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Archives for 10/14/2007 - 10/20/2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Rainy Night in Sodo

posted by on October 20 at 6:54 PM

Updated with photos by Kelly O.

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Sentimentality gets a bad rap. Critics—of film, literature, music—stigmatize it as emotional blackmail, pandering to easily provoked feelings. But in the post-post-ironic era, that’s not what it’s about; it’s about feeling something, anything, and it’s far harder and more vulnerable to admit to feeling something than to just be cool and detached and so-yeah-whatever.

Boozy sentimentality is the best kind of sentimentality, because booze is a lens, and looking through it at life is a near-universal process, useful to almost anyone in any place and any era. Boozy sentimentality is sadly misunderstood and underrated. But when you begin to appreciate the Pogues, boozy sentimentality becomes a rare and profound art.

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That’s what the band brought to Showbox Sodo last night. Their music is painfully conflicted, the band is habitually fraught with drama, and it all exploded in a beer-soaked Irish-folk-punk gestalt over the course of their two-hour set. At what other show is the studded leather jacket-to-tweed paperboy cap ratio dead even? Where else can you find a crowd-surfing mosh pit in the front and an arm-in-arm jig circle in the back?

Truly great bands run on conflict—not violent, but artistic. John versus Paul. Mick versus Keef. Chuck versus Flava. With the Pogues, it’s Shane versus Everyone Else in the Band. Shane MacGowan—his brilliant lyrics, his punkish growl, his mortifying alcoholism—is the focal point of the Pogues, but the rest of the band is equally responsible for the music. Shane wrote most of the songs, but Jem Finer and Spider Stacy and James Fearnly all contributed heavily over the years. To some extent, they must resent Shane’s recklessness. It’s a loose but useful comparison: They are Chuck D—hardworking, serious, intent. Shane is Flav—wry, volatile, dangerous. It’s one of the several conflicts that make the Pogues a truly great band.

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Another: Emotional dissonance. For their first encore, the band played “A Rainy Night in Soho,” one of the all-time most romantic love songs ever. (Conflict within conflict: A drunken love song? Yes. MacGowan may be a wreck, physically, but his romantic spirit has never been broken.) A look around the crowd showed more than a few couples swaying and crying to the song. It was a beautiful moment. And then they played “Irish Rover,” a traditional, revved-up Irish reel, and all tears were bounced out by manic, crowd-wide pogoing.

But I’m getting ahead of the program. You’re certainly wondering, so here’s the answer: Shane looked good. Shane sounded good. Far better on both counts than this time last year when I saw him in San Francisco. The band walked onstage to the Clash’s “Straight to Hell”—the best at-bat song ever—led by Shane in a top hat and Wayfarer shades. He ripped right into “Streams of Whisky” with a strong voice and spot-on timing. They couldn’t have set a more relieved—and in turn celebratory—mood.

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One by one, the band—eight strong, with mandolin, guitar, bass, drums, pennywhistle, accordion, and Shane—cranked out album cut after album cut. These songs are timeless: Lusty versions of “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “Boys From the County Hell,” “Turkish Song of the Damned,” and “Body of an American” (with the crowd chanting along to “I”m a free born man of the USA!”). They’d play a pair with Shane and then he’d leave the stage, the rest of the band ripping into rock ‘n’ roll-inflected numbers in his absence. Pennywhistler Spider Stacey had an especially Strummer-esque inflection to his voice on “Tuesday Morning.”

It was the Pogues’ MacGowan-led hits that frothed the place into a frenzy. They were interspersed through the set, but during the second half of the show—more than an hour in—they all came crashing out: “Sunny Side of the Street,” a top-of-the-lungs singalong to “Dirty Old Town,” mandolin strummed madly. “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn” ended the set, moshers spazzing out to references to the IRA and Italian fascists.

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After the song was finished and the band left the stage, nobody in the crowd moved. This was a drastically special occassion, after all—not just the Pogues, but the Pogues with Shane, and the Pogues with Shane sounding as gutted and angry as ever, and the rest of the band feeling their collective potency.

The encore double-whammy of “A Rainy Night in Soho” and “Irish Rover,” as already stated, cut deep. That transition embodies everything the Pogues can be: beautiful and tragic and gushing with raw emotion. And it is beautiful, despite Shane’s toothless, haggard visage. The music is full of joy, and Shane, the face of the music, is a triumph of human spirit over human frailty. It was a moment frozen in time until the music stopped and the band left the stage once more.

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A double encore! The band returned to play “Fiesta,” a horn-driven, Irish mariachi rave-up that had the crowd going nuts. For added percussion, Spider Stacey smashed a tin beer tray against his head. Everyone was singing:

Come all you rambling boys of pleasure
And ladies of easy leisure
We must say adios!
Until we see
Almeria once again

A lot of us flubbed the last line, but there was too much beer on the floor and joy in the air to care about such details.

After they finished, the buzz lingered inside the place, and then carried on outside on the rainy sidewalk. Everything about the night exceeded expectations: Shane was lucid and vibrant, the band was ragingly on, the new venue sounded great. It was, everyone around me agreed, one for the ages—sentimentality be damned.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Smile for the (White Stripes’) Camera

posted by on October 19 at 3:54 PM

I can’t say I never learned anything from TMZ.com—the celeb-stalking website took a quick break from reporting on Britney’s every move, breath, and bowel movement to report on the White Stripes’ limited edition Meg + Jack Holga cameras.

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Each kit is $180 a pop and there’s only 3,000 of ‘em out there. You can order them at the White Stripes’ website.

I guess that’s one way to offset the declining record sales…

A Statement from The Baltic Room’s Aaron Lewis

posted by on October 19 at 3:18 PM

Just got off the phone with Aaron Lewis, current manager at the Baltic Room, which has been the cause of a lot of swirling in the rumor-mill because of the venue’s sale. Here’s a list of the facts that can be released at the moment (the official statement from the venue is still forthcoming):


  • The Baltic Room is NOT CLOSING.
  • The venue is not converting to a restaurant/lounge/non-club space - at least for now
  • The Baltic Room has been closed this week for renovations. These include:

    • A fresh coat of paint
    • Work in the bathroom
    • New carpet upstairs
    • Miscellaneous visual changes
    • No structural changes have been made

  • Regarding programming, here’s what’s notable:

    • Tuesday Drum & Bass Night moves back to the Baltic Room from the War Room Nov. 6.
    • For now, Oscillate still has Thursdays
    • Saturdays are the most in flux, with Juicy having moved to Nectar, and tomorrow being the last Safari and first party post-renovation. Bollywood remains on the schedule.


Aaron Lewis will remain at the Baltic Room for at least the next two weeks, helping the new owners with the transition. He says, “I’ve worked at the Baltic Room for nine years. I love the place and hope for its continued success.”

This Week’s Setlist

posted by on October 19 at 3:12 PM

The RIAA won’t send you a letter for listening to Setlist.

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Born Anchors

Here’s what you’ll hear:

Jacob London - “Return to Squirrel Mountain”
Llama - “Alright”
Johanna Kunin - “Fireflies”
Born Anchors - “Casualty”
Dolour - “Cheer Up Baby”
The Quiet Ones - “Girls & Uniforms”
The Limbs - “Five Four”
The Quit - “Six Years”
“Awesome” - “Are You Aware”

What else is there? The chance to win free CDs and candy! But you gotta listen to find out how (it’s ridiculously easy, I promise).

Listen up.

Disco Le Groove

posted by on October 19 at 2:57 PM

Last month, former Hacienda Deejay and “master of the edit”, Greg Wilson (who Terry Miller recently discussed on this blog), released another 12-inch re-edit titled, DC Le Groove on the new Disco Deviance label. This time, Wilson reworks D.C. Larue’s 1976 classic “Cathedrals” and a live version of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” which is mixed over a Chicago Acid House drum machine(interesting?). My favorite of the two, “Cathedrals”, which goes by DC Le Groove on this record, is an extended and instrumental of the original classic. Wilson does a nice job of keeping the orginal feel while adding a few clever samples to “spice up” the track a bit. It’s not suprising that Greg Wilson once again takes a solid original and makes it his own.

D.C. LaRue - Cathedrals(Greg Wilson Edit)

Disturbance

posted by on October 19 at 2:27 PM

On the heels of Ozzy, the Pogues, and Windstorm 07, Friday has brought highs and lows. Sun and rain and sun again. Condolences to Clare, and Slim and Clare’s families.

The day’s been off. I stepped outside and a crow dive-bombed my head with talons out. I got too close to a nest. Then there was a rock in my shoe. Then I heard Jimmy Page has said Zeppelin may start working on new material after a reunion show at the O2 Arena in London on November 26th. Then I see that Blender has called Federline a lyricist.

Days like this call for good luck charms. Mine is an Adam Rich t-shirt. I don’t know why, but it is a talisman and protects. It is on now.

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This Is Really…Magical.

posted by on October 19 at 2:22 PM

Feel free to thank Line Out Tipper Brian G. for this one.

Badgeless at CMJ, Part One

posted by on October 19 at 12:20 PM

CMJ—It’s kind of a big deal. You might have heard of some of the bands. I mean, there are over a thousand or whatever.

I’m in New York right now, only loosely because of the Music Marathon, and unfortunately, somewhat unprepared. Yeah, I do college radio and should have pressed the student body to give me a badge and a plane ticket free of charge. Some of the panels do sound interesting, and the networking that happens at CMJ is phenomenal. But my school didn’t want to pay for it, and I don’t have $500 sitting around, so I am badgeless.

I bought a plane ticket anyway, because I used to intern for The Bowery Presents, (a venue group that includes the Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge, Webster Hall, Terminal 5, and Music Hall of Williamsburg) and figured my get-into-any-show-free card might still be valid. My school’s “fall break” also conveniently fell during the same week, so if nothing else I could visit the old stomping grounds, eat some bagels and challah french toast, and hopefully see some good shows.

