Joe Davis' story goes like this: the ringleader of Portland's indie-rock wonders Pinehurst Kids was born and raised in Pinehurst, Idaho, a town whose local silver mine poisoned the surrounding land, air and water with dangerously high levels of toxic lead. It also poisoned Davis. When he was a tyke, doctors found three times the normal amount of lead in his bones. That was followed by a youth spent in and out of hospitals, dealing with asthma attacks, stunted growth and severe food allergies that pretty much limited his diet to lima beans, juice and Tums. Lots of Tums.
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Traumas of this magnitude can at least produce some great rock & roll, which is what Davis did on Pinehurst Kids' 1998 debut, Minnesota Hotel, a disc full of cleansing, ultimately therapeutic lyrical rages against a faceless, monolithic, corporate machine. Last year's follow-up, Viewmaster, ran along similar paths, with Davis dropping even more hints about his less-than-healthy upbringing.
Now comes the new brood, Bleed It Dry, which has Davis growing up and moving on but getting darker. Minnesota Hotel at least had a giddy ditty about his cat; you'll find no such levity here. Now it's all about shotgun blasts to the head, big fights, bad love gone worse, and miscreants who burn up their lives staring into their beers, drinking down lost causes.
The music on Bleed It Dry is nevertheless grand—a little more raucous and electric this time but still some of the most perfect, zinging, ornery (non-punk) songs you've ever heard. Melodies swirl around thick, ringing, intricate guitar moans, held together by Davis' sweet, disenchanted-but-still-hanging-in-there voice. It's both happy rock and downer rock, but please don't call them emo (though they do tear down Built to Spill, out-glutton Jimmy Eat World and are more glorious than any New Found ones you could name). Just call Davis and his Pinehurst brethren a group of honest, hard-working rockists.
The Pinehurst Kids perform with the And/Ors and the Damn Personals at Koo's Art Cafe, 1505 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 648-0937. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $5. All ages; and with Lenen, the Damn Personals and the And/Ors at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. July 6, 7:30 p.m. $7. All ages.