The last thing you might expect to hear driving through Eugene, Oregon, is the incitement of a torero anthem meant to escort a toreador during his struggle to pull down a bull; searching out the noise, the last thing you might expect to see is nine gringos, most of them old punk rockers, with bandoleers thrown over their shoulders, playing norteño standards at a quinceañera party for 15-year-old girls. This is not a sad testament to the cultural deprivation facing Latino families stuck in the Northwest, but rather praise for the exuberant talent of Los Mex Pistols del Norte, which recently won a battle of the bands with a mostly Hispanic crowd judging and mostly Hispanic bands competing, and were chosen to play during the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Eugene with Flaco Jimenez. Now, between club gigs where rockers familiar with bandleader Bruce Hartnell from his L.A. Detonators days groove to the giddy, often humorous, mélange of Tex-Mex, surf, and desert-parched soundtracks, Los Mex Pistols have become a favorite on the birthday, wedding, and anniversary circuit. As fine a compliment as any for nine white boys. Los Mex Pistols del Norte perform on Friday, March 10, at the CW Saloon with the Crosstops and Hellacaminos opening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.
"Who's responsible for these sweet, dulcet tones?" asked my housemate, with no small hint of sarcasm coloring her morning voice. "Reid Paley!" I exclaimed, with no small hint of mirth coloring my own as Paley's 20-grade-grit snarl and unsparing assault on a 40-year-old Gretsch guitar threatened to challenge the integrity of my speaker cabinets. "He's a real sunny Sunday morning crooner," I added. Of course, that's if Sunday morning suggests puking just a little after brushing your teeth, washing it back down with flat beer, and groping for your sunglasses in a pile of nearly animate takeout containers and dirty laundry. That's not to say Reid Paley spends all his Sundays stumbling around some tenement hotel in Brooklyn shouting at construction workers and channeling the ghost of Charles Bukowski, but Bukowski could find himself in worse company. Certainly, Paley shares Bukowski's well-oiled flair for offsetting internal dilapidation, lime-embittered irony, and off-balance romanticism with oddly redeeming humanity. As artists, Bukowski and Paley champion the reprobate, and seem to speak from personal experience, but Paley sings, and if you can imagine what nine nights at the bottom of a dumpster with two black eyes and a pocket full of Lucky Strike butts might sound like pouring from a stereo, you'll understand this is not for everyone. For fans of churlish honesty and unaffected one-man shows, Revival, Paley's most recent collection of alcohol and ire, is a nonstop riot. From the jazzy "The Anesthetist's Song (Something for the Pain)," in which a "suave yet incisive instrumental bit" is inserted after "To get it off my chest I'll take a little something for the pain," to the raucous diatribe "Never Drink Alone" ("And I never drink alone/ I've always got you with me") to the grizzly lament "A Song for You (Fuck You)" ("Might as well have a drink/ Raise it high to you") to the lilting shuffle "A Bang and a Wimper" ("You said I was drunk the day you left me") and the haltingly delicate lullaby "Dreamland" ("Wake up my world I'm waiting"), it's clear Paley takes his job as miscreants' bard seriously, but there's a smirk behind those shades. Reid Paley opens for Drizzoletto, featuring Ralph Carney and the Mermen's Alan Whitman, and Slender at the CW Saloon on Saturday, March 11, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 974-1585.