At the front of the bus a younger man dressed in tight green and blue plaid pants, a black velvet jacket held together with safety pins, and a full face of make-up (foundation, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and lip liner) was having some kind of discussion with a middle aged man carrying a big plastic bag and wearing a baggy brown t-shirt. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but as they both made their way to the back of the bus, where I was sitting, they took seats just a few aisles away from one another, and while the older man apologized to the younger man with his thick Cuban accent, the younger man sorta chuckled and said all was forgiven and “there’s a big difference between punk rock and a person’s sexuality.”
I assumed the Cuban man called the punk rock man gay or something for some reason.
The younger man talked about how he just left his girlfriend’s house, he’s a musician, and he explained that “I wear make-up because I hate humanity. All of humanity.”
From there the young man and the middle-aged man started talking about music. The older man said he played drums, the younger man bass. The older man asked if it it was hard to learn, and the younger man said “Well I play keyboards. Synthesizers. Bass parts are all done with synthesizers in the music I play.”
He talked about his industrial band, but he never mentioned their name.
He also said:
“Music’s the only thing that matters. Politics, the president, none of it matters. It’s all fake. Music’s the only thing that changes society.”
“Everyone wants to be an artist, but not everyone is an artist.”
“Rap is not really the highest form of music. Funny thing is I make music the same way those guys do (read: those guys meaning “mainstream rap artists”), I push a lot of buttons too, except I make real music.”
The the older man, with his Cuban accent, asked if he used Pro Tools to record.
“A little bit. I like the old-school ways of sequencing. Pro Tools is too California Hollywood bullshit.”
He continued to talk a lot about how a lot of things are bullshit, and I got off the bus.
A few years ago, in a different city, I wrote that Chow Nasty were on their way to total world domination. I stand behind that ridiculous claim. Now that the Bay Area electro-blooze trio are armed with Super (Electrical) Recordings, produced by Peanut Butter Wolf, they’re one step closer to enslaving us all with their unruly raunch-rock party jams. “Ungawa,” featuring the Mission High School cheerleaders on backing vocals along with a lowbrow drum machine beat and scuzzilicious bass line, has become an unlikely club hit favored by Peaches and Le Tigre. Some words I’ve used in the past to describe their unabashedly fun form of freak-funk: “like KY Jelly on a Wiffle ball bat,” “like hot oil on a stripper pole,” and, my favorite, “like the mystery residue on the inside of your pleather hot pants.” Yeah, that’s Chow Nasty.
Last March, Gary Miller of SeattlePowerpopBlog ran a You Am I Day, in which he spoke with a number of local rock heroes about their undying affection for the Australian rock band You Am I.
This week, Barbara Mitchell wrote a story for in the paper in which she spoke with a number of rock heroes about their undying affection for the same band.
Gary pointed out the similarity earlier this week; on the road in Australia, Barbara explains that it’s a coincidence, noting that her story was inspired when she hung with a bunch of Seattleites at You Am I’s SXSW showcase and then noticed how many the same musicians were at the last You Am I show in Seattle. Not surprisingly, many of these were some of the same folks that Gary had already spoken to.
Props to Gary and SeattlePowerpop for coming up with a great idea. And let us not forget the true moral of this story: You Am I totally rocks.
They open for Silverchair tonight at the Showbox. The show’s sold out.
Next up in my continuing series on excellent Buck Owens albums is 1965’s I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail (Capitol).
This was the first Buck Owens LP I acquired, and it was the impetus for my buying up as many as I can. It’s solid.
The title track, and album opener, is a fun, upbeat number—it’s goofy, but it’s so great. It was cowritten by one of my favorite country songwriters, Harlan Howard (“Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Life Turned Her That Way,” “Busted,” “Heartaches by the Number,” “Streets of Baltimore,”—can you believe this guy?). Turns out, Owens recorded a few more Howard songs over the years: what might be my favorite Owens song, “Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got a Heartache)”; “Foolin’ Around”; and “Above and Beyond.” In fact, Owens recorded an entire album of Howard songs: Buck Owens Sings Harlan Howard. I imagine it’s a good one. Incidentally, Howard also wrote the second song on Tiger, “Trouble and Me.”
Side A’s “Let the Sad Times Roll On,” a sorrowful, slow one, is countered on side B with the upbeat “We’re Gonna Let the Good Times Roll.” And the last song on side A, “Falling for You,” is a near-exact replica of the title track, but with different lyrics; it’s an all right song, but it’s odd to have it positioned on the record so close to its clone.
I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail only has one song I tend to skip, and it’s the last one: “Memphis,” a Chuck Berry cover. This song was unfortunately spoiled for me years ago by Johnny Rivers’ cover version that my hometown oldies radio station insisted on playing constantly. However, preceding “Memphis” is one amazing four-song stretch.
It starts with “The Band Keeps Playing On,” a typical but excellent honky tonker: “Before you reached the door/my teardrops hit the floor/and my world stopped—pause—/but the band keeps playing on.” It’s followed by the beautiful cowboy classic “Streets of Laredo,” sung solely by bassist Doyle Holly. Holly has a terrific voice, cracking in all the right spots, but he shocks the listener by bringing his vocals way, way down on the choruses—and it works; it’s not just a novelty. Next up is one of the best country songs ever, written by Owens himself, “Crying Time,” which lets us know, painfully, that it’s not just “crying time,” but it’s “crying time again.” After that is an instrumental, which Owens and the Buckaroos are experts at, a cover of Bob Wills’s “A Maiden’s Prayer.”
Here’s “Crying Time”:
And “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail.” These guys are having a good time:
Due to a family emergency, Bay Area blooze-rockers Howlin Rain had to cancel their show tonight at the Sunset. Bummer!
Still on the bill are SF acousto-rockers Citay, Seattle riffmasters Whalebones, and BC’s Bison. All three are badass psych-rock bands worth checking out. Citay, especially, has a killer big-band “Battle of Evermore” style sound to them, misty mountain hopping Zep jammery with flute and percussion and lady backup singers.
Voyager One is not a name usually associated with lasers. Projections, and space-rock, that’s Voyager One, but lasers?. The word laser is usually followed by ‘Floyd’ or ‘Zeppelin’ or ‘tag’. Or there is the dreaded Laser Green Day. Has Green Day really achieved laser status?
Well, Voyager One has, and they will be firing it up Saturday night in the Laser Dome. It’s kind of like Thunder Dome, but with lasers instead of Tina Turner.
** Voyager One - Seattle Laser Dome
Saturday, July 21st
Pacific Science Center - 200 2nd Ave N
Doors at 10:30 PM (Music at 11) All Ages / $8
16mm film visuals by Projectorhead
Laser visuals by Ivan **
It will be an audio visual extravaganza. I’m high thinking about it.
Jason, from V1 says they will be playing a Pink Floyd song. Something off The Wall.
Also, at the Laser Dome, you can get a customized laser message. I don’t think they will be doing this for the V1 show, but the next time you are at Laser Zeppelin, you can send a special message to a special friend. My laser message would be, ‘BIZALLS.’ Or ‘STAIRWAY TO BIZALLS’:
Send personal messages in laser light. For $50 you can send a message to special Pink Floyd fan right in the middle of the show!
Purchase the personal message at the ticket booth prior to the show. Just fill out the form, and they’ll deliver it to the laserist for the evening.
The Seattle Laser Dome has hosted laser rock shows for over twenty-five years. Comprised of a geodesic dome spanning eighty feet in diameter, the theater was designed by renowned architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller for the 1962 World’s Fair.
It is the largest single-purpose laser theater in the world, utilizing three different lasers with twelve variable points of projection. Combined with a 14,000-watt digital sound system, you’ll feel and see the music in a venue unlike any other.
Aesop Rock is an indie hip hop standby. You already know who he is—the man who stood at the forefront of the crowd back in the early aughts with Labor Days, whose weirdo turbo flow and East Coast provenance differentiated him (and Def Jux) from the pack of Detroit artists making the mainstream (Eminem, etc). Since then, other Def Jux artists have been carving out niches for themselves (RJD2, the Perceptionists, Mr. Lif), but Aesop Rock is still the cornerstone of that shop. His new album, None Shall Pass, is set to be released August 28th, so you can bet he’ll be previewing a lot of its tracks at his Block Party performance.
