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Eugene Weekly : Music : 02.09.06

Cool Nutz All Up In Your Mouth

The Charlie Hustle of Northeast P'town visits Eugene.


Hip hop talent may come and go here in the Northwest — blowing up big or moving on to other area codes. But after all is said and done, any MC and DJ who has spent time in the NW will gladly drop what they're doing and give a shout out to rapper, manager and promoter Cool Nutz, aka Terrance Scott. The "Charlie Hustle" of Northwest hip hop stretched the region's sound down to the Cali border and nudged it east out to Boise, dotting all the small towns along the way, bringing hip hop to the otherwise untouched.

Cool Nutz, Kane, Siren's Echo, Maniac Lok, Young Gangsta Poets and the Option Hosted by DJ Chill. WOW Hall, 9 pm . Friday, 2/10, $10, all ages. www.jusfamilyrecords.com

A man with a true passion for hip hop, the Portland bred Cool Nutz founded Jus Family Records with producer friend Bosko Kante in 1992. Their first release under the Jus Family name, Dis Niggaz Nutz, laid the groundwork for this now highly respected underground label, leading to an eventual 16 releases and a slew of partnerships with high profile MCs and producers from around the world. Jus Family's reputation for churning out streetwise regional hip hop has lead to collaborations with rap heavyweights like E-40, Kurupt, WC, Too Short and Kanye West. Between creating and releasing music, Scott also manages several NW hip hop artists including the spunky female duo Siren's Echo. Cool Nutz and Bosko, along with Xzibit of Pimp My Ride fame, just came off tour in Copenhagen with Denmark hip hop phenom the L.O.C.

Right on the heels of the release of his new mixtape, DJ Chill Presents: Cool Nutz "The Voice of Northeast Portland" Mixtape Vol. 1, a showcase of retrospective, forthcoming and exclusive material from the Jus Family stable, Scott returns to Eugene with Siren's Echo as well as Jus Family's own Maniac Lok and Hard Times Records' founder Kane.

Scott calls his forthcoming album, I Hate Cool Nutz, a coming of age record, featuring a more progressive and "grown-up" Cool Nutz. "I feel very strong about the new album, and look at it as my greatest work to date," he says. "Everything to this point has been what you would call a warm up." Featuring appearances by E-40, Kurupt, Ras Kass and Sticky Fingaz, along with production work from Bosko, UnderRated and Jeffrey Simmons, the voice of NE Portland strikes again with a late spring release date.



Indie Exploration

Irving heads up a quirky quartet of bands


In the mood to rock? No? Maybe a little? Or maybe you're a little down, you need something mellow and melancholy? Whatever your musical mood — well, within reason — this Monday, the WOW Hall delivers. Singer/songwriter? Retro synth pop? Rock? Check, check and check.

Irving, Yeltsin, Liz Durrett, The Fast Computers. 9 pm Monday, 2/13. WOW Hall, $8 adv/$10 dos.

Irving is a sunny, bubbling, harmony-laden Southern California sort of pop band. The group's second full-length album, Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers, has a few quietish, darkish moments, but for the most part it's a cheery thing, packed with catchy melodies that are handed back and forth between the instruments and voices. From time to time Irving sounds oddly like The Dandy Warhols, but without the Portland band's arty pretension. "I Want to Love You in My Room" is a playfully slinky song about exactly what you think it's about (at least if your mind is even slightly in the gutter). "Situation" is a slice of rock confection, complete with cooed background vocals and a liberal dose of yeah.

Expect a quietly lush interlude when Liz Durrett takes the stage between The Fast Computers and Yeltsin. Her second album, The Mezzanine, is a collection of delicate, poignant ballads, musically subdued but emotionally loaded. It's nearly impossible not to think of early Cat Power when listening to Durrett's airy-yet-throaty voice, especially on some of her more meandering songs. Unlike Cat Power, Durrett's songs sound warm and safe in their sadness, less dangerous and unstable. At rare moments, The Mezzanine sounds too familiar, but songs like the gently stunning "In the Throes" prove Durrett is much more than just another girl with a guitar.



The Blood Runs Red

The haunting, atmospheric cello rock of Bright Red Paper


Recently Eugene has been a hotspot for a new, evolving style of music characterized by one instrument: the cello. Whether it's Matt Haimovitz performing Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" or Rasputina drenching us in a torrent of strange, dark, metal-influenced cello rock, the hauntingly human voice of the instrument is the one connection in this new hybrid that bridges classical and rock, forming a whole new genre.

Bright Red Paper. 9:30 pm, Sunday, 2/12. Cozmic Pizza Free.

This Sunday, Portland-based Bright Red Paper performs a free show at Cozmic Pizza. If you haven't caught the previously mentioned concerts, now is your chance to hear some of the most beautifully atmospheric music being played today. BRP is at once ethereal, intensely melodic and emotional, building and flowing, like a piece of paper swirling and diving in an updraft.

