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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This Week's BOTW: 13th Grade

posted by on March 12 at 12:00 PM

Say hello to 13th Grade, the local band that plays weird rock songs about school, sex, and drugs. They're this week's Band of the Week.

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I asked them a few questions, so we could all get to know them a little bit better:

Q: Do you guys consider yourselves to be the teachers or the students in the school of life?

A: Teachers all the way! We get paid more than students, and our positions of authority allow us to extort sexual and other favors from subordinates.

Q: I got kicked out of yearbook class when I was a junior in high school. Have you guys ever been kicked out of class?

A: Yes. All of us. It's a basic requirement for acceptance into the Academy. We even teach a class called "How To Get Kicked Out Of Class".

Q: On your bands page, you describe yourself as "Led Zeppelin fingering the Mickey Mouse Club in the back row of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. " Is that old school (Annette) or new school (Britney) MMC?

A: Since we're all over 50, none of us has even watched Spearable Britney MMC. Except Coach. We're all about Fun with the 'cello! (:B

Q: Does your class have mascot?

A: "Leering Rodger," the tongue-wagging skull and bones mascot of our co-ed wrestling team (GO ASS PIRATES!!!), is currently in hiding from the authorities.

See 13th Grade Thursday, March 13th, at the Galway Arms. They're also playing the Blue Moon on the 28th and the Skylark Cafe in West Seattle on April 12th.

Listen to 13th Grade:

"Art"

"Homeroom"

"ASSembly"

If you want to know even more, click here to check out their Bands Page.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

This Week's BOTW: Coco Coca

posted by on March 4 at 11:00 AM

Meet Coco Coca. His real name is Danny. He's this week's Band of the Week.

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Q: So you're technically all alone when you record your music, right? How about when you perform live? Is it just you and a bunch of electronics then too?

A: Basically, yeah. I think it's important to note though that a lot of my live show is sampled and looped live and I don't just walk on stage and press "play." I play guitar too. And that coupled with the vocals seems to keep an organic feel even with all the electronics.

Q: If so, I bet that’s sort of exhausting, huh? To control that many different layers of sound at the same time. How do you do it?

A: With my feet! Where most people stop at their upper extremities I say "fuck that, I got two more I can put to use." After the initial looping of parts and things are playing I focus on guitar and singing and drop parts in and out with foot switches. It can be exhausting at times but the key is just to practice a bunch.

Q: Your bio says you moved to Seattle from the Midwest. What brought you here? Please don’t say Nirvana.

A: I moved here to play music, mostly. It was kind of a big move for me, the furthest I've ever lived from home in my life... so far. I'm from Champaign, Illinois originally. There's a pretty rad music scene there, small, but rad. Seattle seemed it would have a lot more to offer. I was in an awesome Nirvana cover band when I was 10 though.

Q: Which is harder—piano or guitar?

A: Well I wouldn't say I actually know how to play piano, more pressing the keys and seeing what happens. Actually learning piano is still a work in progress for me. I've been playing guitar my whole life so I don't really remember learning how. I would think piano would be more difficult to learn mostly because, traditionally, that means learning how to read music and that shit is impossible.

Q: What was your favorite record when you were 13 years old?

A: Nine Inch Nails, Broken.

Hear a few songs by Coco Coca:

"Continents and Oceans"
"Fit"
"A Supervision for the Ages"

Coco Coca will play the Cha Cha on April 6th. He's also going to release his new album, his full-length debut titled Black Black Black in June.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Mountain Con

posted by on December 21 at 3:20 PM

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From this week's Band of the Week column:

I get the sense from my fellow Stranger staffers that Mountain Con are not well-liked around here. I am not supposed to enjoy their perfectly-crafted whiteboy soul-funk jam pop. I ought to find Beck-ish, Cake-like tracks like "Ophelia" and "I Fall Apart" fey and irritating rather than breezy and clever as hell. That the long-standing sextet reminds me of dorm-room bong rips and long summer afternoons should be shamed, not embraced. Here's the thing about all that: I make the call this week and I decree Mountain Con to be really fucking good. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

I can't believe these guys don't get more shine around here. There's a brilliant pop sensibility running through their music, a whiff of mid-'90s, non-grunge alt-rock from bands like James and, like I said above, Beck. "Ophelia" nods to the Band (if only in title) and sounds like an Odelay outtake with better vocals. "Propertius Pound" is a woozy electro-funk pastiche of "Tracks of My Tears," with singer James Nugent warbling, "There's no hiding the fact that I am a thief/Originality is nothing but a joke told in 3-D." "I Fall Apart" is Velvet Underground weeded-out instead of dopesick (with a shout out to the Seattle Weekly--maybe that's why they get no love.) The production is Dust Brothers dense, jangly with tambourines and slinky piano lines, electrified with turntable scratches and drum machine beats.

