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Archives for 05/06/2007 - 05/12/2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

You Are Invited by Anyone

posted by on May 11 at 4:12 PM

The Dismemberment Plan’s “You Are Invited” is the Best Song Ever (This Week).

What I love the most about this song is the little angry computer noises that appear around the two-minute mark. It sounds like mad robot bugs talking to each other. It continues to get a louder for 25 seconds or so, and then the song—which has so far remained pretty monotone with a repetitive drum machine beat—goes boom! And the drums kick in and it explodes into this great rock song.

Then there are “oooOOoooh”s and this quick melodic guitar riff, and then it settles back down into the repetitive drum beat. It’s so catchy and fun to dance to, you know, at my house… when no one is looking.

The Dismemberment Plan’s singer, Travis Morrison, also has a really magnetic voice and personality. I interviewed him once for Copper Press magazine. I was probably 19 or 20 years old—it was a long time ago. We talked about cooking and funk music and mix tapes made by fans, and by the end of our chat I sorta wanted to marry him. Sadly, I can’t really back his solo album, Travistan. But I do still love the D-Plan.

The band recently reunited for a couple shows in Washington D.C., and if I didn’t have work (and an empty bank account), I would’ve been there. I’m sorry to have missed it. I bet they played this song, and I bet is was incredible.

I couldn’t find a proper (and legal) MP3 to post, but I did find this live performance of the song that was taken during their last Seattle show at Graceland in 2003. I was there, and I was singing along with everyone else. I probably even danced.

The sound isn’t perfect, but you get the idea. And if you really wanna hear the version from Emergency & I, e-mail me. I’ll send it to you.

Reminder: Broken Disco Tonight

posted by on May 11 at 2:17 PM

Last month’s Broken Disco made for a great night, but this month’s edition should make for an even more debaucherous party, with Knifehandchop closing out the night. Here’s his Breezeblock mix from a few years back, featuring cuts from his album How I Left You.

This is not Knifehandchop, but it is the best picture found in the Google images search I did.

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DEMF Schedule Posted

posted by on May 11 at 1:51 PM

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I spend all year not-so-silently obsessed with the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and it’s finally only two weeks away (it’s the #1 festival in May according to Resident Advisor). There’s a sizable Seattle contingent going, so for both them and other people interested, take notice that the daily schedule is up. Jeff Mills gets the festival pretty much to himself to close it all out Monday, while there are otherwise some pretty hard choices to make (Booka Shade vs. Kevin Saunderson vs. Richie Hawtin, or Kerri Chandler vs. Octave One, vs. Claude VonStroke).

Hotel rooms are getting a bit scarce, so if you’re on the fence about going, now’s the time to figure that out.

When I Got Home

posted by on May 11 at 1:30 PM

My couch died last night (thanks, Nick—that $30 goodwill salvage was immaculate before you touched it!). Here is an elegy featuring gorgeous Europeans:

More Info About the Pipettes Show in Seattle

posted by on May 11 at 1:14 PM

Get psyched, Savage! Here come the Pipettes!
Official show info:

Monqui Presents
THE PIPETTES
with special guest
Smoosh
WHEN:
Thursday, June 14
8:00 PM ShowTime I 9:00 PM doors

WHERE:
Chop Suey

TICKETS:
ON SALE FRI MAY 11 AT 10 AM
All Ages
$10.00 tickets available from Ticketmaster


I’m actually suprised that the tickets are only $10 advance. That’s a pretty good deal to see my more gorgeous doppelganger.

Fuck American Idol…

posted by on May 11 at 12:23 PM

…Because Eurovision is where it’s at:

Verka Seduchka is the current favorite to win. I’m sure when this guy takes a shit (it’s a guy in drag), it’s a hundred times more entertaining than anything Blake Lewis has ever done in his entire life.

This Week’s Setlist

posted by on May 11 at 12:22 PM

Ari Spool and I hilariously (okay, maybe not hilariously) dissect some of the best acts The Stranger’s Bands Page has to offer. We also talk about Everclear (the band, not the alcohol), cocaine (the drug, not the energy drink), and all of this week’s notable shows.

All you have to do is click here to hear Skullbot, the Vomiting Unicorns, Jacob London, Wormwood, Lake of Falcons, and Miss Spool’s tribute to Creed.

It’s totally free, you don’t have to subscribe or log in to anything, and you don’t even need an iPod. Just a computer, which you clearly have since you’re reading this.