"I just love this instrument so much," says cellist Doug Jenkins. "I don't play anything else anymore. I think a lot of the way I connect with it is because it's so human on every level. It's human in the way you play it, you feel like you're dancing with it. Its voice is human."

This is the music of barren landscapes, of snow falling through trees, of wind slipping across open plains. It is vast and mind-blowingly expansive, dark and rich. The songs evolve from hours of improvisation until themes emerge, the lilting melodies that take you on a slow ride, that climb heavenward then fall like a feather floating down. "We carve those themes into a structure," says Jenkins. "Some of our songs are pretty big compositionally."

Melodies intertwine, as bassist Arcellis Sykes works a subtle combination of song and rhythm behind guitarist Daniel Enberg's sparse, balanced playing. Drummer Eben Dickinson weaves beats and silence into and around them, but it's Jenkins' cello that pulls it all together, a bright ray of light curving through the shadows.

Off their first, self-titled album, songs like "d is for Dead Sea" (which you can download at www.brightredpaper.com) have a yearning quality. There is peace in the rise and fall of build-up, tension, then resolution.

They've only been together about a year but BRP is already packing the crowds in to hip Portland venues including Tonic Lounge. "If we're playing in a smaller place like a coffee shop or a wine bar, we'll play two long sets," Jenkins says. "We sit facing each other and really listen and improvise. Playing at bigger places, we play a shorter set that's really loud and fun. One is more of a mind game, really thinking and trying to do things that are texturally beautiful. One is playing with contrast and volume to get texture."



World's Most Valuable Record?

Eugene's 18th Annual Record Convention


How can you put a price tag on the music that set free the minds of a generation? Record collectors gauge the collectability of a record by how many collectors want it, its rarity and its condition. The world's most valuable record may be an off-the-cuff recording by The Quarrymen owned by Sir Paul McCartney, and while you won't find that at Eugene's 18th Annual Record Convention, there will be countless other temptations to part you from your money.

Convention organizer Bill Finneran buys and sells at Eugene's annual event, the largest of its kind on the West Coast. He typically brings 1,000 $1 records with him, and sells most of them. If you want to buy a Who picture disc or that Beatles Yesterday & Today butcher cover record, bring a fat checkbook. But thousands of records can be had for merely a buck or five, as well as lots of CDs, some tapes and many posters and show flyers.

Sellers cram their tables full of everything from schlock you could find at any thrift store to highly sought-after '50s and '60s jazz, folk, soul, blues, rock, punk, metal, goth, '80s pop and novelty. Finneran says the convention has been successful since its first year, in part because it's a narrow window of opportunity for collectors and sellers: a few hours, one day only. People look forward to it, and those who attend only one convention a year make tracks to this one. "Eugene is such a good music town and has really supported it since the beginning," Finneran said. "Some of the big cities like Seattle started to do them all the time, and they've really failed recently."

The aisles of Eugene's Hilton convention room quickly become clogged with masses of people "record racooning" — frantically pawing through row after row of vinyl LPs — so expect to be crowded, and bring a bag to tote home your purchases.

Though there's a brisk feeling of excitement and competition in the air, everyone generally stays mellow, letting people gawk at their own pace. In 1999 Beck meandered through the aisles of the convention. Most people left him alone to buy stacks of Finneran's $1 offerings. A few years before that, artist/singer Laurie Anderson left town with an armful of vinyl. What prizes will you go home with?

18th Annual Record Convention. 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday, 2/12. Eugene Hilton, $3 admission, under 12 free.



Future Lullabies

I've never been a fan of all these goofy musical sub-genres being invented lately, like post-punk, post-rock, math rock, slowcore (give me a damn break) and others. It all seems like a big word jumble created by some vocabulary nerd who applied his thesaurus to music. So when I heard Seattle's The Stereo Future described as "arty-indie rock with pop," I nearly spit Dr. Pepper all over my keyboard.

Despite this near-disaster, I did still have the patience to give them a listen. I put on their most recent release, Young People, and I think I reached about the fourth track or so before I nodded off. It wasn't that the music was terrible; I just felt like I was hearing the Beach Boys sing me a lullaby or something. The instrumentation all sounded the same and the constant vocal harmonies got on my nerves after a while.

Japan's cutest girl-rock group, Noodles, will be playing along with these guys, however, so you'll get some eye candy and international flavor. If that doesn't strike your fancy either, you can rock out to Eugene's own pop-punk favorites, alterEGO, because they put on a great live performance. Take your pick and enjoy.

The Electric Finish Tour featuring Noodles, The Stereo Future, alterEGO, Good 4 Nothing and Your International Head Quarters will hit Diablo's at 9 pm Thursday, Feb. 9. $5. — Dan Hoyt


Dry Grass, Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

If you want to hear '70s proto-metal taken to its inevitable emasculated psychedelic conclusion, smoke some grass and commune with D.C.'s Dead Meadow. (Reference Pearls & Brass show preview also in this issue.) Adoration of Black Sabbath's dark psyche is the impetus for legions of bands, but mastering a Tony lommi riff will only take you so far. On Feathers, their fourth studio album, second Matador release and first as a quartet, Dead Meadow infuse Sabbath's stoned-out guitar solos with a quivering psychedelic aura and wispy vocals for a sound that's as threatening as tie-dyed underwear.

