The last time I saw Helios, he was playing an Ambient Showcase as part of 2008’s Decibel Fest. The concert was at The Triple Door. I was underdressed. I probably should’ve learned my lesson then—maybe Helios/Keith Kenniff is an artist so refined that he brings an air of expected dignity wherever he goes—because despite yesterday’s Helios concert being a “house show,” I once again felt out of place in my head-to-toe unwashed clothes.
Last night, Kenniff played to a small crowd (maybe thirty) at an exclusive invite-only gig way up north in Snohomish. If I hadn’t been there, I probably wouldn’t have believed it happened. Picture a quaint, unassuming cul-de-sac lined with one-story “rambler” homes. At the bottom of this street, Kenniff performed in an upscale living room packed with rows of folding chairs. I was grateful to have been there, and the gravitational pull of Kenniff’s resoundingly emotive songs helped offset my fears of being perceived as a smelly home invader in a silkscreened seafoam sweatshirt.
Despite my anxiety, the night’s host, Wes, was incredibly hospitable. He’d gone all out in trying to make the evening’s entertainment a genuinely one-of-a-kind affair. Not only had Wes personally programmed and designed visuals to accompany Helios’ set, he’d also rigged up a tricky old-school-Hollywood-style rear projection apparatus so the footage filled a screen mounted on a pair of windows behind the musician. Between songs the visuals would ebb into solid green, and the living room evoked another kind of movie magic, taking on the appearance of a Hollywood half-set with a green screen backdrop. Laptop jockeys in Pasedena would gladly have CGI-ed in a tableau of the Snohomish River. Unlike hypothetical indulgent pixel-scapes, Wes’ rendered projections proved exceptionally complementary to Helios’ sound. The imagery on display included ceiling fans moving in slow-motion, lone figures wandering forests of snow-capped conifers, screensaver swirls, and maps of pulsing dots (think Larry King’s Lite-Brite map-of-America). Some serious props are in order for pulling off those visuals—Helios, like his contemporary Tycho, is pretty consistent across both audio and visual dimensions (see: his ongoing collaborations with Matthew Woodson, the cover artist for nearly all Helios releases), and if Wes hadn’t taken credit for the night’s graphic stimuli, I would never have known they weren’t something Kenniff himself had provided.
A couple weeks ago, in the Underage column, I wrote about the All-Ages Movement Project and the $50,000 grant they're hoping to win in Pepsi's Refreshing Ideas contest. Well, today's the last day of the contest—at 9 pm tonight they need to be in the top 10 to win one of 10 $50,000 prizes. Right now they're in 10th (yay!), but over the last few days they've been bouncing back and forth between 10th and 11th (boo !).
(Chop Suey) Philadelphia-based band Free Energy are one of those signings that makes you wonder about the relationship between DFA Records and EMI (Shocking Pinks is another)—like, where do the honest enthusiasms of the tasteful, trend-setting dance-punk label end and the business plans of the corporate machine begin? I mean, sure, James Murphy's tastes are plenty eclectic (see the latter half of "Losing My Edge"), but it's hard to imagine him getting quite as excited about Free Energy's snoozy, bloozy, last-call-at-the-karaoke-pub sub-Strokes rock as he does about, say, the Sonics (the Sonics! The Sonics! The Sonics!). Still, it's perfectly pleasant, persistently hooky stuff, if ultimately kind of forgettable. Foreign Born's songs turn from jangly, twangy indie soft rock to pleading, understated anthems, a trick that satisfies on some fundamental, Pavlovian level. ERIC GRANDY
Arrington de Dionyso, Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, L'Orchidée d'Hawaï
(20/20 Cycle) Angelo Spencer is a self-taught musician who hails from the French Alps. Last time I caught him, he was performing as a one-man band, stomping out time on hi-hat and kick drum while playing electric guitar and singing sweetly flirtatious love songs. Avec Les Hauts Sommets (the High Summits), Spencer plays instrumental guitar that takes off from Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores and ventures (or Ventures) into wilder, skronkier territories, accompanied on bass clarinet, keys, percussion, and Echoplex by Karl Blau, Clyde Petersen of Your Heart Breaks, and headliner Arrington de Dionyso. The project's self-titled debut album, recorded in Olympia, is energetic, moody, and thoroughly engaging. ERIC GRANDY
Eel Eater, Wild Yaks