Valley of Fire

posted by on May 11 at 10:25 AM

Cinco de Mayo, outside Las Vegas. There is a place called the Valley of Fire: a gas station that sells fireworks. They were giving away shots of tequilla next to the M-80’s.

Have a frog leg and swallow the worm. Explode some shit, get lit, fill it up, and get back on the road. Todo el mundo en fuego. I can’t believe the band didn’t know any Lynyrd Skynyrd.

U.S.E Play Redmond Fire House Tonight; Eric Howk Update

posted by on May 11 at 10:00 AM

As The Stranger reported on Tuesday, Eric Howk, guitar player for the Lashes, was seriously injured over the weekend when he accidentally fell into an unmarked 12-foot deep hole in the backyard of a Capitol Hill house. He remains at Harborview hospital.

While there are many rumors about the severity of his injuries (broken vertebrae, paralysis) nothing has been confirmed at this point.

Fans and friends can send Howk well wishes via his MySpace page (his band members are delivering the messages to him), or you can send e-mails and/or gifts directly to him through Harborview’s website. No word about when he’ll be released from the hospital.

Doing their part to help, Lashes buddies U.S.E are stretching out their recent “reunion” and playing an all-ages show tonight at the Old Fire House in Redmond (the Lashes were originally scheduled to play). All proceeds the band makes from the show will go to Howk to help with his medical bills (he’s uninsured).

Two weeks ago U.S.E played their first show in a over a year, and if you’ve wondered where they’ve been the last 12 months click here to read this week’s story about their “hiatus.” Turns out, they were here all along.

Best wishes and high fives go out to Howk, and if anyone decides to journey to the East Side tonight, be sure to wear dancin’ shoes. U.S.E brings the party.

DIY Turntable

posted by on May 11 at 9:25 AM

Looking for a weekend project? Last year, I found out about the CardTalk record player while watching The Tailenders, a documentary about the Global Recordings Network’s use of low-tech, self-powered playback devices for Christian missionary activity. An ingeniously folded piece of cardboard plus a crude needle and presto, a DIY turntable!


CardTalk player


Mountain States Collector has a profile of the CardTalk player. To build one, see Williamston High School science teacher Mr. Keith’s CardTalk diagrams at his Neat Science site.

Once you’re done, you may want to make your own Underwater Listening Booth. For true hi-fi reproduction, you can shell out up to 14 grand for a Laser Stylus Turntable.

The DIY turntable is another argument for the pro-vinyl crowd. Unlike magnetic tape, compact discs, and software-dependent players (iPod and personal computer), vinyl playback is an easily reverse-engineered post-Apocalypse technology and perhaps more durable, too. Tape remains vulnerable to strong magnetic fields, oxide shedding, and adhesive deterioration (such as Sticky Shed Syndrome).

The compact disc seems likely to last despite some kvetching by klutzes; though a brilliant invention, the playback and storage parameters of the CD seem profoundly counterintuitive; the inscribing act of vinyl cutting is closer to sculpting, carving, and writing than digital playback’s finely honed clocking of zeros and ones. Also, the much narrower data track of the DVD renders discs even more vulnerable to stray scratches and other accidental damage.

Of course, vinyl has limits too.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chromeo: “Fancy Footwork”

posted by on May 10 at 2:00 PM

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Chromeo’s She’s in Control dropped in 2004, a seemingly anomalous holdover of electro-clash (not clash) amidst a rising tide of disco-punk. But of course, Chromeo weren’t so much a holdover from 2001 as from 1981—an homage to classic electro, freestyle, and new-wave synth funk. In a way, they worked two levels of nostalgia: the telescoping nostalgia for that which just occurred as well as a more generational nostalgia for those of us who were kids of the ’80s. So the timing was pretty much perfect for that album (and it didn’t hurt to get a big push from Vice at what may have been their perfect intersection of street-cred and market saturation). But now Chromeo are releasing Fancy Footwork, their sophomore full-length, in the height of a wave of ’90s nostalgia—typified by the return of the “rave” aesthetic, the filter house/big beat of Ed Banger et al, and all manner of ’90s indie rock heavyweights on the reunion tour circuit. And, to their credit, Chromeo haven’t changed a thing, save for glossing up the production a bit and leaning more on the synths than the guitar. Yesterday, somebody— Jonathan maybe—expressed some doubt as to whether Chromeo could do well with another album of the same sort of stuff or if they’d be dismissed as a novelty act that had already done their bit. But from what I’ve heard of the new record, I wouldn’t worry any about Dave 1 and Pee Thugg. So they choose to work within pretty well defined, even vintage stylistic boundaries—they still write funny, funky songs that are amusing at home or on headphones and functional floor-fillers at the club. The album’s title track is an early favorite, thought “Bonafied Lovin’” and “Momma’s Boy” are also pretty great.

