Eugene Weekly : Music : 11.01.07

Multi Culti Vision

Despite what some folks patrolling the Arizona border might believe, America owes much of its cultural vitality to its immigrant heritage and the resulting mix of artistic influences from all over the world. And since Israel, too, is composed of immigrants from lands near and far, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear so much multicultural music emerging from a nation that’s either three generations or three millennia old, depending on how you look at it.

Israeli keyboard player and composer Idan Raichel comes from a family with roots in Eastern Europe, but he was attracted to the music he heard while working as a guidance counselor at a boarding school for immigrants. Many of those immigrants were Jews recently arrived from Ethiopia, which once had a strong Jewish community, and they listened to hip hop, reggae and traditional village songs. While building a rep as a session musician for Israeli pop singers, Raichel began pursuing an alternative night life of soaking up music in Ethiopian bars, clubs, even weddings and other religious ceremonies. His fascination with music of African origin recapitulates similar journeys taken by American and European musicians from Gershwin to Goodman to Elvis to the Beatles to David Byrne and zillions of others.

Raichel started incorporating these sounds and musicians into recordings, and the Idan Raichel Project’s first single, featuring an Ethiopian chorus, zoomed up the Israeli pop charts. His collective ensemble stars singers from Ethiopia, Yemen, South Africa, the Caribbean (Suriname) and Sudan. Their sizzling American debut album, including guest shots from Youssou N’Dour, Willie Nelson, Ziggy Marley and more, pulsates with stirring electronic beats and danceable world music influences, one thrilling version of music’s future. The Idan Raichel Project plays at 7:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 1, at the UO’s EMU Ballroom. $15, $5 stu.— Brett Campbell


Do The Twist

The name The Pipettes had been buzzing around in the periphery of my musical awareness for some time before the CD landed on my desk. On the cover, three sassy ladies in polka-dotted dresses stand towering over a tiny city, as if they’re looking for Godzilla to take down (a miniscule helicopter buzzes around their knees ineffectively). I don’t know what I expected from this, but it wasn’t The Pipettes’ infectious combination of glossy ’60s pop choruses and harmonies by way of the fiery singalongs of Le Tigre with a hearty dose of the underappreciated, restrained charms of ’90s indiepop darlings Heavenly (who, like The Pipettes, hailed from the U.K.).

It’s tempting to call it ironic, this appropriation of the perfectly-matched presentation of girl groups of the previous decades, but somehow it comes off as exactly the opposite: sassy, yes, but downright sincere. Anyone who ever sang a pop medley in high school choir will know just where the melodies are going, but the lyrics turn the coordinated costumes and sugar-sweet vocal tones right on their ear, as just the song titles (“Sex,” “One Night Stand”) make clear. It’s hard to pick a favorite from the 16 crisply brief tracks on the band’s debut, We Are the Pipettes, but “Pull Shapes” and “Judy” (“She used to do things I thought were rude, but I never said anything to her face ’cause her friends said that she’d kick my ass all over the place”) are definitely in the running; the former is the kind of twisty little earworm that you find yourself humming in the shower, letting your imagination fill in the roaring crowd noises the album track contains. The three women who make up the Pipettes — RiotBecki, Gwenno and Rosay — tour with a backing band, the Cassette, and bring their synchronized, smart-aleck, sweet-voiced, super-awesome sound to town (with guests Nicole Akins and the Sea and Monster Bobby) at 9 pm Friday, Nov. 2, at John Henry’s. 21+ show. $10 adv., $12 door. See you on the dance floor. — Molly Templeton


Stand Feel Nod Smile

Just because the six fellas in Do Make Say Think are fans of the verb doesn’t make them verbose. In fact, 10 years and five albums into their career, the Toronto-based instrumental ensemble can count all the words they’ve ever needed on one hand. Their music, an organically eloquent blend of drone, jazz, folk and psychedelic-singed post-rock, carries the conversation for them and emotes more convincingly than any skinny indie-rock kid or chorus ever could.

On their fifth album, You, You’re a History in Rust, Do Make Say Think continues to build mood, tone and texture on the bedrock of instruments alone. The record opens with pure atmosphere — distant and dying drums give way to a gauzy film score of gentle woodwinds, strummed, sparse strings and tape hiss. It’s a subdued, meditative affair before a folksy picked guitar puts you right on the front porch of a backwoods cabin. The drums come back twofold, talking counterpoint to what is now a cross-stitch of glockenspiels, pianos and zigzagging guitars. Even at its busiest, the song feels as rustic as the barn in which the album was recorded. On the next track, “A With Living,” the bucolic ambience is only reinforced by the haybale “oohs” and “ahs” of the Akron/Family clan. But DMST kicks the barn doors open and lets the animals run loose on the third song, “The Universe!” — a triumphant post-rock anthem that’s spurred on by an explosive drums and a cometing riff. It expresses so much jubilation and bliss without saying a single word, and, like many moments in DMST’s music, it leaves you speechless as well. Do Make Say Think and Apostle of Hustle play at 9 pm Friday, Nov. 2, at the Indigo District. 21+ show. $8. — Jeremy Ohmes


Fury Furnishes An Accident

North Eugene High School alum Nik Fury started playing music in middle school, inspired by other kids who started a band. Ambitiously forming a band with his brother, Fury began writing his own songs as a freshman in high school. A borrowed four-track helped Fury start recording music; now, at 27, he’s releasing his second album, Lights, Camera, Accident.

What does Nik Fury sound like? A variety of things. Fury says, “Sometimes people say I sound like Linkin Park (but not as tough), which I’m OK with. And then others say they hear some Death Cab for Cutie in my softer songs, which I’m even more OK with.” From high school party anthems to soulful songs of worship to catchy rap rhymes, Fury creates songs that different types of people can relate to.

