Anyone wanting to hear a Vancouver rock band with potential should head down to Scratch (or Zulu, or mebbe Red Cat) and buy the new Black Mountain CD -- you can hear an MP3 of one of the songs here -- one of the funkier tunes on the album, sorta sounding like an Acme-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion covering a Black Sabbath tune (not the best song on the album, but still not bad). Overall, their music evokes Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Led Zeppelin, and more contemporary stuff that's harder to pin down, has smart, catchy, unique, edgy riffs and lyrics, and has the aura of authenticity to it, so rare in rock music these days. The band is led by Stephen McBean, formerly of Jerk with a Bomb and Pink Mountaintops; he seems to be doing a singer-songwriter kind of thing, and has a unique, raspy voice -- some people think he sounds like Beck, but I still can't quite figure out who he reminds me of. I don't have that much use for rock music these days, but I've really been enjoying this disc -- it's a surprisingly solid album for, uh, Vancouver to produce (not as good as the Winks' Slippers and Parasol, but the Winks aren't really a rock band. It's the fact that this is a rock album that makes it so surprising that it also happens to be quite good. By the way, y'all should really check for the next Winks show and be there -- they'll be doing quite a few gigs in February). Free jazz blower Masa Anzai does some pretty cool saxwork on a couple of cuts, too, including the gem of the disc, something called "No Hits." They'll be playing mid-March at some club or other; it could be a great show...
Also exciting: to correspond with the upcoming release on CD of the legendary Vancouver Complication, there'll be a gig on February 19th at the WISE Hall featuring some local punk legends from days o' yore. Gerry Hannah is coming to town, I gather, so I assume he'll be joining Brian Goble for the Subhumans' set; DOA and No Fun will play, natch; and there'll be a bunch of surprises from bands that haven't been around for a long time. The gig posters leave it unclear exactly which "members of the K-Tels" will play -- Art Bergmann doesn't even live here anymore, so it would be a surprise indeed if he showed up. (Damn, this would be a great time to insert my Art Bergmann anecdote, but I just don't have the energy. I'd love to see "Hawaii" played live... I never have... how can someone be my age, have lived around Vancouver most of his life, and never have seen "Hawaii" played live?). The Pointed Sticks are on the poster, but I don't know how many members of the original band will be there... To my surprise, the band I'm most interested in seeing play are the Dishrags, a cranky sorta feminist-punk band, who I always kinda liked. I used to have the "I don't love you" 7", which I bought for 49 cents at a Value Village, as I seem to recall... Tickets are going to go fast on this one -- the WISE Hall is not a big space. Pass this one on to your old punk friends.
Hey, there was a lie told, tho' I didn't tell it. Gerry Hannah IS in town, but he's not playing with the Subhumans at the Complication reunion, for the simple, valid reason that the Subhumans are not playing. (One of my coworkers is a friend o' Gerry's -- he's married to a teacher from the school I work at. I've actually hung out with him a bit -- have vivid memories of watching him and a lesbian couple discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer at a party... It was kind of odd). Brian will be playing with Rude Norton and maybe DOA, so we might hear a Subhumans song or two, but it's going to take a bit longer than this for a Subhumans reunion. It may yet happen... I will, alas, remain silent as to the unfolding drama of Brian and Gerry's attempts to organize it.