Filthy Friends

Johnny Brenda's Presents

Filthy Friends

Dressy Bessy

Tue, May 21, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$18.00 - $20.00

This event is 21 and over

All shows are 21+ Proper I.D. required for admission

Filthy Friends - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Filthy Friends
The first releases from Filthy Friends, the scorchingly melodic rock group whose membership consists of some of the most original musical voices of the past three decades, came as a small, delightful shock to the system. Not only because of the names associated with the project, including Sleater-Kinney co-founder Corin Tucker, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and indie stalwarts Scott McCaughey and Kurt Bloch, but also because of how ably they were able to mesh their individual sounds into a crackling melodic whole on debut album ​Invitation​.

Now, with their follow-up—​Emerald Valley​, out on Kill Rock Stars on May 3rd—the Friends have proven their collective mettle, crafting a thematic suite of songs that finds the quintet digging deeper into their bag of musical tricks and giving Tucker room to rage about and mourn the fate of our planet and the people who inhabit it.

The core idea came from a demo Buck shared with Tucker for a grinding blues song that eventually turned into this new album’s title track. The minute she heard it, Tucker says, it sparked something within her: “I had this long poem growing in my brain,” she says. “It turned into a sort of manifesto about the kind of place we are at as a country but also as a region. Just taking stock of where we’re at and feeling like I can’t believe we let things get this bad.”
While ​Emerald Valley s​ tarts off with idyllic imagery (“Rolling fields, they speak your name/vibrant green is here again”), the album and its title track slowly reveal the ugly underneath, with human arrogance and hubris hurting the Earth and the people who take on “backbreaking work for little pay.”

From there, the Friends address growing concerns over oil production and distribution (“Pipeline”), gentrification and income inequality within the band’s hometown of Portland, Oregon (“One Flew East”), and taking on the voice of the desperate souls that are getting crushed under the wheels of capitalism (“Last Chance County”). The band paints these themes with many different shades of the rock palette, nestling a snapping punk tune between a bit of jangly pop and an almost-shoegaze ballad, with stops along the way for songs that burn as hot and move as slow as lava and tunes that stay steady and fast as a rocket launch.

Emerald Valley​ is also a testament the indefatigable spirit of the Filthy Friends themselves. Scott McCaughey bounced back from a stroke he suffered in late 2017, which curtailed the band’s tour plans and is playing with more fire than ever. As well, Corin Tucker and Peter Buck were able to devise some amazing work even as their creative energies were being pulled toward other projects like Arthur Buck and Sleater-Kinney. Too, the band was able to bring a new member into the fold with drummer Linda Pitmon coming on board to replace Bill Rieflin without losing an ounce of their power.

We could all take a lesson from Filthy Friends. As proven by ​Emerald Valley​, when a group of like-minded people gather their individual strengths together and point them toward a singular goal, there’s no telling how powerful they can become and what an impact they can make on the world at large.
Dressy Bessy - (Set time: 8:00 PM)
Dressy Bessy
"We never broke up," Dressy Bessy singer/guitarist Tammy Ealom says on the occasion of the release of KINGSIZED, her band's first new album in seven years. "It was never our intention to drop out, it just sort of happened. We were dealing with life, but we never stopped making music."

"We didn't quit," agrees guitarist John Hill, Ealom's bandmate of nearly two decades. "But we did go through a period of reexamining what we were doing, and we came out of it a better and stronger band."

Indeed, the 13-song KINGSIZED makes it clear that, nearly 20 years into their career, Dressy Bessy are making some of their most compelling and accomplished music. Such melodically infectious, lyrically barbed new tunes as "Lady Liberty," "Make Mine Violet" and the anthemic title track are potent examples of the band's uncanny ability to wrap Ealom's personally-charged, pointedly subversive lyrics in sparkling, irresistibly catchy songcraft.

In addition to showcasing the band's musical chemistry, KINGSIZED also draws upon the talents of a wide assortment of friends, admirers, and contemporaries. R.E.M's Peter Buck adds distinctive 12-string guitar on "Lady Liberty" and "Cup 'O Bang Bang," while legendary Pylon frontwoman Vanessa Briscoe-Hay adds her voice to "Get Along (Diamond Ring)." Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows mastermind Scott McCaughey plays keyboards on "Make Mine Violet" and "57 Disco" and R.E.M's Mike Mills sings on the band's distinctive rendering of the George Harrison classic "What Is Life," which appears as the b-side of the 7″ single release of "Lady Liberty."