I am still forming my opinion about CMJ as a festival; it’s totally crazy and goes all day and all night, and as I type this I’m probably missing 20 super-hyped “next big things,” or secret appearances by secret side projects that were never announced, or announced secret guests that don’t actually show up. For example, as of an hour ago Deerhunter is apparently playing Cake Shop, where I am writing this, at 6pm. Later, MSTRKRFT is playing a set starting at 2am.

Only at CMJ. More (and pictures) as the weekend progresses and I find a cheaper place than Duane Reade to develop film.

Continue reading "Badgeless at CMJ, Part One" »

A Podcast Worth Your Time - Resident Advisor

posted by on October 19 at 12:17 PM

If you look over on our “Friends List,” you’ll see a link for electronic music site Resident Advisor. The site generates some great content otherwise, but by far the most redeeming feature of the site is their weekly podcast, featuring DJs from all over the world representing a pretty wide swath of electronic music (they’re international, so there’s an inherent open-mindedness). In case you don’t do the whole podcast thing, you can also just download the MP3s (either on their site for a month or on Odeo for longer).

I’ve been grabbing the podcasts for a few months, but they often just end up in the black hole that is my hard drive, never actually getting a listen. A few days ago I gave a listen to the Prosumer podcast, and it’s an incredible tech-house mix that is actually the inspiration for this entire post. It’s archived on the RA site, but you can grab the mix here.

R.I.P. Slim Jak

posted by on October 19 at 12:03 PM

We wanted to make sure we gave you information about local musician Slim McCarroll’s death (He was a member of Los Hornets and the Vaccines). Since none of our staff members knew him, we are adapting our eulogy from the wonderful Kerri Harrop, who was good friends with the wife Slim leaves behind, Clare.

I had my reservations about Slim. He was punk rock, through and through, and a loyal JAK. I sure didn’t want to see this tattooed character crush my friend Clare’s open heart. Those punker dudes were notorious heartbreakers.

I didn’t know Slim well, at all. By the time Slim and Clare’s love was forged, the three of us girls were drifting apart. There was no animosity or drama, life had just taken us all on different paths. But, when those paths would cross, I would see how much he loved Clare. He was always respectful and kind when I would see him, and always had a complimentary word about his beautiful wife.

They fucking loved each other. More than I have ever seen in any couple.

There is something very pure and lifelong in friendships formed during your early 20’s. You become family. And, girlfriends during those years usually share an unbreakable bond. You know each other’s hearts.

My heart hurts for Clare. Her gigantic heart is broken.

As you know, Slim was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease this summer. Last month, in a horrible display of life’s capacity for cruelty, Slim was taken from this mortal coil, at the painfully young age of 41.

There are no words left to say.

Thank you Kerri, for letting us use your words to express our thoughts about Slim. We also want to tell you about the benefit show you can attend to help Clare and their two children out with the substantial medical costs they have been burdened with:

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20TH
A BENEFIT FOR SLIM JAK
with
THE KENT 3
THE RC5
TEXASS
THE MIDNIGHT IDOLS
THE EXCESSIVES
$10 - 8PM DOORS – 21+
NEUMO’S – 925 E. PIKE

If you are unable to attend the show, but still want to give to the cause, you can Paypal to the email slimbotex@yahoo.com.

It’s Class, Stupid

posted by on October 19 at 11:58 AM

Slate’s Carl Wilson on Sasha “Stephin Merritt Doesn’t Care About Black People” Frere-Jones’ much discussed recent essay in the New Yorker: “It’s Not Just Race. It’s Class.”

Ultimately, though, the “trouble with indie rock” may have far more to do with another post-Reagan social shift, one with even less upside than the black-white story, and that’s the widening gap between rich and poor. There is no question on which side most indie rock falls. It’s a cliche to picture indie musicians and fans as well-off “hipsters” busily gentrifying neighborhoods, but compared to previous post-punk generations, the particular kind of indie rock Frere-Jones complains about is more blatantly upper-middle class and liberal-arts-college-based, and less self-aware or politicized about it.

Boards of Canada - A Few Old Tunes

posted by on October 19 at 11:48 AM

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This came across the Division mailing list yesterday, and it seems like the kind of thing that should be shared with a broader audience - I know you Boards of Canada fans are pretty rabid. From Brandon P.:

My mate ripped this old tape from them and as far as I know it was never commercially released. In any event, it’s out of print, so I have no qualms in sharing it with you all, as I know there are many who have sought this tape, but have come up short… as with many of the Music70 releases.

Boards of Canada - A Few Old Tunes
Label: Music70
Catalog#: cancas001
Format: Cassette
Country: UK
Released: 1996
Style: IDM, Downtempo

http://rapidshare.com/files/63453239/Boards_of_Canada_-_A_Few_Old_Tunes__Old_Tunes_Vol._1_.rar

The J Word

posted by on October 19 at 10:48 AM

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The thesis statement from Ross Simonini’s feature on Akron/Family:

Five years ago, Akron/Family’s giddy, earnest-as-a-schoolboy genre-hop rock would’ve gotten them pegged as a jam band, a pejorative from which there is no redeeming. These days, like other clans of bearded, rural-born musicians, Akron/Family—who hail from Pennsylvania and have never been to Ohio—earn the fortunate if vague tag of “freak folk.”

You people that like this band: You’re all a bunch of daisy-sniffing, patchouli-wearing, hula-hooping hippies! HA!

Really though, the point of Simonini’s article is that such divisive thinking is beyond futile; it’s likely to deter you from discovering great music. One man’s freak-folk outsiders are another man’s barefoot jam band. Classification is for the IRS, taxonomists, and record store clerks. Preference based on other people’s classification is for suckers.

Akron/Family play tonight at the Crocodile with the Dodos.

Blender Names Worst Lyricists in Rock Music

posted by on October 19 at 10:25 AM

Blender has named who they think are the worst lyricists in rock music. Of course all dudes wrote up the list, and it’s Blender, so it’s not surprising that I have a few issues with it (Ben Gibbard, really?), but some on the list aren’t surprising at all. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree with them being included:

#40 - Anthony Kedis

If Jim Morrison had done yoga and strutted onstage with a sock on his dick, he’d have been the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman.

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#24 - Fred Durst

Worst lyric: “Bullies always putting me down/Just a little skater boy they could pick on/I learned to forgive ’em/Now I got the balls they can lick on” (“Lonely World”)

#21 - Alanis Morissette

Alanis nearly surpassed Bono as rock’s reigning inspiration for high school yearbook quotations when her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill sold 17 million copies. Sadly, the cigarette-flicking free spirit didn’t offer a very good example to students. She didn’t bother to look up ironic, pronounced theater “thea-tah” and spewed ontological nonsense like “I don’t want to be a bandage if the wound is not mine.”

Scott Stapp, Paul Stanley (THANK GOD!), and the dude from Panic! at the Disco get a shout out too.

As for who made the list at all, let alone much higher on the list than they should be?

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Ben Gibbard at #16? Newer stuff, yes I suppose there’s some truth in that, but dude’s also penned some fantastic lines in his songwriting history. Then again, I’m a chick, so I suppose I’m just a sucker for a guy “who’s sensitive, wears glasses, likes long conversations, winter, standing by himself at ­weddings and disregarding his ex-girlfriends’ restraining orders.”

And Bernie Taupin? I suppose he has written some stinkers, but he’s written some gems too.

But no Avril Lavigne? Oh wait, she probably doesn’t write her own lyrics… No Coheed & Cambria either? Or My Chemical Romance? Or is the line “I’m not O-FUCKING-KAY!” acceptable?

My main beef is, though, that Greg Gaffin is listed as a worse lyricist than Kevin Federline. ANYONE being listed as worse than Kevin Federline is blaspheme. But as a friend just pointed out, “What’s surprising is that anyone actually considers Kevin Federline a lyricist.” Touché.

No spoilers here. If you wanna know how they named the Worst Lyricist Ever, click here.

(Also, Dashboard Confessional made the list, which I couldn’t agree with more. In fact, I take his lyrics to task in this week’s Underage. Click here to play the Can You Spot the Bad Dashboard Lyrics? Game!)

Modeselektor

posted by on October 19 at 10:25 AM

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Broken Disco

(Club Night)

Broken Disco just keeps getting better. This month, Berlin’s Modeselektor returns to Seattle supporting their sophomore record, Happy Birthday!. The last time the duo was here, they leveled Re-bar with their booming, bass-heavy mix of electro, dub, breaks, and techno. Tonight, they’re joined by Seattle’s own tech-house wizards Jacob London and DJs Recess and Introcut. In the lounge, dubstep ambassador Struggle will be joined by Nordic Soul and Electrosect. Speakers will blow, foundations will shake, legs will liquefy. (Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000. 9 pm, $12, 18+.)
Eric Grandy

Tonight in Music

posted by on October 19 at 9:12 AM

Here’s what U&Cs suggest for this evening:

Benga & Hatcha
(Contour) First, much respect to DJ Struggle and the nascent dubstep scenes at Nectar and the Baltic Room. It’s hard to draw interest to something that is very far from the official cultural radar as dubstep, a haunting amalgamation of two-step and dub. The sound of this new music is an abstraction of the two-step beat that’s immersed in a haunting sea or city of echoes. Benga and DJ Hatcha are two of the leading producers of this music, which has its place of birth in London and date of birth in 2004. This show will be the first major dubstep event in Seattle. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Saturday Knights, The Whore Moans, Dyme Def, The Valley
(Sunset) It’s a heavy-ass dance fuckin’ FREAKOUT at the Sunset—and I for one am very excited. The sound and energy of all four of these crews inspire straight frenzy on their own, but on one bill? Yo, if the Sunset had a chandelier, I would take that motherfucker down immediately. The Knights’ joyous clap-along roadhouse rap + the Valley’s sweaty psych-stomp + the Whore Moans’ heralded break-your-neck garage punk + Dyme Def’s immaculate, chest-caving swagger = Light Your Ass On Fire. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Galactic, Lifesavas
(Showbox at the Market) For a lot of reasons, most groups that try hiphop with a live band fail; this is why there’s only one Roots. But here we have a combination that just might work: future-funkers Galactic fronted by veteran MCs Chali 2Na (of Jurassic 5) and Boots Riley (of the Coup). For the past few years, Galactic have been diligently tightening up their over-noodly tendencies—2003’s Ruckus, produced by Dan the Automator, was hard-wired electro-pop, and on their latest, From the Corner to the Block, they’ve pared down even further, playing the breakbeat-slinging backing band to a roster of rappers, including the pair playing with them tonight. It works surprisingly well as genuine hiphop, and so should tonight’s show. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

Also, Stranger Suggests suggest Broken Disco at Chop Suey, and Akron/Family is in town tonight too. Read more about ‘em here.

