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They should be famous: The Prids

June 30, 2010

This is the first of what will  be a semi-regular series of posts about folks I feel should get a lot more notice in this overstuffed pop culture we live in. Odds are the posts will be musically oriented since I myself am a musician and I often encounter fantastic bands and musical artists who deserve much more attention than they get. To kick off this series of posts I want to write about the Portland, Oregon band The Prids.

Full disclosure: I have been friends with the two core members of The Prids – Mistina LaFave (bass and vocals) and Dave Frederickson (guitar and vocals) – since I met them by chance when I was living in Lincoln, Nebraksa (again, don’t ask) in 1998/1999. I was at a show full of mostly hardcore bands and zoning out due to my lack of love of hardcore. And then, after one of said hardcore bands finished their set, I saw a bunch of black-clad folks get onstage and start setting up to play. I had never seen these folks around Lincoln – which is remarkable for a small town – and I wanted to know what kind of music was going to come out of them. When they started playing I was officially blown away within seconds. They created this multi-layered wall of sound that was made up of some parts darkish new wave, postpunk, heavier space rock and even a few goth flourishes, which they would absolutely murder me for saying. And so much of it was centered around and anchored by Mistina’s propulsive bass playing – a shattering of the usual guitar-centric dynamic of most bands. I was entranced. And I desperately wanted to be their friend. After their set I went right up to the stage and started talking to them. Within less than an hour I was back at their shared house hanging out with them and beginning what would be a years-long friendship and fandom, as I watched them grow and evolve as musicians and continually blow me away the same way they did at that first show.

The Prids relocated to Portland, Oregon sometime in the early 2000s and, with several lineup changes on drums and keyboards – including having lost and regained drummer Lee Zeeman, coincidentally a drummer for one of the hardcore bands on that fateful night I met The Prids, and one of the only things I enjoyed about those bands – have released three full-length albums as well as many EPs and singles, gaining critical, albeit limited acclaim in the Pacific Northwest and West Coast. During a tour in the summer of 2008 The Prids were in a horrible accident that wrecked their van, destroyed most of their equipment and very nearly cost them their lives. The music community rallied around them, raising  money with PayPal donations coming from local musicians and even from more well known folks like Henry Rollins, as well as with a benefit tribute album titled Connect the Dots. Thankfully The Prids recovered and, with a current lineup including Zeeman on drums and Maile Arruda on keys, they’ve released what I feel is their best album to date, the shoegaze/pop driven Chronosynclastic.

Chronosynclastic finds The Prids venturing into these brighter, poppier territories without ever losing their identity or sounding in any way sanitized or saccharin. They’ve always done well with melancholy, but now they weave it through with longing, wistfulness and desire on tracks like “The Fall”, a song worthy of shoegaze and Britpop bands of the past but with a uniquely Prids quality to it (with a little help on guitar and vocals from Built To Spill‘s Doug Martsch).

In a perfect world, “Break” would be a smash single – full of hooks, heartbreaking vocals and a lush, layered chorus of melody and noise.

“Tonight October” is a gorgeous surprise of a closing track – drum-less and laced with e-bow and slide guitar, a Prids-ian take on a whiskey-soaked, back porch, old style country track. Sounds like it wouldn’t work? It most surely and beautifully does.

Sadly, I doubt the music industry will ever again be smart enough to take a band like The Prids and give them the kind of massive push they give to so many lesser, undeserving acts. And maybe that’s okay. The Prids have held fast to a staunchly DIY, independent ethos for over a decade and produced a plethora of fantastic, gorgeous music as a result. While I’d love it if the world at large was aware of such a fantastic band, I would hate to see one iota of their brilliance tainted by commercial, corporate music industry bullshit. For now I will just continue my one-man quest of making everyone I know love this band as much as I do. For more of The Prids’ music check out their Facebook page, see them live on their current tour (they are so very wonderful live) and buy the hell out of their albums, EPs and singles.

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