Remember Alaskas, the scruffy California transplant who played a kajillion shows in Seattle before packing his bags, unloading a bunch of tapes at the local Goodwill, and farting off to New York?
He's no less active over in the Big Apple, and Crikey Records is hawking his new 7" single, featuring the songs "Walk on Walls" and "The Felon." Both are reverb-washed minimalist 4/4 jams, with sparkling finesse and Alaskas' typically disarming vocal assault. You can listen to them below:
A pre-sale purchase of the vinyl single ($7.50) also gets you a free download of his ten-track "Feral mixtape"—a smattering of some of his "tabletop dub jams" and other miscellaneous sonic experimentation.
As if to further prove he is both a) insanely prolific and b) a maniac, Alaskas has pledged to record 100 songs this month, so stay posted to his site if you're interested in charting the dude's progress.
Which is too bad, because Grateful to Shred is totally ridiculous and awesome. I'll hopefully have a legit review of the record online soon, but in the meantime you can listen to "Not Listening" (whoa, dude) below.
A white van caked with insects shoots through the barrel of the Mojave Desert plane. Eight are within: Mad Rad : Mash Hall. Vancouver BC — San Diego, CA. Vegas to Scottsdale, AZ here. Highway 93 South leans through a world of shrubs. The afternoon sun descent creams casted shadows long. Asphalt cracks punch up, hills as horizontal thighs. Uncoiled is the Cookie Snake. To each of the insects smashed onto the front of this van, and taken instantly from their flying lives, I am sorry. There was Ted, a small fly, who had been lazily enjoying the April breeze, and Francine, a mosquito who had just sipped blood from a fine newborn dairy cow. They are gone now, mauled by a 70 mile an hour vehicle, and crusted to its grille and hood. Did they feel it? Did they know they were here? Do they know they are gone? Am I here?
There was a problem at the show in Las Vegas. A disagreement? Misunderstanding? Words were spoken. Darwin had started DJ’ing, and apparently it “wasn’t hip hop enough” for the house DJ. So Darwin cut the track and went with the Chris Brown song “Look at Me Now” featuring Busta Ryhmes and Lil Wayne. That wasn’t hip hop enough either. Or maybe it was too hip hop. The promoter of the show, (Vanilla Ice white guy in dreads who was a “rapper”) had a problem with the Chris Brown. More words were spoken. The people at the club were, how you say, “Being complete dickheads.” So we bolted. No show was played. Sometimes you have to make that call.
Vegas is active. Radjaw fell in a lake at the Bellagio (with his phone), P Smoov got a concussion, Buffalo and Darwin rode mechanical bulls. There were 136 oz frozen drinks called The Scorpion Bowl. Radjaw later put his phone in a bag of rice to whisk the moisture out. In casinos, 85 year-olds attached themselves to slot machines. Vegas sex workers work. Vampires are in. Cover bands play Barry Manilow into the Eagles into Guns n Roses with head set mics and pony-tails. At one point we were walking around trying to find a buffet in the broad day heat of early afternoon. Buffalo says being in Las Vegas is like bouncing around in a pinball machine trying to get the high score. Larry Mizell and djBlesOne from Mash Hall are here, saving all. Don’t Talk to the Cops (their other thing) is hopping with cuts. Larry is the Speaker of the House, his mind is a Rolodex of info, facts, and knowhow. And no one this side of the Mississippi puts down better upright Bboy dance work than Bles. His collection of moves and footwork is a regal gangly hurricane mirage.
Back to van world, Biggie Smalls Ready to Die is the travelling musical companion, coating curves in the road, flattening the land, a juggernaut un-fraught. Biggie-beats are funk based blastings.”Bullets heat seaking.” Even dollops of cadent scroll-words. Rhymes cut before and after beats, knot tied, moat-meaty throated.
Larry is reading Occult America by Mitch Horowitz. “The secret history of how mysticism shaped our nation.” He could be starting a cult. I ask if it has anything to do with Whitney Houston. He says no.
Darwin pees in a Gatorade bottle. *Desert Mist* Gatorade bottles make for good pee receptacles. But during the fill phase, there is always the, “Oh my God what if I have more pee than the allotted bottle can hold?” Cause pinching off ain’t fun.
