As an independant musician (i.e. poor) I'm always rooting for the underdog. The unknown songwriter struggling to afford coffee in the morning. The musician who has fully let down their parents. The goals of fame and stardom are for narcissists who spend more on haircuts than gear or practicing. The tangible goals for independent musicians are to land a good summer tour, a booking agent or a press agent. These don't necessarily translate to more income for the musicians but rather outsource some of the logistical crap that goes into running a working band so that the musicians can focus on the music.
What I can't stand seeing is a band that has worked hard and lands a press agent who then confuses quantity of representation with quality of representation. Blasting emails out to alert press outlets is necessary and should be the absolute minimum done on behalf of a band. While it's not easy to cut through the hundreds of emails that clutter writers' inboxes, a single well-written, interesting and direct press release can be effective. But an endless stream of copy-and-pasted verbiage "following up" is often a direct route to the digital garbage can. Perhaps it's easier to justify the money a band spends on a press agency by saying, "we sent out eleventy-billion emails and follow-ups." With all that said, despite a digital avalanche of one-way communication from the Syndicate Entertainment Marketing Agency, I decided to give The Youngest a shot and not penalize them for their annoying press agency. And I'm glad I did.
Listening to the album See It Through, I found a solid album from a band I know nothing about. Outside of glimpsing that they're possibly from Chicago — thanks Syndicate Entertainment Marketing Agency! — I enjoyed just judging this band on their music. With touches of instrumentation and sonic coloring that ranges and is occasionally reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky ("In Gulf"), along with harmonies befitting of Mumford & Sons and/or The Fleet Foxes, the band presents a wide spectrum of well-crafted melodies and music that is subservient to the song and might encourage us, in warmer weather, to drift away under the starry sky. On more delicate and introspective tunes, such as "Kind Like Gravity," the band's strength as a unit comes together gently and perfectly — when you hear the stool squeak during the recording, you almost can't imagine it not being there. They threaten to lose us on songs like "Red Corolla Renta," which sounds like the 70 percent of Steve Miller's catalogue we're glad we don't know, and "Growing Up," which is good but hints too much at some of the crap from Wilco's Sky Blue Sky. "Big Brother's Love" tips a hat to some of Wilco's stronger work on Being There and Summer Teeth, pulling us back in. The vocals almost get too delicate/emotional at points but that's likely just me being jealous imagining the singer as the type of guy who picked up the gal I'd been chatting up for an hour at a party with only one line. With some more grooving tunes like "Kingshighway" and some nice country pedal steel sprinkled throughout, it's an album you'll want to dig into again. You'll have a chance to hear songs from this great sophomore album when the band comes through town, so read on below for more information.
Local guitar-slinger/engineer Piet Dalmolen will be at Redwood Curtain Brewing Company at 8 p.m. to hawk his note/noodling/looping for your drinking soundtrack. A big Dead and Floyd fan, last time Piet was at the brewery I heard he played the entire Animals album. Not sure he'll pull that off solo tonight, but request it anyway at this free show.
As mentioned above, Chicago's The Youngest are in town tonight and supporting their album See It Through at Six Rivers Brewery. The aforementioned press releases have a 6 p.m. start, but Six Rivers says it 9 p.m., so go with that. I still can't tell if this is a full-band acoustic show or a solo-acoustic show, but don't let that stop you. First, they/he are out from Chicago — which is a good call considering the Windy City's 1,000 percent spike in violent crime this week — and second, they/he are play for free tonight. Welcome them/him to Humboldt, buy the album, and don't murder them/him. Over by the enchanted forest and frog ponds of Cafe Mokka, you can hear the vintage jazz tunes of locals Belles of the Levee tonight at 8 p.m. for free. It's all ages as well, so let the kiddos enjoy some hot cocoa while you rock a flat white or whatever. Locals Peach Purple are bringing their funky tunes to your ears at Humboldt Brews around 9 p.m. along with jazzers Ultra Secret. No word yet on the ticket price for this one but probably something in the $5-10 range. From the Bay Area, funk/psychedelic/soul seven-piece Con Brio is at the Arcata Theatre Lounge and joined by local funk/groove powerhouse Object Heavy around 8:30 p.m. with a $20 cover. Although they had a long and lame press release, Con Brio sounds like a pretty accomplished band with a killer live show. There's probably some inverse relationship between how bored I get reading their press release and the good times you'll have if you check out this show tonight. Be prepared to sweat.
Gypsy jazz is on the bill at Cafe Mokka tonight courtesy of Skyline Swing, who are on around 8 p.m. and for free at this all-ages gig. The Sanctuary in Arcata welcomes back San Francisco-based "old time" singer Meredith Axelrod who was last at the venue in 2015 with suspender-wearing/Brylcreem-usin' Frank Fairfield. If you missed Belles of the Levee last night, you've got another chance here at 8 p.m. with a $5-20 sliding scale. And for something completely different, Humboldt Brews has a Disco House Edition of Elevate at 9 p.m. with DJ Red, DJ Joe-E, Dub Cowboy, and Derek Watts, featuring visuals by the great Marmalade Sky. Get in for $7. Sequins and goldfish heels are welcome.
It's time again for Song Village hosted by Seabury Gould at the Westhaven Center for the Arts at 1 p.m. this afternoon. Think about it as singing with your neighbors. If you have a copy of the songbook Rise Up Singing, bring it. This one's free so enjoy. The Jazz Jam is on the menu at Blondie's in Arcata at 5 p.m. for free. Host band the Baraka-Leone Quartet start the music up and then open the jam up at 6 p.m. It's free and, as I sometimes mention in regards to karaoke, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Meaning just because you think your brandy-soaked kazoo playing sounded really amazing after your wife left you, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're ready to plow through "Autumn Leaves" with folks who can read music. But hey, do what you will. A star is in town tonight at Humboldt Brews: One-time Bob Dylan confidant — and "Midnight at the Oasis" super singer — Maria Muldaur is in our neck of the woods for an early 8 p.m. show. Grab a $20 ticket before they disappear. Also working with my favorite Syndicate Entertainment Marketing Agency is Chicano Batman out of Los Angeles, who were last up on HSU's campus, if I remember correctly. They'll bring their Tropicalia-influenced soul and psychedelia to the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Joining them are the trio SadGirl who play some "lo-fi surf-wop" and, I'm told, sound like a "twisted marriage between Roy Orbison and The Cramps (ordained by Link Wray)," and "invoke the music of a by-gone era." Got it? Rounding out the bill are 79.5, who have three part harmonies floating over some funky R&B grooves. An 8 p.m. start time and $20 gets you in the door.
The Miniplex hosts "an exciting new duo comprised of Grass Widow drummer Lillian Maring and worldbeat-inspired guitarist Angelo Spencer," who comprise Angel Food out of Olympia, Washington. Synth-poppers Smilebright from Eureka and Arcata punkers Dosidicus start out this 9 p.m. show. Bring at least $5 to get in.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to email@example.com.
Andy Powell is a congenital music lover and hosts The Album of the Week Show on KWPT 100.3 FM Tuesdays at 6 p.m. He tries to be nicer.