Need more? Check out Get Out, our searchable calendar listings.

Happy Cold and Flu Season!

posted by on October 19 at 8:54 AM

I was up most of the night due to a face full of snot—sneezing, blowing my nose, coughing… it was really lovely.

I dedicate this song to anyone else currently battling the nasty headcold.

Take it from the Biz Markie because I’m jokin’
And also, remember this slogan
Hey, ma, whats for dinner?
Go up your nose and pick yourself a winner
Pickin’ boogers

(Thanks to Robby)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

No More Baltic Room?

posted by on October 18 at 4:05 PM

Word on the street is that they’re ripping the sound system out of the Baltic Room today, following the club’s recent sale. Rumor is the place is being turned into a cocktail lounge/restaurant, which would be a shame, as it’s one of Capitol Hill’s best dance floors. The Baltic Room’s AC Lewis couldn’t be reached for comment. Does this mean no Halloween Ruff Gemz? Stay tuned.

Halloween at the Baltic Room, at least, is on. Official statement from the Baltic Room re: future plans coming tomorrow.

Disco Music On Mars

posted by on October 18 at 3:17 PM

Dexter Wansel's Life On MarsThe Loft Classics Series is a great place to find out about many classic disco gems. This bootleg series started back in 1995 to highlight the classic dance tracks that were being spun back in the 1970’s by legendary Deejay David Mancuso at the early Loft Parties, located in New York. I recently was able to pick-up a copy of Loft Classics Volume II which features Dexter Wansel’s “Life in Mars”. The track originally appeared on Wansel’s 1976 debut LP, also titled Life On Mars. The song is a solid mix of cosmic hi-energy disco and straight forward old school funk. If your looking to get into some rare classic disco, the Loft Classics Series might be a good place to start.

Dexter Wansel - Life on Mars

Government Warning—No Moderation

posted by on October 18 at 2:35 PM

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Last month I wrote about seeing Richmond, Virginia’s ’80s-hardcore-flashback band Government Warning at Gilman and being blown away by their sound:

They played great—tight, straight-ahead, perfect ’80s hardcore—and were unstoppably energetic. They’re not like a reimagining of the sound; they simply are the sound.

So I ordered their 2006 LP, No Moderation. It took two weeks to get to me, and the anticipation was thick. When it finally arrived. I immediately put it on. I had it on 33 rpm at first and it didn’t sound quite right, so I put it on 45. But that sounded too fast. They can’t possibly be that fast. Oh, but they are; 45 rpm is the correct speed. I mean, they’re not grindcore or anything, but they’re certainly speedy. I was immediately blown away. I’m a rather subdued person, but I did an air-guitar jump in my living room; I don’t normally do that. I wanted to run around and jump some more and start up a circle pit, and I don’t even like circle pits. It’s that good. Government Warning fit in perfectly with the likes of the Circle Jerks, Adolescents, Reagan Youth, 7 Seconds, early Black Flag. But they’re more energetic. I listened to the record twice in a row. If I didn’t have to get to my yoga class, I would’ve kept on playing it.

And look at that cover art: a skeleton nurse shooting up a skeleton patient in a hospital bed—and the patient is holding a small American flag and Bible, and his window overlooks a graveyard full of crosses as far as the eye can see. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but it’s classic. The lyrics range from political to something you might write if you were a teenager in your first punk band. (“Jocks and Cops” contains these nuggets: “Ejaculate on your weight machine” and “Big man, Mr. Football Star, fuck you asshole and fuck your car.”) From the first song to the last, this record is a bombardment of fun but serious rock; it never lets up. It’s absolutely perfect.

God is Seven

posted by on October 18 at 12:47 PM

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The seven-string guitar is for the truly evil. It is for those who need to take their darkness to the next level—the celebrational level of orc rock, where double kick drums discharge and demonic voices chant and gurgle. Chances are, if you play a seven-string guitar, you tortured insects when you were a child and you have since renamed yourself “Squeegee” or “Munky” or “Raz.”

axe.jpgThe seventh string is typically a low B. It allows you to gurgle and play massive low end while keeping the upper range open for soloing. In 1990, Ibanez introduced the Universe, a Steve Vai signature model. Vai was attracted to the extended range and was also into numerology, particularly the number seven.

Next were Dream Theater and Morbid Angel. Then came Korn in 1994. Their self-titled release sold three million copies and nu metal was born. Korn’s guitar player, “Head,” played a seven-string Ibanez. Metal fans around the world rallied and swam in Head’s super low end. Sadly, many insects were probably tortured.

But just when evil was getting eviler, Head found God. He had simply played too many low notes. That, and all the methamphetamines, Xanax, sleeping pills, and alcohol. God saved him from the seventh string.

Imagine the let down. You’re 15, you’re needing the sound of a metal band, and your favorite guitar player finds God and quits the band.

Artist/producer Mimesis, aka Marlon Schaeffer, was one of those Korn fans. His thoughts on Head’s contribution:

Head’s low tone was so low and nasty, I was like, Yeah!! I was into death metal and industrial at the time. Korn came out and it was exactly what I needed. The sound had this punchy-ness to it. It’s that seventh string. Then Head found God, and they got “Munky” to be their guitar player. Munky’s pretty good too.

Just for the record, I’m not a nu metal guy. I went through that phase, like many of us did, yes. Now, I’m into Aphex Twin, Fantomas, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Trentemoller.

OK Marlon, your tastes have evolved, but how many insects did you torture?

107.7 the End’s Deck the Hall Ball Line-Up

posted by on October 18 at 12:37 PM

It was announced today:

107.7 The End’s DECK THE HALL BALL comes to the Comcast Arena at Everett Events Center Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 5 pm. The Deck The Hall Ball features Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, Coheed and Cambria, She Wants Revenge, Spoon and The Kooks.

Tickets ($37.50) go on sale Saturday, October 20 at 9 am and are available through the Comcast Arena Box Office, online at comcastarenaeverett.com. To charge by phone call 866-332-8499.

Velvet Teen Coming November 15, Let’s Appreciate Them

posted by on October 18 at 12:33 PM

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The latest Crocodile Cafe listings show that the Velvet Teen will be making their way to Seattle November 15th, which is the perfect time of year to see the band play their sweeping, bittersweet compositions of keyboards, strings, guitar and precise delicate percussion, and Judah Nagler’s romantic croon.

Listen to “A Captive Audience.”

Imagine hearing that song live inside the cozy Crocodile while the wind blows outside and the last of the fall leaves hold on tight to the branch they refuse to abandon.

It’ll be glorious.

And it won’t all be sad songs that’ll incite the SAD to hit early—sometimes the Velvet Teen rock too. If you ask nicely, I bet they’ll play “In a Steadman Spray” which ever so slightly harks Sunny Day Real Estate. Or maybe they’ll lift your spirits with the bright “Caspian Can Wait.” (All MP3s via Slowdance.)

The show’s all ages and Say Hi to Your Mom and A-Sides are also playing. Tickets are on sale now via TicketWeb.com.

Judging by the looks on their faces, the band is clearly ready to blow your mind.

Last Call for Halloween Listings!

posted by on October 18 at 12:10 PM

If you haven’t already, please send in your Halloween parties for the listings I am compiling for online and the web. There are so many awesome-sounding parties in there already, and I’m starting to get super-excited about our mini-guide. It’s going to be incredibly comprehensive, with parties or at least Halloween stuff to do (for grown ups) all over the city and every day of the week.

Anyhow, if you are doing anything Halloween-related, please send me a little email with all the details to music@thestranger.com, and put “Halloween” somewhere in the subject line so I can find it in the barrage. It can be literally anything—a pumpkin-carving contest, a costume-trade off, or even a regular-old-rager—whatever it is, we’ll list it, as long as it’s open to the public and in Seattle or the surrounding areas.

And for the rest of you, look for the listings in the paper and online next week. It’ll be like one-stop shopping, but with no money involved!

Bonus-This is a great costume:
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Dude, Have You Heard the New Kanye West USB?

posted by on October 18 at 12:00 PM

Universal Music, the world’s biggest music company, is to release singles on USB memory sticks this month, in an attempt to arrest the decline in music sales.

The Vivendi-owned company plans to charge about £4.99 for USB singles starting on October 29 with releases from piano rock band Keane and Nicole, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. That compares with £2.99 for a typical CD single.

According to the story, the UK is the test market because “the UK is the last important market for singles,” according to Universal. So if this flops, the US may never see the new product. But other labels (EMI and Warner Music) are following Universal’s lead, and Universal hopes to release full USB albums by the end of the year.

Especially in the shadow of Radiohead’s ballsy (and successful) “name your own price” release, I think it’s interesting to see the ways major labels are panicking and struggling to find their place in the market. They want to keep up with the technological trends, but they want to remain profitable and offer something physical for consumers to buy.