Hey, there's a free Battle of the Bands tonight at Vera, if that's your cup of tea. The competitors? The Violins, the U Crew, Fit for Hounds, and Land of Pines. The prize? Equipment, swag from contest sponsors, and an opening spot on Live Nation's upcoming Textbooks & Tickets Tour.
Also, hella dough: "bands that submit songs with a social justice theme are also eligible for a $5,000 grant furnished by the Elfenworks Foundation."
This competition, which kicks off at 8 pm, is pretty serious business—previous winners include Local Natives, among others, and the Seattle Times' estimable blogger Andrew Matson will be on the panel of judges.
(Columbia City Theater) I'll put it as simply as possible: This is a great local lineup. Exohxo are a chamber-pop band you should know about; they're experts at combining orchestral strings, forceful guitars, and poppy melodies into something at once catchy and erudite. To the Sea don't work with the ornate strings of Exohxo, but they do the pop-rock part just fine, with music that often swells into a verse-chorus-verse-gasm. Here's the guarantee: You will leave the theater with at least three great new songs stuck in your head. PAUL CONSTANT
(Chop Suey) Sonic Boom's Spectrum project fuses many of his lifelong obsessions into his most cohesive artistic efforts since Spacemen 3 split in 1991. With Spectrum, Sonic (aka English guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Pete Kember) writes tracks that range from ripping, comet-trail rock to ethereal lullabies to BBC Radiophonic Workshop homages (check the awesome "Delia Derbyshire" on Forever Alien) to marvelously realized, reverent covers of underground-rock classics. There also have been fruitful collaborations with fellow electronic-rock psychonauts like Silver Apples and Jessamine. Kember has retained his knack for creating supremely tranquil, lovely ballads and unnerving, analog-synth-generated oscillation cauldrons. The aging gearhead's still got it—and as Spectrum's most recent release, the War Sucks EP, proves, Kember's not mellowing with age. DAVE SEGAL
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 4:52 PM
And I thought I had it bad... According to NPR, Ken Terui, a jazz fanatic who owns Johnny's Jazz Cafe in Morioka, Japan, lost 10,000 records—many of them extremely rare, no doubt—in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Glad you survived the disasters, Ken, but deepest condolences regarding your tragic vinyl loss.
According to Alternative Press, Westboro Baptist Church was spotted protesting outside of a Less Than Jake concert on Saturday night in Pensacola, Florida. Surprisingly, WBC was not protesting wearing neckties with Hawaiian shirts, nor were they protesting Less Than Jake's last four albums, all of which should be grounds for going to hell.
Blast, a new fruity drink with twice the amount of alcohol found in Colt 45, resembles soda in color and packaging and is drawing outrage from politicians and advocacy groups. Marketing for the drink, including an endorsement by Rapper Snoop Dogg, is adding fuel to the fire.
This all brings to mind something I wrote back in 2001:
Snoop Dogg is a ghetto Martha Stewart. His ultimate commodity is a way of life. Everything he sells and endorses (the Blunt Wrap tobacco tubes for smoking Buddha, the K-Nine clothing for the pimps, playas, and ho's, the "Freak Line" phone sex service, the rap music, the films, and so on) designates, validates, and delineates a specific mode of urban existence. He makes it easier to be ghetto, in the way Martha Stewart makes it easier to be bourgeois.
Snoop Dogg, making ghetto accessible to the masses since 93.
Gerard Smith, bassist for indie greats TV on the Radio, has lost his battle with lung cancer. The band has issued a statement on Smith's passing at their website, and canceled five dates of their upcoming tour.
We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.
I love these dudes. Seattle trash-dance trio Footwork finally have a recording online at their bandcamp page, have a listen to "Jurassic Punk" below. It's available as a free download, and is just the minute-and-a-half jolt your afternoon needs. "Jurassic Punk," BTW, isn't just a song name—it's something the band members have been throwing around for a sec, and it somehow feels like a pretty apt descriptor of their sound.
My only question is, when can we get a download-able version of "Video Nasties," dudes?