Chromeo play Sing Sing’s 1 Year Anniversary Party with Flosstradamus @ Chop Suey on July 20th (as mentioned in these comments). I missed them last time through town, but I’ve been assured that they’re fucking rad live and I can’t wait to find out.

Chromeo - “Fancy Footwork” (Myspace)

Lifesavas @ Chop Suey

posted by on May 10 at 1:02 PM

Seattle is becoming a certified hiphop Mecca. Last night’s Lifesavas show at Chop Suey was like a rogue’s gallery of classic heads—in the audience were Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler of Digable Planets, former Jurassic Fiver Chali 2Na, Vitamin D (who’s presumably working w Chali on his solo joint), local intellectual hoodrat Gabriel Teodros, and our own hiphop scribe extraordinaire Larry Mizell, Jr.

It wasn’t as crowded as it should’ve been for an album release party for a local hiphop act poised to break into the bigtime this year, but that’s Seattle for you, too. In New Zealand they call it “tall poppy syndrome”—everyone comes up together, achieving the same modest success. The one flower that grows higher than the rest is the first to get chopped down. Blue Scholars can pack two nights at the Showbox but Lifesavas can’t fill Chop Suey? Weird.

But that’s a different matter. Lifesavas are awesome performers, MCs Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbageman pumping each other up, clowning each other, backing up verses or spitting them back and forth. They came out with several tracks from their debut, songs that fit comfortably, timelessly, alongside De La Soul on the true-school continuum. Reverend Shines handled the decks, mixing Lifesavas tracks, throwing in the occasional scratch or sample. Even for a smallish crowd—the room was maybe half-full—the band gave it full-force and the folks up front were fully absorbed.

Side note: How many times have the words “Say HO!” been uttered at hiphop shows? How many times have people been told to put their hands in the air? These tropes have gone beyond familiar, beyond expected, beyond tired even and are now ingrained into the very DNA of the hiphop concert. But that’s also a different matter.

Even Lifesavas brand new tracks, swimming in ’70s-style fonk and soul production, sound like old favorites. “The Dead Ones,” about rampant materialsm, worked a la-la chorus, followed by “Shine” and “Celebration.” These tracks bore a bit too much similarity, with “me, us, you, they” sort of repeated choruses. Still, Jumbo and especially Vurs delivered each song with such unerring gusto, lyrics perfectly enunciated and emphasized, that they were gripping.

Lifesavas came out for a two-song encore and again the crowd—or at least what was left of what little there was to begin with—ate it up. They’re about to embark on a five-week national tour to support their brilliant new album Gutterfly. It’ll be interesting to see if they get more love outside their own home region.

Justify Your Pod: Megan Seling vs. 107.7 the End’s Andrew Harms

posted by on May 10 at 1:02 PM

This is Andrew Harms:

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He’s the night DJ over at 107.7 The End. He’s also a good friend of mine and very hilarious. I recently took his fancy little iPod hostage, and boy did I find some treasures. There was some Zebrahead (ew!), a lot of Motown (that one’s more surprising than embarrassing), some Carpenters Christmas tunes (wha?), and a lot of Led Zeppelin. A LOT of Led Zeppelin. I also make fun of his ankle socks and his inclination to go running while listening to ESPN podcasts.

Click here to listen.

Seriously. It’s funny.

Tonight at Sonic Boom in Fremont

posted by on May 10 at 12:30 PM

A bunch of wildly smart and attractive people are giving a free reading. These people include: Joan Hiller of Sub Pop, Josh Feit of The Stranger, Eric Fredericksen of Western Bridge, the DJ and promoter and prolific Slog commenter Kerri Harrop, and, uh, me.

Oh, and of course Sean Nelson, the evening’s host. It’s called Rock Crit’s Greatest Hits, but don’t worry, it’s not going to be all that rock-crit-y. Josh Feit is reading the Rolling Stone cover story about Patty Hearst from back in the day—he has the actual issue, yellowed with age. And I’ll be reading excerpts from The White Album by Joan Didion, including the stuff about what John and Michelle Phillips did in the limo on their way to the hospital for the birth of their daughter Chynna.

