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Archives for 01/07/2007 - 01/13/2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Wire <3 Splinters

posted by on January 12 at 4:27 PM

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Splinters: masterly minimalism on a shoestring budget.

One of the hardest working men in micro-indie-label land, Seattle electronic musician Ben Torrence (AKA Splinters), has received a positive review of his new album in The Wire’s January 2007 issue. This is remarkable for two reasons: 1) Torrence, who releases music on his own Woodson Lateral label, has a minuscule budget with which to promote his work; and 2) The Wire is a notoriously difficult publication in which to get your music covered. I’ve heard more than one person say that unless you or your label advertises with it, The Wire won’t even consider coverage. I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule, but no matter if that’s just speculation, it is very hard to secure ink in that magazine.

In the review, Wire critic Ken Hollings calls the tracks on The Watchmakerminimalist miracles that you won’t mind taking up your day.” (Here’s my take on The Watchmaker.)

Congrats, Ben, and good luck. I’m sure you’ll be swamped with orders from all over the globe after The Wire’s glittering critique.

Tonight in Music

posted by on January 12 at 3:45 PM

Data Breaker says:

KJ SAWKA, EMILIA
Every enlightened Seattleite should know this, but to reiterate: KJ Sawka play live drum ‘n’ bass powered by the phenomenally dexterous drummer Kevin Sawka. You have to see this quicksilver rhythm demon to believe him—and then you’re still awestruck afterward. Sawka’s band complements the dramatically dynamic beats with memorable melodies and sensual textures. Emilia is a New Orleans transplant who pours vocal honey over sophisticated breakbeat-oriented compositions. Her band includes Sawka, keyboardist Kent Halvorsen, and guitarist Michael Queyrouze. Emilia’s TJ Rehmi—produced album, Burning in the Sun, is coming out this year on 5 Point Records. With Dabouge. Nectar, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020, 9 pm—2 am, $6, 21+.

Up & Coming says:

CANCER RISING, NITE OWLS, MURDER DICE
(Comet) Finally—a hiphop show at the Vomit! I mean, the Comet. I love, love, love seeing shows here—bands right on the floor, right in your face. Be sure to get there in time to see Oldominion’s newest hotshots, the Nite Owls, comprising Seattle’s premier beat-builder, Mr. Hill; rapper and comedian Barfly; and now, just added, Sir Gatsby from Cancer Rising. The self-titled Nite Owls disc is one of my absolute favorites from 2006. I can only imagine that the addition of rappin’ by Gatsby is going to make them pretty much invincible in ‘07. And since all the fun hiphop shows always seem to be in the South End, downtown, or Fremont, all you Capitol Hillbilly heads really need to stumble over to 922 E Pike and check this out. This year, we need more Mr. Hill in Capitol Hill—we really, really do. Whoop! KELLY O

HERMAN JOLLY OF SUNSET VALLEY, BRENT AMAKER AND THE RODEO, DIRTY BIRDS
(Jules Maes) Like Robyn Hitchcock, former Sunset Valley frontman (and current Seattle resident) Herman Jolly has a knack for writing wonderfully off-kilter yet oddly beautiful pop songs—the kind that are so distinctive they’d sound strange and slightly forced coming from anyone else, but fit his faintly cracked voice and tilted worldview to a T. He’s returned to performing under his own name after disbanding his short-lived project Lake Society (although he’s joined onstage by a rhythm section) and he’s got a new album coming out really soon, so hopefully ‘07 will see this talented feller get the recognition he deserves. BARBARA MITCHELL

Also, a new episode of Setlist is posted—click here to hear the Hands, Grand Hallway, Lesbian, the Old Haunts, In the Empty City, Hot Rollers, the Drop, and more.

Warm as Ice Storm 07 and Vintage

posted by on January 12 at 12:57 PM

Singer songwriter, Graig Markel, played Chop Suey last night. The songs were warm and drifting and soundtracks unto themselves. The lyrics darkened and became schemes. The band was Shea Bliss on drums and Jeff McCallum on a big ass stand up bass through a 68 Ampeg Portaflex amp.

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Markel played a 62 Fender Jaguar Reissue guitar through a 65 Fender Delux amp. He played tape loops and mellotron samples via foot pedals through a 62 Airline Combo. Playing the foot pedals, Markel was like a Mark Kozelek version of Geddy Lee.

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A new Markel album, called Via Novella, is slated to come out in March on Sonic Boom Records. The album was recorded and mixed at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco and Recovery Room in Seattle.

The Young Ones

posted by on January 12 at 12:05 PM

In last week’s paper we profiled 10 up and coming bands that we think are going to be hot shit in 2007. The list was tough to cut down, there are a lot of great bands and musicians out there right now, but we narrowed it down to Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Lesbian, Dyme Def, Night Canopy, Pleasureboaters, Grand Hallway, Bow & Arrow, Arthur & Yu, Nazca Lines, and the Heavy Hearts. We called them the Young Ones, and they’re all pretty fuckin’ great.

