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Archives for 05/13/2007 - 05/19/2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ian Curtis, July 15, 1956 – May 18, 1980

posted by on May 18 at 5:00 PM

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27 years ago today, Ian Curtis of Joy Division hanged himself, leaving behind one of punk’s most enduring and iconic legacies.

Control, the new Anton Corbijn-directed film based on the biography written by Curtis’ wife, Deborah, received a glowing reception at the Cannes Film Festival according to this BBC report.

And coincidentally, I just started reading Chris Ott’s 331/3 book about Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, and it’s nerdy and great so far.

Best Song Ever (This Week): “Jason’s Basement” by the Gossip

posted by on May 18 at 3:47 PM


“Jason’s Basement” is exactly two minutes long in its recorded form off of Movement. I have to post this YouTube video of the song being played in Dublin because it is near impossible to get in touch with people from KRS in order to get permission to post recorded material, and we don’t want to get our pants sued. Sorry, dudes!

Anyhow, “Jason’t Basement” is arguably the best song the Gossip have recorded yet. Beth Ditto is singing in her best way–-girl is wailing but she’s not just screaming, she’s still singing. For a song about not being shy on the dance floor, it sure is powerful.

Brace Pain’s guitar is super dancy low-end stuff, throwing in the occasional feedback, as he usually does. This song is totally perfect for gettin’ your Jimmies out. Fuck, I wanna blast it right now in the office and dance around and get my brain working again and just WORK THAT SHIT OUT, but my officemates probably wouldn’t appreciate that.

Oh well.

Synthesizer/Electronic Music Composition Challenge

posted by on May 18 at 3:16 PM

Commenter Garrett reminded me to post about this electronic music composistion competition being held. Everything about the release is a bit vague, so I’m sure the submissions will be all over the map. Then again, I suppose that’s part of the fun. Bust out your Moog and whip up a lil somethin’.

Announcing a Synthesizer/Electronic Music Composition Challenge for the Seattle area.

What: A composition contest using synthesizer/electronic sound design
and composition skills.

Deadline: Submissions must be postmarked by June 14, 2007 and received
by June 20.

When: Contest judging event is Tuesday, June 26th, starting at 8:00 p.m.

Where: CHAC Lounge, 1621 12th Avenue, Seattle (the lower level of the
Capitol Hill Arts Center)

How Much: There is no cost to enter though compositions must be
submitted in Audio CD format.

Prizes: 1st Place: $75 worth of equipment from the Guitar Center, 2nd
Place: $35 Guitar Center Gift Certificate, 3rd Place: $25 Guitar Center
Gift Certificate.

Visit the website to download the contest rules/entry
form:http://home.comcast.net/~electronicmantra

More details after the jump.

Continue reading "Synthesizer/Electronic Music Composition Challenge" »

Prophets in the Midst

posted by on May 18 at 3:14 PM

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Killah Priest is back on at Nectar. The show was originally scheduled for last week before being taken off of Nectar’s calendar without a word from the venue, leaving us wondering if it was postponed or even existed at all in the first place. But, for now at least, it looks like the Priest will be coming up with Vast Aire and Prodigal Sunn on June the fifth to play with Bronze Nazareth’s the Wisemen. Mark your calendars.

In Other Lionel Richie News

posted by on May 18 at 2:45 PM

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Aja West, the subject of this week’s music lead, has enough whacked-out anecdotes to fill a book—a trippy, not-for-kids comic book drawn by R. Crumb and colored by Salvador Dali, maybe. One ridiculous bit that didn’t make it into the story in the paper came from an experience West had years ago, when he was living in L.A., working at the Conan O’Brien Show, running a fledgling on-line music store for a major Internet portal, and producing music.

“Lionel Richie wanted to do a comeback album. One of the concepts was he wanted to do an old-school funk album. So I’m over at his studio, and we were just sitting there talking, bullshitting around. I had met him a few times before, he’s a really cool guy. At one point he got up and opened up a closet and I couldn’t believe it… There in Lionel Richie’s studio, in the closet, he’s got the head from the “Hello” video. The closet opens and the head is just there, staring out at you. I offered him my son for that thing.”

West had other far-out tales (besides Lionel Richie, giant hamster wheels, Microsoft mushrooms, and the North Sea island of Vlieland) that maybe we’ll get to later on. They’re worth it.