And you will want to see those tracks for sure. Judging from the title track available on his Myspace page, None Shall Pass is going to be an amazing album. It has lots of crazy guests including the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle (?!), El-P, Cage, and Camu Tao. Make sure to catch Aesop Rock in all his glory on the Main Stage on Saturday, July 28th, at 6:45 pm. It’s gonna be awesome.
(Wanna win tickets to the Block Party? Listen to the Setlist Podcast to find out how to enter.)
Listen to this week’s episode to hear Ari’s new favorite band Priests and Paramedics, my new favorite band the Hungry Pines, and a bunch of other great stuff like Paper Dolls, K. Garrard, and Branden Daniel & Everybody Gets Laid.
Plus: Win tickets to the Capitol Hill Block Party!
Big props to Neumo’s for hosting the thoroughly awesome Lee “Scratch” Perry show this past Sunday and for scheduling another night of reggae legends—drum ‘n’ bass masters Sly & Robbie with vocalist Horace Andy—on August 15.
Digging a little deeper into the scene, I’d like to discuss an issue brought up by Sunday’s show.
Most of us would agree that the indoor smoking ban is a major boon to the club scene. The question is, how far does it go?
Marijuana is technically illegal in Washington, though thanks to Prop I-75, Seattle has ranked it as its lowest law enforcement priority.
At Sunday’s show, the air inside Neumo’s was smoke-free—free of any kind of smoke. This was Lee Perry, perhaps the most blunted man in all of human history. This was a reggae show. And yet no one was smoking herb.
Until, that is, Scratch started up on the Bob Marley classic “Kaya,” which was a cue for the reefing to begin. Dude in front of me pulled out a j. “They confiscated the rest of my stash at the door,” he said.
He lit the joint and immediately an event staffer was posted on the stage, looking for the source of the smoke. Eventually, a different staffer came up from the back of the crowd and busted the smoker. Thankfully, “busted” meant he was told to put out the joint. Dude put out the joint, event staff left, and that was that. Very civil, for which Neumo’s staff deserves respect.
The question remains: What is the weed policy inside a club? Why is it apparently stricter inside a venue than outside, where city police have been coached to turn a blind eye? Is it the indoor smoking ban? Is it general club policy?With Sly & Robbie coming up, Seattle smokers should be as informed as possible about the city’s weeditude.
“If it’s cigarettes, we’re gonna get a fine,” says Steven Severin, owner/booker at Neumo’s. “If it’s an illegal substance, it gets reported to Liquor Control Board and everything else Mayor Nickels has to try ot shut down nightlife, and that’s gonna go against us.”
Severin says that Neumo’s policy for some shows—Lee Perry, for instance—is to search patrons at the door and ask that any illicit substances be taken back outside the venue. “It’s still against the law, whether I like it or not.”
If patrons cooperate, they can return to the venue and re-enter with no problem.
“We’re pretty forgiving,” Severin says. “We don’t throw people out if they get caught. We’re giving you a chance. Second time, you’re being a dick, and you get tossed out. As much as we hate it we have to be very careful. We try to help people out and skirt the lines, but being business owners we have to obey the law.”
Severin says that the Mayor-appointed nightlife task force visits Neumo’s “all the time, harassing us. It’s annoying because we work really hard to keep our ducks in a row and they still come in and sweat us. I don’t know what they’re trying to catch us doing.”
Given the hostility from the city facing all of Seattle’s clubs—one fostered by Mayor Nickels and his rampant demonizing of clubs and club owners—Neumo’s errs on the side of caution. “Don’t bring your shit inside,” Severin warns. “Don’t make it difficult for us.”
Severin’s stance is reasonable, though the need for it doesn’t make sense. Marijuana is virtually legalized on the street, but inside a concert venue—a safe, controlled environment—it’s grounds for serious fines against the venue. In public, Seattle has an extremely progressive marijuana policy, but in private—where enforcement should be more lax, not less—Seattle is still in the dark ages.
Today I learned my friend Colin really likes the Alkaline Trio. I never knew that about him despite the fact our friendship consists mostly of talking about music.
“My friend said that if i was a band, I would be Alkaline Trio,” he said to me.
“If I was a band I’d be… I don’t know what band I’d be,” I told him.
“Sleater Kinney?” He asked.
He must not know me well. I’m far too awkward to be Sleater Kinney.
He continued, “I’d say Weezer pre-suckage. Or Third Eye Blind maybe? You lead a semi-charmed kind of life.”
Third Eye Blind never, but he might not be far off about the early Weezer. Anyway, our conversation got me wondering and now I can’t shake the thought… If I was a band, what band would I be? You don’t know me (probably), so you can’y answer that. But you can tell me what band you are. So please do. I need ideas.
All this talk about pedal steel guitars has me thinking about country music—though I guess I’m always thinking about country music—which has me thinking about Buck Owens, whom I’ve been obsessively listening to for months now. The more I listen to him, the more I love him, and the more I realize how awesome and important he was to country music. And, he has a ripping steel guitarist, Tom Brumley. Observe Brumley’s magic in this video of Owens and his Buckaroos playing their hit “Together Again.” Also note how funny and awkward this performance is, especially with Owens and right-hand man Don Rich sharing a mic (and a strange discussion of pies between the show’s cohosts).
I’ve seen Buck Owens live three times (he played “Orange Blossom Special” on the fiddle in complete darkness and rocked a Dobro), slow-danced with him once onstage (to “In the Palm of Your Hand”), and more recently I’ve been buying Buck Owens and His Buckaroos’ Capitol LPs. So far I’ve got Together Again/My Heart Skips a Beat (1964), I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail (1965), The Instrumental Hits of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (1965), Carnegie Hall Concert (1966), and Open Up Your Heart (1966).
The more albums I buy, the more I realize that, unlike many country artists at the time, Owens made a lot of albums that contain mostly excellent songs, with little filler. Buck Owens is high quality.
Owens put out over 30 albums in almost as many years; a good place to start is the early to mid-’60s. It’s also a good place to end: In 1969, Owens hurt his popularity and credibility when he began hosting Hee Haw, and in 1971, bassist Doyle Holly left the band. But, the biggest blow to Owens came in 1974, when Don Rich, Buckaroo guitarist, fiddler, vocalist, and Owens’s best friend, died in a motorcycle accident—Owens has said that ended his interest in making music, sinking him into a deep depression.
But back to his prime. Around the late ’50s, commercial country music began to take a nosedive away from its hillbilly roots and into a sea of crappy pop music, when countrypolitan, or the Nashville sound, started taking over. Songs were overproduced and glossy, with strings, background singers, and crooning vocals (though, it should be noted, early pop country is certainly not all bad). Owens came along and said, to hell with that and to hell with Nashville, and instead put out straight-up honky-tonk albums from Bakersfield, California.
It was in the early ’60s that Owens and his Buckaroos perfected and unleashed his Bakersfield sound, which he and Rich dubbed “freight-train style.” I can best describe it as an amped-up Ray Price shuffle, complete with prominent drums and walking bass lines, a wandering fiddle, and, on the weepers, the saddest steel guitar you’ll ever hear. The music was full, driving, explosive, but stripped-down, clean, and crisp, bursting with sound and energy. His more upbeat numbers were bouncy and fun, and his sad, slow songs were a complete throwback to—or a continuation of—that original aching honky tonk. A key ingredient was Rich’s harmonizing vocals; his higher-pitched voice dominated any verse or chorus he belted out, and Rich’s and Owens’s voices blended seamlessly, making it sometimes difficult to distinguish the two.
So let’s discuss 1964’s Together Again/My Heart Skips a Beat (Capitol).
It’s a typical, but excellent, Owens album, with only a couple misses. The real highlights are the weepers: “Close up the Honky Tonks,” “I Don’t Hear You,” “Together Again,” “A-11,” and “Getting Used to Losing You.” Vocally, Rich and Owens pour their hearts out, and Tom Brumley destroys all with his sobbing steel guitar. But that’s not to pooh-pooh the album’s more upbeat songs, which are for the most part superb, particularly: “My Heart Skips a Beat,” the rollicking “Truck Drivin’ Man,” and “Hello Trouble.”
