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A Cry Out for Prize Country

 

Just over three-and-a-half years ago in our wonderfully eclectic city of music, a band was birthed with just a little more to offer than empathetic words or methodical beats. Rising “post-core” group Prize Country has been throwing out more than simple head-banging distortion and fist-pumping vocals, to much more than just their West Coast or even East Coast brethren. At the start of this month, Prize County’s new album …With Love has gained not only the gaze of the local eye, but also widespread overseas attention, including two front-page magazine covers. “With Love is 30+ minutes of surging, beautifully rhythmic music, lead by tantalizing dual guitars, a sharp-toothed bass drum pedal, and the soft-spoken, but pointed vocals of Aaron Blanchard,” states Jordan of PastePunk.com.

Being unfamiliar with Prize County’s previous recordings, I am surprised to say that …With Love is actually a big step in what seems to be the right direction. “The album definitely picks up right where they left off on Lottery of Recognition, with maybe even more of an emphasis on their Bay Area post-hardcore influences of old this time around” (Built on a Weak Spot). Although a lot of albums like to cover the obvious aspects of love and loss and blah blah blah, Prize Country seems to have taken a different route, focusing on love with an “eh, who gives a shit?” attitude. “‘Lyrically, it’s supposed to be kinda sexy, dirty and nasty,’ explains vocalist/guitarist Aaron Blanchard. ‘Originally, the [album] title was From the Gutter With Love, and it was this dirty, sexy thing all about drinking, partying and having a good time. It just seemed right’ (Decibel Magazine).

Well the CD is out, the reviews are in, and now the group is on the move. Just finishing up 2009 with a lineup of over 30 stops spread across the U.S., 2010 holds expectations the band is sure to uphold. But for now, it’s time for Portland’s three-and-a-half-year-old kindred to play for their family. Come the 6th of February, when Prize Country will be crying out to the masses at Portland’s Ash Street Saloon. Show starts at 9:30 pm with three opening acts including Portland's Microtia, Monterey, CA's thrashers Razorhoof, and Willamette Valley-reps Norska. The $5 cover hardly seems like a charge. If you’re at all curious about what these guys will be offering up, I highly suggest making this your late-night Saturday rendezvous.

“We play music because we have to. It’s inside of us. We make music we want, and its pretty awesome” (Prize Country, 2009).

- Michael Miller

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Live Review: Fruit Bats at The Mission Theater - January 23rd, 2010

6:35… I’m at the Mission Theater, alone and wondering if this is the correct choice for a Saturday evening. I soon find my hand being stamped with black ink by a man in bright yellow-and-pink clothing that looks to have been dug out of a bin where beggars throw their rejects. Following his kind direction into the theater hall ahead, I perform my best scurry through the crowd, quickly settling in a secluded seat with cushions and a decent view.

6:42… It was an all-ages sort of thing, and each was there to give a proper representation for their group. There was a grandma to the front, dads scattered about, children speckled within, and a large number of teenagers to my right, bringing back memories of these sort of things in a time that seems so far past. We made up the majority of the crowd; our age group, those who like myself, were ready to discover whether this was indeed the correct choice for an early Saturday evening.

7:01… A band appears. Well...some people got on stage with instruments and started playing music anyhow. Although listening intently for a name between each retro-embraced B-52’s-esque number, all I could come up with was “The Sunny Sunshine.” These guys had a decent sound, but lacked enough confidence/charisma/any interest at all to pull it off very well. Mid-set, the bass pedal collapsed and the front man asked if there were any comedians amongst us. Living in the moment, grandma stands up immediately from her family table and waves both hands in the air. Not expecting to be called out, “we the crowd” watch in anguish as she reluctantly approaches the stage. In one of those unspoken, “united we stand in embarrassment for you” moments, breath was held, eyes slammed shut, fingers were broken to a cross…and grandma told a joke. Something about Nantucket and a nugget, either way, it wasn’t music and it wasn’t funny, unless of course bitter reality is your cup of tea. The band finished dillydallying shortly after grandma had left the building, and The Sunny Sunshine played out the rest of their very unfocused set.

 

8:00… the Fruit Bats arrive. Being someone who has only heard their music a couple of times, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but was quite confident that if these guys merely came out and shouted their name with any stamina, it would stand as the top performance of the evening. Luckily, they did one better. Bringing the focus back to enjoyable, front man Eric Johnson called the crowd up to dance. Following the teenagers to my right, the fathers and children speckled about, all my peers, and yes, even the Nantucket Nugget herself, I leapt into the swarm.

8:35… When a band performs with so much personality and spunk, it often times rarely matters if what they are playing is any good. But the Fruit Bats were better than good, and wonderful performers at that, shouting to the crowd and genuinely showing pleasure in raising an audience. At one point Johnson apologized for not having the time to profess his witty banter upon us due to a curfew for the theater, but gave just as much in singing and leading our dance by the last second of the very last note.

- Michael Miller

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Parenthetical Girls Release New Video and First Installment of New Album

Evelyn McHale leaped to her death from the Empire State building’s 86th floor observation deck in May of 1947. A limousine caught her fall. Minutes after her death photographer Robert Wiles captured McHale’s peculiarly serene post-jump repose.

And now, 63 years later, Parenthetical Girls have written a song equally as morose and beautiful as its namesake. “Evelyn McHale,” is one of four tracks comprising Privilege: Pt. 1 – On Death and Endorsements, the first of a series of five extremely limited-edition 12-inch EPs released by the band’s own Slender Means Society label. On Death and Endorsements will be released February 23, with a quarterly release of the following EPs spanning the next 15 months.

Parenthetical Girls plan to release the final 12-inch, concluding the box set and completing the record, May of 2011. Each installment of Privilege is limited to 500 physical copies and will not be distributed in stores.

 -Katrina Nattress

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A quick look outside your local scene: The other Deli Best of 2009 Polls

Rockers, Folkers and Poppers of all ages, sexes and hair colors,

The Deli's regional Year End Best of Polls for emerging artists are finally over and it's time to have a quick look at what's going on outside your local scene. Here's a recap of the winners of our nine polls with links to overall charts and readers' polls results:

AUSTIN - Winner: Stereo Is a Lie
Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

CHICAGO - Winner: I Fight Dragons

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

LOS ANGELES - Winner: Local Natives

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

NASHVILLE - Winner: Those Darlins

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

NEW ENGLAND- Winner: Mean Creek

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

NYC - Winner: Talk Normal

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

PORTLAND - Winner: Explode into Colors

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

PHILLY - Winner: Reading Rainbow

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

SF BAY AREA - Winner: Girls

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

The Deli's Staff





Liz Harris Helps Out with Indie Film Sputnik


Liz Harris of the solo project Grouper has done a fabulous job of writing and arranging a little score for Weston Currie's weird and eerily shot film, Sputnik. Grouper's last album, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, was met with great critical reviews, and was recognized on Pitchfork's Best 50 albums of 2008.

Harris' craft of spinning ethereal sounds continues to grow, as does her commercial success.

- Joel Sommer

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