While Seattle Was Block Partyin’, Part II
While We Were Block Partying…
It was a busy weekend, so it’s understandable if you missed this new item reported Thursday on Pitchfork:
(not actual album art)
OHMYFUCKINGGAWD! Les Savy Fav fans (Les Savy Fans?) may remember the band announcing an open-ended hiatus last year, to be mitigated only by far-flung festival shows (Tokyo, New York) and vague plans for an album of mellow instrumental studio material (tentatively called Rabbit Trancing?).
Well, now that half-assed album idea has been thankfully scrapped, and a new record of full-fledged LSF brain-rock is on the way.
Finally, and most importantly, “This is definitely gonna happen. We don’t want people to think we’re aloof or pulling someone’s leg. We’ve booked the time. We know that we’re going in November to record it, and we’re freaking out and really excited about it.”
One can only hope that tour isn’t far behind…
BLOCK PARTY VIDEO FUN!
Check LINE OUT today and tomorrow for more video posts from the Capitol Hill Block Party. Waa wah wee waah! What a party. I couldn’t believe how far people traveled to attend - like this couple from Boise Idaho. Check it.
Light the Corner of My Mind
Slender Means, Boat, Speaker Speaker, the Saturday Knights, Black Angels, and Himsa all put on great shows, but watching the crowd thrust forward as Murder City broke into their opening song was so intense and exciting. The force of thousands of people rushing towards the band shook things up so much that the stack of speakers on the side of the stage wobbled and came shockingly close to crashing to the ground. For a second, I imagined the whole set up being torn apart by rabid, black t-shirt wearing fans. Murder City Riot, indeed. It would’ve been strangely fitting.
What was your favorite Block Party memory?
For some of last week and most of this one, the tubes between the ISP and my house were clogged with Youtube residue and stray glitches and bleeps from Bleep, so my Internet access has been spotty at best.
Stuck here in meatspace, with all its smelly human beings, terrestrial radio and primitive communication methods, I realized that while I can live without e-mail and news aggregators for a few days, I find it incredibly hard to go without Radio Nova, the best radio station in the world according to me.
Broadcasting terrestrially across the whole of France and virtually at novaplanet.com, Nova embodies the best kind of “freeform radio programming” — the kind that plays songs that I like, all the time.
Heavily skewed towards the soulful and eclectic, their idea of “heavy rotation” is to play the new Matt Herbert single sixteen times a night. Here’s their current playlist to give you an idea. Just now they played Carl Craig and Femi Kuti back to back.
And like our peaceful friends to the North, the French also have a quota system in place for local artists, so Nova is required by law to sort me out with the weirdest, best new French music, like General Elektriks and the excellent songwriter Julien Baer.
Oh, and their on-air talent is like WKRP on mescaline. I would love to hang out in that studio. I am convinced that one of their presenters is a drunken gnome.
The only local radio that comes close to Nova’s sensibility, musically speaking, is the Sun Tzu crew’s excellent City Soul weekly on KBCS. (They’d get a little closer if, like Nova, they would occasionally play songs like Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie” alongside the latest Jazzanova and Daz-i-Kue cuts. And ramble incoherently into the mic once in a while.)
Part of this station’s enduring appeal (to me) is in the time zone difference. My late night listening is helping Parisians get through their morning croissants. I wake up to their dinner music, and I work happily through the afternoon to the songs that stoned teenagers in Marseilles use to quiet the voices in their heads and get to sleep. This works for me.
So don’t hesistate. Get yourself into a new time zone.
Axed KEXP DJ Ponders His Next Move
Ricardo Villalobos: Not in heavy rotation at KEXP.
Following his termination from KEXP, DJ Greg Jaspan is considering “starting a petition to the University of Washington, the state legislature, and the FCC to register a complaint that KEXP—as a public radio station whose broadcast license is owned by the University of Washington, a public institution funded by Washington state tax payers—is abusing the publicly owned air frequency on which it has been entrusted stewardship by the FCC by failing to adequately fulfill its duty to serve the entire community in which its broadcast radius covers (all of the greater Seattle metropolitan area).”
Those wishing to sign the petition and/or help collect signatures should contact Jaspan at RadioForUsAll@yahoo.com.
To further elaborate on this process, Jaspan had the following exchange on the Division electronic-music discussion list with Decibel festival production manager Zach Smith. (NOTE: The views of Zach Smith are his own and do not reflect those of the Decibel organization.)
Zach Smith: In as few words as possible what do you ultimately hope to accomplish with this effort?
Greg Jaspan: In as few words as possible, this is what I hope to accomplish with this effort: Force KEXP to better serve all the community in which it broadcasts by demanding that they return to the programming format that they had as KCMU—a truly diverse and eclectic freeform format by which a far greater percentage of the community was served. If they refuse to do this, then my goal is to have their broadcast license revoked and given to the student-run (currently) internet-only radio station Rainydawg, [which plays] a far more diverse and eclectic format than KEXP—one that is much more in line with that of what the station offered when it was KCMU.
ZS: Do you wish to see KEXP discontinue rotation and “core station” selections?
GJ: I do not necessarily wish to see KEXP discontinue its use of rotations. Rotations are something that many public radio stations have, and I am not against KEXP having them. However, I do wish to see the number of rotations that DJs have to play reduced from a minimum of 6-8 an hour to 3-4 an hour. This is not just some random number I came up with. 3 rotations an hour is the most common number that non-commercial public and college radio stations (who have rotations) play. You could even go as far as to say it’s somewhat “industry standard” among non-commercial public and college radio stations who have rotations. I know this from the 10-plus years I have worked in non-commercial public and college radio—first at WTUL in New Orleans and then at KCMU/KEXP. I do not no why KEXP makes DJs play such a significantly higher number of rotations, but it is unnecessary and extremely stifling to the diversity, eclecticism, and creativity with which a DJ is able to program a radio show. I also wish to see a significant increase in the diversity of the music that is in rotation. If a DJ has to play something from rotation, they should have more to choose from than just rock. As it stands now, upwards of 90% of the music in rotation is rock-centric.
I do wish to see KEXP discontinue its practice of forcing DJs to play “core station” selections. There should not exist such a thing. The community in which KEXP broadcasts (the entire greater Seattle metropolitan area) has over one million people and is far too diverse to be adequately served by a selection of 150 “core” CDs, which upwards of 90% are rock-centric and all of which are chosen by three people—Kevin Cole, Don Yates, and John Richards—three middle-aged, affluent, Caucasian men who all have very similar personal tastes in music.
ZS: Does KEXP need to relinquish all (or mostly all) of its programming oversight in general?
GJ: KEXP does not need to relinquish all or even most of its programming oversight in order to better serve the community. In fact, some oversight is necessary in order to accomplish this. For instance, if there were a DJ who played nothing but rock on his or her show, there would need to be someone at the station who has the authority to tell that DJ to diversify their selections. This is actually something that happened when the station was KCMU. They hired a new DJ to do overnight shows and he played mostly rock. The program director, who at the time was Don Yates, told him he had to play a more eclectic mix. I think this is very illustrative of the format change the station had when it became KEXP. Now DJs are fired partly because they won’t play mostly rock.
ZS: Do they need to have an equal percentage of genre representation in the rotation? If so, which genres?
GJ: I do not believe that it is necessary that there be exactly equal representation of different genres in rotation. For instance, let’s say that one particular month there just happened to be a whole bunch of excellent new hiphop releases while at the same time it just happened to be a slow month for new rock releases. I think it would be logical then that for that month’s rotations would be a little more heavy on the hiphop than rock. Also, although a public radio station does need to strive to serve all of the community in which it broadcasts, I think that it needs to do this in a way that takes into account the reality of the community. This community is a city in the United States, and at the present time hiphop and rock are the number one and two most popular genres of music in the U.S. And this city in particular is Seattle, where rock is even more popular than hiphop. So it makes sense for KEXP’s programming to perhaps lean a bit toward rock. But as it currently stands, KEXP’s programming leans toward rock at the almost complete exclusion of all other genres, and that is a problem.
As far as which genres should be represented in rotations—again, it should be a reflection of the community in which the station exists. While it is of course impossible for rotations to represent every last single person in the community, the station should make representing as large a portion of the spectrum as possible. If rotations were comprised of rock (including some punk, metal, industrial, etc) hiphop, electronic (from several different sub-genres), world, jazz, and classical, then I think the vast majority of the community would be served. Of course, there are going to be a few people who will still be unhappy because they want to hear pure noise experimental or rainforest field recordings, but again, you cannot possibly serve every single person in the community and I think something like what I just outlined above would serve the vast majority, and a whole hell of a lot more of the community than is served under KEXP’s current programming.
ZS: I would be curious to know very specifically how KEXP is violating the terms of the broadcast license agreement and if they truly are then I would be interested in joining you.
GJ: All public radio stations in the United States are required by FCC statute to make reasonable efforts to adequately serve the interests of the community in which they broadcast. KEXP’s broadcast license is owned by the University of Washington, a public institution. Therefore, KEXP is a public radio station, and thus they are bound by this statute. KEXP does not own the airwave frequency on which it broadcasts. All airwave frequencies are owned by the public—as in you and I and everyone else who lives in the United States. Through the granting of an FCC broadcasting license, the government entrusts radio stations with the stewardship of a public airwave frequency. They do not sell it or rent it… they entrust it. KEXP operates on the 90.3FM frequency under a non-commercial, public broadcast license (as opposed to a commercial broadcast license under which commercial stations operate), which was granted to the University of Washington a long time ago. By programming a format that is overwhelmingly rock-centric, KEXP is serving a certain target market demographic at the expense of the rest of the community and this is violating the statute under which they are bound as a public radio station.
ZS: Do you intend to go after KUOW because they don’t have varied musical offerings? Should we go after KBCS because they don’t play enough Top 40?
GJ: KUOW is not a music format radio station. They are a news and public affairs format station. If someone thinks that KUOW is not programming a diverse enough offering of news and public affairs and thus is not adequately serving the community, and if many other people in the community feel the same way, then I would encourage them to demand that KUOW alter its programming to correct this. I do not feel this way about the current programming and thus I will not be taking any actions in regards to it.
I do not feel that it is necessary to take any actions against KBCS in regards to their programming’s lack of top 40 due to the fact that there are already several commercial stations in the Seattle area which program nothing but top 40. Therefore people in the community who want to hear top 40 already have ample opportunity to hear top 40 on the radio. If there were already several radio stations in the Seattle area that played non-top-40 hiphop, electronic, world, jazz, etc., then I would not feel it necessary to take any action against KEXP, either.
ZS: Like I said, if KEXP is clearly in violation, I would be interested in helping but I want to know very, very specifically why legal action would be required.
GJ: My hope is that no legal action would be required. Rather, I hope that KEXP chooses to listen to the demands of the people in the community (even people who are not in its target market demographic) and changes its programming format to much better serve all the community—a programming format that it once had as KCMU. Ideally, I wish that no petition was even necessary and that KEXP would just listen to all the people in the community who have been asking them for years to diversify their programming. But, unfortunately, they have not. They have steadfastly ignored all these voices and stubbornly stuck to their rock format that they adopted when they switched to KEXP. And this is why I feel a petition is necessary. If they will not voluntarily listen to the people in the community, then they must be forced to. After all, it is OUR airwaves that they are broadcasting on and it is OUR tax dollars that are funding the University of Washington (which owns their broadcasting license).
Can I Get More Honeybucket In My Monitor?
At this year’s Block Party, I was pleasantly surprised to see the lengths Mackie went to, to ensure good sound coverage. Doing sound outside sucks— there are so many more variables you’ve got to take into account (adequate power, coverage, the way signals are bouncing/absorbed by things in your environment, etc.) than when you’re mixing in the comfortable, acoustically treated showroom of the venue you work every night.
The past few years at the Vera stage have been a comedy of errors as loaned equipment overheats, amps burn out, fuses & horns blow and you just can’t figure out where that fucking feedback is coming from. (It should be noted that last year’s feedback-fest that was Crystal Skulls’ set was the fault of their own Sound Engineer, not Vera’s. Saying.) This year Mackie did a much better job with equipment and tech support, but ultimately things like a fuse being blown during Der Trasch’s set and some wonky power amps were inevitable.
Most of all, I enjoyed the non-mainstage mixes that were staggered through the Block Party, enabling those who did not want to squeeze to the front to get good sound as well. So, while the masses of hairy drunks were moshing teens into the ground during MCD’s set last night (hope you’re okay Brita!), I was standing way in back with a good view of the stage and enjoying the clear mix I was getting from a dedicated main & sub pointed back towards the poop huts.
There’s still tickets at the gate! Block Party y’all. Hurry Hurry….
Murder City for Breakfast
We just watched the Devils do their morning soundcheck. Sweet Jesus. The guys are gonna *KILL IT* tonight….
High Tech Soul: Available for Pre-Order
The trailer has been released for High Tech Soul (well, released to Youtube anyway), a documentary about the creation of techno music. It’s been under development for years, with early versions making the festival rounds at various points. Now it’s finally going to be released on DVD.
The documentary, as expected, focuses on the most recognized fathers of techno, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Juan Atkins, but touches on how Detroit specifically influenced the music, sharing the city’s tale as an interwoven element of the music’s history, largely through interviews with techno’s elite, including the aforementioned three, Richie Hawtin, Stacey Pullen, Jeff Mills, Kenny Larkin, and the Electrifying Mojo and dozens more. (Dan Sicko’s highly recommended Techno Rebels covers the same territory in wood pulp form.)
The DVD goes on sale in September, but can be pre-ordered now. Pre-orders come with a special-edition mix from Derrick May.
What to do Post-Block Party?
For the first time in years it looks like this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party won’t be a source of rampant heat exhaustion and sunburns. That’s a huge blessing, since that is certainly a tradition I can do without. Now I can make post-CHBP plans with impunity now that it’s far less likely I’ll be leaving with pink-hued skin (yes, even skin with an abundance of melanin can take on a pinkish hue, it just takes a lot of work) and a blinding headache. So here are some recommendations on what to do once things wind down if the official afterparties aren’t your speed.
Justin Martin @ War Room - There was a time when I couldn’t stand going to the War Room on Fridays. Even the Gettin’ _______* house series wasn’t enough to get me to go. But since Derrick Carter a few months back the Perfect Hit crew has been pulling in some great music, going outside the same old house DJs you see roll through town every 6 months. Justin Martin, while from San Francisco, belongs in that category. Signed to dirtybird, his promo mix includes not only Iz & Diz, but labelmate Claude vonStroke, Swayzak, and John Tejada as well, keeping things interesting texturally.
Infernal Noise Brigade Funeral @ Lucky Choppers - If there’s any group that knows how to throw a party, it’s the INB crew. Since this is the final hurrah for the group, you just know they’re going to go all out, and the lineup for the evening shows that they indeed are. 5813 Airport Way S. in Georgetown. 9 p.m. $5 suggested, $1 minimum
BootyLib @ Des Amis - If you don’t know Lincolnup, you’ve got one more chance to meet him before he moves to Portland. I first saw him play at the Lower Level, where he played a “feminist-friendly” ghettotech set. I was there out of curiosity, since I didn’t even think that was possible, not with a genre where “Ass and Titties” and “Gimme Head” are classics. Thing is, he pulled it off, with not an innuendo or profane word to be heard, but with no drop in the music’s energy. Impressive stuff, as was the dialogue that ensued about the sociological ramifications of the music. Dude is a booty music scholar fo’ sho’. He’ll be playing Saturday along with Randy Jones(!), Apron (aka Nora Posch), and Ted Dancin, bringing all manner of music to induce asses to shaking. It’s free for the night and stumbling distance from the CHBP.
Anything I missed?
Fired KEXP DJ Clears the Air
On July 19, listener-supported Seattle radio station KEXP fired late-night DJ Greg Jaspan. Jaspan had worked at the popular station—which has a burgeoning international listenership—for six years, during which time he mostly held down the Friday 1-6 a.m. slot.
Jaspan surely had his fans, but it’s fair to say he was pretty low-profile among KEXP’s stable of jocks. However, he was one of the few programmers there who aired instrumental electronic music that wasn’t strenuously trying to be accessible. Besides his deep knowledge of electronic music and hiphop, Jaspan also has been a strong supporter of Seattle’s electronic-music scene, both on-air and off. He’s taken an active role in booking shows and DJing around town while bringing in Decibel festival-affiliated artists to play live on KEXP.
While his termination may not seem like a monumental development to the casual KEXP listener nor is it likely to cause major ripples in Seattle’s radio airscape, it perhaps more importantly has freed Jaspan to reveal the machinations behind KEXP and some of its personalities. Jaspan’s observations in the following interview may be dismissed by some as the bitter gripes of a disgruntled, newly canned employee—but they also can be read as a damning indictment of KEXP’s programming ethos, deceptive promotional campaign, and allegedly duplicitous upper management. You decide. The following exchange (or, more accurately, Jaspan’s scathing monologue in response to a few general questions) is very long, but ultimately enlightening. And Jaspan stands 100 percent behind every word of it.
Can you discuss the reasons John Richards and Kevin Cole gave you for ceasing your employment at KEXP, plus your thoughts on how they viewed your performance at the station?
“John ‘In The Morning’ Richards (assistant programming director) and Kevin Cole (senior programming director) gave me only one reason why they were firing me. They said they were firing me because my “relations with various staff members is detrimental to the team” (they would not elaborate on what “relations” they were referring to or who these supposed “various staff members” were). That is unmitigated bullshit. The real reason I was fired is because John Richards wanted me fired—end of story. Why did John want me fired? The real reason is two-fold. First, John never liked me because I don’t play enough of the music he wants played on KEXP (rock) and I play too much music he doesn’t want played on KEXP (non-vocal/guitar electronic music). Second, I dared to disagree with him on an issue which I felt very strongly about, dared to go above his head by getting Kevin involved, and dared to be persistent in pursuing this issue. I’ll elaborate on this later, but briefly put, the issue was in regards to John not giving me the opportunity to host the next electronic Audioasis.
“I first asked John and Kevin for a meeting to discuss this issue nine weeks ago. For nine weeks they gave me the run around, avoided me, ignored my emails, and lied straight to my face. And for nine weeks I persisted in asking them for a meeting and refused to let them brush me off as if I didn’t matter. Finally, last week John emailed me to say that they could meet with me this week on July 19. I was thrilled that I finally would have the chance to explain to them why I felt so strongly that I should be given the chance to host the next electronic Audioasis. When the day of the meeting finally arrived, I walked into the meeting room to find not only Kevin and John sitting there, but also the human resources director. I greeted the three of them and sat down. The first words spoken came from the human resources director: “I’m sorry but KEXP wishes to terminate your employment.” She then went on to give me the reason for my termination and inform me that I was no longer allowed on KEXP property and I would be escorted out the building immediately upon conclusion of this “meeting.” Kevin and John both just sat there silently while she spoke. During the five minutes I was in the meeting room with them someone cleared out my mailbox and put it all in a cardboard box waiting for me at the exit to the building.
“It was shameless what they did. I’m actually not really surprised that John would behave in such an utterly disgusting manner. I can honestly say that he is perhaps the most dishonest, petty, and pathologically passive-aggressive person I have ever met in my entire life. Although I must admit that I’m still in a bit of shock that Kevin was capable of such depravity. I really did believe that somewhere deep down he was a decent person. I don’t know, maybe he was just afraid to do anything to upset John. I guess in retrospect, looking at what happened to me, that’s understandable.
“I think it’s also worth noting that I was told that as a sign of “KEXP’s appreciation of my work,” they wanted to extend to me a severance package of eight weeks pay and that all I had to do was sign the agreement form. The agreement form was five pages of legal jargon which basically said that if I say anything to the press that reflects poorly on KEXP in any way, to be determined at the sole discretion of KEXP, that it would constitute a breach of the agreement and in such case they reserved the right to recoup every penny of this severance pay from me and sue me for damages. Basically this “severance package” is nothing more than hush money. Needless to say I did not opt for their severance package (although I do have the form if you want to take a look at it).
“The reason that John and Kevin gave for firing me is the lamest excuse they could possible have come up with because as an overnight DJ at KEXP I am hardly ever at the station before 10 pm and thus the only people who work at KEXP whom I have any interactions with on a regular basis are the night-time/overnight DJs (and the janitor), all of whom I have very good working relationships with. Sure, over the course of the more than six years I have been at KEXP/KCMU I have had disagreements with a few members of the daytime staff (the most recent one being about five months ago), but these disagreements are well in the past and we’ve long since moved on, and even if there were still hard feelings lingering it would be a non-issue because, as I said, I’m hardly ever at the station in the daytime and thus my interactions with these people are limited to literally once or twice a week for a couple seconds when I happen to be at the station in the daytime and we pass each other in the hallway. I say “hi”, they say ‘hi” back and we keep walking. How could such “relations” as this possibly be so “detrimental to the team” that they would need to fire me? It just doesn’t compute.
