Idaho's Built to Spill set to light up the Domino Room

Published Nov 5, 2010 at 05:00AM

Here's a classic barstool argument for my fellow music nerds: Over the past 20 years, which artist released the best run of three consecutive albums?

I can hear the names now: Eminem. Radiohead. Jay-Z. Wilco. Norah Jones. The White Stripes.

All reasonable suggestions, but know this: You would not be ill-equipped for battle if you showed up ready to argue for the band that'll play the Domino Room on Wednesday.

That's because from 1994 to 1999, Boise, Idaho's Built to Spill — formed nearly two decades ago by Doug Martsch, torchbearer for the Northwest music scene — put together a magical three-album run with “There's Nothing Wrong With Love,” “Perfect From Now On” and “Keep It Like A Secret.” Each is wonderful in its own way; “Love” spills over with compact, punchy pop songs, “Perfect” sprawls like prog-rock updated for the 21st century, and “Secret” is a splendid marriage of the two, 10 tracks of dreamy, delightful pop-rock bliss.

The common thread is Martsch's distinctive style: psychedelic guitar heroism more associated with '70s jams than '90s indie rock and a lullaby voice that scales Neil Young's helium-heights, backed by a band with a no-nonsense approach to playing. Built to Spill doesn't trade in showy stage goofs to draw you in. No, they came to rock, ever so gently, and then build up to a melt-your-face crescendo, and that's exactly what they're going to do.

Of course, Martsch and company have continued to release music, with three studio records out since “Secret,” including last year's critically acclaimed “There Is No Enemy.” And they're all good, if stubbornly stuck in an increasingly narrow niche. But who can blame Built to Spill? They've stuck to what they do well, and what they, at one time, did better than anyone else in the world.

Built to Spill, with Fauxbois; 9 p.m. Wednesday, doors open 8 p.m.; $20 plus fees in advance, available at outlets listed on website below, $25 at the door; Domino Room, 51 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend; www.randompresents.com.

— Ben Salmon

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