I mean, USB albums? Would you buy that instead of just downloading the record? Maybe I’m missing the point of it, but I’d be shocked if this was an at all successful venture.

(Full story at TimesOnline, hat tip to punknews.org.)

Tonight in Music

posted by on October 18 at 11:50 AM

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Interpol, Liars
(WaMu Theater) Liars’ new self-titled album finds the band balancing their obtuse, bad-trip drones with muscular, full-frontal rock. Whether freaking out on a single, sampled noise loop or thrashing through fuel-intensive prog punk, Liars are an electrifying live band. Vocalist/guitarist Angus Andrew hulks around the stage like a monster while Aaron Hemphill hangs then shreds sonic scenery and Julian Gross beats the shit out of his poor drum kit. It’s terrifying. Interpol, on the other hand, are one of the most boring live bands on the planet, even when they don’t have such a tough act to follow. ERIC GRANDY

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Tullycraft, Math and Physics Club, Patience Please
(Crocodile) If you’re not ashamed to have a soft spot for Berkley’s witty pop punkers the Mr. T Experience, the Mates of State at their most ridiculously adorable moments, or LOLcats, then you’ll no doubt rearrange the little pieces of your heart to make some room for Tullycraft and their new album, Every Scene Needs a Center. The album starts with a quick burst of cuteness with the first song “The Punks Are Writing Love Songs,” the sonic equivalent of two kittens licking each other and asking “Scuze me, you haz flavor?” The band continue to shower feel-good vibes, throwing their sharp, steady beat and melodic bass lines in your face while Jenny Mears’s gleeful vocals unapologetically balance on the edge of being too upbeat. MEGAN SELING

Why Does This Excite Me So Much?

posted by on October 18 at 11:00 AM

According to the greatest Disco blog in the world, Disco Delivery, Twiggy’s 30-year-old disco album will finally get its release.

Produced by Donna Summer and Jürgen Koppers (Moroder associate).
Engineered by Elton Ahi.
With help by Pete Bellotte, Keith Forsey, and Harold Faltomeyer (all Moroder associates and ex-Munich Machine).
Tracks written by Pete and Thor Baldursson (also ex-Munich Machine).

Twiggy’s Heaven In My Eyes arrives November 7.

Samples are here!

The Measure of My Dreams

posted by on October 18 at 10:57 AM

“A Rainy Night in Soho” is a heartbreaking, beautiful love song, one of the Pogues’ finest moments. Like love itself, it pulls in two directions at once, lifted up by an unforgettable melody and weighed down by Shane MacGowan’s ragged vocals. The words he sings are poetry:

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms
I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song
To all those little girls and boys

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The gingerlady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you in my head
I’m not singing for the future
I’m not dreaming of the past
I’m not talking of the fist time
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
But there’s a light I hold before me
And you’re the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

Boozy sentimentality is the best kind of sentimentality.

I’m don’t expect much from the Pogues tonight, but I’m glad I’m going to the show. MacGowan is one of the greatest songwriters of the last 20 years; regardless of his condition, it’ll be a thrill just to be in his presence.

Good Thing Slash Didn’t Use Shampoo

posted by on October 18 at 8:16 AM

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I’m not going to pretend that this excerpt from Slash’s autobiography, due out at the end of October, holds much in the way of surprises. When G’n’R was on top of the world, Slash was high. Slash was really, really, really…

REALLY FUCKING HIGH.

Yawn, right, I know. But good god, man!

Soon I started speedballing heavily and really enjoyed the unique brand of hallucinatory paranoia that comes with it. No one had taught me to speedball; I just thought it would be like a narcotic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Coke and heroin were two great tastes that I knew would go great together.

Even better, Slash was topping off his brain-bending peanut-butter-and-chocolate with another delicacy:

I’d always end up shooting all of the heroin before I’d mowed through the coke, so usually I’d get wired to the point of an impending heart attack. At the end of those nights, I was also often left with the distinct feeling that I was being watched, so I started to think that walking around my house armed to the teeth was a good idea.

Consider eking out about 10 minutes to read the book excerpt; though it’s not consistent, the high points (ZING!) are worth it, such as the hallucinatory creatures who would burrow themselves in Slash’s hair. Holy Sweet Child of Mine, that sounds awesome. Talk about a fun county fair game—guess how many Predator beasts are hiding in Slash’s head-pube mane, win Marlboros for life.

Another big, surprising spoiler: Slash winds up naked and bloody. The resulting, hairy mental image—which has now deeply burrowed itself into my brain—reminds me of an old skit on The State:


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In Honor of Hump Day National Edge Day

posted by on October 17 at 5:14 PM

Today, October 17th, is National Edge Day.

This dude is probably stoked:

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Even though the idea of a National Edge Day makes me laugh (and I’m straight edge), let’s take a moment to remember that “Straight Edge” is still a really great, fast, unapologetic hardcore anthem (that unintentionally founded not only a subgenre of hardcore, but an entire lifestyle).

More From The Roy Ayers Show

posted by on October 17 at 4:48 PM

More from the Roy Ayers show:

I have to say I was pretty nervous being on a bill that featured such a legend like Roy Ayers. That being said, I thought last night’s show was a lot of fun and Ayers put on an amazing performance. I really didn’t know what to expect from Ayers or the show in itself, what songs from what era would he play? How would the crowd would respond? What kind of crowd would show up? To my delight Ayers kept the music up beat and the crowd was one of the most diverse and open-minded that I’ve ever been around. If you missed it, you definitely missed out. It was a show that I will never forget, as being one of the most unique show experiences of my life.

Some of the personal highlights from last night:

-When I first got there, my girlfriend was approached by a couple of older Ayers fans, that saw that she was with me, and said “what does this 26 year old kid know about funk and disco?”. By the end of the night, those guys walked back up to my girlfriend and asked my girlfriend for my email address so that I can email them some of the tracks I was playing, saying “I was wrong, this dude knows his shit, and I need to get a hold of some of these songs”. Which is a good example of how open-minded the crowd was. Even though they doubted me when I walked in the room, they gave me a chance and allowed themselves to enjoy the music.

-I was spinning records in between Altered States of Funk (opening band) and Ayers, I looked over and Roy was sitting next to the DJ booth bobbing his head to Bunny Sigler’s “The Simple Things You Do”. We made eye contact and he smiled and nodded, like “this is the joint”, and I just thought, this is fucking crazy, Roy Ayers is sitting right next to me. It’s very rare that I get that “Oh shit, look who it is” experience anymore, and that was one of them.

-Finally, Roy Ayers breaks into “Running Away”. I think I got chills listening to a song that has influenced me so much.

Such a great show, such an amazing experience.

The Feds Think Death Cab’s Chris Walla is a Terrorist?

posted by on October 17 at 4:39 PM

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Maybe.

Three Imaginary Girls have the scoop, but it appears that Homeland Security has seized Walla’s hard drive, which contains files for his yet-to-be-released solo album.

Says his record label Barsuk:

In addition to the expected difficulties he encountered attempting to approach his own work with the necessary detachment of a producer [difficulties which led Walla to enlist the help of Canada-based British ex-pat (and Midnight Oil / The The producer) Warne Livesey], the project hit an unexpected snag when a data hard drive containing critical album files was confiscated by U.S.Customs. The drive was held “to be analyzed” for several weeks on its way back into the U.S. prior to final mixing of the album. (Apparently the U.S. government is unfamiliar with FTP sites, and believes that physically transporting hard drives across the border is the technique of choice for foreign individuals trying to move sensitive information into our country. Brilliant.)


More over at TIG.com
.

Roy Ayers @ Nectar

posted by on October 17 at 3:45 PM

Photos by Edward Williams

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Surveying the crowd at last night’s Roy Ayers show at Nectar, I had a good chuckle over Sasha Frere-Jones’ jones: If you’re starving for soul, don’t go see an indie rock band, go see a legend of soul. Roy Ayers is exactly that. In the 1970s, the “Godfather of Acid Jazz” took the vibraphone into some of the finest disco-funk-jazz jams of all time.

But nobody’s heard much of his recent stuff. I was nervous going into the show that his sound—historically somewhere between hard funk and smooth jazz—would be watered down by age and compromise. Adding to my fears were the two giant digital keyboards included in his setup, and an estimated average band age of around 45.

The fact is, Ayers’ sound was smoothed-out by age, but in a way that only highlighted the band’s mastery of their unique style. Last night Ayers’ music occupied a crowd-pleasing realm all its own, as up-jumping as it was relaxing. From the first note, Ayers got the willing crowd involved in the show, and folks held on til the last note.

About that crowd: I’ve never seen a more diverse audience in Seattle. Spanning age and race, dancers twisted and swayed on the dance floor, while the balcony was occupied by older jazz cats dressed to the hilt, sitting down to survey the band. This was not a typical Fremont crowd, or a typical Seattle crowd, really. It was a special occassion sort of crowd, and everyone was feeling the vibe.

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Ayers himself turned out to be as affable a legend as one could imagine. Seattle, he told the crowd to open the show, has long been one of his favorite, most supportive cities, and he fittingly altered the lyrics to “We Live In Brooklyn” for the hometown crowd. He was backed by a five-string bassist (decidedly wanky in any metal or prog situation, but almost essential for proper groove-jazz low end), a full-time keyboardist, a keyboardist/sax/clarinet player, a hypeman, and a wicked drummer.

Throughout the night, familiar acid jazz tropes surfaced in the music: double-time tempo changes, slamming breakbeats, alto sax and clarinet solos, and of course the liquid-sunshine sound of Ayers’ vibraphone. The fun/revelation came in remembering that this is the guy who invented those tropes back before they were familiar. Despite the dueling keyboards, there was very little gushy synthery going on; sounds were discreet, solid, distinct from each other as in jazz, though locked in on pendulous dance-mad grooves that never for a second faltered. (Actually, a technical problem during a ridiculously technical bass solo derailed the music for a moment, but the bassist came back with a ferocious finish.)

