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Live show review: Cloud Control and Body Parts at Barboza

Cloud Control at Barboza - Photo Credit: Amber Zbitnoff

{All photos by Amber Zbitnoff.}

The building at the corner of 10th & Pike was overwhelmed with good music on Tuesday night. Upstairs, Neumo’s was celebrating their 10th anniversary (and 20th anniversary of Moe.) with My Goodness and The Thermals. Those two northwest bands are well known for putting on a good show. But the real show was downstairs, where Australia’s Cloud Control played a stellar set to a packed room.

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But before Cloud Control took the stage, Los Angeles band Body Parts warmed up the crowd. The band is fairly new to the scene, with only an EP released in 2012 and the band’s debut full-length Fire Dream released late last year on Father/Daughter records. Bouncy, computer-driven rock pop is the best way to define the band’s sound. Think !!! (Chk Chk Chk) meets the Talking Heads, with vocals provided by lead singer/songwriter Ryder Bach, whose voice sounds vaguely like a higher-pitched George Michael.

While the band had four people on stage, with Bach on guitar and vocals and songwriting partner Alina Cutrono on backup vocals and a second guitar, I was a bit disappointed to hear that most of the band’s sound was provided by the Mac laptop sitting next to the keyboards. In fact, the keyboardist / percussionist played only one song on the keys, choosing to strike the bongos next to him with drumsticks for the bulk of the set. This is not to say that the music didn’t sound good — it sounded fantastic, and the lively underground crowd was happily moving to the dance beats being generated onstage.

Body Parts shows plenty of potential. As their steeped-in-80s-electronica album starts to take hold — which it will undoubtedly do, given the revival we’re mired in currently — you can expect bigger and better things from them. They played a short, opening-band set of only 35 minutes, leaving us primed and ready for the headliners.

If you’re not familiar with Cloud Control, then you’re missing out. There’s a small but vocal insurgence of Australia-based bands that have slowly been working their way into the ears of those of us that have been paying attention. Bands like Valentine, Jagwar Ma, and Cloud Control have been making amazing music for the past few years, and they’re finally starting to get their due.

Cloud Control’s sound is very dancey, but rooted in rock & roll. The four-piece are in the middle of a short US tour that has them heading down the West coast this week before flying off to Europe for a slew of dates. The band is led by Alister Wright, a tall and gangly man with a lazy mass of ringlets on his head and a voice that has only a subtle hint of Australian slang. The rest of the band sings backup vocals and harmonies, in addition to the various instruments they play: Heidi Lenffer on keyboards (and sometimes lead vocals), Jeremy Kelshaw on bass, and Ulrich Lenffer on drums.

It’s always nice when a band moves around on stage. Too often nowadays it seems that bands are too affected to care to do anything more than step from side to side or slowly bob their heads while performing, completely disconnected from the music they’re creating. But not Cloud Control. More than once, Wright jumped and scissored his legs. Heidi would sashay in place, moving lithely to the beat. And Kelshaw provided a bit of confusion towards the end of their set when he stood his bass guitar box up on its long side and moved a mic near it. He then used it as an additional drum, slapping sticks along it’s metal edge during “Gold Canary,” from the band’s 2010 debut Bliss Release.

And the bass-guitar-box-as-drum wasn’t the only interesting turn for that song. Midway through the song, the band broke into a cover of Butthole Surfer’s “Pepper,” covering the entire second verse and chorus from that song. As the verse went on, you could hear the crowd slowly realize what was happening, and then start singing along, yelling by the time the chorus came along. That’s one way to liven up a crowd, although we were really doing just fine without the additional incentive to lose our minds.

The band plays with a lot of reverb, a lot of fuzz, and plenty of excitement. I firmly believe they’re too big for the small stage, and next time they come through town they’ll be at least upstairs on the stage at Neumos proper, if not on one of the larger stages around town. You best start listening up now, or you’ll miss out.

Cloud Control:

Cloud Control at Barboza - Photo Credit: Amber Zbitnoff

Body Parts:

Body Parts at Barboza - Photo Credit: Amber Zbitnoff

Body Parts at Barboza - Photo Credit: Amber Zbitnoff

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Show Preview: Damien Jurado at the Neptune

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I wonder what it must be like to finally hit your stride after working in an industry for nearly 20 years. Damien Jurado has been a fixture of the Seattle indie rock scene since the mid-90s. Thanks to his 11-album career, released on seminal labels Sub Pop and Secretly Canadian, Jurado has always had a small but dedicated following. The “small” part of that started to change with the release of his critically-acclaimed 2012 album Maraqopa, where he made waves nationally.

Working with the same stellar team (including producer Richard Swift), Jurado has, unbelievably, created a new album that’s even better. Titled Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, this new release sounds like an extension of the music created on Maraqopa, but even more engaging, more engrossing.

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The new album comes out January 21, and Jurado is performing music from it at his album release show at the Neptune Theatre tomorrow night, Friday, January 17. You would be well advised to catch this show, as it appears that Jurado is finally making a move to the big time. This may be the last opportunity to get up close and personal with him.

