WHEN Toronto Maple Leafs center Boyd Devereaux caught a set from the Canadian psych-rock group Black Mountain at a Phoenix record store in 2004, he was so blown away that he let the band stay over at his house that night. The group was grateful for a place to crash but was taken aback by Devereaux's day job, then a member of the Phoenix Coyotes.
"At the end of their set, the band asked if there was anyplace they could stay, so I told them they could come back to my place. When they got there, they saw all these pictures of me with the Stanley Cup and were like, 'Um. . . do you play hockey or something?' "
Indeed, Devereaux is probably the only pro athlete with both a Stanley Cup and an avant-garde record label to his name. Elevation Recordings, a project with longtime friend and Warner/Reprise promotions manager (and former Dirtbombs member) Joe Greenwald, is a new label specializing in small-run EPs from established (if definitely fringe) bands plying crushing drone-rock (Nadja), haunted folk (Blood Meridian) and ear-shredding proto-punk (Residual Echoes). So please, no Ron Artest rap album jokes.
Greenwald and Devereaux had kicked around ideas for various bands and projects since meeting backstage at a Pearl Jam show in Detroit five years ago. Greenwald managed Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron's side project Wellwater Conspiracy, and Boyd came with Red Wings teammates Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov.
Neither Greenwald nor Devereaux had many colleagues to geek out over obscure Sunn 0))) records with, so they did what any closet noisenik would -- start a boutique label where experimental bands can get even freakier.
"The goal is to let artists stretch their wings in their form," Greenwald said. "If they want to do a 20-minute cover and completely deconstruct a song, we'll say go for it."
Elevation doesn't plan to press more than a few thousand copies of any EP, keeping with the time-honored noise tradition of making fetish objects of beloved records. But for serious fans such as Devereaux, the emotional payoff is worth the crate-digging in the off-season.
"I'm a Boris freak," Devereaux said, citing his favorite Japanese avant-metal act. "When I'm in my truck on the way to the rink, that's the time to blast whatever I want."
Nastasia, White make it work
ROCK'S great duos have always been about maximalism: the folk-rock earnestness of Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, the hooks of Daryl Hall and John Oates, the CinemaScope sound of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.
Nina Nastasia and Jim White, on the other hand, squeeze blood from very small and simple stones. The spooky singer-songwriter and the Dirty Three drummer's collaborative album "You Follow Me" must have been a sound engineer's dream recording session. It's just drums, acoustic guitar and voice.
But given White's Max Roach-style shading and Nastasia's ambiguous narratives of love lost and spurned, it feels much bigger, and even dangerous in its straight-faced arrangements.
" I get really set in my parts, I sing the same way, I play guitar the same way most of the time," the New York-based Nastasia said. "Jim's one of those people that changes his parts every time. I always get nervous and freeze onstage, and Jim's taught me to be a little more improvisational."
White, a fixture of Nastasia's backing band for years, more than compensates for the purposeful lack of other instruments, using loose-limbed snare rolls and skittish cymbal work to evoke different textures and timbres.
But Nastasia's songwriting is still front and center. This time, her lyrics depict a conflicting relationship with love, readily rejecting the idea of it but reveling in small moments of connection.
Fortunately for her and White, Nastasia doesn't need many familiar faces around her to be happy as an artist.
"I don't do well being in my apartment," Nastasia said. "I'll spend a few months in New York and then get on the Internet and look for new places to live. I'm never really satisfied wherever I am."
Louis XIV pays homage to Queen
WHEN glammy scuzz-rockers Louis XIV needed to accurately capture the sound of Brian May's guitar for their version of Queen's theme to "Flash Gordon," they went straight to the source: They used the actual Eventide phaser pedal that May played on the original version.
"We will definitely be overusing it on our future recordings," said singer-guitarist Brian Karscig. "Anything that has to do with Queen, our band would jump on."
Louis XIV's recording is the theme music to the Sci Fi Channel's redux of the "Flash Gordon" series, and shows up on their new EP "The Distances From Everyone to You." It stays pretty true to the original's massive falsettos and lead-foot stereo panning.
Rock bands are growing ever more ambitious about recapturing Queen's arena-ready bombast. But even Karscig, whose band plays the Troubadour on Saturday, wonders what younger fans will make of the exceptionally tawdry Louis XIV playing such a devoted ode to a dude.
"When I was arranging it on piano, my girlfriend asked me if it was a gay love song," Karscig said. "I got made fun of in high school for my super-high voice, but now it's cool to sound like Freddie Mercury."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times