Sound garden 

A smorgasbord sampling of fine local fare

Jenn Adams, Live on the Blue Planet

Folk for the four seasons, hibernal, vernal, aestival and autumnal! The first track (no titles listed on the copy I received) makes me think of driving someone to the airport at 5:30 a.m. on a January morning. Another song has a summery jaunt to it, still others hang on the verge of seasons on the way in or on the way out. Live on the Blue Planet was recorded live at a Spokane coffee shop, and that alone should make locals feel a little homesick for Jenn—even though she’s still here! Are we to feel a bit jealous of the Lilac City? Come on. If everyone stayed home to play, there’d be no Cheap Trick Live at Budokan, right? Gentle chiding aside, Live on the Blue Planet is a real prize to add to your local folk file. The recording is crisp with a warm room feel. And Jenn’s voice, as always, is the golden carrot in a garden (of live solo folkie format) that can get a little weedy at times. Always a joy, Ms. Adams. Keep up the good work.

The Pleasure, Tables and Objects

Missoula’s minty-fresh Pleasure turn a blind eye to their overt emo trappings—highly personal lyrics, plangent vocals, artsy accoutrements to band name and song/album titles. But then again, it’s rarely the bands who trumpet their own emodom—it’s the reviewers. The Pleasure insist they’re merely playing pop music. Still, no one is likely to mistake a line like “Inside a pile of leaves I was hiding, waiting to explode all those reds and yellows” for the new Backstreet Boys. It’s from “The Maple Cover,” the centerpiece of this five-song CDEP and one of those velveteen tangles of soft/loud autumn vocals and rainy-day guitars with a chorus that stays with you all day. Unbeatable gooshy drum surge, great vocals from guitarists Eide and Henkensiefken. The other four tracks are quite good, too. Fans of Rainer Maria take note. Nice silk-screened cover, too! Definitely worth picking up.

JaeO, Hollowman

Locally recorded, if not a local act per se, the way I understand it is that JaeO started recording the 15-track Hollowman in Pueblo, Colo. and for legal/penal reasons had to finish it in a hurry at the Boys and Girls Club with producer Ian Greenwood. “Gotta lot of personal things going on,” he tells the perplexed interviewer in an (apparently fake) radio snippet, “[but the album] really captured my tormented and twisted mind, especially through these last six, seven months with the struggle I be going through and all the court dates and everything.” What you get ain’t half bad, especially considering it was recorded on the fly: good beats, teeth-loosening infrasonic bass, and the usual lyrical distillation of principled nihilism. Mostly what keeps me from really getting into stuff like this is the intransigence of the subject matter: honor among thugs. Hollowman dwells more on distrust and betrayal than poppin’ caps and servin’ hos, but none of it seems particularly open to discussion. Like JaeO says: It’s just cursed.

The Premies, Barbed Wire World

When in doubt, home recorders should err on the side of loud and raw. There are some great moments on Barbed Wire World, the debut by Missoula’s Premies, but for every appealingly odd choice they made with engineer Jeff Rockwood (like the quiet electric guitar hard-panned to one side of “Mush Mouth” and the much louder acoustic panned high and outside of the other), there are too many moments where the production shears these 10 songs of any depth or contour. Whenever there’s a big push, the guitars get buried. And that’s a shame, because a lot of thought obviously went into the arrangements. Flashes of drawling brilliance (like the slide guitar on “Headless Chickens”), but muddled production makes a few of these songs stretch on a bit too long. Brevity, friends—clutch it to your bosom.

Veduta, Audio Perception

Veduta is Eric K. Wimmer, Missoula transplant by way of New Jersey who wrote, programmed, designed, produced and mastered everything on Audio Perception. Sometimes the music seems strangely remote. “Quiet Down,” for example, is drenched in enough reverb to effectively re-center the sound several yards distant from the listener, making the overall effect one of standing in the concrete labyrinth of a disused warehouse trying to figure out where the sound of a drum machine is coming from. Other times, the swipe of the electronic snare comes close enough to lick off your decals. Intriguing collections of bass and other instrumental sounds abound, although the same basic elements get stretched somewhat thin over the course of 21 songs basically daubing from the palette of the first. The vocal style, in particular, varies hardly at all from one trebling nasal delivery that outstays the most generous of minimalist welcomes right quick. Two inflections, at least, would have made each new track an either-or proposition. Kinda pretentious. Worth looking into, though.

Tra-Bang! self-titled EP

Local interest in Fu Manchu curios should be at a peak since the band’s Feb. 3 show, so we’re taking the liberty of hipping you to this CD again. If you can’t find this at your local record store, you could probably arrange to get a copy burned for you by calling Bevel Studios at 327-0093 and talking to Jimmy or Hank. Fu Manchu missed one golden age of stoner allegiance by arriving on the scene 10 years too late to get their name mass-produced in ballpoint pen on grubby denim during countless Civics classes nationwide. But at least they have (or used to have, anyway) their own Missoula tribute band in the form of this short-lived assemblage of local rock all-stars. Seven lovingly-crafted covers of Fu Manchu songs drawn from a couple of different albums. You have to hear it to believe it. I hope the real Fu Manchu have!

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