As an aside, in Google-searching for that freakish image up above, I found this pretty hilarious page about a couple guys trying to reproduce their own Lionel Richie head. A sample:

April 24, 2003 (Barbara Streisand/Shirley MacLaine’s birthday)

Today, I went to Lloyd’s house to begin the Lionel Ritchie head project. First, Lloyd and I enjoyed a beer as Lloyd showed me his pottery, his house, and explained different kinds of glazings, firings and techniques. What I remember most vividly from our conversation is that we had lite beer.

Brilliant.

“Easy” Like Faith No More

posted by on May 18 at 2:38 PM

In 1992, two years after the mega-success of their breakthrough album The Real Thing, nobody expected Faith No More to record a cover of an ’80s lite-radio classic and film a video with a gaggle of transvestites. Which is exactly what makes the band’s spot-on faithful version of Lionel Richie’s “Easy” so goddam awesome.

Frizzelle’s been singing the chorus in the office all afternoon. This one’s for you, Christopher.

Jukebox Hero

posted by on May 18 at 12:55 PM

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Warning: If you are at a bar, choosing the 44-minute live version of the Allman Brothers’Mountain Jam” for the jukebox may be an unwise move.

You will receive dirty looks and possibly a beating. Someone might also secretly place loogie in your next beer-type beverage.

Disc 2 of the 1970 Live at Ludlow Garage is best suited for home listening. Sound is raw, but for Duane Allman fans, this recording caught him at the height of his playing. On disc 1, his solo in “Dreams” transports.

“Climb down off the hilltop, baby, and get back in the race.”

New Beastie Boys Videos: “Off the Grid” and “The Rat Cage”

posted by on May 18 at 12:40 PM

The Beastie Boys have released a pair of videos for songs from their upcoming instrumental album The Mix-Up.

“Off the Grid” starts off with a familiar “Superfly” bassline-conga break that gets slinked up by Adrock’s chinka-chinka guitar syncopation. Pretty standard stuff, albeit funky and restrained—until the halfway point. The guitar goes all phase-shifted and psychedelic, Mike D’s drums kick in, and funky is replaced by funk, as in mood—sort of swirling, post-rock angst, playful but in a roughhousing kinda way.

“The Rat Cage” is lo-fi spy-jazz noir, sly and seductive, riding Money Mark’s midnight organ vamps and a dive-bar’s-worth of reverb. It’s propulsive, it’s suggestive, and while it’s far from virtuosic, the Beasties’ attitude and expertise come through in its overall sound.

Both tracks are better than I expected. I really like the grimy, garagey production—if there’s any whiff of punk rock here, it’s in the dirty tone of the instruments and the dudes-in-a-room looseness and echo of these songs, not in their energy. Which is fine. The Boys are 40 years old.

The Beastie Boys play a “live jazz” set at Sasquatch! next Saturday, May 26.

Blue Scholars Fans and Black Anger…

posted by on May 18 at 12:20 PM

… tell us How It Was - at the Blue Scholars Bayani Album Release Party - the sold-out show with Black Anger, and Kidz in the Hall. You might have already read THIS review. Now watch the video - interviews outside Friday night’s show, during the Scholars set.

My impression was the Scholars fans were beyond impressed, Black Anger was beyond happy to be in back the 206, and the dude from Kidz was wearing his drunky pants…

Also, who picked up Bayani at the show? HOW IS IT?!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Re: Computer Music Turns 50

posted by on May 17 at 10:50 PM

In celebration of the birthday of computer music, here’s a primer on the world of electronic music from 1983. If you’re into analog synths and oscilloscopes, here’s some gear-porn for you.

But wait, there’s more. Here are parts two and three.

The Blakes Sign to Light in the Attic

posted by on May 17 at 3:30 PM

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Seattle’s own Light in the Attic Records has signed bloozy garage-rocking hometowners the Blakes.

“We were getting interest from a lot of labels and we put ‘em off for a bit until we got everyone figured out,” says Blakes drummer Bob Husak. “We got flown to L.A. to see some labels, we played South by Southwest, and finally met this one guy Matt and this local label, and we realized that this is the guy and this is the label.”

This summer, LITA will release an EP with a few new songs and a few from the band’s self-released LP. They’ll follow that up with a re-release of the LP with bonus material, all enhanced by the crafty album art the label is known for.

The Blakes play Sasquatch! Music Festival on Saturday, May 26 at noon. A national tour is in the works.

