Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.18.09

Standard Operational Procedure

The Underlings

Someday, when everything in the world is right, Ed Cole’s pop will be the world standard. It’s not that what he’s doing is incredibly new; it isn’t. It’s that it replicates the glory of ’80s punk icons such as Minutemen and Hüsker Dü and combines it with brainy honesty, strength of character and energy derived from copious amounts of coffee and repeated listenings to the best pop and rock that the world of music has to offer.

And after a couple of decades of songwriting practice with numerous bands, he’s gotten pretty good at it. For three years now, Cole’s band The Underlings have crafted songs that thrive on riffs that evoke Television or the Stooges without sounding reductively retro. Cole’s songs often tell stories, like “Born in a Boxcar,” about a man born in 1903, “living a life that was brutal yet free.” The trio — Cole on vocals and guitar, Dave Peterson on vocals and bass, and Bryant Grace on drums — released a CD, Operational Excellence, on local songwriter Dan Jones’ Daily Records in the fall of 2008. Next month, the Underlings will record three new tunes for a 7-inch, to be released on Eureka, Calif., label Meth Bog Records in September, followed by a short West Coast tour.

As leader of prolific Portland band Minmae, Sean Brooks has released an album a year for the past nine years. Minmae is on hold for a few months because Brooks will soon head to Germany to support his new solo album, Tertiary Allotment Is A Delightfulness, with tour dates throughout Europe. Rhythm Pimps, Minmae and The Underlings play at 9 pm Friday, 6/19, at Oak Street Speakeasy. (21+ show) Free.  —  Vanessa Salvia



There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Since the age of 12, William Kennedy has been a “huge fan” of the solo work of the iconic singer known as Morrissey and his former band The Smiths. As a teenager, Kennedy roamed his rural Oregon high school with daffodils in his back pocket, making a “feeble attempt” at styling his hair to look like Morrissey, his walls covered with Smiths photos, lyrics scrawled all over his notebooks. “I frequently say he’s my Elvis,” Kennedy says. Today, Kennedy and his friend Tara Reader are organizers of the first annual Morrissey and The Smiths tribute night, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” to be held at the Wandering Goat coffeehouse.

Even if you aren’t obsessed enough with Morrissey to style yourself after him, chances are good that The Smiths have had some affect on you. Though The Smiths broke up in 1987, the band is among the most enduring of the quintessential ’80s “college rock,” such as REM and The Cure, and Morrissey remains a cult figure, feverishly adored by fans all over the world. His last album, Years of Refusal, was released this past February, and he enjoys a successful solo career — so much so that younger fans may not even know of his music with The Smiths. 

Morrissey has “cut a very unique figure in pop history,” Kennedy says. To some people, Kennedy repeats, “he’s adored like Elvis.” And now, like Elvis, Morrissey will have his own tribute night, which will feature Smiths and Morrissey covers performed by Redox, the Comforters, the Ambitious Outsiders (a band Kennedy put together for the occasion) and Portland’s Earl Patrick, who will perform Smiths songs on ukulele. Smiths and Morrissey memorabilia will be raffled off along with prizes from local businesses. Arrive early to sign up for the open mic. Morrissey and The Smiths tribute night begins at 9 pm Saturday, 6/20, at Wandering Goat Coffee Company. (All ages) Free.  —  Vanessa Salvia