While many Seattle music fans were relishing appearances by the Stooges or Parts & Labor this weekend, and people from all over the world were watching Björk re-emerge and Rage Against the Machine reunite at Coachella, I was kicking it in northwestern Montana. About once a year, my boyfriend and I visit the town of Troy, Mont. (population 1,000), to spend time with his father, a lovely fellow with a ribald sense of humor and exceptional country-breakfast-cooking skills. As charming as he is and as tranquil as the lakeside home he shares with his wife, Andrea, may be, it's definitely not a very rock 'n' roll atmosphere.
That said, I often have extraordinary experiences with music when I head to Troy, simply because the serene and scenic eight-hour road trip to get there lends itself perfectly to immersion in spring's new releases. Last year, it was the lysergic-laced beauty of the Black Angels that blew my mind as we were weaving around the back roads of northern Idaho and crossing the border into Montana. This year, it was the muscular sprawl of San Diego's Earthless that provided the standout soundtrack moments. A stonerific, SoCal supergroup of sorts, Earthless is the unholy trinity of former Rocket From the Crypt/Hot Snakes/Black Heart Procession drummer Mario Rubalcaba, Nebula guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, and Electric Nazarene bassist Mike Eginton. Unsurprisingly, this makes for scale-toppling heaviness and ferocious, sky-scraping guitar action, but it's also hypnotically elastic and expansive. Anyone who retains an affection for Sin After Sin–era Judas Priest, Japanese psych-rock, or Kyuss' spacious jams will be very pleased with Earthless. They don't have any Seattle dates scheduled at press time (I'd sure love to see them open for Queen of the Stone Age), but I highly recommend picking up a copy of Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky when it's released on Tee Pee Records next Tuesday, May 8.
Thanks to a dead iPod, I didn't get in the lakeside listening sessions I wanted, but this gave me the uninterrupted silence I needed to devour veteran rock writer Evelyn McDonnell's new book, Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids, & Rock 'n' Roll. The former music editor of SF Weekly and current pop-culture critic for the Miami Herald has added a smart, funny, and unflinchingly feminist voice to the rising tide of maternal memoirs. Due to her punk-rock pedigree and dry humor, her tome is endlessly dubbed as the feminine counterpart to Neal Pollack's Alternadad. But it's her tracing of the bumpy ride from riotous Third Waver and stubbornly independent East Village bohemian to her unexpected role as stepmom to rurally raised pubescent girls that makes it a compelling read, even for those of us childless by choice.
Speaking of unexpected journeys, local noise-rock scientists Kinski landed a very last-minute gig last week opening for Tool on 18 U.S. dates. Frontman Chris Martin was pleasantly surprised and confused when I spoke with him on Friday about the news. "No one seems to know how this happened," said Martin as he scrambled to pack gear and prepare for an unplanned, protracted absence. "Our booking agent got a call [on Thursday] from Tool's agent asking if we were available to tour with Tool starting this coming Monday.We said yes. Trying to get this together at the last minute has been insane.The day we got the call to do the tour was the same day we were trying to finish mixing our next record, and we had a show with Mono that night. But we finished the record, did the show with Mono, and now I'm leaving for Reno on Sunday."
When I called Martin just after midnight on Monday, he was audibly giddy, fresh from their first show and carousing around downtown Reno with his bandmates, looking for strip clubs but eventually (and inadvertently) landing at a gay bar. Said bandmates are on loan from Master Musicians of Bukkake. Because of the eleventh-hour nature of the offer from Tool's camp, Kinski guitarist Matthew Reid Schwartz and drummer Barrett Wilke couldn't get away for a few days, so guitarist Bill Horist and drummer Don McGreevy are filling in temporarily. As for their arena-rock debut?
"Really, I was worried about how we'd be received," says Martin. "But we got a really good response. It wasn't like some big stadium cheer or anything, but the audience was pretty great. We are in the ozone, man; this all just happened so fast."