This week in the book section, Dave Segal reviews a book about Sly and the Family Stone:
Few artists have plummeted in quality as precipitously as Sly Stone. Gifted with the ability to play many instruments, write, produce, arrange, perform, and radiate a million-watt charisma onstage, Sly (aka Sylvester Stewart) and his multiracial, gender-diverse group the Family Stone have created a body of work that will exhilarate humans for as long as electricity exists. They had an astounding run of albums, singles, and live performances that raised the bar for popular music with their inventive, combustible fusion of soul, funk, and psychedelia. Sly excelled at everything from explosive rave-ups to morose ballads. He was a master crafter of memorable hooks and a pioneer of drum-machine programming. As Jeff Kaliss states in his book, Sly & the Family Stone were "funky enough for Harlem and Watts and trippy enough for the Haight-Ashbury." But following the band's peak (roughly 1967 to 1973), Sly succumbed to the pitfalls that have plagued hundreds of musicians before and since: creative stagnation, financial problems, and drug overindulgence, with its attendant paranoia and unreliability.
A life of such dizzying highs and miserable lows makes for a potentially riveting biography, of course, and Kaliss does about as solid a job as can be expected, given Sly's notorious reclusiveness. Unsurprisingly, Kaliss only secured two very brief interviews with Stone (who forbade the author to record them), both of which mainly serve to show how much spark has drained from Sly's brain. Nevertheless, I Want to Take You Higher is a well-researched, well-reported account of Sly & the Family Stone's career and the group leader's personal life.
You should read the whole thing.
Antony and the Johnsons play the Moore tonight.
Dave Segal Charles Mudede wrote about the band in this week's paper. The intro:
Where to begin with Antony Hegarty? Maybe with his band, Antony and the Johnsons, who have so far cut three albums and four EPs, have Manhattan as their home and place of initiation, and have established an international following that is enchanted by the strange and theatrical beauty of Antony's voice, poetry, and music—which can roughly be broken down into these elements: '60s soul, '70s folk-rock, and '80s pop. As for Antony himself, he began his life some 30 or so years ago in the UK, spent a part of his childhood in California, and finally settled in New York in the '90s. Here he attended NYU and participated in an avant-garde theater and music scene that was then haunted by the voices and visions of singers and actors who had lost their lives to the "gay plague." In this sad climate, the aftermath of the '80s, Antony shaped his band, his sound, and the central theme of his tunes, poetry, and theater of the self. In the early 2000s, he participated in a wonderful disco record, Hercules and Love Affair, which was released last year; this year, he released a new album, The Crying Light. The present decade has seen the rise of his name to indie fame and critical acclaim.
H Is for Hellgate, Mighty Shiny
(Comet, 5 pm) H Is for Hellgate—the Seattle poppy-post-punk outfit powered by singer-songwriter- guitarist Jamie Henkensiefken—are gaining national attention for their new record, Come for the Peaks, Stay for the Valleys. But the track that most caught my attention is "Tina Fey," an as-yet-unreleased track I found on the band's MySpace page. Over a sprightlier-than-normal pop-punk riff (one of the band's key traits is their way with slower, heavier tempos), Henkensiefken lays out her deep personal love for the woman who's become America's Sweetheart. "Why did you marry some guy from the SNL band? I think we could have worked it out. If you wanna hook up with a real musician who won't knock you up..." The cute is kept in check by the creepy—the song ends with our frantic-with-desire frontwoman cozying up to her amazingly lifelike Tina Fey Real Doll. DAVID SCHMADER
Speaker Speaker, Flora v. Fauna, the Vague Prophets
(marsBar) Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey has a new trio called Flora v. Fauna. If the two songs on their MySpace page are indicative, the Olympia band come at you with a post-punk severity and controlled scrappiness that won't alienate longtime Unwound aficionados. This is a very good thing. As you probably know by now, Speaker Speaker create tightly wound, peppy pop-punk for the youthful at core, making early Buzzcocks sound like Melvins. Speaker Speaker understand the importance of being earnest. DAVE SEGAL
The rest of our online listings can be found here.
Tonight at work I was humming "The Sprout and the Bean" by Joanna Newsom. I was about halfway through the song when before I knew it, before I realized how or why I was doing it, I was humming "That's What You Get" by Paramore instead. No segue, no explanation, no warning.
