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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Start Your Day Listening to the New Mirah Song and Everything Will Be a Little Bit Better

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 7:48 AM

It's Wednesday. We're halfway to the weekend. But it's early and your eyes are still blurry and while there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the light is still far away. But don't start the day grumpy. Take a deep breath and press play on this new Mirah song, "Radiomind." It's a breezy, beautiful, but not too saccharine reminder that everything is going to be okay. (An especially nice thought given that the song is the closing track of her upcoming record Changing Light, which she describes as a "break-up record.")

Hear it here.

Changing Light, on May 13th via Absolute Magnitude.

And if you haven't heard her other new song, "Oxen Hope," you can—and should—do that here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tonight: Benjamin Verdoes' Zoetrope Evil Eye With Seattle Rock Orchestra

Posted by on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

The guitar on Benjamin Verdoes’ song “The Future is a Bandit” spins out and works like a zoetrope - a cylindrical device that produces moving images when a viewer looks through vertical slits at a rapid succession of static pictures or impressions. Verdoes’s voice flows over the animation softly and effulgent. The quick pace continues through to the end, where the zoetrope is reset with new images to spin. “The Future is a Bandit” is off Verdoes’ new full length The Evil Eye out on Brick Lane Records. Many melodies preside inside, played and mixed exquisitely at Crybaby Studios and The Red Room by Samuel Miller and Ephriam Nagler. Verdoes, who is one half of Iska Dhaaf, has been a busy man as of late. He spoke.

Walk me through the gauntlet of the riff on “The Future is a Bandit.” How did you land on it?
I usually write when I lose my awareness of the fact that I am playing guitar. I just sit there in the space between thinking and zoning out. I imagine that part of my psyche was wound up and unraveled in that riff. It kind of sprawls and weaves around. Around that time I was trying to write clearer parts and melodies so I tried making it feel like it was marching onward despite the fact that it changes time signatures and goes through rhythmic shifts, etc.

Is it tricky to play that song, and sing, emoting the meaning of the song? Seems like it would be tricky.
Playing it with a full band is tough because I can't hear all the notes and I get lost. Then I worry about the fact that I'm lost and forget the words. When I forget the words I try to recover and remember them, which causes me to miss more notes on the guitar. It's a vicious cycle, really.

What's the story of the song? You sing, "I saw us in a vision." Talk about the vision. What else did you see? Have you ever taken ayahausaka?
It was influenced by a few things. I wrote the words soon after my mother died. I was fixating on the emptiness that comes when a relationship goes away. In the vision I saw the inevitable end that comes to our experience - as we understand it. I was dwelling on the elaborate ways we try to evade and escape death, and even the thought of it. The idea was also inspired by my girlfriend's then-chronic worrying about the future. Like many songs on the record, I wrote it for her. My goal was to acknowledge the uncertainty and fragility of life, but then zoom into the specific joys and wonder of our relationship and the simple ways we can deal with existential dread. I have not taken ayahausaka. Perhaps I should.

Benjamin Verdoes plays tonight at The Triple Door for the vinyl release of The Evil Eye with Seattle Rock Orchestra, Melodie Knight, and John Van Deusen (The Lonely Forest).

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Everyone Makes Mistakes: A Playlist for Mayor Murray

Posted by on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 1:09 PM

It's been an interesting few weeks for Seattle's new mayor Ed Murray. First he caused quite a stir in the art and music community by firing James Keblas, the beloved director of the Office of Film + Music. Then he looked embarrassingly disorganized when he overturned the disciplinary findings regarding Officer John Marion, the cop who threatened Stranger news editor Dominic Holden, only to take it all back just days later. And then! Just yesterday his office sent out a press release that mourned the death of a man who is still very much alive.

And we're only two months in? Yikes! To quote commenter DOUG., "Is this performance art? Is Andy Kaufman our mayor?"

But don't get discouraged, Mayor Murray! Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, there are some great songs about fucking up, many of which might bring you some comfort during these tough times. Here are a few suggestions!

"Oops!... I Did It Again" by Britney Spears
You see my problem is this/I'm dreaming away/Wishing that heroes, they truly exist/I cry, watching the days/Can't you see I'm a fool in so many ways.

