Monday, February 11, 2008


The Finest Kiss

I just learned this weekend that a real-world friend links here, and that he also happens to run the best Seattle music blog in the known universe, small as mine is on the subject. Toby's a lover of indie music to the extent he can accurately be called an expert, and his local reportage of bands is even better than the professional efforts around the Sound.

It wasn't the music that got me out here, but I grew to appreciate it fast. Since the late 80s the Pac Northwest has continued to grow into one of the most vibrant and nurturing emerging music scenes, the birthplace of the grungy "garage band" sound. It was a sarcastic revolt against the glammy, over-produced metal, pop, and alternative stuff that dominated the late 70s and 80s, so it was by definition anti-corporate. It was edgy and dangerous as a snakebite, dangerous as an OD, revelling in its alienation and managed to retain that feel even after bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and a score of lesser-known bands like Gruntruck were hitting it big world-wide and it attracted the trust-fund babies, who could actually afford heroin.

The originators were gone or cooled down, bands such as Green River, Mudhoney, and the Melvins (Kurt Cobain was a devoted fan and helped them out as a stage hand) were starting to pass the torch, but Seattle was as music-mad as Liverpool in the 1960s. Even my button-down friends and I in MBA School went down to the Off-Ramp every Tuesday for open mike night. We saw the worst band in history (Zeke) there. The lead singer came out wearing nothing except a gold lame' G-string, and it got worse when they started to play. Funny enough, they're a local-venue band stalwart 16 years later.

The Northwest was a perfect incubator for garage bands, and still is. You sure as hell can't play much music outside, and most parents would've rather parked their cars out on the street than have proto-punk metal/Iggy Pop fusion playing in the house. So grunge happened. Lord Running Boy had his first experience with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath last night, which he immediately went wild over: "No, no, turn it up, it's gotta be louder," he cried, grabbing the volume knob and turning it up to Eleven, whirly-gigging and turning his cousin's living room into a mosh pit for the balance of the album. (Yes. Yes, I am terrified.)

The Finest Kiss is named for a song by the Boo Radleys, a UK group Toby heard when he was living in Caen. They have a website up now, and you can listen to the song here. By going to Toby's site, I also learned that Australian legend Paul Kelly, the greatest singer-songwriter you've never heard of, will be playing at the Triple Door in March, right where I first ran into him. We're going. And I'll be enjoying the future of music via the Finest Kiss.

4 comments:

Bruce said...

The Purrs -- She's Got Chemicals: that's a brilliant song title right there, and it's got a timeless garage sound to boot.

I think Toby's right about those guys...

MarcLord said...

yeah, wasn't BS'ing about him being so up on it.

He can spot good stuff, and I'm thinking of getting him in touch with another real-world friend who has the biggest independent online music site in the US (indiefeed), to handle the Seattle area and sign up bands.

toby said...

thanks for the plug. nice picture too, just so your readers know, that isn't me with the guitar. looking forward to the PK show!

MarcLord said...

It's ok Toby. I want to be honest with my readers. You shouldn't be ashamed of your appearance!