Songs unfold over several minutes within a thick atmospheric haze, and while the band shows skill at what they do, my blood concentration of mind-altering substances is too low for these fuzzy soundscapes to grip me. I do like some of the lyrics, though; they're not as stupid as they could be. "The leader of this land thinks that evil has a life of its own; don't he know the shadows that he sees are nothing but his own," for example, from "Heaven." Is it a coincidence that Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist Zakk Wylde has a song called "Dead Meadow"? Probably not.

Dead Meadow plays with StopSignGo and Entrance at 9 pm Saturday, Feb. 11 at the WOW Hall. $8 adv /$10 dos. — Vanessa Salvia


These Are Her Early Days

So you're at a party or something and you mention a famous musician that you like, but then there's always that one guy, the Know-It-All. "Oh, them," K-I-A says, stifling a yawn, "I used to go see them way back when."

Well, now's your chance to be a K-I-A by catching one of Debra Arlyn's three gigs at Luna Feb. 11, 14 and 17, part of the venue's Romance Week.

Arlyn, 20, is a singer/songwriter who writes almost exclusively about love with a refreshing ability to approach the often cloying topic from many different angles, from the giddy to the grounded. Her songwriting shows a maturity and level of craft that belies her age, and her singing is wonderfully evocative, full of shading and nuance that never seems rehearsed and mannered.

Recently named one of the Top 100 Hot Unsigned Artists by LA's Music Connection Magazine, Arlyn's career is building momentum and approaching lift off. She's preparing to release her third CD of self-produced songs and she is currently holding down a weekly gig at Chinook Winds Casino. And on Feb. 6, the cast members of the WB's show Related will perform one of her songs.

Come check out this future star while there's still time to truly say that you were there, way back when.

Debra Arylyn plays Luna Feb. 11 ($7), 14 ($10, includes CD) and 17 ($7). All shows at 7 pm with the possible addition of a 9:30 pm show on Feb. 14 — John Ginn


Kentucky Valentine

I'm not biased against bluegrass music (I have friends who listen to country). So don't get me wrong when I say that Foghorn Stringband is the type of music that goes best with a friendly conversation — more mood-setting than awe-inspiring, a relaxing repetition of rural America's soundtrack. It's more fitting for a couple pints in the pub than popping into the CD player during rush hour traffic.

WOW Hall's Valentine's Day Dance with Foghorn Stringband is this year's alternative to overcrowded restaurants and the forced intimacy that is February the 14th. Hailing from Portland, the five members of Foghorn Stringband perform in a seated semi-circle around a single microphone. They don't use amplifiers or monitors because they pride themselves on creating an intimate setting during performances.

The only problem with the band's newest album, Weiser Sunrise, is an almost maddening repetitiveness during instrumental songs. The half of this album that does have lyrics is rustic and welcoming. You can bet whatever Portland front porch these guys practice on is the most happenin' spot in the neighborhood.

When graced with the band's storytime lyrics, we find evidence of simpler times. Traditional love songs and testaments to family histories give Weiser Sunrise a comfy, time-honored feel. P.T. Grover's banjo shares leads with Stephen "Sammy" Lind's fiddle and Caleb Klauder's mandolin. Kevin Sandri plays rhythm guitar while Brian Bagdonas lays down the bass. These guys are so into the bluegrass revival that they host free square dancing every month in Portland.

Foghorn Stringband plays with The Wilders at 9 pm Tuesday, Feb. 14 at the WOW Hall. $6. — Danny Cross


Proto-Metal Stoner Sludge

Pearls & Brass

Proto-metal stoner sludge is not what I expected after reading a few lines about Pearls & Brass, describing them as "bluesy rock and roll," "modern classic rock" and the like. With one giant power chord they managed to erase any preconceived notions I had about "classic" rock and blast my ears as if the past three decades of rock never happened.

Drag City released their sophomore album, The Indian Tower, just days ago, on Jan. 24. The band hails from Nazareth, Pennsylvania (which is, no shit, about 6 miles from Bethlehem). This trio of young guys sound like they should be bearded and bell-bottomed, smelling like bongwater. They've reached back into the ancient rock vaults and unearthed the under-appreciated vibes of proto-metalists like Mountain, Cactus and Blue Cheer, also revealing for us how such modern touchstones as Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age found their sound.

"The Face of God" is a saga of power, heaviness and motion. "Wake in the Morning" gets sludgy, dredging the depths of molten blues. All the song titles are monumentous: "No Stone," "Black Rock Man," "Beneath the Earth."

The Indian Tower rocks. It sways, boogies, wails, thunders and emerges from the Nazarene wilderness completely embodying the legacy founded by prehistoric metal. See it live, hear it loud.

Pearls & Brass play at 10 pm Tuesday, Feb. 14 at Luckey's. $3-$5. — Vanessa Salvia