CALLING THEIR CONGREGATION: Adam and the Waxmen.
No Labor Day ever passes without a little melancholy reflection on the summer passing into fall, a lament for every great show I didn’t go to, every bright-blue day I spent in my office in front of a computer, every weed I never got around to pulling in the garden. But this is a worse way to head into fall than most.
Last week came the news of Alehouse creator RUSS RISEMAN’s passing. This week we learn that Two Timin’ Three frontman ERIC LAUFER died in an early-morning hit-and-run motorcycle accident. He’d moved down to Austin, and the band had become the Two Timin’ Four. Play a few notes for him. I just read Johnny Cash’s autobiography, actually, and it’s disheartening to read about so many country musicians injured or killed in vehicle crashes.
It’s enough to get equally hooked on feel-good soul and funk, as purveyed by Adam Waxman, or modern-day shoegazer, emoted by the likes of the Bay State. These two and more highlight a fall that appropriately takes the baton (sorry, Olympics still on the mind) from a stand-out summer of music in Portland.
Here are the big dates to pay attention to:
Adam’s charmed a bunch of local players on the soul/funk scene into becoming his Waxmen, and the band release their debut full-length, Just Play, tonight at the Empire. (Not the Big Easy? Huh.) Anyway, ADAM AND THE WAXMEN feature Waxman’s croonings mixed tightly with Frank Hopkins’s organ (Line of Force) and Daemian Allen’s sax in driving melodies you might find on Marvin Gay or Stevie Wonder discs. Former Dominic and the Lucid guitarist Mike Chasse lends a jam band aesthetic.
In tunes like “Shine On,” especially, Waxman espouses a feel-good, do-unto-others vibe that’s hard to withstand even for the most cynical among us. In a way, it’s fairly gospel, a call to Waxman’s own sort of congregation. Of course, he gets all “Imagine” in “What If,” wondering “what if this world had no religion?/What if this world had some emancipation?”
In person, the band is a majorly good time, and the Soul Movement (their Kenya Hall sings backup with Waxman) open this show, so make sure you get your copy of the disc in person.
It can sometimes be hard to take LOKI seriously, what with their being on Sweat of Our Balls Records and them being depicted on the cover of their new EP penciled as comic-book elf-men. But No Disclaimers, their fourth release and the first since 2004’s Firelight full-length, is a fairly nuanced piece of heavy radio rock.
The disc has actually been out for a few weeks, but this is the band’s hometown CD-release show at the Station, so now’s as good a time as any to pick it up.
They’re down-tuned and throaty, sure, but there’s plenty of melody and the guitars play off each other nicely, cycling through some crisp riffs. I was expecting “One Track Wasted” to be a bunch of distortion and drunken guffaws, but it opens with chugging blues-metal, then swirling distortion and good crunching chords enter for a decent sing-along. The vocals could be higher in the mix; the guitar wash can obscure JT’s tone and lyrics. And “The Whole Fist” might sound kind of dirty, but it’s actually mildly prog-rock and heady. (They are named after a Norse god, after all.)