(Comet, 4 pm) Eel Eater specialize in voluble raw expression. Sometimes their music is a head rush of trashy, thrashy, punky abandon. It's also, in turns, really "out there" in the best way possible. Without ever ditching their authentic made-in-a-basement aesthetic, the gals (and guy) in Eel Eater dally with some awesomely freaky-deaky flourishes: beautifully wrought instrumental shrieks, hiccuping delay-splattered vox, and fever-dream audioscaping (remember that bridge in "Drain You" where it's just messed-up noises and Dave Grohl's insistent drumming? Imagine that, minus the pummeled percussion and with more wind tubes, and you'll get the idea). Eel Eater are totally worth the indulgence of a daylight-hours visit to the Comet. JASON BAXTER
Fatal Lucciauno, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground
(Havana) The organic cross-pollination between hiphop and everything else in this town is the real prize of all the hype—I haven't been watching it for as long as many, but I haven't seen it like this in the time I've lived here. The good folks at the Ghost Gallery have the plain good taste to combine Fatal Lucciauno—the Central District firebrand whose firepower is full disclosure, uncomfortable truths, and scary-good rhymes to boot—with Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground's sumptuous orchestral psych pop. It's just our town's music scene living up more fully to its always-exciting promise, recognizing one another, and I'm so not mad. Now can we get a Fa' guest verse on "Oh Motherfuckers" or something? LARRY MIZELL JR.
(Showbox at the Market) Nineteen years into their career, John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood still defy the sad descent into bland conservatism that afflicts many aging musicians. Instead, these sonic freaks of nature continue to boldly put their distinctive, improvisatory stamp on free funk, soul, jazz standards, and hits, rarely doing the expected, safe thing. MMW's massive, impressive 2009 box set Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set finds the trio as galvanic as ever: funky, fiery, fiercely exploratory—and they're even better live. DAVE SEGAL
AFCGT, Kinski, Arbitron
(Comet) My first taste of Arbitron came via a spray-painted cassette, housed in a single Stayfree maxi-pad box. The packaging was their clever way of telling me something was about to bleed. That cassette was a glorious display of damaged punk, marginally improvised with just the right amount of distortion and percussive spikes. Since then, the Seattle guitar/drum duo has become more solid, while still teetering on the fringe of ugliness. Sandwiched between Arbitron and headliners AFCGT are longtime local favorites Kinski, known for a mammoth sound that crests over moments of heady beauty. AFCGT, who celebrate the release of their excellent self-titled Sub Pop debut tonight, create blitzing, blistering, cross-wired noise that erupts and flows with rock's gravitational force. Brace yourself for a night of sonic reckoning and shove some tampons in your ears. TRAVIS RITTER
Brutal Truth, Super Happy Story Time Land, Streetwalker
(Studio Seven) Watching OG New York City grindcore band Brutal Truth tear it up live is like attending a speed trial: They already hold the world record for shortest music video (just over two seconds), so it's only a matter of milliseconds before they dethrone whichever band (Agoraphobic Nosebleed? Anal Cunt?) holds the bragging rights for shortest song. After a seven-year hiatus, they re-formed in 2006, and last April released Evolution Through Revolution, a 20-song blast of uncompromising grind. It's nice to see one of the true genre-defining bands show up the new blood, not just keep up with them. KEVIN DIERS
Harlem, Idle Times, the Knast
(Funhouse) There's something ballsy (and galling, too) about a group of indie-rock white boys from Austin calling themselves Harlem. The universe needs to regain balance with a black R&B troupe that goes by Reykjavik or something. Dodgy nomenclature aside, Harlem play peppy, jangly rock that would fit comfortably on a Homestead Records comp from 1985. They're facile with the catchy melodies and sing-along choruses, and they exude a youthful shagginess to which kids who buy their clothes in secondhand shops should gravitate. Harlem appear to love Kiwi-pop geniuses the Clean and Black Lips and have a song called "Psychedelic Tits," so it's hard not to be charmed by them, even though their new album, Hippies (out April 6 on Matador), will inevitably garner them major blog buzz. DAVE SEGAL
Thomas Erak, lead singer of Seattle's the Fall of Troy, posted this news to the band's MySpace this afternoon:
Dearest friends from all corners of the world,
I write to inform you that after nearly 9 years, 5 full-lengths, 2 bass players, hundreds of shows, and numerous other achievements and follies, Andrew, Frank, and I have decided to end our career as The Fall of Troy.