“John fabricated a reason for firing me because he needed to come up with an official explanation. He couldn’t just say to Kevin Cole and Tom Mara (KEXP executive director) that he wanted to fire me because he doesn’t personally like me and because he’s indignant that I disagreed with him on something and even dared to go above his head by talking to Kevin about it. So he took his own personal problem with me and spun it into a story of fabricated problems between myself and “various staff members.” Basically, he took instances from the past, going back as far as two years ago, in which I had disagreements with other staff and he made them out to be such huge issues that, according to him, they had no choice but to fire me in order to preserve a “positive team atmosphere” at the station. If these issues had, as John claims, been such major problems then why is it that not one single person in management at any point during my six plus years at the station ever said anything to me about it? Not even once was anything ever said to me, whether by phone, email, written statement, or in person, by anyone in management regarding even one single problem that existed between myself and any other staff member at KEXP. Clearly the reason they gave me was fabricated.
“One might wonder why I would be fired just because John wanted me fired. After all, he is only the assistant program director and thus couldn’t wield that much power, right? Wrong. Although his official title is assistant program director, he is the guy at KEXP who brings in the big bucks during the pledge drive, and that gives him all the power. Even Kevin Cole, who is technically the head of the programming department and above John in rank, knows this. He is John’s lap poodle. If he can one day generate as much money for the station as John does, maybe then that power dynamic will change but until then he knows very well who’s good side he needs to stay on. John is the big money generator. I’m just an expendable overnight DJ. If John says he wants me fired, Kevin wouldn’t even think of standing up to him just to support me.
“One might ask why this is the case considering that KEXP is a non-profit radio station. After all, non-profit stations should first an foremost be concerned with the music they are playing and shouldn’t place the bottom line above all else, right? Don’t be fooled. Just because KEXP is a non-profit station doesn’t mean it isn’t profit-driven. When the station’s numbers go up and as a result it makes more and more money from underwriting and each successive pledge drive, the salaries and bonuses of Tom Mara (KEXP’s executive director), Kevin Cole, and John Richards go up. That’s why those three all have six-figure salaries. Just because the extra money that KEXP raises goes into the increasing salaries of those three instead of some KEXP reserve back account doesn’t mean that the station isn’t profit-driven. You just need to look at where, or rather to whom, the profits are going. The rank and file at KEXP may not be profit-driven, and I would say the vast majority are not, but just like at any big corporate station (which KEXP most certainly is), money is first and foremost what the ones in position of power strive for. And most, if not all, of the rank and file are acutely aware of this. There’s a hush-hush saying that many of us KEXP DJs use when confiding among ourselves our displeasures with the direction the station has been taking over the past several years, and that saying is ‘KEXP, where the money matters.’
“Getting back to the two-fold reason why John wanted me fired, let me elaborate on the first part of the reason. It is not just a theory I have that John never liked me due to the fact that I don’t play enough of the music he wants played on KEXP. This actually came straight from John’s own mouth. [Two] years ago, in response to your article in The Stranger in which you wrote about KEXP mostly ignoring electronic music (Let a Thousand Laptops Boom; July 2004), John remarked that you hate KEXP and had it out for us and so did The Stranger as a whole because they want to be the only authority in town when it comes to music. Being very careful not to ruffle John’s feathers, I suggested that perhaps there was at least a little truth to some of the things you wrote. John angrily replied that KEXP would never survive if we play ‘obscure electronic music.’ Just six weeks ago I asked John if I could have Kris Moon and Ryan Byrd (Squid Leader) on my show to interview them about the upcoming Seattle Laptop Battle, to which he cryptically replied, ‘Yeah sure go ahead, but your show seems to have an electronic slant to it. So just keep that in mind.’
“In hindsight, I now realize that this was a not so subtle warning. But to say my show has an electronic slant to it is absurd. Anyone who has ever listened to my show knows that I play similar amounts rock, hiphop, and electronic (I also play jazz and world music). Just go to the playlist archive on the KEXP website and look at any of the playlists from any of my shows. Compared to John’s show one could perhaps say that my show has an electronic slant to it, but one could just as easily say it has a hiphop slant or a jazz slant or a world slant compared to his show. As anyone who’s ever listened to John’s show is well aware, it’s almost exclusively rock. Playing one or two token electronic or hiphop songs per hour and the rest nothing but rock does not constitute a ‘variety’ show (which is what it is supposed to be). John calling his show a ‘variety’ show is a total joke, and it’s an insult to an increasingly large and growing portion of the music community and to the intelligence of KEXP’s listeners to try pass it off as such.”
What’s your take on the Sept 9 electronic-oriented Audioasis, which is being hosted by Michele Myers?
“[This is partially] why John wanted me fired: his decision to have Michele Meyers host the upcoming ‘electronic’ Audioasis, which is scheduled to air on September 9, just a few days prior to Decibel Festival. I strongly felt this was the wrong decision because, in terms of knowledge of electronic music and knowledge of and involvement in the Northwest electronic music community, I am by far the most qualified person at KEXP to host an electronic music Audioasis (the only exception to this is Kid Hops, who has similar levels of knowledge and involvement in the Northwest electronic music community).
“Michele’s knowledge of electronic music is extremely limited and her involvement in the Northwest electronic music community is next to non-existent. Just ask any electronic music DJ, producer, promoter, booker, writer, record label owner, or record store owner anywhere in the Northwest and they will tell you the same thing (if they’ve even heard of her). I, on the other hand, am deeply involved in the local electronic music community. I was heavily involved in the production of Decibel Festival last year and am involved again this year; I was chosen to be on the panel of judges at the Seattle Laptop Battle last year; I am an active participating member of both the Division list and Euphonic list; I have had well over a dozen Northwest electronic music artists on my show just over the past year to do live on-air in-studios (including Sean Horton, Kris Moon, Jerry Abstract, Lusine, Caro, Tekgnosis, to name a few); I have obtained and reviewed more local (as well as non-local) electronic music than anyone else at KEXP over the past two years, and I play more Northwest electronic music on my show than any other DJ at KEXP.
“I am not trying to boast here, Dave. I am simply listing the facts as they are relevant to my qualifications for hosting a Northwest electronic music show. Nor am I trying to disparage Michele in any way. She is a fine radio DJ and has been at KEXP/KCMU for a long time. [But] the fact of the matter is that she simply is not knowledgeable enough to host an electronic music show, local or otherwise. [Don’t] take just my word for it. Ask anyone in the electronic music community who they think at KEXP, based on their qualifications, should host a local electronic music show and they will tell you the same thing: either Kid Hops, Riz, or Masa should host it, and this I would have no problems with. But I think you would be hard-pressed to find even one single person in the community who would say Michele should host it.”
[There follows a long passage in which Jaspan outlines how Richards had led him to believe he’d be hosting the Sept. 9 Audioasis while all along he was going with Myers. Jaspan says, “It is obvious to me that John chose Michele both for personal reasons and as a way to punish me for not playing enough of the music he wants all the DJs to be playing, which is of course rock.”]
Jaspan: “KEXP’s mission statement, which can be read on the KEXP website, says, ‘KEXP is a non-commercial public radio station committed to using sound and ideas creatively to engage the intelligence, curiosity, and imagination of its listeners.’ Surely, trying to pass off some phony version of the Northwest electronic music scene—a version in which a huge portion of the scene that actually does exist is totally ignored—cannot be construed as ‘creatively engaging the intelligence, curiosity, and imagination’ of the listeners. Rather, it’s an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of listeners who aren’t familiar with Northwest electronic music and thus don’t know any better. It’s also ignoring and disregarding (and insulting) the Northwest electronic music community and all the listeners who enjoy it.
“Why would KEXP want to ignore and disregard any music community or any of its listeners? One would think that this doesn’t make any sense and is surely not in the best interest of KEXP, right? The reason is that John Richards and Don Yates (Music Director; also hosts the county music show and goes by Don “Slack” on-air) are willfully ignorant of any types of music which they don’t personally like and which they don’t think fits KEXP’s branding image, and that includes most non-mainstream electronic music.
“What branding image am I talking about? You have to understand that when the powers that be accepted Paul Allen’s money five years ago and turned KCMU into KEXP, the station had a format change. It went from being a truly eclectic, freeform format station to a rock station. Most of the DJs stayed on in their regular time-slots and the specialty shows were left unchanged, but the ’variety’ shows began to change from being truly eclectic, free-form format to a rock format.”
What are your views about the station’s philosophy with regard to the “Variety” concept?
“The ‘variety’ shows comprise over 75% of KEXP’s programming, and when 75% of the programming changes, that is indeed a format change. It was not your typical radio format change in which a station drastically switches formats overnight. Rather, it was a slow and gradual format change. This was intentionally done so because management anticipated there would be many allegations from longtime listeners that with Paul Allen’s money would come an inevitable change in programming, and they feared that a sudden change in format would be too noticeable and would add legitimacy to these allegations, thus alienating listeners and requiring much more damage control PR. Therefore, they made it a very gradual change.
“But anyone who listened to the station back when it was KCMU knows that there has been a format change nonetheless. If you look on the KEXP website, it actually has the variety shows all listed as ‘rock, variety.’ Those with a good memory will recall that the KCMU website listed them simply as ‘variety.’ Telling, huh? And when they updated the KCMU programming guidelines handbook to the KEXP programming guidelines, one line they added that was not there before is: “The majority of the variety mix should be based in rock music” (I still have this handbook and you can take a look at it if you want). Of course they would never admit this and will vigorously deny it, but they end up looking rather foolish because it’s as plain as day to see for anyone who was a listener back when it was KCMU.
“One might wonder how this format change was pulled off if most of the DJs stayed on in there regular time-slots after the switch to KEXP. Was a directive sent out to all the DJs saying from now on play more rock? No. Again, that would be too obvious. So how was it done? This is where I need to explain “rotations.” Rotations are essentially what shapes the way KEXP sounds, and yet I am astounded at how often I talk to people who aren’t even aware that KEXP has rotations. Rotations are CDs that all KEXP “variety” show DJs have to play. They are divided up into four levels: Heavy, Medium, Light, and R/N (which stands for recurrent). At any given time there are about 15 CDs in Heavy, about 35 in Medium, about 45 in Light, and about 60 in R/N. All “variety” show DJs are required every hour to play a minimum of 2 songs from Heavy, 2-3 from Medium, 1-2 from Light, and 1 from R/N. So a minimum of 6-8 songs every hour comes from rotations. That’s at least 50%-75% of the total number of songs that can realistically fit into one hour when you subtract the time it takes to do all the air-breaks and play all the underwriting spots and such. So at least 50%-75% of the music you hear on the “variety” shows come from rotations. Again, “variety” shows make up over 75% of KEXP’s programming. So when you consider that at least 50%-75% of the songs you hear on over 75% of the programming come from rotations, you begin to see just how much rotations shape the sound of KEXP. This would lead one to wonder just who decides what music goes in rotation and thus just who it is that decides what music all the DJs have to play (and what all the listeners have to hear). There are only three people who have any say whatsoever as to what music goes in rotations: Don Yates, Kevin Cole, and John Richards.
“I’ve divulged this information to a lot of people over the years and most of them are very surprised and dismayed that what is supposed to be a public, non-commercial radio station has such a tightly controlled, rigid playlist. But it’s no wonder that most people don’t know this because KEXP management goes to great lengths to project an image of the station to the public that is very different from the reality. Everything from the trademarked taglines (‘listener powered radio,’ ‘where the music matters’), to the language used on the website, to the marketing campaigns are very carefully designed to project an image of an eclectic, diverse, progressive public radio station that is the alternative to commercial radio. For example, on the KEXP history page on the website (under the “About” link), it says, ‘2001, KCMU becomes KEXP… through a partnership with Experience Music Project, the station’s eclectic music programming is expanded and enhanced to provide a richer musical experience for listeners.’
“Clearly the exact opposite is what really happened. Sure, as a result of accepting Paul Allen’s money and changing to KEXP, the station now has newer, bigger and better studios than it did when it was KCMU and it now has all this state of the art equipment, but the actual music programming has anything but ‘expanded and enhanced to provide a richer musical experience for listeners.’ In fact, it has been narrowed and dumbed-down to provide a more homogenous musical experience that the management hopes will thus appeal to a larger common denominator of the market. More listeners = more money.
“But management’s attempts to control what the DJs play goes beyond even the rotations. A couple years ago management decided to have the station’s first ever mandatory employee performance reviews. One by one, Kevin and John met with each DJ individually to tell us what we were doing right and wrong. They gave me a list of about 150 CDs and told me that these were albums by ‘core KEXP bands’ and that, in addition to my 6-8 rotations an hour, I have to also play a song from one of these CDs in every set. A “set” is the group of songs played in between each mic-break. According to the KEXP programming guidelines, we are supposed to take four mic-breaks each hour. That means that there are supposed to be four sets an hour. So on top of the 6-8 rotations an hour, they were telling me to play four songs an hour from this “core” list of CDs they had made. That would leave me with enough time left to play about one or two songs an hour in which I can play something that doesn’t come from a group of CDs that they picked out for me. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing in their faces.
“Several other DJs (and maybe all of them) were given this same list and told the same thing I was. Anybody who listens to John’s show can probably guess what most of the bands on this list are: just think along the lines of Coldplay, White Stripes, Strokes, Hives, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Moby, Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pixies, etc and you’re well on your way. I still have this list (I kept it for shits and giggles) and you can take a look at it if you want.
“Of course, if you print any of this in The Stranger, KEXP will simply deny it and claim that it’s just the grumblings of a disgruntled ex-employee. And I admit that I am disgruntled as hell, but you know as well as anybody that I’ve been disgruntled with management at KEXP for a long time and I’ve been telling people a lot of what I just told you for a long time. They’ll probably just wait for people to forget about all this and then they’ll start getting ready for the next pledge drive. But my hope is that, in the same way KEXP started doing fundraiser shows for local non-profit organizations like Vera Project as a means of PR damage control to counter all the negative attention that resulted from that Seattle Weekly article (in which it was exposed that Tom Mara almost made the station go bankrupt by ignoring the advice of his department heads and taking on KXOT/91.7 and that John Richards’ salary was $120,000), if you print an article on everything I just told you and expose the truth about KEXP, they might actually start playing electronic music (as well as more hiphop, jazz, world, etc) in order to counter the negative attention resulting from your article. And maybe if there’s enough negative attention they might even start playing electronic music that doesn’t have vocals and/or guitars. :)”
I presented KEXP’s staff a chance to respond to Jaspan’s charges. Richards initially refused to go on the record and is now on vacation and unavailable for comment. However, KEXP Marketing Manager Courtney Miller sent this statement “from the station”:
Greg Jaspan is no longer with us and we wish him well and thank him for his years of service. As many would agree, personnel matters are sensitive by nature and we work hard to protect the privacy of those involved.
In regards to KEXP’s programming, our DJs will continue the long tradition of selecting the music our listeners hear, which is the mainstay of KEXP’s programming philosophy as John [Richards] stated in his earlier response. The fact that DJs select the music that listeners hear is what makes KEXP truly a unique radio station. The programming team here at KEXP stands firmly behind this philosophy and will continue to embrace a wide and deep variety of music as we have these past twenty years.
To which Jaspan replies:
…our DJs will continue the long tradition of selecting the music our listeners hear, which is the mainstay of KEXP’s programming philosophy… The fact that DJs select the music that listeners hear is what makes KEXP truly a unique radio station.
“This statement is extremely misleading. [At] at least 50%-75% of the music you hear on the “variety” shows come from rotations. The DJs do not choose what music goes in rotations. Don Yates, Kevin Cole, and John Richards choose ALL the music that goes in rotation. So the truth is that the DJs have the freedom to play whatever they want only 25%-50% of the time.”
The programming team here at KEXP stands firmly behind this philosophy and will continue to embrace a wide and deep variety of music as we have these past twenty years.
“Bullshit. It’s extremely insulting to the intelligence of the listeners to make such ridiculous statements as this. Anyone who listens to KEXP and has even a perfunctory knowledge of music knows this statement is laughable. But let’s go ahead and just take a look at exactly what the programming team at KEXP considers to be ‘a wide and deep variety of music.’ Here’s what John Richards and Kevin Cole played on their most recent shows (Don Yates, the music director, hosts the country music show so it’s not even worth looking at his playlists).
John Richards’ show Thursday July 20:
In the first hour he played 12 songs. 2 were electronic, 10 were rock/pop.
In the second hour he played 13 songs. 1 was electronic, 1 was hiphop, 11 were rock/pop.
In the third hour he played 14 songs. 2 were electronic, 12 were rock/pop.
In the last hour he played 15 songs. 1 was electronic, 1 was hiphop, 13 were rock/pop.
Total songs played: 54
Rock/pop: 46 (85%)
Electronic: 6 (11%) *
Hiphop 2 (4%)
All other genres of music combined: 0 (0%)
* 3 of these had vocals in them
Kevin Cole’s show Monday July 24:
In the first hour he played 13 songs. 4 were electronic, 1 was hiphop. 8 were rock/pop.
In the second hour he played 11 songs. 1 was electronic, 1 was hiphop. 9 were rock/pop.
In the third hour he played 14 songs. 1 was electronic, 0 were hiphop, 12 were rock/pop. (1 was reggae)
In the last hour he played 13 songs. 2 were electronic, 1 was hiphop, 10 were rock/pop.
Total songs played: 51
Rock/pop: 39 (76.5%)
Electronic: 8 (15.5%) *
Hip-hop: 3 (6%)
All other genres combined: 1 (2%)
* 5 of these had vocals in them
“This is what passes for ‘a wide and deep variety of music’ at KEXP? 85% of John’s show and 76.5% of Kevin’s show are rock/pop and they claim the programming team at KEXP embraces a wide and deep variety of music? Not a single jazz, world, soul or funk song played on either of their shows and they claim to embrace a wide and deep variety of music. That’s just insulting. Now of course they’re going to respond by saying that this is what the specialty shows are for. Give me a break. The specialty shows are only three hours a week. A three-hour once-a-week hip-hop show? A three hour once-a-week of electronic music show? A three hour once-a-week world music show? There are 168 hours in a week. A three-hour show is less than 2% of the weekly programming. Dedicating a whole 2% of your weekly programming schedule to genres of music other than rock is hardly an embrace of a wide and deep variety of music. It’s a token.”
One footnote: two days after it fired Jaspan, KEXP put up a post on its blog hyping the Decibel festival.
Finally, if you want to make your thoughts known to KEXP’s braintrust, Jaspan encourages you to contact these folks:
John Richards: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Cole: email@example.com
Tom Mara: firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: F.O.B. Farewell Next Week
Turns out I mourned the loss of F.O.B. too early. While J-Justice and Jacob London are still playing tonight (it’s really good thus far), F.O.B.’s last edition isn’t until next Thursday. The new Thursday night takes over August 10th. The night will be called “In the Kitchen,” as in “too many cooks…” It’s sufficiently clever for my tastes.
Simon Reynolds’ Music-Journalism Jeremiad
photo from Perfect Sound Forever
Simon Reynolds—whose criticism in the late-’80s/early-’90s Melody Maker hugely influenced my own aesthetics and whose latest book, Rip It Up and Start Again, I’m currently reading with pleasure—waxes pessimistic about the state of music writing, circa now, here.
Ultimately, the things that ail music writing today simply mirror the music itself: entropy and drifting disparateness, the waning of an urgent sense of NOW thanks to retro inundation. If great rock criticism is a struggle to make a parallel poem that rivals the music’s glory, then the music itself must be the spur to grandeur.
So, you see, it’s musicians’ fault that music critics aren’t producing more compelling criticism. Yo, shape up, bands! Innovate! You’re holding us writers back from fulfilling our potential.
Farewell to F.O.B. Tonight
The cycle of club nights continues. After closing out Members Only last week, this week the Baltic Room bids adieu to F.O.B. (Future of Beats). Held down by one of the friendliest DJs in town, Michito, and some of his cohorts, it was always a good place to go on Thursdays, filled with plenty of genre-hopping music and nice people. Unfortunately, the night never caught on like it could have, so off it rides into the club night sunset. I’m looking forward to what those guys do next, since the beats were always so fresh (as in produce, not as in anachronistic slang).
But don’t fret for two reasons. One, tonight they’re closing things out with a bang, with SunTzu Sound’s J-Justice joining Jacob London tonight on the decks. Second, Thursdays are going to be taken over by Kid Hops, Misskick, AC Lewis and Riz, any one of whom can successfully rock a party, for a not-yet-known named night.
Things change, things stay the same.
