The Pica Beats This is maybe the second or third time we've suggested the Pica Beats in this space (first for 2009!), so go and see them already. Bandleader Ryan Barrett is one of Seattle's finest (and most under-rated) emergent songwriters, and his band's sophomore album, Beating Back the Claws of the Cold, was among last year's best local releases, full of persistent melodies, endearing instrumental arrangements, and lyrics that are sensually vivid yet narratively vague. With brainy, heart-on-sleeve guitar shredders X-Ray Press and San Francisco's Sleepy Sun. (Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave, 784-4880. 9 pm, $7, 21+.) Eric Grandy
MXPX - "Punk Rawk Show"
MxPx, Amber Pacific, On the Last Day (El Corazón) I outgrew most pop punk at least 10 years ago (being nearly 30, I no longer identify with lyrics about pissy parents, homework, or immature boys... wait... nix that last one from the list), but I still love to revisit the soundtrack of my youth. And in my youth, I listened to the fuck out of some pop punk. MxPx were the leaders of the pack. I haven't cared about new MxPx material for the past decade or so, but I can't help being a little stoked when I hear "Punk Rawk Show" or "I'm OK, You're OK." Also worth noting, all proceeds from tonight's show go to the John D. Spalding Medical Fund. So despite how I may feel about these bands today, you gotta give 'em credit for playing for a great cause. MEGAN SELING
Supreme Beings of Leisure - "Mirror"
Supreme Beings of Leisure, Carmen Rizzo, LA Kendall (Chop Suey) We who are in the dark middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression must occasionally turn back to the dot-com boom and bask in the sun of the most prosperous period in American history. And what better way to bask in that time than to listen to the music that defined it? Supreme Beings of Leisure's self-titled debut album is a classic of triphop utopianism. What appeared from a heated mix of sexy vocals, lush synths, a touch of dub effects, and dope hiphop beats was a paradise (sonic globalism) that only a period with a sense of limitless possibilities could imagine and worship. Though straight out of L.A., SBL had more in common with Europe's elegant response to the modern moment of American hiphop (1988 to 1993). This response became the sound of the dot-com bubble. CHARLES MUDEDE
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - "100 Days, 100 Nights"
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (Showbox at the Market) Like that old 7UP slogan—"Never had it, never will"—if you missed the gritty, horn-cranking soul concerts of the 1960s, you'll probably never hear one live. Most soul artists these days polish the genre for contemporary ears, resulting in songs muted in a wash of decades. But Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who formed in 1996, have acted as revivalists. Drawing heavily from James Brown and the Famous Flames—e.g., their 1962 hit "Night Train"—Jones's voice steps from sultry to raw. The Dap-Kings crank out classic hip-bumping rhythms that make you, without a hint of irony, want to dance like a chicken and do the mashed potato. DOMINIC HOLDEN
Also: Oldominion are playing TWO shows—an early one at Vera at 4 pm and a later one at Neumos at 9 pm! Read all about them here. The rest of tonight's listings are in our online calendar.
Last night the new Speaker Speaker side-project, Exohxo, played their first show ever. It was the most polite show I’ve ever seen at the Comet. The crowd was mostly silent while the band played—even the folks in the back. And everyone kept their distance, opting instead to stand back by the bar or sit in a half circle around them in the chairs and benches.
It was cute—it was like a school assembly for the local music scene. At the end of every song, everyone clapped and cheered supportively. They were clearly among friends.
Their debut performance wasn’t flawless, but it was as promising and charming as any first show should be for a band that has existed only about two months and has had only a couple weeks to practice with some of the members. (And with seven members total—two guitars, drums, bass, piano, and two violinists—there was surely a lot of material to tackle.)
They opened the show with “Crushed Ice,” an instrumental and one of my favorite songs the band has recorded so far (listen to it on their MySpace). It begins with a repetitive, guitar, some bass, but eventually explodes into a vibrant chorus of strings, tambourine, piano, and drums. And it was every bit as electrifying live as I hoped it would be.
