Seattle-based experimental-music hotbed Debacle Records is having its annual December sale, offering 15-percent discounts on everything purchased through its Bandcamp (use the coupon code YULE). What makes Debacle so interesting is that owner Sam Melancon, in addition to having golden ears, refuses to push a monolithic sound. His roster is diverse and his catalog has an unpredictable trajectory. Artists working in the drone, cosmic disco, noise, post rock, improv, ambient, and other styles coexist in the Debaclesphere, united by a desire to sound distinctive. All of these musicians earned their creative freedom through sheer talent and interesting, unconventional ideas. Explore the expansive roster here.
Why promote your upcoming shows with a dumb ole' flyer, WHEN YOU CAN MAKE A VIDEO?!? Move over Vern Fonk! (Or should I say Vern FUNK?)
SPLATINUM: FUNKONOLOGY Album Release [Dance!] Party is December 20th.
To celebrate their 10th birthday and 20th birthdays respectively, Neumos and Moe Bar (who are Capricorns?), will be throwing a week-long music-explosion January 9-January 16! The Posies are playing! So are the Thermals! And a bunch of other great bands! Here's the lineup:
• Thursday 1/9: Telekinesis w/ Wild Ones
• Friday 1/10: The Posies playing Frosting on the Beater and more with the original lineup! w/ Alcohol Funnycar, Rusty Willoughby, Popsickle
• Saturday 1/11: Goodness w/ These Streets (with Selene Vigil from 7 Year Bitch), Lucky Me
• Sunday 1/12: Truly w/ Bali Girls, Sage, Hyperlung
• Monday 1/13: Hey Marseilles w/ Cataldo
• Wednesday 1/15: The Thermals
• Thursday 1/16: Brent Amaker and the Rodeo
Tickets are on sale now for $15 a pop, two shows for $20. More details here.
Tomorrow, 12/7, is the official release of Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt’s excellent new book EXPERIENCING NIRVANA: Grunge in Europe, 1989 at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery, from 6-8 pm.
“Part rock and roll travelogue and part voyeuristic pop culture rubbernecking—an unromantic yet nostalgic glimpse into a rock social movement just prior to its explosion.”—Kim Thayil, Soundgarden
EXPERIENCING—through 200+ photos by Pavitt and Steve Double, with words from Pavitt's candid diaries—chronicles Nirvana’s 1989 (and first-ever) tour of Europe, with label mates Tad. This '89 tour also included the band's career making appearance at the Lame Fest Sub Pop UK Showcase in London with headliners Mudhoney.
Pavitt will be there, and the signing will surely be a momentous moment in Seattle history:
"In addition to special guests Mark Arm and Tad Doyle, both Obama and Lady Gaga "will most likely show up around 7, for the free beer" according to Larry Reid, event organizer. Stoked."—Bruce Pavitt, via Facebook
More photos from the book, after the jump...
This year RA Scion and NYC producer Rodney Hazard clicked up via the internets to make The Sickle & The Sword. It's dope—the best stuff from RA since Common Market, and the most interesting, for my money; I wrote this about it:
RA Scion has a history of album-length collaborations with producers like Sabzi (Common Market), MTK (Victor Shade), and Todd Sykes (uh, RA Scion and Todd Sykes)—his latest, and perhaps boldest, sonic move is his newest album (The Sickle and the Sword) with New York–based producer Rodney Hazard. Hazard's gauzy, vaporous cloud-work suits the spirituality in RA's devotional bars.
Today, Industry Rule #4080-something was invoked, as RA Scion announced via his Facebook page that Hazard officially put the kibosh on selling the album:
the business of music is ugly.
I realize it's poor form to air your dirty laundry in a public forum, but sometimes you just gotta tell it like it is, and this is one of those instances..
yesterday Rodney Hazard and his management company, Blind Barber Productions, Inc., registered a formal complaint with our digital distributor and demanded immediate removal of The Sickle & The Sword from all online retailers, including iTunes, amazon, etc.. they're citing copyright infringement, claiming I've used Rodney's work without permission - as if I don't have a thread of emails about 75-deep chronicling the creation of this project from its conception to its release..
this supreme bitch move is the direct result of my refusal to sign a contract that was presented to me back in October by Rodney's manager, Andrew Kelley.. despite the fact they continually refer to the contract as a "standard producer's agreement," it's a 10-page antiquated fossil of a document that's poorly written, sloppily edited and impossible to understand.. I sent it to some industry folks I trust, they said "don't sign it." I told Rodney I didn't feel good about it, he offered to get his attorney on the phone to explain it to me.. I suggested instead that we draw up a more simplified, mutual agreement between us, splitting everything 50/50 - they refused..
and then this. we're taking our ball and going home..