Computer Music Turns 50

posted by on May 17 at 1:41 PM

On or about May 17, 1957, Newman Guttman’s In the Silver Scale, the first piece of computer music, was heard at Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey.


old radio crystal tins

Amazon.com has all 19 seconds of In the Silver Scale; as music, it’s a nugatory morsel. Yet the history and repercussions of computer music remain largely unknown.

Continue reading "Computer Music Turns 50" »

The Input: A Female Jack

posted by on May 17 at 12:28 PM

guvnorx1.jpgToday we are talking input jacks. The part you plug into. The female end. If you’ve got gear, you’ve got inputs, and chances are, you’ve had problems with them. Be it 5 pin or quarter inch, the in and out wear and tear on your input jack causes it to get loose and your sound suffers.

What can you do? How do you safeguard your input jacks? What are your worst input stories?

You never know exactly when the input is going to falter. Usually, at your biggest show, or when you’re in the studio. There’s a crinkle, or a loss of signal, or buzzing. You troubleshoot every other piece of gear before you realize, maybe it’s the input jack.

The fine Pro Audio folks at Guitar Center spoke and said guitars are the most often seen items with input problems. It’s that big old quarter inch jack you plug into and out of over and over again.

The poor, innocent input pays the price for the deliverance of your rock action.

Depending on how you use your gear, obviously, has a lot to do with it. But when you have just finished a set, and you’re rushing to get your stuff off stage, sometimes you pull your chords out quickly. As much as you try to baby your equipment, inevitably there’s some thrashing that happens.

There is corrosion as well, that can be an issue. Gear gets old, and inputs don’t like the elements. Inputs also don’t like beer, or sweat, or blood. Even in the cleanest, vacuum of a studio, inputs cause trouble.

The fix: tighten down the input sleeve screw, or completely replace the input. Some guitars have a recessed jack that is harder to work with. On other gear, sometimes you’re dealing with a circuit board, and that’s always fun.

To avoid input problems on the guitar, you could go wireless. Then you have to deal with interference issues. Unless you’re Slash though, who wants to go wireless?

Tonight…Tonight…

posted by on May 17 at 12:15 PM

Won’t be just ANY night, fucker.

Oh, no.

As you damn well know, tonight The Stranger is hosting the most glorious happening at Neumos…the incomparable Miranda July, Sarah Rudinoff, Fucking In The Streets, et al, reading, singing, and being generally fabulous. You must be there of course. But did you also know that at the exact same time, downstairs, in Neumo’s VIP room (aka “the basement”)…

It’s the return of Fascinator!

The relatively long-running and pop-pop-popular dance night at Vito’s reportedly went tits up a while back, accompanied by some contentious whispers that the venue’s management was totally unthrilled by the idea of the place becoming “a gay hangout”. Apparently, this had a lot to do with Fascinator’s decision to pack up and call it quits.

But Fascinator has just lately emerged gloriously from it’s own ashes, and it is now to be held every Thursday night in the far less homophobic VIP basement of…Neumo’s!

Yes, yes, YES!

As if Miranda July and Sarah Rudinoff (et. al.) weren’t sufficient, you can also skip downstairs to Neumo’s VIP area and dance, dance, dance to the joyful spinnings of DJs TEA BAG, STINKY PINKY and JACK!

UP! DOWN! BOTH events are FREE!

You MUST!

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More Block Party Bands Announced

posted by on May 17 at 10:27 AM

Just added:

FRIDAY July 27 - just added BLUE SCHOLARS, BLOOD BROTHERS, LESLIE AND THE LYS, NATALIE PORTMAN’S SHAVED HEAD, SPEAKER SPEAKER, KANE HODDER, LITTLE PARTY AND THE BAD BUSINESS, THE PHARMACY, SIBERIAN also playing: SILVERSUN PICKUPS, GIRL TALK

SATURDAY July 28 - just added AGAINST ME!, THE COPS, TALBOT TAGORA, BOAT, DYME DEF also playing: AESOP ROCK, THE CRIBS, THE INTELLIGENCE, THE WHORE MOANS, THE CAVE SINGERS, GRAND ARCHIVES

Visit www.myspace.com/capitolhillblockparty for the complete line-up.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES

posted by on May 16 at 4:30 PM

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MUSIC CONNECTS ALL.

Sorry to get all metaphysical up in this piece, but the synchronicity is too fucking perfect to ignore: As the comments thread on Eric’s hippies ‘n’ banjos post touched on ancient Pythagorean musical theory and its modern-day implications, I’ve been editing a story about Secret Chiefs 3, whose ringleader, Trey Spruance, considers himself a neo-Pythagorist, a student of the Greek philosopher’s theories about the “music of the spheres.”

