Thursday, August 25, 2005

Space for music

The old adage claims that “all work and no play, makes Jimmy (?) a dull boy”. For what it’s worth, I’ve been working my ass off for longer than I can remember. Work is not bad—it seems to be the lot handed to anyone daring to wear the uniform of an entrepreneur, or DIY aficionado.

I’ve mentioned my friend, Jose Ayerve, on these pages before. For the uninitiated, Jose is a great musician and fronts the immensely talented and soothingly melodic, Spouse. He is also someone who I admire for his work ethic, entrepreneurial skills and ability to keep going, despite receiving insufficient attention from record labels. In some small way, my foray into publishing via RiverVision Press, is in part fueled by music predecessors such as Jose.

Of late, he’s been managing the tour of friend and fellow musician, Joe Pernice, of Pernice Brothers fame. The Pernice Brothers tour wagon rolled into Portland’s Space Gallery last night, on the second leg of their U.S. (and Canada) tour. Sparing readers the details, Jose’s continuance in running the show hinged on receiving some opening slots on this second part of the tour through October.

Obviously, having him open the Portland show was a wise move, as Jose and band used to be based in Portland. Space was more crowded than I ever recall for an opening act, when Jose walked on stage with just his new custom electric that he picked up for $75.

A number of recognizable scenesters and fellow musicians were in the audience for Jose’s set of about 8 or 9 songs, many of them, solo treatments of Spouse numbers from their latest record. If you have an appreciation for melodic rock, with solid songwriting and a penchant for pop sensibilities, then you need to add Are You Gonna’ Kiss or Wave Goodbye to your collection.

It was tough to talk much, but Jose was his usual gracious self, between all his responsibilities of making sure that everything was taken care of, on top of performing ably.

The second band on the bill, The Cloud Room, hailed from New York City and were much better than I anticipated. I might even say they impressed the hell out of me and I’m usually not that easy to impress when seeing bands for the first time.

Here’s a bit of the buzz about the band, that I was blissfully unaware of until I looked them up this morning:

"NYC buzz band the Cloud Room has a winner with this euphoric song, which has a perfect summer singalong chorus and recalls the glammery glittery goodness of Ziggy-era Bowie." - (on "Hey Now Now")

"[Hey Now Now] is a genuinely brilliant single, up there with the Killers' "Mr. Brightside," the Kaiser Chiefs' "I Predict A Riot" and the Decemberists' "16 Military Wives" as one of the great alterna-pop singles of the first half of 2005."- All Music Guide

"Catchy." - National Public Radio, "All Songs Considered"

"[Hey Now Now's] fit-for-iPod-commercial groove thankfully isn't the only thing working in the band's favor."- CMJ

It’s always nice to see a band for the first time and have your initial impression validated.

If you like reading about new bands, here’s one last link to check out, in addition to their website.

Let me say that the lateness of the hour and the stiffness in my back was taxing my will to hang around for the Pernice Brothers. Not that I was unaware of their headline status, as well as incredible street cred preceding them; it’s just that at my advanced age, a midweek gig with a band arriving on stage at 11:15 is tough on my constitution.

The wait and aching lower back were well worth the wait. Joe Pernice is one of indie rock’s top troubadours. His literate songwriting, genuineness and incredibly lush pop (where pop is a term of endearment), made the lateness of the hour well worth it.

It was gratifying to see a midweek crowd approaching 100 people turn out in Portland, to catch some underappreciated musicians, all of whom are firmly entrenched in the independent, to-hell-with-the-fickle-winds-of-corporate-rock world, camp.

Was it just me, or does Pernice do a dead-ring impression of early era (Devil Between My Toes, An Earful O’Wax) Guided By Voices, and the songwriting duo of Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout? Not being a hardcore fan and having merely a surface knowledge of Pernice’s music with his latest incarnation, I couldn’t help but be swept away with the infectious, hum-along qualities of tune after tune.

If you like music that leans to the independent, and even experimental side, then do yourself a favor and check out Space’s monthly calendar. You’ll be happily rewarded by catching some great bands making their way to our isolated corner of rockdom.

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