This band has been my life, my love, the air I breathe, the food I eat, and what helps me sleep (and sometimes keeps me up) at night. I love and cherish the music we've made, the times we've had, and all the great friends we've met along the way. Andrew, Frank, and of course Tim, will always and forever have a special place in my heart. But it has come time for us to call it a day. After everything's said and done, there is no drama, there is no blow out, it's simply the three members of this band are on three different paths in our lives.
I always hold true to the fact that it's better to go out in style, to ride off into the sunset, than go down in flames. This tour coming up with Envy On The Coast and Twin Atlantic will be our last go round, and we really hope that all of you will come out and celebrate what has been so unreal and unbelievable — let's dance one last time!
We would really like to thank everyone that's ever been involved with the band, managed the band, booked a show for us, let us eat your canned food, sleep on your floor, asked us for a picture, caught me when I've almost been dropped, put out a record for us, driven us through a late night drive thru, or anything else any of you could possibly look back on and enjoy what this band was...Fun.
So make sure you come out to "The Marked-Men of 2010 Tour" as it will be our last hurrah! We love you, and will be giving as much love as you've given to us at these shows. So that's that! We love you with all our hearts, thank you from the very bottom of them, and goodbye comrades.
R.I.P. TFOT 2002-2010
With A Heavy Heart, Thomas Joseph Erak
PS. I have no intention to stop making music! Quite the opposite actually - but until then see you at the shows!
First of all: DO NOT go to Fringe Presents at The Eagle tonight! At all! Not even a little bit! Under any circumstances! Whatsoever! (Don't you fucking DARE!) And...why? WHY? Because it AIN'T HAPPENIN', pickle, THAT'S why. It's on brief hiatus 'til next week, when it shall indeed return with a BANG, so just chill out, for God's sakes, and instead do THIS...
COMEBACK (VS. Blowpony) at CHOP SUEY!
As my very dear and ever-talented Miss O noted just a bit previously, tonight is COMEBACK—but not just any old, run-of-the-milling-faggots Comeback. Tonight is a very special edition: The very first-ever (that I know of) Comeback VS. Blowpony edition of Comeback! Wow!
Okay. Next obvious question: What the hell's a BLOWPONY, anyway? (Brilliant next question.) Well, a "Blowpony" is a big queer thing that apparently happens to someplace called PORTLAND (never heard of it) once a month , and, according to its so-called "website" (what?):
BLOWPONY was created by a bipolar skitzee fag (Airick) and Trans Kansas Mess (Jese AKA Kinetic) in a desperate callout in our QUEER community for unity and a place to where all our brothers and sisters felt welcome and loved..."
...blah, blah, blah, and more Portland-esque queer hippie New Age bullshit. But what it all translates to precisely is this: freaks, freaks, and more fabulous freaks, dancing their freaky queer asses off. And Blowpony is teaming up tonight with our very own and deeply beloved COMEBACK, and there shall indeed be TWO ROOMS of dance, dance, danceness (not just one, like usual): Residents from BLOWPONY (the aforementioned Airick and Kinetic) will be spinning one room, while PONYBOY, F.I.T.S., Colby B., and other Comeback stars do their thing in the other. It's a fused-up, mashed-up, bi-city dance-your-ass-off-stravaganza!
Come around 10pm, it's $5-$7 (depending on if you show up before or after 11pm, for some wild, random, arbitrary reason), 1325 East Madison Street.
