Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wilson County Riot CD Release and the Alarmists at Turf

Last Thursday, Fort Wilson Riot had their CD release party at the Turf, with the Alarmists opening. Fort Wilson Riot is a new favorite, who I feel is one of the best new bands in town and will go far! As may the Alarmists as well, who were a music wake-up call, refreshing in their energetic Brit-pop that reminded me of the Beatles, Spoon, Supergrass, and seemed on the verge of experimenting with stuff that the Super Furry Animals, one of my favorite live bands did. They pushed edges of guitar experimentation, and had cool solos that ended leaving you wanting more, which is a tricky timing thing in the world of solos. They're playful and have great vocals and guitar chops and are definitely a fantastic new band I recommend checking out.

There'll be a chance for you to do so when they play at Big V's on Sept. 8 with Fort Wilson Riot and another group Maudlin they recommend in the umbrella category of gypsy punk that is becoming the rage which includes these groups, the Knotwells, Murzik, Mike Gunther and His Restless Souls and Thunder in the Valley.

Fort Wilson Riot started their show literally dramatically with lead singer Amy Hager curled on the floor in an Italian renaissance-looking outfit, singing atmospherically and the rest of the band looking like they'd either just got off hopping trains or working in a coal mine for 3 months who after the "Overture," tore directly into early punk riffs and carnivalesque rhythms, like a Tilt-a-Whirl out of control. Elements of classical keyboards wove around '70's style female vocals and Carpenter's like harmonies, and Spoon/Wilco/Beatles infused guitar of Jacob Mullis (Seldom Seen). The versatile Hager and Mullis alternated on the keyboards with melodramatic songs about politics, hair loss and self-pity in the midst of global warming, hair spray, the war, and infused with magical realism elements such as a shrinking and flying orange-haired woman, all performed in front of a fantastically painted backdrop in black and white by Hager.

Their new CD also features phenomenal artwork done by their friend Brian Squillace who relocated to Nevada City, CA, who's also an architect working towards green housing, using minimal cost and renewable resources to build structures.

Lyrics such as: "Smooth Lager Beer, take me away from here" sung precariously close to a Calgon commercial ditty, continues, "I live in a country and I'm heir to a throne, but of an evil king, bent on ruining his own. . . we don't know much but we know its wrong. These laws and this war can only lead to harm."

Why Can't the God's be Laughing is a nice twist on Christian guilt, and Forget about Legs is strangely funny and dark.

There are so many cool and often funny surprises in a Fort Wilson Riot show, such as "harmonoboxing" something that Joe Goggins "on bass, weirdness, beatbox, vocals" does that is a cross between playing harmonica inside a little flowerpot and the beat box, the image of which sent I and a friend into peals of laughter. This happened many times throughout a show, and I got spoiled, wanting to hear more dark, macabre gypsy punk music that made me laugh and think and dance all at once. I love hearing intelligent lyrics infused with tongue-in-cheek dark humor by obviously literary people. Goggins also did lots of cool Tom Waits-style mouth percussives. Together the band make vocals that sound like birds chittering, slide kazoos, and trumpets. There are Spanish guitars and vocals on Angelitos Negros and classic rock riffs teasing the memory throughout . . . I could go on all day.

Two parts of the future 5 - 7 part Idigaragua were played at the Turf show which drummer Ben Smith says will also probably be their next recording project, with an EP solely consisting of that song cycle. The Lens is another new song that they're experimenting with, "working on writing different musical sections to theme a show sometime in the future." Their intent is to make a collage with a song and its various lyrics and twists throughout a show.

You'll have a chance to see them for yourselves at their CD Release Party, Part 2 at the Hexagon this Friday along with Pretty Boy Thorson and the Fallen Angels, Steve Jacksaw, and Murzik at 9:30.

You can check out their music, shows, and favorite links (which resonate with me) here:

Fort Wilson Riot

Here's their setlist:

Why Can't the Gods Be Laughing
Orange Haired Woman
Satin Sheets
Forget About Legs
Bitch Tit
Heir to a Thrown
Angelitos Negros
Ass Hair
Hairspray that Holds
Bumble Fuck

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