An Excellent Reason to Leave Work Early Tomorrow…
Duck out of work early tomorrow and kick off the 2006 Capitol Hill Block Party with cheap beer, good food, and great music from DJ Franki Chan. Come down before the bands start on the mainstage and start the weekend off with $2 Miller High Life, food from Annapurna Café (selections from India, Nepal, and Tibet), Thaiger Room (one of Seattle’s best-kept Thai secrets), and Hot Dog Joe’s. The Block Party Happy Hour is from 3:00 - 4:30 pm this Friday, and will be followed by sets from Slender Means (pictured above) on the mainstage and Tall Birds on the VERA stage.
Back to Olympia
There’s a great show in Olympia tonight, and while I know that’s quite a drive for Seattle folks (maybe we have some Oly readers?), it’s for a great cause.
Back in June, a drunk driver (an underage soldier, actually), drove his truck through a house in Olympia. Luckily, Jeremy, the home owner, his wife and their 2 ½ year old daughter weren’t home at the time, but the house suffered huge damages (duh, a truck went through it). Unfortunately, due to lack of insurance, the family hasn’t received any money from the accident to make the necessary repairs.
To help out, friends have organizaed a benefit show featuring C-Average, Speaker Speaker, and Rodeo Kill. It’s at the Brotherhood Lounge (119 Capitol Way N) at 9 pm, and it only costs $3 at the door. All the proceed’s go to Jeremy and his family.
Jeremy has been a long-time member of the Olympia music scene and is also an employee of Daily Kos. You can read more about the accident on the Daily Kos site, where you can also donate online. If you’re unable to attend, but still wanna see the show, the whole thing will be broadcasted online starting around 9 pm. Click here to watch it.
Dateline, 1958: Rock ‘n’ Roll Wastes Gas!
I’ve recently made a habit of checking out the “This Day in Music History” website each morning, and while the items are occasionally (and understandably) dry (“On this day in 1991, Bryan Adams started a seven week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’.”), there is usually at least one gem in the mix. This is the one that made me smile today:
On this day in 1958, fans of rock & roll music were warned that tuning into music on the car radio can cost you more money. Researchers from the Esso gas company said the rhythm of rock & roll can cause the driver to be foot heavy on the pedal, making them waste fuel.
Os Mutantes show recap
Last night’s Os Mutantes reunion show at The Moore was amazing, better than I dared hope. At various points the concert felt like a chaotic run-through for a demented Las Vegas spectacular, a production of Godspell on brown acid, and what I imagine happenings at the UFO Club in London during the Swinging ’60s must have been like. Trippy, man. The band had the energy of the Who, and a multi-tasking line-up (ten musicians on stage) to rival Hidden Cameras or Kissing The Pink. The Moore was stifling hot, but the raised temperature and humidity actually enhanced the experience.
My one modest disappointment was that the band did a lot of numbers in English. This seems especially odd, since when I interviewed Sérgio Dias for our OM feature last week, he was somewhat dismissive of their English language LP, Technicolor, which was recorded in France:
“We weren’t that ready to do a new album when we did Technicolor. We only had two or three finished songs, ‘Technicolor’ and ‘El Justiciero.’ Technicolor is beautiful, but the records we made in Brazil have more sunshine in them.
Personally, I’d rather have heard “Ando Meio Desligado” in Portuguese— the sexiest language, ever—in lieu of its Yankee cousin “I Feel A Little Spaced Out.” But that’s a small complaint.
It took staid Seattle a while to get up on its feet, but they gave the band well-earned, multiple standing ovations, and people danced in the aisles to the encores of “Bat Macumba” and “A Minha Menina.” Before last night, I was dubious about the forthcoming CD and DVD of their London reunion appearances—now I can’t wait to pre-order my copies!
Child Plays Satanic Music at Church?
This just in:
At the First Baptist Church of Sequim, teen band, ‘The Blister’, played Black Sabbath’s ‘Lord of this World’ as part of the Summertime Patch Fest Talent Show.
Lyrics to the song are:
“Lord of this world, evil possessor, Lord of this world, he’s your confessor now.”
Church authorities did not think kindly of The Blister’s performance or choice of song. No further comments were available.
The Blister placed 3rd.
This also just in:
Billy Dee Williams says Colt 45, “Works every time.”
Trent - out.
Franki Went to Hollywood
An Interview With Franki Chan
Franki Chan got his start DJing here in Seattle at house parties, after-hours events, and during shows at The Graceland (where he was assistant booker to Jason Lajeunesse, now at Neumos). Before that he managed the Showoff Gallery, an all-ages venue/art space in Bellingham. He left Washington a few years ago to move to LA and become a famous DJ, and he’s been fairly successful at it. Here he discusses LA vs. Seattle, comics, his “breakup” with Steve Aoki, and the accusations that still haunt him here in Seattle.
(Franki Chan DJs @ The Official Capitol Hill Block Party After Party! with Big Business and Fourcolorzack. $5, free with Block Party wristband. Neumos, 11:00PM - 1:30AM)
Eric Grandy: So how’s L.A.? What’s new for you down there?
Franki Chan: L.A. is great. Things have been very busy lately for myself and iheartcomix. We recently began a record label and we’ve been going through a massive year-long effort to reorganize what we’re doing into an actual business. The label part has been the most exciting, mainly because the bands we are working with are so good and have been a constant inspiration for us. They are: Protokoll (boston), Matt & Kim (brooklyn) and This Blush (L.A.).
On a more personal level, I’ve been DJing a lot more and doing more art.
EG: Any comics news? Are you doing another zine?
FC: Not really much on the comics front. Most of my art has been going towards making flyers and random illustration jobs. I’m trying really hard right now to set up my business in a way so that I can have more time to dedicate to making another comic, but it’s probably a ways off. I think it’s gonna end up being my retirement plan.
EG: How was comicon this year?
FC: Comicon was rad, as always. It was a lot more Hollywood this year, which gave it kind of different feel. We had a lot more access to all the presentations this year; that was really cool. Spiderman 3 looks really cool.
EG: What is iheartcomix?
FC: iheartcomix is the name of the business I started when I moved to L.A. At first, it wasn’t anything more than a moniker I used (for) doing parties with other (DJs), but slowly it’s turned into an actual business. We’re an event planning/ organizing and marketing company focusing on our own events and pushing artists, bands, art forms, films and occasionally products that we feel are creative and, well…good. We’re also now a small label.
EG: How is playing parties in Seattle different for you than parties in L.A.?
FC: The kids in Seattle know how to party! The crowds are more receptive and crazier in Seattle. L.A. kids are really spoiled which forces me to think more creatively and shoot for the stars. I really like the challenge that the competitive nature of the city breeds. It also pays more, which has allowed me to my own business, something I never could have done in Seattle. It’s really amazing that in L.A., if you really work hard and stick to your guns and aren’t a complete idiot, you can make yourself anything you want to be and be able to live off that.
EG: Where’s been your favorite places/parties to DJ?
FC: Seattle, L.A., and New York thus far. Of course, if I had a choice, I’d only DJ crazy ass house parties. Those are always the best.
EG: What have been some of your favorite house parties?
FC: There’s been a bunch of house/warehouse/loft parties in L.A. that are always a lot of fun. Most recently we had one called “workout to makeout” which was an aerobics themed party that MSTRKRFT played at.
This dude named Johnny Love in Chicago used to have a loft which I DJd at once. That party was really twisted. Kids danced so hard on the stage that they broke through it, and almost everyone was naked. I just stood behind the DJ booth in awe of the madness the whole time.
EG: What’s in heavy rotation in your sets right now? What’s in heavy rotation for all time?
CANSEI DE SER SEXY (CSS)
SALY N’ PEPA
EG: Any plans for a DJ mix or any remixes in the near future?
FC: I already have one mix and I’m working on making another one in a couple weeks. The basic plan is every six months. As for remixes, not anytime soon. I’d like to, but i’ve been too busy to add anything else to my plate just yet.
EG: What’s on the mix? Where can the kids buy it?
FC: I made it in October of last year. It’s all the main stuff I was DJing then. You can download it here:
EG: Got any fun touring/travelling coming up?
FC: Just a little bit. Seattle for Capitol Hill Block Party, New York for a pool party, Austin for Austin City Limits, and New York again for CMJ. Beyond that, see above, we’re working on making ourselves awesome.
EG: Any news with your old band, Operation: Cliff Claven?
FC: (Operation: Cliff Clavin was a band I used to play drums and sing back up for a couple years after high school in Bloomington, In. We were a very political pop punk band who toured a bunch and put out a few albums. I left when I was 20 to move to Bellingham. We’ve since reformed and toured a couple times, the latest being in 2004 for the 1st Plan-It-X Fest and to record a new 7” around x-mas and do a small tour.)
There aren’t any plans for anything else in the future. We’ve been and remain officially “broken up”. If and when Chris (singer/ guitarist) decides he wants to do it, we’ll probably do it again.
But in the meantime, Chris and Hannah play in a really amazing band called Ghost Mice. They also have gone on to be a part of and/or form: The Sissies, I Love Japanese Hardcore, Disarm, The Devil Is Electric, xbxrx, and more….
EG: You and Steve Aoki used to do a lot of parties together, but you had something of a falling out, right? What was that about?
FC: Yeah, we broke up about a year ago. We don’t get along anymore and wanted to go in different directions.
EG: How would you describe the direction you’re going? What makes that different than what Steve’s doing?
FC: iheartcomix is really striving to do everything independently, which so far we have. I try and be picky about what corporations we accept sponsorship from and what celebrities (if any) we associate ourselves with. We’re also more concerned with organizing events that maintain a certain level of quality, sharing the wealth and attention with those that help us out, etc…
EG: There were some pretty serious accusations floating around before you left seattle, and (judging by anonymous posters i’ve seen around when you come through town) some people here are still concerned about it. Can you tell me a little bit about what happened? Is there anything you’d want to say to whomever’s been putting these posters up, assuming they might be reading this?
FC: That was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve never felt so humiliated, vulnerable, confused or scared as I did when all of that originally went down. I didn’t understand. I didn’t agree with what they said I did, and I still don’t. I know what’s in my heart and I know what my intentions were, but it was a huge wake up call for me.
Around the time when that went down it was at the height of the egg days and we were partying every night, doing tons of drugs and being dumb kids. Prior to moving to washington, I’d never really partied, so once I discovered that, I kind of took it to the limit. I was a kid who’d discovered a new toy, but didn’t know how to responsibly use it. I only knew how I thought it should be used. the accusations really made me take a step back and examine all of that, take more responsibility for my actions and concentrate on the positive things i’m good at.
It really taught me about perspectives. There were so many mirror images in what happened. Am I a rapist? No. Have I ever gone out with the intention to hurt someone? No. But something must have happened to make someone feel uncomfortable. Could a drunken make out session feel like a good time to one person and an attack to another? This is something I’d never really thought about.
At the same time, the people that made those accusations against me, went about in such an immature and destructive way that I feel they came across as bad as the action they were trying to fight against. Their case was flimsy at best and their tactics no better than a good old-fashioned witch hunt. I felt like they were making me a scapegoat for every injustice they’d each individually suffered. I was left an emotional wreck. It’s taken me years to feel like I could have a relationship again. I couldn’t feel comfortable around females for the first year. No one ever tried to ask me, or confront me, maybe have a discussion, find out what the facts were, what actually happened, they just attacked in anger and dealt with the consequences after. Once you do that, you can’t really go back, right or wrong.
EG: So, to clarify, you’re saying some people somewhat anonymously accused you of rape in a situation that you thought was just a mutual, drunken make out?
FC: Make out being the key word(s), but yes.
The fact of the matter is, we all grow up and have interactions with one another. I think we’ve all been in awkward situations at one time or another. It’s part of growing up and it’s part of learning how to deal with people in intimate situations. The best you can do is constantly try to learn and make yourself the best person you can be.
Heather Duby and Night Canopy Tonight at Triple Door
Heather Duby is having her CD release party at the Triple Door tonight, along with the freshly formed Night Canopy (pictured above and featuring former members of the Catch and Pretty Girls Make Graves drummer Nick DeWitt). I can’t go, but you should. Duby worked with Steve Fisk again, as she did on her debut, which I take as a good sign. Unfortunately, her label didn’t send me a CD, so I can’t offer a critical opinion, but if it’s half as good as Post to Wire, then I want to hear it!
Like many online services, Ticketmaster uses CAPTCHAs (those little “type the word in this picture” boxes) to make sure you’re a human being and not some no-gooder automated script.
Usually the words are random, but sometimes you wonder. Below is an actual screenshot from a friend who bought some tickets today:
Listen to Block Party Bands!
You’ll notice in this week’s issue, we have an awesome pullout guide to the Capitol Hill Block Party complete with a handy pocket schedule, write-ups on all the bands playing… pretty much everything you need to know to survive the weekend.
And this year, not only can you read all about the artists gracing the three stages of this year’s completely killer party, but now you can hear them too! Click here to listen to songs by some of my personal favorites, including Murder City Devils, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Common Market, the Divorce, and Speaker Speaker, then log on to www.thestranger.com/blockparty for songs by even more Block Party bands (who are all also undeniably rad).
I mean, I don’t wanna tell you what to do or anything, but frankly I think it’s a pretty good suggestion. So you’re welcome.
Decibel Fest Needs Volunteers
If you want to help Decibel bring its exemplary electronic-music event to fruition, contact Db executive director/curator Sean Horton at email@example.com.
Here’s the deal. Volunteers should be willing to work a total of 8 hours each in 4-hour increments, and in exchange Decibel will provide:
- A Club Pass ($50 value)
- A T-shirt ($20 value)
- All the Red Bull you can stomach :)
Positions Decibel is looking to fill include:
- Local promotions/street team (postering/flyering)
- Will Call/ticket booth attendants
- Merchandise booth attendants
- Stage managers (basic experience with live sound needed)
- Venue set up (might involve some heavy lifting)
- Venue tear down (might require some caffeine)
- Sound engineer (needs extensive experience with live sound & recording)
Volunteers need to be punctual, trustworthy, motivated, and 21+ (except for those at the Broadway Performance Hall).
Good Time Summer Music Jamboree!
Lame title for sure, but how else am I going to draw your attention to a bunch of new music and news?
1) Sub Pop has a new release by a nearly all girl Brazilian disco punx band CSS (short for Cansei De Ser Sexy-translation…”Tired of Being Sexy”).
And they are. Sexy that is. The album is balls out fun in 11 songs and 35 minutes. More flirty than oozing with their sexuality, I find the cd tons more fun then the new Peaches (who apparently has just given up “Teaches” to squirt expletives on us. Ugh).
Even better! The girls are coming to Seattle on a tour with another Brazilian punk/hip hop band Bonde Do Role and Diplo! (Alright you Diplo haters, you can still go to see CSS and Bonde Do Role, then leave before Diplo. I however will be hanging out to hear this master technician work the tables.)
Now could someone please inform me as to when tickets go on sale for their Nov. 5 Show at the Paramount Theater. It would also be nice to know whether this show will be seated or open. A new first for Seattle. I nearly fainted when i found out.
3) Andy Votel is my new God.
His two recent comps worth checking out: Folk Is Not a Four Letter Word
and Prog Is Not A Four Letter Word
Both offer wide diversity in their subject matter while still sticking to the categories at hand. The liner notes are informative, funny and put each band/performer into some sort of historical/cultural context. (Who knew there was Prog rock coming out of communist Poland? Or strident political folk music, sung in welsh, coming off a still functioning label in Wales?)
4) The new Fabric 29: Tiefschwarz is Brilliant.
From start to finish it has held my interest for quite a few listen throughs. Favorites on it are the Ichundu (aka Tiefschwarz) track and the Riton track. ‘Twould be nice if we’d see that bloke in these parts.
We don’t get too many sexy-ass dj’s here (sorry Fits, when you take off your shirt and ring out the sweat from your workout on the party goers i’ll change my mind). Definitely check it out.
5) My last bit is a question? Do you like DJ Fourcolorzack?
I’m not meaning to pick a fight or anything, but I don’t think much of his sets. He certainly has the technical skills, he can mix like a wiz. But his sets are like Queen Lucky circa 1995, but with a shorter attention span. The music is old and played out, and he’s frustrating to listen to, because he never plays anymore of a song then the hook and chorus. Yes we know you like the hip hop, but could you spin a bit more then just the breaks? He seems to have DJADD.
But that’s just me, maybe he’ll change it up for the Block Party, but you won’t see me at his hootenany, I don’t have time or nerve endings for that.
So can someone please explain his popularity?
Classic jazz ringtones
Getting a little tired of that seemingly-ideal ringtone you downloaded to your Motorola? Lord knows, I’ve just about had my filll of X’s “Los Angeles” (and I thought I’d never tire of that), and I nearly went postal on my BF after hearing “Turn The Beat Around” signal an incoming call one too many times. Well, the folks who hold the keys to the Blue Note archives have just made a batch of classic jazz cuts available as slightly more upscale options. Monk, Miles, Mulligan… the initial offering is only 24 titles strong, but damn, there are some good choices. I call dibs on “Always There” by Ronnie Laws.
Lance Bass is sooooo gay. No, really.
Well, it’s about time. Lance Bass from *NSYNC finally comes completely out of the closet in the new issue of People.
After being photographed at a Provincetown, MA gay bar earlier this month, and a rather blunt post by a columinist The Washington Blade, it seemed ludicrous for Bass to continue lurking in the closet.
But I must admit, I find this quote—apropos of his protracted reluctance—a little discouraging:
“I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys’ careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said (that I was gay), it would overpower everything,” says Bass, referring to bandmates Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake.
Um, Lance? Wake up. I don’t have the figures in front of me, but I remember a MTV poll conducted in the late ’90s when the vast majority of teenagers surveyed said they wouldn’t care if their favorite artists came out or not. I appreciate that you probably wanted to tell your family and friends first, but in terms of the music world, it’s not as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. You’re doing much more good (and undoubtedly helping your career) by being open about it. Frankly, who you sleep with—unless there are some awesome names you aren’t naming—isn’t nearly as captivating as dancing around like a fool to “Bye Bye Bye” or “Pop.”
I am happy to read that you and Joey are developing a sitcom together. Then again, I’m one of two people I know who saw your film On The Line more than once (the other being Seattle DJ Freddy King of Pants, my rival for Fatone’s big hairy affection), so my judgement is clearly biased.
There weren’t a lot of fat, lazy ravers back in the day. Whether it was the all-night dancing, the bizarrely health-conscious attitude of the scene (e.g. washing down your MDMA with a fresh organic apple and some spring water), the metabolism-exploding drugs, the power of positive thinking, or all four combined, ravers tended to be a lithe, fit and energetic bunch.
So I guess it makes sense that many years after, now that all those ravers are clean-living grownups, the next Crystal Method album would be a workout tape.
To be sold via iTunes and used with that new Nike/iPod pedometer doodad, Drive is “an original soundtrack composed by THE CRYSTAL METHOD to guide athletes through a 45-minute run, from warm-up through cool down.”
[Drive] follows the progression of a 45-minute work out. The tempo of the track begins at a slower pace to take the athlete through a gradual warm up, increases pace over the course of the run, and then gradually decreases tempo as part of the cool down.
I like this idea. Dance music is functional music anyway. Great DJs and live PAs play with the energy of the room, building up and releasing tension to keep the crowd on the floor, to get ‘em sweating, to make the room classier, or more sensual, or more aggressive, or whatever. So it’s natural that the sonic and emotional tools DJs use would work just as well at the gym. (Many fans of my own music don’t care for nightclubs, techno or dancing — they’re always asking for new live sets for them to work out to.)
What’s missing here, though, is feedback. It would be even cooler to use the data from that Nike thingy, plus information about pulse rate, blood pressure and brainwave activity, to alter the mood and tempo of the music in real time to guide runners towards their fitness goals. This is theoretically possible, using some combination of Ableton Live, Max/MSP and a couple homebrewed MIDI interfaces. But strapping a laptop to your back and wiring yourself up to an octopus of sensors is a bit, erm, impractical for a jog in the park. (Especially if you’re body-conscious, as many fanatic exercisers are.) So I guess I’ll have to wait to get started on that project.
This Week in Music News
This Day in Music History: On July 26th, 1943, Mick Jagger entered this world.
Madonna’s Toilet:Apparently needs to be cleaner than clean.
Muses of Kristin Hersh: Still being thrown?
The Long Tail Phenomena: Slate says it’s overstated; I say it’s a positive thing when people start realizing that artists who don’t move a zillion units are still valuable.
Live From Abbey Road: A new U.K. music show is born.
Beck’s Wife: A fellow Scientologist who supposedly hates “the pot”—especially when it’s smoked at a Radiohead show.