"Everyone Makes Mistakes" by Big Bird
If you make a mistake while counting to ten/Well don't get mad and don't be sad/Just start to count again.

"Girls With Accents by Fences
I'm fucking up, I'm fucking up, I'm fucking up everything.

"If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher
Too strong to tell you I was sorry/Too proud to tell you I was wrong /I know that I was blind, and ooh/If I could turn back time.

"I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee
You tell me mistakes/Are part of being young/But that don't right/The wrong that's been done.

Now it's your turn! Do you have any other songs to help Mayor Murray get through this rough patch and get his head back in the game? Let's hear it!

Austin Quartet Tele Novella Are on the Move with a New Single and an Upcoming Record

Posted by on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM

  • American Laundromat Records
Although "Umbrella at the Station" has been out for two months, I just caught up with the song yesterday. I'm glad I did as I love the way guitarist Natalie Gordon's fluid, forthright vocals combine with the bittersweet organ and tambourine-drenched melody.

It marks the first single from Austin's Tele Novella, which counts members of Voxtrot and Agent Ribbons (the other players include bassist and vocalist Jason Chronis, keyboard player Sarah La Puerta, and drummer Matt Simon). For now, they've got a follow-up single, a full-length, and a spring tour—no Seattle date listed yet—in the works. I look forward to hearing more from them in the months to come.

Below: the black, white, and pastel-hued video. It's sweet with a side of kink.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Elysian Fields Use "Cat" Ploy to Reel in Listener

Posted by on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Photo by Marylene Mey / Ojet Records
  • Photo by Marylene Mey / Ojet
Because more new music comes my way than I can handle, I have to prioritize. Everybody has their own method. Mine is pretty simple: if it looks like something I'll like, I'll listen. If not, I won't—or I will, but it won't happen anytime soon. And by "look," I mean: the album cover, the promo photos, the publicist's description of the band's music. That kind of thing (if a group features frat rats in backwards baseball caps and jorts who play ska-punk, I'll pass).

I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again, but it doesn't happen much. And so it goes with Elysian Fields. The name should've rung a bell, since the New York duo has recorded 12 records since 1996, including EPs and side projects, but it didn't.

I was preparing to move on to something else when I saw the word "cat." That was enough for me. I stopped, listened to the song, and then I read the rest of the one-sheet. I may not be familiar with the group, but I know the name Jennifer Charles from 2001's Lovage release, Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By, with Dan the Automator, Mike Patton, and Kid Koala. I recognized her voice, but the context was so different that I wasn't able to place it at first.

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Surprise! Hiphop Group Samples the Intelligence's "South Bay Surfers"

Posted by on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 10:29 AM

West Coast hiphop group Zilla Rocca & The Shadowboxers have used a huge portion of the Intelligence's "South Bay Surfers" (off 2009's Fake Surfers LP) for their track "Fake Surfers," the video for which Huffington Post featured Feb. 24. This took Lars Finberg and the rest of the band—who won The Stranger's 2011 Genius award for music—by surprise. Zilla Rocca & the Shadowboxers (about whom there is little information) pretty much lifted wholesale the urgent garage-noir Intelligence song for their track. Zilla and co. show good taste in sampling, but poor judgment in ethics.

I asked Finberg for his take on this state of affairs and he responded by email.

I know the DJ who sent me a demo of it a couple years ago so I did know about it but wasn't aware of its release until he sent me the link, but we never had any royalty discussion and I was surprised to see no credit (especially with a description of the music the DJ's making). They just emailed me to start sorting it out.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Listen to Nouela's Haunting Cover of "Black Hole Sun"

Posted by on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Over the weekend Nouela Johnston posted this simplistic cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and it sounds like something that could play at the end of a horror movie as the camera pans out on the possessed kid who's eerily grinning ear to ear after he slaughtered the whole town or something.

Get "Caught Up" with Detroit Combo Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas in Their Latest Video

Posted by on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Instant Records
  • Instant Records
Normally, a video that plays like a series of selfies is not for me, but I found this black-and-white, Polaroid-like effort from Detroit's Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas too exhilarating to resist.

