For four albums, Seattle songwriter David Bazan chronicled heartache, humdrum and spiritual strife as the only constant member and songwriting force behind the band Pedro the Lion. His music possessed the same mope quotient as Elliot Smith's, but his lyrics, often centering on the ebb and flow of his faith, allowed critics to frequently and unfairly pigeonhole him as a Christian indie rocker. He never used his songs as a pulpit, and his fans, identifying with his bleeding-heart honesty, came from every spiritual and secular stripe. As of last year though, Bazan retired the Lion and began attempting to roar under his own name.
On his first official solo release, Fewer Moving Parts, Bazan buries the subtle soul-searching in favor of self-importance and heavy-handed potshots. The first song, "Selling Advertising," takes aim at the record reviewers who focused on his faith. It's a shallow indictment that doles out clichés and stumbles on depthless contention with Bazan singing, "Am I a Christian? Are you a Jew? / Did you kill my Lord? Must I forgive you?" On "Backwoods Nation," the singer (and pastor's son) tries to get political, but ends up preaching to the choir with an overbearing critique of the U.S. The message is as dumbed-down and insipid as the lazy chord progression as he cries out, "Calling all rednecks to put down their sluggers / And pick up their machine guns and kill camel fuckers," and he continues, "Ain't it a shame that due process / Stands in the way of swift justice." It's a vapid satire of the state of the nation, and it just goes to show that it's easy to put your tongue in your cheek when your message has no teeth to begin with. That said, let's hope he resurrects some Pedro the Lion songs. David Bazan plays with J. Tillman at 8 pm Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Indigo District. All ages. $8. —Jeremy Ohmes
"Oh say can you see / By the torn fishnet tights / That it's roller derby / Yeah us girls, we're really tough!" Those are only the first few sassy lines of the Emerald City Roller Girls' (ECRG) Roller Derby Anthem (the melody should be familiar). These badass chicks are in a league of their own … and looking for some financial support. One team, The Fast Track Furies, is ready to strut some toned skater bodies to help their team make some money at the Derby Girl Do-It-Yourself Fashion Show. Music, fashion and short films collide to provide a fun fundraiser night for the Furies.
As of now, the ECRG league consists of several teams stacked with rosters of women who don't make roller skating look cute beyond their tank tops and feisty attitudes: These unpaid and devoted ladies are ready to compete. However, independence can also be financially difficult. The women of the ECRG personally fund their equipment and games. In order to make money for equipment and to help injured teammates, the Furies are hosting a fashion show where they plan to get creative with the classic T-shirt. The Soothsayers, Ms. Led and The Co-Stars will play, and teammate Laura Strobel will premiere a montage of The Fast Track Furies' Oct. 13 "Fall Brawl" game against Fresh Meat. "Some of the teammates are injured right now, and we want to raise money to help them get better," says Jack Hoffman, better known as team captain "One Eyed Jack."
The Fast Track Furies are confident that this is only the beginning of a fun skating year. "It's good to see us progress so quickly and communicate well with one another," says Hoffman. "I'm really proud of us. We have come a long way in a short time." The DIY Fashion Show starts at 9:30 pm Friday, December 7, at Sam Bond's Garage. 21+ event. $5-$10 ss. — Katie Cornell
Feels So Dirty, It's Sweet
Looking more like beggars than monarchs, the guys of Dirty Sweet definitely don't seem like the ideal candidates to bring home to meet mom and dad. Unless, that is, your parents happen to be stuck in the '70s and dig long hair and beards. Doesn't matter — one listen, and you're hooked. Dirty Sweet brings the kind of rock and roll missing from today's music scene with their debut album … Of Monarchs and Beggars.
Dirty Sweet produces a classic rock sound reminiscent of Led Zepplin and Foghat, and their songs might fit in nicely on the Almost Famous or Dazed and Confused soundtracks. Contemporary comparisons lean towards The Wildbirds and The Black Crowes (not just because several of the members look like Chris Robinson).
Dirty Sweet, which formed in 2003, has toured with The Killers, Jimmy Eat World and Chris Cornell. They played a month of sold-out shows at Hollywood's infamous Viper Room and took home the awards for both "best rock band" and "best rock album" at the 2007 San Diego Music Awards
"Baby Come Home" will have you shaking and rocking along, wondering who wouldn't want to come home to Dirty Sweet. "Delilah" takes a different route than the Plain White T's song that uses the same name in the title. "Hey Delilah, won't you give me back my favorite blue jeans / 'Cause you know that they look better on me."