Right now, superslow “I Don’t Hear You” is my favorite on the album. Owens lets loose some excellent inflection on the drawn-out “window” at the end of the line “I hear/the rain on my window-oh-oh,” and Rich lends his strong pipes to the chorus, overpowering Owens’s lower-pitched voice. I love a song with either a bit of talking or a monologue, and “Getting Used to Losing You” gives me a little spoken word: In the chorus, Owens sheeplishly says, “For I lie when I say…” then sings “I’m getting used to losing you.”
Here’s a video of “My Heart Skips a Beat” from the Jimmy Dean Show (yes, the sausage guy). Rich fires off some impressive guitar playing throughout, and Brumley shows off his stuff on the steel at the end of the video.
Stay tuned for more Buck Owens album examinations in the coming days.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve picked up jogging as an addition to my workout regime. I need monotonous, beat-driven music to work out in general, but that’s only enhanced with the running. I’ve rediscovered this mix from Shane Silkey, Live at Silencio, which is great for that purpose. It’s got just about the perfect pacing and tempo for a good 45 minute run. It also makes great use of an extended sample from 2001. Enjoy.
If you like that, here are two more mixes from him: onetwo
And here’s a picture of a turntable cake (from here, via Ario):
Fact 1: D.Black was nominated for the 2006 Seattle Mayor’s award for Excellence in Hiphop.
Fact 2: D.Black is influenced by Jay Z, Notorious Big, and Stevie Wonder.
Fact 3: D.Black’s debut record, The Cause & Effect has sold over 4,500 copies regionally since being released last year.
Fact 4: D.Black will be playing the Capitol Hill Block Party on Friday, June 27, at 7:15 pm. He’ll be at the Vera Project stage. That gives you plenty of time to check him out before going to see the Blue Scholars on the mainstage at 8 pm.
You can check out a few of his tunes at his Bands Page, and a complete schedule of the Block Party is available here.
From MSO PR, publicists for the Smashing Pumpkins:
DATE: JULY 19, 2007
STILL BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ?
In the July 12 issue of Seattle’s weekly publication The Stranger, an article headlined “An Open Letter From Billy Corgan” to fans—purportedly written by Corgan himself—appeared. Truth to tell, the letter was not written by Corgan, a Smashing Pumpkins band member or anyone affiliated with the group.
Upon finding the letter posted on the publication’s website, several reputable national news outlets picked up the story and printed abbreviated quotes from it, thinking the letter was legitimate.
Although this “open letter” is apocryphal, there are some references and statements in it that do in fact make a few interesting points that should be pondered:
The letter states in Billy’s words that there would be no My Chemical Romance or Panic! at the Disco without the Pumpkins. While this isn’t so, it is a little-known fact the Pumpkins’ music is responsible for the swing dance craze of 1997.
The letter also states that the song “United States” on the new album Zeitgeist was refracted and stretched to 9 minutes. In truth, this song in its original form was well over an hour and included a reciting of the Declaration of Independence narrated by all original cast members of the film “Reality Bites” starring Winona Ryder.
Another mistruth in this letter is the statement that the Pumpkins were once the most important band in the world. If the facts are what we are all seeking, everyone knows that Citizen Dick has always been and will forever be the most important band in the world.
Despite all the hearsay and innuendo, the Zeitgeist CD is the top-selling rock album in the country, moving almost 150,000 CDs the first week. It entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at #2 and made Top 5 entries in Canada (#1), New Zealand (#1), the U.K. (#4), Italy (#5) and Switzerland (#5), with more Top Ten debuts in Germany (#7), Holland (#7) and Australia (#8).
Meanwhile, 8 out of 10 purchasers of the new album Zeitgeist have confirmed that they have experienced increased muscle mass after only two listenings.
All facts and figures in this document provided by the Zeitgeist and Klotz LLP.
The pedal steel guitar is a bitch to play. Players are heady, a combination of trucker and scientist.
The sound of the pedal steel swells in and colors. It implies country, back roads, and voodoo on the swamp. The cross-ties of its presence in a song are ominous and possessed and pretty as a rose. 18-wheelers with their ears on roll all night. Glissando the interstate notes are drawn. Breaker breaker, steady the rig and spit the sunrise down.
Today, pedal steel man, Kevin Suggs, is with us to break it down.
He’s played his pedal steel for the Shins, Brandi Carlile, Rocky Votolato, Luke Temple, and ThorNton Creek. He also plays in a band called Evangeline, which will be at Tractor Tavern on August 10th. They swirl it perty.
I’ve been playing this freaky thing for over ten years now. When I bought my first steel I had no clue how it worked. I had to get a book to show me how to tune it and get some tips on playing. It took me quite some time to play anything resembling music. It was very frustrating. Pedal steel is a different beast.
10 strings, 3 pedals, and 3 knee levers. The tuning I use is E9. It isn’t an open tuning. You can’t just strum all the strings and have it be a pretty chord. You have to be very selective as to which strings you hit or it sounds like ass, and because there are no frets you really have to use your ear for intonation.
ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT COVER NIGHT: FEATURING MEMBERS OF THE LONG WINTERS, THE COPS, MURDER CITY DEVILS, PATROL, NIGHTLIFE, POLICE TEETH, WHALEBONES, COCONUT COOLOUTS
(Crocodile) Cover nights, while good in theory, can be tragically boring. More often than not, they just make you ache for the artist all the not-as-good-as-the-real-thing acts have spent the evening pretending to be. Tonight could go either way. The evening is paying tribute to a more-than-worthy band, Rocket from the Crypt, so that’s a big check in the pro column, but RFTC are known for their absolutely killer live shows—loud, tight, sweaty—and they’ve also got a fucking huge discography, so just picking what songs to cover proves a challenge in itself. But if these local acts can capture even half of the talent and surliness the band was known for in their heyday, it’ll be a success. Rocket has set the bar ridiculously high, but with that said, members of the Long Winters, the Cops, Murder City Devils, Patrol, Police Teeth, and Whalebones are no talentless hacks either. I’ve got faith in you, Seattle. Get ape-shit at the Crocodile. MEGAN SELING
TEGAN AND SARA
(Triple Door) Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin sing harmonies that rip your spine out and fill it with chills and hope. They also have a bolting new full-length—produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie—called The Con. This past January, the Quins moved into a Portland house and walked to Walla’s studio every day towing their gear in a wagon. Then they brought in Death Cab’s Jason McGerr for drums. For three months they toiled, poured their souls, got it to gleam, and filmed everything they did. They built a set in the basement for interviews and speakerphone conversations. The future of music rests in Tegan and Sara’s hands and harmonies: lesbian superhero sisters that will save us from the mainstream. TRENT MOORMAN
Head over to our searchable calendar, Get Out, to see what else is going on.
Normally, of course, we don’t really write up Ruff Gemz, the extremely fun punk-disco weekly dance party at the Baltic Room, since it’s progenitor is our own DJ Fucking in the Streets. It’s kind of too bad—the funnest dance night in the city doesn’t get any press from the smartest paper in the city (us, right?) because one of the DJs just happens to work here.
But this is a special occasion: tonight, Ruff Gemz has imported some disco talent for a live performance. The guest stars are… Portland’s Glass Candy! Italo-death-disco fanatics unite!
Doors are at 9, and the price is a paltry $6 (Ruff Gemz normally costs $3, but these kids gotta pay for gas). There are drink specials ($3 wells, $1 High Life). Come one and come all, it’s gonna be super fun!
If you haven’t gotten hip to Blue Scholars’ blowup record Bayani, now’s the time. These guys—MC Geologic and DJ/producer Sabzi—are the current face of Seattle hiphop. As smart, politically aware, and talented as they are, we couldn’t ask for better ambassadors.
After fairly sleeping on Bayani for a few weeks after its release, I’ve been feeling it fully recently. Same goes with a bunch of friends of mine—hiphop writers in SF and ATL—who hedged a minute but now herald the album as one of 2007’s best.
