Fire & Rain

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Fire & Rain

  • Fire & Rain

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    At one point during the Cops' politically charged set at this year's Seattle Weekly Music Awards Showcase, singer-guitarist Mike Jaworski reminded the crowd of how lucky it was to live in such a fantastic city, because, in his words, "most of the country doesn't."

    Far be it from reserved Seattleites to erupt into a resounding "Hell yeah, we love Seattle!" but I couldn't help but feel a little lump of pride swell up in my beer-filled gut that night.

    In the four years I've called Seattle home, this city has been one of the greatest friends I've ever known. Though it's completely ridiculous for many reasons (mass transit, cost of living, rival alt weeklies), I've come to be enamored of its many quirks and perks, namely the insanely rich and vibrant music scene. Whether it be comprehending Sub Pop's signing of Pennsylvania shitcore punks Pissed Jeans, or cocking my head at the often silly state laws burdening our clubs, or watching young bands get love beyond the local scene, I've been endlessly fascinated by this breeding ground for musical creativity and remain stubbornly proud to be involved. With that in mind, I plan to use this space weekly to highlight the various sounds and happenings in Seattle, and to give a heads up on things we would otherwise not have room for in the music section.

    Speaking of the Music Awards Showcase, kudos to local thunder rockers Kinski for thinning the softies out of the audience at the outdoor stage. Only two songs into their set, I watched as a handful of anti-noisers spun on their heels to make it out of the gravel lot and into quieter environs. Too bad for them, though, because the quartet delivered a pummeling set of high-tension riffage that had more than a few thrashing their heads in agreement.

    Of the many discs that have been dumped on my desk since I started this gig, the self-titled debut of Howlin Rain has remained on the heaviest of heavy rotations. Released by Birdman this coming Tuesday, Howlin Rain is the side project of Ethan Miller,betterknown as the frontman for Bay Area ax-wielding psych warriors Comets on Fire. Though his contributions for that group include wind-tunnel vocal howls and over-the-top, maximum-overdrive solos, Howlin Rain finds the dude summoning honey-roasted vocals to songs that mingle with the rootsy '70s rock of the Grateful Dead, the Band, the Allman Brothers, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The whole disc is an open-air drive down the Pacific Coast Highway with a pipe full of smoke in your hand and a cooler of brew at your feet (minus the sound of sirens in pursuit, of course). Expect more on Mr. Miller and the Rain when he rolls through Seattle in June.

    Since I mentioned Neil Young, I should note that the name for this column was taken from a song of Young's—the man who set such a high standard in rock music that it's difficult to write about a new band without citing him as an influence.

    Lastly, a nonlocal (sort of) plug: Fans of purely weird, Gang Gang Dance–style noises would do well to check out Excepter at the Sunset on Thursday, May 18, on tour in support of their 5RC EP Sunbomber. Expect a dark, acid-soaked collage of blips, fuzz, and occasional space-transmission vocals.

    bbarr@seattleweekly.com

     
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