Saturday, March 3, 2012
Sundaze, Magic Fades, Sucker for Lights @ Kelley's Olympian 3.2.12
I came across Sundaze in a very random manner - i was looking for info on the recent Left Banke re-issues on the sweet archival label Sundazed Records. The first thing i noticed was that we shared a common enthusiasm for early, excellent shoegaze bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and A Place To Bury Strangers. I always get excited when i discover a new 'gaze band, especially when they're still active. Delving further, i noticed that we knew A LOT of the same people, and that they seemed to be acquainted with a number of the venues around Portland. Turns out they were playing in a couple of days at Kelley's Olympian, and they were nice enough to put me on the guest list.
Kelley's is a red neon glare in SW Portland. The southwesterly quadrant was bristling with early spring energy, everybody was out. I was quite adrenalized as i walked into Kelley's warmth, and to my pleasant surprise, ran into my friend Made as soon as i set foot in the door. Its always fun to have a conspirator; i love to pick people's brains, to see how they react to bands. She tends to be kind of close-minded, i was interested to see how she would react to the bands of the evening - she mostly prefers old school thrash metal. Sundaze were playing when i arrived, although it took me forever to figure that out. Two guys and a girl; two Fender guitars, a synth, and a drum machine, kicking out a cross between Spacemen 3's garage psychedelia, with their repetitive hypnotic synth organ lines and Oneida's pillowy wall of gravel and mist, toppling down on yr head. They'll make yr eyes roll up back in yr head, they'll make you see silver stars. Made observed they reminded her of The Cramps, which i found to be an interesting observation, but i could perceive the ghost of Lux Interior in Sundaze's quiksilver twang. They have the wistful romantic etherealness of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game, but without the melodrama and cocaine shimmer. This music is bruised, bleeding from the mouth, heart-rippingly passionate, fierce, and damaged. When they finished, i was disappointed; i wanted them to go all night. The tone was fucking out of this cosmos, truly some beautiful guitar wrangling happening, on this Friday evening, and the antiquated drum samples had just the right amount of grit, that beautiful analog CRUNCH! These guys live here, and have a whole bunch of live dates coming up, the next one on Thurs., 3.8.12, at Backspace, so check out their webpage for live dates, and go check 'em out. Its a pleasant surprise to find an excellent shoegaze band in the neighborhood, one that should not be taken for granted. They told me they were about to send the finished tracks for a new EP to be mastered, due out soon, so expect to hear more about Sundaze in the coming months.
Magic Fades, i wasn't too impressed with; two white boys kickin' out some slick 80s club funk. Drum machine, bass synth, guitar, sweet vocals - all the elements were there, just weren't doing it for me. Probably had something to do with Made exhuding brooding contempt for these poor bastards. When she hates something, she really hates it. For me, the mood was too consistent, this same sex on the dancefloor r&b bravada, over and over. Too polished, too consistent, too easily ignored. In all fairness, i had spent all evening writing a review of the new Nite Jewel disc that's about to drop, and i think the 80s funk receptors in my brain had burnt out. I'd totally give them another chance.
I liked Sucker for Lights much better, a little bit of strychnine, to spike the sweet. Seemed like singer/keyboardist/beatsmith Olivia Voss seemed a little nervous at first, a little tense, she was like one of those Andy Goldsworthy icicle spheres, but quickly thawed beneath the stage-lights, revealing herself to be grandiose, cinematic, the heart of a lion. She reminded me of a Debbie Harry, a Kate Bush; a proper front-woman, while Bryan Brunt played the hell out of his guitar. There's some legit fucking guitar players in this town, so many beautiful instruments, so much thick luxurious tone. Brunt's reminded me of Will Sargeant from Echo and the Bunnymen, with a digital sheen, a prismatic shimmer. He scored some major solo points, throughout the course of their set. I would dare to call him a 'hotshot', even though he stared at his shoes with his hair in his face and spoke not one word. He is a man of gesture, showing rather than telling, and that is a fine quality in an instrumentalist. They've got a new EP out, that's available for download on their bandcamp, and they were giving away free copies at the show last night, so again, expect to hear more from this band, and go check 'em out if you go get a chance, if you like Blondie, Siouxsie, Soft Cell, Prince, Zola Jesus, Billy Idol, Madonna.
Thanks again to John from Sundaze for corresponding with me, giving me an EP, getting me on the guest list. I am a fan.