Did I mention it’s free? And that no one will ask you to buy anything? And that several of the readers are single? And that it will be homey and funny and you can sit on the floor if you want? And that it starts at 7 pm? And that the address is 3416 Fremont Avenue N? If you get lost: 206-633-BOOM.

UPDATE: And there will be beer.

ESG Drummer Arrested For Workers’ Comp Fraud

posted by on May 10 at 11:20 AM

See, people, this is what happens when you sample “U.F.O.” without paying royalties.

Mr. Roboto

posted by on May 10 at 10:32 AM

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The vocoder is a processor that makes your voice sound like a robot. A voice – encoder. It digitizes and encrypts sound and compresses it into a narrow vocal bandwidth channel. Vocals are synthesized, and audiences, electrified. A droid on the mic sexes up any sonic combination. Circuitry gets wet with it.

Herbie Hancock, Air, Trans Am, Cher, U.S.E., Kraftwerk, The Faint, and Ween have all dabbled with vocodeness as a musical instrument. And there are many others, like Styx’s, “Mr. Roboto.”

Then there’s the whole pitch shift aspect, for Britney Spears, J-Lo, and Anthony Kiedis, who need help hitting their note. But that’s cheating.

What are your favorite vocoder songs and bands? What kind of vocoder do you use?

Korg, Roland, Atrise? Alesis has some vocoders in the analog realm where you have to manually tune it to a note. With no presets, you have to turn then knob until you find your note. A bitch on stage.

From Wik-i’mina hurria:

In 1970, electronic music pioneers Wendy Carlos and Robert Moog developed one of the first truly musical vocoders. A 10-band device inspired by the vocoder designs of Homer Dudley, it was originally called a spectrum encoder-decoder, and later referred to simply as a vocoder. The carrier signal came from a Moog modular synthesizer, and the modulator from a microphone input. The output of the 10-band vocoder was fairly intelligible, but relied on specially articulated speech. Later improved vocoders use a high-pass filter to let some sibilance through from the microphone; this ruins the device for its original speech-coding application, but it makes the “talking synthesizer” effect much more intelligible.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

John Cage has a Secret

posted by on May 9 at 12:53 PM

“I prefer laughter to tears,” states Cage before this 1960 performance of Water Walk on the game show I’ve Got a Secret. Courtesy of WFMU blog.

Other recent youtube favorites include a bit of the CBS documentary Stravinsky, post-Miles Davis trumpet legend Bill Dixon from the film Imagine the Sound, Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, the great pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. rippling through Lush Life and his two minute tear up of Oleo.

Also check out two giants of freely improvised music guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer John Stevens and a performance of George Maciunas’ Solo for Violin (For Sylvano Bussotti).

Finally, if you haven’t seen it, yet dig Wes Montgomery performing Coltrane’s Impressions; it seems to vanish and reappear, so see it while you can.

Michael Stipe Confessional

posted by on May 9 at 11:46 AM

Michael Stipe in the “Everybody Hurts” video circa 1992:
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Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba at a recent VH1 performance:
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That is all.

War and Pizza

posted by on May 9 at 11:33 AM

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The second annual Pagliacci Battle of the Bands went down at Neumo’s last night. I put on my judging pants and joined the Weekly’s Aja Pecknold, Eli and Peter of the Croc, and Matt and Troy from Easy Street Records in ranking the victims—I mean entrants.

A note about judging band battles: You cannot judge in a vacuum. Pete and Eli maintained standards impossible to achieve—comparing these fledgling acts to Arcade Fire is bound to yield disappointment. Only after testing the field a bit, understanding the general level of talent that you’re working with, should you establish a standard.

That said, there were a few awful entries last night, a few promising bands, a good band with an awfully-dressed frontman, and a surpise finale.

The fact that the Michael Hutchence-looking lead singer of the People Now immigrated from Romania to Seattle to join the band after reading an online want-ad was astounding. It also excused his otherwise inexcusable frilly Ren Faire attire. The band was really, really OK but didn’t come out on top.

Better was Murder Dice and the Rodeo, a wonderfully sloppy funk/hiphop/R&B outfit fronted by a goofy, charismatic MC. At times it seemd each of the five members was playing a different song all at once, which was actually endearing—their energy level far outpaced their musicianship and put them in the lead til the very end.

