Seattle’s The Salt Riot released one of the most memorable albums in recent times – Dead Star – that lives up to the promise of what we call ‘The New Rock N Roll’. We connected with lead singer-songwriter and guitarist Julia Vidal via email to gain insight into this intriguing emerging band.
My first proper gig overseas went without any hitch whatsoever. Got a nautical wheel stamp on my inner right wrist to indicate that I was on the guest list! (Well, it was the Neptune Theater). The Neptune was a small venue with ornate trimmings and classical ambience. Stained glass images of gods and goddesses of the sea. Arrived early and was actually carded (!) as the floor was meant for ‘+21’ only!
Opening band Cymbals Eat Guitars started at 8pm in the dot and played a lively 30-odd minute set punctuated by energy, passion and musical endeavor. Playing mostly songs from the new LP, LOSE, the crowd was suitably impressed and for me the final two songs viz “Jackson” & “Laramie” were outstanding with singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino and drummer Andrew Dole, the focal points. Definitely a band with tremendous potential as their style mixes up decades of rock & pop influences intelligently. I would love to see them do a full set in Singapore!
Of course, all of us were waiting for the legendary Bob Mould and I daresay nobody was disappointed with his visceral delivery of melodic alt-rock that spanned the decades from Husker Du, Sugar and recent solo material. Right from the get-go with the triple punch of “Flip Your Wig”, “Hate Paper Doll” and “Changes”, you just knew you were in for a wild ride. The crowd went ape shit as young and old in the audience moved along to the high energy hardcore punk and sang along to those catchy tunes. What a killer combination – no exaggeration to describe Bob as a godfather of grunge (on equal footing with Neil Young) or a seminal influence on a slew of 90s bands that came in the wake of Husker Du (including Nirvana & Foo Fighters).
Backed by the amazing rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk) and bass player Jason Narducy (Verbow), there was no stopping the intensity and dynamism emanating from stage as Bob, Jon and Jason managed to present old and new songs as a coherent whole – fast, loud & infectious. Thus, brand new instant classics like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” had no problem whatsoever blending in with legendary tracks like “Makes No Sense At All” (a blistering encore song).
But for me, the most memorable moment arrived when Bob slowed things down with “Hardly Getting Over It” (from Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey) where Bob beat Neil Young at his own game – a feedback drenched country-folk ballad that sent chills down my spine and tears into my eyes. Truly incandescent. Bob sent everyone home happy with an obscure Husker Du cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme – “Love is All Around”. There was little doubt in my mind that we were in the presence of a living rock n roll legend – thank you Bob Mould!
Thanks to Jesse O’Connor/Tell Your Friends PR for making this review possible!
Day Two was spent recovering from my jet lag so I was only able to get out on Day Three. Basically spent the day with my good friend Chris, visiting EMP Museum. It’s really a pop culture buff’s dream to a certain extent. EMP expanded their scifi-fantasy section into separate scifi, horror and fantasy. In truth the latter two were boring whilst the scifi section was better, there wasn’t too much to get excited about.
The music exhibitions were what EMP was all about – with the focus on Hendrix in London and Nirvana. While both were also relatively small, the detail to attention put into the exhibitions was a wonder to behold and worth the price of admission. Viewing Kurt Cobain’s demo cassettes was interesting as well as the live-size props for the In Utero tour.
It was heart-warming to visit a museum that was dedicated to rock music with its due recognition of our beloved rock music as art in its own right. What a statement to make! I was particularly intrigued by a graphic that highlighted the various indie bands that came out of Seattle and Washington state in general. It put the idea of ‘support local’ into perspective. I am certain that the folks watching Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Death Cab for Cutie etc had no idea that their local bands would one day become superstars – but that’s how every band starts, as a local band.
The Crush is a Seattle power pop trio that isn’t afraid to list a whole bunch of old school (read: classic) rock bands as influences. The standouts for me? The Stones, The Jam, Teenage Fanclub, The Kinks and fellow Seattles power poppers The Fastbacks! On its latest EP, Future Blimps, the band delivers all the necessary ingredients to make tasty power pop viz. beaty rhythms, meaty guitars, catchy tunes and singer Kira’s appealing larynx as the cherry on top!
The five-track EP kick offs with the rollicking “Never Gonna Stop” and the trio keeps energy levels high throughout. With tracks like the jangle-y “Around”, the garage-y “Better and Better”, the sunshine-y “It’s Love” and the bounce-y “Nothing to Lose”, the agenda is clear viz. cool vibes, poppy fun and an ephemeral musical infatuation with songs that aim directly at the heart!
Future Blimps is available at Bandcamp from 21st June!