Rather than save his hit for a big finale, Ayers dispatched with “Everyone Loves the Sunshine” early on in the set. It sounded as buttery and anthemic as ever, with the crowd chanting along to the lyrics as they writhed on the dance floor. Beside me, Eric Grandy spoke of a relaxed, stress-free vibe—opposite of rock shows, where the countdown to the hit and the end of the show is a constant source of anxiety. The music could’ve kept on all night or it could’ve stopped abruptly; either way, the band was delivering a satisfying show.

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A quick “Flashlight” tease led into a cover of “Not Just Knee Deep”—the P-Funk song famously sampled by De La Soul in “Me, Myself & I.” It was a great look for Ayers’ band, making their own one of the four pillars of funk. All through the night, a towering hypeman/interpretive dancer added backround vocals and hilarious hand movements while riling up the crowd and encouraging (and getting, loudly) call-and-response participation.

Towards the end of the set, Ayers led the crowd in another well-performed call-and-response—they audience-contributed response part of which was far more impressive than most. Before long, Ayers was singing scat-like gibberish and completely losing the crowd. He then turned to his hypeman, and the dude was right there with him. The two had a drawn-out conversation in some alien jive language, a hilarious, left-field interlude.

There was the requisite bass solo and a requisite drum solo, both delivered with scathing efficiency. Songs were stretched out to allow melodic soloing from the keyboards and horns, but the speed with which they snapped back into uber-tight full-band jams was whiplash-inducing. Ayers displayed a comfort on-stage and with his instrument that only comes through 40-some years of playing. It was a pleasure to watch and a sweaty mess to dance to.

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It was great to be out at a show that wasn’t a rock show, wasn’t a hiphop show, wasn’t a jazz show, wasn’t a DJ set—this was groove music, pure and liberated and aimed straight at the soul. Not every concert has to be measured by the familiar standards of rock and rap. Ayers is a true original and a true originator, and spending a night with him and his music was a reminder of how good the “other” kinds of music can be. I wonder if SFJ caught him when he was in New York last week.

Who Cares About Sasha Frere-Jones?

posted by on October 17 at 2:55 PM

Seriously. I’m just back from a little trip and read Sean Nelson’s post re: Sasha Frere Jones.

I have to say. Can someone tell me who cares what this man thinks? He works for the New Yorker and he’s the one telling us what’s too white! PUH-LEEZE.

Why is he so lazy in his critique? Four pages of drivel and not a real a coherent idea to be found. So indie music is too white? DUH!

I would have gone further and said that due to Mr. Timberlake and Ms. Stefani. Rap is getting too white also. But the way he defends….

Oh never mind. It’s just too boring.

Didn’t we have this conversation a while ago about Stephen Merritt?

Cosmic: The Original 1979-1984

posted by on October 17 at 2:34 PM

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I finally received a copy of Daniele Baldelli’s Mix CD Cosmic: The Original 1979-1984 yesterday. I’ll just get my judgment of it out of the way here at the beginning: It’s totally brilliant and you should get it.

It consists of two CDs, one of all the tracks unmixed, and one of all the tracks mixed in a traditional DJ mix style.

But this mix is so not traditional. Take these two tracks from the first cd:

New Music - While You Want
Culture Club - Murder Rap Trap

The first is a spry little energetic new wave track lots of little synth wooshes and plucky little lines filled in with a British accented vocal track. The next is a rare b-side by Culture Club. A slow dubby reggae track with some Jamaican style rap by Capt. Crucial. Echo-y and very dubbed out.

But listening to them in the mix CD is revelatory. Here are the first four tracks of CD 2.

Craig Leon - Rings With Three Concentric Circles
New Music - While You Want
Secession - Touch
Culture Club - Murder Rap Trap

New Music is slowed down considerably and made a bit ominous and sinister. The synth wooshes make it feel spacey now, and the vocal track is slow and fucked up. The Culture Club track is sped up and Capt. Crucial sounds like a little child. More like dancehall now.

It’s this kind of crazy mixing that has made Baldelli a cult figure for so long now. The man was doing this, alone, thirty years ago and was daring enough to take it out and play it at his euro-discoteque.

What must those patrons have thought? Were they force feeding them pot brownies and ludes at the door?

Whatever it was, this CD just confirms why Baldelli is such a hero to all DJs. His contributions to the art form can’t go unnoticed anymore. The man is genius.

The Fiery Furnaces @ The Crocodile Cafe

posted by on October 17 at 12:46 PM

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Eleanor Friedberger

Which Fiery Furnaces would show up in Seattle? It’s a question worth asking before every gig by the siblings Friedberger; as if the band’s albums weren’t dizzying and varied enough, older brother and main songwriter Matthew seems to rearrange the night’s songs in whatever motif suits him at the time. I’ve seen him go for organ-crazy carnie mode, Shuggie Otis-throwback soul and even plain ol’ hard rock, and their love for live rearrangements is a big reason why I think they’re among the best touring bands in the nation.

Last night, Matthew’s bandmates were just as curious—if not clueless—as the crowd in terms of expectations. The night’s theme turned out to be black new-wave—I could hear big similarities to bands like Memphis’ Lost Souls in the Cars-meets-Sabbath approach, like when old hit “Birdie Brain” became a grinding, synthy take on “Iron Man.” Countless times, the rhythm section locked eyes with Matthew, as if they’d never rehearsed these dizzying, complex shifts (a frightening thought, given how perfectly the bass and drums held up their end of the deal)…or as if Matthew was being a Chuck Berry-level asshole and changing songs on the fly as he saw fit. A brief griping match between Matthew and his lead-singing sister Eleanor seemed to imply the latter, but the gig was only made better by the tension. Enjoy a 7-minute sample below.

Les Savy Fav: Smartest Band Alive?

posted by on October 17 at 12:34 PM

This is the sort of thing that puts you ahead in the running for my personal, non-Stranger-endorsed Genius Award for music:

Les Savy Fav play Neumo’s on Friday, Nov 30th.

(Hat tip: Stereogum)

In Honor of Hump Day

posted by on October 17 at 12:11 PM

Chixdiggit “I Wanna Hump You”

Listen to Setlist, Win the New Pleasureboaters CD

posted by on October 17 at 11:53 AM

Two things will happen when you listen to this week’s Setlist:

(1) You will hear some good music by local bands like Cancer Rising, Shorthand for Epic, the Pleasureboaters, and Smile Brigade.

(2) You will find out how to enter our contest and win a copy of the Pleasureboaters’ new record Gross, which is so good.

Click for fun.

Tonight in Music

posted by on October 17 at 9:30 AM

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Lucero, Bobby Bare Jr., Whiskey & Co.
(Crocodile) I really hope it’s raining today. I hope it’s cold, I hope my alarm doesn’t go off, I hope I get splashed by a car driving through a mud puddle while I wait for the bus, I hope I get dumped by my boyfriend, and I hope I lose my job. I want to be as pathetic as possible by the time the Lucero show comes around, because only after your heart has been broken and your spirit has been torn to pieces can you truly revel in Ben Nichols’s worn-and-weary vocals and Lucero’s sweet, sad country guitars. Clearly inspired by artists like Springsteen, the Memphis quartet does dismal damn well, swirling it around with the bitter taste of whiskey and subtle romantic tinges of Americana. They also do an amazing version of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle.” Thankfully, the imagery in their originals is so vivid that, even if you’re not currently crushed, you’ll still experience every ache and pain in their songs, which is probably better than hoping to live the worst day of your whole life. MEGAN SELING

Also, the Pogues are playing the first night of two at the Showbox SODO. This week’s Turn You On is dedicated to them. Here’s what Jonathan Zwickel had to say about the band:

The Pogues you will see at the Showbox Sodo are not the Pogues you ought to know. That’s not a discouragement—for God’s sake, catch the band play with singer Shane MacGowan while you have the chance. But know that MacGowan is a toothless, doddering shade of the garrulous poet-philosopher he once was. During a concert last fall in San Francisco, he had to be helped onstage, where he draped himself over the microphone stand like it was the only thing holding him up. (The show was still a beer-swinging, line-kicking, shout-along throwdown.)

Click to continue reading why Rum, Sodomy & the Lash is the quintessential Pogues record.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Comment of the Day

posted by on October 16 at 4:33 PM

Left by Eli in Sean Nelson’s post about Frere-Jones’s latest:

Hey Line Out commenters,

You have really great working vocabularies.

Thank you,
Eli

Dear Instrumental Bands: Your Visual Accompaniment Isn’t Necessary

posted by on October 16 at 4:21 PM

Question: Do you think watching an instrumental band play live is just as exciting as watching a band with a lead singer?

Here’s why I ask, since instrumental bands don’t have a singer, it could appear as though their live show would lack that instant connection that comes with having a charismatic frontman.

But does it?

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Russian Circles by Owen Richards

I saw Russian Circles at the Crocodile many months ago. The instrumental trio was opening for Appleseed Cast. I had never heard them until that night, and their set was fantastic—they’re an unfuckwitable wall of technically proficient sound, blending the fluidity of melodic rock with the finger-tapping characteristics of math. Their drummer was intense and infallible, and the bassist and guitarist felt every note of the music, thrashing their long hair around during the climactic parts, zoning out over the pedal boards during the waves of drones. They clearly didn’t give a shit that they didn’t have a dude with a mic standing at the front of the stage—they knew their performance was just as worthy as any band with a singer.

But then I see an instrumental act that opts to “enhance” their performance with some kind of visual aide—flashy stage props, the projection of films on a screen behind them—and I’m always confused by this choice.