IF YOU HATE DANCING, and demand something more passively delightful yet equally perverted of your evening, well. You have options. May I please to suggest:
Open Circle Theater does Sex in the City! at, duh, Open Circle Theater! Oh, lord, I'm just going to let them explain it...
Bad Actors produce Open Circle Theater's monthly late night show! After kicking off our 2010 season with the British cult comedy "Are You Being Served?", OCTV is back in February with the Emmy-award winning "Sex and the City"! Meet Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte for a cosmo or four at Open Circle's fabulous cash bar and get a chance to catch up with the girls. There are only two shows, and on Saturday night (as always) we'll spin the Big Dial to see what March's show will be. Don't miss out!
Don't miss out, indeed. Doors at 9.30, bar opens at also 9.30, 2222 2nd Avenue (try and forget THAT address, I dare you), a measly $5. TONIGHT!
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 4:38 PM
A late-breaking show of serious electronic-music excellence for you to contemplate: LA-based producer [a]pendics.shufffle (aka Ken Gibson) and Detroit DJ/producer Rex Sepulveda perform Sat. Feb. 27 at Electric Tea Garden (10 pm/$15/21+). The event's called Love Unit and it's put on by the Condiment and Sweatbox crews.
[a]pendics.shuffle's tech-house is as odd and quirky as his musical moniker; it's got that crispy-synapsed psychedelic feel, yet it's also infernally focused on keeping the floor a hive of hectic activity. His sets at Decibel and other Seattle dates have never been less than stellar. I've not witnessed Sepulveda's deck action, but anyone with M-nus Records affiliations—Sepulveda was involved with the sublabel D—is worth checking. His techno productions are more straightforward than Gibson's, but they're still heady and stranger-than-friction dance-floor business. And he's remixed tracks by Fred Giannelli, which is more than most can say.
Local DJs Ctrl_Alt_Dlt, Jonny Romero, Murdoc, and Shift support.
ok so in April the other band.. that i got together to do the eraser and other stuff u know .. Mauro, Flea, Me, Joey and Nigel is going back out to do some shows in the US.. ending with playing with Coachella. we had too much fun to just leave it there...
it has been decided that we call ourselves Atoms For Peace. hope you like the name.. it seemed bleedin' obvious.
all warmth Thom
Atoms for Peace? I pick up on the references and all, but—no, sir, I don’t like it. Not one bit. There’s something a little too campy, forced and topical about this “bleedin’ obvious” choice that rubs me the wrong way. I mean, here we have a collection of (arguably) elite all-star musicians, and THIS is the most baddass name they could come up with? You'd expect better from such a cream-of-the-crop cluster of egos and talents. Yet, poorly chosen, cringeworthy monikers are a more than common occurrence among bands of the “super” persuasion—Audioslave, Chickenfoot, The Traveling Wilburys, Damnocracy, G3, Monsters of Folk, and Them Crooked Vultures all being prime examples. How is this even possible?
Now, we can sit here and argue all day about the subjective nature of band names, but what I really want to know is: Why do supergroups and all-star bands tend to be the guiltiest of choosing names that frequently land smack-dab in the middle of completely crap-bag and forehead-slap embarrassing?
Tonight is the latest SAM Remix event at the Seattle Art Museum (8pm, $5-$10, all-ages, highly recommended/should've been a Stranger Suggests). Headlining is Canadian artist Loscil, whom Dave Segal expounds on in this week's Data Breaker as well as here on Line Out.
An equally compelling reason to go is local ambient shoegazer the Sight Below (aka Rafael Anton Irisarri) whom Segal profiled for the Strangerback in 2008:
The Sight Below's set at this year's Decibel Festival was a highlight for many attendees. His mesmerizingly muffled 4/4 kick drums pumped like an excited hippo's heart beneath gaseous synth tones and spectral guitar spray, while his voluminous bass frequencies seemed to threaten the integrity of the Baltic Room's sound system. To those on the Sight Below's rarefied wavelength, the result was a steady-state, subdued ecstasy similar to that induced by Kompakt Records artists like Gas and the Field.