Yeah, it’s often self-consciously political and didactic, but there’s no denying Geo’s flow and Sabzi’s hard-swinging, brazenly funky production. And look, someone’s gotta be sincere to a fault in 2007, and as educated and articulate as he is, Geo’s the guy to do it.
Geo worked with me on an email interview for next week’s Block Party pullout, and as a sneak peak, here’s a bit that didn’t make it into the print version. This is good shit for all you NW hiphop fans.
Can you talk a bit about longtime fans that decry the move to Rawkus? How do you respond to them? What prompted the decision to move? Can you still maintain your original ideals?
Geo: I would love to address the decrying of our decision to partner with Rawkus. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across any one of those longtime fans. So I can’t really respond to something I’m not hearing. But I am finding that most of the people talking bad about the move weren’t fans to begin with. We struggled with the decision and weighed all options. Rawkus has been supportive and respects what we do outside of the music. We were confident with the deal because we were already solid without it. We educated ourselves enough to know what to protect ourselves from. We’ve been offered shitty distribution contracts before and rejected them all. Plus, this is our third distribution deal.
As for the third question—my ideals aren’t mine alone. I feel that as long as I stay connected with people whose ideals I share (and they check me), I can stay grounded. If at any point I’m faced with something that compromises my principles, I’ll simply not do it. Such as refusing to have our music used to advertise beer.
The science and jockeying involved in putting together a good bill can be intricate and thorny. Ask any booker, promoter, DJ, or musician.
Positioning on that bill is important. Who’s going to open? Who’s going to play last? Is it the dreaded four band bill? Who’s going to deadline? Who gets the money slot?
Sometimes (I mean often) the lineup changes, but the bands and DJ’s aren’t told about the changes.
Multiple contacts for multiple bands, and multiple bookers mean plenty of places for the communication to get lost.
So what do you do when you show up at a club to play, thinking you are playing 2nd or 3rd, but the sound guy tells you you are the opener?
It’s a bigger club, so you don’t want to gripe and get on their bad side. But you know you were supposed to play 2nd. The band who was supposed to open showed up before you and somehow switched it. They snaked you. They’ve already put their stuff on stage, sound checked, and doors are in twenty minutes, so you need to hurry.
The booker is nowhere to be found, the bar manager doesn’t have anything to do with it, and the band that snaked your spot has disappeared. The sound guy, as always, seems pissed, and keeps telling you you need to hurry.
What do you do? Try to talk to the impatient soundman? Find the other band? Call the promoter or booker or manager? What are their numbers? You don’t have their numbers. The bartender doesn’t know anything either.
Doors are in fifteen minutes, the sound guy is pissed.
When I worked at Rhapsody I was charged with making several playlists a week, which was fun at first but got pretty taxing after the first 20 or so. My favorite of all was called “Bell Bottom Bliss,” which I described thusly:
Forget gas shortages, Watergate, Vietnam, cocaine and disco: The ’70s were a magical time for rock ‘n’ roll. There was a fantasy world unfolding from the music, one wrapped in bell bottoms and sporting Jew-fros and grasping at stardom one single at a time, one that took a back seat to the big-budget AOR that dominated the charts. Here are those 8-Track b-sides, those late-night AM curveballs that might not be classics but carry a heady whiff of nostalgia. Breathe deep.
1. Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)
2. Brother Louie
4. Viva Tirado
5. The 6 Teens
6. The Groove Line
7. Love Is Alive
8. Kiss You All Over
9. Classical Gas
10. Baker Street
11. I’m Not In Love
12. Flirtin’ With Disaster
13. No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature
The Guess Who
14. Keep On Smilin’
15. Slow Ride (Single Version)
16. Free Ride
17. I Just Want To Celebrate
18. The Rapper
19. Come And Get Your Love
Atlanta Rhythm Section
21. Temptation Eyes
22. The Night Chicago Died
23. Ride Captain Ride
24. Something In The Air
I’ve been fascinated by this kind of music for the last year or so. A lot of it is truly awesome stuff—real songs, innovative arrangements, a weird and groovy blend of disco, soul, pop, doo-wop, and the general weed-headed haze that pervades much of the mid-’70s.
Due to liscensing restrictions, a few tracks weren’t included in the Rhapsody mix, most notably “Green Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf, “Couldn’t Get it Right” by the Climax Blues Band, and “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest. Man, those are all kickass songs. I’ll dig. If they’re on the net, you’ll find ‘em here eventually.
Over on Slog I wrote about the Amy Sedarispress release annoucing “the completion of the drafting of an agreement that would allow Jerri Blank and the beloved student body and faculty of Strangers With Candy’s Flatpoint High to take up temporary residence in Springfield for the 500th episode of The Simpsons.”
But another chunk of the press release is totally Line Out material:
A mix-tape of Sedaris’ favorite new music—”played by bands that came into being only after the year 2000,” says Sedaris—has been requested by a large upscale retail chain. “We’re tentatively calling it ‘New Music for Old People,’” Sedaris notes. “It’s great new music that these oldsters—many of whom turned away from music entirely during the tragic music scene of the Eighties—have never before heard.”
The press release goes on to announce the possibility of Amy Sedaris line of “personal submersibles” (“We’re looking ahead to see what new products might be needed as the effects of Global Warming become more and more pronounced,” says Sedaris) so who knows if the mix-tape will ever materialize. But, clearly, it should.
They’re currently recording their debut record, which they hope to have finishd by the end of the summer. In the mean time, you should listen to those songs and if you dig their self-described “blissed out version of Thin Lizzy” sound (I don’t know if that’s a joke or not, because it sorta works), then you must must see them live. It’s where they shine.
Their next show is August 4th at the Mars Bar. Here’s a clip from their recent show at the High Dive, and a preview of what you’d get if you make the wise choice to go (sound quality isn’t the best, and their music is more comanding in person, but you get the idea):
I’d rather not gripe about menu prices at The Triple Door—they’re not scraping satay and scallops off the floor, obviously. But as British songwriter (and former Seattle resident) John Wesley Harding took the stage and announced that Tuesday evening’s show was being streamed online for free, I just about spit out my $8 sake. I didn’t know this gig was BYOB! Well, Bring Your Own Bandwidth, anyway.
His immediate response was fitting: “Don’t know if any of you have been on the Internet.” This wasn’t merely one of his nonsensical between-song comments; the man knew how many 40-something, Hawaiian shirt-wearing fuddy-duddies had crowded the house, still clinging to Harding’s mid-’90s heyday. The 41-year-old played into the old crowd’s hands with endless bouts of banter; though stories about Japan and “Stairway to Heaven” were amusing enough, the ceaseless chatter made fellow Brit-popsters like Robyn Hitchcock seem absolutely stoic in comparison.
Worse, he appeased this crowd with a mixed set list, eschewing much of his wittier and saltier songwriting for sappy fan favorites like “Our Lady of the Highways” (a two-guy duet that—oh, come on—ended in a hug). A few new songs made up for the slack, including an expectedly dry ode to self-delusion: “What gets you from point A to B? / Does it start with a capital G-O-D?” (Don’t worry, churchies—Harding immediately followed this line with a kazoo solo, keeping the anxious fogeys at bay.) But even though he channeled the younger vocal stylings of Elvis Costello with a honeyed voice that crowded the room, this was no grand, Bumbershoot-level set. Lest I forget that point, the woman behind me reinforced it with thumbs jammed firmly in her ears during a freaking acoustic guitar solo. Should’ve watched the concert from your WebTV, Frieda.
Thank G-O-D for opener Alela Diane. The Nevada City, CA native played the Triple Door only a month prior with the Grass Roots Record Co. Summer Revue, but that set was cut short by the Triple Door’s strict clock. Tuesday, she had all the time she needed to perform her gorgeous brand of pastoral folk, and her bold, unwavering voice recalled the subdued glory of Karen Dalton. After the jump, enjoy our own streaming video of Diane. BYOB.
My friend Bryce just e-mailed me and brought this to my attention:
A cool jazz tribute to Gnarls Barkley. Wow. It was released yesterday. I can’t get the sound samples to play on my computer, though, so I’m only assuming it’s really weird, if not terrible.
