SMMR BMMR Hits Portland Like An Earthquake

Sic Alps live at Evanston Space 2009, photo by <a href=
Sic Alps live at Evanston Space 2009, photo by Todd Killings
posted Thursday Aug 20th, 2009

This weekend in Portland, Zach's Books' annual SMMR BMMR blowout will take hold and shake the freaks from the trees across the Pacific Northwest with three days of tumultuous avant garde underground vibrations that echo unhinged into the richly forested darkness. With an incredible lineup of the cream-of-the-crop of mostly Portland, Seattle and San Franciscan bands all convening in one area for one weekend, this year's show represents a bright moment in modern music and should provide a vividly hazy glimpse at the West Coast's reigning troop of talent. Starting off Friday at Rotture, Nebraska pop maniacs Box Elders cultivate a rambunctious yet playful set of songs that jangle and harmonize with effervescent lucidity, and kick off the SMMR BMMR fest with such a raw realness that can't be easily shaken from your skull, despite numerous spins of their debut LP Alice And Friends on Goner Records lately. If you haven't already latched onto these guys, get your hands on the Box Elders debut single along with the LP and just try to keep still, as it's most likely not gonna happen. Next up are the curiously mellow Ganglians from the Sacramento area, who play a hushed form of contemporary post punk, yet deliver their songs with a feathery feyness that's becoming more irresistible with each passing encounter. Check out the Ganglians split 7" with Eat Skull if you can still find it, or the 12" records on Weird Forest and Woodsist for further proof of their interesting softness. Slyly entering next are Portland's The Whines, who unleashed a monster debut 7" this year that bowled us over pretty well, and established their minimalist take on bedroom dream pop as one of the area's best. Most likely still floating around, it's one of this year's essential punk singles so hit up Just For The Hell of it Records to scrape yourself up a copy, and wait to see what comes next.

Following the brain-clouding, uncategorizible sounds of MOM, Ty Segall rips up to the front and unleashes his uptempo slash-and-burn guitar style that's been castrating friends and enemies alike for a few years now. If you've been locked in the monastery for awhile and need some undiluted distorto-punk that grabs you from all angles, by all means check out Ty Segall and his many side projects, and grab his new LPs on Goner and HBSP-2X Records for a lethal dose of the new and old. And after that certain whip lashing, Ty gets to stay onstage as Sic Alps start their mesmerizing slow burn, and who also happen to include Segall in their ranks. If you were slow on the draw and missed Sic Alps' elusive Description of the Harbor 12" EP released in 2007 on Awesome Vistas, you're in luck as Drag City has reissued the EP along with a slew of 7" tracks and unreleased demos on a handy 2LP format for a great low price. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the new Sic Alps 7" coming out next week on Slumberland Records featuring a Donovan cover on the B-side, and commemorating the first appearance of Ty Segall on a Sic Alps release, should be killer. Next up are the brill-blasting vibrations of Thee Oh Sees, who are becoming quite accomplished these days with a new LP Help on In The Red, and another full-length coming soon for Captured Tracks, and singles basically coming out the whazoo. If you're not already familiar with them, you're sorely behind in your underground studies and with 8+ LPs worth of material, Thee Oh Sees shouldn't be hard to come across, so get familiarized.

And if this first night of SMMR BMMR couldn't get spectacular enough, Sacramento's neanderthal public officials, Mayyors rise to the occasion and take over, desecrating all held sacred and shattering the evening into uncountable shards of razor-raw excitement. With no official "web presence" and no serious interest in cover "art" for their vinyl releases, Mayyors have cut through it all and opened the wounds of time and dumped salt in deep, reiterating the fact that their music indeed does all the talking for them. Pick up both singles if you can find them, and their new 12" EP if you're genuinely interested in what's dictating municipal reality in the gutters of Sacto's darkest corners. Following the Mayyors isn't exactly an easy feat, but local messy throbbers Meth Teeth have the incredibly creative muscle to whip up their own style of cranial compositions that leave most of their audience bewildered and distraught, but always enthralled. Look for their follow up to last year's Sweet Rot debut 7" EP coming this year as a debut LP on Woodsist, no doubt it's gonna be a great one. Wrapping up the haze and blaze of the first night of submission, Portland's finest smashers Eat Skull convene once again, and reestablish their sonic aptitude to the utmost degree. With two amazing albums on Siltbreeze completely contrasting each other, yet both essential, Eat Skull aren't just the best-named band in show business, they're also some of the best songwriters working today, as we anxiously await what they'll do next.