Today we got this letter about the feature:

I love that there was an article about the up and coming bands in Seattle. There are so many in this area that it’s great to recognize them. I feel that there is a gap in this though… I know that you have people where their job is to research and find these new bands but what about asking your readers? Who knows you may find out about this tiny band that supposedly no one has ever heard of… I know I have a couple up my sleeves. Just a thought because I would like to see these guys recognized as well.

Good point.

We told you who we think should rule 2007, but I want to know, what new local bands are you excited about right now?

Mon Frere Video

posted by on January 12 at 11:45 AM

Mon Frere broke up, that’s old news, but when I interviewed the band for this week’s underage column, they said they’re still planning on releasing the recently shot video for the song “Drain” as soon as it’s ready.

Well, it’s ready. Click here to watch it.

People Don’t Buy No More, They Just Download Like This

posted by on January 12 at 11:05 AM

Music business blog Coolfer has published its 2006 In Numbers, a look at the depressing trends that shaped the industry economically this past year. Here’s the bulk of the information (emphasis mine):

In 2006, digital sales accounted for 5.5% of all album sales. The CD accounted for 94.1%. The remainder — or just a fraction of a percent — was split by cassettes, vinyl and DVD.

In 2006, digital album sales increased 105.4% over 2005. That was not enough to offset the 8.2% decrease in CD sales. Total album sales dropped 4.98% in 2005, or 30.8 million units.

Deep catalog sales were the same in 2006 as they were in 2005.

The health of the industry, which will be tied to the CD for many years to come, rests in the hands of mass merchants. Mass merchant CD sales dropped only 4% in 2006, far less than the overall 8.2% drop in CD sales. As labels trim their staffs, greater emphasis will be placed on fewer large accounts that require less manpower to service.

There are fewer people buying albums, and fewer retailers catering to them. Consolidation is the watchword. Catalog sales are doing fine, which could be seen as an indication that baby boomers are still buying plenty of CDs. Digital music (or at least the purchased variety) still isn’t making much of a dent in sales. Shared music isn’t accounted for.

So how many of you out there have the new Clipse album and how many of you bought it? How about the new LCD Soundsystem?

Here’s what worries me: If only Disney tweens and baby boomers are actually paying for CDs, then the only artists/labels that actually get paid are those that cater to them, ie. no more Clipse, no more LCD. Just lots of Paul Simon and High School Musical. Now, of course, I hate capitalism as much as the next lapsed anarchist, but it must be said that, whatever our criticisms of how the industry operates, if we don’t vote for good music with our cash then it disappears from the marketplace. There are only so many artists who will have the independent wealth, determination, or access to make music if they can’t come close to making at least a supplemental living from it, and they might not be the ones we’re most excited about. Or: if you don’t go shopping, the terrorists win?


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Last call for Gun Club doc

posted by on January 11 at 3:46 PM

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Tonight at 9 PM is your last chance to catch Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club at NWFF. When I interviewed former Gun Club member Kid Congo Powers a few weeks ago, he had mixed feelings about the film. He was okay with the somewhat negative slant on how Pierce was portrayed (“People with strong visions are usually seen as brats or monsters or ‘difficult’”), but was disappointed that licensing problems prohibited the inclusion of a lot of seminal music. I haven’t seen this documentary yet (I’m going tonight), so I can’t vouch for the quality, but if you’re a fan of Pierce’s pioneering, primal punk-blues (or disciples like White Stripes and Black Keys), what have you got to lose?

Tonight in Music

posted by on January 11 at 3:20 PM

From this week’s Up & Comings:

TALKDEMONIC, BIRD SHOW OF NORTH AMERICA, BRONZE FAWN
(Crocodile) The legacy of Portland’s music scene seems to be slipping farther and farther from rock and roll, and Talkdemonic’s rising popularity is a clear example. Beat Romantic, the band’s sophomore album on Arena Rock Records, sustains a delicate balance between organic chamber folk and laid-back electronica. The addition of coaxing stringstress Lisa Molinaro to the former solo project has gifted warm, acoustic regality to Kevin O’Connor’s already sophisticated musical vision. Like many of Post Rock’s progeny, Talkdemonic’s choice to go down the instrumental road can put a bit of a drag on the proceedings, but that’s when O’Connor calls in his secret weapon: mad drum skills. Onstage, when the multi-instrumentalist gets behind the kit, his energetic finesse stirs up the pools of ambient euphony into a deep, satisfying boil. JOSH BLANCHARD
FACTUMS, SABOTEURS, DUCHESSES, DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND
(Artworks, 619 Western Ave) Featuring members of San Diego performance-art punk band Business Lady and Abortion Camp, Duchesses are truly postpunk; they quite literally employ and embody an ethos that punk is for children, and Duchesses are most certainly grown-ass women. While generally/ostensibly/aesthetically they label themselves as a black-metal band, they are most accurately a part of the current forest of bands that have moved beyond the lines of the most extreme metal and reintegrated with other strains of rock DNA. At times, they recall the roiling foghorn drama of Thrones, the proactive spaz ostinatos of Lightning Bolt, and, yes, the Goblinesque vocals of Death. They are, as their name suggests, regal yet debauched rulers of modern West Coast heavy music. SAM MICKENS