The Sight Below's debut album, Glider (out November 11 on the respected Michigan label Ghostly International), meticulously re-creates that live experience while also exploring his more ambient proclivities. The Sight Below's deft aptitude on guitar (typically stroked ever so lightly with a viola bow or plectrum) and keyboards glimmers brilliantly on the disc's nine cuts, evoking masters of subtle sonic bliss like My Bloody Valentine, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and Fennesz.
The Sight Below's got a new album called It All Falls Apart out April 5th on Ghostly International featuring tracks co-written with Simon Scott of Slowdive on guitar and an atomized cover of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades" featuring Tiny Vipers' Jesy Fortino on vocals. It's every bit as glacially chilling and breathtaking as the Sight Below's debut, and tonight might be your first chance to hear some of it.
Also nothing to sneeze at (and also profiled by the sleepless Segal): Gel-Sol.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM
And they're playing tomorrow night at Showbox at the Market. I highly recommend checking out Medeski Martin & Wood at least once in your life. They extemporaneously roam far and deep through jazz, funk, soul, and even experimental/musique-concrète realms with amazing facility and showmanship, without ever seeming hokey. I've seen them four times and each show's been jaw-droppingly great.
Most groups who've been together for two decades should be in decline by this point, but if anything, MMW are getting more adventurous and interesting with age.
In this week's Suggests, I wrote:
Nineteen years into their career, John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood still defy the sad descent into bland conservatism that afflicts many aging musicians. Instead, these sonic freaks of nature continue to boldly put their distinctive, improvisatory stamp on free funk, soul, jazz standards, and hits, rarely doing the expected, safe thing. MMW's massive, impressive 2009 box set Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set finds the trio as galvanic as ever: funky, fiery, fiercely exploratory—and they're even better live. (Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave, 628-3151. 7 pm, $25, 21+.)
by Gina Young
on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 12:25 PM
Yes, that's Brandi Carlile (left) and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls (right).
Did you read Spin this month? I flipped through it in Easy Street Records while waiting for a bus yesterday. It's the "Where Are They Now" cover story that sucked me in. (Like, Tanya Donnelly's a doula! OMG!) And it left me trailing little thought clouds behind me for the rest of the day.
I don't think there's anything inherently tragic about, say, stopping a career as a touring musician and settling into a more conventional job. That's the nature of the beast. But when it's all, internet programmer blah blah... web developer blah blah... I get a little uneasy. And this is not to disparage those fields; if programming code is your passion, that's awesome. But if music is your passion and you throw it out because programming code pays, that makes Bambi cry. I guess I'm just aging, like we all are, and have that feeling of impending doom. Like when we hit a certain age, boom. We settle down, we settle for, we start doing what is expected and customary, and cease doing the weird, offbeat shit that turned us into artists in high school, or whenever it was that we started tuning in to odd hobbies and alternative forms of expression.
So, I took a circuitous route to get there, but I want to say that I'm really glad to hear Kaia Wilson is planning on becoming a ping pong champion.
She's a NW music vet— Team Dresch, The Butchies, Adickdid, etc.— perhaps at her strongest as guitar player for Team Dresch, although talented as a singer and songwriter too and a damn good time at karaoke. Her new goal is to compete in ping pong... er, table tennis... at the upcoming Gay Games in Cologne, Germany. And win. She's started a website about it, so if you want to follow her journey, you can click here. (I hope I'm not the only one excited about the "Homoscopes" link, as yet un-used but harkening back to her funny faux astrology on the Mr. Lady website of yore.)
Happy Friday, everybody.
PS- More of these kind of posts here and here. And this won't be the last.
As reported, Bob "Chilly B" Creston (of legendary 80's electrofunk crew Newcleus), passed away from a stroke this week, at age 47. RIP.
Growing up in LA in the 80's, I watched my brother and his homeboys pop and lock to the bboy classic "Jam On It" more than a few times. It was one of those songs so joyously ubiquitous to the scene that, like Zapp, I assumed the BKNY-born Newcleus were from there. I didn't know anything about them until I read a great piece on them in Wax Poetics #27 (Grandmaster Flash/Eddie Harris cover).