You disappointed me tonight, brain.
Quick observations of the night, nabbed from an imperfect memory and bolstered by zero note-taking. Damn this carpal-tunnel…
James Blackshaw sat onstage with his 12-string, looking 18, but playing like he was 38, a seasoned veteran of the solo-guitar wars. With little fanfare, he loosed gently fluctuating streams of chords, making his acoustic-guitar a spur to deep contemplation and hypnotism. Blackshaw debuted many songs off his forthcoming Young God Records album, The Glass Bead Game, and made the profane space of an American bar seem like a pastoral, sacred sanctuary.
Sir Richard Bishop also sat onstage with an acoustic guitar (six strings) and quickly proved why heads worldwide love his fleet fingerpicking and bravura dexterity. The ex-Sun City Girl played with a fire and finesse that are breathtaking, with tonal and stylistic shifts that dazzle. His brother Alan was in the house and he revealed that Richard had been on a serious Arabic music jag, which became evident last night. Richard also dropped cover of a track from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo. At one point, Blackshaw and Ben Chasny joined Bishop for an improv jam, but nothing they did topped SRB solo.
Earth, enhanced by cellist Lori Goldston, steadfastly plied their slow, melancholy country-rock dirges for blasted landscapes that have come to mark their latest phase of existence. It seemed as if every song trudged at the same leaden tempo, accompanied by heavy guitar twang with long chord hang time and glacial changes.
Earth’s set made me feel what I imagine being on smack is like (I’m never going there, so music like this will have to do). I love Earth, especially their last album, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, but the monolithic pace took a toll, and my yawns started coming fast and furious (more so than the riffs did). Plus, that damn carpal tunnel…
Photo of Sir Richard Bishop by Joseph Peter from Strangr Flickr pool.
More details after the cut.
Jamie Foxx and T-Pain love the vocoder as much as Kanye, but this new video is more star-studded than anything Mr. West has ever done, with Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson all making an appearance. Samuel L. Jackson will be in anything.
I was just thinking of them just the other depressing night, and now here today is Death Cab For Cutie's new depressing video, for the song "Grapevine Fires" off of their most recent Narrow Stairs :
Fuck. Still, I think it might have been even better without all the text.
An update regarding King Cobra's last night,
this Friday Tonight:
We've decided to go out with a bang and throw a free show with a few of the local acts that have always been there for us.
The Lineup is looking like:
All Bets On Death
The Altar Boys
The Greatest Hits
Blue Ribbon Boys
The Wrecked Chords
Doors should be 4PM
Pain Cocktail should go on around 5PM
Originally posted Wednesday, 2/25 at 7:44pm
Or Antony Hegarty?
The Hold Steady cover The Boss' "Atlantic City"- get it here on Passion of The Weiss.
1. Yes- if you're in the comments saying "isn't every Hold Steady song a Springsteen cover? lulZ"- congrats! You win The Most Unimaginative Cap Award.
2. I like this.
Man, I had a hell of a time reviewing Police Teeth's new album, Real Size Monster Series this week (you can read the whole review here). Where I think I may have most failed the local punk rock quartet is in the comparison department, where I perhaps questionably deployed Q and Not U, Braid, and Piebald (fucking Piebald, a band I haven't even listened to in maybe six or seven years, so really I'm just going on shaky memories with that one) in an attempt to get at the Seattle band's sound. Oh, and Bow + Arrow. (Also, not included in the review: "I Made Out With You Before You Were Cool" has a pop punk bridge that's total Sicko.) I don't know, maybe some of those aren't so far off as far as they're deployed in the review, but I turned the piece in with the nagging feeling that the perfect reference points were still just on tip of my tongue. So, I put it to you gentle readers of Line Out: What the fuck are Police Teeth reminding me of?
Whatever it is, I just want to make clear, in case the review didn't already: I am really, really feeling this record. The production sounds a little muddy in the low to mid range, but the songs are great—seriously searing, pissed-off punk rock fuck yous at their finest. I have yet to see Police Teeth live—they're playing tonight but I unfortunately won't be able to make this show either—but they are now in my to-do pile in a major way. I have a feeling these songs sound like 100-proof fire live.