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Joy Wants Eternity

Two local acts, Bronze Fawn and Joy Wants Eternity, write great instrumental songs. Joy Wants Eternity is moody and dark, summoning a My Blood Valentine vibe, while Bronze Fawn is more dynamic and playful. For both acts, their music is strong enough to do all the talking for them, yet every time I see either band, they’ve got some strange distraction on stage. JWE has this winged mannequin with a TV screen for a face, and I’ve seen the same clip of a chicken farm and a kid with a gun at a number of Bronze Fawn shows.

These visual accompaniments don’t do a thing for me. If anything, I get distracted from the music while trying to make sense of what I’m looking at and how it pertains to what I’m hearing. I can never find a connection, I just end up confused. And since there’s no purpose in my mind, it just appears as though the band is timid about the fact that they are without a singer—without an immediate connection for the audience. But why? I have no problem watching someone play guitar. I like it, it’s connection enough for me.

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Bronze Fawn by Aurelia Rivage

What do you think? Do you like it when the band, especially an instrumental outfit, has something else going on during their set that they personally aren’t engaged in (that means the Flaming Lips are excluded from this discussion)? Or would you prefer they ditch the eyesore shenanigans and just exist as the organic noise that they are?

The Go! Team

posted by on October 16 at 4:11 PM

The Go! Team, Bodies of Water @ Neumo’s

True to their name, the Go! Team are all exclamations, all cheerleading, all game-show winning, all the time. If you’re not ready to commit 110% to the enthusiasm, then don’t bring your tired ass to the Go! Team—they will have nothing for you, man. Of course, enthusiasm, cheer, excitement, these are all good things, right? Yeah, but with no variation, it becomes a monotone, albeit a very perky, upbeat monotone. It’s music for only one occasion, a party. And sometimes, on a rainy, Monday night, you’re just not in the right mood (maybe you saw a screener of Control earlier that day and you’re feeling more like some b&w Mancunian mope), and no amount of energy and sampled clarion calls and backbeat will move you.

So it was for me at last night’s Go! Team show. But make no mistake, my mood had nothing to do with the band’s performance. They were charming, fun, and totally tight. I though the live sound might be radically different than their recorded material, but I was surprised by how true to the records it was. There was more bass, but it was still all sunny clutter, with Ninja’s playground raps alternately lost and peeking out amidst all the activity. From the very first beat, the band had the crowd dancing, jumping around, and waving their arms, especially up front in the all-ages section. If I wasn’t there to party, I was definitely in the minority.

Openers Bodies of Water were a pleasant surprise, though, even in my curmudgeonly mood. Their tie-dyed gospel pop was full of sweet sometimes wordless male/female vocal harmonies, western gallops, and charging choruses that were immediately catchy if not ultimately memorable this morning. I’d never heard of the band before last night, and while I’m not totally won over, I’d definitely go see them again.

Roy Ayers Tonight!!!

posted by on October 16 at 3:21 PM

Roy Ayers Tonight at The Nectar!!!

I (TJ Gorton) will be spinning Cosmic/Disco/Italo starting at 7PM, and playing throughout the night.

Everyone come out and dance your ass off!!!!

10.16 Tuesday Nectar & 98.9 KWJZ Present The Godfather of Acid-Jazz…
ROY AYERS
with Special Guests Altered States of Funk & DJ TJ Gorton
$22 adv. / $25 DOS
7pm doors / 8 pm show
21 & Over
www.nectarlounge.com
Advanced Tickets available at Sonic Boom Records & www.brownpapertickets.com

Musical Miscegenation

posted by on October 16 at 2:21 PM

My favorite music writer tears into my favorite music subject for an essay that will have blogs a bloggin’ for memes to come, no doubt. I can’t decide how I feel about the article, other than that I agree with it in logical/intellectual/critical/even musical principle even as I disagree with it emotionally in ways that have to do with my own musical awakening during the decade he despairs of. Which is to say I still love Pavement, I guess. I’m with him on Wilco, though!


At any rate, the shit is interesting, as Frere-Jones never isn’t.

Dr. Dog @ the Croc

posted by on October 16 at 2:03 PM

Sam already laid out all the goodness of last night’s triple bill at the Croc (as well as some video), but I just need to say this about Dr. Dog: Every song is an anthem, every melody a hook, every group singalong a reason for celebration. These guys are destined for bigger and better. They’ve already opened for pretty much everyone they admire: Wilco, the Strokes, My Morning Jacket, the Black Keys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Raconteurs. Last night’s headlining slot proved that they themselves are headliners—frolicking onstage, spooling out tight, tiny solos, interacting between members like pros. The sound was rich, large, bordering on out-of-control but always adroitly captained. It was the most consistently upbeat and enjoyable set I’ve seen in a while, and they crowd ate it up. Too much fun—I had to stop taking notes and just dig the music.

Also worth noting was the High Strung. I missed some of their set, but the last few songs were punchy power-pop nuggets with just a hint of improv. The trio’s rhythm section was especially potent. Seems like another band deserving of bigger hype.

Nazis Don’t Dance

posted by on October 16 at 12:30 PM

…they just pull up their jodhpurs.

And they do so to flaccid new age music.

Yeah. Sorry, but I had to find an example of the Nazi “goose step” referred to in the comments another post. Behold the fearsome union of YouTube and an overcaffeinated mind.

Also Out Today

posted by on October 16 at 12:22 PM

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In addition to Maritime and Jimmy Eat World, today sees the release of Underworld’s Oblivion With Bells.

Underworld

Oblivion With Bells

****

Listening to Underworld is like getting drunk with the HAL 9000. If you read Karl Hyde’s angular, processed poetry word for word, it stops just short of total gibberish—like the precision-detailed mess of the band’s cover art, or the words-are-instruments vibe of Ken Nordine’s 1950’s “word jazz.” But if you sit back, unfocus your ears, and soak it in as a whole, it tiptoes over into brilliance. Just as good techno plays subtle headgames with sound and dares you to dance smart, Hyde’s lyrics twist and weave around the noise, adding just enough make the songs mean something, but leaving it up to you to figure out what that is. This either makes people life-long fans, or it drives them batshit.

In the five years since the sadly under-rated A Hundred Days Off, Underworld has been under the radar, and busy as hell. They scored Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. They left the major labels behind and released the pioneering Riverrun series of multimedia downloads on their own. They kept up their touring schedule and released a live album and career-spanning anthology. All this work has nudged them away from producing dancefloor bangers—the high-energy tracks on Oblivion sound more like rock than anything else, the techno is subtle and nuanced, and the rest is all expansive piano and strings—but it has refined the sound they nailed more than a decade ago: dramatic electronic music, surrounded by cryptic, vulnerable lyrics full of fleeting thoughts, first impressions, and missing pieces. If you’ve never liked them before, Oblivion With Bells might turn you around. And if you already do, this is their best work yet. MATT CORWINE

Dr. Dog at the Crocodile Cafe

posted by on October 16 at 12:19 PM

Can a Monday night crowd really be fooled? At 9:30 p.m. at the Croc last night, they were dressed to the nines, all smiles and synchronized dance moves, pretending to kick off a new weekend. And for a while, they pulled it off, because Detroit’s The High Strung was the right opening band for the falsehood, its Kinks-loving hooks and melodies upheld by a thunderous, Zepp-lovin’ rhythm section. They played hard—hard enough to bleeeeed…or at least cut the bassist’s thumb open, but hey, it’s Monday night. I’ll take it.

The week’s reality started to catch up by about 11:00. The crowd was still plenty active midway through Apollo Sunshine’s set, just after the band unleashed its out-of-nowhere stoner-rock take on Bach’s Fugue in D Minor, but under the surface, something wasn’t clicking. Maybe it was the incessant buzzing from a busted tube amp. Maybe it’s the fact that Apollo Sunshine’s hard rock approach has recently teetered away from the Trail of Dead post-rock builds and explosions of old (evident in the band’s set-closing number) and more toward the stoned, jammy rock of Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops (complete with those bands’ trademark “stop the song midway for a full-band drum solo” gimmick), a transition I haven’t been keen on. I guess I like a little more musicianship and guitar ability in my ’70s classic rock throwbacks—if you want to be sloppy, skip at least one decade, right?

I banked on headliner Dr. Dog to pull the crowd back at this point, whose We All Belong is firmly lodged in my personal ‘07 best-of list, and at the outset, the Philly quintet seemed up to the task, jumping its tempos and pogoing around the stage even more often than usual. Perhaps this tour with mega-loud Apollo Sunshine and The High Strung has convinced Dr. Dog to charge its sweet, Beatle-ian pop gems with a maniacal recklessness, evident when Toby Leabman screamed his throat raw and when Scott McMicken was too busy jumping around to sing into the damn mike.

At night’s end, the day of the week ultimately depended on position in the crowd. At the very front stood Friday night, hands clapping through the songs, bodies pressed together to finish the night with “Wake Up“‘s rousing sing-along ending at roughly 12:45 a.m. In the middle and back stood grumpy ol’ Tuesday, who’d already ushered much of the crowd to go home once the initial excitement wore off halfway through Dr. Dog’s too-long set. I’d gotten a touch of Tuesday, as I found myself zoning out and staring at the ground by 12:30. Something tells me The High Strung’s night-stealing set so early was the biggest factor, a problem on any night of the week but even more so when trying to maintain momentum on a friggin Monday. But I must’ve blocked the aforementioned touch, as my good friend J. Zwickel was to my right, still singing along until the last song. You’re welcome, pal.