Fury describes his new album as being lyrically more creative in its storytelling, and closer to the music he likes to listen to. “I always try to be as honest as I can with my lyrics, writing things people think but don’t have the courage to say out loud,” Fury says. He hopes listeners will be inspired to be themselves, no matter the cost. Nik Fury’s CD release party begins at 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 3, at Cozmic Pizza. No cover. — Anne Pick


Poke and Prog

It’s been almost two years since I last wrote about Salem’s Mill Race, yet I almost used the same headline for this story — and I still think they’re one of the most dead-on bands out there when it comes to decribing their own music. Last time, they used the term “sci-fi country-western” to describe their album Westerns; now, singer-songwriter Julian Snow writes in the press material of their two-EPs-in-one new release, A Garden Gnome, the Garden Never Known/Upon the Flying, Lying, Dying, Frying Pan of Satan, “One EP is kinda prog rock, but in a concise and expressive way … The other is (sort of) a tribute to early heavy metal and other medieval stuff.”

Yes, that. Mill Race has definitely blasted off from the prairie, but without leaving all the members’ roots behind. These strange, driven songs leap around the genre map, from the noodling electronic tones and insistent drumbeat of “In Der Hand” to the juxtaposition-happy “Ballade of Slaimland,” which vaults from recorders to straight-up ’70s rock guitars. The proggy bits that follow might be a turnoff for some, but they seem to come with a sense of humor as Snow’s chanting vocals alternate with sci-fi sound effects of yesteryear. Mill Race is a band exploring the dimmer reaches of rock’s musical space in a tiny paper rocket, like a Smashing Pumpkins video come to life. Mill Race plays a CD release show with The Fast Computers and The Crosswalks at 9:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 3, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Molly Templeton


The Pride of Boston

The typical Eugenean’s musical taste is vast and fickle. On any given night the masses are spread out across the town, attending separate shows and bobbing their heads to wildly different beats. Much like our inability to agree on what to do with downtown, our inability to agree on what constitutes good music is also an ongoing battle. So when all around town I heard excited chitchat about the Dropkick Murphys show, I was surprised. Hardcore punk rockers, 40-year-old virgins, Catholic school girls and Celtic music lovers, all attending the same show? Blasphemy! And that’s just the way the band wants it.

These seven Massachusetts guys are more like a dysfunctional family who get drunk on holidays and pee in each other’s beer bottles than band members. Strong family ties and an appreciation for the working class resonate from their songs and the cover of their newest album The Meanest of Times. On the cover is a bunch of scowling school boys scrapping in the school yard; it’s an image the band members can relate to.

“Growing up, I saw my share of hard times. But looking back on it I wouldn’t trade them for anything, because those hard times made us all who we are today,” says bassist/vocalist Ken Casey.

And who they are today is a punk band with a Celtic twist. Like the Irish car bomb I pounded last night, the Murphys have a sweet Irish melody that goes down smooth with a singalong, anthemic punk rock kick. Now on their sixth album, the band still continues to impress and please their loyal fans while broadening their fan base with the popularity of songs like the banjo heavy “The State of Massachusetts” and “Flannigan’s Ball,” which features guest appearances by Spider Stacey of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners.

The energy and talent of these guys can’t be denied, and I double dog dare you to play one of their CDs and not get the urge to dance. If you have never heard the Murphys, you are missing out on some of the best mandolin, accordion, banjo and bagpipe playing by a rock band — not to mention Ken Casey’s and Al Barr’s incredible vocals. Being a fan of the Murphys gives you a whole other extended family, and this one actually welcomes you with open arms. They seem to have at least brought together this crazy family we call Eugene.

The Dropkick Murphys play at 8 pm Monday, Nov. 5, at the McDonald Theatre. $18 adv., $20 door. — Deanna Uutela


Trucks Ride Shotgun, Dudes Ride Bitch

Like most guilty pleasures, The Trucks drove into my life by chance. While frantically plumbing the depths of the Internet for images for our Nightlife section about a year ago, I typed in “the trucks myspace” and found a plethora of quirky snapshots of feisty, ferocious girls in striped spandex dancing in front of keyboards. I was intrigued but too busy to stop and listen. Needless to say, when I finally acquired their self-titled disc a few months later — and popped the CD in for a listen — my ears just about orgasmed.

The hip ladies who make up this electro-pop-punk quartet from Bellingham, Wash., would make a perfect entry in this month’s Grrrlz Rock concert series; they channel their distinct qualities (curvy bodies, sensuousness, hardcore honesty) in their music. (Fans of Gravy Train, Sleater-Kinney and Fanny Pack pay heed!) Kristen Allen-Zito, a talented singer-songwriter in her own right, leads the troupe in songs about dildos (“Diddle Bot”), one-night stands (“March 1st”), unreciprocated oral sex (“Why The Fuck?”) and sex schooling (“Titties”), all served up with a we-know-something-the-guys-don’t perspective that bites but never gets too sappy.

Weaker songs like “Introduction” and “Shattered” (which suffer from repetition) are balanced with tender ’80s power ballads like “Comeback” — a song that hints at the girls’ softer side until you hear the lyrics (“You don’t have to run away / I’m gonna kill you anyway”) — and the too-cool keyboard snarl of “3AM.” With a recent (and odd) appearance on NPR and a national tour under their belts, now is the time to discover The Trucks. They play with The Ovulators and Black Eyes & Neckties in a benefit show for the Emerald City Roller Girls at 10 pm, Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Indigo District. 21+ show. $6. — Chuck Adams