Perhaps you’ve heard of the phenomenon known as “pine mouth,” where if you eat raw pine nuts, within a day or two it messes with your taste buds so that all food tastes kind of sour, metallic, and just plan nasty for as long as two weeks. Fortunately, new Brooklyn, N.Y., indie-folk outfit Pine Mouth’s songs don’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, unless you hate banjos and Fleet Foxes.
Turning violet Violet
Fri., 12:50am, North Star Bar.
“Philly-based indie band with jokes and sparkly tambourines,” reads the description on Turning violet Violet’s blog. Perhaps the five-piece may be selling themselves a little short in the complexity department. In front of the all-male backline (guitar, bass, drums), the band’s two leading ladies contribute keys, viola and even clarinet, the latter of which adds a whole other layer of melancholy to “Blue Beside Me.”
Larry and His Flask
Sat., 2:30pm, Festival Pier (West Stage).
Wild, hot-footed and fancy free, Portland, Ore., sextet Larry and His Flask play punked-up bluegrass, sounding like an Appalachian Oi! Band. It’s muscular folk-punk rife with gothic theatricality and shout-along harmonies. “There’s DNA-splattered all over our gear,” sings cancer survivor Jamin Marshall. “It’s the payment earned for the work we do around here.”
Sat., 5pm, Festival Pier (East Stage).
Samiam’s fortunes crested in the mid ’90s just as similarly-minded pop-punk/emo acts like Jimmy Eat World, Hot Water Music and Saves the Day arrived. Tight, punchy and propulsive with ringing distortion-drenched hooks, the Bay Area quintet is supporting Trips , their second album in a decade, and nearly the equal of their halcyon moment, 1994’s Clumsy .
Sat., 8:40pm, Festival Pier (West Stage).
If John Fogerty had started CCR in L.A. during the ’70s, they’d probably sound a lot like X. Forged in that moment before musical dissent codified into dogma, they were free to chase their own unique roost-punk sound, fueled by guitarist Billy Zoom’s steely, reverb-drenched surf and rockabilly-inspired guitar licks, evoking a timeless, delectably familiar tone. The other part of the equation are singer-songwriters John Doe and Exene Cervenka, whose duet vocals and insistent melodies forge a catalog thick with indelible songs and (unheard) hits worthy of Fogerty or Tom Petty. They speak from the margins with biting intelligence and wry wit, whether surveying sick Beverly Hills behavior (“Sex & Dying In High Society”), our war-hungry leaders (“I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”), or our decaying culture (“See How We Are”). Here, they play their stellar dystopian ’80 debut, Los Angeles , start-to-finish.
The Head and the Heart
Sun., 8pm, Ukie Club.
So, Seattle sextet the Head and the Heart make perfectly swell indie-folk-pop with lots of nice vocal harmonies, violin and piano. That’s good. But here’s something REALLY interesting: The other week, singer-guitarist Jon Russell physically assaulted a sound guy at a Seattle club! According to said sound guy, Doug Krebs (via Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger ), “After approaching me at my work station and rudely accusing me of not being attentive or qualified for my job ... he attacked me and began to choke me, pulling me out of the sound booth and digging his fingernails into the back of my neck while pushing his thumbs into the front of my throat.” Wowzers! Maybe if the dude channels some of that intensity into the music, TH&TH could really emerge from the huge pack of like-minded, like-sounding bands. Find out tonight what they’ve really got. Meanwhile, sound guy beware!
Sat., 10pm, Festival Pier (West Stage).
Arguably the ’70s SoCal scene’s most influential act (Black Flag close behind), the Descendents helped blueprint pop-punk. Their blend of power pop melody and smart-ass three/four-chord garage-abilly bluster deeply informs subsequent legions of punks including Green Day, Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy. Despite only two albums the last 24 years, they remain a great live band.
Sat., 6:30pm, Festival Pier (West Stage).
Rust belt punkers Naked Raygun weld rough-hewn, blue collar hardcore to the bleak post-industrial chassis of ’80s Midwest noise rock. They’re a muscle car stripped to the primer and pumped with nitrous, racing down streets lit by trashcan fires in the shadow of boarded-up buildings and graffiti-lined walls. Sleeker, catchier and less brutal than Chicago peers Big Black and Jesus Lizard, the songs still teem with scalding blasts of dissonance and an omnipresent hum of shadowy malevolence. Indeed, the slashing guitar and punchy fanbelt-tight rhythms suggest an early inspiration for Fugazi. Both create rather anthemic songs with biting political undertones. From ’85-’88 Naked Raygun released three terrific albums, highlighted by their stellar debut LP, Throb Throb . The subsequent departure of founding guitarist John Haggerty fairly kneecapped the band creatively, and they broke up in ’92. They reunited five years ago behind the final lineup and have released a trio of pretty damn good 7-inch singles.
Our Band Could Be Your Life
Fri., 7pm. The Skybox.
We hate to bring you bad news, but if you’re an indie-rock fan and a copy of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From The American Indie Underground 1981-1991 isn’t sitting atop your nightstand—like Christians do with Bibles—then you’re gonna burn for eternity in the fiery depths of mainstream hell. Music scribe Michael Azerrad wrote the book in 2001, providing a history of indie-rock’s radical beginnings. Foundational bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, the Minutemen, the Replacements, and Sonic Youth—bands that initially said “FUCK YOU!” to major labels and created their own subterranean scene—each get a much-deserved chapter. Arguably, festivals like Philly F/M wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for these trailblazing bands. So it’s only fitting that tonight they’re honored when 12 bands—including Faux Slang as Husker Du, Howling Fantods as Mudhoney, and Golden Bloom as Dinosaur Jr—pay homage by playing the tunes of indie-rock’s mighty forefathers.
Hot Water Music
Sat., 7:30pm, Festival Pier.
“I’ve seen heroic falls and busted lips from microphone brawls,” screamed Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan on “Southeast First,” the opening track from their monumental 1991 album No Division . The post-hardcore punk band rose from the grimy, alligator-infested swamps of Gainesville, Fla., in the early-1990s and proceeded to bash their fists against the oppressive, soul-crushing machinery of capitalism by howling radical messages of unity, community, and struggle into the ears of fist-pumping youth who crowded into dungeon-like basements seeking the latest manifesto. “There’s an army charged, ready, armed to educate and demonstrate,” Ragan confirmed on “Free Radio Gainesville.” Fuck, yeah! Let’s go! “We stand with no division!” They haven’t dropped a studio LP since 2004’s The New What Next, but they’re still going hard as motherfuckers and winning many battles along the way. UNIFY TODAY!
Sharon Van Etten
Fri., 9:30pm. World Cafe Downstairs.
PW's Music Issue 2014