At which point, around 12:30 a.m., Cobra Starship Iceage Cobra took the stage and somehow tipped the scales in their favor. Still recovering from a thick and snotty head cold, I was forced to bail out after just a few notes of their set, confident that they wouldn’t unseat Murder Dice, who we all had as frontrunners. I was wrong—they took the crown in the end, given perhaps as a concilliatory gesture. Apparently they narrowly lost in last year’s contest, and apparently they kicked ass this year. Congrats Jefferson Starship Cobra Age!

Also, big props to Pagliacci for putting the battle together. I’ve been involved in a number of similar contests in the past, none of which were as well organized or attended. All proceeds went to the Vera Project, and according to Pagliacci honcho Matt Galvin, they totalled a whopping five grand. Plus the pizza chain shut down all 20-something of its locations early last night so employees could attend the battle. Each of the bands had as a member at least one Pagliacci crew member, which is the reason the battle was put together in the first place. Que bello!

Invasion of Your Privacy

posted by on May 9 at 11:17 AM

Okay, so yesterday Trent Moorman made a great post, HERE, about Sonic Boom Records. In the comments, I claimed to have a book of photographs of the band RATT. I found it. I bought this book years ago, stoned out of my gourd, at Value Village. It’s one of those things that you can only magically find when your super-baked at the thrift store. At first, it looked like a library book. Then I opened it and noticed the big stamp on the first page: THIS BOOK IS NO LONGER PROPERTY OF THE KING COUNTY LIBRARY. After examining the pages and pages of pictures, I decided that the book wasn’t expelled because of age (1985), or subject matter (’80s hair metal), or for any other reasonable reason. My theory is that some little old lady librarian saw something wrong with THIS, THIS, or maybe THIS….

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What’s wrong with boys in a little spandex?

Bottomless Pit

posted by on May 9 at 10:35 AM

3 weeks, driving constantly. 1 week left. Miles compile. Traffic is blood pressure. Passenger seat sleep is surface level dreaming and a Bottomless Pit. There are no other cars at night but ours:

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Falling

I wake up falling
I’m in a bed but falling
A small clear ball filled
With fireflies
Floats above my head

Others are falling too

I see round clear plexiglass rooms
And planter boxes
People and angled structures
All falling

The firefly filled spheres
Are for as far as I can see
Above and below

Everyone and everything is falling
No one seems alarmed

* * * * * * * * * *

Bottomless

I used to imagine
Falling
In a bottomless pit
A society of falling people

If it was truly bottomless
They’d fall forever

Weightless

I imagined the edge of the cliff
At surface level
Where families and cities of people
Waited to jump with all their belongings
As a center, a place where

People congregated
To enter, throwing
Their whole lives over the edge

Beds with mahogany headboards, ovens
Showers, fireplaces, lamps, and desks
Exercise equipment, pianos
Acre size plots of soil

Rooms arranged as they were before
Upright, but falling
Everything arranged but falling
What would you need to fall forever?

Continue reading "Bottomless Pit" »


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Eric Howk, Lashes Guitarist, Hospitalized After Fall

posted by on May 8 at 2:02 PM

UPDATE: Howk did not fall from a roof or a window of a house, as originally reported. At the time of the incident, he was in the backyard of a friend’s house. The next door house was under construction, and there was an unsecured hole in the neighboring yard. Eric took a step, not seeing the hole, and fell. Clark wanted to make sure people understood that his accident wasn’t the result of drunken horseplay or bad judgment.

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On Saturday night, Eric Howk, the 25-year-old guitarist for the Lashes, fell about 12 feet from a house on Capitol Hill. He was taken to Harborview Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery, and according to bandmate and Lashes frontman Ben Clark, “The surgery went as well as it could have, and we’re hoping for everything to go well from here.” Clark didn’t want to detail Howk’s injuries too much, but says that Howk injured his back and suffered “some broken bones.”

Clark couldn’t say how long Howk will be in the hospital, but he did say Howk’s spirits are high, and the band is able to pass on any messages you leave for him through his MySpace page or the Lashes’ page.

You can also e-mail him or send a gift through Harborview’s website.

Unfortunately, Howk doesn’t have insurance, so benefit shows are in the works to help pay for his medical bills.

The Lashes were scheduled to play an all-ages show at Redmond’s Old Fire House this Friday night, but U.S.E have volunteered to fill in so the show can go on. Clark says he’ll also be at the show, so if friends and fans want to bring cards or flowers, he’ll be able to deliver them to Howk.

We’ll post more info as we get it.

