Filthy Friends have been regularly tagged with the "supergroup" label. Certainly on the indie front, their heritage is impressive. Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks, Minus 5) and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, Baseball Project, R.E.M.) are frequent contributors to a variety of indie albums. Drummer Bill Rieflin worked with R.E.M. and King Crimson, along with a billion indie bands (Revolting Cocks, Pigface). Rieflin is not on the Friends' current tour, with Linda Pitmon (Baseball Project, Minus 5) taking his spot. These folks have worked together a lot over the years, and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, a common figure in many of the above bands, would seem to be a central organizing member of the collective. But the main thing that separates Filthy Figures from the other "side projects" mentioned above is that Corin Tucker is the singer for the band (and the author of the songs' lyrics).
I say this not merely because I am such a big Corin fan, but because the band's music is designed to show what Tucker can do. This was especially clear in the concert I attended last night. In many ways, Filthy Friends was a "supergroup" version of the earlier Corin Tucker Band. All of the musicians contributed ... I especially liked Linda Pitmon's work ... but Corin was front and center, she was the one who mostly talked to the crowd, and I suspect, levels of fame aside, more people were there to see Corin than they were to see an indie supergroup.
She has come a long way in terms of stage presence over the years, although that impression may be off a bit, since with Sleater-Kinney she shares the stage with Carrie Brownstein, who oozes charisma. Peter Buck isn't going to upstage her ... in fact, he let Bloch take the guitar solos, content to stay back, adding his identifiable sound to the chords coming from his instrument. Bloch actually did concoct some stage presence, bouncing around like Angus Young. But it was Corin's show, and that fact means that now, when I listen to the Filthy Friends album, Invitation, I'll hear it as Corin's band.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Once I have lived with the Filthy Friends songs for awhile, I expect they will grow on me. But in concert, as on record, Filthy Friends are good-not-great, without the ecstatic moments I often get from listening to Sleater-Kinney.
The title cut from the album is not particularly representative of the whole, although the songs vary quite a bit from one another in any event. Corin sings it like a good-timey crooner from the 60s. Here it is from last night:
I should add that this was my first visit to The Independent, and the sound was excellent.