If you haven’t dug into Secret Chiefs 3, now’s the time. Led by Spruance, abetted by Seattle violinist/noisemeister Eyvind Kang, SC3 play a galloping, schizoid mix of Middle Eastern classical, midnight surf rock, death metal, Bollywood big band, and Ennio Morricone soundtrack grandeur. It’s truly, extraordinarily weird stuff, and occassionally totally awesome.

While the music is full-blown head-exploding, the symbology that Spruance layers in the band’s song and album titles and album art is what really draws me in. Numerology, Satanism, Kabbalah, Islamic mysticism—all sorts of intriguing occultism shows up in their work. It’s totally fun, absorbing stuff and even somewhat enlightening. If you’re into enlightenment, that is.

I wrote one of my favorite Pitchfork reviews ever about the band. They inspire a wonderful type of madness like nobody else.

Secret Chiefs 3 play Neumo’s Tuesday, May 29.

Q: Are Seaweed Reuniting, Playing Bumbershoot?

posted by on May 16 at 4:17 PM

A: Yes!

Via the band’s MySpace blog:

All rumors are true. Seaweed is getting it together to do a reunion show at Bumbershoot, Seattle’s greatest music festival. Date/place/time is September 2 at the EMP Sky Church-9:30 PM.

The band is shockingly thrilled to get back together and play in front of our friends and fans once again. All members have returned except they are now playing with long-time friend Jesse Fox of Polecat and Leuko, two excellent NW bands.

Also Jesse and I are working hard on new tracks as well in a shack in South Tacoma—demos should be complete by the end of summer.

The best Seaweed album is yet to come. Tentative title-Small Engine Repair.

Dude.

Are You There, Tinky? It’s Me, Orc Rock

posted by on May 16 at 2:30 PM

This week in death metal, it’s Kennewick’s, Strigoi.

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Noel, Mark, Wylie, Ern, David, and James.

There is evil, and then there is pure evil. Strigoi are pure evil. They have a pentagram with 666, and a horned skull logo. ‘Strigoi’, meaning the evil souls of the dead rising from the tombs at night to haunt the neighborhood. The name comes from the Romanian ‘striga’, which means to yell, and from the Italian, ‘strega’, which means witch.

It’s orc rock at its guttural-est. I mean, Satan has landed here, and he’s putting orc babies in blenders and making oreo orc baby shakes.

Godamn this stuff always scares the shit out of me. Anytime there is actual usage of 666, you should be scared. See, I knew there were monsters under my bed.

Apparently, there were some problems with a neighbor. Here is a posting from their site:

We would like to take this time to say FUCK YOU to Jerry Cunningham, the neighbor that has been a real pain in our ass over the last 6-8 months. As of Sept. 8th, the Noise Ordinance Violation case against us has been dropped. Jerry is an asshole, and the whole Benton County Police Dept. knows it.

Strigoi play July 7th at Jimmy Z’s.

I’m going to go watch Teletubbies and try to get these guys voices out of my head.

Seriously, I Don’t Hate All Books

posted by on May 16 at 12:35 PM

Yeah, so the wounds have hardly healed from when I ripped Matt Diehl’s heart out (or at least bruised his ego enough to warrant the threat of a lawsuit), but Jeff, the new books intern, just made my day by passing along the brand new copy of Revolution on Canvas Vol 2: Poetry From the Indie Music Scene.

It’s over 200 pages of poems and short stories from members of bands like Gatsby’s American Dream, HelloGoodbye, Hey Mercedes, Rise Against, the Matches, Cobra Starship, and a bunch of other acts that Alternative Press would put on the cover in a heartbeat.

It’s pure gold.

The first and most obvious target is the poem by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, which is about a “sexy” but guilt-ridden one-night stand. I can’t post the whole thing here because a) it’s too long and b) it’s too terrible and typing the whole thing out will make me spit up stomach bile all over my keyboard and I’m pretty sure the tech dudes wouldn’t appreciate that at all, but here are a few choice clips:

Tonight we lie in a city that doesn’t belong to either of us. From the penthouse it looks like a movie set. The grays are too perfect.
If feels lit for a camera. The moon is too yellow and perfect.
Babygirl, with pupils the size of baby worlds.
She said, “I just want you to know that I never do things like this.”
But only people who always ‘do things like this’ say lines like that.
I reply, “There are cobwebs on the zippers of all my jeans.”
And I’m thinking God must be a hack for writing such shitty dialogue like that.
No one gives a fuck about eyes that keep leaking.
Always hushing the headboard on beds that keep creaking.
“If I wasn’t writing words and singing into microphones, I’m pretty sure I would make a good divorce lawyer or mercy killer.”