He says it so much better than I ever could:
Is this necessary? I mean, really? Anyway, if you need me I will be cramming staples into my ear canal with a Sharpie.
To leave things on a good note, Bryce is also the bassist in this week’s Band of the Week, the Hungry Pines, who I saw at the High Dive about a week ago. They’re exceptional (and not just because Bryce is a friend of mine, they really are good). I’ll make a whole other post about why they’re awesome, though. I don’t want their greatness to be tainted by this… weirdness.
I really want these sound clips to work. I must hear this. I don’t really know why, but I must.
Spank Rock DJs Devlin & Darko’s recent Fabric Live mix CD goes from classic hip hop to Italo disco to Baltimore club to French electro without missing a beat, and so do their live sets.
The consummate party starters will rock the Neumo’s Stage on Saturday, July 28th at 12:00am.
UrbanDictionary.com defines “Pretty Titty” as: 1. A man with hair-less (sic), smooth, soft titties, 2. Identifying a girl who isn’t hot, but has large breasts. DJ Pretty Titty is not an ugly girl with large breats, and he may or may not have smooth, soft titties—you’d have to ask him. But he definitely has a smooth touch on the turntables, and a large virtual record crate full of pop jams and club killers.
Bonus! Here’s a sneak preview of Pretty Titty and Devlin’s new mix, “Sink or Swim,” which will be available in full soon via Sweidish blog Discobelle (this is the Pretty Titty portion):
Seattle ex-pat Franki Chan has flourished in LA, throwing numerous hype parties, starting indie label iheartcomix (home to fellow Block Party rockers Matt & Kim), and further honing his populist party rocking DJ style. Expect lots of grinning pop hits and the ghetto blasting Flosstradamus remix of Matt & Kim.
Pretty Titty and Franki Chan play the Neumo’s Stage on Saturday, July 28th at 11:00pm.
See the full Capitol Hill Block Party lineup here.
After posting a questionable, cryptic message on his MySpace page a couple weeks ago, Reggie and the Full Effect ringleader James Dewees had everyone believing his schizophrenic, moog-heavy pop vs. hardcore vs. emo project was over.
Well don’t cry/pop open the champagne just yet. Dewees’ latest (typo-laden) message apologizes for the confusion and promises Reggie ain’t goin’ nowhere:
hey turkeys sorry for the confusion, reggie and the full effect isnot broken up, its just me. i cant break up with myself. what i meant by the previous quote was that i am done paying people money who have nothing to do with the band. i am writing whatever i want. i am singing whatever i want and doing whatever i want. its something that alot of my freinds in bands should do as well. people tend to forget that without songwriters there would be no songs and without musicians there would be music. therefore there would no industry, a bunch of dudes in a room without a product is just a bunch of dudes in a room. once again sorry for the confusion but hey whats new coming from me ya know?
(Confidential to Grandy: Promotional Copy was Reggie’s greatest record, but surprisngly his latest, Songs Not to Get Married To, has some really thoughtful and classic-sounding Reggie jams. Worth checkin’ out.)
Adam Franklin is a master, a sculptor of a guitar player. He chisels and nimbly modulates his Fender Jazz Master through layers of notes and marble.
People watch his hands when he plays to see how his fingers move.
Not that he is into nude men, or nudity, but his latest David is called Bolts of Melody, out on Hi-Speed Soul. A clean, quarantined, full length collection of mood sifters and regal chord imagery.
Franklin’s fans are hardcore. They want autographs and encores.
First, there was Swervedriver. Then Toshack Highway. Now as ‘Adam Franklin’, Bolts of Melody. Franklin also has a project in the works with Interpol drummer, (and Swervedriver fan) Sam Fogarino called the Setting Suns.
(Billy Corgan had asked Franklin to play in his current lineup, but Franklin said no.)
Fogarino had a bottle of Grey Goose waiting for Adam at the Crocodile when he finished his set on Saturday night. A little something to get the tour started right. Improbably, the bottle remained unopened until the next night at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge.
With Greyhounds circulating, I hovered near Mr. Franklin as he packed up after the Doug Fir show. He velcros his pedals to a thin slab of wood. The instruments of a brain surgeon, yes. He had shown up in Seattle without this wood and had to have it Fed Exed out. He joked how he has a few of these slabs in various places, one in New York, and one in Europe somewhere. Now one on the west coast. He said, “I have wood everywhere.”
Adam Franklin is a highly intelligent, soft-spoken man. When he speaks, he has something to say. His English accent adds austerity and an official-ness. He relayed a story about being in a NY cab on the way home after a show.
The cab driver was an older raspy man, and was telling Adam if he ever needed a vocalist, to give him a call. Adam got home and on a whim, Googled the guy. Turns out he sang for the Platters. Adam and Fogarino need to pull this guy into their collaboration. Would rule.
Sunday night ended by the Doug Fir fire pit. Mirth and liquids flowed. Franklin’s bass player, Josh, was tackled in the bushes and piled on. It was Adam’s drummer, Than’s birthday. Beyond last call, the hour approached super late and became early morning.
The next day, they were to play in San Francisco at Café du Nord. From Portland, a what, ten hour drive? Load in at what, 7:00? Which meant leaving Portland at 9 that morning?
Can you say super fresh van time? Ibuprofen? Red bull, gas station shitter food?
The Grey Goose spreads its wings and claims. Band loses brain cells, reels, and rebounds to the highway headed South. Put on Ry Cooder’s soundtrack for Paris, Texas and hope for no traffic.
“Fly like an Eagle, to the sea. Fly like an eagle, let my coffee carry me.”
Update via Adam text: They made the San Fran show just in time. No soundcheck. Good crowd for a Monday.
It all started when I shared the new Maritime song with my friend Mac…
Mac: It’s pretty decent. Maybe if I liked music…
Me: Yeah, you don’t.
Mac: No, I really don’t. All I wanna do is get chonged and listen to Aja by Steely Dan, and that doesn’t really qualify one to speak subjectively on the subject of music.
Me: At least you know where you stand.
Mac: Ya know, I know enough to know what ain’t music. And Steely Dan, my friend, is not music.
Me: What is it?
Mac: Background noise for supermarkets, something to distract you while you dig around for a bag of frozen peas that isn’t a solid block.
Me: And that’s why you like it?
Mac: No. I like it because it’s patently offensive to the sensibilities of just about everyone. And I kinda suspect that they did that on purpose.
Me: You think the band had that much self-awareness?
Mac: Steely Dan?
Me: I had no idea…
Me: So that’s why you like them?
Mac: Because they’re dudes who are pissed that they couldn’t write show tunes? And have spent the last three decades engaging in the biggest injoke ever created as a result of that rejection? Yeah, just a little. I mean they wrote a song based on “a modest proposal.” How can I not get down with that?
How do you like your pop? Spazzy, coupled, wide-eyed, grinning keys and drums punk pop? Or uniformed, youthful, bumping bubble-gum electro?
Matt & Kim are the former, a crazy-in-love duo from Brooklyn who play relentlessly upbeat, stripped down pogo anthems with sing-along hooks to spare. Check out their new video for the Flosstradamus remix of “Yea Yeah”:
Matt & Kim play the Main Stage on Friday, July 27th at 5:15pm.
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head are the latter, a young ensemble working through their still kinda awkward novelty phase with songs about side ponytails, shaking booty, and the like. But underneath their current lyrical ephemera is some fairly advanced synth and drum machine programming. In another year, this band could be dropping some serious dance jams. For now, they’re dropping silly ones, but they’re still pretty fun. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head play the Vera Stage on Friday, July 27th at 5:00pm.
July 16, 2007 - SEATTLE – THE STRANGER - OPEN LETTER
Important information for any of you who live in the City of Seattle or have seen a posting online claiming to be an open letter from Billy Corgan.
Be warned it’s a hoax. If Billy wanted to address his loyal fans he would do it as always thru his chosen credible channels and even take the time to spell Jimmy Chamberlin’s name properly. This letter is a hoax and by no means represents the views, comments, or opinions of Billy Corgan or any member of the Smashing Pumpkins organization.