Also tonight:

Wicked & Wild at the War Room with Soul One and Johnny Horn and A Gun That Shoots Knives and the Diets at the Comet.

Biggie Got Back?

posted by on January 11 at 2:30 PM

Local, unknown rapper Biggie Tights asks Seattle superstar Sir Mix-A-Lot some hard-hitting questions about music videos, making beats, and marketing…. check it!

The Greatest Australian Female Rapper I’ve Ever Heard

posted by on January 11 at 1:57 PM

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Macromantics holds the mic like a grudge.

That would be Macromantics (AKA Romy Hoffman). Granted, she’s the only Oz XX-chromosomed MC I’ve ever listened to, but hear me out. As a 15-year-old, Macromantics played guitar with Ben Lee’s Noise Addict. While touring in America with that band, she got hooked on hiphop. Her list of influences on her MySpace page includes “Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Dylan Thomas, Lester Bangs, O.D.B, Eve Libertine, Wu Tang Clan, Kathleen Hanna, Iggy Pop.” Most impressive.

Macro is set to release her debut album, Moments in Movement (Kill Rock Stars), on January 23. After a few listens, you’ll probably conclude that the most obvious comparison is Lady Sovereign, but Macro exhibits more depth, gravity, and complexity in her lyrics than does her British counterpart. Macro’s flow possesses much internal rhyming that’s often as knottily metered as Eminem’s clever, quick-jawed declamations. She’s verbose (her CD booklet contains 10 pages of tiny-fonted lyrics for 11 tracks), but there’s little filler in her lexical deluge. For a young rapper, Macro displays remarkable authority and precise, varied metrics. I like this passage from “Bandwagon”:

Macro. What more can I say then I’m laconic/Shy and torrid, I like the Sonics and my logic’s hyperbolic/This here’s backlash, but different to Susan Faludi/My music makes your brain dance/Till y’all are bruising your booty/Catapult rap revolt math assault on a broken calculator/Pen hits the page and it sounds like a POW! to paper/Wow invader whose photographic memory be spittin magenta/Hundred percent heart felt dark tells, no hidden agenda

There’s plenty more from where that came from. And she ain’t a bad singer, either, when the occasion calls for it.

The production on Moments in Movement is handled by Buchman, Joker 70, Yoko Solo, and Tekromantik, who buttress her witty, contortionist verses with brilliantly punchy, post-grime funk that gives conventionality a wide berth.

I wonder what Jay-Z would make of this…

Lorne Michaels is Right, Chris Frizzelle is Wrong.

posted by on January 11 at 1:50 PM

“Phantom Limb” is a fantastic song, Chris, and not a terrible choice for a single. It’s a Winter song, all cool and crisp with just hints of thaw at the edges. I watched James Mercer perform the song acoustic back to back with “New Slang,” and guess what? They’re equally excellent and catchy. James Mercer’s wordless melody is eminently hum-able—I’ve been inadvertently subjecting strangers to my own quiet version of all day because it’s been so stuck in my head. I think it’s the strongest song on the new album, but that in general said record is kinda weak compared to Oh, Inverted World or Chutes Too Narrow.

What Makes Seattle Tight?

posted by on January 11 at 1:19 PM

Massline’s free mp3 of the week is that highlight of Blue Scholars’ new years eve show, Inkwell (Crashed Cop Car Remix), which flips Modest Mouse’s “Float On” to underscore Geologic’s condensed Seattle music history lesson. So much better than Kidz Bop.

(Also, is that a Berlin interpolation?)

KJ Sawka @ Nectar - Tomorrow, Friday 1/12

posted by on January 11 at 12:50 PM

The Glitch God, Kevin KJ Sawka, has a new band - Dabouge.

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Dabouge is a trio comprised of vocalist, Christa Wells, Kent Halvorsen on keys, and Sawka. Dabouge meshes the sheen of Sawka’s drum n’ bass with more down tempo modules. Think Bjork, Ronnie Size, Massive Attack, and Royksopp.

Emilia, with Sawka on drums @ 10
Dabouge @ 11
KJ Sawka, lord of break beat @ 12

Nectar Lounge, $6, 21+

See Dave Segal’s Beat Happenings this week for more.

