Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sub Pop at the Hot Cong

An Northwest indie rock invasion in the late June desert? Yes, please.
Rogue Wave and Helio Sequence – both made up of kooky popsters with way too much talent – each put together tremendous sets Tuesday.
Both defy description a bit too, though neither is particularly groundbreaking. But sometimes indie excellence lies more in making a stew of various influences than stepping out on your own.
For the Rogue Wave, think a bit of the Shins, but more straightforward rock most times.
For Helio Sequence? Well, the Modest Mouse sound is definitely there a bit, but the harmonica wailing and feedback guitar brings in some Neil Young elements.
Regardless, both bands should be doing a lot better than a 100-person draw, even in the middle-of-the-week, middle-of-the-summer Tucson. Oh, and they will. Just thank me when you go check them out.


Six months down, six to go. How’s 2005 shaping up? Well, decent, I ‘spose.
Why are half years never subjected to the same sort of reflection reserved for the full year? Or even half as much?
Screw it. Catfish Vegas presents… presents 2005.5, the best of the year so far, a collection of movies, music, personal experiences and nonsense that has kicked ass.
Okkervil River has far and away put out the best album so far this year. “Black Sheep Boy,” is all sorts of crazy awesome. It rocks harder and swoops slower than any of their previous efforts. And in the concert category, their March show is also among the best.
Shows in general have been a high point for the half year: Okkervil, Luna, Crooked Fingers, Clem Snide, Steve Earle, Wilco, Calexico, Neko Case, Social Distortion and more.
Other albums that are sure to be on the end of the year bests: Bruce Springsteen, Crooked Fingers, Clem Snide, Beck, Mike Doughty and Bright Eyes (also, I’m sure, the Decemberists, White Stripes and Spoon, though I’ll have to hear ‘em first).
I can only recommend outright three movies so far this year: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sin City and Crash. I’ll throw in Star Wars for the nostalgia. Still on the list to see are Batman and Land of the Dead.
And in the Catfish arena, how ‘bout camping, trips North and Midwest, time at the ballpark, promotion and refuge. And then there’s all the mess: SKC and time wasting for the most part.
And nonsense? Nothing else has quite so nearly defined this half year. DJJ alone has stretched absurdity farther than I’d have guessed.
Props to the Ponderosa pine tree.
And in closing, here’s a New Half Year’s Resolution (in the immortal words of Freaktown): Henceforth, I will kick ass.

Monday, June 27, 2005


June’s gots its ups and its downs.
I had a stint in the Midwest and a stint up North, re-embracing roots I know and exploring ones I’d only just met.
I’ve seen the Doctor; he’s pretty much the same as ever. But the General and Chair are at crossroads so large there are double left turn lanes each way and buttons to signal the flashing cross signs.
June is a time when eras start and stop, trading the baton like sprinters in a 4X100.
It’s a full month, stuffed with moments of reflection, each coming just a bit too late to really matter.
It’s watching those around you prepare for their own transitions – the drives, the jobs, the semesters, the loves.
June is more acute than its twin July – more immediate, harder around the edges.
It’s strange that June follows May; no other successor varies so wildly from its predecessor.
June contains not only the year’s longest day, but the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. But the revelations occur at night, in those short hours when Today means the absolute most, suspended in perfect balance between Yesterday and Tomorrow.
June so wants to be eternal.
June has given moments of the most pure relaxation I’ve had in ages and June has extracted high hopes in exchange.
June’s the total package, the one-stop shop.
It’s a yin embedded with its own yang, a bit rough for those who prefer their shampoo and their conditioner to come from separate bottles.
June never needed warming up and it certainly doesn’t plan on slowing down. In the winter days vanish, sneakily waltzing out the door while you’ve got your nose in a book, But in June the days whiz by, completely in the open but blurred as highway stripes.
If you have to ask, you don’t understand June. And if you’ve come to understand June, too damn bad because you can bet it’s already July.