Oroku, I love you
While everyone else was rocking out at that Rentals show last night, I was rocking out even more (I assume) at the SS Marie Antoinette to my new favorite local band, Oroku, who opened the Capitalist Casualties show. It’s not often that I like the first opening band the most out of a show’s lineup, but holy shit. Oroku played perfectly wonderful heavy crust—they reminded me of a more metal His Hero Is Gone, with melodic, sludgier parts akin to Isis (they have an electric cello!). Two members of the band provided vocals: The deeper growls, again, sounded very much like His Hero is Gone, and the higher-pitched screams for a moment made me think of Dino from Dystopia (EDIT: Now that I’m listening to their stuff on MySpace, I see that the vocals do not sound like Dino at all, and that this band indeed rocks more than I thought possible). Oroku are going on a European tour in October, and I overheard the cellist say some of them were taking summer vacations, so they probably won’t be playing in Seattle again until December. This is too bad for us, but they have a 7-inch out, and an LP on the way. Check out their MySpace page to hear some tunes.
As for the rest of the show: Skarp was by far the crowd favorite. Everyone went absolutely crazy when they played. It was really great, though I wasn’t all that into the band myself—but I was completely in the minority on this. In fact, a lot of people left after Skarp played, not even bothering to see the headlining band. Inhaste were straight ahead hardcore, which is not my cup of tea. And Capitalist Casualties rocked, but their performance just didn’t get anyone moving nearly as much as Skarp (though they did end their set with a song by my ultimate favorite band, Antischism, which was fucking rad).
We told you so.
The Rentals and Ozma show last night was more sweaty fun than I’ve had in a long time. Neumos was packed with twenty-somethings happy to sing and air punch along to every popilicious song and The Rentals fucking rocked like it was 1996. I guarantee that everyone in the house stopped head-bobbing only when they got too caught up in their own thoughts, trying to develop a scheme to become best friends with the entire very attractive band. Speaking of which, here are some photos:
Rachel doing that super-cute badass thing she’s so good at.
The “ooo”s are always my favorite part.
And for those of you with a Matt Sharp fetish, here’s him sexing up the m-phone as he did, repeatedly, throughout the night:
Ryan from Ozma also played for the set… they, like The Rentals, were a ball of high-energy fun. Look at them! Don’t they look fun? Yes, indeed.
Orac ’Em Up
Bruno Pronsato wows a Japanese crowd, July 2006
Orac Records superstars Bruno Pronsato and Caro will be busting out their much bally-hooed tech-house creations tonight at the Baltic Room (1207 E Pine St in Seattle’s Capitol Hill). This will mark the last Seattle appearance for a while by Bruno (AKA Steven Ford) before he resumes his world tour in late July—including dates in Boston, New York, Monteal, and Minneapolis—and relocates to Germany in the fall. Besides that, he’s flooding bins with a slew of killer 12s on labels like Telegraph, Milnor Modern, Orac, Philpot, and Underl_ne. Caro (AKA Randy Jones, co-founder of Orac Records) has been working on new material and perhaps will unveil some of it tonight. If not, tracks off his debut album, The Return of Caro, will more than suffice.
More show info here.
You Are Just Business, You’re Worthless
Confidential to the guy who kept yelling “DO IT!” and “PLAY FRIENDS OF P!” to The Rentals at last night’s amazing show:
There were several points throughout the show when I think your loud, drunken, inconsiderate encouragement was the only thing that gave the band the confidence to go on. I bet they really appreciated hearing from you during all those quiet moments of acoustic guitar strumming when everyone one else was just listening to their music (like jerks!). I’m pretty sure that if they’d known you’d be there to heckle them, they would’ve gotten the band back together years ago. And yes, “FUCK WEEZER!” is a really interesting point that I’m sure Matt Sharp and co. will be stewing over for the rest of their tour.
So, again, thank you, good samaritan. Never let anyone tell you that they didn’t pay $20 to hear you bray incoherently.
I had breakfast with Arlie Carstens, former front man for Juno, yesterday morning. He’s been in town for a couple weeks, laying down tracks for Ghost Wars, his new collaborative project with producer/auteur Eric Fisher (Damien Jurado, Rosie Thomas, etc.). After starting work over a year ago, they finished tracking an album’s worth of music on Sunday, and now Arlie’s going back to LA for five weeks “to obsess over lyrics” before returning to complete the record this fall.
What’s it sound like? Well, you can check out three rough audio samples here. The project, as Arlie describes it, is all about back-and-forth between these two wildly creative individuals. For example, one track, “Waves of Blood” (yes, I chuckled at the title, too), started out as a quiet and contemplative demo by Carstens, but rapidly evolved into “a tsunami of chaos and misery” once Fisher - plus Blood Brothers bassist Morgan Henderson and dual drummers Eric Akre and someone else cool I couldn’t make out (Arlie had a mouthful of eggs) - all got involved. Other contributors include Thomas, Jay Clarke, Derrick Fudesco, Nate Mendel, and many more.
Also in the works, but not slated for the album is a cover of “Divide And Conquer” from Flip Your Wig by Hüsker Dü. “We slowed it down till it sounds like a Nick Drake song,” says Arlie. Which makes perfect sense if you know that Carstens’ musical aesthetic is basically bookended by classic Hüsker Dü on one end, and latter-day Talk Talk on the other. Right now, plans are to tentatively issue this oddity as a split single on a NYC indie imprint. The full-length will, ideally, be available for public consumption by year’s end. In the meantime, trawl the Internet or the radio dial; in addition to KEXP and Last FM, stations in Italy and Japan have reportedly already picked up on the rough mixes on MySpace and put them in rotation.
The Rentals Tonight!
Forgive me for not remembering to post this earlier in the day, but don’t forget that Matt Sharp and Co. are playing an all-ages show at Neumo’s tonight. Hooray!
If you’re unfamiliar with the Rentals you can read what I had to say about the band in this week’s Underage column. The band also has songs available at their website, www.therentals.com. Go. Educate yourselves.
Ozma opens, and they’re Weezer-rific.
Tickets are still available, and doors open at 7 pm. It’s gonna be awesome.
Sympathy For The Bourgeoise
I know that Marie Antoinette is technically a film, but, let’s face it, Sofia Coppola basically makes very long music videos-for Air, Kevin Shields/MBV, and now, apparently, New Order. Also, she’s using the same font as the Sex Pistols:
I think that makes it appropriate subject matter for Lineout.
So what we have here is a truncuated music video for “Age Of Consent” in which Coppola takes a subject matter dear to her heart (a wealthy, aristocratic heiress) and gives it her typically soft, vaguely narrative treatment. Kirsten Dunst plays herself wearing period garb, and we watch her waifing around the standard Sofia Coppola set pieces: blue-lit dawns; gauzy, virginal-white interiors; and a twinkling midnight metropolis (Paris this time). We see that royalty enjoy the same simple joys as us peasants: love, dancing, birthday parties, and, yes, eating cake. What’s curious is why Coppola would choose to look back for this story, when we live in an age absolutely teeming with young female oligarchs in need of a good beheading.
Tonight. Punk rock.
Looking for something to do tonight? If you’re at all into punk rock, you should by all means go see Capitalist Casualties at the SS Marie Antoinette (1235 Westlake Ave N, 8 pm, $5). They’re legendary—they’ve been playing that beautiful, beautiful power violence for 20 years, so they know their shit (loud, fast, screamy… you know the drill).
Mat Brooke Dismounts from Band of Horses
photo by Robin Laananen
Sub Pop publicist Joan Hiller has confirmed a rumor that’s been swirling around for about a month: Mat Brooke is no longer in Band of Horses. Hiller relays that BOH’s official statement is that “Mat was originally in the band to help with songwriting, and that due to his other projects taking off, he is no longer in the band.”
A Day in the Life of Idiot Pilot
Ever wonder what happened to Idiot Pilot?
Since the spastic electrocore duo from Bellingham (comprised of Michael Harris on the mic and Daniel Anderson manning the guitar and laptop) crashed into the scene back in 2004, not much has been heard from them. They made some big waves when they took second place in EMP’s Sound Off competition that year, they released a full-length (Strange We Should Meet Here) on Bellingham’s indie Click Pop, and not long after that the boys found themselves on the receiving end of major label offers. They eventually decided to go with Reprise, and the label redid the album artwork and re-released it to the masses.
From there, the boys got on as support for a few package tours and they continued to play around locally when they had the chance, but it certainly wasn’t the huge whirlwind many expected to see from them since their big introduction. In fact, a number of people have asked me if they’re even still around.
Well yes. Yes they are.
And Mr. Harris tells me that in about a week, the two young men will head down to California where they’ll spend two months recording their follow-up to Strange We Should Meet Here with Ross Robinson, who has worked with the Cure, At the Drive-In, the Blood Brothers, and numerous others. Mark Hoppus, of Blink-182 fame, will be co-producing the record. Daniel also says that the record is slated to almost certainly come out in the first few months of 2007. Personally, I can’t wait to hear the results.
So there. Now you know what’s happening with Idiot Pilot.
Block Party Update
Murder City Devils
Advance tickets for the Capitol Hill Block Party on Saturday July 29 are sold out.
According to BP organizer David Meinert, “We are not sold out yet for Friday, but there are no advance tickets left for Saturday. But don’t fret, more tickets will go on sale at the festival day of show. For Saturday July 29, tickets will go on sale at the festival box offices at Pike St and Broadway and Pike St and 12th at 1pm. We advise getting to there early as the event can sell out. And be sure to get your advance tickets for Friday now as those tickets are going fast!”
RIP, EPHRAIM ALEXANDER
Seattle producer Ephraim Alexander (AKA Terso, Techne, and Porceline [the latter with vocalist Heather Elsa/Lady K]) passed away July 21 from diabetes complications. One of this city’s staunchest supporters of electronic music (and a wicked dancer, too), Alexander was also making extraordinary strides with his own techno and drum ’n’ bass productions. Alexander described his music thus: “I like to dance, so a lot of the tunes are dance oriented. I enjoy Cinema, so some of the music is cinematic. I like booty, so all the tunes are booty.”
His good friend Zach Smith recorded Alexander’s February 7 set opening for Safety Scissors at Oscillate; you can hear it here. Check it out: it’s a mighty impressive epitaph.
An endless source of positive energy and one of the nicest individuals in Seattle’s thriving electronic-music scene, Alexander touched many people with his generous spirit and musical talent. He will be intensely missed.
The Other Decibel Festival
All Right, That’s It, Motherfuckers
First they came for Iggy, and I was silent, for I still had my own lust for life.
Then they came for the Buzzcocks, and I was silent, because, well, that’s what you get.
Then they came for the Go-Go’s, and I was silent…primarily because changing “We Got the Beat” into “We Got the Meat” is too idiotic to get worked up over.
But now they’ve come for Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) and I want to scream. And yes, I am going to miss him:
There’s no one left to speak out but you, dear Line Out readers. Sometimes it’s a good leg up for young bands (and I support it in that context); sometimes it’s just amusing—but when they go after the old-school classics, it feels just creepy to me. Which of your favorite songs have been pimped to poor effect by corporate America?
Last Bashment Tonight
With Rama’s move to NYC impending, he’s closing down his always lively Lo-fi ragga-jungle monthly (which explored some of the world’s grimiest beats outside of jungle as well). If you’ve been, you know that the music is always top-notch, so time to send the night off into the sunset in true raggamuffin style.
Outside of Bashment, Rama (aka KRNL Panic) is doing alright for himself, getting a play on the BBC, where electronic music gets more than lip service (sorry, had to make that dig). First earplug, now the BBC. NYC better watch out. (BBC info. via Mike Lakeman)
Here are the details on tonight’s final edition of Bashment by way of Rama:
TONIGHT// The Last Bashment @ Lo-Fi 429 Eastlake // doors @ 10pm
-Ragga Jungle / Dancehall / Dubstep-
As Malia and I prepare for our BIG move to the BIG apple we gotta start
tying things up. Tonight is the end of our Ragga Jungle/Dancehall monthly in
seattle. come out, knock back some redstripes and get down to the robot
mutant island sounds.
The original power trio is re-united:
NECRON99/AZ-1/RAMA B2B in the main room.
opening warm up Dubstep set provided by: LOKI
frontroom dancehall vibrations courtesy: ALIBI + ELEMENT
He’s Been Good to Me So Far
I’m finishing up the Up & Coming section of next week’s paper while listening to this record:
Hell, fuck the Eagles, but early Joe Walsh is the shit.
Amy, enough is enough. To end the present conflict, I have no other choice but to gonuclear.
Explaining The Verb “To Yarl”
The term “yarling” seems to be the high point of my anti Pearl Jam screed if early response from friends is any indication. Let it be known that I claim no responsibility for coining this term. That high honor belongs to none other than local producer Jack Endino.
Decibel Lineup Update V.2
The Decibel festival’s lineup is coming into focus.
Db 2005 was so exceptional, it seems like it will be hard to top, but Sean Horton & Co. have worked diligently to book what looks like a consistently strong schedule of elite performers. They appear to have struck a nice balance between the cerebral and the hedonistic—and artists who simultaneously embody both traits (and more). I think it’s safe to predict that Db 2006 has potential to match last year’s world-class event.
Decibel showcases listed after the jump…
2006 DECIBEL FESTIVAL SHOWCASES
(Additional Bad Juju and Barca showcases still TBA)
Nortec Collective / Mexico Showcase @ Neumos (presented by KEXP)
Fourthcity Showcase @ the Baltic Room (presented by Fourthcity)
Db Opening Gala Event @ B.P.H.
Thomas Fehlmann (dub set)
The Dead Texan
Guest speaker and more artists tba
Classic Label / Future Funk Showcase @ Chop Suey (presented by Uniting Souls)
2006 Headfuk Showcase @ Neumos
Telefon Tel Aviv
DB-CONFERENCE @ B.P.H.
CLINICS, PANEL, WORKSHOPS, VENDORS, PRODUCT DEMOS
Experimental Showcase @ B.P.H. (presented by Nonsequitur)
Son Of Rose
Portland Showcase @ Bad Juju
Lets Go Outside
Future Jazz Showcase @ the Baltic Room (presented by SunTzu Sound)
Electro Pop @ Chop Suey
Dirty Dancing Showcase @ Neumos
Camea and Insideout
Db Afterhours @ Neumos
OPTICAL Showcase @ B.P.H.
Ryoichi Kurokawa (audio / video performance)
Speedy J and Scott Pagano (5.1 audio / video screening)
Randy Jones (audio / video performance)
Ambient Showcase @ B.P.H.
Decibel Finale @ Neumos
Reading through the voluminous comments on today’s Greg Jaspan fracas, I’ve seen more than a few bitchy references to KEXP’s daytime programming of “mainstream” electronic music. What’s with the haterade pouring all over my beloved Basement Jaxx?
My defense after the cut…
I can see why a certain type of person would dismiss them because their albums are accessible and fun-oriented (a serious no-no in electronic music!), or because they collaborate with people like N*Sync’s JC Chasez (sellouts!), or because they sell a lot of records (not underground!), or that their videos are all over MTV Europe (tacky!).
If you just don’t like pop music, then OK. Think electronic music isn’t supposed to be fun and accessible? Fine, hate all you want, we’ll agree to disagree. But as someone who’s been following their work since Day 1 (or Day -1, counting their very early ’90s work under the Helicopter alias), I have a few observations:
With every release, they try something new. They’re like the Carl Craig of pop music. Pushing into some new genre, working with unconventional vocalists, crazy production styles, etc. This includes their very deliberate and serious move into straight-up radio-oriented pop, which is that Kish Kash album you all hate.
The thing is, they’re growing and changing and trying new things, which I thought was supposed to be part of what made electronic music interesting and cool. This is more than I can say about quite a few popular “serious” electronic artists I’ve heard lately, some of whom are regurgitating ten-year-old ideas just like those indie bands you’re making fun of.
Second, they put on by far the best live electronic PA I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard a lot of live PAs. Visual, energetic, interesting, surprising and very live. They’ve blown the roof off every venue I’ve seen them play in, from the Brixton Academy to the Showbox, leaving both serious gearheads and electronic naifs sweaty and happy and asking for more.
Third, in addition to having a long and distinguished discography themselves — influencing everything from straight-up house and techno to grime and the mash-up scene — they’re also strong supporters of UK underground music, and their assistance (production- and hype-wise) has helped folks like Dizzee Rascal and Lady Sovereign get to the next level. (But hey, you probably hate them, too.)
I dunno. I shouldn’t be telling you what to like — I’d rather stick to talking about what I like and hoping that you might like it too. I usually don’t care about what other people don’t like. But still, the attitude towards the Jaxx and a lot of other “mainstream” or accessible electronic music seems so very…. rockist.
John Richards on KEXP’s Programming
In the aftermath of the dismissal of Greg Jaspan [see post below] and his claim that his playlists fell afoul with the station’s managers, associate program director/popular morning DJ John Richards explains KEXP’s ethos:
As one of the most eclectic stations on this or any other dial I would argue we have far from a narrow playlist. You only have to spend a few minutes with any other station to hear what a narrow playlist sounds like. We also allow our DJ’s to program their own show and the only parameters that are in place are the same ones we have had for decades and the ones in place when any of our DJ’s were hired. We only require a DJ to mix both new and old stuff in a show and ask for at least one local song an hour. Our new music “rotation” is made up of just about everything that we think needs to be heard and think or listeners will love. The DJ’s pick every song and artist and that only makes up about half of the variety show. Everything from rock to hip hop to country to electronic to blues and so on. It gives enough “structure” to a station as ours as possible without sounding stale or playing singles only or anything like that.
The station’s core programming has always been rock, but from that we branch out to electronica, hip hop, country, reggae, and dozens of other styles (which are then represented on our specialty shows). I can understand and appreciate a fan of just one genre being frustrated that the core isn’t their particular genre of choice, but at the same time we hear from tons of listeners that they appreciate the fact that we play so many different types of music.
Unlike most DJs on the dial, KEXP DJs can play what they want when they want to. I think the only “pressure” we really put on a DJ is to make sure that our listeners are what a DJ is thinking about first when they program and not just themselves and/or their own agenda. We’re here to serve the public and not our own interests. We have an incredible on-air staff that do this with their own taste and style and are able to both program for the public and use their own knowledge and taste to achieve that.
KEXP Cans Jaspan
I received word from KEXP DJ Greg Jaspan that the Seattle radio station fired the late-night Variety host Wednesday July 19. Along with Expansions hosts Riz, Masa, and Kid Hops, Jaspan was KEXP’s strongest advocate for non-mainstream electronic music.
Jaspan says that KEXP upper management found fault with his shows’ emphasis on electronic music at the expense of rock selections. He also cited a dispute about who would be hosting the electronic-oriented version of Audioasis in September as another reason for his dismissal. Stay tuned for more details.
This Week in Music News
Mastodon: Making mountains of blood!
Your Neighborhood Record Store: Another casualty of the digital download age.
Thom Yorke: Doing just fine on his own, thank-you very much.
Grunge: Currently being (re)processed by the tireless VH1 nostalgia machine.
Ozzfest: Not a good time for everyone.
Graham Coxon: Wielding sharp words for mainstream audiences.
Paris Hilton: Appreciated by some critics. And yes, it hurt to write that.
Sera Cahoone’s Block Party plans
Rising Seattle alt-country artist Sera Cahoone and I just conducted a lovely interview over coffee for an upcoming No Depression profile. Apropos of her slot at the Block Party on the Neumo’s Stage at 5:15 on Saturday afternoon, she says she’s “very excited” about the gig. Any surprises in store? Yes. At least one new song besides selections found on her self-titled debut CD. “And maybe a cover.” Of? Give us a hint. “Um… R.E.O. Speedwagon.” When pressed for details (i.e. “which one?”), Ms. Cahoone squirmed, but said it would all get ironed out at band practice tonight. “I haven’t mentioned it to them yet.” Requests, anybody?
The Lovemakers Shake That Ass
Scott Blonde of Oakland band, The Lovemakers says LA is a butthole. He’s not shy about it. But now that the Interscope Records Lovemakers have had KROQ smile upon them, he says LA is not so bad. He’s even starting to think it might not be such a butthole.
“Playing for 2000 people is not bad,” Blonde says laughingly. “Down there, we’ve kinda hit, and it’s nice.” “KROQ definitely helps to reach the California masses.” “In Seattle, and the Northwest, we’re still converting people.” He says, “We love it up here and we’ll be back as often as we can.”
The Tuesday night show at Chop Suey was not 2000 people, but it was a lively jumping bunch. ‘Shake That Ass’ had the disco ball grinding.
“You can have my love, if you shake that ass for me.”
Singer, bassist, Lisa Light, poured a bottle of water on herself and danced. It was so hot. Waterfall style, and she slithered underneath, in glitter eyed, low end lockdown.
Blonde & Light went at it, with a very sexy and long kiss in the middle of a Blonde solo. To play like that, and kiss like that, at the same time, sums up The Lovemakers as genuine sexiness. Someone said they sound like Led Zeppelin playing Prince songs, but I heard a little more Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf.’
