White Mystery has been in town it seems like a thousand times since their Missoula-inaugural at Total Fest some while ago. They’re good, yah, and especially so if you’re into Chicago-bred redheaded rowdy rawk fury. Over here in Weird Missoula-land, we’re hoping to catch NYC’s Organs most of all. Check that video up above, it’s cool. Like almost too cool. I’m sure the Needlecraft ladies are freaking out over how many hunks and babes are gonna be all over this show because it’s hella hella cool. Hell, there’ll be even more tomorrow night when Warm Soda plays Vera’s Residency Series.
Opening are local hunks Boys and a special fresh-from-tour edition of The Magpies. It’s gonna rule, dudes. Come get CRAY with us.
White Mystery (CHI), Organs (NYC), Boys, and The Magpies are playing the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 on Wednesday, April 10th. Doors at 9PM, show at 10PM. Cover is $5 for 21+ and $7 for those 18 to 20. The VFW is located at 245 W. Main St. in lovely downtown Missoula, Montana.
What wave are we on? This is probably the fifth time “garage rock” has been the Most Popular Thing since I started even caring about music. I suppose we were due…girl-group tropes are still popular, punk still roughly equates with rock n’ roll, and despite everything I do people still seem to like Best Coast. I mean, I get it but maaaaaaaan.
Missoula is no stranger to this thing. Even hearing it from folks that have lived here far longer than me, Missoula has always been a garage rock town. Never knew that. Makes sense though. We got your Be-Helds, your Needlecrafts, your Velcro Kicks, and your All-Breds…etc. etc. All y’all dying to buzz that Silvertone or try on your best Link Wray costume. I get it. I get it. Most of the time it’s pretty on point and most of the time it’s actually pretty awesome…I’m just getting burned out, man.
Boys rule. I’d been catching them here and there for the last few months now, playing the regular sorts of places bands play in Missoula nowadays (Palace, VFW, Lab, Zoo City). I’ll include them in this whole “garage rock” moment because for the most part, that’s kinda what it sounds like…but only kinda. There’s something more to it than that. They’re not your typical nostalgia nerds. They’re taking their cues more from bands like Naomi Punk and White Fence, two groups in-the-moment that are deconstructing whatever “garage rock” used to be instead of rehashing the same three chords and pretending they didn’t rip off a Shirelles song.
They don’t “rip off” so much as they reference a weird array of maybe-influences. From quoting Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” on “Inferno” to covering the first half of a Green Day song on the last half of “Electric Chair Blues,” Boys’ sense of humor goes beyond the jokes and starts playing with the very idea of what a song is supposed to be. It’s a nice thing to see when some music nerds (present company included) have a tendency to take themselves WAY too seriously. Is it just me or are those Kansas and Green Day songs both in Guitar Hero? I find that way too hilarious not to mention.
Shit’s fun, people. Boys is probably the most apt name one could think of for these dudes. Shy Shirley is just a really fun record. Laugh at yourselves just a little bit more and it’ll make sense. Some healthy self-aggrandizement is never a bad thing.
Does anyone remember that Shoppers show we were supposed to have at the VFW this winter? You know, it was the weekend after Snowpocalypse and Shoppers’ car broke down somewhere near Coeur d’Alene. They were stuck. There was no way they were gonna make it. Still, the show went on and Memo to Maury and Shahs did just fine. Can’t stop, don’t stop.
Well…guess who totally reminds us of Shoppers? Tampa, Florida’s own MERCHANDISE, that’s who. They’ve got some of those same chaotic vibes…walls of sound like they’ve eaten a couple Jesus & Mary Chains, puked up a hardcore band, then ate that just for the drugs. I actually feel like Shoppers may be heavier, but Merchandise would still be up any Shoppa-lovin’ fan’s alley. I would not lie to you. I love you.
Merchandise has one of the most un-Google-able names in recent memory. It took me forever to realize that they had embedded a link to their very own blog in one of our initial emails to each other. Oops. Either way, here’s a little taste of their stuff: (click me). There’s an “audio” portion of that page where you can download a pretty healthy amount of their material. Here’s a track we particularly like off their Es Muerte7”:
Remember! The show is Sunday, April 22nd at the VFW (located at 245 W. Main St. in downtown Missoula; next door to Biga Pizza). Joining Merchandise will be local men-gone-nuts Boys and local tall people The Magpies. Everything will get rolling around 9pm and will cost $3.
Once again Mr. Matt Larubbio has wowed us with another killer VFW poster. This time it’s for Modality’s April Residency Series that, coincidentally, begins tonight. Like all the previous Larubbio prints, these full color, hand-screened posters are available for $8 each at the VFW. Just poke a bartender and they can help you out.
It’s an old story, but so many bands dissolve just when they’re shaking hands with accomplishment. Missoula is no stranger to this kinda thing and in fact, I’d say it’s the common trajectory. We’re a small scene in a small town that’s a few Starbucks shy of really being a city. Thank gawd there’s a college here and we’re strategically placed between the Midwest and the cultural-twin-towers of Seattle and Portland or we might as well be Oklahoma with mountains. But still, considering so many musicians in Missoula double as students, it’s not surprising to see some of the best take off for the big city before the ink dries on their MFAs. That’s the curse with the Magic City Boys. Turner Capehart Canty, their drummer, youngest in an East Coast punk dynasty (just google his last name) and venerable musician in his own right, is one of those folks to take flight recently. Off to Oakland and hopefully to return (we hope!), Turner’s absence spelled an early death for a band that should’ve kept going for a hell of a lot longer. It’s notable too that fellow “boy” June West was once a member of the local powerhouse Julie & the Wolves and their equally early end was prompted by the move of musician Julie Hurd, this time to Seattle. So much moving. Quit it, people.
