CRACK CITY ROCKERS

Joyce Hotel

(Paisley Pop)

Portland combo in love—that's l-u-v—with the seedy side of life.

If you're from Portland, home to these wham-bam-thank-YOU-ma'am!

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CD Reviews

CRACK CITY ROCKERS

Joyce Hotel

(Paisley Pop)

Portland combo in love—that's l-u-v—with the seedy side of life.

If you're from Portland, home to these wham-bam-thank-YOU-ma'am! rockers, the album title's a broad hint. The Joyce is a once-lustrous abode now gone to seed as a residential flop whose assorted woes included a notorious '97 sexual harassment suit involving the hotel manager preying upon female tenants. That's a perfect metaphor for the luckless desperation, waitin' for the man-style glammy punk blooze CCR excels at. The band is led by Eric Gregory, who sketches his street-luv vignettes from a (Lou) Reed's-eye viewpoint and delivers them with a weighty gravity that brings to mind, at times, David Johansen, Steve Wynn, and the Only Ones' Peter Perrett. (Worth noting: Lead guitarist Dennis Mitchell also fronts Rose City power-pop kings the Quags.) And the music's the perfect sonic yin to Gregory's late-night loser's yang. Highlights include the snappy New York Dolls-isms of "I Do All Right" and the funky hepcat shuffle "Now I Know," plus the stone brilliant "Zombietime," which sleekly marries Mott the Hoople to Iggy Pop and makes 'em play Reed's "Vicious." On the CCR Web site, an exhaustive list of "sources of inspiration" includes such disparate icons as Patti Smith, the Clash, the Doors, the Fugs, Mick Farren, writer Terry Southern, rock crit Nick Kent and—dig it—Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Poets, fools, bums, and visionaries all—nice company to be keeping, lads. FRED MILLS

Crack City Rockers play Industrial Coffee Co. at 9 p.m. Fri., Aug. 2. $5. They play Easy Street Records (4559 California S.W., 938-3279) at 8 p.m. Sat., Aug. 3. Free.

STEROID MAXIMUS

Ectopia

(Ipecac Recordings)

Thirlwell's back and strange as ever.

J.G. Thirlwell, the multimonikered musical maniac responsible for all things Foetus (Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel, Foetus Inc., Foetus All-Nude Revue, etc.) resurrects his Steroid Maximus project after a 10-year absence. He pretty much picks up where he left off, though the tracks on Ectopia are more homogeneous and polished than anything found on '92's Quilombo and Gondawanaland. Thirlwell's early Steroid material wore you down with its sheer mass of sampled material and frenetic pace. The improvement here is due, in part, to some dramatic technological advances, but Thirlwell's growth as an artist undoubtedly plays a roll as well. Like an imaginary soundtrack to a very strange film, this all-instrumental album leads the listener through a variety of cerebral vistas—some scary, some larkish. Thirlwell throws out random styles, samples, and sensibilities, making it all seem fairly effortless. The disc is somewhat heavy on the neo-swing and lounge motifs, but there are plenty of eclectic curveballs thrown in to spice up the proceedings. Foetus fans will certainly come away satisfied after hearing the new collection (if they can live without his singing). But even if you've shied away from Thirlwell's "doom und drang" in the past, this is a fun, breezy—albeit kooky—listen for a sunny summer day. BEN MUNAT

THE NATURAL HISTORY

S/T

(StarTime International)

Doing it clean/you know what I mean?

The other day I celebrated 1987: Over breakfast it was Strangeways by the Smiths, then Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me, Echo and the Bunnymen's Songs to Play and Learn (sure, the compilation came out in '85, but don't be difficult), and later on, a Go-Betweens "Best Of." Had I a copy of the Natural History's debut EP lying around, it would have fit perfectly—although not a lick of it was made 15 years ago. But understand, the Natural History are one part British invasion-influenced pop, one part textbook college/indie/alternative, and one part regular rock 'n' roll in the style of Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Buffalo Tom, and recent Silkworm. The drums are great; not Joy Division genius, but certainly Surfer Rosa cool. The deadpan-if-a-little-whiny vocals are old-school indie acerbic and intelligent, and the guitar and bass come on like a strong shot of melody with a propulsive, carbonated chaser. The best thing about the Natural History is that they don't overthink anything—and as far as contemporary pop bands go, that's an especially good thing (see also: Spoon, the Walkmen, and the Shins). To wit: "Telling Lies Will Get You No Where" keeps its time with an almost elementary marching band beat. That simple, consistent banging is precisely what gives the opening track—and much of the disc—its edge. LAURA CASSIDY

The Natural History play Graceland at 9 p.m. Sun., Aug. 4. $6.

 
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