Friday, July 08, 2005

In praise of friends

Sometimes I find myself feeling like an old guy. As an old guy, it's often difficult to drag myself out to stuff during the week, especially music events, which tend to start late and end early (the next morning). However, last night I managed to get out to see Smear Campaign play an early set at Kenny's Castaways.

Glad I did.

My friend Mike (aka Dubcrash) is a member of Smear Campaign, so it's his fault that I know about them. They played a great set, performing a variety of tunes.

Now, the band began as a pretty straightforward rock and roll combo, but with the addition of a keyboard and sampler player (that would be Mike), their sound has changed quite a bit. They incorporate elements of jazz, dub, swing, punk, and electronic. Quite a varied palate, really.

As musicians, all those involved are incredibly talented.

Their drummer is positively manic when it comes to laying down the faster stuff, but has an excellent touch and knows when to pull back on the more downtempo, laid back numbers. Likewise their guitarist, who revels in blistering solos, knows when to calm things down and do rhythm during the more dublike tunes.

The bass is always solid, but never boring. Bassists often are stuck with simple "pluck, pluck, pluck" routines, but not Smear Campaign. The bass is as integral to the melody as the vocals and guitar.

And the vocals are excellent. The band's singer is a tiny woman, yet she generates a sound that can swing from aggressive and threatening to soft and endearing. Enthralling, really.

Mike adds texture and beefs up the melody lines. There's just something about keys that adds a bit of zing to the standard rock and roll foursome. I know some folks don't like keyboards, but then again, some people liked Stryper. These are things we are just not meant to understand.

So next time Smear Campaign does a show, do yourself a favor and check them out. Worth the trip.

Helping turn my brain into mush:

Iron Halo Device - The Collapsing Void
(cut and paste and in your face)

Joe Colley - Anthem: Static For Empty Life
(dark ambient and noise; two great tastes etc. etc.)

Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
(worshipping Satan the old fashion way: screamin' about it)

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
(well, hello to you too)

Billie Holiday - Songs For Distingue Lovers
(the greatest female jazz vocalist ever; yes, better than Ella)


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