The less orchestral songs—the ones with more pop elements and lots of harmonizing between singers Jasen Samford and Danny Oleson—didn't come off quite as strongly, but that isn't to say they weren't good. It's difficult to get a proper mix for such a band at the Comet (I'd imagine), so some of the harmonies were lost, overpowered by the piano and strings. (Then again, the only reason I may have noticed at all is because I had listened to the songs before going to the show so I knew what was intended.)
In all, I left wanting more—I left imagining them playing a venue like the Paramount or the Triple Door—a venue that would give the symphonic moments room to soar, but with enough intimacy to see the grins on their faces as they glance at one another during their set. After finally seeing it come together live, I'm even more excited about their future.
Exohxo play their next show at Chop Suey on February 17th. Welcome to the music scene, boys (and girl). It's nice to see you.
All photos by Mr. Matt Fuckin' Hickey. I thank you, sir, as always.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM
“They look like ZZ Top confederates,” a guy I’d never seen before said as Master Musicians of Bukkake’s seven members took the stage at Neumos last night. “I hope they’re as cool as ZZ Top.”
Dude, nobody is as cool as ZZ Top. Still, the Bukkake bros were pretty cool, all in all. Dig it: Shrouded in smoke and wearing red satin capes and beekeeper’s netting over big, bulbous hats of the sort Alejandro Jodorowsky’s character in The Holy Mountain sported, MMOB began the gig with plentiful gong hits and a serious droning bass rumble.
Just when we were growing accustomed to this sonorous dirge, the septet exploded into a glowering guitar and keyboard ejaculation, a sucker-punch satori that woke everyone the fuck up. What sounded like a tamboura drone soon arose (but no tamboura could be seen), and then vocalist Brad Mowen entered in a furry bird costume. MMOB lumbered into “People of the Drifting Houses,” the peak of their new album, Totem One. It seemed slightly sludgier live, but gradually it gathered centrifugal force and became a celebratory, upward-spiraling anthem to Buddha knows what.
Later, Mowen channeled Tibetan monks through deep, guttural chants and it replicated a didgeridoo's cavernous croak. A swarming rock epic swirled out of this, with guest violinist Timba Harris of Secret Chiefs 3 helping to launch things skyward with grace and power. MMOB ended with the sparser, mellower doppelgänger of "Drifting Houses," “Eaglewolf,” breaking it down to fey “la la la”s until the piece became a tender sing-along among the remaining 40 or so die-hards in the audience.
MMOB returned for an encore that chugged like classic early-’70s Hawkwind (I thought it was a cover of something off Space Ritual maybe), but the group’s keyboardist Randall Dunn later informed me that it was an original called "Golden Splendor," MMOB's take on a Can-like motorik groove.
Man, this show was cool—damn near a religious experience—but I dunno if it was cooler than ZZ Top.
I somehow missed this I, Anonymous submission when it was posted in December. Still, reminders about good manners are timeless.
I am sorry I gave you what must be one brutal concussion, and the week worth of headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, memory loss, and uncontrolable napping that comes with it; but you hit me first. The crowd at the English Beat were all in their 40s and 50s and weren't there to engage in a mosh pit, slamdance, whatever-the-fuck you thought you were doing in there—it's 80's reggae for Christ's sake. These people are old and fragile. You do realize that in half of the nations of the world, the average lifespan is less than the average age of that crowd, don't you? You rammed into to me, and then all the geezers around around me with violence and malice, so I physically moved you to the back of the theater with the full intention of removing you from the the Showbox. That is when you punched me. I then knocked your ass out. It was much easier to remove you after that.
What were you thinking? I was easily the largest and youngest person (by 15 years easily) in the entire venue. Did you think I wouldn't hit a girl? I will gladly punch a girl in the face if she hits me first. That might make me an asshole to some but I am massive enough that they aren't going to say anything to my face about it. Some people (you) just need a reminder from time to time about how one should carry one's self in public and how one should treat one's elders.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 3:42 PM
Local techno promoters/DJs from the Knightriders squad interviewed Orlando Voorn and Angel Alanis (this week’s Data Breaker subjects; Alanis is in the photo at right) in advance of their Jan. 31 show at Baltic Room.