This video is the definition of E-40, one of the very few rappers over 40 that's arguably dope as ever (shortlist: 40 Water, Scarface, Ghostface, and the Palaceer once called Butterfly); he's the nigh-indecipherable game-spitting unc' trying to put you're rootie-poot ass up on a few things. OG life lessons. Take a sip from ya pimp container right quick: "stop thinking with yo' Peter", he drawls, before clarifiying "yeah, ya dick." Also: that wine-colored peacoat is killing shit.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM
From Decibel founder/president/curator Sean Horton's press release:
[T]he 8th edition of the Decibel International Festival of Electronic Music Performance, Visual Art and New Media will be taking place September 28th through October 2nd, throughout Seattle. This year we're pleased to announce several new venue partners, including The Paramount Theatre, The Showbox Market, The Crocodile and Fred Wildlife Refuge. Additional venues for the 2011 program include Neumos, The Triple Door, The Baltic Room and The Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya (more venues TBA). With increased venue capacities and new downtown locations, we anticipate the 2011 to be our most exciting and well attended program to date. Discounted, early-bird passes for the 2011 Decibel Festival go on sale May 1st.
If there's one thing I've learned from attending every Decibel fest, it's that Horton and co. can be counted on to book a world-class lineup—and they somehow improve in quality and quantity with each passing year. These additional venues are a good look for Decibel and show a growing appreciation among traditionally non-electronic-oriented spaces to welcome this kind of music. Decibel continues to amass respect and influence in Seattle's music scene, and making inroads into formerly resistant or apathetic spheres shows how diligently its operatives have been working. Well done, dB.
by Brian Cook
on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Young Widows In and Out of Youth and Lightness Temporary Residence
This Will Destroy You Tunnel Blanket Suicide Squeeze
There’s that saying that everyone has one novel in them. Similarly, anyone with even a modest helping of musical talent has one album in them. Two albums, however, is an entirely other matter, hence the “sophomore slump”. When you start a musical project, every grouping of notes you cobble together, even the most played-out three-chord sequence, is your own. Ideas come naturally. But once that first album comes out, the band becomes a part of the public’s consciousness and is forever subject to scrutiny against their past work. The band must now strike a balance between moving forward creatively and holding on to the essence of their identity. Great records stem from bold new moves, but drastic new directions also occasionally yield dismal failures. Being a self-aware artist is tricky.
Both Young Widows and This Will Destroy You are venturing into new territory after establishing promising precedents. Young Widows’ second album, Old Wounds, was a compelling and authoritative update on the darker side of the Touch & Go catalog. While their debut contained obvious nods to Shellac’s harrowing economy and Jesus Lizard’s deliberate, tightly wound frenzy, Old Wounds harnessed these principles while projecting a character all its own. It was patient, steady, sophisticated, and on the verge of bursting with brainy machismo. This Will Destroy You tapped into the post-rock crowd with their Young Mountain debut. Their influences were obvious: Explosions In The Sky provided the blueprint for their cascading delay-soaked guitars and melancholic melodies while Mogwai lent the distorted crunch and electronic embellishments. Despite its derivative tendencies, Young Mountain was a fine record. But the self-titled full-length that followed was the true gem. Rather than trying to tell a whole story in one song, the band embraced repetition by constructing songs around one musical phrase, reinforcing its beauty by hammering through it over and over again. Both Young Widows and TWDY managed to dodge the sophomore slump by refining their formulas, but had to figure out how to evolve from their nearly flawless second offerings.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 11:52 AM
The Quietus has an in-depth interview with Adrian Sherwood, founder and main producer of On-U Sound, the crucial, avant-garde UK dub label responsible for crushing releases by African Head Charge, Mark Stewart & the Maffia, Tackhead, Creation Rebel, Dub Syndicate, New Age Steppers, and many more. No record company was doing more in the '80s to push dub forward into vital new territory. On-U turns 30 this year and, hey, there's a new African Head Charge album, Voodoo of the Godsent, to mark the occasion.
Here Sherwood reveals a studio trick:
Can you explain what mixing backwards is?
AS: Well, if you take something that’s playing forwards and then you turn it over so it’s playing backwards - if you add a like a reverb to it and go ‘kowww kowww’ on the snare, if you play it back it would go ‘shhhhok shhhhok’, so the effects will play backwards. So that’s putting delays on everything, and just randomly bringing things in and out, dubbing them out — bassline out, in, drums out, chops, jang jang jang jang jang, but played backwards. Then we’d put it onto a tape and play it forwards, but the effects were sucking and playing backwards.