My favorite line, though, is “I love you in a holding your hair back kind of way.”

What the fuck does that even mean? A “holding your hair back kind of way?” Well then.

The kicker is actually the books press release, though, which has the audacity to say this about the works contained therein: “In the unfiltered spirit of Ginsberg and Bukowski but with more vibrant and youthful buoyancy…”

I just puked in my mouth again.

The Banjo and the Back Porch

posted by on May 16 at 11:34 AM

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From the Wikipedia entry for “Hippie”

I have a theory re: Jonathan’s warranted gushing over the Avett Brothers (“there’s every reason for them to go big this year”) and this comment from “Let’s Make God’s Eyes Together” (isn’t that a Devendra Banhart song?):

Great…more banjo acoustic folky good time shit with bearded hairy people. The whole world’s gone old timey country fair. I suppose the Renaissance Faire is going to be hip one day. Oh wait…Joanna Newsom has that covered I guess, never mind. Wake me up when this horrible dream is over.

On the one hand, I think the current love for freaky, folky, good time shit represents a naive nostalgia for some idealized pre-modern time—a banjo and a back porch looking out over endless, unspoiled land and possibility. It’s a retreat from the problems of modernity. On the other hand, this horrible dream will never be over. Once the oil runs out, it’s gonna be nothing but “old timey country fair”—better put down that laptop and learn how to finger pluck. This shit is just a warm-up for the subsistence farming that’s right around the corner, when life will be hard, but the hootenannies will be hairy and psychedelic!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In Which We Continue Our Gushing Praise of the Avett Brothers

posted by on May 15 at 4:52 PM

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This past Saturday a friend of mine was taking a morning stroll with his kids around his Grammercy Park neighborhood in Manhattan (he’s a full-blown yuppie, but great people). He passed Irving Plaza—recently rechristened by LiveNation “The Fillmore New York”—and a line of people out front.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked.

“Waiting for the Avett Brothers show,” was the response. Doors wouldn’t open for another eight hours.

This was the day after their triumphant appearance on Conan O’Brien where they sang “Paranoia in B Flat Major” from their just-released album Emotionalism. You can catch a different version on YouTube because NBC already took down the Conan clip.

There’s every reason for the Avetts to go big this year—a terrific album, another cross-country tour, Coachella, Bumbershoot, general awesomeness. Don’t doubt.


Soulive, So Close

posted by on May 15 at 2:01 PM

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Soulive crashed out of the Northeast soul jazz scene around the turn of the millennium, an uber-talented and ultra-cool trio of brothers Neal and Alan Evans on keys and drums, respectively, and guitarist Eric Krasno. The guys were hot-chopped torch bearers for the Grant Green/Wes Montgomery organ-trio style of Blue Note Records in the late ’60s, pumping out tight, punchy instrumental jams punctuated by Alan Evans’ hiphop-inflected drumming and Krasno’s hollow-body guitar flights. Their first two albums were incredible, fully within that classic jazz trio lineage that they studied, but fresh and vital as hell. Their live shows were impeccably funky affairs, headnodding on mid-tempo, organ-driven compositions and furious improvisation made to look easy.

It’s been a bumpy ride since then.

They added an able sax player in Sam Kinninger, a move that only diluted the hard-swinging power of the trio format. Their only album on Blue Note was good but not great. Their last album matched the trio with a slew of guest vocalists and musicians, from Chaka Khan to Ivan Neville to Reggie Watts—further watering down their instrumental potency. Armed with a chunk of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, their performances in 2004-2005 were actually majorly raucous affairs, proving that they still had the chops and the energy to kill in a live setting.

Adding vocalists, horns, and MCs (they’ve backed Talib Kweli on a number of occassions and fucking wrecked shit) makes for a more accessible sound than the straight jazz trio. I understand a band as supremely talented as Soulive needing to reach the masses, but I wish there was a different way to attempt it.

Recently signed to the revived Stax label, Soulive has a new album set for July release. They’ve got a few sample tracks on their MySpace page. They added a full-time vocalist. Hoo boy.

