"We Made These Songs" contains work by six bands; Thee Headliners, Kusikia, Palo Verde, Swallows, Magic Johnson, and Hey Lover. All of them are Portland bands with two members; after that, the resemblance fades.
Side A starts off with "Uh Huh" by Thee Headliners. According to their Myspace, Thee Headliners formed as a band after their breakup as a couple. That's brave. They've been playing together for ten years, so it must have worked out well for them! Uh Huh has a very old-school country feel; shuffly beat, slide guitars; deep, gritty vocals from both Holly and JT.
The next track, "Shaker" by Kusikia, changes things up. Here we have a liquid, restrained bass guitar over busy drums; small, distant sounding female vocals both high and husky interspersed with noisy solos.
Palo Verde close off the first side with "Devilish Eye". This is the only song on the record with no vocals. The drums are very busy and adept; the guitar starts out sparse and reverby and becomes distorted and brings a sludgy metal feel. I can tell they're good at what they do, but it's not really my thing.
Side B begins with three tracks by Swallows. This is one of those bands whose name I've heard many times but who I knew nothing about; I'm sorry now I didn't hear them sooner. Classic, clean pop sound with a bit of silliness (Ok, maybe a lot of silliness, in the case of claiming that Paraguay isn't so far away, as evinced by its being only a foot and a half away on the map.)
The middle of Side B contains two brilliantly titled songs by Magic Johnson; Iguana Igual and Kelly the Antichrist. Magic Johnson have a very early punk sound; a looseness in the unceasing guitar, percussive vocals, with strange voices, chanting, and shrieking. The vocals are almost all in Spanish, so I didn't understand most of it, unfortunately. I'm pleased to see a band in the punk vein following the weird sounds of early punk, rather than taking one of the more-traveled punk paths.
the record closes with two tracks by Hey Lover. Fun, lo-fi pop. "Don't Forget About Me" is more uptempo, with the music a bit louder than the vocals; "Elizabeth Bridge" is slow and sparse. I'm partial to the first one.
this Friday, the 17th, all six bands are playing a compilation release show at Branx; tickets are $7 advance, $10 at the door - and that includes either a copy of the vinyl record or a digital download. That's a pretty good deal! Plus, it's Swallows' last show, so catch them while you can. Show starts at 8.