Their lone album, Welcome Week, is ironically titled. I doubt it was on purpose but come on, it should’ve been called CYA For a Year. The third “boy” in the band is Riley Wave and he was gracious enough to make the record available online in the last few days. It’s great. I just wish I could get it on vinyl.
Now I’m reticent to praise the internet’s job in annihilating musical regionalism but with so many influences so readily available and the education it ensures so vast and so free, a ton of bands can draw upon things they normally wouldn’t have heard of. This is even more true with the young(er) generation. I mean, I’m one of those people that lived a big chunk of their adolescence without an email address. In my own lifetime it’s been both exciting and terrifying to see how much things have changed. We had magazines and now you have streaming audio. It’s fantastic. The Magic City Boys are younger than me. They either had extremely hip parents or they learned how to use the internet’s potential at an early age. I’m betting on the latter. The jangly interplay between Wave and West’s guitars keep reminding me of the Byrds (California) while their seemingly asymmetrical song structures remind me of bands like Bird Names (Chicago). I’m not going to assume this was intentional but musical memes have a way of traveling at increasingly impressive speeds these days. There’s no such thing as the “Missoula” sound anymore. Same goes for those big cities on the edges of this country. We’re all together now in this muddy, confusing mess of combination, emulation, and choice.
That’s not to say Welcome Week isn’t interesting. I’d say it’s one of the strongest records to come out of Missoula in a long time. From the get-go we’re thrust into the playfulness of June’s voice and a song (“If You Can Believe It”) that’s begging you to keep listening to it but wait, there’s a wink. “Chalk” is even better and though I have no idea who’s doing it, that guitar work jumping in after that OH OH OH OH OH intro is why I’m comparing these guys to the Byrds. This song is also where I’m really getting the interplay not only between Wave and West’s guitarisms but between their vocals as well. Those two can harmonize. June’s nearly perfect pitch and Riley’s charming almost-pitch are perfect counterpoints.
I have to say it now: lyrics are not one of those things that are that important to me about a band. Granted, horrifically bad lyrics can be a deal-breaker (I’m looking at you, Pretty Girls Make Graves) but as long there’s an understanding from the vocalist that the way the words sound is more important than the words themselves, we’re traveling in OK territory. Call it my Eno-centric take on music or whatever, I’m just not usually drawn to that kinda thing. There are exceptions, of course, but when aren’t there? It’s such an amorphous task: writing about music. We’re pitting one medium against another. It doesn’t really matter what I say about this album as long as I’m at least enticing you to listen to the thing. That’s why I do this.
Back to Welcome Week? Three words: worth your time. Hopefully they’ll play another show before I die or at least the two remaining Missoulians in the band will do something equally exciting. Who knows? I wish them the best and I’d like them to know that I’m watching closely. If June and Riley don’t make music together again they’ll be doing this town a disservice.
Welcome Week is available for download at a your price from their Bandcamp page.
I’ve been kinda caught up here at Weird Missoula finishing off the second season of Breaking Bad and generally scouring Bandcamp for more Missoula-musics I like. As such, it’s been a little slow going. I’m gonna review that Magic City Boys album that was just “released” a day or so ago. I’m still giving it a listen and mulling over.
That’s a photo of Abe Coley btw…at the once fantastic and now totally dead venue known as the BSMT. Maybe I should write a long piece about that, I dunno.
I’ve been talking to a few people involved in the music scene here and hopefully I can get some guest posts up in the next few weeks. I also stumbled upon a Thug Nasties EP and a recording of the last Fagrag show on the internet I’m gonna have to give listens to.
If you or anyone you know has got something (album, show, art opening, whatever) you want me to mention, you can get to me view that little “questions” button at the top of the page to the right of the subtitle. We’re Missoula-centric after all. Mostly. I can’t promise I can review everything but I’ll do my best.
I’ve been co-hosting the radio show Ectoplasmatic with Hana MT (of 10yoGF) on KBGA every Sunday afternoon from 2pm-4pm. This week she’s busy so instead I’ll be joined by a special mystery guest. In addition to that, I have my own regular show entitled High Life every Monday morning from 9am-11am.
If you didn’t know, KBGA is located at 89.9FM for Missoula and the surrounding area and it’s also streaming online from their website. There are a bunch of great shows on that thing.
OK. Well hopefully I’ll get that Magic City Boys review done soon. And yes, Thug Nasties and Fagrag are on the docket for next week.
OH! In the world of non-Missoula news…shit for you to google…
Die Antwoord is apparently working on a new album. So’s Leonard Cohen. The CMJ Festival is currently happening in NY and on this day in history in 1096 a Turkish army annihilates a ton of peasants on their way to Jerusalem. What a country!