Rebirthed as a 21st century soul/R&B band, they again settle for a more accessible, vocal-heavy style that frankly just isn’t their forte. This new guy, Toussaint, has a sort of reggaeified Marvin Gaye thing going on that’s good but, lyrically, could be better. The few vocal songs on their MySpace are alright; the one instrumental track slams. And that’s the problem with adding a vocalist to a great instrumental band: Unless he or she is REALLY good, it’s only gonna mediocritize your sound. Is that even a word? It should be, because that seems to be what’s happening here.

Soulive plays the Showbox on May 28.

I See This As a Challenge, Seattle

posted by on May 15 at 1:49 PM

So while the McLeod Residence is hosting an Eric Lashes benefit this Thursday here in Seattle, some friends of Eric in New York are throwing one as well… and not only do they have some sweet bands playing, they made a commercial for the party.

Honestly! Are you going to take this kind of artistic insolence, McLeod Residence? Can a city 3,000 miles away beat Eric’s hometown in spirit?

Be Jealous

posted by on May 15 at 1:34 PM

Because in exactly two months I will be seeing this fine lady perform in Chicago:

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I heard her magic can only be felt through your fingertips at first, and then it spreads to the back of your neck and the bottom of your feet.

Benefit for Eric Lashes This Thursday

posted by on May 15 at 10:15 AM

This Thursday, the McLeod Residence will be hosting a benefit for seriously-injured Lashes guitarist Eric Howk. Here are the details:

Eric Andrew McLeod Howk Lashes Benefit
Thursday, May 17, 6pm - Midnight
McLeod Residence
2209 Second Avenue (between Bell and Blanchard)

As if you need additional excuses to get out, the event will also feature haircuts, a great newish collection of art curated by Chris Weber, lots of good people, photobooth messaging, and a 10 pm performance of “The Adventures of Bubble Girl and Accordion Boy” by Shayne Eastin (of L.A.-based Spider Problem) and Nate Lashes.

Ghengis Khan, Chaka Kite

posted by on May 15 at 8:41 AM

Bits and pieces from 10,000 miles plus. Head Like a Kite.

Trajectory of the vid:

Crabs, Melvins, the Nancies, Blue Oyster Cult, Barry Manilow, Peaches, Nutty Toffee Clusters, Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, metal Zamphere drum whistling of Iron Maiden’s “Ghengis Khan” performed by Dave Einmo while driving, some sort of classical subway harmonica, and Frank Sinatra.

Watch out for MapQuest, when they say right, it means left. And to the person who stole our laptop in NY, the Trashies will find you, and they will trash you.

I was non plussed about the Nutty Toffee Clusters. They need to put some mazes on the back. Or a dot to dot. If I’m going to raid your cabinet for cereal, I need a maze.

Sleep is now. Bottomless.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Black Anger, Blue Scholars @ the Showbox

posted by on May 14 at 4:50 PM

So these shows were actually a few nights ago. But I gotta ring in: Fuck yes Seattle, coming together to support hometown heroes with more true affection and enthusiasm than I’ve seen at a hiphop show in a long, long time.

Props must be given to Black Anger, one of the Northwest’s first underground hiphop crews and possibly still the best. These guys—two MCs and a DJ—might’ve laid the original template for the sound that’s increasingly becoming the signature of this region: Breaks-driven, hard-swinging funk, soul samples, and a progressive type of lyricism that would never be mistaken for either gangster or backpacker. Political but not preachy, pissed-off but playful, these guys radiated something all too rare in the Seattle scene—true authority gleaned from life experience. The sold-out crowd responded with due respect, showing recognition for the NW vets by diligently waving hands, pumping fists, etc.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with second-gen MCs, as proven by Blue Scholars’ masterful headlining set. In fact, with the Scholars, just about everything’s right. Starting off with just MC Geologic on the mike and Sabzi behind turntables, the pair dipped into older tracks, showing how tight the “one MC, one DJ” set-up can be. After about 20 minutes they went offstage for—really—a costume change that also brought out a huge, nine-piece band, horn section, rhythm section and all.

It’s not as “pure” a format as traditional turntable-driven hiphop, but live-band-backed shit can occassionally be totally thrilling. It’s also liable to fall into gimmickry, which the Scholars did on occasion. They banged out song after song from Bayani, the soon-to-be-released album celebrated by this weekend’s shows, and it was obvious the band was skin-tight and well-rehearsed. Again, the capacity crowd was dutiful in responding as told, thoroughly absorbed in the music, more so than I’ve seen in ages. The all-ages audience was mostly kids, and Blue Scholars are just old enough, just political enough, and just accessible enough to hit all the right buttons. A live cover of “Float On” was a bit of a reach—that gimmickry I mentioned—but did get the crowd even further caught up in the music, while Geo and Sabzi—now bouncing behind keyboards and running laps across the stage—ran shit like conductors.