KINGSIZED, after the departure of original bass player Rob Greene, features an assortment of notable guest bassists as well, including Eric Allen of The Apples In Stereo, Jason Garner of the Polyphonic Spree and The Deathray Davies, Mike Giblin of Split Squad and fabled punk progenitor Andy Shernoff of The Dictators.

"We've always been a really self-contained band, and not the kind of band to have a million guest stars," Ealom notes. "But losing a member freed us up to try different things and bring in different people, who came up with things that were different from what we'd come up with on our own. I went ahead and recorded some scratch bass lines for the songs on the album, and then we asked various people to play, and it worked out perfectly."

"We gave almost everybody the song and let them do what they do, and we got some great things back," adds Hill. "One of the bass parts actually set the tone of the song for me, and had a big impact on my guitar parts. On "KINGSIZED", we sent the song off to our friend Mike Giblin and he sent us back three bass lines: the Ramones version, the Buzzcocks version and the Elvis Costello version. We ended up using the Buzzcocks version."

The release of KINGSIZED caps a transitional period that followed Dressy Bessy's 2008 release Holler and Stomp, during which the band cut back on its touring activities and limited their musical output to their 2012 Summer Singles series of digital singles.

"It was a combination of a lot of things," says Hill, who is also a longtime member of The Apples In Stereo. "Holler and Stomp came out right before the economy crashed in 2008, and that made it much harder to tour, and hard to get people out to shows."

"It kind of took the wind out of our sails for awhile and caused our morale to drop," Ealom admits. "But it also forced us to think about how we felt about the band. We came out of that period feeling stronger than ever. Then the songs started coming, and I wrote this album in about a month."

KINGSIZED also marks a return to the band's early recording approach. As Hill explains, "With our first two albums, we were a completely D.I.Y. operation, and we recorded everything at home. Then we did our next three albums in the studio. Three or four years ago, we revamped our home studio, so we could record complete works at home. Now we have the sound quality of a real studio without the time constraints. We have enough time for stuff to jell and enough time to work things out."

While KINGSIZED features some of the most focused, organic music Dressy Bessy has ever made, the new album is consistent with the pursuit of joy and transcendence that's been the band's mission from its early days in its hometown of Denver.

"When we started," Hill recalls, "everybody was making music that was so serious, and fun had become really unfashionable. If you played rock 'n' roll in 1996, you were expected to be glum and brooding, but we wanted to show people a good time."

"Sometimes," Ealom adds, "we felt like we were in the wrong decade, like we should have been around in the '60s, when bands weren't afraid to look like they were enjoying themselves. It never made sense to me to go and see a band and everyone's sulking and moping; I couldn't relate to that at all."

Although such seminal Dressy Bessy releases as Pink Hearts Yellow Moons, The California EP, SoundGoRound, Little Music: Singles 1997-2002, Dressy Bessy and Electrified earned the band an enthusiastic fan base with their effervescent, uplifting pop tunes, they also caused some observers to miss the tougher edge of Ealom's lyrics.

"All of my songs," she reveals, "come out of some sort of personal turmoil, or they're me getting back at someone or something. But I think people hear our name and see our artwork, and they think of us as some kind of bubbly cartoon."

"Some people saw the songs as kind of cutesy," Hill notes. "But in fact, so many of them are Tammy saying 'fuck you.' But when we play them, we're jumping around and smiling, because we're having fun. Some people don't get it, but our fans do."

Now that they're back in action with some of their strongest music to date, Dressy Bessy is happy to be back at work. "I feel like we're just starting to get good at what we do," Ealom states. "We've had a lot of time to hone in our sound, knowing what we want to sound like and figuring out what we need to do to get that. I'm really excited about the future."

"We actually kind of know what we're doing now," adds Hill with a chuckle. "We used to always be flying by the seat of our pants, but we're better players, Tammy is a better singer, and we're a better band. I think we've recorded the best album that we ever have, so our plan now is to just get out there and rock, then keep on rocking. We need our fans and we feel like they need us too."
Venue Information:
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125
http://www.johnnybrendas.com/