So Unhappy Together!

posted by on May 8 at 1:41 PM

Remember the Turtles? That “Happy Together” song? Here they are, circa 1990, describing the f*cked-up business side of being a musician…. are all band managers this wack? Watch this. It’s pretty funny.

Just One More Thing I Loved When I Was Six, and Still Love Today

posted by on May 8 at 1:13 PM

Anathallo Tonight

posted by on May 8 at 12:45 PM

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From this week’s Stranger Suggests:

Anathallo (Music) Anathallo is a large group of young’uns from the Midwest who unite an orchestra of instruments into dynamic, fluid, and gorgeous music that doesn’t sound at all clunky and weird like Sufjan Stevens or depressed and contrived like Bright Eyes. The songs, loosely based on romantic Japanese folklore, are woven together with layers of piano, bells, percussion, hand clapping, foot stomping, flutes, horns, whistles, voices, cowbells, guitars, and strings. Seeing it live will blow your mind. (Atlas Clothing & Music, 1515 Broadway, 323-0960. 8 pm, $9, all ages.) Megan Seling

I’ve also gushed about the band here, here, and here.

Hear music here.

I’m very excited.

The Field To Play Broken Disco

posted by on May 8 at 12:20 PM

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Chop Suey booker Colin Johnson just let slip today that Swedish producer the Field will perform at Broken Disco sometime this summer. The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime is one of the year’s best minimal techno releases so far, an enveloping album of bright and cool electronics in the vein of mid-’90s head-lighteners Orbital or the Orb.

Now—on a totally unrelated note—if somebody would just book Chromeo already…

Adult. vs Client

posted by on May 8 at 11:20 AM

This has bothered me for a while now, but it only occurred to me to post something about it after I got the new Client cd, Heartland in the mail. Here’s the cover art for that album:

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Cropped (headless) women, stockinged legs, high heels. Hmmm, where have I seen that before?

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Adult. released their first single, “Modern Romantics,” in 1998, featuring the iconic (and to Bitch Magazine divisive) photography of band member Nicola Kuperus:

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Client released their first single and full-length five years later:

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And:

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vs.

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It would be bad enough if Client only jacked Kuperus’ visual aesthetic, but they also straight-up copy Resuscitation-era Adult.’s icy electro and dispassionate monotones. The facsimiles are of course duller than the originals, both in lyrical/musical content and in the cleverness of the artwork—Kuperus’ photos and lyrics depict intricate sociopathic withdrawal (with heels), whereas Client’s merely demonstrate said heels without the subtext.

Jason Hughes - El Jefe

posted by on May 8 at 10:25 AM

Jason Hughes, co-owner / chief boss director of Sonic Boom Records and Sonic Boom Recordings, sits, speaks, and bequeaths wisdom.

Discussion includes the new Sonic Boom Recordings release from Graig Markel and the repress of Death Cab for Cutie’s, Something About Airplanes. Also, he and employees talk about what’s been selling, what sells in the summer, cd thieves, and what they do to people that drop stink bombs in the store. Then, 80’s hair metal band, Ratt and the Ratt – Dub connection.

Jason announces Sonic Boom’s 10 year anniversary party at the Showbox. Ratt may play. Nothing’s confirmed.

New Kelley Polar Single Out Now!

posted by on May 8 at 10:05 AM

All Nouveau Disco fans should shuffle on over to iTunes where Environ Records has just released the new Kelley Polar single Chrysanthemum.

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The single is a soft and mellow track with nice sound efffects and, of course, some beautiful strings. It’s lyrics carry a pretty explicit anti-war message.

Where would Kelley Polar get the idea for an anti-war disco tune? In his off time from producing and touring his successful Nouveau Disco project, Kelley Polar aka Mike Kelley, (incidentally he’s also the brother of Soft Pink Truth / Matmos guest and performance maven Blevin Blechtum) is the violist in the piano quartet called the Apple Hill Chamber Players.

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Apple Hill Chamber Players give classical music master classes and scholarships to young musicians from war-ravaged areas around the globe. Apple Hill Chamber Players have performed in Palestine, Isreal, the Balkans, Algeria and Northern Ireland in their nearly 20 year history. Recently they’ve toured the Caucasus regions of the former Soviet Union They also run a summer festival and chamber music camp out of an old horse farm in New Hampshire.

Funny enough, Mike Kelley doesn’t even mention his work with as Kelley Polar on the Apple Hill Website.

The new single is pretty great though, and the b-side is fantastic too!

There’s also a video for the song, Environ’s first ever video, actually, here.

Check it out!


