Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Your monthly imaginary horoscope told in album reviews!

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
Amber and topaz suit your magnetism, and this month gravity will be your friend, Libra, as your beauty draws those to you. Just as a casual listener will no doubt be attracted to So Said They on their six-song self-titled EP, and find deeper colors within. So Said They have a unique guitar sound, a wonderful Au Pairs style of dual mechanical riffing from Iris Montes and Keith Whiteman that compliments their trade-off No Wave-inspired vocals. This is genuinely funky stuff, and from the opening instrumental "Binary" to the scream-chant "Good Times," it's all mind-bending rock and rant. Their ability to draw in others and inspire the best in them socially and professionally will bring them many friends — just like you will, Libra. {So Said They are set to play the Blue Moon Tavern in the U District Friday, October 7, with Bullfighter and Currency.}

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
Younger Scorpios are drawn to political and social causes they think will benefit their communities. You no longer have summertime on the brain again, as The Posies say on "Anything and Everything," so now might be the time to be getting topical with your existence. This Posies record, their first for Rykodisc, doesn't dip too far into anything but the distance in relationships, save for the slow burning caustic complaint "Could He Treat You Better?" directed towards the monkey demon we have in the Oval Office (words of consolation: "One day he's going to die."). This legendary Seattle band led by Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer recorded the soulful opening track one day at the beginning of February last year, and just jammed out the rest day by day. Like you, Scorpio, The Posies can often seem harmless, but can show a stinging wit, which keeps this smooth-going album from ever getting too placid. Buy it: Amazon. {The Posies have a Seattle show on Octoboer 20 at Neumos with Oranger, see Aries below.}

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
The confluence of planetary sources at birth have given you a giant intellect, Sagittarius, and this month you're going to need some smart music to accompany your creatively-driven tasks. Might I suggest though devouring the sounds AND sights of the dually cerebral and senses-shattering Residents in their edifying but startling stage show Wormwood (Buy it: Amazon captured on a low priced DVD by Music Video Distributors. If you were unable to see their blasphemous but brilliant stage show at the Showbox back in 1999, here's the full 105 minute performance of their "Curious Collection of Bible Stories" that had local critics gushing for months. This particular night was captured appropriately in Wormwood Bonn, Germany, at the end of the tour, when their mind-fucking stage antics and bizarre, cryptic music were at their creative peak. Perfect for someone born between the holidays!

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Remember that you don't have to seek a literary career, Capricorn, just because you're so expressive with ideas in words. October will be a month where you can settle into some fine storytelling of others, as autumn falls around us. Keep your light heart, and your feet dancing, by listening to the hard-rockabilly tales of working class Americans hitting the wall and struggling to live out their novels in The Blasters' new album, 4-11-44 out on Rainman. This is the Blasters first album in many years, and collects some truly incredible material, from re-doing lead singer Phil Alvin's ferocious take on Otis Blackwell's awesome "Daddy Rollin' Stone," to the heart-breaking prison love letter "Julie," to the scene-setting "Dry River," written by Phil's brother Dave, who is otherwise absent (not to be cruel, but the band does fine without him somehow). If you're a fan of American music, but that limp folkie crap that doesn't have the swagger and bite of the early rock you crave, 4-11-44 will bring you back to some truly magnificent "Non-Fiction." Buy it: Amazon.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
You who are born under the sign of Aquarius are especially sensitive, and must remember that October not only has hints of dying in the change of the seasons, but also the poetry of rebirth promised. So to ignite your tender hopes, try listening to The Fast Rise and Fall of The South, featuring the poetic charms of The Kingsbury Manx on their new album from YepRoc. This thirteen song Halloween treat somehow combines the melodic beauty of Simon & Garfunkel with the debonair scarf-wearing musical strolling of Nick Drake. This album sounds like a Wes Anderson soundtrack, and I would not dare to mean that as anything other than high praise. The odd percussion and trumpets, the sanguine vocals, and the gently psychotic fade-outs are all so perfect for someone like you, Aquarius, that I think I would buy the album for you myself. {The Kingsbury Manx will play with The Standard at the Crocodile on November 18. so mark your calendars accordingly.}

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
What happens when Pisceans fail to accept their mission in life? This month you may be finding out, and this serves as a warning. Greg Dulli has suffered going off the road and into the ditches many times, which he does on his new album Amber Headlights {buy from Amazon}. Dulli studies his own impotent mortality from various angles ("Cigarettes," with its enchanting 'ho hoos' and the brittle, metallic "Black Swan"), through a handful of power-chord crunching tracks filled with admissions of flight and failure. This reaches its peak on the windswept martial-soul of "Wicked," as moving as Dulli's cover of the Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" on a covers compilation a few years back. Amber Headlights is a tribute to the 2001 death of his friend Ted Demme, and is as short (nine tracks) and talented as that life had been.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
A dominant personal characteristic of the beginning-of-spring sign Aries is tenacity, as exemplified by the band Oranger. They've been around since 1998, and have moved from an intense, experimental sound (on the psychotropic Dooray to Norway) to the more crunchy, creative pop of New Comes And Goes {buy from Amazon}. Every track on this accessible release has a great line about underground life due to flattened expectations of normal lives gone awry, from the tales of exploitation in the title track to the "Waiting For The Man" glam grind of "Sukiyaki." The broad strokes of their 60's inspirations have been sublimated for more contemporary keyboard-and-guitar hooks for the most part, but the inherent quirkiness of their psychedelic upbringing keeps things interesting. Don't give up, Aries, even if the fall weather gets you down. {Oranger have a Seattle show on Octoboer 20 at Neumos with the Posies, see Scorpio above.}