Earlier Sawka feature – Circus Contraption.

Oh, the Shins

posted by on January 11 at 8:00 AM

Went to Everyday Music the other night (open until midnight every night of the week—God bless America!) to buy something and, in the course of buying that, bought picked up the new Shins single Phantom Limb. I am a pre-Garden State fan of the Shins. I got on the Oh, Inverted World bandwagon back when it was their only album, and you know it’s a pretty trusty bandwagon, rides well, holds up. We have a lot of miles behind us now, Oh, Inverted World and I, and we still like each other. I have seen the Shins in concert a lot. I have said to Annie Wagner (hater of the Shins) such things as, “How can you NOT like the Shins?” Oh, Inverted World continues to be amazing. And if you don’t like the album you probably still like, you know, that one song in the middle. Second album, Chutes Too Narrow? Also good.

[Here Wagner gets up and walks over to Frizzelle’s desk and explains, for the hundredth time, that she likes their albums but she doesn’t like the Shins in general because when you see them live their banter is “annoying.”]

Anyway, I’m at Everyday Music. I’m buying Phantom Limb. I ask the lady if she’s heard it. She says, “Oh, I’m sick of the Shins.” That’s her answer. Oh, I’m sick of the Shins. People who aspire to work at record stores—are you taking notes? Look at this statement. Look at what she does there with so few words. It’s like the ur-example of a record store non-answer. First of all, she doesn’t answer the question. Second of all, she knows I’m buying it so she’s dissing me. Third, she’s undoubtedly heard something about it—she works at a music store in Seattle—and yet she’s refusing to be helpful. Fourth, I’m sure Oh, Inverted World is sitting in the store somewhere, she could recommend that. I wanted to shake the lady. We finished our transaction in silence.

Took the single home and put it on. My first thought was: You know, maybe I’m sick of the Shins. Almost called the store and apologized to the lady for wanting to shake her. The cold truth is that “Phantom Limb” is a weak song. You listen to it and think: This is the single? You listen to it 10 more times and you think the same thing. It’s a weaker, drawn-out version of whatever the weakest song is in their existing body of work. Couldn’t Sup Pop have run “Phantom Limb” through that machine Malcolm Gladwell wrote about—the one that tells you if you’re song’s a hit or not? Now, the second song on the single, “Nothing At All,” that’s very catchy. How come that’s not the single? How come that’s not going to be on the album?

(On a related note: isn’t it weird that in Brian J. Barr’s Seattle Weekly piece that, um, advertises the Shins album from the point of view of the business putting it out, he writes on and on about whether this album is going to sell, whether it’s going to be big, whether it’s going to be the thing Sub Pop’s been working toward all this time, but he fails to mention whether the album is any good? Seems like that’s sort of relevant to whether it’s going to make tons of money. Is he hedging, so as not to piss of all the people at Sub Pop who sat for interviews and photos? Hey, Brian, is what “Phantom Limb” tells me about the album true? Is it kinda weak?)


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The “Write” Stuff

posted by on January 10 at 5:30 PM

Subject line is corny, yes, but I stole it from MTV, so don’ t blame me. Anyway, I lied. Yesterday I said I was going to stay home and listen to Radiohead while battling whatever sort of virus has caused my brain and body to shut down, but I ended up watching TV.

Not only did I see that White Rapper Show (Persia is CRAY-ZEEE), but I also saw the newest MTV reality series called I’m From Rolling Stone. Have you seen it? It’s about six young “rock writers” who get “the opportunity of a lifetime”—they snag a two-and-a-half-month gig at the magazine for the summer. They battle each other for assignments, they get to meet celebrities like Nelly Furtado (blech), and in the end the young writer with the most talent and drive walks away with a one-year contract as a Contributing Editor of Rolling Stone.

They picked six of the most perfectly entertaining weirdoes. There’s 19-year-old Colin from Portland, who’s the youngest and least experienced of the bunch, 23-year-old Krishtine, who throws a fit whenever her name is spelled incorrectly and claims she’s going to “bring the ghetto” back to the magazine; there’s 23-year-old Krystal, a hippie poet who uses tons of flowery prose to say a whole lot of nothing, 22-year-old Peter, an Australian rower who does most of his writing while drunk, 25-year-old Russell, a cocky motherfucker who learned how to write in juvy, and lastly, there’s 25-year-old Tika, a black lesbian slam poet.

I would say that Russell is going to win it all, but he’ll probably choke on his ego first. And Krishtine is more bark than bite, so she’ll implode too. Krystal is far too nice for the competitive side of the show, and Peter, well, Peter’s drunk. If I had to guess, I’d say Tika’s gonna win it. Then again, I’m awful at predicting this sort of thing. Nevermind. Don’t listen to me.