Is it too soon for a mid-'90s throwback band? No. Good pop music never goes out of style. Is Mountain Con too radio-friendly for their own good? Probably. This is Seattle, after all.

Check out Mountain Con on the Stranger's Bands Page.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Luchnow Brides

posted by on November 27 at 12:17 PM

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Not much info available on BOTW Luchnow Brides.

Here's what we printed this week:

BAND OF THE WEEK LUCHNOW BRIDES Sometimes you gotta play the weird card. The Luchnow Brides' bio claims that Blazin' Bride, Beatty Bride, and Balance Bride are "three young girls who just love to wear white." Uh huh. "Oh, and we're originally from Luchnow (sic), Uttar Pradesh State, India. Word." Riiight.

But "Oo ee" has something real and unique and hyphenated going on: Lo-fi post-rock 8-bit Casio-funk. Choir-like female vocals hover over splashing cymbals and a sweet, slow rhythmic windup, with a minimal guitar riff that arrives at just the right time. The song breathes in a wisp of potential energy that's held rather than spent. Weird, yeah—and totally intriguing. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

An email request for further info yeilded this response:

Hello Mr. Zwickel, Thanks for the lovely write-up in this week's Stranger. We've been called many things, intriguing has not been one of them... until now. Where do we go from here? Is it possible that a career has just peaked? Hopefully not. We're always cooking in the lab, so keep checking back to see what's hot out the oven.

love,
The Brides

ps. Tell Ari we said hi. She never writes, she never calls...

Deliciously vague. (Hi Ari!) Best thing you can do is check out "Oo ee" on Luchnow Brides' Stranger Bands Page.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Open Choir Fire's Music Isn't Really So Terrible

posted by on August 15 at 12:25 PM

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Open Choir Fire are this week's Band of the Week. Here's why:

First of all, as their Stranger Bands Page attests, a drunk guy once told them they "are all scientific and shit like the Sea and Cake, except not so pussy!" One point.

Secondly, the first song they have posted, "Things You Have to Do," reminds me of a more post-rock Mclusky via D.C., and I really like Mclusky, and I really like post-rock from D.C. Two points.

With the first song going over well, I listened to the next song, "Candle," and that boasts a little more of a Jawbox vibe, and I love Jawbox. Three points.

While I do hear tinges of those bands in their sound, they're not rippin' anything off. In fact, the band claims to be inspired by a whole range of artists like the Pixies, Talking Heads, and Fugazi, and I can hear elements of all those artists in just the few songs they've got available, but they're all done with the band's own style. Four points.

Finally, they're funny and they put up with my fangirl questions. Five points, FTW!

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So, like, what's your guys' favorite color?
The color of the eyes of each of our respective love interests at the time of this email. That was easy.

What's your idea of the perfect date?
I know what's NOT the idea of a perfect date. Going out alone with the fucking band after the West Seattle show last Friday and getting much more drunk and unable to make a coherent decision than was necessary at that stupid restaurant/pizza place/meat market where the tequila girls were who don't speak English and give out shitty straw hats and touch my shoulder and I don't want them to and my step-brother-in-law keeps buying rum and cokes we ended up putting in Amo's Nalgene and then we spend an hour walking around looking for some karaoke bar that Brian doesn't know where it is and I spend the whole time, when we find it, standing on the dance floor making the hand signal for "Terry Cry" and then being sick on the way home and we can't make it to the bank on Saturday morning like we planned.

If you (as a band) were being cast off to a deserted island for a year and were only allowed to take two instruments to make music with, which would they be?
I thought about this one hard. If you are on a two engine boat (like one of those decent sized cruisers, doesn't need to be a yacht) you can listen to how the two tones that the engine make mingle with each other, often getting so close in frequency just so close to unison that you get those cool "beats" in the tones and then every so often they are in unison and it's quite a release. So by that measure you could say that an engine is an instrument and therefore we would take two engines with us to the deserted island and I'd take one and Brian would take one and use it to build two motor boats get off the island and we'd promise to send someone back to get Amo later because he writes most of the lyrics.

