Rocket Queen: Mad Love

Noise for the Needy turns up the volume on mental-health issues.

In 1993, a Johns Hopkins University researcher named Dr. Kay Jamison published the book Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, a meticulously researched examination of mental-health afflictions in artists of all backgrounds, including classical composers and jazz musicians. A couple of years later, she released a compelling article in Scientific American which posited that existing research pointed to a very real preponderance of bipolar disorders among creative minds.Even from a layperson's untrained perspective, it's easy to recognize that mental illness impacts the lives of musicians to a disproportionate degree. It's also a romanticized phenomenon; the notion that one has to suffer to make good art is both understandable and unfair. Nevertheless, it makes sense that an epic week of rock shows benefiting mental-health services would quickly gain broad support from a diverse array of local and national acts.The annual Noise for the Needy festival kicks off this Wednesday, June 10, and runs through Sunday, June 14 at a dozen venues throughout Seattle. Proceeds will benefit Transitional Resources, a West Seattle–based mental-health program offering a broad spectrum of optimistic and respectful mental health services. "We chose Transitional Resources because they fill a rising need for mental-health services in the Seattle area," explains NFTN artistic director Jeffrey Henry. "Coverage of medication for mental illness will be cut severely over the next year due to local budget shortfalls. This, coupled with the increasing number of veterans returning from ongoing wars who will also need help, made it a pretty easy decision. We feel contributing to TR will have an immediate effect on improving the quality of life for the mentally ill in Seattle."Noise for the Needy always manages to snag a few high-profile national acts to anchor their charitable programming—a role fulfilled this year by Art Brut (these Brits headline at Neumos on Saturday, June 13), as well as the perfect pairing of Long Beach, Calif.–based prog-punks Crystal Antlers and the Fugazi-meets-Springsteen spectacle that is Toronto's Constantines (jointly closing the festival at Neumos on Sunday, June 14).While the national acts will undoubtedly draw big crowds, the local selections at some of the smaller clubs are also very thoughtfully curated, and include wildly popular dance nights like the Mike Nipper–helmed Emerald City Soul Club (Saturday at the Lo-Fi/Victory Lounge) and some of the strongest up-and-coming acts working around town right now. Telepathic Liberation Army, the new electro-punk project from veteran guitarist Lisa Orth, is a raw, gorgeous mess of scattershot percussion, angular guitar, and Orth's signature wailing. They are matched logically with genre-surfing Pleasureboaters offshoot The Beats, Man and paint-peeling bass-and-drums duo Loving Thunder on Saturday at the Wildrose.Also noteworthy is the return of Grand Archives at the Crocodile on Friday. The band has been keeping a low profile while wrapping up recording its sophomore release, Keep in Mind Frankenstein, due out on Sub Pop on September 15. "I think it's pretty different. It's not like you won't recognize the band when you hear it; we didn't start playing metal or ska," quips drummer Curtis Hall when asked about the tone of the new album. "But it's a little smaller and darker. We didn't have all the horns, or have as many people come in and play on it [as we did on our debut]. We still had our friend Jason Kardong from Sera Cahoone's band come in and play pedal steel. Jen Ghetto and Sera Cahoone came in and did some singing, and Ken Jarvey from The Can't See played some piano." Hall says the band plans to unveil at least four new songs at the Crocodile.While it's not part of the NFTN line-up, the reunion of beloved local band the Purdins this Friday at Slim's Last Chance in Georgetown is sure to pack the house with fans of their euphoric mashup of vintage psych, garage, pop, and punk. "The show was conceived and set up by Rod Moody," explains Purdins bassist Andrew "Zach" Lansdowne. "Rod is a real old friend of the Purdins, and actually played guitar with us for a little while. We were asked to do it, and for the first time in years we are in touch with each other enough to say yes. It really came from left field."Incidentally, heartfelt congratulations are due to the leader of a band that frequently shared bills with the Purdins back in the day: Delusions frontman David Keppel and his bandmate/wife Alicia Power welcomed their first daughter, Analeigh, last Sunday evening.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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