In the first episode, the kids had to write their first assignment—a 500-1,000 word piece about their local music scene. With the exception of cocky Russell, Joe Levy ripped their green little asses apart. I couldn’t not watch. I’m obsessed not only because I’m also a music geek who makes a living “reviewing their mail” (Klosterman’s hilarious), but also because I always wondered when the rock writer was going to become a celebrity in his or her own right (beyond the land of other aspiring rock writers, that is). Apparently, the time is now.

Make no mistake about it, though. Until they’re able to prove otherwise, these kids will be reality television stars first and rock writers second. Snap.

Is the Vera Project Punk Rock?

posted by on January 10 at 4:45 PM

I guess we made a controversial choice this week, when we suggested to give money to the Vera Project in our Stranger Suggests for today. If you look to the comments on that link, you will see an argument raging on the punk rock legitimacy of the Vera Project.

I am a board member of the Vera Project, which usually prevents me from speaking about it at my job, due to conflict of interest. The position is non-paying, and I have never taken any money from the Vera Project for any reason, but I have my career to thank them for, and I will forever be in debt in that way. However, my conflict of interest allows me to be an especially well-informed participant in any debate about Vera.

The debate started with this comment from RTM:

Someone explain to me again why kids need a million dollar palace so that adults can facilitate their rebellion. What ever happened to forming a co-op and renting a piece of crap space in a marginal area of town, throwing up some sheetrock and paint, and having bands play. Vera is a bunch of gatekeepers who want you to fill out paperwork to do a show. About as anti- rock and roll as it gets. Sheesh. It’s such an obvious subversion of punk. Might as well have Journey sponsor the whole project.

There is a common misinterpretation of the Vera Project as a punk rock venue. The Vera Project isn’t, and never was, a punk rock venue. The Vera Project is a radical DIY all-ages performance space run for and by young people. This is an important distinction.

Many people equate the terms punk rock and radical. Whether you believe political radicalism to be part of punk rock is your own personal view, but it’s certainly not the other way around. Vera has made it part of it’s mission to be supported by the city and involved in local politics, which is also not part of the punk rock ethos in the view of many. Our city involvement is intentional, not institutionally necessary: the Vera Project is working for government support for music and youth involvement. This has been part of our mission since we were born.

This is a nitpicky point that I shouldn’t have to defend, but I will anyhow. 1.8 million dollars, the cost of the Vera Project’s new permanent venue, is incredibly inexpensive for a 9300 square foot space in central Seattle. 1.8 million dollars will barely buy you a house in Ballard these days, it seems. We are doing a huge amount of retrofitting to the space that by law cannot be done by us, as it is a government owned space. If we could do it ourselves, we would, but we don’t break the law at the Vera Project, since we aren’t punk rock.

The Vera Project is a space that provides support, resources, and respect for young people to make programming to show to other young people. There is a degree of indirect mentorship involved, along with education (our skill classes, like sound and silk screening). Most of our education is experience-based, i.e. someone wants to do something so they try it out. Someone bringing this up in the comments ilicited this response from our misguided commenter:

I’m just curious. How in the world were Green River, the U-Man, etc. able to exist without those nurturing mentors? Oh, I forgot, they learned how to do it from the people’s prefab co-op, owned and operated by adults, but “driven” by the ideas of the kids. The education analogy doesn’t hold water. I think it’s entirely possible that a lot more kids are learning a lot more about music, promotions, and goal setting, on a much smaller budget, in the few remaining high school jazz programs in this city. Obviously, I am an old man. Oh well. I just don’t remember the city of Portland helping Poison Idea and the Rats (and the Wipers and Sado Nation, etc etc) build a showcase for what they were doing. The scene just moved from Pacific Academy to Clockwork Joes and so forth. It’s entirely possible I don’t completely understand how Vera works. Perhaps someone with more information could get ahold of the 14 year old with check writing authority, the 16 year old who is managing the construction project, and the twin 17 year olds who selected the architect and contractor and have them join the conversation.

We will barely bring up how much times have changed since Green River ran around (let’s just say I was around 3 years old at the time). There are, of course, not many more cheap spaces in easily accessible (by bike or bus, since kids don’t often have cars) parts of Seattle. With all the condo conversions and nightlife issues, it’s hard to get even a storefront in which to open a small venue, much less anything established. Vera needs to be publicly sanctioned so it can continue to exist.

And yes, RTM, you have no idea how the Vera Project works. I could actually produce for you the committee of 14-24 year-olds who picked the architect, contractor, and monitor the construction project. They are called our members, and they have as much authority as I do as a member of the board of directors. A 14 year-old doesn’t have check writing authority, but a few teenagers helped hire the people who do. The Vera Project really is driven by young people, which differentiates it from the spaces young people usually are forced to hang out in, like school and traditional teen centers. A school jazz program may force a young person to learn more about jazz music than the Vera Project will, but it is unlikely that it focuses any energy on teaching those young people how to make decisions as a team, how to work towards consensus, or how to be respectful to your peers in a decisionmaking process. The Vera focuses on that intensely.