Wearing a curiously deadpan expression, Hernandez, who is of Cuban and Mexican descent, spends the entire song dancing on a bed while watching herself on an old TV set (a few of her Facebook posts are in Spanish). In reading up on the guitar and synth player, I found that her tastes range from Conway Twitty to Cannibal Corpse—let's hear it for range!

"Caught Up," which comes from 2013's Demons EP, plays like a cross between Amy Winehouse and the Detroit Cobras. Akin to the late Winehouse, Hernandez wields a bigger, more soulful voice than her petite stature would suggest.

In 2012, she signed to Blue Note-EMI Records, which seems like an odd fit. Near as I can tell, no recorded music resulted from that union. I don't know if she left or was pushed,* but she has since signed with Richard Gottehrer's Instant Records, where I hope she'll find a more supportive environment (the Sire Records co-founder has also produced Blondie, the Go-Go's, and the Dum Dum Girls).

* She recounts the full story here; apparently, label head Don Was did the right thing.

Demons is out now on Instant Records (orig release date: Nov 12, 2013).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

He Whose Ox Is Gored Stream New Song “Oathbreaker.” Show Tonight at Black Lodge

Posted by on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM

He Whose Ox Is Gored is letting us hear a new song, “Oathbreaker.” It’s set to be the opening track of their forthcoming full length The Camel, the Lion, the Child. This is unreleased, until now. Its first time out into the audible ether.

He Whose Ox Is Gored: “Oathbreaker”

“Oathbreaker” is a cauldron, beginning far off. A vessel in the dimmest mists of the Dead Sea. Then iron, cast, black powder, are upon it. Cannons lob lead balls through the air at stacked stone walls. Play “Oathbreaker” three times through. You may find yourself chanting, and that’s OK. Let the chant happen. Take Ares’ long clawed hand. Chant for Ares. Or Hera, wife of Zeus. But don’t chant at strangers. Or do, and take their hand. For the Ox has told us to. HWOIG’s guitarist/vocalizationer, Brian McClelland, spoke.

** He Whose Ox Is Gored play tonight at Black Lodge with Thrones, and Hot Victory

Is there a new sound system at Black Lodge?
Yes! We upgraded the system at the Lodge. It's been a while, but we finally had to do it. It's been functional, but not necessarily ideal for a while. Luckily, when the collective got together in January for a remodel, we all finally came to an agreement on how to fix little issues that had been plaguing us for a while. We were missing a few things in our signal that led to excessive limiting on our system, and combining that with various grounding issues that go with wiring a warehouse together, our PA was getting quite the beating. Fortunately, we paid off some operational costs that we'd accrued and hit Guitar Center. Our buddy and local sound legend, Cody Creel, came in and helped us redial the room for the current configuration. So the shitty punk rock sounds way better now!

Playing at Black Lodge tonight are Thrones and Hot Victory. Please describe them using descriptive Ox words.
Hot Victory is a drum/synth monstrosity. Count on a pummeling, not unlike the polyrhythmic march of an army of T-1000s. Joe Preston of Thrones will be bringing a similar post-apocalyptic drone-dirge synth-scape to that of a semi rumbling through a ravine in central LA. This show will leave you with one question, HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOY?

What does He Whose Ox Is Gored do to get over seasonal depression disorder?
Fucking absolutely nothing, man. We embrace that shit. But I guess that's only after trying everything to compensate. Drinking more, drinking less, meditating, squandering a small fortune on gear, anti-gravity, blueberries, X-Files fan fiction with Mulder and Scully as anthropomorphic kitchen amenities - harder to fit in a rental car, imaginary mathematics, hentai, milk, eggs, rice, shampoo, colored pencils, staring at this picture for hours, and setting up camp in the REI building after close. Nothing works, so we've accepted it. Now, we just shred scales in 7/8 and think of ways to modify a Segway for centaurs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trap Minimal: ZMoney's "Dope Boy Magic"

Posted by on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:01 AM

I'm curious to see if the stark, menacing, synth-only track laid down on Yeezus standout song "New Slaves"...

...will lead to more club anthems that sound like fellow Chi-Town rapper ZMoney's "Dope Boy Magic" in the coming year.*

Nothing but three distorted, oceans-deep bass hits, the occasional tinny clap, and ZMoney's speed-mumble flow hopscotching over the negative space where the "beat" is supposed to go—it feels like a few producers (like J Neal, here) are finding intriguingly subversive responses to Lex Luger and the like's maximalist approach to the club banger.