Also heartening was seeing Mass Line compatriots RA Scion and Gabriel Teodros join the scholars on stage towards the end of the set. These guys share a common outlook in their ultra-positive lyricism, not to mention Sabzi’s heavy, heavy soul production in their music.

Which brings up the issue of the “Northwest sound.” The massive crowd and the musical common threads at these shows proved there might be hope for one yet. But it’s not coming from MCs, necessarily. What unites this region—Seattle and increasingly Portland, too—is the mighty production talents that reign here. Sabzi, Vitamin D, Jake One, Bean One, and Jumbo the Garbageman seem to share a common style, heavy on the breaks and the big beats but swimming with horns and live instruments. It’s a killer sound, hard and funky as hell, bouncy but not light, and it blends perfectly with the semi-militant, semi-intellectual lyricism of the Mass Line guys as well as Black Anger, Lifesavas, and Libretto. What I’d love to see is those cats getting together with Dyme Def, whose Space Music is still the bangin’est local hiphop album this year, to really represent the cross-section of the Northwest scene.

What Boys Talk About in the Van on Tour

posted by on May 14 at 4:40 PM

The Pharmacy is in Jacksonville, FL today, where they were staying at a friend’s mansion because their Orlando show fell through. Brendan Bowers called me up to chat, and while he was on the phone, the one-man-band they are touring with, Totally Michael, was telling stories in the background. I asked Brendan to have him tell them into the phone.

They were lewd. If these were pictures, they would be NSFW, so don’t read them aloud while your boss is in listening range or anything.

#1

Michael: “So I was doing this girl and she was a squirter. She squirted all over my chest.”
Me: “How is that even possible if you were doing it?”
Michael: “Well, I didn’t have my penis in her vagina. She was on her back, and I was on my knees and I was fingering her, and then she tilted up a little bit and squirted all over my chest.”
Me: “Did you like it?”
Michael: “Yeah, it was totally sweet! Also, this really happened, some people in the other room heard it.”
Me: “It made a loud noise when she squirted?”
Michael: “Yeah, kinda.”

#2

Michael: So my friend in DC, [REDACTED] was doing this DC punk chick, and right when he was about to start humping her she started screaming, “Don’t you do that, [REDACTED], don’t you do that!” And then he went and put it in her, and she yelled, “Oh, NOW YOU’VE DONE IT!” And it was over!
Me: That’s it?
Michael: Yeah, that story’s not very good.

Please Be Strong

posted by on May 14 at 3:17 PM

I <3 the Posies. And when I say “the Posies,” I mean Dear 23, Frosting on the Beater, and Amazing Disgrace. I’ve never paid much attention to anything else they’ve done.

Jon Auer played one of my favorite Posies songs during a solo performance in New York earlier this month, and someone Jon’s lovely wife Michelle, who works here at the paper, posted a video of it on YouTube. Until I watched it, I had forgotten (just a little bit) how much I really do like this band.

It’s just Jon singing it, so those great harmonies that I love so much in the original aren’t there, but it’s still good.

Admittedly, it’s a little moody for such a warm and sunny day, so if you don’t feel like getting all haunting and brooding and shit, here’s something to better match the weather.

Also, the Posies played two acoustic shows at the Triple Door last Thursday and I did not go. I regret it. Michelle just gave me a heads up, though, that videos from those performances are also posted online in her YouTube account. The rest of my afternoon is now booked.

Arthur Magazine To Not Die After All

posted by on May 14 at 1:44 PM

According to Pitchfork today, the free publication Arthur is not going under! Yay!

I love this magazine because it A) Has a column by Douglas Rushkoff; B) Often does its CD reviews in the format of two guys just chatting about the CD while they listen to it and cracking jokes; C) Allowed reeeaaallllyyy long articles for people to write, which just doesn’t happen in music magazines anymore (their Joanna Newsom feature must have been at least 10,000 words); D) Always had a pretty cover.

Hopefully, the distribution will be the same—I used to pick it up at Vera, Neumo’s, or the Croc. It was always there, which probably means no one reads it but me.

