Nine Volt Mile release party should rock

Portland has a lot of local bands. Some are good, damn good, while many get to be mediocre and survive thanks to our supportive live music scene here in this city.

Nine Volt Mile is a rock band that has been playing this town for at least the past five years. They took a year’s hiatus to record a 13-song CD and are celebrating its release party this Saturday at Dante’s. Fortunately they are one of Portland’s good bands who does what they do well.

This album, entitled Elephant is well-produced. In fact the thick and clear production is one of the main things that save this album and keep it listenable. So many bands put out poorly recorded discs that make them sound run-of-the-mill. Nine Volt may not be extremely unique (who is these days?) but if they can pull off the songs tightly and sound as thick and rich as the recording, they should be worth a cover at Dante’s.

Elephant’s first track, “Part of Me” demonstates what these guys do best. High energy, a good intro, lead hooks, lead vocals, backing harmony vocals and good arrangements. They even quote the Police’s “Canary in A Coalmine.””Say What You Say” brings a laid-back funky pop groove under warbling vocals and lilting guitar.

“Killin,” “Up the Country” and “Sleep Alone,” roll along with a faster slightly countrifed two beat pop feel.

The long acoustic guitar inflected soulful ballad’s are covered here with “La Luna,” and “Lovedrug.”

Some cuts are good but as a whole the album can drag at times. It’s damn hard to grab and hold for 13 songs that are sometimes a little too long themselves. Cutting a few tracks may have been a good idea, but each one does at least have something interesting about it. So it goes, they’re still an obviously hard-working band who managed to craft and record a full-length album, so props for that.

To sum up: remember the ’90s? They seem so far away, don’t they? There was a lot of good groundbreaking rock, a great deal of it in the Northwest. Nine Volt Mile sound as if they could have been a part of it all, hell, maybe they were.Nowadays Nine Volt Mile would be categorized as alternative rock, adult contemporary, whatever.

They sound like what mainstream rock geared for a younger set has morphed into. They sound like they could be on a major label right now and it wouldn’t be surprising if they manage to go that route. The songs are mature and the band is good. I can’t say they’re beyond comparison, many bands come to mind – like some Seattle bands circa the ’90s and maybe even a little late ’70s rock – but they are good enough to appreciate and sound like their music comes from the heart.

Check them out this Saturday at Dante’s if you like that style, you shouldn’t be dissapointed.