*Yeah, I'm aware of the extreme lyrical disconnect between these songs. It's about the low end, anyway.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Perfect Song for Your Next Seance: Portland Two-Piece the Body's "Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain"

Posted by on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM

RVNG Intl.
  • Awesome album cover / RVNG Intl.
Last week, I posted a song from the Notwist, in which Marcus Acher recalls the time his family almost drowned in a flood. The tone is surprisingly light, possibly because: 1) they didn't, and 2) he recreates the scenario from the eyes of a child. But this. The new track from the Body represents the real-deal dark stuff.

There's goth and black metal, but this isn't about dramatic vocals or blast-beat drumming—not that there's any shame in that game.

No, "Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain" plays like the darkest of darkwave as an anguished soul (guest vocalist Ben Eberle) howls in agony, though it's more artful and less abrasive than that description suggests; more like the audio equivalent of Bosch's Hell or Dante's Inferno—or even the screaming of tortured witches in Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio (for which Broadcast composed the score).

The song appears on the fourth full-length, I Shall Die Here, from Portland-by-way-of-Providence duo Lee Buford (drums) and Chip King (vocals, guitar). The production was provided by Krlic of the Haxan Cloak, who shares their love of the shadows (via Twitter, Krlic has offered to score Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High Rise; no word yet on whether Wheatley has accepted).

The YouTube comments on "Hail" are a kick in the pants. Here's a sampling:

Go away. 
Please stay.
Fuck. This is horrific. I fucking love it. I can barely breathe.
Well that was intense
Captivated!! Can't get enough of this!! OUT OF THIS WORLD!! Addicted!!
This is honestly the most perfect piece of sound I have ever heard.
Oh man how did I end up here trembling under my bed?

Spine-chilling song and gloriously morbid track list below.

Continue reading »

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lord Have Mercy: The Staple Singers

Posted by on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Ain't nothing much badder then the badassery of some slow burnin' for Jesus.

For all the greatness and pop hits the Staples achieved, their early and strictly sacred songs hold the most weight, and they always give me the chills.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Bouncing Souls Knew TJ Oshie Was a "Badass" Long Before He Kicked Team Russia's Ass

Posted by on Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Did you watch the USA vs Russia hockey game this weekend? IT WAS INSANE—USA won after American Hero TJ Oshie scored in the eighth round of a shootout. He made Putin cry. It was glorious.

Bouncing Souls knew TJ Oshie (who is from Everett, WA!) was a badass long ago, though—the band supposedly* calls him out in their song "Badass." It happens at the 1:36 mark:

*It's hard to confirm, since it's a little mumbly. I'm gonna assume all the lyric websites are right, though, and the Bouncing Souls have known he's a badass all along.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Squarepusher Jams With Robots—Prog Fusion Ensues

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Highly evolved British electronic-music producer/bassist extraordinaire Squarepusher's latest project is a collaboration with Japanese robots known as Z-Machines (the Zima alcohol company is involved in this somehow; who knew it still existed?). Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) wrote a track titled "Sad Robots Go Funny" for an automated 78-fingered guitarist and a 22-armed drummer. The result sounds like an elegantly fiery prog-fusion summit meeting between Larry Coryell and Jack DeJohnette—something ECM Records might've released in 1979. I mean, it's cool, but it doesn't sound like THE FUTURE, which is what I was expecting/demanding.

Squarepusher elaborates on the project:

“In this project the main question I’ve tried to answer is ‘can these robots play music that is emotionally engaging?’
I have long admired the player piano works of Conlon Nancarrow and Gyorgy Ligeti. Part of the appeal of that music has to do with hearing a familiar instrument being 'played' in an unfamiliar fashion. For me there has always been something fascinating about the encounter of the unfamiliar with the familiar. I have long been an advocate of taking fresh approaches to existing instrumentation as much as I am an advocate of trying to develop new instruments, and being able to rethink the way in which, for example, an electric guitar can be used is very exciting.