In the end, it is important to remember that Vera is not filling the spaces traditionally filled by punk houses and DIY venues. It is taking some of the skills that are often learned at those spaces and making them available to young people who might be intimidated by that institution. It is also making these skills available to people of all races (punk houses are traditionally quite white) and for people who don’t like rock music. The Vera Project is not punk rock, but it is still radical and important, and it is filling a need that desperately needs to be filled.

James Brown Still Not Buried

posted by on January 10 at 3:35 PM

James Brown Body Still in the Ground's Green Room
According to Celebitchy, James Brown is not only still above-ground as his estate issues linger on, but those same troubles he had in life are following him after death. While many of these concerns are understandable (there are some rape allegations floating around), this was the hardest working man in showbiz. Let the man (or at least his body) rest.

TIG - NW Top 50

posted by on January 10 at 11:52 AM

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Three Imaginary Girls have released their NW Top 50 for 2006.

See list on ‘Continue Reading.’

Continue reading "TIG - NW Top 50" »

Mr. Morrissey Goes to Eurovision

posted by on January 10 at 11:41 AM

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While the Smiths may hit the spot, Eric, there’s no debating that Morrissey has made some odd career choices as a solo artist. But I’m delighted by the mere notion of this item floating around the BBC: “Morrissey in talks for Eurovision.”

Of course, dedicated Moz fans will recall that one of his idols, ’60s pop siren Sandie Shaw — with whom the Smiths collaborated in the ’80s — won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest with the UK entry “Puppet on a String” (making Shaw the first-ever UK winner).

Factor in the rumors that the UK entry might be composed by Scissor Sisters or Ace of Base… oh, it’s all too delicious. And very, very gay. Even by Eurovision standards.

For those of you who have no idea what the Eurovision Song Contest is, please check out Elisabeth Vincentelli’s hilarious and passionate article, “Bulgarian Idol,” from the June/July 2006 issue of The Believer.

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Used CDs in the Dollar Bin

posted by on January 10 at 11:38 AM

(Or rather, unused CDs returned to the distributors.)

In more fun with the office iTunes, I finally got around to giving the new(ish) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead album, So Divided a listen, and it’s not so bad but not great by either.

But Trail of Dead are more interesting these days as a case study in career burnout and the cold realities of music business than they are as an actual band, and that’s got to be an increasing bummer for these guys. If people are going to their shows it’s probably either to see tour-mates the Blood Brothers or in the hopes of witnessing some nouveau Brian Jonestown Massacre shenanigans.

I’ve been thinking about the Trail of Dead story, and I think it’s indicitave of something we’re going to be seeing a lot of in the near future: 90s kids who thought they could make a living making music are going to find the bottom falling out of indie rock. Check it out:

-Christgau says there’s more music made each year than is possible to listen to, ie. the market is ridiculously saturated, simple supply and demand.

-The only people buying records anymore are Disney-enthralled tweens, the elderly, those without internet or with enough of a puritanical streak to avoid file-sharing, and a few stalwart indie rock (and likely other genre) supporters who for whom the record purchase is less a consumer act than a dutiful tithing.

(I’m about to get in way, way over my head after the jump, so bear with me if you continue)

Continue reading "...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Used CDs in the Dollar Bin" »


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Odetta Cancels

posted by on January 9 at 4:03 PM

I was super-excited to see Odetta tonight at the Triple Door, but she’s reportedly very ill and can’t perform. This is the first show she’s cancelled in a decade (except for the time she broke her hip). Tomorrow’s show in Portland is cancelled too. Sad email in the jump.

Continue reading "Odetta Cancels" »

RE: Who Saw The White Rapper Show Last Night?

posted by on January 9 at 3:53 PM

Go to Sleep

posted by on January 9 at 3:35 PM

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I’m about to leave work early, so I don’t infect the whole office with whatever cold/flu/allergy/tumor I’ve come down with, but first I just wanted to say (since it is the big flu season and all) that Radiohead is the perfect music to listen to when you’re sick. Any of their records, really, but especially Amnesiac and OK Computer. (The Bends is great too, but induces less crazy-assed, medicated dreams.)

The music is spacey and ethereal, so you can allow your brain to just switch to auto-pilot and drift. It’s still really dynamic too, so if you do end up staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep, you at least have something interesting to concentrate on instead of the snot running out of your nose or the lump of nausea in your throat. The moods sway, but gently, Thom Yorke’s voice is eerily soothing, even when he’s pissed… it’s perfect.

So I’m going to go home. I’m going to listen to Radiohead, eat fake chicken noodle soup (Amy’s, of course), and fall asleep to Thom Yorke’s magic.