Monday, May 7, 2007

The Cave Singers, Fleet Foxes @ Sunset Tavern

posted by on May 7 at 7:50 PM

It’s nights like these that really get me stoked on living in Seattle.

For all the eerie and evocative descriptors assigned to the Cave Singers, they’re really a folk band, though not pure and simple. Their set started with a weird, phase-shifted electronic buzz that ran beneath the first song’s trancelike fingerpicking. That linear, repetitive fingerpicking is one half of the musical foundation behind their sound; Pete Quirk’s vocals, pinched and soulful and bruised, is the other. I can’t think of another voice like his no matter how far I reach for comparison. The band switched instruments throughout their set, Quirk attempting shaky harmonica or rankled electric guitar, the drummer scratching on a washboard, while the fingerpicking never stopped, only shifted in pace. Through all their changes, they never relinquished the serious, somber mood, a deep country, storm’s-a-comin’ ominousness that’s totally gripping. Quirk’s delivery makes some of his lyrics hard to comprehend—I wish I had a better idea what he was singing about—but overall the effect is riveting.

As for Fleet Foxes—man, what a phenomenal sound. I’ve been going through a serious ’70s soft rock phase for the last year or so and these young guys totally nail everything about that style—wistful, earnest, sweet, resigned—that I love. Trapped in the faded amber between acoustic Neil Young and “Dirty Work”-era Steely Dan, Fleet Foxes radiate refreshing sincerity singing poetic love songs. With great harmonies, sophisticated changes, and simply beautiful tunes, they had the room wrapped up in faux nostalgia and velvety joy, with just enough rockin’ thrown in to keep an edge on.

Singer Robin Pecknold has a golden voice—like Quirk’s in the Cave Singers, it’s one of the main attractions of the band, but unlike Quirk’s, it’s honey-smooth, reminiscent of demure powerhouses like Young and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Their keysman wrangled terrific sounds out of some kind of massive vintage organ—a clavinet, maybe?—that put a warm glaze over everythng. Hard to believe Pecknold and the band’s guitarist were celebrating their 21st birthdays. Like the Moondoggies—another Seattle band with a penchant for the past—these guys are way too young to sound so old. The end of the set came far too soon.

New !!! Video - “Must Be The Moon”

posted by on May 7 at 4:00 PM

!!!’s last video, for “Heart of Hearts,” captured the band at its current peak of arena-rocking greatness, cobbling together live footage to form a sort of highlight reel of the band’s stage show. That’s all well and good—the band has a decade’s worth of practice rocking those stages, and their moves are pretty sick at this point—but what about a kindler, gentler !!!, the kind that infamously used to transform Sacramento house shows into disco debaucheries? Enter, “Must be the Moon,” the band’s second single from their new grower of an album, Myth Takes. Sure, those old Sacto house parties probably weren’t nearly this coordinated in terms of freak-folk fake furs, occult decor, or psychedelic face-paint, but since we weren’t there anyway we can always imagine they were.

Decibel Creates Online Music Store

posted by on May 7 at 2:55 PM

The Decibel organization is making an understandable next step in its quest to solidify Seattle’s footprint in the world of electronic music. They’re teaming with Crazy Bird Records to create an online music store with focus (initially anyway) on artists from the Pacific Northwest. They’re currently looking for material. Full details on submission criteria and the project after the jump.

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The glory that was Romo

posted by on May 7 at 2:50 PM

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Sometimes, when feeling nostalgic for New Wave synth pop of the ’80s makes me feel guilty (or too old), I switch things up… by feeling nostalgic for the New Wave synth pop of the mid-’90s. That’s right: The short lived UK fad known as Romo. While the rest of the world was busy rocking out to grunge and “new wave of new wave” bands like S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men, a small cadre of dedicated dandies — led by DJ and writer Simon Price (above) — slapped on the ruffles and eyeliner, and sought to revive the New Romantic era under the auspices of “Romo” (short for Romantic Moderns).

Bands like Dexdexter, Viva!, Hollywood, Sexus, Plastic Fantastic, Orlando (the best of the bunch, IMO), and more came and went in the bat of a gilded eyelid; the groups with more staying power (My Life Story, the dreaded Nancyboy) tended to be acts who got lumped in with Romo, rather than pledging any allegiance to the trend. The bulk of the music was tinny crap, all pretense and no tension, but it was fun while it lasted.