Instead, Abeo is giving the album away for "free.99". Get it here.
fine, you don't want me to sell the album? i'll give the shit away for free.. sure, that's unfair to the folks who've already paid good money for a download, but i'll ask them to kindly consider the fact that i'm still making payments for the recording, mixing and mastering; still trynna recoup the expense of the video production and its release.. i'm the ONLY one who's invested any real capital in this project, and now I'm being arbitrarily denied the ability to sell it to make some of that money back.. talk about unfair..
fuck it - you win some, you lose some.. let my loss be your gain, friends - go to rascion.com and download the living shit outta this album, for free! share it with everybody you know, for free! it really is a great album - i'm hella proud of it even though i'm thoroughly disappointed my co-d turned state's witness.. fuckin' asshole..
major thanks to all of you who have supported this project - I sincerely appreciate you and i'm sorry if this whole thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth.. bottom line is I worked too goddamn hard on this album to just let it die, and I felt like offering an explanation to people who give a shit..
whatever - I've already said too much.. i'll leave you to get back to your own life drama now..
The Seattle Weekly posted an official response from Hazard:
It is quite unfortunate that our album had to be taken down as a result of certain obligations not being met. The contract we submitted (that the other party considers "unreadable") is written by a reputable lawyer that works at one of the leading entertainment companies in the country.
We approached the situation with total transparency and even offered free legal advice at our expense which was refused immediately. We received word that the other party wouldn't hire a lawyer therefore the contract was never even read by another member of the legal system. Our attempts at providing a document that protected both parties were dismissed and the only agreement we were approached with was a googled document that just had our names replacing another's.
I provided all the production and creative surrounding the album - in return - everything was submitted to the third party distributor without consulting us, giving us any login information to check the back end, or providing us with the correct publishing information. I never received any calls or text messages prior to the announcement and believe that the other party has been unprofessional every step of the way.
It's truly a shame that it had to come to this but I will learn from this and continue to make great music. I'm excited for the future.
Lastly, RA's response to Hazard's statement:
I don't dispute any of the claims made - there's no glaring contradiction between their account and mine, just a slightly different perspective on the truth.. I do take issue with the indictment that I somehow failed to fulfill my "obligations;" I did my part, pulled my weight and then some..
here's the rub, folks: we started this thing with a gentleman's agreement - an electronic handshake, if you will, and I've got the email from August 5th to prove it.. there was never any mention of a contract at all until Oct. 11th.. we can argue all day about the way the contract's written, but the point is moot when you consider the fact it wasn't the original understanding - we had an agreement, man to man, and they changed up the game plan in the fourth quarter..
it's not about the money, goddammit - it's about the integrity of your word.. I never gave those folks a single reason to doubt me, but they insisted on doing business their way.. call me unprofessional, that's perfectly OK by me - I have never in my natural born life intended to make music my career, I do this shit cause I love it..
in the end, it's our actions, not our words, that speak the truth about our character; no more talkin, it's time to do work..
Yeesh. This sucks to see, especially surrounding such a promising collaboration. Check the video for their "Constant" after the break:
Seattle synthesizer master Panabrite (Norm Chambers) appears on a newish split cassette, Ascension/Glass Slide, with the most excellent Hobo Cubes, whose ambient homage to John Coltrane does his sacred music justice. (Hobo Cubes has an LP coming out soon on Seattle’s Debacle Records; more on that in the near future.)
Panabrite’s four tracks represent some of his best work to date. “Spatiale” achieves that ill-willed, “molecular disturbance” vibe that marked Gil Mellé's Andromeda Strain soundtrack (which could use a reissue, by the way). “Dirt Ring” is a constellation of bleeps, woobs, rocket-exhaust whoosh, and alien chatter, strongly signifying science-fiction-film mystique. “Botanical Vortex” is a gorgeous deep-space hymn that recalls Kraftwerk ca. Ralf Und Florian and Radioactivity. “Glass Slide”’s synthesized birdsong and mellow, mellifluous melody carry the tape to its conclusion on a chartreuse cloud of bliss.
Ascension/Glass Slide was released Oct. 31 on Revolving Door Records.
Yesterday, OG hiphop radio host/VJ Sway Calloway, who recently bore the brunt of Hurricane Yeezus (hence his "I Have The Answers" shirt), recently asked the help of Atlanta's B.O.B. and Vallejo god E-40 to evaluate the new video from Seattle's own Sol on Sway's online MTV segment RapFix Live. Sway shouts out Porter Ray and bigs up the Seattle scene. B.O.B. tells Sol to "do him," and Uncle Earl advises Solzilla to "stay prayed up, stay humble, stay on the case." Amen. After which, Sway officially welcomes Sol to the game.