“This is my final fit, my final belly-ache… no alarms, no surprises… please.”

Kooky Scientist at Oscillate

posted by on January 9 at 3:10 PM

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Tonight at the Baltic Room Seattle has the rare pleasure of witnessing Boston techno producer Fred Giannelli (AKA the Kooky Scientist, Mazdaratti, Acid Didj, Deneuve, etc. etc.) play live. Unpopular Science, Kooky Scientist’s 1997 album on Richie Hawtin’s Plus8 label, introduced me and many other people to Giannelli’s skewed, hypnotic acid-techno productions. That album still packs a potent punch a decade after its release.

Besides this work of transcendental techno, Giannelli was a crucial member of Genesis P-Orridge’s Psychic TV in the late ’80s, and therefore was a catalyst in spreading the acid-house sound worldwide. Giannelli also composed part of the techno supergroup Spawn with Hawtin and Dan Bell (check out their awesome “Tension,” which is on NovaMute’s Probe Mission USA comp or perhaps floating in cyberspace). Dude also remixed Vapourspace’s legendary “Gravitational Arch of 10” and runs the Telepathic label. His appearance in Seattle is an unexpected treat, especially during these dismal early days of January.

Filling out the lineup are local heroes Nordic Soul and DJ Eddie, so quality techno is guaranteed all night. (Baltic Room, 1207 E Pine St, 10 pm, $7, 21+.)

Who Saw The White Rapper Show Last Night?

posted by on January 9 at 1:05 PM

Last night I just found my second favorite show on television (after Heroes). The White Rapper Show on VH1 is American Idol meets The Real World, but with an added potential for white-on-white violence. It’s also got a rapper from Virginia, so you know who I’m rooting for. After one show it seems to have potential provided MC Serch(!) can keep the contestants in line, but there’s definite risk of a quick descent into cornball territory. Most importantly, some of the MCs have some skillz, as the William Hungs have been removed from the equation early on, leaving a good representation of the white rapper spectrum. It’s on VH1 so it’ll be on all the damn time, but check it out. Here are two trailers:

Schmader and Morrissey

posted by on January 9 at 12:14 PM

One of the nice things about working in the Stranger offices (as opposed to submitting from home) is being able to scan everyone in the office’s iTunes. I had a hankering for the Smiths yesterday and instinctively checked David Schmader’s collection. There, amidst the Paul Simon (gay) and old school hip hop (not gay), were the Smiths (gay) (I can’t recall if there was any King Missile in there (gay/not gay) but I sincerely doubt it). Anyway, The Queen is Dead really hit the spot. There’s something revelatory about listening to “Frankly, Mr Shankly”ť on the second day of a job you’re thrilled to have and fantasizing about all the missives you should’ve fired off to old employers instead of quietly giving notice. So thanks, David. Also, why not drop the first name, like Morrissey, and just go by Schmader? I think it could give you a certain air of Mancunian mystery, even if you don’t want to be a teenager forever. What do you think?

Live My Morning Jacket Video

posted by on January 9 at 11:01 AM

From last night at The Moore Theater - “Wordless Chorus.”

The alley is the place to watch shows at The Moore. Even through the brick and mortar, MMJ sound good.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Coachwhips Go Out with a Clang

posted by on January 8 at 11:14 PM

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photo by Virgil Porter

In the annual year-end frenzy to compile top-10 lists for myriad polls, I inevitably overlook some releases that deserve more praise/attention. One of those releases is Coachwhips’ Double Death (Narnack).

I played this bad boy in the early hours of 2007 and it promptly singed my ears and had me begging for mercy. This was way more than I bargained for, which is always cool. Now, I’ve dug me some Coachwhips before (Bangers Vs. Fuckers and Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge), but Double Death is on a whole other level of ferocity.

It’s incredibly hard for a garage-punk band not to sound like conservative revivalists in the 21st century. But Coachwhips somehow avoid the derivative mannerist pitfalls that afflict most neo-garage punks.

On Double Death, a posthumous odds and sods scavenging of this San Francisco band’s archives, including covers of songs by Velvet Underground, Kinks, Sonics, this John Dwyer-led outfit slash out lean, unclean, fueled-by-Dexydrine rock. Not since Pussy Galore has rock been this concise and caustic, though the Hospitals give Coachwhips a run for their dirty money. Double Death is a soundtrack to nihilism and misanthropy; periodically entering those states is essential for mental health, and Coachwhips facilitated this more efficiently than almost anybody else.

Putting the “ash”ť in thrash, Coachwhips blast out the raw, scalding rock that (temporarily, at least) makes a persuasive case for antisocial, primitive simplicity as one of the most direct paths to musical transcendence.

(Double Death contains a DVD, too, but I’ve yet to view it. Dwyer now focuses his energies on the Ohsees (formerly OCS), one of the more worthwhile lo-fi projects going right now.)

