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xmag.com : November 2000 : JKMA


I forget which Robert Fripp album the quote appears on—League of Gentlemen maybe—but one of the Roche sisters says between songs “Rock ’n’ roll is about fucking.” Sure, why not? From Britney Spears all they way back to Bill Haley (the first white man to discover rock ’n’ roll), the bass kick and snare drum back beat has acted as a powerful sex magnet on the pelvises of young America. It’s exactly what straight-laced school board members of the 1950s most deeply feared—fast cars, cheap liquor and balling in the streets, which in turn gave way to fast drugs, cheap cars and balling wherever. It’s all about the fire down below, the itch you can’t scratch and reaching out from the darkness for some rock action.
So how does the home team measure up? Are we producing suitably sexy music right here in Portland? Let’s just take a little look see…

Dizzy Elmer
This Bad Dog

Rockabilly is very sexy music. It’s stripped-down and unpretentious with an insistent, thrusting beat on every song. Portland’s Dizzy Elmer does it up right with 14 songs about livin’, lovin’ and hittin’ the road. In addition to their sure-fire original compositions (“Big Legged Woman” is particularly snazzy), Dizzy Elmer fire up some bad-ass covers by Hank Williams, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins that ought to throw your red wine party into gear.
Bonus: The surly bass player gal is a righteous hottie!
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Yes, especially the “slow dance” groper “To Be With You.”

Mad Hattie
Soul Fishin’

Though it’s less up-front in the beat department, Mad Hattie has a simmering sensuality heightened by the sweet interplay of the string instruments—acoustic guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin all locked together in a vigorous blend, topped off by Dee Settlemier’s husky vocals. The ensemble musicianship is remarkable, yet it’s Settlemier who keeps everything spicy with her weary “been-there-done-that” voice. “Freeway Lady” and the title track are standouts on an album full of bluegrass/southern rock collisions, like Delaney & Bonnie meeting The Band unplugged.
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Most likely. It has a daring, free-wheeling quality that should inspire risk-taking.

The Places
The Autopilot Knows You Best

Led by torchy singer/guitarist Amy Annelle, the Places deliver a superb mixed bag of tweaked folk tunes, intimate sketches and inspired languor. Annelle’s voice has a yawn-y (not Yanni!), 3am, bedhead quality to it that spreads nicely across her band’s spare but nimble arrangements. Not exactly drop and party music, but if you’re going “one-on-one,” The Places are ruggedly soulful and sonically pleasing. Standout cuts: “Lazy Days & Castaways,” “Mouth to Mouth” and “Ode to the Exhausted.”
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: As long as your object of desire is somewhat spiritually/artistically evolved. Otherwise, stick to Styx.

High Violets
Dream Away

Oh yes! Luscious dream-core, space-pop with endless soothing washes of wah-wah, fuzz and delay. Whispered voices like a powerful flashback tapping you on the shoulder with gushing melodies like Brit-Pop circa 1991 (Ride, Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine). Invigorating psychedelia that will paint a huge smiley face on your sorrowful heart. Every thumb I have is up. High Violets are one of Portland’s best kept secrets. Bonus: The guitar player gal is a righteous hottie!
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: One High Violets band member confessed to having sex to this album already, so I guess the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Amoree Lovell
The Burning Bush

Strange, darkly-tinged piano playin’ lady recently relocated to Portland from Cornhusker country. Odd jazz combo tunes with Lovell’s vocals snarling and cooing alongside. It’s certainly not your average cup of rock sludge—the songs are supple and uncommonly graceful and yet Lovell seems always on the edge of some kind of hysterical episode. “I hope he has a heart attack and dies,” she bellows during “Katherine.” This woman is best not crossed.
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Nope. It’s too fraught with tension—there’s no relaxing in sight. Good post break-up album, though.

Starter Kit

Slightly melancholy indie-pop with bright melodies and jarring tumbles of guitar, Starter Kit supply an appealing soundtrack to young slackers hopping in and out of love. For a debut album the songwriting is surprisingly deft and assured. Well-balanced between optimism and regret. Opening track “The Glory Hole” and “Call Waiting” are especially winning.
Will This Record Help Get Him/Her Into The Sack? Possibly too frisky for serious seduction, but fine for some giddy foreplay.

Rick Bain & the Genius Position
Crooked Autumn Sun

Well yes, these wide-eyed Portland pop-tarts DO sound remarkably like the Dandy Warhols (they toured together recently), though with more emphasis on the keyboard action. It’s pretty and tuneful and chipper as all get out. “I had a dream the other night/Everything was outa sight,” pretty much sums up the lyrical insight department. I must admit Bain and his Genius crew are mighty adept at raining down the shiny delights.
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Yes. I recommend the third cut, “Orlando.” It’s a gorgeous slow builder.

Brand New World

Nothing subtle going on here. Billed as “porn groove” from the Rev. Tony Hughes—the main man behind both Jesus Presley and B.N.W.—this disc is crammed with more groans, moans and screaming orgasms than a long weekend at a slutty sorority. Lurking below the jungle noises is a fairly solid bedrock of thumpin’ beats and salacious keyboard grooves. According to Hughes, some of the vocals were sampled from porno films and some were “live.” Lucky devil.
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Not quite as obvious as hitting your intended with a mallet, this seems like a sign that even Helen Keller would have a tough time ignoring.


I heard from one of my sources that this is currently the best selling local band CD in Portland. If this is true, then I consider it a very good thing. UHF are clearly indebted to the Who (circa The Who Sell Out) and the Pretty Things (S.F. Sorrow) and they do a neat job of chopping up and restyling something Mod into something Modern. I don’t mind stealing as long as it’s from premium sources. UHF is clearly reaching well over its head and they don’t always hit what they’re aiming at, but I admire this kind of ambition. We need more brave bands willing to forsake the strictures of “popular” music and shoot for something bolder and better.
Will This Record Help You Get Him/Her into the Sack?: Doesn’t really work as “background” tuneage. It would probably compel both parties into active listening.

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