Do you think lolcatz are funny? (www.icanhascheezburger.com, for example.)
I've never heard of this before. "lolcatz" are just pictures of cats with funny captions? In that case, absolutely. I actually have a poster up above my drum set in the practice space, you know the one, the kitty is hanging from a tree branch by one claw and the caption says, "Oh, Shit." Sometimes that's how I feel inside, you know, and I'm sure it's true for a lot of people you know, how at times you feel you're just barely hanging on to sanity and you know that you're just about five seconds away from your whole life falling apart and everything going to shit and it's a terrible feeling. I got that poster in Rome on the first day I met Chris Hacker who does all our art work. He's a nice guy, you'd like him. Thoughts like that are what bring people back from the brink and that help that little kitty to find the strength to pull itself up back on the branch and get back in the ring, as it were. You've got to make sure you surround yourself with good people who care about you, Megan.

Tell me a story about something crazy or fun or weird that has happened on the road or at a show.
I have video footage of the first night of our last tour somewhere in SW Washington of Amo waking up after sleeping in a barn and having covered himself in hay to keep warm. He looks like he's a newborn fetus coming out of the womb. I swear it is the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I should post it on a website, oh man, it's funny.

Finally, why should people go to your page and listen to your music?
We need the money for the tour and all in all I'd say the music isn't really so terrible that you couldn't at least listen to it while your doing dishes or something you don't like doing already. We actually like it.

Open Choir Fire play their tour kick-off show at Jules Maes Thursday, August 23.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Maldives

posted by on August 1 at 3:17 PM

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The thing about the Osmonds was that they were neither a little bit country nor a little bit rock 'n' roll.

The Maldives probably never bargained for being mentioned in the same hemisphere at the Osmonds, but here we are. Screw the Osmonds! The Maldives are A LOT country, A LOT rock 'n' roll.

It's clear that Seattle is a hotbed for kickass alt-country music. Why this is the case I don't know; the dank and mountainous Northwest is a far cry from the dusty, desolate flats of the Midwest or the humid hills of the South. I'd wager it's a blue collar thing. Seattle is historically a working class town, and the Maldives--and the Moondoggies, and the Cave Singers--play a form of working class music. Plus there's the Tractor Tavern, which is reknown across the West Coast for hosting this kind of music, so there's built-in support for it.

I saw the Maldives (pronounced MALL-deeves, it's an island chain in the Indian Ocean) at the Tractor a couple months back as they twanged their way through a mesmerizing set. Well balanced between hard-rocking Drive-by Truckers grit and waltzing Band-ish traditionalism, they rolled along with a nuanced sound provided by fiddle, weepy steel and gentle acoustic and scruffy electric guitars, rich organ, and some accordion, plus a smart, subtle rhythm section. Singer Jason Dodson--looking much like the mustachioed Jason Lee from My Name is Earl--has a helluva voice, striking, clear, and bright like the full moon on a hot August night. He belted and crooned, singing of undying affection, misplaced dreams, family ties, and sailboats. The crowd swayed along.

There's something about country that, like blues and reggae, resonates with a potent and undeniable truth. It's folk music. In the right hands, it tells the story of a people. And even here in Seattle, thousands of miles away from the plains and the Opry, the Maldives do it right.

They play the Tractor on Saturday, August 4 before heading off on a two-week West Coast tour.

Hear some music at the Maldives' Stranger Bands page.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Moondoggies

posted by on July 24 at 1:45 PM

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Six months after moving here and I'm really, truly, fully excited about Seattle music. I've fallen for a slew of local bands--not in a token "I live here so I gotta like it" kinda way, but in a sincere "holy shit there's so much real talent here" kinda way. I'm hugely proud of this scene and hugely proud to be a part of it.

The Moondoggies are one of those bands I've fallen for. They're not perfect, but man are they fucking good.

Actually, for the right situation, maybe they are perfect.

That situation: Driving around one of the Puget Sound islands, late morning, gray light, misty rain.

This past weekend was the second time I found myself in a rental car, cruising rolling forest roads, with the Seattle cosmic country rockers' demo on the stereo, pulling me towards my destination. I'm listening to the perfect music for this moment, the moment and the music all thanks to Seattle and the sound and the Sound.

The Moondoggies, despite their name, are some serious dudes. The demo, again, isn't perfect, but damn it's close. A teenage Gram Parsons meets the Band behind the bleachers to smoke a joint: rollicking midtempo jams, Rhodes electric piano twinkling above group harmonies and bubbling bass lines. Plenty of chorus on every song, and usually more than one great hook. Like, almost too many hooks, until a few seven-plus minute songs burst from simple melodic lines into dark space and somber crescendoes. Some of it's rollicking, some of it's mellowed, but all of it's sweetly sung and smartly played and catchy as hell.