Amid antitrust scrutiny of the propsed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation Inc., Ticketmaster Chief Executive Irving Azoff is working hard to downplay the potential impact of the deal. Testifying before a House subcommittee yesterday, he noted that:
[H]is company received a warning from AEG Live, the owner of 130 venues including the Staples Center in Los Angeles, that it may cancel its contract with Ticketmaster if it merges with Live Nation Entertainment Inc. in an all-stock deal that would value the combined entity around $2.2 billion.
"Others will most certainly leave if this merger is consummated," Azoff testified before the House subcommittee on courts and competition policy. "AEG has notified us by letter that they believe they have the right to terminate our agreement in connection with this merger.
Today, again before a congressional panel, he hinted at the possibility of selling off a subsidiary, TicketsNow: "Pressed on whether Ticketmaster would sell TicketsNow, Azoff demurred at first, but finally said that for the right price, 'I would certainly vote to do that.'" The recent gouging of Bruce Springstein fans has drawn heavy criticism on TickesNow and its parent company.
TicketMaster is maintaining that the merger with Live Nation is necessary "because of economic woes in the music industry," claiming that the the current problems are partially caused by the scapegoat for all that is wrong with today's music business—piracy.
We do currently have a hiring freeze on. We do believe that the efficiencies created from the merger will actually create jobs on the technology side," he said.
Azoff said he did not see layoffs for Ticketmaster but that that the company may cut less profitable accounts, like museums. "If the merger was approved, we'd be adding people," he added.
Local rapper Billy The Fridge promised a "Lusty Lady Dance Off" at his CD release party at King Cobra last night. He delivered.
God, I frickin' love it when people really do what they say they're gonna do.
More photos after the jump!
Ms. Led played their last show only a month or so ago, but frontwoman Lesli Wood already has a new project called The Redwood Plan. The band’s got Lesli, Jamie Hellgate from H is for Hellgate, Sydney Stolfus, and Betty ST. They turned down the hard rock riffs and turned up the sass, synth, and party. They’ve got a great Q and Not U thing going on “Je Suis Romantique,” and “Expiration” feels a little Gossipy. I like it. A lot. It makes me want to dance and kick some ass. Possibly at the same time.
Listen to a few songs via MySpace. Their next show is March 7th at the Sunset.
I've been listening to this song ("For Now" by Nouela Johnston's solo project called People Eating People) at least a dozen times a day for the past month. I'm only slightly exaggerating there; I might've missed a day or two.
There's a wonderful dichotomy that's happening in the tone and the lyrics—the piano is so light and playful, but the words admit to a darker obsession. It's strong-willed and self-assured, but at the same time it's a little pitiful. It's not pathetic, but... almost pathetic. But above all, it's 100% relatable. Because haven't we all been there? Hung up on, and waiting for someone who may or may not be worth the wait because our hearts have (perhaps foolishly) convinced us it's meant to be? "For Now" perfectly captures that emotion, without sounding like a insecure, emotional mess.
Plus, Miss Johnston can fucking sing.
People Eating People - "For Now"
Nouela is in the process of recording People Eating People's debut album right now and plans to release it via the Control Group in a few months. Her other songs aren't as tender, but still impressive. I expect the full-length will be wonderful.
Tinted Windows is a "supergroup" featuring James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, Taylor Hanson of (duh) Hanson, and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne. Who the fuck made this band happen? The answer's out there, but I don't care enough to investigate. I do care enough to listen to the band's first single, though. It's called "Kind of a Girl," and you can stream it from the band's website.
Spoiler alert: It sounds exactly like you'd think it would. First of all, it's about a girl. No surprise there. It's got crunchy, poppy guitar riffs, Hanson-esque whoa whoas throughout, and a catchy chorus a la Cheap Trick. It's simple math, really. It's just the (non-impressive) sum of all its parts.
Their debut album will be released April 21st.
