Priceless Grains of Sand
The Quags-Priceless Grains of Sand. It's great to have this Oregon band back for the first time since 2005's Devil's Music. The Quags are on the Paisley Pop label and for those unfamiliar it means classic rock-infused power pop, in this case reminiscent of bands like The Kinks and The Figgs. The opening 1-2 of 'Human Thing' and 'Favorite Parasite' drive this comparison home, and the laidback 'Beautifully Insane' is another treat. Elsewhere, 'It Takes Heart' is a Rockpile-styled delight, 'Going Through the Convulsions' rocks out, and 'Do Yourself a Mischief' closes things on a wonderfully jangly note with a hint of The Who. Here's hoping we won't have to wait six years for the next one. "And thanks to Absolute Powerpop and Peluso, I heard the band from Oregon has a new album. And it sounds as hell. A bit of everything, as in the vineyard of the Lord.' SPECTRUM CULTURE July 29, 2011 in MUSIC, MUSIC NEWS by Eric Dennis One of the best things about being a music critic is the amount of free review material that arrives either via email or the going-belly up U.S. Postal Service. And one of the worst things about being a music critic is the amount of free review material that arrives either via email or the going-belly up U.S. Postal Service. To dispel any Lester Bangs-type mythology about discovering the Next Great Thing: the majority of stuff that comes in is certifiable crap: techno kids hopped up on computer software and Ecstasy; indie amateurs who listed to On Fire way too much; etc. So it's a nice treat when a decent record sneaks it's way in, and such is the case with the Quags' Priceless Grains of Sand. It's a catchy bit of power-pop/indie rock, and while it's style isn't revolutionary, it's the type of organic, guitar-bass-drums-keyboards album that sounds increasingly rare in today's sometimes excessively experimental indie climate. Most of it's songs are mid-tempo rockers with no gross theatrics or musical indulgences, and offer plenty of wry lyrics to boot (favorite so far: "You can't judge a man by his record collection/ Though it might give you a clue"). I don't know a damn thing about these guys' back story and am reacting based soley on what I'm hearing on this album. But, even as this band wears it's influences maybe a bit too transparently, what they've come up with here is actually pretty damn enjoyable. Priceless Grains of Sand is the third release by Portland, Oregon's the Quags, their long overdue follow-up to 2005's Devil's Music. Recorded throughout 2010 in a makeshift studio set up in drummer Jon Beyer's basement, they have turned out another exciting, electric album, energetic rough and ready with a sense of musical history yet channeled for the 21st century. Recordist Brian Berg of 44 Long, who produced Devil's Music and played piano on their 2002's debut release Out in the Community, steps in again, this time not only as producer/engineer but as a band member, contributing beautiful harmonies and supplying some wild lead guitar. While continuing to mine influences such as Big Star, Buzzcocks, the Jam, and the Small Faces, on Priceless Grains of Sand, the Quags turn out the type of smart, joyful, raucous, yet refined tunes that make the moniker "power pop" more powerful. Why the six year lag between the releases? Life happens... Breakdowns, breakups, cats die, memory loss, restaurants open, suicides, and births. The usual and unusual complexities of life that help make for an interesting batch of songs. The title "I Can Face the World Now, Now That you're With Me" was lifted from an imaginary song by the imaginary band, Geoff Lovestone and the Love Gods. The inspiration for "Little Effigy" came about when Dennis woke one morning to find cardboard cut outs of Keith Richards hanging from a tree in front of his apartment. "Dear Memory" reflects upon the concussion and final tragic decision of a good friend. Standout track, "Do Yourself a Mischief" was written by long time friend of the band, Steven Schayer, of Clay Idols, the Chills, and the Black Watch.