Here’s Dr. Dog’s opening song last night; the rest of my bad-sounding clips have nothing to see, since the stage lights died halfway through this song:

These Tears are Golden

posted by on October 16 at 12:04 PM

Because I’m on a Don Ray Kick, and that ain’t a bad thing:

In 1977, disco producers Alec R. Costandinos and Don Ray hooked up for another one-off project called Sumeria. The group’s only album, “Golden Tears”, was a concept record that loosely explores modern identity in the late 1970’s without ever moving too far from the dancefloor. This LP, in my opinion is one of the best cosmic disco concept albums of all-time. There’s just as much pre-song dialog between two confused lovers as actual music on the record to dance to. Where skits and dialog intros fail to make any connection to the listener or the music, Costandinos and Ray get it right on this album, the dialog actually makes the the music make more sense and tends to tie up the entire record. All I can say is, that in my opinion, this album is brilliant and if you like cosmic disco, this album is a must for your personal collection.

*Please sit through the intro dialog on this first track
Sumeria - Dance and Leave it all behind you
Sumeria - Why Must there be an End

Maritime’s Heresy and the Hotel Choir Out Today

posted by on October 16 at 11:52 AM

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It’s new CD Tuesday and there’s one album that matters to me today—that’s the new Maritime album. Maritime stole the show at last week’s Jimmy Eat World concert, and their third full-length, Heresy and the Hotel Choir has already become a fall favorite of mine. If you find yourself listening to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie in the autumn months (I know I’m not the only one), give Maritime a try. They have the same warmth that makes Death Cab sound so good this time of year, but Maritime is a little brighter—their melodies soar higher over more playful beats.

Here’s what I said in this week’s Underage column:

While Maritime’s first two records (2004’s Glass Floor and 2006’s We the Vehicles) don’t stand up to Promise Ring’s beloved Nothing Feels Good album, it’d be unfair to expect them to. They’re a different band with their own vibe, and they wear their age and experience well, sticking to a clean and classic pop sound that’s rejuvenated with von Bohlen’s wistful croon and guitars that beam with a little extra indie jangle. And unlike some aging “emo” stars, the men in Maritime have moved past adolescent heartbreak and the bad habit of dwelling on negative feelings.

This week, the band releases their new full-length, Heresy and the Hotel Choir, and they continue to successfully follow their familiar formula. We the Vehicles always sparkled, and Heresy does, too (especially on the track “Love Has Given Up”), but while Vehicles had a mellower sound (even when energy picked up), Heresy finds time to rock. “For Science Fiction” has a chorus more explosive than any other Maritime song, and it comes with a dirty, toe-tappin’ bass line and some well-placed synth flourishes that the band never experimented with in the past.

Hear it (via Flameshovel Records):

For Science Fiction
Guns of Navarone

Also in stores today: Jimmy Eat World Chase This Light, Thrice The Alchemy Index: Vols. I & II - Fire & Water, Neil Young Chrome Dreams II, Stereophonics Pull the Pin, the Puppini Sisters The Rise & Fall of Ruby Woo, and… Michael W. Smith It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

Mauve Alert

posted by on October 16 at 10:53 AM

mauvealert.jpgReports are in that a Seattle grocery store played an instrumental, Muzak version of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage.” The person who called in the report was shopping for cream of broccoli soup when the Muzak came on.

The lyrics of the song say to “break your rusty cage and run.” Then there is talk of riding a pack of dogs. The cream of broccoli shopper didn’t break their can of soup, but they ran. And they didn’t ride a pack of dogs, they posted a ‘Mauve Alert’, screaming for people to get out of the store immediately.

Let’s be careful out there today, especially in the soup and cereal aisles (or Isles, thank you ‘Hungry).

This is a Mauve Alert. You may be leisurely browsing the cereal boxes, enjoying the fun shaped animals, the colors, and the sugar coated characters, but if they bust out an instrumental version of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” off the 1967 Axis: Bold As Love, you’re screwed.

The Mauve Alert Safety Commission instructions say to:

1) Wear a life preserver.
2) Put earplugs in.
3) Keep a baby can of Olympia Beer in your pocket at all times.

If Muzak like this comes on, drop what you’re doing, run into the parking lot, and pound the 8 ounces of beer as fast as you can. Then do four push-ups.

Be safe people.

Tonight in Music

posted by on October 16 at 10:11 AM

The Fiery Furnaces are playing the Crocodile. Click here to read Michaelangelo Matos’ review of their new album Widow City.

Rogue Wave, Port O’Brien
(Neumo’s) The first album from Oakland’s Rogue Wave came along in 2003, right at the height of Shins-mania. Recorded mostly solo by band mastermind Zach Rogue (né Schwartz), Out of the Shadow wafted along on sweet, pastoral pop harmonies and wide-open compositions, much like their Portland-based peers. Rogue built his sound on overdubs, though, so despite its bear hugging of cuddly pop hookery, the music had an off-kilter, lone-gunman feel. New members were acquired to fill out the band’s live performance, adding heft and momentum to their 2005 Sub Pop follow-up Descended Like Vultures. Released last month on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate has an even more vivacious ensemble feel. Rogue’s songwriting is sharper than ever, the studio production rich and warm. Good God: We’ve reached the point at which Sub Pop and Jack Johnson have something in common. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
Roy Ayers
(Nectar) When it comes to gag-inducing musical terminology, the phrase “acid jazz” is right up there with “trip-hop” and “the Dave Matthews Band.” Hate the nomenclature; don’t hate the… nomed? The fact is, Roy Ayers might be known as “the Godfather of Acid Jazz,” but back in the mid-’70s, he was a soul-jazz innovator, one of the first classically trained musicians to fuse the booty-moving rhythms of funk and disco into the extended melodic flights of post-bop jazz. Everybody loves “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” Ayers’ best-known tune, a breezy, soul-drenched swinger that’s as positively uplifting as its title implies and has been sampled up and down the R&B tree. Recently, Ayers has been recording with neosoul singer Bilal, and his current touring incarnation reflects that hard-hitting, deeply groovy aesthetic. This won’t be a sit-down and gape jazz show. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
Hellogoodbye, Say Anything
(Showbox Sodo) I was one of the few people over the age of 22 who liked Say Anything’s debut release, …Is a Real Boy. I liked its brutally honest lyrics, I liked the fearless attempt to do something a little different (it’s a vaudevillian rock opera disguised as a fourth [fifth?] wave emo record), I’m a fan of crazy people, and singer Max Bemis is actually crazy. It shows in his lyrics. In “Wow, I Can Get Sexual, Too,” he unapologetically sings about using phone sex with (I assume) a groupie to satisfy himself. In “Admit It,” he, well, admits, “I worry about how this album will sell because I believe it will determine the amount of sex I will have in the future/I self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to help treat my extreme social-anxiety problem.” He picks fights, he calls bullshit, he talks shit about himself—it felt like he was mocking the very genre and lifestyle he was a part of, and I thought that was fucked up, but pretty great. Sadly, their new record, In Defense of the Genre, is a lot less confrontational and therefore boring to me. That’s the thing about the crazies—they’re totally unreliable. MEGAN SELING

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jimmy Eat… Zzzzz….

posted by on October 15 at 4:26 PM

(I know this show wasn’t last night. This show was Thursday night, but Freaky Friday prevented me from posting it the following day. And I didn’t post it this weekend because I was busy watching I Love New York reruns on VH1 and eating Pumpkin Hazelnut Caramel ice cream at the Ballard Sunday market.)

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Despite being unimpressed by their new album Chase This Light, I was looking forward to the Jimmy Eat World show last Thursday. They’ve always delivered a solid performance, mixing the bright pop songs with their moody stuff, and in the past I’ve seen the crowd lose their minds over ‘em.

In the first few minutes of their set on Thursday, it looked like they were going to keep on with their clean track record. JEW took the stage and the fans—a balanced mix of young teenagers out on a school night and diehards that have no doubt been going to Jimmy Eat World shows for over a decade—exploded with cheers. After a quick “Hi, we’re called Jimmy Eat World” from frontman Jim Atkins, the band blasted into “Big Casino,” the first track on Chase This Light.

“Big Casino,” a carpe diem pop anthem was a great way to start and I was sure the crowd was going to explode into a boiling pit of dudes thrashing and girls dancing to the huge chorus, but as they played on, the kids just stood there.

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Afterwards the audience applauded like they’ve never seen anything so good, but it was so weird that they wouldn’t move when the music started. Even when Davey from Maritime (and Promise Ring) came out to sing back-up for the second song, “Crimson and Clovers,” the crowd (with the exception of the girl in front of me) barely batted an eyelash until the band stopped.

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Atkins didn’t give up. He played every song with noticeable conviction—attacking the guitar solos like the desperate frontman of an opening act trying to win over an unimpressed audience, but his bandmates weren’t in the same place as him.

It didn’t help that the majority of their set was spent on the downer, the heavy-hearted songs meant to be heard alone on a long drive—“Carry You” “For Me This is Heaven,” “Disintegration,” “23”… Even the brighter and/or aggressive songs (and some favorites from Clarity) like “Get It Faster,” “Lucky Denver Mint,” “Blister,” and “Crush,” were slowed down to a less exciting speed. And without fail, the kids loved it when it was over, but they refused to move during the song itself.

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It got really boring really quick. I stuck around hoping they’d bring the energy up, play “The Middle,” “Electable,” “Believe in What You Want,” something that would make the crowd move. But even the encore was anti-climactic. After they played “Polaris” and acoustic versions of “Hear You Me” and “Your House” I gave up and left. No matter what happened next, I thought, it wasn’t going to be enough to excite me.

As I waited for the bus a friend still at the show text messaged me—“They played ‘Sweetness.’ The crowd went apeshit,” he said.

Of course they did.

Uneven Justice at Neumo’s

posted by on October 15 at 4:20 PM

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It was hot and swampy at Neumo’s on Friday night for Justice, but the most noticable sensation in the room was the superb quality of the club’s new Funktion 1 sound system. While excessive volume has been a past complaint at Neumo’s, tonight the sound quality was well balanced between highs and lows. If anything, it would’ve benefited from more volume. After all, Justice brought the buzzy, filtered melodies of Daft Punk and the headbanging beats of the Chemical Brothers; chest-rattling force would’ve been appropriate.

