FILTHY FRIENDS "INVITATION"
KILL ROCK STARS
PAM NASHEL LETO: firstname.lastname@example.org
TAYLOR HAUGHTON: email@example.com
Filthy Friends is the sound of music being made free of expectations, free of fear for how it will be received, free of any and all bullshit that has become lingua franca of the modern music industry. Filthy Friends is the product of likeminded individuals with nothing to prove getting together and making a heroic racket together that finds space for their many influences and interests.
The band is lucky in that regard. Their legacies in the music world are comfortably secured. Lead singer Corin Tucker has left an indelible mark on the punk scene through her memberships in Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy. Guitarist Kurt Bloch has logged a lot of hours as the leader of The Fastbacks, as well as serving as a producer/mentor for up and coming Seattle rock groups. Drummer Bill Rieflin has a fine day job as one of the drummers in King Crimson. Bassist Scott McCaughey keeps plenty busy doing studio work and mining the power pop underground with his long-running band the Young Fresh Fellows. As for the other guitarist Peter Buck...if you’re unfamiliar with him, you haven’t been paying attention to the last 30 years of alternative/college/indie rock. (Stage whisper: He used to be in R.E.M.)
So far, the world has gotten to know Filthy Friends through a nicely scattershot batch of songs: “Despierata,” their entry into the anti-Trump project 30 Songs For 30 Days and the 2017 Record Store Day release featuring their original “Any Kind of Crowd” and a sinister take on Roxy Music’s “Editions of You.” Now this fierce collective is fanning the flames even hotter with the release of their debut full-length Invitation. Yes, it does slip their already released tracks into the mix, but what surrounds those tunes is oh so much more than you could have ever asked for.
The 12-song collection works through a flurry of different moods and styles, genre exercises and joyous experiments. The intricate guitar knots and blasts of bubblegum pop of Buck’s beloved Television are all over the herky-jerky “Windmill.” A mashup of ‘60s downer vibes and rootsy rumblings makes up the marvelous “Second Life” whereas “Come Back Shelley” is all swagger and glitz in the style of a lost glam rock 45. There ain’t nothing this band can’t do with the wet clay of rock music and what they sculpt out of it is pure art.
If you can sense an ease with the way these songs and this band got together that isn’t a mistake. The five Filthy Friends have gotten to know each other well, lo these past few decades. Bloch and McCaughey are both longstanding members of the Young Fresh Fellows. Rieflin and McCaughey were both unofficial members of R.E.M. during the band’s post-Bill Berry years. If that weren’t enough Buck, Rieflin, and McCaughey are also members of the Minus 5 and the Venus 3, bands that have made fantastic records on their own and with venerated singer-songwriters like John Wesley Harding, Alejandro Escovedo and Robyn Hitchcock. With all of them living and working in the Pacific NW, they’ve all gotten to know and love the work that Tucker has done in Sleater-Kinney and with her solo ventures.
The bottom line is that this is a group of musical lifers who, after 30+ years of playing shows both big and small, still get a visceral thrill out of recording a great song or standing on stage. They’d be doing it with the same enthusiasm and authority if they had an audience of 5 or 5,000. Don’t ask much more of them beyond that. We demand far too much from the artists we love. Best to let these kids do what they wanna do and just enjoy rolling around in the muck with them whenever we get their invitation.