Saturday, June 14, 2014

Solid Gold Balls on CD

"Sunshine...a pony...Rice-a-Roni...bok choy.
I heart...sunset...oh boy."

The members of Solid Gold Balls, yet another endless interesting band from Portland, call themselves "family core indie punk hard folk rock," a play on the fact that they've succumbed to the domestic life (five kids between the three members) while still giving into their rock and roll urges on nights and weekends. Comparing themselves reluctantly to a cocktail of the Three Ws (The Who, Wilco and Ween), frontman and guitarist Mitch Wiencken, bassist Matt Souther and drummer Dan Stieg play the sort of forward and aggressive hard rock that's immediately appealing and liberating, as if they can't wait to shrug off their suburban netting and forget about the fact that they had a really shitty week at work.

The subtle wink to the listener, however, is a Prius-sized box of wry lyrics that pay homage to everyday life. On this eponymous new album, you'll find song titles such as "Bacon," "AC/DC Fan" and the hilarious "Kenny G," where Wiencken bitches about how hard his life is ("Do you think it's easy? It's not!") while constantly dipping into Pat Benatar's '80s catalog for inspiration--most notably "Heartbreaker." The lackadaisical list I mention at the top is delivered, with audible exhaustion, in "I Hop," which might be the song that comes closest to Wilco--a Wilco that's been performing on the road way too long and really needs a case of PBR and a shower. Okay, maybe that's the Ween.

Like most of the bands in Portland, the members of SGB have played in a zillion different failed bands by this point. Wiencken says, "When you try that hard, the disappointment of not becoming world famous crushes your nuts and makes you bitter. Therefore, we don’t really give a shit about becoming world famous." That's sort of the point here--you find success/love/fame/fortune when you stop looking for it. Not every band is smart enough to know this, let along sing about it.

This seemingly apathetic yet ultra hip attitude is what gives The Balls their edge--maybe that's The Who finally sneaking in. Short of smashing their equipment at the end of every show--and who can afford that nonsense? the boys have bills to pay and diapers to change--the Solid Gold Balls might really gain some attention as long as they keep their senses of humor and always remember how to rock this well into middle age--even if they have to waste it on the pale microbrew swillers on the weekends.

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