Remember, always check here at smashingpumpkins.com for official and accurate information about all things Smashing Pumpkins.
I’m sorry, I have failed you. Ari and I recorded Setlist last week, as usual, and I completely forgot to tell ya’ll that it was ready for your listening pleasure. I’m sorry. I apologize.
It’s not too late to hear some great local bands, though. It’s not too late to enter to win a pair of Capitol Hill Block Party tickets either. We already have a winner from last week’s, and since we got so many great entries, we decided to do it again. You gotta listen to find out how to enter, though.
Do you love Maritime? Because I love Maritime. We the Vehicles was one of my favorite records in 2006, and I know I have to, but I can’t wait until October when the follow-up, Heresy and the Hotel Choir, is released. If you’re with me on this one, then here, let me make your day.
I love it. I love the subtle moog noises, I love how the guitars are really poppy but still huge, and I love what Davey does at the end—“I wanna thank God! Thank God! Thank God!!” And does anyone else really, really love love the sound of the bass? Because I really, really love love the sound of the bass.
I am going to listen to this song for the rest of the day and nothing else.
The 4th Annual Decibel International Festival of Electronic Music Performance, Visual Art and New Media will be happening September 20th through the 23rd in Seattle. This year’s program will be featuring artists from 9 countries in 14 showcases across 7 venues, each of which will be outfitted with custom sound and video.
->PRELIMINARY 2007 LINE UP
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO (Great Britian)
Wichita // Kitsuné Records
SPEEDY J (Netherlands)
Novamute // Plus 8 Records
Touch // Rune Grammofon Records
JEFF SAMUEL (US / Germany)
Pokerflat // Trapez // Spectral
ALLAND BYALLO (US - San Francisco)
Floppy Funk // Dirtybird Records
KANGDING RAY (Germany)
WOLF + LAMB (US – New York)
Wolf + Lamb Music
SCOTT PAGANO (US – Los Angeles)
Neither Field // Speedy J collaborator // Video Artist
+ MANY MORE TO COME
->DB PASSES / TICKETING
This year Decibel will be offering one “All-Access Db Festival Pass”. There will be a limited number of $75 discounted passes going on sale July 15th through August 15th, after which time the pass prices will increase to $100. Also on August 15th, tickets go on sale for individual showcases.
Once the limited number of total passes are sold out, you will need to purchase individual showcase tickets the day of or on line through various ticket vendors (tba).
Reporting and photo of John Ackerman by Sam Machkovech.
Halfway through the fourth band’s set at this year’s Rock Lottery, the tall guy behind me decided that this concert, of all concerts, needed his opinion. “I can’t believe so many people are pretending to like this!” The girl next to him shrugged; one song later, she too began (to pretend?) to like the truly stupid antics of Mantastic, dancing herself dizzy to an ode to Mexican beer.
Tall Guy: If you understood the point—25 musicians forced into five hodgepodge bands only 12 hours earlier—you wouldn’t have had to fake it. A few things are a given at the Seattle Rock Lottery, now in its third year: some disasters, some successes, and at least one member of Harvey Danger. But the unknown and unexpected are the point of this thing, and even if it meant that band number four would play a synth-freakout-meets-white-rap song, so be it.
This iteration of the Lottery was low on the wild fuck-ups and memorable chaos that make it so famous in its hometown of Denton, Texas. That’s not to say Seattle’s third Lotto sucked—if anything, it might’ve been too good. Opening act Osama Bin Lottery saw “Awesome” ringleader John Ackermann transform into a funk-rock ringleader, pointing at all members to tell them when to get on top and when to shaboogie-bop. Against all odds, white funk prevailed thanks to sharp pop touches from the other members’ varied backgrounds.
Mixed pollination was the main success story of the night, particularly when Damien Jurado fulfilled “a childhood dream” and screamed his way through a bulging, synth-bass thumper as lead howler for the Federline Conspiracy. And though Choklate saved her weak band with the rock side of her diva prowess, the best set belonged to closers the Most Popular Girl In School. Thank Lashes bassist Nate Mooter for that one. With jheri-mullet-chop locks flopping about, Mooter led his band’s Caribbean-twee-pop set (only at Rock Lottery, folks) with balls-out fearlessness.
How’d I know theirs was the best set? Tall Guy couldn’t stop cheering.
Ride an Amtrak train North from Seattle while listening to Beirut on headphones. Pretend you can’t read the signs on the buildings that pass by. Imagine the coast is Mediterranean. Roundtrip shouldn’t cost you more than about $40, Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar and Lon Gisland should be about $20 if you’re decent enough to pay for them, and you already have one of these “discmans” I’ve been hearing so much about, right? Trust me, this totally works, and it should work with their new album, The Flying Cup Club, when it comes out on October 9th.
I’m not really into RJD2’s musical output these days (Dead Ringer was great though), but I do give him props for putting together this interesting video of some of the most graceful movement on crutches I’ve ever seen. The video gets going about 30 seconds in.
In 1979, Ferrara released the album Wuthering Heights off the small New York label, Midsong International Records. This was a solid disco record that showcased a hint of italo while featuring the standout track Love Attack. This song was later released as the B-side to Ferrara’s debut 12-inch single that year, Shake It Baby Love. The single also saw it’s own spotlight around the same year, with the single being released by italo disco label JDC Records. I was lucky to find this record recently for two dollars in a budget bin. After one listen, I knew I found a gem. It’s always worth looking through records all day to find such a classic.
The Field, Copy, Let’s Go Outside @ Broken Disco, Chop Suey
Could there be a more idyllic progression of names than Let’s Go Outside and the Field? Copy doesn’t really fit, nor does Kooky Scientist, and in fact the sounds of Let’s Go Outside ramped up from austere blips to relentless thump over the course of his set, so it’s not like all was tranquil. But the Field’s live set lived up to both his own tranquil moniker and that of his slow burning album From Here We Go Sublime.
But first, Copy. Copy, Marcus Libman to his mom, sounded incredible on the sound system in the “makeout lounge” back bar of Chop Suey. Rocking laptop and keytar (and, as usual repping his little bro’s band Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head via t-shirt), Copy kept a thick crowd dancing even thought the body heat was totally overpowering Chop Suey’s AC. Copy’s songs are all super tight, moving from one hook to another over classic drum machine programming, more or less mimicking the length and structure of pop songs (three or four minutes, recognizable “verses” and “choruses”). He even plays with gaps between his songs for applause rather than mixing from one to the other. He’s a lot like Seattle’s lo-fi party electronics monster Truckasauras—he’s also an old friend of theirs—and members of that band were in attendance and up front for his set. Apparently, Copy was too much for the system, though, because Let’s Go Outside’s second set suffered from some unfortunate sound issues.
In the main room, on the “Idol” stage, the Field’s Axel Willner was precisely recreating the cool synth washes and subdued pulse of his stellar album. Too precisely, maybe. The only complaint I heard about his set was that it hewed to close to his recorded work, that there was too little improvisation or variation. This was true, although if the crowd felt that Willner wasn’t working hard enough up there, it certainly didn’t show in their sweaty, physical enthusiasm for his set. One inspired deviation from his album was his interpolation of the giddy chorus from Annie’s indie pop gem “Heartbeat” during a particularly climactic moment. Another great moment came straight from the record, though: the static short-out in the middle of one song, a happy accident of Willner’s live recording style, still somehow felt surprising when it ripped through the sound at Chop Suey, stunning the crowd with a moment of silence before diving back into the icy mix. Also, I forget who was trying to convince me that trance was ready for a comeback—it’s a terrifying thought—but if more of the genre approached Willner’s grace with the stuff, I might agree with you.
