar. Steak and potatoes. Flannel for function, not image. If the "Dream of the 90s is alive in Portland" today, then it came a decade late, because the Portland of the 90s was living the dream of the 70s. It was arguably less hip than Sacramento...where I had no shortage of rad all-ages shows to attend as a young person and so many rad bands centering around the Midtown Sac gathering place, The Loft (Yah Mos, Tiger Trap, Los Huevos, Nar, Lizards, Bananas, Four Eyes, Salmonella, Lab Rats, etc.). And in Davis, we had the scene revolving around KDVS with the Curbfeelers, Buick, Shove, Harvester, Chance the Gardener, Duct Tape, Beef With Society, Girls Soccer, etc. (and compared to Portland's token rappers U-Krew, our area boasted DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, Brother Lynch Hung, and more). For as much as I thought it was gonna rule up there when I went off to college in 1992, I couldn't wait to get back to the music scene I'd left in the Central Valley. Portland seemed light years behind. Elmer was probably in my top-five Portland bands list then, and that was in part due to their Sacto pre-history!

But one thing Portland did have in spades was that legendary weirdness! And Smegma epitomized that during their heyday in the 80s. This video of primetime news footage of Portland's Mayor's ball in 1988 brilliantly shows Smegma's integral place in what was mostly a musical wasteland. Enjoy...

If the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland, I reckon it's because the 20- and 30-somethings of Portland that give the city its mecca-of-hip image imported the dream from wherever they lived before moving there.

Don't take any of this to mean "DJ Rick thinks Portland was cooler before it was cool", 'cos I love Portland for the way it's become as a place to visit and eat and see music. I liked it the way I remember it, too. The dream of the Portland of the 90s is still alive in Milwaukie. Also...RIP, Henry Ford's, Cobblestone Cafe, the original Hung Far Low.

That K-Holes LP is coming on March 1, says this one-sheet I got from HoZac. It's quite tasty and delivers well on the promise of their killer live show they gave Sacramento last fall. Haunted swamp rock that's psycho and psych-y with a dash of nĂ¼-gothy-ness...very tasty! Tonight I give you a couple faster-burning songs. Songs, indeed...they do actually write 'em in this band! Next week a different flavor.

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