I'm totally happy for Sol, whose movement appears to be really clicking; it just seems a little anticlimactic. "You made it in the game, homie." The Game, in this respect, kinda feels like a game show. Come on down!
I don't know fully understand the details, and when someone casually mentioned that Mary J. Blige just played at a Central District Starbucks as we were driving by it, I thought there must be a mistake... but NO! Apparently Mary J. fucking Blige actually, for seriously, performed at the Starbucks on 23rd and Jackson on Monday afternoon.
That is so close to my house! Do you think she'd play at my house sometime?
The video, which is for a new track, "Am I Crazy," that introduces The Physics' new EP, Digital Wildlife, reminds us why its director, Zia Mohajerjasbi, won the Genius award for film in 2009:
At the shop you'll find collectible goodies and various PJ-related paraphernalia, including but (hopefully!) not limited to a very rare Patagonia backpack from their 20th anniversary. Plus more traditional rock-nerd stuff like a bass guitar signed by the members of the band and vinyl box sets. AND you can feel good noodling away on that autographed bass knowing the proceeds go toward the Vitalogy Foundation and local charities.
Oh! And while we're on the topic of charity and fandom, have you proven that you love Pearl Jam more than Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Slog yet? Read about the 2013 Charity Challenge here and then donate your Pearl Jammin' face off!
I don't know what's more cliché than quoting Drizzy at this point—it's the stuff that struggle status updates are made of—but I can't sit here and lie to you, acting like I didn't immediately and totally relate to those lines in "Worst Behavior." I mean, "Mufucka never loved us!... Remember? Mufucka?!" Yes, he's so cookie-dough softbatch, and that video was the weakest broth—but c'mon, you know that part sounded cathartic as hell when you first heard it. What that phrase means to me: memories of being a lot younger in this hiphop shit here and getting fronted on. I'm sure my Seattle rap generation—from Oldominion to the Blue Scholars to Macklemore—knows exactly what I mean. I recall how I didn't start getting daps, and seeing the teeth of mufuckas who weren't my contemporaries, until those cats felt like I had something to offer them (aka when I started working at The Stranger). I never forgot that shit, and I know I'm not alone. I honestly look forward to the day that I can quit my jobs, when I might get some more authentic interactions from so-called real ones, or more importantly, so that the chronically self-stuck will no longer register my face.
It's December in the Northwest—the sky's black, the wind is biting and the rain is ice—and somehow, the UDF (Underworld Dust Funk) cult continues to be the coldest, darkest shit you're going to find here. (If you're digging what Nacho Picasso and Avatar Darko are doing, picture that with even less optimism, and a lot more esotericism.) Their latest scripture is Misfit from Caz Greez:
Xanax fuckin with my temper, my mind is on the tempter/ inside I feel like winter, refuse to be censored.
Produced chiefly by UDF magus Khrist Koopa—who was nearly taken out this year by his pharmacologically extreme lifestyle—along with Ryan Evans and Moor Gang's Mack Ned among others, Misfit makes Caz sound like some despotic pharoah slowly thawing out of a glacier, frozen-slushy Actavis pumping through his blood vessels, jagged ice crystals dragging sacred glyphs into the walls of his veins. Or, a frustrated, nihilistic kid from Southside Chicago (by way of Everett, WA), full of bile and Percoset, chain smoking and paranoid. Misfit is a premium rap opiate, cut with pure battery acid and highly addictive. Continue to sleep on the wave represented by UDF (among plety others) and you're missing some of the most interesting (and telling) hiphop our region is producing right now. I said it before, you said it before: the kids ain't alright. Somebody book these cats someplace, ASAP.
While we were all watching the Seahawks embarrass the Saints in a game of American football last night, we got a surprise visit from local heavy-hitters Sandrider—who's ear drum pummeling at Neumos was compared to the earthquake-causing crowd down at CenturyLink Field. Unsurprisingly, the battle between Sandrider and the 12th Man was much closer than the actual game on the field, with 'Hawks fans edging out 'Rider 137.6 dB to 126.2 dB (though they did have about a 70,000 person advantage). Sandrider is LOUD, guys, and this is a good look for them. So let's have a poll! If Sandrider's sound was a football player, which would it be? Weigh in below!