Blonde said The Lovemakers get to open for James Brown soon. “I mean, it’s James Brown!” He said.
** Attn all musicians: Pouring water on yourself while you play greatly enhances the stage show. But be careful not to electrocute.
Trent - out.
Segues I Have Admired
Last night at Havana (located at 1010 E Pike St in Capitol Hill, not in Cuba), DJ Fourcolorzack—with admirable smoothness—laid down this sequence tracks, which I found remarkable enough to write down in my notebook: Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” into Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” into Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” into Doobie Brothers’ “Taking It to the Streets.”
Later in the night, I heard “What a Fool Believes” dropped by headliners Devlin & Darko. As I can only tolerate two Doobie Brothers tracks in one night, I exited the club shortly thereafter. A man’s gotta know his limits.
Re: Scorned & Rebuked
I’m willing to surmise that the used bin at record stores is less revealing than it used to be, thanks to the advent of the iPod. I’ve been selling off many discs I love because I no longer need their digital carcasses (I figure my money and energy is much better spent nurturing my beloved vinyl collection). That said, the used bin has been a source of fascination for this paper as far back as 1999. Former staff writer Rick Levin had a short-lived column that focused on this phenomenon. He called it Reject Roundup and it was pretty entertaining while it lasted.
Runaways Drummer Sandy West Very Ill
Runaways drummer Sandy West is dealing with both lung cancer and a brain tumor. The word from her close associates is that she’s in extremely bad shape. Please send a good thought her way.
A Birthday Gift from Mister Leisure
Sunday, as with almost every Sunday since I moved to the city I headed to Rebar for Flammable. Despite coming almost directly from the airport, I made it down in time to hear the last minutes of an opening set from DJ Garth, a Flammable favorite. His spot on the stage was taken over by fellow LineOutter Matt Corwine (aka Mister Leisure), who was celebrating his birthday by providing a musical gift for all in attendance. Playing the first live PA in over five years, Corwine’s booking marked a slight departure for Flammable, which will hopefully see the evening’s success as a reason to reach out a bit more (Seriously, between Corwine’s set and the ri-goddamn-diculously hyped response to Derrick May’s blistering set last year, it’s not as if the crowd can’t handle it). He managed to live up to all the praise that Dave offered a few months ago, playing house obvious enough to not alienate the Rebar crowd, which is used to a certain formula, and yet interesting enough to entertain a more techno-oriented listener. Even Garth, surely tired after a full weekend in town, managed to find his way to the dancefloor. The night closed with a still busy club calling out for more, myself included. You would do well to keep an eye on the comings and goings of Mister Corwine. I predict Big Things.
Want to hear what all the fuss is about? Here’s the recording from the evening.
Re: Record Stores
Matt’s post yesterday got me thinking about my own record store experiences, specifically the times I’ve felt like a peon for being on the purchasing side of the almighty front counter. While I’ve certainly felt some unwarranted elitist snobbery at Platinum in the past, I think the “Best/Worst Record Store Clerk” I’ve ever dealt with is without a doubt Judd at Olympia’s Phantom City Records.
He chided me for liking “christian rock bullshit” upon purchasing a Death Cab For Cutie record one time (and this was before The OC), and in general he’ll just always be disappointed that you’re not buying something by GG Allin.
(Judd also works at the Old School Pizzeria and if you think he won’t flip you ‘tude there too, you are sorely mistaken.)
He wins my award for “Best/Worst Record Store Clerk”, who wins yours?
This post was intended as friendly ribbing. I actually quite enjoy Judd’s lovably grumpy rapport with the customers, and he’s a good guy.
More importantly, Phantom City Records is a great independent record store and it deserves support. Don’t let Judd scare you. Go buy records.
Everything All The Time
Read Dave’s post on Girl Talk’s insane new mix, Night Ripper. Go download the mix somewhere. Froth at the mouth over dude’s cheeky splicing of Smashing Pumpkins and Young MC and Laid Back and Three 6 Mafia and and and…
Then let’s take a step back and discuss.
I just got this mix last night (internet’s back on!), and I was excited to finally hear it. A friend came over around track 6 and immediately told me how sick he was of Night Ripper already. Apparently he’d gotten a copy a few weeks ago and, after an initial burst of great enthusiasm, completely burnt out on it (but not before all his coworkers got copies and started playing them at work). I’m still just so psyched to have an internet connection again that it’ll probably be at least a week until I can hate on anything that it gives me, and I’m still pretty damn impressed with this mix. That said, I can see where he’s coming from.
Does a mix like this have much replay value after the novelty has worn off (once you memorize exactly when that Phantom Planet sample or that Biggie verse drops)? Do you ever just want to listen to the whole song(s) instead?
The thing this mix most reminds me of isn’t a banging club night (where some people might find this level of ADD mixing a little difficult), but rather of being 10 years old and listening to the Top 40 countdown on Sunday mornings. Just as months and months of Top 40 are mixed up and de-contextualized by my fuzzy memory, so too are tons of chart hits arbitrarily mashed together on Night Ripper (with the occasional Neutral Milk Hotel or Pavement sample thrown in for good measure). It’s all amazingly well done, but I’m not sure I want or need a new way to listen to Top 40.
This whole school of DJing (basically just skillful hip-hop mixing with a grab-bag of recognizable hooks) is fine if you really do want to listen to everything all the time, but genres and themes can be useful things sometimes.
The other thing that troubles me is the almost anti-social nature of this mix. It just can’t exist outside the digital world, it’s been stitched together on a laptop and downloaded by individual kids at their computers. It would be almost impossible to do “live” in any real sense of the term, and maybe that’s fine because it’s not so much a club record as a novel reshuffling of your ipod.
Of course, it’s still this Summer’s best mix so far by a long shot.
Scorned & Rebuked
During my last trip to Everyday Music (one of the few area record stores that’s expanding), I asked manager Tony what titles keep showing up in EM’s used-CD bins like turds from a malfunctioning toilet. Here’s what he spit out with disdain and exasperation:
Cranberries, No Need to Argue
Counting Crows, August and Everything After
Pearl Jam, Ten
Melissa Etheridge, every damned album
Jeez, these are the same godforsaken albums that haunted me during my 15-month tenure at EM (2003-2004; tough times, brothers and sisters). I also recall seeing tons of Moby’s Play, Santana’s Supernatural, and a surprising quantity of Nirvana’s Nevermind.
The lesson here is that many of yesterday’s platinum-selling stars are today’s sonic pariahs. Or that many people are really fickle. Or both.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to depress you further.
Sasha Frere-Jones on Record Stores
New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones rarely comments on the issues of the day, preferring to stick to posting abstract photographs and brief, cryptic references in his blog. But when he does have something to say, damn does he say it. Yesterday he had this on his mind re: certain aspects of the music retail business. I present, without commentary, the nut grafs:
[F]or many, many people, record stores are the worst thing that ever happened to music. The people who work in them, give or take an educating angel, are terrifying. Even if you spend most of your waking hours hanging around and bonding with asshole clerks, your reward for this investment of time is receiving a treatment only slightly less hideous than that given to every other customer, all of them impossibly stupid and retrograde in the eyes of the employees. Working at a record store turns perfectly lovely people into misanthropic turds.
I have had several service sector jobs: waiter, counter-person, telemarketing phoning person, messenger, pizza-making sub-person, a couple of others (one involving the killing of weeds with a fluorescent yellow liquid). Though these jobs often made me, and the people I worked with, tired and angry, none of them made us want to ritually humiliate our customers for trying to buy what we sold.
OK, I guess I do have commentary. In terms of the stores around Seattle, I disagree — we’re lucky to have some great record shops in this town, interesting and well-stocked but also homey and welcoming. (Zion’s Gate and Wall of Sound come immediately to mind, although naturally there are more.)
But then again, I’m writing from the inside of this nasty little business, and some of my best friends are misanthropic turds. Maybe I just lack the perspective of a casual music buyer.
So I’ll ask you, Line Out reader who casually goes to record stores and buys music based on our thoughtful, loving recommendations. Is Sasha Frere-Jones full of shit?
Mixing It Up With Devlin & Darko
Photo from urb.com
Seattle’s most assiduous beat-centric trend-sniffers will be gathering at Havana’s Sing Sing shindig tonight to check out Spank Rock decknicians Devlin & Darko. These guys are sure to give you exceptional bang for your buck (and your booty). D&D combine the sounds of the Dirty South with the gritty Lower East Side, make London pirate radio congruently collide with sound systems in Brazil’s favelas, and will probably throw in Talking Heads’ “Sugar on My Tongue” just for the hell of it. And, of course, much more. Act like you know.
Here’s a Darko mix to whet your appetite.
Finally, here’s what Death of the Party honcho Clayton Vomero has to say, from the trenches:
You’ll hear everything that runs the gamut of the party rocking catalogue; from Bmore club music to dirty south strip-club jams to Paul Simon to CAN; all rocked on a four-turntable set up. But don’t get it confused, THIS IS A PARTY, not a turntable convention.
Block Party Afterparties
This year the Block Party doesn’t end when the headlining band loads out—it just moves to Neumo’s. Starting at 11 pm on Friday, Big Business (pictured in all their Glamour Shots glory, above) will perform, and DJs Franki Chan and Fourcolorzack will get the dance party going.
Saturday night is all about the official Murder City Devils’ afterparty, with a set from the Little Ones, and DJ stylings from Spencer Moody and DJ Merchbot 2000.
The best part? Both parties are free as long as you show your Block Party wristband ($5 without).
Mercury Music Prize 2006 nominees
The 2006 nominees for the most prestigious music award in the UK, the Mercury Music Prize, were announced this morning:
Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Ballad Of The Broken Seas
Editors, The Back Room
Guillemots, Through The Windowpane
Richard Hawley, Coles Corner
Hot Chip, The Warning
Muse, Black Holes And Revelations
Zoe Rahman, Melting Pot
Lou Rhodes, Beloved One
Scritti Politti, White Bread, Black Beer
Sway, This Is My Demo
Thom Yorke, The Eraser
The prize will be doled out at a ceremony on Sept. 5. Last year, British-born (but U.S. reared) Antony Hegarty aka Antony + The Johnsons won for I Am A Bird Now.
Right now, British odds-makers are saying Arctic Monkeys and Yorke are the favorites. I’m okay with possibility the former winning: They’re young, energetic, and bursting with ideas. I also wouldn’t cringe if Hot Chip or Richard Hawley got it. The Hot Chip boys have shown a strong streak of vibrant creativity thus far, while Hawley has matured into one of the UK’s best songwriters.
But my personal pick? I’d love to see the 2006 Mercury go to Scritti Politti. White Bread, Black Beer is probably the best album of Green Gartside’s eccentric, erratic career (check out my four-star CD review in the paper later this week), and if the Mercury Music Prize is really about giving kudos to the best music the British Isles has to offer, they should recognize that Green is, like Kate Bush, one of their most genuinely original artists—and one with proven longevity.
What say you, gentle (and not-so) readers: Who do you want to see win, and why? Anybody who you can’t believe got nominated? Dish, people, dish…
Weird Music News Headline of the Day
This is rivaled only by this press release for the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack, which just landed in my in-box:
Of course, what’s a catchy single without compelling visuals? Cue the “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)” music video, directed by Lex Halaby (Hoobastank, Atmosphere, Killswitch Engage). The clip, already a YouTube sensation with over 125,000 plays to its name, features Saporta, Ivarsson, Beckett and McCoy, plus cameos from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz (who owns Decaydance, the label co-releasing SOAP’s soundtrack) as well as the man himself, Samuel L. Jackson. “We filmed at a huge sound stage in Burbank that was basically an airplane hangar,” says Saporta. “There was an entire plane inside the studio, and everything else you would find in an airport. You’re not supposed to drink during a shoot, but we snuck in a bottle of vodka and got smashed in the cockpit.”.
“But by far the best part about the day was meeting Samuel L Jackson,” he continues. “He had limited time to spare, so when he was on his way, the relaxed atmosphere of the shoot suddenly got very tense. But after our first take with him, I headed straight for Sam and gave him a big ol’ hug! I mean the man was wearing a Snakes On A Plane T-shirt, for Christ’s sake! You don’t get cooler than that.”
The Digable Planet show is now no more. Set for two nights (July 20 and July 21) at Neumos, the show failed to generate enough ticket sales—only 179. This is sad news.
Visqueen: True or False quiz
A routine phone call to Rachel Flotard of Visqueen, to ask about the band’s Block Party plans, instantly turned into a quarter hour of gut-busting hilarity—plus some scathing observations about the state of rock music. Let’s just say that Point A was “Is there a finite amount of spiritual energy in the universe” (and, if so, does that mean each person has a little less “soul” as the population grows?), and Point B found Flotard yakking about guitar amps with a fervor that left me strangely aroused. In between, she also shared the following observations. Decide for yourself which are True or False - then check out their gig at the Block Party to learn the answers!
1. In a bid for commercial acceptance, several band members are undergoing plastic surgery. Drummer Ben Hooker is getting breast implants, while Rachel plans to replace her nipples with guitar knobs.
2. They are currently in the studio, recording new material for a five-song EP, due out in Europe come October. Their third full-length will drop domestically in early 2007, probably late January or early February.
3. Their Block Party set will consist entirely of Murder City Devils covers.
4. If Rachel is ever completely paralyzed, but retains brain function, she could “watch the Ashlee Simpson fuck-up on Saturday Night Live on repeat over and over for the rest of my life… God help me.”
5. The new songs the band is recording feature “some different tempos,” and are “a little swingy,” but are definitely still “sing-along style” rock numbers.
6. Visqueen’s next full-length will come out a Houston, TX jazz label with a back and current catalog that includes titles by Willie Nelson, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Pope John Paul II.
7. The band has yet another bass player. This one is allegedly named Bill Coury. Rachel didn’t provide any more details, which leads one to suspect that she and Ben have finally perfected that android they were building in the kitchen for so long.
New Weekly At The Baltic Room
In case you’re looking for something a little different to do on Monday nights, the Baltic Room has a new weekly featuring primarily reggae. I talked with Lawrence (aka DJ Collage) about the night, and he told me that one of the goals for the night is to ensure that it stays diverse and open to all types, since a lot of reggae-themed nights tend to end up a bit intimidating for newcomers. Since it’s opening night it’s free, so you can see what the organizers have up their sleeves at no cost. The details follow.
Monday Night Jam Jam Reggae returns to the Baltic Room!
Every Monday starting July 17th Opening Night FREE!!!
Hosted by Element (Zion’s Gate Sound)
w/DJ Collage aka “Da Bigg Mon”
$3 cover charge, ladies free before 11
The Baltic Room/1207 Pine St/Seattle, WA 9pm-2am
“so mek it a date and don’t be late”
Zeitgeisty Album Alert
Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis)
Girl Talk’s Night Ripper (a nice pun on Dr. John’s Night Tripper persona or a description of the artist’s habit of duping tracks off CDs after the sun goes down?) is destined to be one of those era-defining albums. Its mercurial, decade–jumbling mashups play to the ’00s trend of minuscule-attention-spanned party people who can’t nostalgicize and giggle over a song fast enough. Pitchfork granted Night Ripper an 8.4 rating today (I reviewed it here June 29), so now expect Girl Talk’s label, Illegal Art, to fend off the RIAA and dozens of lawyers representing the labels from whose catalogs he “pilfered.” Pitchfork’s Sean Fennessey sums up the situation below:
Due to its overwhelming number of unlicensed sources, Night Ripper is practically begging for court drama. In the event of litigation, Gillis’ label has armed themselves with a Fair Use argument, citing artists’ rights to liberally sample in the creation of new works. Whether that’ll hold any water in a courtroom remains to be seen, but for listeners it’s an afterthought.
You may want to buy/download Night Ripper ASAP, before the suits force it to be yanked off the market/deleted from the interweb.
“Chant” by The Benedictine Monks It Ain’t.
Religious services are typically not my bag, but I cannot deny some inherent compelling power in ancient ritual. Tonight I went to Saint Mark’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill to hear the Office of Compline, the last church service of the day. It was astonishingly lovely. Following its monastic tradition, Compline is sung entirely by The Compline Choir, a dozen or so men singing a cappella, filling the dark nave with just their voices, rich harmonies. There was a “Glory Be” that made my skin tingle and minor chords held for what felt like measures and measures.
If you are looking for good “local music” and a chance for some single-minded reflection, do yourself a favor and go. Compline is performed every Sunday in the nave at Saint Mark’s at 9:30 pm. There are typically several hundred people at the service, many of them in their teens or twenties, many lying on their backs on the floor, utterly silent. While Compline sounds unmistakably traditional, no active participation is required (really, you just sit there and listen), and the service feels informal. If you would prefer to lie on your back on your living room floor, Compline is also broadcast live every week on KING FM 98.1
Geopolitics and Digital Music
The BBC reports that the UK record industry is pressuring their government to pressure the Russians to take down the quasi-legal music download site AllofMP3.com. This issue is on the table at this week’s G8 summit and is also apparently a factor in Russia’s stalled bid to join the WTO.
AllofMP3, which has 14% of the UK download market, offers full-length album downloads for as little as $1 and insists that its operations are perfectly legal, since under Russian copyright law royalties are transferred to publishing organizations that responsibly spend them on vodka and prostitutes, and statutes are in place guaranteeing artists 12-15% of jack shit for the use of their masters.
I really don’t know where I stand on this issue — as a recording artist I’m not happy to see some shady-ass company making money off work they don’t own by slithering through some cross-border legal loophole. But on the other hand, international intellectual property disputes are hairy and shutting down this site could set a bad precedent that could affect other, more important issues, such as patent licensing for drugs badly needed in developing countries.
Do you use this site? Have you even heard of it? What’s your take? Personally, I think it’s sort of retarded to pay them for quasi-legal downloads when you might as well just grab them off the file-sharing networks, and that if you’re going to buy digital music you might as well buy it from companies that actually pay the artists (eventually, and nominally). That said, I’m not sure this quite justifies an international takedown.
A Final Musical Selection For Your Consideration
It’s about time for me to go home and rest up before Paulus and I hit the Slayer show, but if I wasn’t heading south of heaven, I’d be at El Corazon, catching the Rakes. If you’re unfamiliar with them, take a listen or watch a video over here.
Sleater-Kinney, Last Show, Take II
I see that readers of the Slog/Lineout have not yet been notified that there is a new last Sleater-Kinney show ever. How to get ‘em: 500 tickets available (2 per) at the Crystal Ballroom box office, PDX, tomorrow at noon. The rest go on sale to the world via Ticketmaster at 1 pm. Also at the box office only: 250 tickets to the Aug 11 show, available at noon.
I happen to be going down to Portland tomorrow morning (hi Dad! you know that family reunion? is it okay if you drop me off at the Crystal Ballroom instead?), but sadly I will probably not get in line early enough for anything. I shall still try.
(And this is to counteract the S-K hatin’ that’s been going on over here: I adore Sleater-Kinney. And live, they’re totally amazing. I would say you have to try to get tickets to this show, but honestly, I’d rather you buy them and give them to me.)
MTV’s Top 10 Metal Bands of All Time
Metal fans are as about prone to consensus as hiphop stars are to modesty, so this list will no doubt have the MTV boards aflame in mere moments. I think it’s actually a decent list and includes analytical commentary far more thoughtful than I would expect from MTV. The one fatal flaw, however, is that Motorhead should never be trumped by Pantera, like, ever.
Dispelling Showbox Closure Rumors
According to their website, the Showbox is not closing.
Last ConWorks Show Ever
Tonight Seattle film director James Yi is organizing the last show ever at Consolidated Works (at least at its current location). Billed as a night of jazz and hiphop, Blue Greens features Das Vibenbass (moody jazz-funk, emphasis on vibes and bass [duh]), Specs One (underground-rapper extraordinaire) with turntablist WD4D, and breakdancers Fraggle Rock and BYC. The show features Specs doing a set with DJ WD4D, das vibenbass doing a jazz set, then concludes with all the performers doing a live fusion set together.
In the cinema, Yi will be showing a documentary about Vibenbass, a new music video by Specs (created through his own Maniacal Production), and a film trailer for the funk/soul documentary Wheedle’s Groove (Evil Bunny Films).
Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave N, 381-3218, 9 pm, $10, 21+.
The Ubiquitous Imagery Of She Wants Revenge
I don’t much care for She Wants Revenge, but it’s no big deal. I just think they’re genre-hopping oppurtunists, and if they weren’t humping Ian Curtis’ corpse they’d just be biting the next big profitable thing.
…But I digress.
What’s recently been baffling me about this ho-hum act is how their album artwork is apparently well recognized enough to inspire the ad campaign for some lame movie about (you guessed it) girls getting revenge.
How the fuck did this happen? Are these guys really that popular?