More Hall & Oates Fun!

posted by on May 14 at 1:37 PM

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For the rare 12” version of Family Man, as well as the original by Mike Oldfield go here!

Oldies At the Bus Stop

posted by on May 14 at 1:00 PM

I made a new friend at the bus stop last night.

His name was Luke, I think. He had a long grey beard.

He went to the original Woodstock. He told me about Janis Joplin’s costume changes (there were three) and Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner” (it was incredible). He said he stood naked on a hill in the rain, overlooking thousands and thousands of people. Everyone took of their clothes and put them under a tarp, so they wouldn’t get wet, he said, and no one lost a thing. He also said Woodstock of 1994 was commercial bullshit, and I couldn’t argue.

He told me about the Lovin’ Spoonful and how back in the day, in New York, girls lined up for blocks to see them. They had heart-shaped balloons that said “Spoonful” on them. “Girls went crazy for those guys,” he said with a smile. Then he started singing “Do You Believe in Magic.”

He told me about his friend who worked for WABC (WNBC?) which was the big New York rock radio station back in the day. They would get hundreds and hundreds of records a week, and they had three panels of listeners whose job it was to narrow the pile down to five to play on air. Five records out of 500. And I thought I was constantly being buried under music.

Then he told me about love. “You can’t take it, you can’t fake it, you can’t buy it, you can’t try it,” he said. “You just have to let it flow.” He said it’s taken him his whole life to figure out that word. I said he was wise. He disagreed. “What’s wise in the morning is stupid by the afternoon. Everything is subject to the law of change.”

He said I seem like a pretty smart and together young lady. I told him I get by okay. He told me I’m gonna be just fine.

Then he starting singing the Lovin’ Spoonful again.

Seattle Techno, Always A “Do”

posted by on May 14 at 12:48 PM

Props to Sea of Hands for posting these “Do”s from the current issue of Vice featuring Seattle’s own Truckasauras and DJ M’Château:

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Seattle represent!

You Know Who I Miss? The Gossip.

posted by on May 14 at 11:09 AM

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Photo courtesy of this blog.
The Gossip are getting HUGE in Europe. As Dave Schmader said, “They know what to do with the homo bands there.” But I miss them.

You see, for the past 3 and three quarter years I’ve lived here, I have never missed a Gossip show. Not a single one. I even saw them at Endfest, where some kid shouted, “This show is gay!” and Beth Ditto responded, “Why yes, actually. It is a gay show.” I saw them at the weird free show in the parking lot at Pride two years ago, where people were getting their hair did and eating dumpster food. I saw them at Chop Suey when Beth asked a kid in the audience if Brace Pain could have his Chilly Willy sweatshirt and the kid happily gave it up. I saw them at Neumo’s when my best friend’s former band opened for them and we secretly got drunk backstage and I told Beth about the Capitol Hill Massacre and why everyone was really freaked out (but I was mostly freaked out because I was talking to my idol).

I also lost my shit as hard as I could at every single show.

Since all their shows were always all ages, they have acquired a following of young queers or queer-allianced kids around my age (21) who see them as role models and political forces. I know I love the Gossip more than I have ever loved another band. And their records don’t do the live show justice AT ALL. Their music is the music of strong women, of strong queers who aren’t defined by their queerness, of being political in a meaningful manner, of gut-shaking soul. In my opinion, they are the most important band making music right now.

But since they have become these giant stars in Europe, I haven’t been able to see them perform since last fall. I am so bummed! They used to come up and play about once every two or three months, at least. I feel like I am suffering from withdrawal. I have to listen to their records every day as a temporary fix. Gossip, please come home!

Re: Hall & Oates to Play Seattle

posted by on May 14 at 10:52 AM

Hall & Oates to Play Seattle

posted by on May 14 at 10:29 AM

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Just announced: Daryl Hall and John Oates will hit Seattle’s McCaw Hall on Monday, August 27. Tickets cost $69.50, $59.50, $49.50 and $39.50 and go on sale Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster outlets or ticketmaster.com.

I’m pretty curious to see what they do. Now, not in 1985, but 20 years after their heyday. Plus the chance to see “Maneater” live is pretty enticing. But it’s billed as the “Soul Violins 2007” tour, a name taken from a song on their 2004 album Our Kind of Soul, which leads me to believe they’ll focus more on their mediocre new stuff rather than their stellar old stuff. That would be a travesty. But the potential here for sad/celebratory nostalgia is great, sorta like when I saw Duran Duran a couple years ago.