“Live From Nowhere Near You” hits home

Homeless Youth benefit’s 2nd Volume worth money, listening time

There are so many good reasons for a music fan to shell out cash for the single CD priced ($15) 3-CD set which comprises Volume Two of Live From Nowhere Near You.

One could go with the reasons provided recently in Entertainment Weekly, which encouraged readers by highlighting contributions from the likes of Pacific Northwest stalwarts, like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Modest Mouse, the Dandy Warhols…along with the never-before-heard-rarity “The Real Estate” from the late Elliott Smith – it’s a lost recording of a song he wrote with his band, when he was a student at Portland’s Lincoln High.

…or the detailed liner notes included with the CDs, providing stories (some very detailed and memorable, like the one behind Carlos Guitarlos) that greatly enhance the listening experience.

There’s the fact that the project, the brainchild of Kevin Moyer (a musician, former high school friend of Elliott Smith, connected clearly to many in the music world) is a benefit for Outside In, the Portland, Oregon based organization that was set up to help homeless youth of the Pacific Northwest.

But in the end, it’s the music.

There’s so much here – and this can be a blessing and curse. A long road trip  (Portland to Los Angeles) provided Smells Like Pop with the rare opportunity to listen to the 3 CDs straight through; though there were a couple of moments that left me scratching my head (as nearly 3 hours of music understandably might), I frequently found myself (dangerously) reaching for the case, looking to identify the artists that grabbed my attention.

In some cases, it was the recognition of a familiar artist providing a solid tune (Vedder, The Strokes, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) covering Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me”; Viva Voce, Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Chris Funk (The Decemberists) doing “Gone For Good”; Daniel Johnston’s “Grievances”, John Doe (X) and Carlos Guitarlos, Wilco…the list goes on.

But frequently, it was a sonic gem from a previously unknown, or underappreciated, source: “Silver Wind” is one of a number of catchy pop tunes delivered by The Upside Down; Danny Seim (Menomena), through his alter-ego Lacktherof, as well as part of Faux Hoax, along with Dave Allen (Gang of Four); “Shine Through the Dark”, by Ryan Adams,; “Who’s Behind the Door” by Neil Gust (of Heatmiser), with his former bandmate Elliott Smith, as well as John Moen (the Decemberists) contributing.

Kevin Moyer also contributes some solid tunes of his own; ultimately, his biggest contribution is the considerable work that appears to be behind assembling the talent showcased here – and the potential to help at risk youth through his passion for music and the community.

Smells like:


Author | Gene Brunak

Mr. Brunak (as his students occasionally refer to him) is a high school Journalism/English teacher in Portland, Oregon. He subjects his wife, two kids and dog Duff (how nuclear!) to various forms of popular culture; they've expressed their appreciation by offering all the latest personal electronic devices as "gifts".

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