Dark, Pagan, and Really Nice Guys

King Dude opening for Earth at the Shakedown Tavern in Bellingham, Washington.

Polished and Muscular

Astonishing. Raw. Loud. Earth is on the road with King Dude, two Seattle-based metal titans. Earth’s new record from Southern Lord is called “Primitive and Deadly.” The sound, the overall aesthetic, is poetic and memorable, and elemental. The live show was, as far as I’m concerned, a set of highly structured and intricate instrumental songs, without a singer on the tour. The studio LP has vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows).

Just before the band’s set at the Shakedown Tavern in Bellingham, Washington, three bats—yes, bats—flew in through an open transom or window someplace, or maybe through the front door, from where I was at the stage front I couldn’t see how they were getting in or out. The trio flew into the very hot performance space, and made numerous journeys around the space. Each time they flew to the inner-most part of the bar, then left. Even the band paused before starting their set to watch as these flyers passed just a few feet over our heads, circling, leaving, returning, before they finally left the house.

Earth songs played live have a complexity that astonishes. As the band played, they also moved with their instruments, including the drummer, in a way that suggested a kind of subconscious choreography. It’s been years since I’ve seen human beings so connected to their guitars and drums. The performance was sensual and fluid. Each song unfolded slowly as if by a precise score, and yet each musician played, for the most part, with his and her eyes closed in an almost improv, trance style. The entire set felt like a cross between improv and chant (the guitars as voices), as outrageous as that might sound. They played totally in unison and somehow followed each other to precise queues. That was the astonishing bit.

This was my first drone metal show (though a label like that is misleading, I think), and in that regard my expectations were totally shattered. I expected an aggressive audience, I suppose, because mainstream metal bands project such aggressive and commercial images, bordering on stereotypes of themselves, for the most part. But for this audience, it was as if the music was something personal for each person. Most in the audience lowered their heads, as if in prayer, making the evening seem all the more spiritual, swaying to the songs.

“Primitive and Deadly” has a timeless feel to it. Earth is a band at the height of their powers. The double gatefold LP from Southern Lord is sumptuous.

Because They Create

“A good way to rid one’s self of a sense of discomfort is to do something. That uneasy, dissatisfied feeling is actual force vibrating out of order; it may be turned to practical account by giving proper expression to its creative character.” —William Morris

The Cave Singers

Mix Masters

[This is a repost. I had to fix some problems. We all have problems.] Sur Une Plage opened for The Cave Singers at The Shakedown Tavern. A nice, if eccentric, add on. There isn’t much information about this two-piece band on the interwebs. Two dudes with a lot of gear. Looks like they play gigs around Vancouver, BC. They have a cool Bandcamp page.


Possessing a Resplendent Light

If you haven’t had the singular pleasure of listening to The Cave Singers on vinyl, you should make the time. Slow down, and make the time. I had thought their latest record, “Naomi” (Jagjaguwar, 2013), was out of print on vinyl. But just the other day I saw copies in a local record shop.

I made some notes about the band’s recent Shakedown set, so I’m posting them here, just because. Every Cave Singers LP has a complete LP feel to it, so exploring more than the top track or two is a rewarding analog adventure. This is also a band that writes songs with haunting, layered lyrics. Having the artifact in hand, whether it be a CD or LP, gets you into the song lyrics as much as the entire sonic landscape (with my Rega turntable, they be sonic). The Shakedown set was, by my reckoning (I might have missed a song title or two), mostly built from their earlier records, which are out of print on vinyl. Still, treat yourself. Buy “Naomi” and let this amazing band speak to you.

Leap (from “Welcome Joy“)
Clever Creatures (from “No Witch“)
Summer Light (from “Welcome Joy”)
At the Cut (from “Welcome Joy”)
Shrine (from “Welcome Joy”)
Helen (from “Invitation Songs“)
Swim Club (from “No Witch”)
Haller Lake (from “No Witch”)
Beach House (from “Welcome Joy”)
Faze Wave (from “No Witch”; I LOVE this track, which you can see performed live here)
No Prosecution If We Bail  (from “No Witch”)
Black Leaf (from “No Witch”)

The Cave Singers

The Furious Moment

My new favorite band. I went back to The Shakedown Tavern last night to check on upcoming shows and found one of the Baltic Cousins‘ set lists still on the barroom floor. Bars! You gotta love ’em. Controlled chaos. The band had these titles listed for the night:

Mark Twain Was There & He Was Crying (from “The Broken Horn“)
Bear Traps (from “The Broken Horn”)
Never Hold Your Breath (from “The Broken Horn”)
Hurricane Able (from “The Broken Horn”)
You Are Bound (from “For the Hell of Us“)
How I Look (from “For the Hell of Us”)
Holy Stones (from “For the Hell of Us”; I totally LOVE this track)
Indianapolis (from “Demo“)

Think post-punk with a lot more reach, lyrically speaking. So, here are a few more pictures from their recent show at The Shakedown. Hey, it’s my blog. I can do whatever the fuck I want.