For a snarky but pretty spot-on UK TV segment on Romo from back-in-the-day (with Steve Strange from Visage looking like hell), watch this YouTube clip. Want more? Check out the sights and sounds in detail at This Is Romo, or download an embarrassingly enthusiastic trend story I wrote on Romo for CMJ New Music Monthly in 1996 here.

(Hat tip to my pal Randy at Sony BMG for sending me that YouTube link.)

Masquerade - Pinocchio …And The Rise Of Disco Prog

posted by on May 7 at 1:42 PM

Boris Midney emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in the late ‘60’s. Once in New York he began a musical career that would take him to the heights of popularity during the disco era. He was a talented multi-instrumentalist and producer who had a huge impact on Disco. Especially in the vein of the long thematic albums that would shape a sub-genre of Disco I like to call Progressive Disco, or Disco Prog. One of his albums in particular, Beautiful Bend is one of the greatest productions of the decade in any musical style. Boris never released music under his own name, he always made up fictitious group names for his various excapades. Today’s Dust Bin choice, in particular, totally exemplifies the style of Boris’ thematic Progressive Disco.

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Masquerade was a project from 1979 on Prelude records. Once again Boris did most of the work with the exceptions of the strings, guitars and drums. The two completely mixed sides tell the story of Pinocchio’s birth, travels, troubles and his homecoming. But true to Midney’s form it’s not a direct story as much as an assemblage of themes and emotions that are brought out by the music in a number dancefloor fillers. Some of the track titles allude directly to the story (Don’t Leave Me Hanging, Wooden-Wooden Puppet) and others are a little more abstract (I’m Attached To You, Open The Secret Door). Through the seven “scenes” the album manages to relay the main themes of Pinocchio’s story without getting all Disney-ish and treacle-y.

The two sides combine to make a nice 34 minute story, which I think follows in the vein of some of Prog’s best footsteps; long songs, progressive music and thematic connections. Die-hard Prog fans may think I’m daft, but I believe this to be the logical step beyond and outside of the conventions prog was stuck in at the time. Groups like Yes and Genesis (as well as too many others to name) were trying to find ways to make their music more “pop” and successful, and by doing so were ending up with albums full of shorter radio friendly tracks. While possibly producing a few hits this trend was basically driving nails through the heart of what was then known as “Prog”.

I believe that what Boris Midney and other long-form, Progressive Disco producers of the time (Alec Constandinos, Cerrone….) were doing was laying the groundwork for artists who were coming along with electronics and synths, ready to give the world a different kind of experience. Not just music to listen to while sitting in front of your record player getting stoned, but one in which the listener could become an active participant on the dance floor. Then with the death of disco, they could lead us back in front of our stereos again, but this time with a greater acceptance and understanding of electronic and dance music (Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis….).

You can sample both tracks at my blog, here.

You’ve Got Mail

posted by on May 7 at 12:15 PM

In today’s mail I received two records by two different bands in two separate packages from two different labels:

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Weird.

Portland New Rave

posted by on May 7 at 12:05 PM

I spent Friday night and most of Saturday visiting our smug neighbor to the south, Portland. I was a guest at Juicy, a nominally gay dance night that is definitely worth checking out if you’re ever down there. But the highlight of my visit came courtesy of a large junk/antique store on Hawthorne (I think it was called “Home” or “House”—there was a veggie dog stand outside), where I found these cassettes tapes (priced at $0.50 each):

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The place had dozens and dozens of these things, all with pastel inserts, many recorded at the same “summit” at Stanford (?!) in 1991, a veritable cornucopia of psychedelia-themed audio cassettes (and some vhs too). I haven’t listened to them yet, but if there’s anything particularly funny, I’ll post the audio.

Dead People’s Furniture

posted by on May 7 at 10:55 AM

I am completely smitten with this new Olive Way vintage store, the Anne Bonny:

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The shop is operated by this kindly retired fisherman, who is reportedly quite adept at singing chanteys and bawdy songs:

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Capt. Moody’s wares include ugly lamps, taxidermy forms, and “dead people’s furniture.” He also has some old records lying around; last week, I found a copy of the dreaded physical fitness anthem “Chicken Fat.” Oh, and the collection of clown paintings is world class. This is my favorite:

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Is it just me, or does the subject bear a terrifying resemblance to Roy Wood of Wizzard?

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Anyone Else Have This Problem?

posted by on May 7 at 10:35 AM

This morning I woke up with this song in my head:

I’ve been listening to Mclusky all morning in an effort to get it out, but it just. won’t. budge.

“I need a C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R!”