Check out a song here, here, and here, or go to their site on The Stranger's Bands Page.

The Moondoggies' next gig's at Conor Byrne on August 10. I've seen them live; they're terrific, totally worth the drive to Ballard. Especially if you can rock the demo on the way there.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

As Promised: Why I Like the Hungry Pines

posted by on July 18 at 11:55 AM

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I chose the Hungry Pines as this week's Band of the Week. I think they're great, here's why:

1) The song "Blood Eagle"

2) The song "Bullring."

3) The song "Me and the City."

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):


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Library Science

posted by on June 27 at 12:41 PM

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I wish there was more of a reggae scene here in Seattle (big ups to Stephen and Zion's Gate Records), but at least we have a kickass dub band pumping out low, slow, extra-spacial vibes. They're called Library Science and they're our Band of the Week.

I fiend for this kind of music, the kind that evokes massive distances and alien landscapes but always thrums along on a sensual, almost subliminal beat. For all its reverb-heavy darkness, there's something innately playful about the stuff, especially so with Library Science. They've got all the requisite dub flourishes--bubbly bass lines, barely-there chinka-chinka guitar, ethereal melodica, kinky electronic dalliance. But Library Science puts their own spin on the classic form in ways that aren't easy to describe. It's obvious they've got a reverence for the innovators, but there's a dissonant, electro feel. They thow in unexpected, weird sounds and samples--toy xylophone melodies, wheezing accordion drones, heavily buzzing guitars--that make this stuff totally unique.

They've got a couple gigs coming up--August 11 at Central Saloon, August 30 at Rendezvous--and word is they're terrific live. Glad I discovered them on The Stranger's Bands Page (coughcough*shameless plug*cough).


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's Okay to Release Your PWRFL POWER. It Feels Good.

posted by on June 20 at 10:00 AM

This is Kazutaka “Kaz” Nomura and he is PWRFL POWER.

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Last weekend, Kaz, who moved to Seattle from Japan in 2003, wowed a panel of judges at the Block Star showcase at Vera and snagged himself a slot on the mainstage at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party by talking about the life cycle of butterflies and drinking heavily for months on end in a way that only Kaz can, with fearless honesty and awkward and endearing charm.

Strapped with an acoustic guitar, PWRFL POWER sings songs about unrequited crushes, going to Heaven, and being yourself. A fan favorite is the quirky and bitter "Tomato Song," with the lyrics "If I smoke too much pot, you will call me a stoner/If I hit too many lines, you will call me a cokehead/If I like you too much, you'll call me mental/I wanna throw a tomato at you/I wanna throw a tomato at you/Tomato juice all over your face/Juice, dripping on the ground." Then he wishes the tomato could be an apple because then it would hurt, he says, the apple is harder.

One of his competitors that evening didn't mind a bit when he learned that he lost to Kaz, saying “The dude is a complete genius. He's hilarious. I'm stoked he won, I can’t wait to see him at the Block party.” That why PWRFL POWER is this week’s Band of the Week--it seems everyone is stoked that he won, the fans, the judges, even those who lost to him.

To hear some PWRFL POWER songs, click here and visit his Stranger Bands Page. He's schedule to play the mainstage at the Capitol Hill Block Party on Saturday, June July 28 at 2 pm.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Band of the Week: Levi Fuller

posted by on April 11 at 3:41 PM

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OK, Levi Fuller's not a band, he's a dude. But he plays in the Luna Moth! And sometimes he has a backing band called the Library! And he's really cool!

Gush Gush Gush. Levi Fuller makes music that all those J.Tillman types should be paying attention too--It's kind of strange that he's not yet a KEXP poster-boy, but I suppose he's still young. And maybe more talented than a lot of the artists they play on that stupid, stupid radio station. They can't handle the pretty!

His songs are slow and drawn out, with lots of sustained notes. Levi's voice is slightly nasal in a pleasant, David Byrne-ish way. His newest album, This Murder is a Peaceful Gathering, was released a little more than a year ago. When he says murder, he means group of crows, who seem to be the theme of the album.

Anyhow, check out Levi's band page, and also check out the fact that he is featured in this week's Party Crasher (but I didn't let the cat out of the bag).


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

1-2-1-2

posted by on April 4 at 2:59 PM

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Yes, Band of the Week 1-2-1-2 is all about the sleaze and the sex and making people dance.