According to ’rider Travis Baron, they’ll be discussing “topics that range from their introductions to the scenes, the move from DJing to production, and the current state of the music industry.” Knightriders will also be giving away four VIP tickets to the show.
You can hear the interview on KBCS 91.3 FM Friday at 11 pm or listen online here.
An archived podcast of the show will be available for two weeks directly after airing at http://kbcsweb.bellevuecollege.edu/playlist/searchplaylists.aspx.
I think the burlesque scene could use some excitement—I remarked to a friend the other day that burlesque is starting to feel as though you're watching somebody's dance therapy for self-esteem issues—and I think this is the way to do it: Singing. Seriously, who doesn't love singing and dancing? That's entertainment! Yesterday, I was looking at some old Josephine Baker clips and I found this little number:
Live bands and scantily-clad girls doing singing. It'd be like the 1920s all over again. And we could use a little more 1920s in our 1930s. Is this going on anywhere? And if it isn't, why isn't it going on anywhere?
It’s not often you get to see such a mix—hipsters and hip-hoppers, rockers and punk kids, gangsta’s and R&B addicts—all at one show. But with Wednesday night’s line-up at the Funhouse (rap, cabaret punk, rap, R&B, rap, guitar rock, rap) miscellany was certain.
The results were this:
A) Musical expansion. (I’d come to see Scarlet Room, and got an added earful of King Dro. Others who came for the rappers got these guys), and…
B) Mass confusion. (At any given moment, three quarters of the room looked worriedly apprehensive in the way one might if he or she had just heard the words "Cindy McCain" and "erection" in the same sentence.)
King Dro, the headliner whose MySpace tracks include songs such as “SmackAFreak Bounce” and “My Nutz” (a little ditty to the bass-line of Queen’s "Another One Bites the Dust": “You better not bite my nutz,” then in high-pitched imitation-female-vocals, “You know we won’t bite your nutz,” and finally a deep bass chimes in with that age-old request, “Get my baby mama off your nutz”) doubled as the MC, rapping to pre-recorded tracks between acts. His ankle-length white cape (yes, CAPE!) adorned with a hand-painted space needle and cityscape, billowed around him. Underneath, he wore a scarf with clouds of blotched pastel and a shirt that glittered in the stage-lights.
But forget Dro for a moment.
When I arrived, Scarlet Room, a female-led, cabaret-infused, piano-punk band with a history that involves murder, scandal, and Uzbekistan, had just taken the stage. Honoring the band's dress-code of black and white, the girls (vocalist Aleksandra Weir and drummer Eloise Govedare) resembled neo-goths, with their black hair and dark make-up. The boys (guitarist Michael Muir and bassist Kris Darr) upheld the image with their suspenders and slacks. The band is good, but Weil’s meaty, plaintive vocals carry the show. (And if someone doesn't nominate Govedare for Seattle’s sexiest drummer this Valentine’s Day, I will.)
And now the history:
A year ago, Scarlet Room was planning a tour to Uzbekistan, Weil’s home country. Weeks before their departure, Mark Weil, Aleksandra’s father and the prominent leader of the Ilkhom Theater there, was assassinated. The motive of Weil’s murderers may never be known, but some speculate that his death was linked to the theater. Under him, Ilkhom had pushed boundaries, performed controversial works, and had thus set the Communist and Muslim fundamentalists of the Uzbeki dictatorship in a tizzy. After Weil’s death, the band canceled their trip and a long hiatus ensued. Over a year later, with a new guitarist and renewed vitality, they’re back .
After Scarlet Room, Mega Man, a performer backed by a group of men he calls his “bodyguards” rapped about the usual things (money, the police, and his homies) and threw a stack of his own business cards into the crowd calling it “quick advertising.” Dro Rapped. Jaysonowski sang R&B songs to a backing CD. Dro rapped, howling like a monkey, “Ooh ooh! Aah aah!” A band called the In and Outers played generic guys-with-guitars rock. One of them headbanged. My focus digressed to my beer.
Then there was King Dro. Again.