Block Party Ticket Alert
Undoubtedly due to the exceptionally well-programmed mainstage on Saturday, July 29, tickets for that day of the Capitol Hill Block Party are going FAST. If you want to catch Silversun Pickups (pictured above), Minus the Bear, the Black Angels, Common Market, and the Murder City Devils (yes, all in a row—bring sunscreen, kids), you’d be wise to snap up your tickets now.
More Cowbell? Yes, Please
Everybody loves cowbells in music, right? It’s one of those irrefutable phenomena, like the eternal wackness of Fred Durst and the unimpeachable righteousness of Straight Outta Compton. One of the things that make cowbells so paradoxically amazing is that they’re humble implements from old agrarian times that are used to help inspire modern-day urbanites to dance. That, plus their hollowed-out, metallic timbre resonates on an almost cellular level in most humans. Cowbells = funk, and funk = teh sex.
Okay, now that we’ve established the cowbell’s all-encompassing awesomeness, what song do you think possesses the sweetest thwocking of that wonderful percussion toy? I’m inclined to say Royal Trux’s “¡Yo Se!” from 1999’s Veterans of Disorder (unless those chunky-ass clonks are coming from timbales, but they sure sound like cowbells). Or maybe it’s the mega-reverbed and delayed hits in the Chamber Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today.”
I think we can all agree that the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free,” and War’s “Low Rider” rank high, but let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? (Oops, it seems somebody already has played this game. No matter. We can do better.)
What tunes do you think have the most magical tonkity tonks? The world urgently needs to know…
The Last Word
[Burial] is what Blade Runner would sound like if it was filmed in London to a background of rain and pirate radio stations.
I promise after this post, no more on Burial, the man of my hour. If you click on this you will find Burial’s sensational “Wounder.” By sensational, I mean it stimulates the senses, the imagination—which philosophers of the 18th century called sensibility. Sensibility was the process of synthesizing impressions. This synthesis resulted in a work of art. And a work of art is great only when, as Nabokov said again and again, it is rich in detail. The greater the detail, the closer the artist is to God, to creation. Listen very closely to “Wounder” and you will hear a bullet’s spent case hitting a marble floor after a fall. That tinkling detail is then programmed into a percussive loop that, after being picked up the driving bass for three or four beats, is dropped to re-tinkle randomly. Absolutely marvelous; absolutely god.
Trapped In The Ideal Meme
The spread of “Trapped in the Closet” probably wasn’t hurt from the media attention placed on his charges of…water sports with a minor. Released in late 2005, the hip-hopera quickly gained momentum, its ridiculousness moving quickly into parody territory. Jimmy Kimmel was one of the first in the national media to successfully mimic the source, with “The Pizza.” While notable for being one of the first, it was still early in the meme’s lifecycle, so it didn’t take off on its own. More successful was MadTV’s “Trapped in the Cupboard,” released a few months later, which presented an alternate R. Kelly story, this one focused on him attempting to get some breakfast cereal. Faithfully mocking the mannerisms, inflections, and repetition of the original, it managed to largely avoid easy-jokism, allowing the material to stand on its own. The parodies peaked the now not-to-be-repeated-on-television Emmy-nominated “Trapped in the Closet” episode of South Park, which managed to tackle Scientology and Tom Cruise’s sexuality while still fitting in cameos of a singing, gun-toting R. Kelly.
While obviously lending itself to parody, TitC also managed to get more “scholarly” attention as well (in the absolutely loosest sense of the word). SomethingAwful developed a Cliffnotes-style summary of the various relationships in two parts. Some people reproduced those same early portions using the computer game the Sims. Pitchfork’s piece on the return of the rock opera places TitC alongside Tommy and The Wall. And lastly, the amazingly thorough Wikipedia entry was updated as recently as two weeks ago by people that harbor far more Trapped in The Closet information than myself.
So what does this all mean? Likely nothing. Some strange perfect storm came together in this case to grab the attention of individuals, compelling them to share TitC with others. For others, sharing wasn’t enough, and they had to create their own parodies (there are plenty on YouTube, and they’re largely horrible, not in the good way). And Seattle’s now in the game as well with Brown Derby’s bad but good addition. A phenomenon like “Trapped in the Closet” can’t be reliably reproduced. Even future chapters of the story will likely be met with less enthusiasm now that “the formula” is understood. But for one extraordinarily long moment, “Trapped in the Closet” held the attention of an increasingly fickle public. For that, you can’t help but to respect R. Kelly’s genius. Sure, he a genius that allegedly pees on underaged girls, but a genius all the same.
Beats in the Park
A few weeks back Dave mentioned the lack of a Decibel stage at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party. I made a comment there mentioning Sundazed, and how one of the things I’ve missed most about summers the last few years has been opportunities to hear DJs spin in a relaxed park setting, people just milling about and what have you. Sundazed filled that niche right after I moved to the area, but that hasn’t happened for years, leaving only unadvertised renegade setups and one-offs to fill that role. Well, turns out that this weekend one of these one-offs will take place at Golden Gardens, courtesy of sub-merge and Innerflight (who threw a one-off party last summer).
Sunday at Golden Gardens they’ll have DJs playing starting at 1pm, going until the park closes. The music will be provided by NW veteran Michael Manahan, Uniting Souls head Ramiro, Innerflight’s J-Sun, and sub-merge’s Manos. All four of them are quality beatsmiths, so the music should be decent. More importantly, the weather should be sunny, the audience smiling and dancing, the beach right there. What more could you want out of your Sunday afternoon?
Audible Up & Comings - New episode is up!
Click here to listen to some great local bands (and find out where they’re playing) with the Stranger’s new Band’s Page show.
This week features A Gun That Shoots Knives singing about soap, White Gold doing their best to make you dance, Aphiskkyu-Bot ripping out your eardrums, and so much more. Check it out!
Step 1 to Winning Ween Tickets
All right, Ween fans; here’s the deal. We’re going to make you jump through a few hoops in order to win a pair of tickets to see Ween at the Les Schwab Ampitheater in Bend, Oregon. This is their only Northwest appearance.
To start, here’s a brain-teaser: In the liner notes to Paintin’ the Town Brown, Dean Ween has a fantasy of “misting” the audience with something. What is the substance he has in mind?
Find a restaurant in our online restaurant listings with this word in the name for further instructions. Good luck.
Only in Dreams
I have the most fucked-up dreams ever. Seriously. And it isn’t rare for musicians to make their way into my head in the middle of the night to appear in these chaotic little stories. I think I work too much.
Anyways, last night’s epidosde, while tame in comparison, was still sorta odd as it starred an artist I haven’t listened to (or thought about, really), for a long time. I was at my parents house, we were fighting, and so I was up in my old room avoiding them. My cell phone kept ringing over and over again, but I would never answer it. I finally looked at it and the caller ID flashed “Neil Young calling.” Mr. Young left me over 900 messages because apparently he wanted me to fly to LA so I could review his show. He said (no joke) “We need someone to come down to write about this show. And it could be you, if you ever got it together and picked up your phone, little girrrrrrlie!” He sounded a lot like Ted Nugent, now that I think about it. So weird.
There was also that time Rivers Cuomo chased me through the streets because I wouldn’t give him his CD back…
Please tell me I’m not the only one being haunted by rockstars.
End-of-the-World Fever Dreams; or Something You Should Really Do Tonight
What kind of music would you want to hear if you and your baby were the last two people on a post-apocalyptic, godforsaken planet? If you were sitting by the sea, for example, watching that vast expanse of empty water crash upon the sands and then recede, knowing that this was all there would ever be. Who would you want singing from that beat-up tape player you just managed to save from whatever catastrophe it was that doomed the rest of us? Let me make a suggestion: Austin-based troubadour Red Hunter.
The first, self-titled album by Hunter’s Peter and the Wolf is absolutely mesmerizing, seducing listeners with dreams of freedom, adventure, collapse and rebirth. Through it all, Hunter’s voice – plaintive, dry as dust, desperate, yet strangely hopeful – casts his fragmented stories in a sepia tone. Songs like album opener “Under the Apple Tree,” with its magnificently understated pseudo-chorus, “How lucky to be so unusually free,” glint like shards of Depression glass, seeing their first light in decades.
The first part of the album evokes scenes from the new lives of survivors of some unnamed apocalypse – post-Armageddon folk songs. “The Fall” describes learning again the most basic survival skills: how to build a fire, how to look for water in the desert. In “Red Sun,” Hunter sings, “In my dreams I saw a thousand empty cities, papers blowing through the air,” and you get the feeling that there’s a frisson of energy linked to that destruction. The thrill is in what isn’t mentioned, the lacunae: the apocalyptic event, the future. Now anything is possible.
The last third of the album diverges slightly from the thematic path with “Dear Old Robyn,” a fun pirate number that details the picaresque life of a traveling band and ends with the promise that “tomorrow we return to the sea.” “Silent Movies” proves an almost-bubblegum ballad with Hunter crooning, “I truly believe we’ll fall in love again someday.”
The real stunner of the disc, however, is its last track, called “What Happened Up There.” At just over four minutes, it’s the longest song on the album and it begins with a voiceover about the Spanish Civil War before proceeding into heartbreaking obsessive terrain made beautiful by the interplay of voices – Hunter’s desolate and Dana Falconberry’s angelic. The first part of the song ends with an apt description of the whole record: “a waterfall suspended in the light.” Then there’s a break before the song slowly builds up again into a quasi-Guided by Voices fantasia of fizzy pop strangeness. The cumulative effect is bracing and leads you right back to the first track to start the whole magical journey again.
When it comes right down to it, Peter and the Wolf is Red Hunter, but he estimates that he’s had over 100 collaborators over the short lifespan of the band. On his newest offering, Experiments in Junk, he says, “It was all about playing with different groups of people, musicians and non-musicians, trying to get different bodies of sound. Because a certain sound has a specific momentum that even non-musicians can play along to, so you’ll hear a song and there’ll be 5 or 6 musicians on it and then 5 or 6 non-musicians.”
Hunter says that he just collects people in each city he plays and then they all get up and start playing music. I ask how he controls the songs and whether they ever get away from him in a live setting. “It’s important not to have it become a free-for-all,” he says. “There have been a few times when, well, let’s just say crazy drunks get up there and start doing their own thing. I try to keep it to the people whose music I’ve heard of people who are friends or friends of friends – some kind of frame of reference makes it work. And it does work. It’s amazing.”
Mainstream news providers have gushed over the latter part of this summer’s Peter and the Wolf tour, largely because it will be done via sailboat, amounting to what some call a statement about the rising costs of energy. You get the feeling, though, talking to Red that the sailboat tour (traveling along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which runs from Key West to Boston) is just another adventure. Here he is in an online interview with Paper: “The gas-price thing that ABC and MTV picked up on was really their idea, but that’s cool, too. I honestly don’t know the mileage a boat gets per gallon. And what if we’re going against the wind? I don’t care. I just want to have big adventures, to be out battling the elements, and to travel endlessly like a good old-fashioned troubadour.”
I talk to Red from Portland where he played the Towne Lounge on Wednesday and he admits that traveling itself invigorates him. “I pretty much live on the road,” he says and laughs. “I’ve tried to settle down and live in an apartment a few times, but I just can’t do it.”
It’s good news for us, because it means we’ll be seeing a lot of Red Hunter. And we won’t even have to wait for the end of the world.
Peter and the Wolf play two shows on Thursday, July 13.
Early show at Dearborn House – Potluck at 7, music at 8. $5 donation.
Late show at SS Marie Antoinette (1235 Westlake Avenue N) – Doors at 9, $5.
No Web, No Beep Beep
So I’ve been without an internet connection for the past week or so, and will continue to be for the next week as well. In addition to hampering my blogging for Lineout, it turns out that this massively impairs my ability to listen to and learn about (new) music at all. I can’t check my favorite blogs, download mp3s (legally, of course), watch music videos on You Tube, or do any music related research. To make matters worse, I haven’t had cable TV for years, so I am effectively Amish right now.
My last score before the internet dealer got busted was the yet to be released MSTRKRFT full-length, The Looks, and it’s been good company during these dark days. The album ranges from fun, vocoder-driven electro to some surprisingly searing techno numbers. Anyone who saw their recent DJ set at Chop Suey will recall that they leaned much more heavily on electronic music than on the rock remixes that they’re known for (reportedly, booker/promoter phenom Death Of The Party was bummed out that they played so much techno). That show was a good preview for this record, which only barely flirts with indie-dance-rock on the cowbell-riding single “Easy Love” and for the most part sticks to classic, heavy electro/techno. If that doesn’t bum you out, keep an eye out for their stuff while you “surf” the information-cyberway without me.
Foo Fighters @ The Paramount 7/11
The curtain opened and the song was Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick.’
Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins rolled out on separate risers both playing drums. YEEESSS! It’s what you’ve always wanted and waited to see. I couldn’t believe it. I chugged my smuggled Wild Turkey, and screamed.
Bass player, Nate Mendel, was on Grohl’s riser and guitarist, Chris Shiflett, was on Hawkin’s, doing his best Jimmy Page. There was smoke. They were locked, the foursome, hammering the thunder of John Bonham’s drum solo ode with blacksmith power and precision. A laser show fired up vectors of a floating kaleidoscopic drum set with Bonham’s apparition pounding away. The couple next to me french kissed with eyes rolled back in their heads.
And there was Grohl, amid the steam, conducting, carrying the torch as rock’s current drum-Zeus, playing tandem with his protégé Hawkins and the ghost of the great Bonzo himself, hovering in the form of lime green laser beams.
The Zeppelin cover faded into an instrumental version of Nirvana’s ‘Serve the Servants.’
Then, the colossal Chuck D came on stage with his DJ, Terminator X, and the rest of Public Enemy, and they performed James Brown’s ‘Black Caesar’ in its entirety.
Flav was off the hook. And Terminator X scratch ripped massive chunks of vinyl off a breakdown with Grohl and Hawkins and Mendel. It was the fattest thing I have ever seen in my entire life.
Then I woke up.
It was actually an acoustic show, and I didn’t even go. I was going to go and do a review, but there was a snag with the tickets.
Trent - out.
Purple Hazel: “Maggot Brain” ca. 1983
Experience the heart-rending, expansively psychedelic blues of Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel. Back in the early ’70s, band leader George Clinton famously instructed Hazel to “play like your momma just died.” Ergo, “Maggot Brain.” The guitarist’s performance here is almost as impressive as Clinton’s attire and wig.
Where Were You?
Reading today’s Slog on funny tombstones, I was reminded of an old Internet classic:
As the story goes, teenage Harv died unexpectedly in a car crash, and his parents had this made to honor his hard rockin’ ways for the ages.
This raises so many questions.
Were his parents close enough to Harv that they could name his favorite bands from memory? Or did they dig through the recently deceased’s bandanas and roach clips to find his ticket stubs? What if they were wrong? What edits would Harv want to make from beyond the grave? (Was he really way into Elton John and Judas Priest? Was his gay-dar that well-tuned?)
How would you feel about a permanent, posthumous list of your favorite bands, assembled when you were a musically vulnerable teen and associated with your name forever?
When I was 15 I was well on my way to the sophisticated tastes I enjoy today, but I also listened to some pretty crap music. Had I driven a stolen car off a cliff in 1990, my rockin’ tombstone, as compiled from the unsorted pile of tapes in my bedroom, could have read something like:
MINISTRY KMFDM SKINNY PUPPY THE ORB CASSANDRA COMPLEX EMF BRIAN ENO FRONT 242 LORDS OF ACID POP WILL EAT ITSELF PRIMUS CONSOLIDATED ORBITAL CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE REVOLTING COCKS XYMOX MINISTRY
Not to say that some of those bands haven’t stood the test of the time (I won’t say which), but at 31 I would want to apply some revisionist history to my tastes. (I won’t say which.)
Edit: Watchful commenter Snark points out that it would be rather difficult for me to have an Orbital tape back in ‘90, at least in suburban New Haven, since Chime was available only as a limited UK cassette single at the time. Correct. To defend my presicent taste and my slightly hazy memory, I will clarify that I did have some Orbital on tape, at least in the form of Chime’s appearances on the techno mixtapes I bought on day trips to New York, as well as on some John Peel I’d taped off the BBC World Service. This selection might not have jumped out at my parents, especially in their moment of grief, but it was there and hopefully someone will put it on my tombstone, dammit.
Deeper Into Jan Jelinek
Over at Stylus, there’s an excellent interview with Germany’s Jan Jelinek, one of my favorite producers of the ’00s. Besides providing the most striking performance of Mutek 2006, Jelinek released my favorite album of 2005, Kosmischer Pitch. He also has a gorgeously hypnotic reconfiguration of Kammerflimmer Kollektief’s “Unstet-Schleifen” on the recently issued Remixed (Staubgold).
In the Stylus interview, Jelinek explains the appeal of an aspect of his music that mirrors my own feelings:
Repetitive, loop-oriented music doesn’t need virtuosity, it’s actually anti-virtuosity. Loop-oriented music is against all parameters which describe music in a traditional way. When you are producing it, it is like meditating. While you are listening to the same loop for hours, you are starting to hallucinate, and you’re listening to the overtones, and starting to imagine elements that are not actually in the track. That’s what I like about loop music.
This Week in Music News
Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls (and Women): Kicking off its second season this weekend. The above photo is of Coco Chanel and the Zeppelinettes. That name may be a tad cutsie, but they look pretty badass, I’d say. For more band photos, go here.
Creem magazine: Back from the dead, again.
iPods: Soon to be talking to you.
Beatles’ “Lost Tapes”: Apparently included 200 cover songs.
Suge Night: Officially no longer in control of Death Row Records.
“Appleseed Motherfuckin’ Cast, Bitches!”
Their music is gorgeous—emotive, dense, dynamic. Unfortunately, Appleseed Cast’s show at the Crocodile last night, while technically tight, lacked all of the passion the Lawrence, Kansas band has been known to pour out on stage. Maybe it was because they’ve been on tour for most of the year? Either way, this was the first time I had seem ‘em live and I wanted their songs to punch me in the face, I wanted to be knocked out. Ultimately I was impressed, but I wasn’t slayed.
Which isn’t to say it was bad. Singer Christopher Crisci sure can sing. He looks like a long lost member of Hot Water Music with his dark and full beard, black t-shirt and baseball cap, but his voice was clean and strong, unlike his worn Gainesville brothers. And while a lot of the songs carried the same vibe (melodic and fluid, but still sorta slow and sad) their newer material felt a little brighter. I regret not getting a copy of their latest, Peregrine, while I was there. There was one song, from the new record I’m told, that was pretty awesome.
So while I didn’t love love LOVE the show, I sure did like it. The crowd seemed okay with it too. As the band came back out to do a one-song encore, one dude hollered “Appleseed motherfuckin’ Cast, bitches!” He was stoked, totally stoked. The band barely broke a smile, though, and started into the last song. They must be shy.
A surprising highlight of the night (which also featured sets by Criteria and the local band the Lonely Forest) was the last 30 seconds I heard of the opening band called Russian Circles. If I had known they were gonna be so fucking rad, I would’ve gotten there on time! That 30 seconds was good enough to make me throw down ten bucks for a CD (which is awesome epic and dark instrumental stuff—six songs clock in at over 44 minutes). And their drummer? Totally killer!
But don’t get me started on that Criteria business. Everyone in the room loved them. Truly, I took a poll. But I just yawned a lot and neglected to see what the fuss was about. Were you there? Maybe you can explain what I failed to see.
Barrett memorial at the Sunset Tavern tonight
The following note from our friends at the Sunset Tavern just landed in my in box:
Tonight Tuesday July 11th 7pm @ The Sunset: In memorial of the life and music of Syd Barrett, we will be showing documentary footage of Syd Barrett on the Sunset big screen followed by Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (which although it does not include Barrett, is directly inspired by the artist and shows his band, Pink Floyd, at the height of their powers). In addition, we will be spinning Barrett and early Floyd records all night. The evening will be hosted by Cops guitarist and sound-man extraordinaire, John Randolph.
Dane A Dane
I’ ain’t talking about the Cinderfella, y’all- I refer to Dansk Stil, the documentary by local filmaker William Lemke about Denmark’s hiphop scene. The Danish interpretation of hiphop- alienated from the particular societal conditions that spawned it in the Bronx- instead takes a different tack, resulting in ‘Dansk Stil’, or ‘Danish Style’.
Stil is making it’s official Seattle premiere tonight @ Central Cinema at 8pm. Battle-tested DK B-boy squad RUMBLEPACK will be performing, as well as local rapsters Cancer Rising.
(OK-Lemke is my friend, I am in Cancer Rising- anybody who correctly indentifies all the conflicts of interest in this post gets a free drink at the premiere. Holler.)
