Not many Seattle bands can pretend that a national holiday was named in their honor.
The Presidents of the United States of America, known to fans by the acronym PUSA, are warming up for Presidents Day with their sixth annual PUSAFEST, a series of weekend shows beginning Friday night at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland and continuing Saturday at Showbox at the Market and Sunday at the Triple Door. (The two shows at the Triple Door are the band’s first full-length all-acoustic performances.)
PUSAFEST ’14, landing on a holiday weekend that begins with Valentine’s Day and ends with Presidents Day, coincides with the release of the band’s first studio album in six years, available for as low as $10 through the band’s PledgeMusic page here. (The package deal includes the new album as well as a bonus live album, “Thanks for the Feedback: PUSAFEST ’11.”) Copies of the new album will also be available at the shows on CD and vinyl.
“Kudos to You,” a self-released, 14-song album featuring the new songs “Slow Slow Fly,” “Poor Little Me,” “Finger Monster” and “Flea Vs. Mite,” was a fortunate accident.
“We thought we were done making new records, and we accidentally did it again,” said drummer Jason Finn, who joined Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer for the band’s first show more than 20 years ago (Andrew McKeag has since replaced Dederer).
Last October, the gleesome threesome known for such party-punk songs as “Naked and Famous,” “Lump,” “Peaches,” “Kitty” and “Dune Buggy” decided to book some studio time at Seattle’s Jupiter Studios with longtime producer Martin Feveyear.
“We booked a couple of days with Martin just for fun because it had been a while since we’d been there,” Finn said of the sessions with Ballew (the band’s primary songwriter) and McKeag.
“We didn’t have any material to work out. So we got there and stared at each other and stared at Chris’ notebook and started making noise. And we surpassed all of our modest expectations.”
Indeed, “Kudos for You” — the band’s seventh studio album — is classic Presidents of the United States of America, which was signed to Columbia Records during the band’s heyday in the ’90s. The album is infused with clever, comical lyrics; infectious hooks, sing-along choruses and quirky, high-spirited instrumentation. (Ballew plays two-string “basitar” and McKeag, three-string “guitbass.”)
Ballew, who also performs as children’s musician Caspar Babypants, has always had a penchant for writing humorous songs about fruit, pets, insects and other delightfully kooky subjects. “Slow Slow Fly” is about a pesky fly that somehow survives until winter:
“In the summer he’s licking all the fruit / Looking for the garbage at the backyard barbecue . . . He’ll get much slower when the pond begins to freeze / so stop and feel the breeze wheeze through the trees.”
The new song “Flea Vs. Mite,” a fight song for bugs, is based on the band’s hard-rocking Seahawks anthem, “This Is a Blitz.”
“We kept the music and just rewrote the lyrics,” Finn said.
“Crown Victoria,” about the barge-like Ford sedan used as cabs and police cruisers, features John Roderick of The Long Winters.
The two-time Grammy-nominated trio, which describes itself as a band of “full-time part-timers” these days, is keeping a low profile with the new, independent release, which could be compared to a baby that arrives unexpectedly in middle age.
“We’re not going to do a big publicity campaign or promo thing,” Finn said. “This is just for our fans and our friends . . . We’re not looking to make the top of the pops.”
Incredibly, the group has never performed a full-length acoustic show in public.
“We’re very excited. It’s something we’re really good at and should do more often,” Finn said.
8 p.m., Feb. 14, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. (Portland), $22; 8 p.m. Feb. 15, Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., $25; 7 and 10 p.m. (both acoustic), Feb. 16, The Triple Door, 216 Union St., $30 (www.presidentsrock.com).
Gene Stout: email@example.com or @popmusiccritic