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Live show review (with photos!): Benjamin Verdoes’ CD release party at the Tractor

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Review by Lindsey Bluher; photos by Amber Zbitnoff.

January is a weird month. There’s all this anticipation built around the idea of a new chapter and change in the air. It seems as if Seattle Musicians have been taken by this notion, and with that, audiences accustomed to a particular sound from a particular band are getting a tad shaken up by new incarnates from familiar names. The first of such is the release, out this past Tuesday, from Benjamin Verdoes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band and Iska Dhaaf.

Many may had caught wind of The Evil Eye prior to release, but it was until recently with Stereogum’s premiere of “Evil Eye” that fans of Verdoes snatched up a first listen. The song introduces a different version of the man behind Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, there’s an obvious sense of vulnerability in the lyrics – a trend which continued on the rest of the record.

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Joined by album contributors Matt Badger, Sam Miller, Benjamin Verdoes rounded out the trio with Johnny Worman, and they took to the task of introducing Seattle to this new project under the Tractor’s white lights. If Verdoes was nervous about revealing these new songs to the world, it wasn’t obvious – there was a sense of ease in his voice as he sang “Evil Eye” to a crowd anxious to hear what was next from this Seattle talent.

The term ‘revealing’ is what comes to mind upon hearing The Evil Eye, and live the sense of seeing into the musician’s past and present is unavoidable. In “Two Shadows” we seem to come face to face with a relationship’s death rattle, and when Verdoes is standing 5 feet away, it’s almost hard to look at him as he details such demise. That melancholy is a familiar sadness to many others, and that’s perhaps makes performances like this so entrancing.

Just as on the record, “Two Shadows” was followed by “Under the Layers.” While recorded as a duet, Verdoes performed the song all on his own. Coming after such an all together sad song, “Under the Layers” feels like that breathe of fresh air that comes after the initial sadness of something falls apart. There was a sense of comfort in the percussion and keys, which made Verdoes’ voice seem warmer and relaxed.

The Tuesday night performance gave even more heat to an already exciting record. Verdoes’ may be known as Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, but to me, after Tuesday’s introduction to the live performance of The Evil Eye, that shouldn’t be what he’s primarily associated with. I am already hopeful to see what unfolds for Benjamin Verdoes and his talented contributors, Matt Badger and Sam Miller.

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

Benjamin Verdoes at the Tractor Tavern - Photo By: Amber Zbitnof

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An announcement…

This post is to let you know that content on ARS will be slow-going for the time being (two show reviews are coming this week), and it will eventually stop altogether, sooner rather than later. I’m going to put Another Rainy Saturday on hiatus, and probably be shut down for the foreseeable future.

Creating Another Rainy Saturday in 2010 is, unquestionably, the thing I’ve done in my life that I am most proud of. Working on it has been a labour of love for the past three and a half years, but my evolving interests and life as it is no longer coincide with running a daily music blog. It has been a joy getting to put out this site and to work with such an amazing group of people and to make so many great friends and to hear so much great music.

I will say, though, that I am not going away for good. Instead, I am very excited to announce I will become the new editor for the SunBreak. It is a fantastic website that has a great, dedicated readership and has a broader scope than ARS and has a brilliant group of writers. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to let pass. I’m hoping to relaunch the site with a new look very soon. Please “like” the SunBreak on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for more information. You can, of course, continue to e-mail me at chris@anotherrainysaturday.com or at my new e-mail address, chris@thesunbreak.com.

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For now:

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Film review: Pig Death Machine

pigdeathmachine1

Pig Death Machine is the first film in more than a decade from the cult filmmaker Jon Moritsugu and his wife/co-writer/star Amy Davis. It’s an absurd, gonzo comedy that is lowbrow and low-budget ($5,400 for post production was raised via Kickstarter). Watching it will make you wonder where all of the money went.

It’s at times very funny, if uneven, and often uncomfortable to watch. There are also moments of brilliance.

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The plot, as it is, surrounds tainted meat in Santa Fe that Davis’ ditzy Cocojoy character eats at a restaurant, transforming her into a super-genius. Lipton (Hannah Levbarg) is a goth, botany nerd who works at the same restaurant Cocojoy ate at, and she eats the same meat, giving her the power to hear her plants’ cries for food and water. There’s a hilarious scene that should give one pause before walking across a lawn.

What I most liked about Pig Death Machine were the vibrancy of the bright colors, adding a different element to go along with the essence of the film. It’s a black comedy that doesn’t look like one on its surface. The other thing I loved was the punk rock soundtrack, which included bands like Deerhoof. It’s almost jarring how good some of the underground punk is in the film, whose uneasiness may have you reaching for Shazam, unsuccessfully, as an excuse to look away, but only for a moment.

{Pig Death Machine plays at the Northwest Film Forum Friday, January 10-Thursday, January 16. Tickets and more info can be found here.}