"Fuck these guys, they sound exactly like the Strokes," an unattractively bitter local musician muttered to me as we watched rising stars the Blakes hit the stage at Neumo's last Friday night and launch into "Don't Bother Me," an obscenely catchy single that's getting a fair amount of airplay on KEXP these days and is starting to attract all sorts of industry buzz beyond Seattle. Truth be told, this definitely isn't the first time I've heard this assessment leveled at the boyishly handsome trio, and it's not entirely off the mark. Garnet Keim's guitar jangles quite brightly, and his bass-playing brother Snow is a charismatic, shameless showman who belts out lascivious lyrics with a stylish, downtown ease not unlike N.Y.C.'s former Great White Hope. That said, who cares, fer chrissakes? Freakishly talented drummer Bob Husak is half Animal-evoking Muppet, half Keith Moon mascot, and the sum total of these three is undiluted, unapologetic, and uncorkably energetic rock 'n' roll. Since when is this artistic treason? I generally refuse to use the term "haters," but hey, haters: Back off.
The envy-inducing Blakes were following the Shackletons and preceding El Perro del Mar on the dual-purpose bill celebrating the birthday of KEXP DJ John Richards and the long-awaited release of the Saturday Knights' eponymous EP. While Richards alternated between informal MC duties upstairs and more bacchanalian pursuits in Neumo's VIP room downstairs, Cops frontman Mike "Jaws" Jaworski tuned up his guitar to help the Knights out with a few songs during their headlining set. Pulling Jaws into the mix was a wise move and one that is scheduled to be reprised when the Cops and the Knights share the stage during the Mt. Fuji Records showcase at South by Southwest next week.
Speaking of which, Seattle Weekly music editor Brian Barr and I will be heading to Austin next week for all the beer, bands, and BBQ we can handle—please say a little prayer for our livers and eardrums. We also plan to document the whole sordid affair with a little help from our new Web editor Chris Kornelis, who will be bringing plenty of video, audio, and slide shows to Reverb (www.seattleweekly.com/music/blogs/reverb). The list of acts I'm looking forward to catching is too long to fit this page, but top priority is checking out Future of the Left, a reconfiguration of caustically melodic Welsh punks Mclusky—a band who broke up way before their time. You can listen to more of our anticipation for Austin via the podcast Barr and I have currently posted on Reverb.
NASA has recently announced that it will establish a permanent moon colony by 2024. While Sub Pop's goals for growth aren't quite as lofty, no one can accuse them of switching to autopilot in the wake of their recent Shins-fueled success. Label prez Jonathan Poneman has officially unveiled plans, which were first reported on Reverb, to launch Hardly Art, an imprint the new label's manager, Sarah Moody, describes as "an outlet where we could be a little more spontaneous and work on a more intimate level with artists." First on tap for this purported personal touch is Velvet Underground–emulating act Arthur and Yu, whose debut will be released this June.
Finally, if I wasn't going to be chasing down free margaritas and old friends at SXSW, I'd be front and center at the Funhouse this Friday, March 16, for a rare appearance by the legendary Rudy Ray Moore. The icon best known for his subversive '60s comedy records and ribald roles in the blaxploitation Dolemite films will be celebrating his 80th birthday at our beloved punk clubhouse, thanks to the tenacious booking skills of superfan Brian Foss. When I asked Moore via e-mail what achievement he was most proud of in his career, he cited an admirable allegiance to the DIY ethos, stating, "I have done it all on my own...my films, my 26 albums—and I have had the freedom to not play by anyone else's rules." As for what Seattle audiences can expect, he assured me that it would be "Off the chain! My son Kenny and my daughter Rusty will be performing with me. I want the people of Seattle to come out and show us some LOVE—and we're gonna give them more than they came for!" You heard the man—go get your tickets now, muthafuckas!