Dirty Sweet plays with Limousine and the Dregs at 10 pm Saturday, Dec. 8, at John Henry's. 21+. $4. — Anne Pick
|Eyedea and Abilities|
Here in the Northwest, we love us some indie-hop. That's why, come December 9, the WOW Hall will open its doors and welcome the dynamic duo Eyedea and Abilities. Mike Averill (Eyedea) is best known as a force in the underground battle circuit, grabbing number one spots at the Scribble Jam '99 and the Rock Steady Anniversary in 2000 as well as the HBO-sponsored Blaze Battle in Chicago. Alongside Eyedea on the ones and twos is DJ Abilities, aka Gregory Keltgen. Like Averill, Keltgen grew up in Minnesota and started cutting his teeth within the local hip hop scene, eventually making a name for himself as a talented turntablist. It only makes sense that the two would join forces and create what we now know as the E and A. From the battle ground to the studio, the pair dropped their first album — appropriately titled First Born — in the fall of 2001 through Rhymesayers Entertainment. Since then, Eyedea and Abilities have been touring the country and spreading the word, sharing stages with artists such as De La Soul, the Roots and American Head Charge. The combination of Eyedea's intricate lyrical constructions with Abilities' penchant for funk-driven basslines and jazzy loops has caught the ear of many underground hip-hop heads and critics alike. "You can't argue with the musically inventive use of samples here or the range of subject matter covered," says Will Ashon of Muzik. "The record carries real emotional weight because of the subjects dealt with and that's still all too rare in hip hop." Eyedea and Abilities perform with Sector 7G, Abzorbr (Kristoff Krane) and Three Blind Mics at 9 pm Sunday, Dec. 9, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Zach Klassen
The Most Wonderful Time …
Hell yes, I love me some Handel's Messiah. Seriously, there's nothing like a good delivery of "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" to make me bop around in my seat at the Hult Center. True, I still try to find the alto parts so I can hum along (in my head, of course, unless it's a sing-along, which this one is not) and end up lost in whichever line is dominant. But hey, that's the thing about this Baroque masterpiece: So many notes! So very, very many repititions of phrases like "And the glory, the glory, the glory of the Lord." (Plus, it's just fun to sing things like "reveal-ed.")
The Eugene Concert Choir hates to send us press releases, for some reason, yet we love the Messiah enough to walk our fingers onto the internets and find out that this version is the complete work, an interesting choice by ECC director Diane Retallack. With soloists Eugene fave Maria Jette, soprano; Barbara Rearick, mezzo; Steven Rickards, countertenor (the most ethereal of all voices); Robert Breault, tenor; and Stephen Bryant, bass, the many recitatives might not be so, er, meditative. Retallack has no doubt whipped the choir into gorgeous shape, and the propulsive choruses will kick the season off right.
Of course the whole thing finishes not with a whimper but a bang. Whether you think He shall reign forever or never at all, the Concert Choir will knock your socks off (and make you stand up and sing) at 2:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Hult Center. $19-$34. — Suzi Steffen
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Hey kid, want to hear some holiday classical-pop-rock fusion songs?
No, not the kind of elevator-esque crud on tap at many shopping areas (even Market of Choice has gotten into the agony of Christmas "music" — is nothing sacred in this world?). Anyway, this is something different: Aaron Meyer, a rock violinist who has composed for or played with Everclear, Pink Martini and Smokey Robinson, brings his six-piece band to the lovely Wildish Community Theater in Springfield for the theater's gala benefit concert.
The Wildish, which opened a year ago, hosts a variety of events from music to community meetings to plays (as you can read on page 48 in Sharleen Nelson's review of the Lord Leebrick's It's a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play, which opened at the Wildish last weekend). Meyer comes to spread a little joy and a little crossover violin power. On his excellent website (www.aaronmeyer.com),it's easy to hear clips from his many albums, including several holiday song albums. Whoa — "What Child Is This?" sounds like that? In the hands of a string player who loves The Rock Music, it sure does. Meyer, who performed a solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was 11, went on to music school and then a sojourn in Asia that left him as likely to perform in Phuket as Portland, where he now lives with his family. Tix for the show are spendy, but it's for a worthy cause: The theater needs community support. And it's also for a fun cause: Meyer will rock your thoughts about holiday music, stringed instruments and classical musicians. Aaron Meyer and band play at 8 pm Friday, Dec. 7, at the Wildish Community Theater, 630 Main St., Springfield. $65. — Suzi Steffen