The crowd had diminished down to five, maybe six people. Dro was noticeably upset by this and losing speed. Maybe it was his disheartened state or the alcohol, but the lyrics slipped behind the beat. As he finished his set, still in his extravagant costume and chanting ridiculous lyrics I couldn’t help but wonder if this capéd rapper was for real? Does he get it from within the inner world of his personal (glitz and big pimpin') fantasy or does it end there? It was hard to tell.
Look at the date of this record, and then listen to it. DJ Chuck Chill Out's "Hip Hop On Wax (Volume 1)" came to us as if from outer space. We heard it and could not believe the things we were hearing. Scratching was still a new art at the time, 1984. The aura about it was that of a gimmick rather an art with a real future. It just sound cool and fresh. "Hip Hop On Wax (Volume 1)" made it clear that scratching was an art in itself, an art with a real future. Architectural (a series of scratch structures built on a foundation of machine beats) and boldly technical, Chill's work reduced "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" to the status of child's play—no small achievement. The chronological distance between Flash's mix and Chill's is not great, but the creative distance, the thinking distance is like that which exists between the streets of a city and the stars of the night. Flash's work is cosmopolitan; Chill's is galactic.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 2:39 PM
[Yes, we know this video has been posted before. We're just refreshing your memory and informing you that YACHT's DFA debut LP, See Mystery Lights, is coming out in late spring.]
YACHT have released their first video through their deal with DFA Records. It’s a meta-concept vid that lets you know YACHT (and DFA) are hip to ingrained, creepy record-biz shiz.
The music itself is not as sky-high euphoric as the title would imply, but it has some nicely eerie backing vocals and is pretty funky, in places recalling George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” (nope, still not tired of that 1982 classic after 3.6 million listens). I can totally see "Summer Song" becoming a club/college-radio hit.
I never realized it until yesterday, when iTunes’ shuffle decided it was time to listen to Sebadoh, but apparently I can no longer listen to and enjoy the song “Soul and Fire.” I love that song. What the fuck? Admittedly, it had been a couple years since I last listened to it, but when I listen to it now, despite the time that has passed, I’m reminded of someone not worth remembering. And while the situation (and person) that caused this reaction are neither important nor all that interesting, the outcome is completely perplexing.
How did this happen? I loved that song! I loved that song before, shouldn’t I love it after?
Turns out Sebadoh isn’t the only band with one-less listener thanks to a bad memory—after polling some friends on the matter, a lot of people have at least one song in their history that they’ll never again be able to enjoy—songs by Talking Heads, Ben Harper, Spoon, Band of Horses… even Marvin Gaye! Is nothing sacred?
Man. I loved that song.
Luckily “Sacred Attention” appears to still be safe.
Technique was released 20 years ago today. The essence of New Order has always had a bitter sweet taste. Their finest work was also the thing that destroyed them. Legendary debauched sessions in Ibiza the Summer of 88 produced more wrecked cars and bonafide drug habits than it did usable tracks. Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert had some parts sketched but Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner failed to produce much of anything during their summer of love. The album was completed back in England yet managed to capture the euphoria of acid house (Fine Time) and the loved-up come down (Dream Attack) perfectly. The tour that followed permanently damaged the relationship between Hook and Sumner and put Sumner off performing live almost entirely. New Order were always able to create something beautiful out of dissolving relationships and unexpected tragedy and Technique is the pinnacle of their output.
Of course, at the time of release, I knew nothing about the band dynamics but I immediately knew I loved the album. The first time I heard it still haunts my friend who entrusted me with his hard earned cash to buy it at the local shop. Since he was grounded and I was broke, he gave me the money to buy the cassette and gave me one rule: Don't open it! I went to the shop, bought the cassette, put the key in the ignition and opened the wrapper. If you also heard Technique for the first time that winter, you know how incredible the opening to Fine Time sounded. I rushed home so happy and energized by the sound of the new album that I assumed my friend would just be happy to know it sounded great. To this day he says he doesn't recall anything about that day other than being disappointed I opened the tape. His tape. Sorry Shane. I really couldn't resist.