I only caught the opening rhythms of Kooky Scientist (I had a very early train to catch), but they seemed to hint at some seriously caustic synths and beats to come. I wish I could’ve stuck around…
Hydrahead Records just released a re-issue of Botch’s mammoth debut full-length American Nervoso, re-tooled by engineer Matt Bayles. It wasn’t until I listened to the re-mastered version that I realized how much better the original could sound. The new version sounds amazing – the guitars are bigger and clearer, the drums are more full, everything is crisp and sharp. Bayles made the sound quality finally match the hugeness of the instrumentation. I stand by my convictions that this album is not only Botch’s best release, but arguably one of the greatest and most progressive hardcore/metal albums ever made. It saw Botch move away from blasty straight-edge (with the snare drum that sounds like an overturned bucket) into blistering guitar textures and massive climaxes that became the basis for hordes of kids around the world trying to start metal bands (none of whom have been able to duplicate it adequately). The disc also has some early demos that were recorded at Jake Snyder’s parent’s house way back in the day, which are cool for nerds (like me) who want to hear the evolution of the writing and sculpting of their songs. It shows the transition process from their first two seven inches into what they did on the album, which, stylistically, was a pretty huge departure/improvement. It pioneered a whole new movement in hardcore and metal, and was responsible for a lion’s share of my happiness during the mid to late nineties. Memories of seeing them perform these songs at the RCKCNDY are like a beautiful dream I know I’m never going to have again. Sigh. So it goes. At least when I blast Nervoso on my stereo from now on it will sound fucking awesome.
… then you missed it. For serious. The fun-fun-funnest hip hop show I’ve seen in forever. Super A+. It also got me thinkin’ that in a world so full of rap with heavy social import and/or just plain thuggery, isn’t it about time somebody just took the piss out of all of it, and just had a wee bit of raunchy fun?
What am I, an asshole? What else have you been keeping from me? Wait, lemme restart:
Why am I just now discovering the pleasures of Grand Funk Railroad?
The only time anybody in my life had mentioned GFR to me was when a DJ—who, when giving me digging tips, said the word ‘funk’ was always a good clue—said with a snicker “Unless it’s fuckin’ Grand Funk Railroad.” And that was that.
Look, I grew up strictly on rap and funk. I had to get into rock the hard way, via the Spin Doctors. (Long story.) I managed to find my way to more reputable things fairly quickly. No one was there to guide me, and the joy of discovering the joys of the Jam, Black Flag, and Thin Lizzy over the years has given me a giddy sort of there’s-always-new-worlds-to-discover high; but upon hearing “Shinin’ On” (thanks to Mr. Gorton’s suggestion of bumrocks.com), I really feel like motherfuckers been holding out on me. I already know about the Clipse, dammit. Bring something to the table for your boy here!
Fuck it tho, all’s forgiven. I just spent a great post-B-day weekend getting my full-bore boogie-rock on to the dismay of my girl and the surprise and satisfaction of her stepdad, a huge GFR fan. Our Sunday afternoon poker game was that much better thanks to “I’m Your Captain.”
But something tells me I coulda figured this all out if I’d just gone to Slow Ride already…
I just saw a commercial for King 5 news. [Tonight] @ 11 they’re running a story on the dangers of the new fad known as ghost riding. “Cars driving themselves, why your children could be at risk”. Looks like it’ll be awesomely ridiculous, might wanna figure out a way to tape it.
The other thing about soul night at the Lo Fi on Saturday? At one point these three dudes went upstairs to that lookout over the dance floor and started, like, gyrating and stuff. The fatter two of the three took off their shirts. They were tossing stickers out to the crowd. I caught one:
Ari’s on vacation, so I’m compiling the Live/DJ listings this week and man, are there some tragic band names. I should keep working, but I had to share the worst one I’ve come across this morning. It’s a band called Tacocat.
As in a taco… made with a cat? I’m not sure.
I decided to listen to them, though, and the first song that started playing on their MySpace page was called “Annual Violation,” a heavily-distorted and classic riot-grrlesque number about the pains of having to get that yearly Pap Smear.
“Sitting on the table in a paper dress/Q-tip crammed/My vagina’s in distress!”
They’re playing the Funhouse Wednesday, July 25th. Also, their name is the same when spelled backwards. Neat, huh? Also, and perhaps most importantly, the name makes me think of this:
There are lots of places to read about, or hear, Sunday’s brightest bands. For example: the New Pornographers, whose show was just as well-mapped and balanced as any of their three studio albums. Craig Taborn played junk magic and futuristic keyboard, Brightblack Morning Light sang to the sky, and Stephen Malkmus had a guitar but no Jicks. (He did do some Pavement songs, suggesting a reunion is not totally impossible.) To recreate these experiences for yourself, find some classy headphones and a mild sunburn, crack a beer and listen away. It’s not exactly the same (and obviously it’s hard to be whiz-bang original for a bazillion hipsters and two large windscreens)—but you get the idea.
What you can’t MySpace are Jamie Lidell’s betinseled hair and golden robe, the way his songs run six minutes long and two too many, but nobody seems to care. You gotta directly experience the sheer class that is De La Soul, how they made the crowd putty, got them dancing not two minutes in. And you really can’t download the glory-glory hallelujah that is Of Montreal, whose stage outfits included pinkly feathered angel wings, leather hotpants, teacup-bright football helmets, mesh visors, catsuits/batsuits, alien oyster puppets with eight heads, and something part nose, part dick, and clawed, sprayed McDonald’s colours and stuck with tiny mirrors: a spacy geoduck, maybe. When the crowd clamoured encore, Kevin Barnes rushed back out in a thong, fishnets, and a red neckerchief, then banged through “Girl You Really Got Me.” I could’ove kissed ‘em all.
Other moments unFacebookable include the one kid with “No Fear” fabric painted on his back, and the other wearing a blackmarketed Dave Matthews shirt, with “Before These Crowded Streets” scribbled in Hebrew. The giant dodgeball game. The giant foursquare game. The public pool across the street, its water blue enough for headache, and jammed with kids treading water to the Sea and Cake’s dreamy roll.
Now, hey, I’m the very first to wax sarcastic at blogs and dateless, bandless, soulless rock critics, but thankfully (and as Buckley once said), a lot of Pitchfork was still “so real.” There weren’t any “Jesus snakes!” fracas-moments, like last year when Ted Leo wore white and smashed his face into a microphone, streamed blood down the nose, but I guess that happens when festivals get super-big. Plus the Ice Cream Man (aka Matt Allen, who treks crosscountry in 1969 Chevy, dishing out free treats at shows) ran out after 3,087 sugar-sticks. Nobody cared, not even Of Montreal’s toddler, so maybe love really is better than ice cream.
I’ve always been a fan of DIY web commercials for DIY profit ventures. Actually, I might’ve just made that up, but I do enjoy the absurdist bent to these videos from D.C. skater Rory Sheridan’s Super Perfect Hair. (Not to mention thesevideos from their “band,” Rattler—or theseones especially.)
Props would go out to anyone in Seattle doing something this brilliant. More after the jump.
If you haven’t yet, please set your Betamax to tape The Best of Soul Train, which airs every Sunday morning at 1 a.m. on channel 11.
This weekend’s highlight, which I rewound and watched three times, was Yellow Magic Orchestra(!), playing “Tighten Up” sometime around 1980 for a seriously into-it crowd, and a post-set interview with a more-awkward-than-usual Don Cornelius.
Sadly, this gem hasn’t yet made it onto YouTube and I don’t have the kung fu to make that happen, so just use your imagination or try to catch it the next time around.
Emerald City Soul Club last night at the Lo Fi was a sweaty mess. There are a lot of people at Emerald City Soul Club these days—more than ever—and though there are two air conditioners in the dance room that feel great when you stand in front of them, in the grand scheme of things they don’t do a damn thing. It was so hot in there that I took off the dress shirt and tie I was wearing, removed my tank/wifebeater thing, and put my shirt and tie back on. (One wants to look good for dancing to soul music—everyone else certainly does.)
That did almost no good. So I just started buying bottles of chilled water and pouring them on my head. Then I went around the room saying, “You want a shower?” and pouring cold water on other peoples’ heads. I poured some on the head belonging to Elise Hunt, she of WET fame (and the best laugh of any actress in Seattle). I poured some on the heads of David Nixon and Rob Witmer, of the band “Awesome,” and also on the heads of poet/writer/editor Jennifer Borges Foster and non-poet/writer/editor Bethany Jean Clement. Proven: Everyone looks better slightly wet, especially in very hot environs. Undoused notables: Michael Seiwerath, Amy O’Neal, Brendan Kiley, Rachel Kessler (happy birthday!), and Mike Nipper, although all were in attendance.