"But we don’t wanna be like every other dance band," says keyboardist Mason Dyer. "We wanna keep it a little more interesting." To that effect, Dyer and drummer Andrew Frank and bassist Christo Orozco switch instruments mid-set, throwing off their routine and adding a dose of unpredictability to their Rapture-inspired dance rock. "I love fucking four-on-the-floor disco beats--I can't get enough. We have that. We try to be weird enough with that beat behind it."

The band's been together for about seven months, playing mostly house parties and lofts, but they're picking up momentum as we speak. This weekend they've got a slot at the Comet opening for Triumph of Lethargy; next week they're at 1412 Gallery; in May the play Easy Street After Hours.

"They want us to get an EP together to sell in the store, so it's forcing us to step it up," Dyer says. "All we have is our demo but nothing packaged professionally. But we're planning to have the EP by May."

The few tracks available on 1-2-1-2's band page pulse with the dance beats Dyer says he loves so much, rippled with electro bass lines and cranked up tight and wiry with a swoosh of psychedelic keyboard flourish. It's the kind of stuff that just might make you wanna get up, get loose, and feel good about being bad.

"Our whole thing is trying to have that dirty sleaziness," Dyer says. "We're just sexy anyway."


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jacob London

posted by on March 28 at 3:16 PM

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Jacob London is the Stranger's new Band of the Week, that lucky act culled from the hordes at our Bands Page and instantly catapulted to 168 hours of blog superstardom.

Dave Pezzner, a nice guy who puts the "Jacob" in Jacob London, was not a session player on key electric-period Miles Davis recordings, nor did he cut his chops as a touring keyboardist with Katrina and the Waves. Bob Hansen, a graphic designer who prefers Amsterdam over London, didn't learn studio technology as a tape operator on Michael Jackson's 1982 smash "Thriller," and he spent no time in the music industry as an A&R representative for Columbia Records. Together they make Jacob London.

After 13 years of countless live performances, world tours, several band name changes, idealistic decisions to "stop producing (insert techno subgenre here)", and powerful releases/remixes on Om Records (San Francisco), Stay True (Paris), Doubledown (San Diego), U-Freqs (UK), and Derrick Carter & Luke Solomon’s enormously popular Classic Records (UK) imprint, "Jacob London" has become a household name for house and techno dj's all over the planet.

The pair perform this Friday at Oseao Gallery as part of the Mark Farina after party. They play Malorca and Belgium on April 7th & 8th before returning home for April 14th's Krakt at Re-Bar with [a]ppendics.shuffle.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Band of the Week

posted by on March 21 at 5:45 PM

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This week's Band of the Week is Bad Dream Good Breakfast, an orchestral indie rock outfit that you can hear by clicking here.

Every Wednesday, from here on out, we're going to post a little something about our Band of the Week pick. All us music writers will take turns shifting through the Stranger's Bands Page to find a favorite (if you don't have songs posted yet, get on it because you could be next). This week, though, the debuting week is unfortunately lackluster. Bad Dream Good Breakfast never returned my Myspace message or e-mail. Sigh. Perhaps they will soon, especially now that I've scolded them in public?

They're still worth checking out. And for now, here's what I do know about the band:

*There are 10 people in that photo, but they list 11 (!) people as members of their band—Nick Jones (vox, guitar) Chris Jones (bass), JC Bockman (drums), Brian Kinsella (piano, rhodes, organ, synth), Jeff Grant (guitar, vox), Brittney Williams (vox), Saundrah Humphrey (viola), Ellen McGee (violin), Sheryl Templora (violin), Rachael Beaver (cello), Leif Dalan (synths).

*They're influenced by Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ros, the Arcade Fire, and Pinback.

*They released a full-length in January called Nothing Broken, Nothing Damaged.

And here's what I had to say about them in this week's Underage column:

...they're lush and dramatic, and it's no surprise that their bio says they're heavily influenced by Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, and Sigur Rós. The song "The Urgency of Nightlife and the Temptations that Come of It" is quite theatrical—the moods shift quickly, thanks to the flourishing strings, pretty piano, and delicate chimes. "Cyclical Story," another song posted, is darker. It summons a little bit of a Radiohead vibe in the beginning but brightens as it goes on, while still maintaining an undeniable heavy sadness.

If that sounds nice to you, I suggest you check them out. They have a few songs posted at www.thestranger.com/bands.

Bad Dream Good Breakfast are playing the Crocodile tomorrow night with Kate Tucker and M. Bison. It's six bucks, it starts around 9:30.

UPDATE: BDGB has responded to my e-mail, and an interview is forthcoming. I'll find out how long it takes them to write their 11-piece, five minute, epic songs, and how the fuck 11 people work out a practice schedule.