Police Teeth are celebrating the release of their new album, Real Size Monster Series, tonight at the Sunset with the Bismarck (this week's Band of the Week, BTW) and Arbitron. Eric Grandy reviewed the local quartet's new record in this week's music section. An excerpt:
"Big Hearts, Small Riffs" begins with the thesis "There's a breakdown in the discourse between art and entertainment," and then proceeds to break it down further—suggesting that DIY is a privilege best afforded by those whose "parents are footing the bill," wondering sarcastically if lighting their gear on fire or adding "a hot girl in her underwear" on tambourine might increase their cut of the door. All over, five minutes of actually pretty-big riffs; steady, swaggering rhythms; and the occasional female background vocal and trumpet burst. On "Bob Stinson Will Have His Revenge on Ferndale," the band—sounding a bit like earlier, angrier Piebald or maybe Braid when that other guy was singing—lament, "The clubs won't touch us without label support/The labels won't touch us until we're back from tour." On "There's a Big Heap of Trash at the End of the Rainbow": "You should have stayed in college and picked a real job/What makes you think you're above punching a clock?"
The Bismarck - "This Train Runs on Two Rails"
The Bismarck - "Sandbar Knifefighter Blues"
Partman Parthorse's latest snide, punk-rock sneerfest is a song that rattles off—then proceeds to shit-talk—damn near every band in Seattle ("Dutchess and the Duke make me wanna puke... Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band/More like Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Bland"). It concludes in the chorus: "I don't know where they're coming from/But I sure know where they've been/And I know where they're going/Straight to the dollar bin." From any other band, "Emerald City Dollar Bin" might constitute serious beef, but from the infinitely flip and un-fucking-fadeable PMPH, it's all in good fun. (Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N, 374-8400. 9 pm, $8, 21+.) ERIC GRANDY
Partman Parthorse - "Can't Fade the PMPH"
Partman Parthorse - "Police"
Kinski, AFCGT, Treetarantula
(Comet) Over their 11-year existence, Seattle quartet Kinski have become titanic riff merchants, rocking with aerodynamic efficiency, ballistic power, and hairpin dynamics, while going off on the occasional spacey, abstract interlude. At their best, they're one of the most exhilarating hard-rock groups in the city. Bonus: Their song titles are among the funniest around. Fellow Seattle quartet Treetarantula play what people inevitably will call "stoner rock," and they're extremely adept at it, delivering repeated psychedelic knockout blows until you understand the true meaning of "wah-wah." It's raw, dude. AFCGT have received much praise from this writer lately, and it's all deserved. DAVE SEGAL
Emeralds, Kane Hodder, Black Houses, Patrol, Teens in Heat
(El Corazón) Chances are you have no idea who Teens in Heat are. And that's okay! They're new. The trio—featuring Christen Shaw of Man Plus, Nouela Johnston of People Eating People (and formerly Mon Frere), and Sage Gatzke of Black Houses—will take you back to the days of pre-glam Hole. You know, when Courtney Love had a real nose and didn't constantly blog about nothing. Teens in Heat's few demos available online aren't the best quality, but they showcase the same raw, haunted vibe that made Love and company so magnetic. MEGAN SELING
Listen to Teens in Heat via MySpace.
Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, Battle Hymns, Transmography
(Full Tilt Ice Cream) Now that Spencer Moody and Dann Gallucci have gotten the Murder City Devils reunion out of their system (the band wrapped up a short jaunt down the West Coast last week), the two return to their weird, arty ways with Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death (also featuring Andrea Zollo of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Joel Cuplin of Suffering and the Hideous Thieves). The band are far from palatable on first listen—a noisy mélange of saxophone, keyboard, sludgy bass, and vocals that alternate between howling and disparaging. It's not for everyone. But tonight, some of Full Tilt's ice cream may make it go down a little bit easier. MEGAN SELING
Holy shit, there's even more! Just click here.
So "Chillout Tent" may not be my most favorite Hold Steady song, but I still appreciate some chill out music. Kind of. I think. I don't know, actually. I've never done drugs and I'm generally a relaxed person to begin with. But whatever. It doesn't matter. This is all just a very poorly executed segue to mention the record I'm currently listening to and loving.
It sounds like this:
Bronze Fawn - "Lumber"
Bronze Fawn - "Ten Is the New Five"
Lumber's dynamic instrumentals sounds perfect right now, at the end of a long day, while pretty sunset starts to fight off the endless grey outside the office.
Thank you, Bronze Fawn.