Syd Barrett, 1946-2006
The Crazy Diamond shines no more. Syd Barrett died July 7 from complications relating to diabetes, but for all practical purposes, he hasn’t really been alive since he vanished from the music scene over 30 years ago. The founder of the enormously influential British psych-rock band Pink Floyd, Barrett burnt out in classic acid-head style. But before he fried his brain, Barrett left a small but potently inventive body of work that continues to fire imaginations worldwide.
Barrett was a pivotal figure in unmooring rock and roll from its R&B roots and catalyzing the music into fresh, dynamic permutations of exploratory instrumentation (haters will call this “wankery” or worse, but they deserve the earthbound mediocrity that is their typical listening diet). While Pink Floyd certainly excelled at the extended freakout, they also could pen concise, eccentrically infectious pop tunes (“Arnold Layne,” “Lucifer Sam,” “See Emily Play,” and “Bike,” to name but a few). Either the drugs were better then or Barrett was a mad genius. Actually, both assertions are true.
The mastermind behind Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Barrett is largely responsible for launching psychedelic rock into deep space with tracks like “Astronomy Domine” and “Interstellar Overdrive.” The rest of that all-time classic album perfectly captured the by turns absurd, blissful, whimsical, and disturbing aspects of the LSD-enhanced sensorium.
Barrett contributed only minimally to Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), and then shakily embarked on a solo career in 1970 with help from his Floyd replacement, guitarist David Gilmour. Both The Madcap Laughs and Barrett possess an awkward winsomeness and can be construed as forerunners to the sort of bedroom/lo-fi aesthetic that has flourished in the rock underground from the late ’80s to the present. On these LPs, Barrett mostly retreats into more introverted singer-songwriter territory, albeit one tinted with the eerie glow of a manchild tumbling down the rabbit hole of insanity while eking out memorable melodies on an acoustic guitar. Both albums are the aural equivalent of Taj Mahals constructed out of glued-together toothpicks.
In 1972, Barrett formed a band called Stars with ex-Pink Fairies drummer Twink and bassist Jack Monck, but that unit didn’t last long and, aside from an aborted 1974 recording session with Peter Jenner at Abbey Road Studios, Barrett gave up on music and retreated to his mother’s basement.
Barrett’s ramshackle, surreal, crazy-psychonaut persona and music have inspired everyone from Radiohead to Robyn Hitchcock to the TV Personalities to Julian Cope to bands that have named themselves after Syd songs (Gigolo Aunts, Baby Lemonade, and Effervescing Elephant, for all I know).
While his life was a tragedy and perhaps a cautionary tale, Barrett blazed incredibly brightly while he was an active musician, and his legacy will last as long as people desire to expand their consciousness through sound.
Pink Floyd (Syd, center)
R.I.P. Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett, co-founder of Pink Floyd, the inspiration for “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” and an erratic but inspired solo artist, died at 60 on Friday, July 7 of complications from diabetes, Billboard reports this morning.
Contains No Redeeming Value Whatsoever
So you’ll want to watch this video at least three times… NSFW, unless you toil in an auto repair shop.
Just As I Suspected…
…Sleater-Kinney tickets are already going for as much as $100 on craigslist.
Depressing Entertainment News Item of the Day
Gil Scott-Heron is going to jail—and he’s apparently HIV positive as well.
Revamped Scissor Sisters web site
NYC quintet Scissor Sisters (featuring former Seattle denizen Jason “Jake Shears” Sellards) have just relaunched their official web site, in anticipation of the release of their sophomore album this fall. My favorite feature is the SSU (Scissor Sisters University) page, where the band members promise to post regularly about movies, music, literature, etc. that they’re excited about or inspired by. This month, Ana Matronic waxes lovingly about John Waters, as well as giving shout outs to Joan As Police Woman, Just A Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito, and The Cruise. They aren’t quite done updating the Scissorhood page, which promises “to move far beyond a conventional message board and add new connectivity between fellow members and lots of fun surprises” soon, although you can sign up for their Video Diary podast and admire a very humpy photo of BabyDaddy in the meantime.
Win Ween Tix
Ween’s only Northwest show this year happens Tuesday, July 25 in Bend, Oregon. This week The Stranger will be giving away tickets to catch the diverse Dada rockers in the flesh. Keep checking Line Out for details.
A nice page of artifacts rescued from Motown Records: session logs, expense reports (Diana Ross and the Supremes), and other items.
Digital Sales Up, Music Still Crappy
Soundscan data is out for the first half of 2006. Good news for consumers feeling crushed under the weight of all that terrible music — more of it is coming in digital form, which weighs nothing and hurts less.
Album sales are down 4.2% from last year, while digital downloads shot up 77%. R&B continues to take the biggest slice of all sales, but declined 22% from last year. Country music, on the other hand, is up 17%. (Struggling bands take note!)
Independent labels have a collective 12.79% market share, although that number is probably artificially small since a lot of small indie retailers don’t report to Soundscan.
The music industry pooped out an astonishing 23,000 albums between January and July — more than 100 new albums every day. No single human being could listen to all of it, although I can’t imagine who would really want to.
Complete Bumbershoot Line-up Announced
Ah, at last, a few good reasons to go to Bumbershoot this year. One Reel has announced that they’ve added this delightful collection of freakishly talented musicians:
As well as these lovely lads from Austin:
And last, but hardly least, the queen herself:
The full schedule can be viewed here.
XLR8R Hails Cancer Rising
Seattle hiphop trio Cancer Rising (featuring The Stranger’s own Larry Mizell Jr., AKA MC Gatsby) received an adulatory review in the new XLR8R (issue 98 with the Get Physical roster on the cover). This is a pretty big deal, as XLR8R is one of the most trustworthy beat-centric publications in America, if not the world (I’d say that even if I didn’t contribute to it), and it’s indicative of Cancer Rising’s ascendant trajectory. Congrats, fellas.
Yo, Motherplucker—New Squarepusher Music Ahead
Holy mother of god, it’s the new spazztastic Squarepusher single! On “The Modern Bass Guitar,” Tom Jenkinson’s stuck to his tried-and-true approach: insanely complex beat programming bolstered by Jaco Pastorius on crystal meth bass playing. But when the formula is this exhilarating, I’m not going to complain. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to plunge headfirst into the Squarepusher back catalog (here is my 2004 take on the man’s career). Squarepusher’s forthcoming album, Hello Everything, drops Oct. 16.
Meet the Thingamapoop. I’m not a gear-head in the least (it tends to all look the same to me, although I appreciate the results), but this synth caught my eye since it’s got eyes of its own. It’s a kinder, gentler synth, with a face to give you knob-twiddlers even more reason to love your equipment. And what pushes it over the Cute Overload edge? It also gives gear just what it was sorely lacking: nipple tweaking. First artist I see with one becomes my instant favorite.
Kane Hodder Goes to Japan
It’s my job to write about bands. Not a bad gig, really. But what I really should’ve done was started a band of my own, because look what you get to do when you’re in a rock and roll band…
If you’re in Kane Hodder, you get to go to Japan! They left yesterday afternoon, and already they’re having an awesome time. They were nice enough to send a couple photos to share:
And if that’s not enough to make me green with envy, I also just got word that the Speaker Speaker boys have finally finished recording their debut full-length with J. Robbins (they’ve been in recording in his Baltimore studio since June 19th). Now they’re currently enjoying a day off on the Jersey shore where they get to swim in the Atlantic Ocean and eat ice cream.
And I’m here in Seattle. Sitting at a desk. Writing about their adventures.
Sigh… I never should’ve quit those piano lessons.
Platinum Weird Sham
I must admit, they tricked me too with this VH1 special that aired over the weekend. Some people are rather perturbed, but I say props to them for pulling it off. Wondering what the hell I’m talking about? Read all about it here in the L.A. Times (site registration required).
Audible Up & Comings
It’s not the snappiest of names, but the Stranger’s new feature called Audible Up & Comings is a great way to check out some local bands playing in town this week. On the weekly show I, Megan Seling, go through the calendar and pick a few of my favorite bands who are also featured on the Stranger’s Band Page, and play them for you. Then, should you hear something you like (which hopefully you will, I try to get a pretty good mix of genres), I give you all the show info you need. All you have to do is click and listen, no pesky reading required!
We’ve only done two shows so far, so I still sorta sound like an awkward dork, and I apologize for that. But it can only get better from here! (To some degree, since I sorta am a dork.)
This week’s show features Sindios, Joy Wants Eternity, Velella Velella, the Lonely Forest, and more. You can listen to it here.
And if you’re in a band, be sure to get some of your own songs posted at www.thestranger.com/bands, so you could maybe be featured on an U&C show!
Thee Emergency! Free! Tonight!
(Photo by Rustee Pace)
Thee Emergency are playing a free in-store tonight at Easy Street Records on Queen Anne. It starts at 6 pm. Go.
While you’re there, it’d be a perfect opportunity to pick up their new record, Can You Dig It?. And if you don’t know who Thee Emergency are, then A) you’re totally out of it, and B) you better click here to hear the song “Get It Up” and keep your cred.
A real “diva” heads to the dance floor
This could be the weirdest dance music collaboration since Liza Minnelli tapped Pet Shop Boys to produce Results back in 1989…
I was yakking on the phone this morning with dance music producer and remixer (New Order, Depeche Mode, Nelly Furtado) Richard Morel, about Blowoff, his clubnight and musical project with Bob Mould. They have an album in stores August 15, and are hosting a Blowoff night at Homo A Go Go in Olympia on Saturday, August 5. I asked Rich what else he had on deck for the coming months, and he said his next release is a full-length by his Morel’s Pink Noise project.
The lead single? A collaboration with notorious Kurt Weill interpreter and Teutonic cabaret diva Ute Lemper.
The cut is called “Stop Me” and should start leaking into clubs later this summer. What a (hopefully) refreshing change from the usual wailing and whoa-oh-oh-ing that passes for singing on dance tracks these days. From the lead singer of Husker Du to the statuesque blonde who played Velma Kelly in London. That’s quite a change of collaborators. Chicago house, indeed.
Live Music Recommendations For Friday
Mr. Segal suggests:
TOM BROSSEAU, NORFOLK & WESTERN, SHELLEY SHORT (Tractor) Tom Brosseau’s spare Empty Houses Are Lonely is possibly the most conventional album released by England’s boldly eclectic FatCat label. Nevertheless, the company’s ear for talent wins out again, as Brosseau’s a luminous—albeit straightforward—folk-tinged songwriter with a supple, honeyed voice that splits the difference between Jeff Buckley and Devendra Banhart. In other words, expect Brosseau to ascend to a gilded cult status any day now. Shelley Short’s sophomore album on Hush Records, Captain Wild Horse (Rides the Heart of Tomorrow), finds her rich, tremulous voice sweetening up a set of mellifluously morose country/chamber-pop songs. Her youthful-sounding, Victoria Williams–like pipes belie a mature, literary songwriting style that goes down easy. DAVE SEGAL
If you can’t get in or if Brosseau’s not your thing, I highly recommend venturing down the street to the Sunset, where one of the city’s best punk bands will be playing an unannounced show (sorry, I really can’t say, or heads would roll). Additionally, it must be noted that another one of the city’s best (and longest-running) punk bands, the Spits, are playing their last show “for a long while,” according to Sean Wood, who I ran into at last night’s Funhouse show. Why didn’t they tell us this earlier so we could preview it appropriately? Because they are the Spits, and really, we’d expect nothing less. Naturally, they’re playing the Funhouse, along with Head, the Bug Nasties, and the Bananas.
Life’s a Riot with Sing Sing
I met last night with Death of the Party majordomo Clayton Vomero to discuss the launching of his new Tuesday night party at Havana called Sing Sing (see also Hannah Levin’s column). Dude’s enthusiasm is infectious and he seems unbelievably stoked to get his new project aloft after his previous residency at Viceroy, Lowlife, folded. Sing Sing will focus on booty-centric music (baile funk, crunk, electro-house, whatever Fader magazine is championing, etc.) in an effort to make you forget about the dangerous fools running the country, if only for a few hours.
July 11 marks Sing Sing’s official throat clearing, but July 18 will likely make a louder sound with the appearance of Spank Rock/B.B.C. Sound DJs Devlin & Darko. Vomero’s booked Diplo, Bondo Do Role, and CSS for Aug. 5 (at Neumo’s), K-Fed beatmaker Disco D for Aug. 10, and Caps & Jones will be returning Sept. 29. December will see Spank Rock hitting Seattle for the second time this year; one hopes the Paramount is ready for their bass frequencies.
Most weeks will be held down by locals Fourcolorzack and Vomero (AKA Pretty Titty), but Vancouver jocks My Gay Husband and Paul Devro are slated to make monthly jaunts south to put Havana’s sound system through its paces. With Vomero and Zack transitioning to the Serato LIVE program, the former says they’ve increased their ability to play exclusive tracks and remixes.
Vomero’s ambitious goal (partially) with Sing Sing is to bring some New York/Baltimore/London/Brazilian favela flavor to Seattle’s club scene. He’s all about “doing stuff that wouldn’t ordinarily happen” in this city. In this regard, Vomero is a philanthropist of the dance floor. Havana good time is quite a plausible scenario.
DMC Regional Championship Tonight
As with breakers, I tend to have a love/hate relationship with a lot of turntablists. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the artform in either case, but I typically go out to hear some great music, and in a lot of cases, breakers just ruin a dancefloor for laypeople who rather than dancing have to worry about taking a foot to the head, while many turntablists ruin the flow of music that keeps a dancefloor going. For both groups, I have to mentally prepare myself for an evening relegated to the role of spectator, at which point I’m fine. That said, I’m looking forward to being a spectator tonight at Chop Suey. Should be well worth watching.
Tonight Chop Suey plays host to the 2006 DMC American Battleground, the Northwest Regional Turntable Competition. Seeing as how it was (arguably) the DJ battle that set the mold for the Laptop Battle, the Big Tune Beat Battle, Iron Composer, and a slew of related things I’m sure I’m forgetting, I feel almost obligated to attend the original competition. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the region has to offer there. There’s hardly a shortage of DJs in the area, so now to see how they stack up against the greats. Is the next Q-bert in our midst? Only one way to find out. See you out tonight.
Re: Block Party Favorites
While I’ve never given the Murder City Devils a good listen, I have given quite a good listen to two of the short-lived, low-output bands that some members of Murder City Devils were in way back when: Area 51 and Death Wish Kids. I’d give almost anything to see Area 51 do a live rendition of their “Over the Edge” song, but instead I’ll buy their long-out-of-print discography 10-inch, which—I have just learned at this very moment—has been re-pressed by Sound Virus records! Holy shit! This hard-to-find record has been at the top of my most-wanted list for many years, and it has always eluded me. This will be the best $9 I’ve ever spent.
Jeff Scott Soto is the New Steve Augeri
Journey, the Journey tribute band that shares a name and several members with the 20th century pop powerhouse, experienced a setback in their summer tour this week when Steve Augeri, eerie doppelgänger for original singer Steve Perry, came down with a throat infection and had to step away from the mic.
His temporary replacement is Jeff Scott Soto. Heard of him? Oh.
The lead item on his resume is that he sang on Yngwie Malmsteen’s first two albums. But what’s weird, creepy and recursive about this is that he was also the ghost-singer for Steel Dragon, the fictional band in the movie “Rock Star,” which is about a singer in a tribute band who gets drafted to sing for the band he idolizes. (The movie is itself based on the story of Tim “Ripper” Owens, who got promoted from being in a Judas Priest tribute band to actually being in Judas Priest.)
This whole tail-chasing life-imitates-art-imitates-life freak show rolls into the White River Ampitheatre on August 31.
Essential Viewing For Joe Strummer Fans
Because the definitive 2000 Clash documentary, Westway to the World, set the bar so damn high, it’s hard for me to encounter any new Joe Strummer-related chronicle without skepticism (such as the inexcusable rash of sub-par biographies that have flooded the market since his death). However, I had high hopes for Let’s Rock Again, an extremely personal portrait of Strummer filmed, edited, and produced by Strummer’s longtime friend, Dick Rude. I was not disappointed.
The free screening at EMP last night was packed (communications manager Christian Quilici said they were still turning away folks for almost half an hour after the film started). Filmed throughout the last 18 months of Strummer’s life, Let’s Rock Again examines both Strummer’s most endearing personal qualities (humility, humor, compassion) and his greatest strengths as a performing musician (the enduring relevance of his voice, his ego-free willingness to share the stage with younger musicians whose chops rival his own). I don’t want to give away too much, as every Clash or Strummer fan should go out and buy a copy of DVD for themselves (Rude financed the film on his own), however, there are a couple of moments that I can’t help but share:
1) The sound recordings are uniformly excellent throughout, but the moments Rude captures while Strummer and the Mescaleros are ripping their way through a cover of the Stooges “1969” nearly took my breath away.
2) There’s an unexpectedly sweet scene where Strummer is being interviewed and notices a terribly wilted, close-to-death plant in the room. Although a number of people in the room are trying to get his attention, he politely excuses himself to address the plant, apologizing for the lack of water, promising to get it “a drink soon.” A few moments later, after he’s dealt with his other responsibilities, he discreetly dumps his own pint glass of water on the plant. During the post-screening Q&A, an audience member thanked Rude for including that shot—a compliment that clearly pleased him. “That’s the thing—[that was] ‘typical Joe’ to be more worried about a plant than what’s going on with him.”
To learn more about the film, visit Rude’s site here.
My final words on the genius that is Burial.
In response to my high praise of Burial’s new CD in a recent post, we received this letter.
Hi, Thanks for the recommendation. I downloaded it (legally) from Bleep. It’s an excellent album that covers a large range of styles. Yet, I wonder about the assessment that it is an album of the decade. You do as well and I appreciate that. The fact is that there are several discs that contain elements of this effort. For instance, Muslimgauze’s efforts from the mid to late 90s, including Hezzbollah, which had dub, ambient, and found elements in it’s music. One might argue, and I would be willing to agree, that Muslimgauze did not contain the breadth of work or the coherency of Burial, but Muslimgauze was pointed in a different direction and actually surpassed Burial in many ways. There are other examples. My point: Burial is a great record for the masses, but it would not have been achieved without the efforts of many more experimental artists who came before.
Two things. One: the music of Burial brings to my mind the early music of DJ Vadim, rather than Muslimgauze. Both Vadim and Burial make haunted music. In Vadim, we constantly hear doors that are ghostly opened, and dead voices that rise from an inner-city cemetery. Similar effects haunt Burial’s beats. Two: readers, please, do as the writer of this letter has done and download Burial at Bleep.
Lastly, this is what I have written elsewhere about Burial’s impressive hauntology:
I finally own Burial’s debut CD Burial. It is as beautiful as the haunted mix Kode 9 made of it for Radio 1’s Breezeblock show. The only disappointment is that “Gaslight” did not make the final edit. “Gaslight” is the sonic peak of the Breezeblock mix. It follows the radiating, pirate radio signals of “South London Boroughs,” and has a heavy/sharp drum sequence that’s set against a soaring horn arrangement haunted by the damned. The one thing I waited for all last week was to hear the whole of “Gaslight.” But, to be fair, Burial is still stunning even without “Gaslight.” What Burial does with music—which is dense, urban, between the living and the dead, the dog and the wolf, concrete and dreams, the moans of lovers and the moans of phantoms—is what I want to do with words…
On Burial’s MySpace site, Hera posts:”[T]hat breezeblock mix was pure sex.” True, but it’s also pure death, or “dry loss,” as the French would say. It is, at once, everything and nothing.
I also wrote this about the track on Burial that has hardest hit my imagination, “Gutted”:
“Gutted,” which is on the mythic 20 minute-long mix by Kode 9, opens with a war-worn assassin expressing the importance of maintaining “the ancient ways, the old school ways.” After him, we hear such fantastic things: voices rising and falling from a ghost town in the distance; a rasta suffering from a heartbreak that’s more devastating than anything the loneliest of rastas, Gregory Issacs (the “Lonely Lover” of reggae), has ever suffered. (Where has she gone? Why has she gone? How happy he once was—“My love, my love, my love.”) There are other voices in other rooms. Suddenly a bass like the ghost of a ball, bounces down a series of steps and vanishes (except we hear this image in reverse motion). A dubbed horn flows in and out of consciousness.
The beat of “Gutted” is what I want to examine. As is evident in all of Burial’s tunes, the beat is what matters most. “[D]rums: they’re still the future,” he said in an interview on the blog Blackdown (blackdownsoundboy.blogspot.com). “…[P]eople still don’t know how to do…drums. It’s an unknown thing. Its like the last fucking secret left in music: how you do…drums[?]”