Katelyn, over on Myspace, says: “nothing makes me sweat like the ECSC!”
At another bar, later, someone grabbed my shoulder to say hello and recoiled. “Did you just go swimming?” he said.
The multi-instrumentalist/band leader extracted a phenomenal performance from a who’s who of Seattle jazz and avant luminaries on Saturday. Part of Monktail Creative Music Concern’s concert series in Cal Anderson park, Rucker’s ensemble was all over the map but never off-target, consistently escalating from the abstract (trance-like thumb piano patterns, violin-vs-cello scratching) to the concise (full-blown soul-jazz crescendos). Tempestuous horns, crackling breakbeats, rubbery upright bass—the band snapped tight as Rucker stood and conducted or played electric bass or cello, giving enough room for surprises to unfold while never for a moment allowing doubt that they might not. Even as a weirdly skronking, off-tempo horn battle launched one song, there was no doubt that the number would go somewhere, and eventually it erupted into a hard-swinging lockstep groove reminiscent of Black Saint-style Mingus and the best Impulse or CTI jazz of the mid-’70s.
Really—this guy’s a monster. Even his solo cello number was hypnotizing. I want more of Paul Rucker and I want it now.
Also terrific during Saturday’s jazz-in-the-park sesh: Orkestar Zirkonium. The Balkan brass band paraded in past the wading pool—tuba belching, horns tooting, bass drum booming—and later stepped off stage to play in the grass, among the crowd. It was impossible to not get swept up because they were so damn close, and so damn good. The horn player from OZ later sat in with Rucker’s ensemble, as did Aham from Seattle hard-jazzers Industrial Revelation. There are some motherfucking PLAYERS in this town, and not just in the rock scene.
Speaking of: Why wasn’t Cal Anderson packed to the gills on Saturday? It was a beautiful afternoon, there was free music in the middle of Capitol Hill, and there were maybe 150 people there, 200 max. This isn’t gooey background jazz, either, but weird and potent and extremely soulful stuff. Wassup people? FREE MUSIC. IN THE PARK. BEER DRINKING WITH YOUR FEET IN A FOUNTAIN. SUMMERTIME. It’s elementary.
From a package of Hungarian Marlboro Lights, brandished by a member of Benni Hemm Hemm, the third-biggest band in Iceland, who played Seattle over the weekend.
The Icelanders, hanging out drinking Miller High Life at a cocktail party before their show, were equally frank. “This country is fucking scary,” said one, the guitarist. “The rest of the world is really worried for you. And not in a good way.”
The party, hosted by Stranger contributor Bart Cameron (who wrote about Benni Hemm Hemm in this week’s issue), was a gathering of most of the Icelandic ex-pat community in Seattle. Twenty-five or so folks, including the ten or so from the band, all drinking beers and an emerald green cocktail called the Austin Powers. Hanging out on the patio, surrounded by Icelanders, hearing them speak Icelandic, talking with them about European politics and attitudes, was supremely invigorating. These guys were shockingly articulate and aware of global issues, as so many Europeans are. For a minute, it felt like being in Europe. Then the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence strolled by below and brought us all back to Seattle.
As for the show.
First off, openers Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground deserve every bit of praise and hype and love they’ve been getting. Give props to the Arcade Fire for spawning a resurgence in big bands and baroque arrangements, but make sure you check out Kay Kay as well, dropping a punk-rock Vaudeville vibe into their swooning, sweetheart compositions. The band doesn’t seem like Seattle at all, and yet is totally Seattle, making them a treasure for this town and beyond. They’re playing Block Party and shouldn’t be missed.
Benni Hemm Hemm was more on the morose side, but being Icelandic and all, are still fucking adorable even when singing about parapalegic romance. That was the one English song of the night, and it stuck. Despite the language barrier, the way the band packed entire symphonies into three-and-a-half-minute pop numbers was truly astounding. Score two points for having two trombones, along with a french horn and trumpet. Score another point for having a full-time xylophone in the mix, too. Even with all the changes and movements, the songs never sounded cluttered or forced.
After the show, the band packed onto their mega-pimp huge-ass tour bus to head to Portland. A week or so ago, at the beginning of the tour, they had gotten ripped off for a pre-paid van that never materialized in New York, so this was their redemption and they were psyched. Yeah, they were scared of America, but they were loving it too. I think that’s the way it is all over these days.
UPDATE: Kirk “Kay Kay” Huffman was digging the dub tonite. Dude’s a long-time fan of the Super Ape and is also looking forward to the Sly & Robbie show coming up with singer Horace Andy. Great to see a little momentum built up on Seattle’s reggae front.
Reported by Mairead Case. Photo of Clipse courtesy of Chicagoist.
For the first hour or so at Pitchfork Music Festival, day two, I saw at least four kids carrying large bunches of schoolbus-yellow bananas. I thought it was a kink thing, like handkerchiefs in the back pocket or flower leis at Trader Joe’s, but then I realized the Whole Foods booth was selling them (along with tofu bowls). My bad. Other than bananas, then, the kids are wearing big glasses with small ponytails, expensive-looking tattoos, handkerchiefs and cowboy boots, plus at least one stuffed-lion backpack (his name was Frank).
Pitchfork’s three stages are named Connector, Aluminum, and Balance; they’re separated by booths selling show posters, skeleton-shaped belt buckles, health care, stuffed parasites, plus a sweet basketball court and more Fuze juice stands than pox on a chicken. Spirit fingers to the WBEZ DJs, who staffed the record fair despite being told their station was folding just three days prior.
Saturday’s sparklehorse favorite was Battles, a virtually unclassifiable quartet mixed from former members of Helmet, Lynx, and Don Caballero. Their sound has more layers than baklava (to name a few: Afro-Cuban world music, a ten-foot high crash, chipmunk valentine vox, and many coloured wires), and it’s funny because rock criticals keep wanting to label it, but all Tyondai Braxton will say is “it’s modern.” which I guess it is. “Come to Fraaa-aaance,” yelled the guy next to me, who wore heart-shaped glasses and was eating peanut-butter granola.
Other afternoon highlights included Iron and Wine, and Sam Beam’s beard is still large enough to nest birds; Clipse’s druggy rhyme (“Egg shell on the scale for me snow coppers / Don’t ask what I sell, shit—I’m Betty Crocker”); and Mastodon, with forearms tattooed a mossy green and sound that hits like a heavy heatwave. Dan Deacon played to an ass-to-crotch crowd, and Cat Power’s mercury was high. She blazed “Satisfaction” and sang the rest on a Marlo Thomas slow burn.
Last came Yoko Ono, in dapper hat and sunglasses, and backed by a band of 20-something guys (plus Hedwig’s Stephen Trask, who juggled instruments and acted as her third and fourth arm). “I wrote this on the way here,” Ono said, “so now I’m going to play it. People used to do that, you know.” She gave the crowd penlights, and told them to flash ‘em in a six-beat pattern that translated to “I love you. I love you”—a bit cute, perhaps, but also a genius way to reverse the cameras’ invasive flash.
The Cops sound like they are from the late ’70s/early ’80s! No joke! It’s so weird. I bet they would have had so many ladies back then (not that they don’t have a lot of ladies now…I hear the bitches of Ballard are all over those chunks of man-meat).
I’m not saying they’re recyclers. Far from it. They just would have fit in really well with the other bands from back then like the Clash and the Voidoids and whatever else (and lord knows those dudes raked in the groupie tail). Maybe they are poppier than those bands. Maybe they are the band that would have crossed over into the Pat Benatar pop music landscape and taught the nation’s young people to have NO RESPECT and then they would have become superstars but donated all of the money they made to making sure terrible music never happens again and they would have CHANGED THE WORLD!
Maybe. But that was the theoretical past, this is the literal now.
The Cops are fun to see live, because they are snotty and loud and probably like to drink a lot. I recommend it. (You can see ‘em at 8 pm on Friday, July 27th, on the Vera Stage. Bring your panties for throwing?)