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
You can be humorous, intuitive, and impractical, Taurus, which makes you a joy to spend time with. Sometimes you don't know when to stop though, as Devendra Banhart does on his new album from Young God Records, Cripple Crow {buy it from Amazon}. It's twenty-two tracks of Donovan riding with gypsies through Latin America on motorbikes, playing acoustic guitars by firesides with plenty of wine and maybe a little hallucinogen handy. Rumors of wars and other bummers are sung about, but in the circle tonight there's nothing but good humor and the simple life ("It's simple: We don't want to kill"). So hop on the peace train, Taurus, and put your impish talents to use for the non-conformist cause.

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
Autumn is a time of changes, Gemini, and you change your colors as often as you change moods, because of your mercurial influences. My recommendation is too get tough with yourself this fall, and stick to one pattern. Turbonegro does by stripping down its previous metal excess and going full on death-grip power pop on Party Animals, with sitar-like guitar squeal layed over Blue Oyster Cult ruminations on mortality ("All My Friends Are Dead"), the rush of transgression ("High on Crime"), and the inevitability of evil winning out in a fallen world ("Babylon Forever"). The whole point is catchy dark imagery bitch-slapped by humor ("You think I'm FAT / It's an optical illusion — so blow me like the wind"). This is the funnest and funniest 'metal' record you've heard since Andrew WK's first, and doesn't seem quite as silly as the Darkness. The additional DVD of the lead singer working out is marvelous, just perfect. Black, Gemini — it's something to settle on this season. Go to the dark side. {And catch Turbonegro at the Showbox on October 21 with Danko Jones.}

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
Your emotions constantly search for new and exciting relationships, Cancer. Just the like The Juliana Theory your "Heart Is A Soldier." And now that the Theory is on Abacus Recordings, it sounds refreshed and ready for battle after the weary and worn Love. Sincerity and straightforward ideas have always been the band's strong suit, even if they've had situations with lovers (labels) that have left them eager for new energy — which they seem to have found on Deadbeat Sweetheart. "Leave Like A Ghost" urges you to move ahead no matter what's been taken from you, no matter how many dreams have been taken from you — over perfectly crafted modern rock, with polished pearls of guitar swirl throughout. This will keep you home listening for forty minutes at least, Cancer. {Catch The Juliana Theory at the Paradox wtih Jamison Parker and June on October 28 — all ages.}

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Like the Sons of Thunder, Leo, you are a lion with a quick temper — a beautiful creature that can strike boldly. This season will require both your strength and your quickness, Leo, as Angels of Light & Akron/Family dually show on their new collaboration, Akron/Family & Angels of Light. So enjoy some worship music that seems made by a traveling cult, given to high-pitched ecstatic rustic drones ("Moment," as spiritual and demented as anything the Velvet Underground ever recorded at their Cale-years peak) and rumbling clouds of twanging praise to an ominous, terrible Lord as they pitch their tents on tormented patches of arid land. The group voices are both comforting and disturbing. This is a new kind of Americana-psychedelic: sunny, outgoing, ever enthusiastic — like you, Leo — and yet strangely intimidating in how it can be transfixed by its own rage. (Also on Young God Records, see above.)

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
You Virgos will have a chance to use your talents in October, like your ability to work in detailed, long-lasting, and complex forms as your energy drives you. This power too was true of the early-on punk bands The Vibrators and The Stranglers, whose DVDs on Music Video Distributors show how musicians who were already playing at an excellent level used the urgency and menace of punk to make a new kind of noise. The Stranglers and The Vibrators are bookends — the Stranglers are captured in San Francisco one night in 1979 on a rather skimpy Target bootleg-level video, poorly shot, recorded shitty, and utterly stinking of verisimilitude. It's punk from the bottom of the sewers, no matter how majestic Jean Jacques basslines or Dave's keyboards were. The Vibrators DVD is shocking though, as it was recorded recently (2004), shot well at the doomed CBGBs. But most surprisingly, the geezer-band has oodles of energy, tearing through such alternative chartbusters as "Whips & Furs" (if you're a punk and don't know that song by heart, give it the fuck up), "London Girls," and "Baby Baby," among dozens of others, like they were a bunch of high school kids. Argh! Virgos are schizoid, both vainglorious and full of spit and vinegar! I love 'em both ways!