The drumming in “Gutted” has four parts: At the bottom, over the wide space of eight measures, is a bass drum that beats out various patterns (the primary one being a single beat that’s answered, after a short duration filled with hisses, crackles, and sparks, by two rapid beats). At the very top is a house high-hat that comes in and out of the mix. And in the middle, two snaps answer the crisp sample of a broken bicycle bell. It’s an oldtime bicycle bell; one that’s made of metal and has a little lever that’s designed for the thumb. But the bell doesn’t ring when its lever is pushed—instead it makes, one, an abrupt metal sound and, two, a louder, throaty, rattling sound.
This broken bicycle bell is the heartbeat of “Gutted.” But it is a dead heart. The bicycle bell no longer sends out a signal, a ring to warn the living. A dead thing keeps the beat of “Gutted” going. And the love-sorrows of the rasta, the city of the dead, and the words of the world-weary assassin—all are caught in this prison of time drummed up by a broken bicycle bell.
Sleater-Kinney PDX Tickets on Sale This Saturday
This just in from the Sleater-Kinney camp:
Tickets go on sale July 8th at 10am PST. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster online/phone sales/ outlets. Phone and online sales are limited to two per customer. The outlet sales (in person) are limited to four per customer. The Crystal Ballroom box office will also be open at 10 AM on July 8th.
House of Blues Bought Out
There’s been talk about HOB being up for sale for quite some time, but it sounds like this deal still took many employees by surprise.
Block Party Favorites
While I understand people being seriously worked up about the Murder City Devils reunion show at the Block Party this year, I was never a huge fan back in the day (though I’ve come to appreciate them a bit more now). Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing two of the bands that formed in the aftermath of the MCD’s demise, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Big Business. What are Line Out readers (and writers) excited about this year?
What You Should Do Tonight…
…provided a quality punk rock show is what you’re craving:
A FRAMES, BIRTHDAY SUITS, THE PLEASURE BOATERS (Funhouse) It’s always a rare joy when you throw on a CD by a band you’ve never heard of and instantly fall in love. Minneapolis duo Birthday Suits accomplished this for me within the first 60 seconds of their 2005 debut, Cherry Blue (Nice & Neat Records). Guitarist Hideo Takahashi and drummer Yuichiro Matthew Kazama (formerly of the much-lauded-but-overlooked garage punks Sweet J.A.P.) create a lean, powerful noise-rock clatter that conjures many of the greats (Melt Banana, No Means No, Dead Kennedys), and exude the sort of punk magnetism that could change a young kid’s life. I can’t recommend this show enough. HANNAH LEVIN
New Blood Brothers Album Details
Seattle’s favorite larynx-shredding, post-punk spazzes the Blood Brothers have a new album coming out Oct. 10 on V2. Cited by Alternative Press as one of the most anticipated albums of 2006, Young Machetes was produced by Guy Picciotto and John Goodmanson. A tour will commence this fall.
Read the press release after the jump.
THE BLOOD BROTHERS
The Blood Brothers have confirmed the title and U.S. release date of their fifth album: Young Machetes will be released October 10, 2006 on V2.
Already named one of Alternative Press’ Most Anticipated Albums of 2006, Young Machetes was recorded at Robert Lang Studios in the band’s native Seattle with the help of producers Guy Picciotto (late of Fugazi) and John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip, Blonde Redhead), who produced the band’s acclaimed 2004 release Crimes.
The Blood Brothers’ previous effort Crimes-described by Vice as “sex at the speed of sound” and moving URB to declare “Any hope for America’s young starts here”-pushed the envelope of the Blood Brothers’ sound further than ever while resulting in the band’s most focused work to date. With the surprisingly sing-along anthemic chorus of single “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck” and the blistering groove of “Teen Heat,” the album earned rave reviews from magazines ranging from STUFF (who gave the album 4-stars) to BLACKBOOK to SPIN to RESONANCE.
The complete but UNSEQUENCED track listing for Young Machetes is: “Set Fire To The Face On Fire,” “We Ride Skeletal Lightning,” “Lazer Life,” “Camouflage Camouflage,” “You’re The Dream, Unicorn!” “Vital Beach,” “Rat Rider,” “Spit Shine Your Black Clouds,” “1,2,3,4 Guitars,” “Lift The Veil, Kiss The Tank,” “Nausea Shreds Your Head,” “Johnny Ripper/Stevie Ray Hendrixson,” “Huge Gold AK-47,” “Street Wars, Exotic Foxholes,” “The Giant Swan.”
Look for a Fall tour announcement in the coming weeks.
No Decibel Stage at This Year’s Block Party
Decibel’s electronic-music-oriented stage at last year’s Capitol Hill Block Party attracted “dismal” numbers of onlookers, according to organizer David Meinert, and so it will not be appearing at this year’s event. “Most people coming are into rock and hip-hop,” says Meinert. “Decibel is doing something with Bumbershoot and have their own fest, so it seems redundant to try to do something with them at the Block Party.”
This decision disappoints me, but I understand the rationale. Still, in a city with such a vital electronic scene and tons of great DJs, it somehow seems misguided. How do Line Out readers feel about this?
I saddens me deeply to hear this story about a female musician being drugged and raped while playing the Warped Tour. The whole thing sounds unpleasantly plausible, and I’d really like to know what Joan Jett has to say. I’m currently trying to get in touch with her press rep; I’ll post anything I find out here.
Sonic Youth and Neko Case at the Moore This Weekend
I hadn’t seen SY since their performance at Lollapalooza in 1995, so in Friday’s show was sort of a rediscovery for me. I had forgotten what an absolute joy it is to watch Thurston have a full-tilt freak-out, thrashing about so much that he appeared to be wielding an epileptic anaconda, not a guitar. Kim looked and sounded stunning, alternating her time between gleefully stomping on one of her nine (!) effects pedals and pogoing about as the band worked their way through the majority of Rather Ripped—and very little of their back catalog (I missed their first song, so perhaps they busted out “Eric’s Trip,” as they have on many other dates, but I can’t say for sure). I think it says a lot when a band with as much history as SY can stick to newer material and still hold an audience’s attention for nearly two hours. Granted, there were more than a few shouted demands for “Death Valley ‘69” but their overall adherence to the new stuff didn’t detract from the fact that they remain one of the most creatively resilient bands of the last 20 years.
From the moment I walked up to this sold-out show, it was clear that Ms. Case has officially arrived. Scalpers were everywhere (scalped tickets for Case’s shows have been going for as much $60 throughout this tour), and I ended up standing behind one woman at the box office who was practically in tears when the attendant told her there were “definitely, definitely” no more tickets. Once she took the stage, it was also clear that Case, a former Seattle/Tacoma resident, was overwhelmed by the avalanche of adoration that was hitting her. Normally a talkative and jovial performer, Case was visibly nervous during the first several songs (tottering around on precariously high heels probably didn’t help), but still hit every damn note with her trademark precision. Her band handled back-up duties admirably, particularly pedal steel/banjo player Jon Rauhouse, but thanks to a preponderance of a cappella breaks, her voice remained the centerpiece of the 90-minute set. Case eventually relaxed, gently teasing Rauhouse, falling into the familiar stand-up routine she conducts with backing vocalist Kelly Hogan, and gracefully weaving her way through material from her four albums (and a few covers, including songs by Randy Newman, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Bob Dylan). I haven’t been moved to tears at a live show in quite some time, but by the time I was on my feet with the rest of the crowd for her third standing ovation, it really couldn’t be helped.
Eat to the Beat, Cascadia Style
Seattle DJ Boyd Main (AKA transplanted New Zealander Mike Lakeman) has been hosting the most comprehensive and quality-rich radio show in the area for regional electronic music. Called Local ‘Lectric Lunch and broadcast every Tuesday from noon-2pm PST from UW’s online Rainy Dawg Radio station, the program centers on the Northwest’s fertile talent pool of technophiles. Besides having the coolest accent of any radio personality working in the city, Boyd Main is a keen arbiter of many forms of electronic music. He will school you and enrich your headspace immensely.
Read Boyd Main’s press release after the jump.
As part of Seattle radio’s only daily local music block, this summer sees the launch of Local ‘Lectric Lunch, every week on Tuesdays, Noon-2pm PST on Rainydawg Radio.
Local ‘Lectric Lunch will focus on technology-driven music from across all of Cascadia, both that born from the software and hardware of our region’s producers, and that nurtured and promoted by labels based in the Pacific Northwest.
After previously playing host to local electronic artists such as…
* Jake Elliot
* Kris Moon
* Mat Anderson
* Bruno Pronsato
* Mr Afternoon
* Absolute Madman
* Nordic Soul
* Thee Outfit
* Aaron Bolton
* Son of Rose
* Let’s Go Outside
* Justin Byrnes
* DJ Saigon
…Rainydawg is taking the next step, by instituting a weekly committment to representing the best of Cascadian ‘Lectronic culture.
At this stage, Rainydawg invites submissions of music from Cascadian artists and labels, and solicits interest in live in-studio performances/interviews. Please contact LLL host Boyd Main at this email, or send music to:
Local ‘Lectric Lunch
Seattle, WA 98195
This Week in Music News: Early Holiday Edition
First the Ramones, now the Beatles: Another “rock musical” debuted this weekend. Anyone else find the above photo of Yoko and McCartney (taken at the Las Vegas premier) a tad disturbing (or at least disorienting)?
Judas Priest: Gearing up to take on Nostradamus.
‘Lil Kim: Jailbird no more.
Big Black: Just added to the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary Celebration. I couldn’t take the temptation anymore—I just bought tickets.
Green Day and the Dixie Chicks: Far from alone.
Pete Doherty and Babyshambles: Behaving in a semi-productive manner.
Fiona Apple: Playing here tonight.
Worst Cover Song. Ever.
There are a lot of terrible cover songs out there. There are a lot of great ones (like Juno’s cover of DJ Shadow’s “High Noon” and Ted Leo’s cover of “Since U Been Gone”), but there are a lot of really, really awful ones. And guys, I think I’ve found the worst.
The most terrible, most ridiculous, most insulting cover song in the world is… Reel Big Fish’s take on Morrissey’s “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful.”
Gross. It’s so bad that I can’t let the crime be ignored. I also don’t want to suffer alone, so you can hear the song yourself (and see a dumb video) by clicking here. Or you could also save your three minutes and trust me when I say it’s bad. B-A-D.
What covers do you love or hate?
9 Years Ago Today
On July 3, 1997, Stacey Pullen recorded what remains one of my favorite sets on the Betalounge. I didn’t think much of it when I started listening to it today, but since the dates match up, I’m sharing it with you (in case you haven’t heard it already). The sound has no shortage of issues (this was the early days of the Betalounge, so I imagine they hadn’t worked out all the kinks), but if you can get past that, you’re in for a treat. This set is actually the 2nd set Pullen recorded for them that week, a quick surprise after his proper set two days earlier (another favorite of mine). If you’re into Stacey Pullen’s mix of techno and house (like many in his wave of Detroit producers he’s moved into more house territory lately), this is a gem you can’t miss, and if you aren’t familiar with him, this is a good place to start. Get your party on while you work your last few hours before the holiday (or while you relax on your day off if you’re lucky).
Green Lake Aqua Theater
This Is the Ultimate
This is what genius psychedelia looks and sounds like. If you’ve seen a better video, please point me in its direction. Forget fireworks: I’m going to celebrate (make that desecrate) the 4th of July by watching this clip over and over.
Boredoms are on a major label in Japan.
Yesterday’s Music Business
This morning’s NYT Sunday Mag piece on singer/songwriter Katell Keineg starts out promising – “[She] is trying to figure out what it means – in today’s music business – to be really on your own,” says the headline. The template arranged itself in my head before I hit the first paragraph – critically acclaimed musician drops out of the major label system, starts releasing their own material and gigging all over the place, builds up a strong grass-roots following and ends up thriving on her own terms.
But her story is not heartwarming, nor is it all that new.
Back in the ‘90s, Keineg played small clubs in Dublin with the likes of Jeff Buckley and David Gray, and opened up for U2 and Natalie Merchant. Critics and major label A&R pegged her as the next Tracy Chapman. She signed a multi-album deal with Elektra, but her supporters at the label left the company before the release of her first LP, leaving her with little marketing support. She was promptly filed under “Lilith Fair” and more or less ignored. After two more albums she let the contract wither and die. Now she gigs frequently around the world and continues to draw small but fanatical crowds wherever she goes, but she is also perennially broke, borrowing studio time and instruments to piece together another album, and has no label, no agent, no manager.
Although the article sells itself as a story about “today’s music business,” Keineg’s problems seem pretty old-school to me. She was the victim of ham-fisted major label marketing, feckless managers and agents, and her own rather self-defeating refusal to make artistic compromises or to allow herself to be defined or marketed. (She had to be cajoled into having a fashion photographer take this relatively ordinary photo for one of her albums.)
These are all real problems, but they’re the problems of yesterday’s music business. What the article doesn’t really get into is that today’s music business – the one with iTunes and Emusic and MySpace and YouTube and CD Baby and cheap recording gear and fan-organized “house concerts” – is practically custom-built for artists like Keineg. She can record her music exactly as she likes in her Dublin flat, package it up physically or digitally and release it worldwide, with minimal to zero major label involvement and hence few opportunities for artistic compromise. So why isn’t she? She’s certainly not lacking in potential – her music has very broad appeal, particularly to the type that buys their CDs at Starbucks, and her live performances leave audiences speechless.
She is taking baby steps in that direction. A couple of her albums are on the Emusic indie download site, and the article notes that some of her catalog will make it onto iTunes soon. She’s got a fan-maintained MySpace profile and a small and infrequently updated Web site, which is now out of commission after Times readers overloaded it with hits this morning.
In the story, reporter Darcy Frey notes that Keineg could certainly put in a little more effort:
“Her aversion to the business end of the musical enterprise has also led to a certain indifference to the demands of managing a career. ‘To do this kind of thing, you have to have the goal and work steadily toward it over the months … there’s a big difference between that and a person who needs all her energy just to get out of bed in the morning!’”
So if she’s not motivated to do all these things herself, what she really needs is probably the one remaining piece of the old-school industry machine that still has any value: management. She, like many talented musicians, lacks the discipline and instinct for self-promotion and entrepreneurship that it takes to thrive in a music business where it is no longer useful or profitable to just write your songs and let the system do the rest of the work.
This is a tricky problem, because great managers are as rare as hen’s teeth – especially ones who not only understand the artist’s needs and temperament but also have the proper ratios of intelligence to shrewdness to motivation it takes to actually make things happen for the artists in their care. (There’s a whole ‘nother blog post, perhaps even a book, to be written about the plague of mediocrity in artist management.)
It will be interesting to see what happens to Keineg’s career in the weeks and months following the Times piece. Will she see a huge spike in sales on Emusic and iTunes and Amazon.com, a few hundred new MySpace friends and even bigger crowds at her gigs? Will she give in and perhaps take some of those TV, film and commercial licensing offers, if they fit right? Will another major label come calling to draw her back into the comfortable old-school music machine? Or will she seize the opportunity and turn this sudden interest in her music into a revitalized career as an indie musician, on her own terms?
Better Late Than Never: Sonar Recap
I never did a Sonar post, so that’s what this is. Rather than going into the detail I did with this year’s Movement/DEMF, I’m just going to post some annotated pictures of the highlights, with links to the videos I’ve put up on YouTube as well. If you’ve got any other questions about Sonar, just post them in the comments. I’m still buzzing with enthusiasm from the whole experience, so I’m more than willing to share.
The day portion of Sonar was held in the contemporary art museum and immediate surroundings. The day portion featured a lot of the bands and more experimental acts, making for a largely relaxing experience. The Sonar Village was a “park” of sorts, with astroturf for grass, with people just lounging enjoying the weather (here’s video of Fat Freddy’s Drop, very much a crowd favorite). This picture is from the first act I was really excited to see, .tape.. I was expecting merely a laptop performance, but surprisingly for part of the set it was a full band, with wonderful visuals as well. They sounded wonderful, and the visuals made for a perfect complement. Here’s some video.
The relaxing portions of Sonar Day stood in stark contrast to Sonar Night, which amounted to musical hedonism. Sonar Day was leisurely, with people just drifting among the different stages (while maze-like, it was reasonably easy to make your way to get from one stage to another). Sonar Night was an entirely different beast, existing on a scale that was more than a bit intimidating to a newcomer such as myself. This picture is from Jeff Mills’, and just goes to show the scale of the event. While that’s a lot of people, realize that that’s only a portion of one stage (there were four). Absolutely incredible to see all of those people.
But onto Jeff Mills. After an annoyingly late-running (but otherwise entertaining) set from Jimmy Edgar, curtains onstage opened up to reveal Jeff Mills behind the decks. From first beat to last, the set was unrelenting, with Mills rendering even the best of earplugs all but useless. It was the first time I’d ever seen Mills, and he didn’t disappoint, moving non-stop between three turntables, the mixer, and some gear that I will just classify as “miscellaneous.” Despite the quality of his set, I couldn’t stay for it in entirety, choosing to catch at least some of Tiga (good), DJ Shadow (it was a hyphy showcase, and largely garbage), and Herbert with full band.
Based on the Jeff Mills picture, it wouldn’t be totally unfair to compare Sonar Night to a massive. It didn’t have any of the same accoutrements such as glowsticks or any of that nonsense, but in terms of size and party atmosphere it wouldn’t be too far off. It also had the same issue of drug use. Between the alcohol and other substances involved, it wasn’t hard to find someone that had overdone it. By the end of each night’s festivities you could see plenty of individuals in the care of the medical staff on hand, taking the time to let whatever they’d taken run its course. As an aid for attendees they had the equivalent of a DanceSafe booth in the main corridor with various advisories on the bad drugs going around.
After an incredibly late night Friday, it was hard to make it out to Sonar Day Saturday, but I managed to make it. I’m happy I made it because of a few acts (Modified Toy Orchestra, Rich Medina, CircleSquare), but Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuly Kosminen were definitely the highlight. Yes, that’s an accordion. What doesn’t come across in the picture is that the room was outfitted with surround sound. The guy on the right was operating some sort of uber-drum pad, so while the accordion blared, you also had beats traversing the room. Had it just been calm that would have been interesting enough, but eventually they just, for lack of a better description, rocked the fuck out. Strobe lights, jumping around, all the while creating a brilliant cacophony. More than just incredible to watch, it was an amazing experience. Here’s some video.
I’ve already mentioned Filastine’s performance (video of him playing Ghislain Poirier’s “Mic Diplomat,” which features DJ Collage), but didn’t say much about dj /rupture, who also played the first party attended Saturday night. Coming up to the decks after Filastine to a packed room, /rupture kept up the intensity that had been built over the night. Like Mills, there was no real introduction, just getting right down to business. He also had three turntables, playing his signature expertly-mixed urban beats. Devastating, and I was disappointed to have to leave before Shitmat came on in order to catch Miss Kittin, Hawtin/Villalobos, and Disco D.
Miss Kittin’s set was a definite crowd pleaser, with her charisma (and cleavage) exciting the audience more than the music. She sang along to tracks and even left her post behind the decks to dance on stage in her very form-fitting silver mini-dress. Disco D proved to be a bit of a disappointment. After a very appropriate lead-in from Dave Clarke, Disco D killed the momentum right away to talk too much before going into his set, which was disappointing on its own. I do give him props for trying something different in his attempt to use an MPC for his entire set, but I’m sorry, I don’t care about hearing Disco D play some 50 Cent, even if it is a track he produced. Also, he produced a track for the next Spankrock album, which he played. I’m not a fan. The Hawtin/Villalobos set wasn’t all it could have been either, staying far too minimal for the timeslot, not giving enough reason to stick around, although I did anyway.
Thankfully the trip’s didn’t end on that note. The last night in Barcelona was the only time I got to make it to the beach. While expecting one party, there were no less than four, all next to one another, with talent such as Koze, Groove Armada, and Michael Mayer playing to a crowd of hundreds. It proved to be a nice come-down from the rest of the weekend, and with the house music played acted as a more than adequate Flammable replacement in my weekly schedule. Making it out to one last club, the musical adventures ended with great sets from electro veteran Bolz Bolz (video here) and the UK’s Brenda Russell.
Overall, this Sonar trip was an incredible experience. My first foray into Europe, it was interesting to see how they party on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s not all that unlike how festivals are done here, but the scale is amplified to almost ridiculous levels. While overwhelming initially, it proved to make for its own special experience, I’m definitely planning to return, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an overwhelming, exhilirating, exhausting time.
Mull It Over
Gigs featuring superstar Swedish techno DJs ain’t exactly a regular occurrence ’round these parts, so you may want to hit Des Amis tonight in Seattle’s Capitol Hill (Pike between 10th and 11th Avenues) to witness Joel Mull on the ’tables. I suggested the show here, but I’ve been informed by promoter Kristina Childs (who’s also playing a tagteam warm-up set with Nordic Soul) that Mull plans to lean more toward techno in a minimal, glitch-funk mode instead of his wrecking-ball style of old. I ain’t gonna complain; works wonders for me…