The fact that Justice is playing as many rock clubs and dance clubs on their first full-blown American tour hints at the type of show they’re trying to put on. But the fact is, Justice is a dance party—it’s two dudes behind laptops playing funky, beat-centric anthems. Stage presence is restricted entirely to the 10-foot stack of Marshall amps behind the duo; they might be stylish Frenchmen, but Auge and de Rosnay don’t offer much to look at. Which is why, even though Neumo’s sounded great, it would’ve been that much greater to be in the middle of a heaving dance floor, surrounded on all sides by speakers and bass and volume, not to mention and lights and smoke and people dancing obliviously to any sort of stage setup.

It’s sad but true: There’s no perfect dance club in Seattle. A couple Pioneer Square and Belltown nightclubs come close in terms of sound, lights, and layout, but ultimately fail because they can’t pull the right crowd. Capitol Hill hipsters won’t be seen at Last Supper Club; bridge-and-tunnel bros and hos want more glitz and glam than Cap Hill has to offer. Chop Suey comes close to thumping with appropriate surround sound for a raging dance party, but it’s small. Neumo’s is a proven rock club.

It’s an impass that affects more than just Justice. On October 19, London dubstep phenoms Benga & Hatcha are playing Club Contour, a place about which nobody has good things to say. Same goes for Mark Farina at Trinity on October 26. How does that happen?

Anybody ever been to 1015 Folsom in San Francisco? That’s exactly the kind of place I’m talking about: dark and grungy and underground as hell, but huge, with pristine sound, cool layout, and seizure-inducing lights. Or Club6—another dingy, underground spot that gets big international acts. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ruby Skye is super bougie, but because of the sound and the layout, a dance night there is always a fun, swanky night out, and they attract great acts.

Sorry to fall back on the SF comparison, but we need someplace like those clubs here in Seattle.

Hey, He Called Björk “Bork”!

posted by on October 15 at 3:53 PM

SNL is getting funny again?

New Hot Chip Album

posted by on October 15 at 3:27 PM

Hot Chip return with a new album Made In The Dark on February 5, 2008 on Astralwerks /DFA Records.

Stoked!

Bat Your Lashes

posted by on October 15 at 3:07 PM

Bat for Lashes - Crocodile Cafe - Sunday, October 14th


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(Picture by Graham Grundy)

Natasha Khan has a voice that fills a room. It’s unwavering, stoic, and three or four octaves wide. I don’t know if the Crocodile air has ever been filled so pretty. There were snowflakes and swans and peacock feathers. Natasha and her band, Bat for Lashes, are from England. They were an odd fit for the Crocodile due to their orchestral slanted, beauty-based instrumentation. The songs are composed for and centered around Natasha’s voice, which is warmer and less tweaked than Bjork’s, but similar. Also present are some Tori Amos, Chan Marshall, and Sarah Mclaughlin.

Yes, Khan is tall, beautiful, and she has Lilith Fair in her throat. Her father is also a famous Pakistani squash player.

Bat for Lashes is a four piece, all girl, I mean, all woman group of sonic doll-bots styled from the 20’s. Natasha, Ginger Lee, Abi Fry, and Lizzy Carey. They switch instruments almost every song and are proficient on them all. There were keys, violin, viola, guitar, auto harp, flute, snare, floor tom, glockenspiel, squeezebox, bells, chimes, tambourine, and hand claps. For one song, Natasha strapped on a big green bass and rocked. It may not have been rock the Croc is used to, but in its demure and exquisite way, it rocked.

Some of their pastoral sounds come from an iPod. Here is the left side of their soundboard. I was wondering where some of the drums were coming from:

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Continue reading "Bat Your Lashes" »

Roy Ayers @ The Nectar Tomorrow Night!!!

posted by on October 15 at 3:01 PM

Roy Ayers - October 16th at Nectar

Tomorrow night, Roy Ayers brings his funky disco grooves to Fremont’s Nectar for a huge dance party. This should be one of the most anticipaited shows of the year. Roy Ayers, often called “Godfather of acid jazz”, moved more musically toward the funkier disco side in the late 1970’s with classic tracks “Running Away”, “Freaky Deaky”, and “Fever”, making his influence just as present in dance music as it is to experimental jazz music. His music has often been sampled by house, hip-hop, and techno artists and Deejays. It’s not often we see a disco/funk legend in these regions, and there’s always a chance that this latest tour could be his last. I (TJ Gorton) will be there spinning disco/italo/cosmic grooves all night to keep the party going before, after, and during the show. So if your looking for the biggest disco/funk party of the year, tomorrow night at The Nectar is where you should be.


10.16 Tuesday Nectar & 98.9 KWJZ Present The Godfather of Acid-Jazz…
ROY AYERS
with Special Guests Altered States of Funk & DJ TJ Gorton
$22 adv. / $25 DOS
7pm doors / 8 pm show
21 & Over
www.nectarlounge.com
Advanced Tickets available at Sonic Boom Records & www.brownpapertickets.com

Here’s some music to get you ready for tomorrow night:

Roy Ayers - Fever
Roy Ayers - Get On Up, Get On Down
Roy Ayers - Running Away

Tonight in Music

posted by on October 15 at 2:16 PM

As Zwickel said, Dr. Dog is in town.

There’s also…

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The Go! Team
(Neumo’s) The best part of seeing the Go! Team live is that the over-mic’d, treble-heavy riot of their records translates perfectly to the stage. Their recently released, aptly named Proof of Youth keeps the levels cranked so high it sounds ready to burst with T. J. Hooker theme-show horns, drum-major breakbeats, and playground chants. With a six-piece band—including dueling drummers, a turntable, horns, keys, and a pint-size MC named Ninja—the Go! Team will literally send shit flying from Neumo’s stage. Proof of Youth is mostly just more of their breakout hit Thunder, Lightning, Strike, which works out well—their shows used to be disappointingly short for lack of material, and now there’s plenty to keep the band, and the crowd, bouncing. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

I’ve Written A Lot About Dr. Dog

posted by on October 15 at 10:38 AM

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…because I really dig ‘em, and they’re really good.

Here’s some of the things I’ve said

In this week’s Stranger feature, a quote from Toby Leaman, singer and bassist:

“We were all in bands before that were tongue in cheek, like, ‘Can you believe I’m in a band? How funny is this that we’re onstage and you’re down there?’ If that’s why you’re playing music, you’re an asshole. When you let all that stuff go and let it stand on the merit of the songs, the merit of how well you play as a band, there’s no room for irony.”

In a Stranger review of We All Belong, from a few months back:

It’s hard to find fault with a sound so nonchalant, so much itself (a self eagerly recycled from the ELO/Beach Boys/”Ob La Di, Ob La Da” holy trinity) that the joke’s on you if you don’t get it. It’s twee, it’s derivative, and it’s self-consciously kooky, but it’s unrepentantly so. Dr. Dog’s ease with their influences comes from confidence in them—you can almost hear the hugs and high-fives between songs—and it’s infectious.

From a SF Weekly review of the Takers & Leavers EP, September ‘06:

Smug indie rockers, bare-footin’ post-hippies, hooked-on-hooks pop junkies—can’t they all just get along? Dr. Dog says yeah, they can, and the Philly five-piece offers this six-song EP as the soundtrack to the icebreaker.

From a January ‘06 year-end piece in the Miami New Times:

It’s a loaded term, but let’s spit it out and get it over with: “Beatlesque” is the easiest way to describe this Philly five-piece’s rosy harmonies, baroque-pop arrangements and clever wink-and-nudge songplay. But even the B-word doesn’t get at the scruffy, affable grandeur of the band’s smartly titled third album, Easy Beat.

What can I say? I’m an unabashed fan.

Dr. Dog plays tonight at the Crocodile with Apollo Sunshine (also worth checking out) and the High Strung.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Steve Reich TV

posted by on October 14 at 11:38 AM

If you’re not yet familiar with this essential 20th century composer, YouTube has an excellent British documentary on Steve Reich.

Introductory without being stupid, the 50 minute program ranges from Reich’s early proto-serialist beginnings to his recent music. Reich himself discusses his connection to Luciano Berio and John Coltrane, explains his phasing technique (Brian Eno also appears, brilliantly describing Reich’s classic tape pieces like “It’s Gonna Rain” as “aural moiré patterns”), and much more.

For a quick intro, check out Reich discussing phasing in this 3 minute snippet of an interview from the 1987.

My only quibble with the South Bank documentary - and it’s negligible - is whether the documentary’s wallpaper picture of the street preacher is really Brother Walter, whose voice Reich layered to make the unforgettable “It’s Gonna Rain.” I blame Ken Burns for my newfound suspicion of documentary still and stock footage. Apart from shamefully neglecting post-1960s jazz, Burns’ documentary Jazz was rife with period-inaccurate use of film; every documentary should caption non-germane stills and film sequences, e.g. “New York E 90th St, date unknown.”


Steve Reich, seen recently


Last December, I exhorted Reich’s label, Nonesuch, to compile and release some rare Steve Reich tracks. You can see and hear one now: My Name is Oona, one of the most beautiful films from the late 1960s (anyone a fan of Carolee Schneeman’s landmark and NSFW Fuses?), features a soundtrack by Reich with Herbie Hancock collaborator and synth wizard Patrick Gleeson.

To see a composer’s true self, watch her or him in rehearsal. This short, nifty documentary with the Portland ensemble Third Angle shows Reich coaching, complaining, and commending the ensemble as they tackle the classic Music for 18 Musicians.

If you want to hear complete pieces, listen to the The London Steve Reich Ensemble play Reich’s Eight Lines; there’s not much to see - it’s a continuous long shot - and the flute solo is a tad too soft, but otherwise it gives you an idea of Reich’s music. There’s also the joyously buoyant Music for a Large Ensemble.