Summer Cannibals play amp-cranked rock music that straddles the line between punk snarl and pop hooks.
It's a sound that's directly in line with the proud Pacific Northwest tradition of bands like Sleater-Kinney and The Thermals and while singer-songwriter-guitarist Jessica Boudreaux says discovering a love for those bands helped point her in the right direction, Summer Cannibals simply play what feels right.
"As a musician, it was hard for me to not want to play this kind of music. It feels natural," she says. "Starting out, we knew we wanted it to be a rock band, but what that means to me sort of changed. I was writing songs at first that weren't that fun to play live. Over time, we replaced all those songs with ones that felt better to play and had more energy."
The Portland, Oregon band formed in 2012 with Boudreaux and guitarist Marc Swart, who met at a local college radio station. Summer Cannibals released their 2013 debut album "No Makeup" the next year and quickly built a local following, earning the No. 2 position on the Willamette Week's "Best New Band" list.
For the follow-up record, Boudreaux says Summer Cannibals wanted to capture as much of the band's terrific live energy as possible. So, they turned to another Northwest stalwart, producer-engineer Larry Crane, who has worked with Elliott Smith, Quasi, M. Ward and, unsurprisingly, Sleater-Kinney and The Thermals at his Jackpot! Recording Studio.
"Musically, our strong suit is that we're a good live band and that's what we all really love to do and that's where we shine," Boudreaux says. "If there's a theme, I wanted it to just feel like a lot of live energy. Larry did a good job of capturing that."
Summer Cannibals recorded all live to tape, with the exception of vocals and a couple guitar solos, wrapping the studio sessions in six hectic days.
"Show Us Your Mind" is a burst of energy, a little bit angry, a little bit frustrated, a cathartically loud and raw album that's also catchy enough to get stuck in your head. In terms of subject matter, Boudreaux describes her songwriting bluntly: "I generally write about the same types of things: failed relationships and people who piss me off," she says.
"Show Us Your Mind" also finds Summer Cannibals joining a newer Northwest tradition, filming music videos with the incomparable Whitey McConnaughy, whose clips with Portland's Red Fang have millions of YouTube views. The video for "Something New" features Boudreaux getting over a breakup, taking a BB gun to photos of the ex before chopping her hair, getting a tattoo and then really letting loose.
Though the band's sound is so natural, Boudreaux says Summer Cannibals didn't come about until after a few false starts.
"I grew up listening to bad music, just pop music. When I moved to Portland I started making electronic music and then some indie bullshit, doo-woppy kind of stuff," she says. "At some point, I was listening to an album I recorded and I thought if I was listening to it with no connection, I'd turn it off. That was an eye-opener to me. If I wouldn't listen to my own band, I must not be doing it right. Rock music feels right. Nothing else feels as natural."