Tonight at the Tractor, etc.

posted by on January 8 at 5:33 PM

Tonight brings another installment of the Tractor’s square-dance series. It’s fun; you should go. As I’ve mentioned: The caller walks you through the steps before each dance, so don’t worry if you don’t know how; most people there don’t. The dancing begins around 8 pm. From 7”“8 pm, there is an open jam with the Tallboys, who also play the excellent music you’ll be dancing to. ($5 suggested donation per person, $8 for partners.)

And, with all the recent debate over which is the best Beatles album, I’d like to note that I do not like the Beatles, and I’m not ashamed. I’ve heard them a lot, had friends who loved them, but I’m just not into them. There are a few Beatles songs here and there that I like a lot, but on the whole, they’re just not a band I enjoy. But, I’m not inhuman, and there is a Beatles equivalent in my life. It’s not a band; it’s a man: Hank Williams. I feel the same way about him as all those folks on Slog and Line Out feel about the Beatles. To me, his music is amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking, moving, beyond important. Hank Williams is my most favorite of all musicians/songwriters, ever.

A Musing On January

posted by on January 8 at 3:16 PM

January is theoretically supposed to be the shittiest month of the year for shows. Touring acts are reduced to almost nothing because of the weather and the pressure to tour before Christmas to sell more CDs. It sucks outside, so no one leaves the house. Poo-poo.

I say January is the best month of the year for seeing local bands for dirt fucking cheap. All you losers that always shout “Support the Local Scene!” need to get all up on January.

Clubs are booking bills with all local bands to fill their nights. Chop Suey hosted the Intelligence, the Unnatural Helpers, Partman Parthorse, and Pleasureboaters last week, all local bands that often open up for other bands. The show cost six bucks, and it was totally kickin’.

House shows are cozy and occuring more often than ever right now. Seattlediy.org has listings of them. Many are potlucks- many are also non-alcoholic. All are all-ages.

So boo to you who ignore music in January. This is pretty much my favorite month until the summer festivals start, and I only like those better than regular shows because of grass (both kinds).

Probably Not Safe

posted by on January 8 at 12:55 PM

Music blog Headphone Sex has already shortlisted this video from Brighton, UK’s South Central as a worthy contender for Best Video of the Year, in the tradition of Justice vs Simian’s Kanye-infuriating video for “We Are Your Friends”.

Here’s that Justice v. Simian video again (you’ll have to click the link above for the equally unsafe South Central clip):

Tonight in Music

posted by on January 8 at 11:55 AM

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(EPIC ROCK) Releasing a live double album may sound like a quaint marketing throwback suited more to the early careers of KISS or Peter Frampton, but the shaggy-haired guitar heroes in Kentucky-based My Morning Jacket are ideal candidates for live documentation. Okonokos, a concert captured on both DVD and CD that the band released late last year, amplifies the reasons why their live performances are enchanting and invigorating experiences rightfully worthy of comparison to Radiohead or the Flaming Lips. (Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave, 292-2787. 8 pm, $25, all ages.) HANNAH LEVIN

A Comet Appears

posted by on January 8 at 11:45 AM

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(Photo by Brian Tamborello)

The Shins have finally announced a Seattle date: February 20th at the Paramount with Viva Voce.

Tickets are $25 and go on sale this Friday (the 12th) at noon via Ticketmaster.

The Shins are also going to be the musical guests on Saturday Night Live this Saturday. It will be hosted by my boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal.

And now you know.

Sonic Boom Expanding

posted by on January 8 at 11:16 AM

In our current odyssey of record store changeovers in Seattle, here’s one for you: On February 1st, Sonic Boom will officially open the Sonic Boom General Store in what used to be Fremont News, right next to the current Sonic Boom Fremont space.

It’s gonna be sweet! The Vinyl Annex (which was in a creepy alley behind the current Sonic Boom Fremont) is closing and all the vinyl is moving upstairs. In fact, if you go to buy vinyl right now, it’s already there. The General Store will also feature magazines, books, drinks, snacks, toys and more. I’ve always liked the books and magazines that Sonic Boom carries because I feel like it’s such a small selection they have to make it good. I hope they continue to expand with the same premise.

There will probably be a party on February 1st, so stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, start salivating for all the new stock they are ordering to fill the space and also to renew their stock after the Xmas rush.

Yay! In a sidenote, excluding Northgate and Southcenter and Borders and Barnes and Noble, I am now pretty darn sure there are no non-independent record stores in Seattle-proper. If I am wrong, I want to know, so tell me! Also, If anyone hears any news of what’s happening to the old Tower space on the Ave, send me an email at aspool@thestranger.com.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

Chicken Claw

posted by on January 7 at 12:57 PM

Who do, like you do?

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Voodoo

Magus Books - U District. 1408 NE 42nd St.