“Each of the robotic devices involved in the performance of this music has its own specification which permits certain possibilities and excludes others - the robot guitar player for example can play much faster than a human ever could, but there is no amplitude control. In the same way that you do when you write music for a human performer, these attributes have to be borne in mind - and a particular range of musical possibilities corresponds to those attributes. Consequently, in this project familiar instruments are used in ways which till now have been impossible.”

For more enlightenment, read the press release after the jump.

Continue reading »

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No Josh Wink: Big Phone's Psychedelic Techno Epic, ";)"

Posted by on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Local label Knightriders Recordings delivers what may be my favorite release in its catalog so far: Big Phone's ;) EP. Big Phone is New York transplant Kenric McDowell, and the title track to his cheekily titled EP (available Feb. 17) possesses a rare shoegaze-meets-Porter Ricks vibe, all A.R. Kane-ish astral guitar whorls and earth's-core bass smudges, augmented by strangely modulated analog-synth coloration. I'm already imagining all the heads that are going to be vibrating on a higher plane as this gushes out of a quality sound system. The EP's other two tracks—"Snake DNA" and "Topic of the Situation"— are Villalobos-like epics of exceptional inventiveness.

You can also check out a Big Phone podcast here. (Here's my review of Big Phone's Feral Phone Myth from 2013.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beverly Is Not a One-Woman Band

Posted by on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Photo by Maia Stern / Kanine Records
  • Photo by Maia Stern / Kanine Records
Beverly is a new duo featuring singer-drummer Frankie Rose and singer-guitarist Drew Citron.

I don't mind their name—in fact, I rather like it—but I can foresee it causing two pretty obvious problems: 1) people will assume "Beverly" is a solo act, 2) people will ask the ladies, "Which one's Beverly?" (which reminds me of the classic Floyd line, "Which one's Pink?"). To judge by the denim-laden photo to the left, I'm sure they can handle it.

More importantly, their first song, "Honey Do," with Citron on vocals, is a low-key winner. Anyone expecting it to sound exactly like Rose's output may leave disappointed, but it isn't a world away. Instead, it recalls early My Bloody Valentine—pre-Loveless—before the Dublin band perfected their patented wall-of-guitar-sound (if anything, I prefer those early EPs, like You Made Me Realise).

Kanine Records releases "Honey Do" as part of their vinyl-only RSD compilation, Non Violent Femmes, on April 19. Beverly's debut will follow later this summer.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bob Dylan's Gripping Anti-War Song, "John Brown"

Posted by on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 2:43 PM

I first heard this Bob Dylan song, "John Brown," via Rabbit MacKay's version on his 1969 album, Passing Through. It's a gripping and pointed anti-war song.

Dylan's version was part of the Witmark Demos. These demos were a batch of publisher demos recorded for shopping his songs to other artists. However, many of the songs from the Witmark Demos DID end up on Dylan's own records. These tracks have been bootlegged many times, but were finally commercially released in 2010 when The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 set was issued.

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Tiny Little Crush on Mac Miller Lives On

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 1:04 PM

I have had a teeny, tiny crush on Mac Miller since I first saw the Flyers do a victory dance to his song "Knock Knock" on an episode of HBO's hockey documentary 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic.

And just when I think we wouldn't have much in common, turns out Mac Miller is a Bright Eyes fan! Me too! Here he covers "First Day of My Life" and "Lua." He doesn't do it much better than any other kid in a bedroom with a guitar, but still. Swoon.

Chocolate Chuck's Insanely Prolific and Terrific 2014

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Seattle producer Chocolate Chuck (Charles Harris-White) has been quietly and elegantly releasing about a track a day on his Soundcloud this year, and the results are very much worth your serious engagement. For some reason, when talk turns to this city's best hiphop producers, Chocolate Chuck rarely gets mentioned; this may be partially due to his sister Cat being in THEESatisfaction and overshadowing his own endeavors. Whatever the case, we need to keep his name and work in the forefront of our minds. Such productivity coupled with absurdly high quality control is scarce and should be cherished. His tracks nonchalantly ooze funk and soul—they're at once rooted in golden-age headnodability and as texturally as adventurous as the output of many of today's cutting-edge artists. Make time for 'em.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

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Sunglasses At Night: The Remix?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014



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