After Friday's insanely epic lineup, Saturday might seem slightly underwhelming at first glance, but there's still plenty of wholesome goodness to fill up that emptiness inside. The day show at BC's Saloon features sloptastic sets by Rats of New York, Ape City, Cuntifiers, Pity Fucks and Mad Macka, so don't sleep in and miss 'em. Later Saturday night back at Rotture, Denton, TX's Teenage Cool Kids start things up and feature Andrew Savage, half of the Fergus & Geronimo contingent, and utilize dreamy pop tunes to their full advantage. Vancouver's shit-fi ravagers Timecopz make themselves known next, and with their intensely virile recordings backing them up, they should be just the face-melting shredders to liquefy your night in the most appropriate manner. Following them, are Ebonics and Gestapo Khazi (who share a new split 7" together), both starting the blood boiling for a rousing appearance by SF's Wild Thing. Yeah, the name sounds like some faceless "garage punk" combo who just stepped out of the womb armed with nothing more than a few podcast stains on their shirts and bowl haircuts, but no. Wild Thing are a San Francisco problem that just keeps growing, kinda like unnecessary dreadlocks on white folks, and those fancy earring-plugs, but in a refreshing straight-PUNK style that's been sorely missed amongst the Budget Rock landscape of the area. Without a gimmick in sight, Wild Thing are dead set on stripping it all down and throwing it all up later when nobody's looking, and that's one of the best agendas going today. Wrapping up the second night are locals White Fang with their dual drum attack, and Fergus & Geronimo, whose homespun Brian Wilson-tinged pop explosion has catalyzed with a debut 7" out now on Woodsist, and another single due out any second on Tic Tac Totally, as well. Pure Country Gold brings it all home to anyone left standing, as they commandeer the ass-shaking protocol into full effect, as soon evident on their breakout release on Big Legal Mess Records.

As if the first two days of SMMR BMMR weren't exhausting enough, Sunday rolls around and of course, the lineup is unrelenting and motivating enough to shock you back to life. The afternoon showcase starts with the brutal hardcore of Organized Sports, followed by Reptilian Civilian, Therapists and The Outdoorsmen, the latter of which channel the perfect scumbag-slanted garage simplicity, yet pull it off almost too well. Sunday night's revelry back at Rotture starts with Thee Manipulators, the goofy pizza-faced pop punk of Mean Jeans, and Seattle's multi-faceted supergroup the Unnatural Helpers. After that, The Intelligence and Christmas Island deliver their superbly monotonous punk scrawlings, both of which have In The Red written all over them, and come highly recommended. If you haven't picked up The Intelligence's Fake Surfers LP yet, you might have to be held back a year in your studies, and Christmas Island's impeding debut on that same imprint isn't far behind either. Speaking of islands, from the British Isles, Graffiti Island are an interesting twist on the Beat Happening style of primitive pop simplicity, and their knack for incredibly catchy songwriting should rear its head like crazy as they travel down the West Coast on their first partial US tour with Crocodiles and Pens the rest of this month. The rest of the night might just turn into a mozzarella blur as Personal and the Pizzas take it upon themselves to smash their pie-eyed philosophy of life into the mindset of rock'n'rollers inevitably craving loads of melted cheese after three days of blaring punk, and it won't soon be forgotten. And it would surely take a few legends to cap off such an incredibly exciting weekend in Portland, so don't be surprised when HEAD and Pierced Arrows bring it all home and seal the deal on another monumental festival curated with the best of taste and intentions, SMMR BMMR!

check out a video clip of Graffiti Island performing "Wolf Guy," courtesy of iamconan666 right here:

check out a video clip of Meth Teeth courtesy of koalacanth, right here: