Punk

Show Review: Vexx with The Cigarette Burns and Chemos

When asked what venue best represents the Portland punk music scene your first thought probably isn’t Black Water bar, but if you want to find the heart of punk music, Black Water is the place to be. That was especially true on May 23rd with Vexx, Chemos and The Cigarette Burns.

The Cigarette Burns started the show in a frenzy, each of their songs louder than the last, proof of entropy in action. That being said their set wasn’t gimmicky, which is a true display of how much they’ve grown in the year they’ve been together. Their sound has become more refined, growing more authentic, powerful, and driven with each show. Erik’s stage performance is feral and absolutely hypnotizing, drawing the crowd in, reminding everyone what it’s like to be young, and since The Cigarette Burns inception each member has only gotten better, growing steadily more technical and confident.

Building on the same chaotic energy of The Cigarette Burns, Chemos took the stage, showing off an array of simple and fast-paced songs that the crowded audience at Black Water seemed into. Chemos is fresh to the Portland music scene and despite being able to get the crowd moving, hopefully they can further define their sound as they continue playing together. Punk music isn’t known for its carefulness of craft, for refinement, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a uniqueness or clarity of voice.

That being said, Chemos ended their set by trashing their drum kit, turning the stage to rubble, so maybe that kind of don’t-care attitude is all they need to keep pulling in crowds.

Vexx however, is completely set apart from their peers because their music stands alone without any showmanship added to it. Their intentionality in songwriting permeates every part of their music. This is especially true in songs like “Stress” or “Clairvoyant” where rhythms build out of chaos and melodic guitar hooks snake themselves out of the tumult. Singer Maryjane Duphne, who is nothing if not unpredictable, personifies all of this. Sure, a singer can pitch themselves into the crowd, drop to their knees or writhe right off the stage, and everyone in the audience will be totally into it, but when Maryjane sings she wanders into an otherworld and she invites you to follow her, trance-like into the hysteria.

You can check out Vexx’s new release, “Give and Take” here:

-Sarah Eaton

 

 

   

Mexican Slang @ the Garrison TONIGHT

Muy Bueno. If you like your rock n roll mean, sleazy, noisy and edgy, you’ve found home. Mexican Slang pounds out cavernous, beautiful tunes driven by reckless sludgy guitar and garage-rock drums, with sickly sweet Annabelle's vocals front and centre for the whole ride. The energy and the grime of their A-side “Fever” paired with the erie pulse of “Goatlord” makes for a quick and dirty tumble through 5 minutes of adrenaline and attitude. There doesn’t seem to be any one defining influence over these three, other than a strong love for fuzztones and brevity, getting the point across loud, proud, and in a hurry. You can catch them in their all their distorted glory at The Garrison, Saturday June 6th. -Cody Wright

   

BRNDA gets "serious" in their new single and will play a home show at Above The Bayou 6/15

Stop goofing around. You may know BRNDA as that friendly post-punk quartet that likes blowing up balloons, singing to apple queens and carefree manatees, and parrot fronted metal, but they can totally beat you up (ok, or give you a stern talking to). These self-proclaimed snack core rockers are “a serious band from Washington DC”. If you don’t believe me, listen to their latest single “Serious Band”, in which they make this themesong-like claim maybe 20 times. If you’re wondering, why so serious? Well they also claim to be quite angry! Why so angry? They yell out “Alex Kozen!” (the group’s vocalist/guitarist) a few times. We’re not exactly sure what that guy did, but theoretically there are plenty of reasons to be angry at any given moment in the life of an ethically aware human being. Ease up, these buds have been on a super tour with Teen Mom but they’ll be back to play a home show at Above The Bayou on 6/15 with Pupppy, O-Face, and Swings.

-Leora Mandel

   

The BallRoom Babies @ the Lazy Flamingo

The Ballroom Babies are a 3 piece rock outfit made of 3 brothers. Steve, Mike and Nathan Collucci from Mississauga, Ontario. All 3 are seasoned musicians having graduated from Humber College's Music Program. At one point they all separate bands but have come to the conclusion to "never go against the family". They released their first album "Change to Silver" in 2013. Its all cohesive rock n roll with an edge. I particularly like the title track from the album. It starts off with a slow drum beat and a tight chord progression that leads into a dreamy chorus with vocals cut from a Scott Weiland cloth. By the end of the tune it all makes sense...and you're rocking out. Have a listen....you can see the Ballroom Babies Wednesday June 3rd @ the Lazy Flamingo in Hamilton. -Kris"Big City"Gies

   

Single Lash Has the Chords You're Looking For

Those'd be some seriously 80s, seriously British reverbed chords we're talkin' about, and they come slinking out of popgazers Single Lash, them of the perhaps most perfect pop goth band name what has ever been, on their new eponymous album. Released this April, "Single Lash" follows up on 2014's intriguing "Soft as Glass" with 12 cacophonous tracks with one or two word titles, those sparse words more often than not being from the gloomy romantic side of the dictionary (“Bitemarks,” “Keep It,” “Drown” and “False” start the album off, just to name a few). In fact, a flavor of gothic influenced “lovely, but with death on the mind,” thorned-rose notes percolate through and from the music itself through all of the album, the sound of which comes from the art poprock side of the dark music genrescape.

“Single Lash,” and Single Lash the band itself, are well-done breaks from the idea that dreary must always be dark (or is it vice versa), with the satisfying and even at times near ecstatic prettiness of the album pairing perfectly with the goth- and general 80s-British-Music-informed melancholia of the songs here. Which, truth be told, is just the way any good pain + pleasure thing should go (I guess in a way what I’m saying is that “Single Lash” is the consensual rough sex where everyone involved leaves bruised but happy of music).

As an example of this sweet and sour sound I’m talking about, take track “False,” one of the more outwardly happy, more upbeat sounding tracks on the album. Soaking in the waves of bright, quick shoegaze that wash out of the drack (and not drowning in them, as can happen with many -gaze tracks), one can just make out the words of the song, “There’s nothing here to want/Just bitter nostalgia-/There’s nothing here that’s true.” Second track “Keep It” nails the sentiment in one line, “I am spellbound as the stars go out.“

Speaking of nostalgia, that feeling is an excellent touchstone for this music, the word coming from the combination of the Greek words for “return home” and “pain (apologies to Don Draper fans). When that word was coined, real life medical people actually thought you could die from nostalgia, and listening to Single Lash, you get the sense that the band might not find that concept too outlandish. They pine, they remember, they query the universe about why things are the way they are in most tracks. However, from the bright sounds they blend into their laments and existential requests, I also get the sense that Single Lash is less interested in the idea of despair alone, but maybe more of just a heaviness of all emotion. I get the feeling that if their members died because of grief or existential uncertainty, it would be more of a chosen and beautiful event than a perishing one.

All of that, of course, is just speculation (maybe super happy people are great at sad music? you never know), but what is nothing but sure is that “Single Lash” is a deadly gorgeous album that does not tire from track to track despite its drone-heaviness and which is both fully versed in its influences and yet has also drifted away from them to a nearby space all its own. Listen below, especially if it’s still fucking raining when you find this piece. You could do much worse for rainy day music.