This weekend we lost a real one. Seattle hiphop artist Jesse "Byrdie" Watson succumbed to complications from a long bout of cancer. If you were checking out what was shaking and baking in the Seattle scene in the early 2000s, there was no missing Pretty Byrdie, a big brother with a smile and a heart to match. Byrdie came into prominence via the Street Level Records group Full Time Soldiers; FTS and SLR's brand of g-rap, including acts that hailed from the Soufend to the North End, sold out of local shops and kept mail orders ringing throughout the country—they were unquestionably some of the most popular local product in the late '90s to early 2000s, and Byrdie was probably the most popular voice among them.
He broke out on his own with 2000's Poetic Epidemic, which featured everybody from his northend FTS comrades to Source of Labor's Wordsayer. Byrdie's "Player's Policy Pt.2" was one of the first local cuts I knew of that got regular rotation on KUBE93—this was a big deal, just listen to astonishment of the hosts of KUBE's old Sunday night show 'Future Flavors' before they play it. (The other ones I remember: Mobb Tyght Hustlers' "Let's Get Toasted" and Unexpected Arrival's "Take Control (Remix)", which featured Byrdie.)
All this feels like fucking ages ago—I know it wasn't, but just listen to the intro of "Dirty Politics," where he spat:
Man I'm so sick and tired of these rappers in Seattle, these so-called emcees. Everybody wants to be divided! There is no rap scene in Seattle! There is no hiphop community! I built a bridge but y'all built it down.
At the time, nobody I knew would've argued with this. I shouldn't have to tell you, this is about 10 country miles from where we are today.
A couple years later, Byrdie would release his N Flight album, his most polished work yet, and that radio love just increased, and he was on big stages rocking. I remember the joint video release party for his "B.Y.R.D.I.E." and the Blue Scholars' first video ("Freewheelin") at the old Vera in 2004.
Look, a lot of people I know are fucked up over this one. We'll miss you, Byrd. I know your spirit is in flight.
In the most current issue of (online only?) zine Indie Mag there is a nice chat with local recording engineer Jack Endino. It's a slightly stock interview, he doesn't go too deep, but there were a couple cool details I didn't know prior to reading; details such as his relationship with the now-famed Reciprocal Recording studio...
And just to correct a common misconception, I did not start Reciprocal Recording; Chris Hanzsek did, but I became his partner in 1986 and brought the studio a ton of business, so everyone assumed it was "my" studio. The studio closed in 1991 and I went freelance, but Chris still masters a lot of my records.
Overall it's a good read: dig the entire thing HERE!
The local jazz crew Industrial Revelation recently released a superb album, Oak Head...
So Outkast is reuniting for Coachella next year. Your shitty band's reunion will not engender half the goodwill of theirs, so fall back 'til 2015, please.
November 27, Sol makes his long-awaited return to his hometown stage, rocking what will surely be a sold-out Showbox Market along with Sam Lachow and Dave B. Sol hasn't played in the 6 since last summer (another sold-out Showbox show), before he took a sabbatical from his flourishing music career, embarking on a months-long spin through a dozen countries, having been awarded UW's Bonderman Travel Fellowship. Touching home and collecting his thoughts, Sol released the Eyes Open EP back in September, produced by Nima Skeemz, Budo, Elan Wright, Grumps, and the Zillas—the name applied to both Solzilla's backing band and his fans. Spacious synths and big beats underpin Sol's delicate, restrained brushstrokes. While he's on occasion shown some real hanger on the mic, Sol's breathe-easy sparsity better conveys expanded horizons.
Self-Titled has honored Seattle-based Medical Records as label of the month and conducted an expansive interview with its boss, Dr. Troy Wadsworth. (The Stranger profiled Wadsworth in 2011. Disclosure: I've written liner notes for Medical.)
Specializing in vinyl reissues of rare synth music (cold wave, cosmic, Italo disco, etc.) from the '70s and '80s, Medical has had an outstanding 2013, with releases by Seefeel (jointly done with Light in the Attic), I Signori Della Galassia, Mathematiques Modernes, Gina X Performance, and the newest batch featuring Paul Nelson, Illustration Sonore, and the Electroconvulsive Therapy comp. Next year looks to be momentous, too, with reissues of long out-of-print material by British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.), Severed Heads, Alexander Robotnick, and many more.
Read the whole thing here and check out the doctor's mix of deep cuts from the Medical catalog and elsewhere below.
HA! I get jokes! Check out the cameos by local music peeps like Alexandra from Cumulus, Ryan and Kim from Smokey Brights, Jake from Big Sur, DJ Troy Nelson from KEXP, author/writer Mark Baumgarten, and Columbia City Theater production manager Mark Jones.
Video, produced by Zachary Gore, songwriter for the band Brite Lines, who play the Crocodile on Friday, December 6th with Portland band And And And, and fellow Seattleites &Yet.