There are certain songs I find myself obsessed with—a lifelong fixation that will cause me to attempt tracking down EVERY recorded version of the song.
Well, this month I've been obsessing over Claude François French language, Ye-Ye version of the Four Seasons' slightly-underneath-the-radar track, "Beggin'!" Welp, TODAY I finally got my copy of the "Reste" EP! For those of y'all NOT in the know, Mr. François' was a massive pop star in France up till his untimely death in 1978 (he died after accidentally electrocuting himself while taking shower). Oh, he also wrote "Comme D'habitude," a song we all know best as "My Way."
The last time I was hung up on a version of this song was sometime in the '90s. I spent a month playing and replaying Timebox's take on "Beggin'." Um, I played the single till its glossy black, styrene grooves were turned a dull, ashy white. There's another version of the song I'm itching to own—the Shocking Blue's groovy version, but it was an LP only track, I think, from their 1974 album, Good Times. The last time I chased the LP it was selling for about $200, which is currently slightly over my "Beggin'" budget! Oh, also, I know there was a recent, radio-hit version, but it never really moved me.
Happy Boxing Day! I googled Boxing Day this morning, assuming there would be some fascinating history there and half wondering if actual boxing was involved at all. It turns out it has nothing to do with actual boxing, and the history of Boxing Day is waaaaayyyy more dull than expected (“Boxing” refers to literal boxes, which sometimes held gifts for people in service positions and zzzzzz…).
Thankfully, I noticed the “related searches” at the bottom of my screen and realized Blink-182 has a song called “Boxing Day” (??!). What other Boxing Day songs are there? A Spotify search comes up with quite a few (to be fair, Boxing Day is a wicked cool name as far as official government-approved bank holidays go).
Please enjoy this handful of songs I found called “Boxing Day.” There were a lot more, but I got discouraged by the amount of bad techno and jazz.
The New Year's Eve fireworks display at Seattle Center has a soundtrack, because visuals aren't enough when it comes to celebrating the arrival of another goddamn year. For the second annum in a row, KEXP DJ Kevin Cole is the person providing the music to accompany those psychedelic pyrotechnics. I asked the veteran programmer a few questions about this daunting task. (Note: KEXP will be simulcasting the ceremony at 90.3 FM and kexp.org.)
So, how do you go about selecting songs for an event of this magnitude? What are the qualities you’re looking for in a track? Can you reveal a few things you’ll be airing?
Cole: The New Year’s Eve fireworks was really a collaborative project, between KEXP, firework artist Alberto Navarro, who’s on the front end of innovating and using new technologies in pyrotechnics, and the Space Needle. It’s really an honor for KEXP, as an independent eclectic music station, to be asked to curate the music for Seattle’s biggest New Year’s Eve party. It was also a thrill to be working with Alberto, who is an amazing artist who’s medium happens to be the sky and iconic buildings!
The first thing we did was define the emotional flow of the music and fireworks sequence, from the anticipation leading up to the countdown, followed by a celebratory party segment at midnight, a brief romantic moment where people turn to the one they love and embrace, then back into an ebb and flow of party, awe, and celebration, leading to the crescendo and finale.
The overriding theme I went with for this year’s music was to embrace and celebrate the rich musical heritage of Seattle Center in anticipation of KEXP's upcoming move to Seattle Center. And the history is rich—2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles playing Seattle Center. Throughout the years there have been so many great bands and artists that have played at the Coliseum, KeyArena, Mercer Arena, McCaw Hall, at Folklife, Bumbershoot, EMP, and in recent years the Vera Project. Seattleites all have fond memories of great shows they’ve seen at Seattle Center. KEXP is excited to be moving to the Seattle Center campus in 2015 and to be a part of creating the future of music at Seattle Center.
With that rich history in mind, along with wanting to create an inclusive celebratory mix for the city to enjoy, I picked some of the bands that have played Seattle Center over the past 50 years, alongside some of the big KEXP artists this past year, heritage KEXP bands, and several local artists. I hope people are surprised, delighted, and excited to start the New Year with a lust for life!
What are the biggest challenges to planning a set like this?
The challenges around a project like this are the same things that make it really exciting as a curator—setting the right tone and mood while telling a story in eight minutes. Doing this with juxtaposing musical styles and genres while making smooth segues and edits that make sense. We used 10 songs in eight minutes. I wanted the soundtrack to become its own song, and KEXP audio producer Jackson Long did a great job creating a seamless mix.
What was your set like last year? Was there any way to gauge if people enjoyed it; did you get any feedback? Are you going to change it up much this year?
We received a ton of great feedback for last year’s mix, which included the Ramones at midnight—“hey ho, let’s go!,” Band of Horses, Empire of the Sun, the XX, Pearl Jam, and ending with the local music story of 2013, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and their mega hit “Can’t Hold Us.” This year we have the same set of artistic challenges, but it’ll sound and look totally different. And, hopefully, without the fog!
On the evening of Saturday, April 26, I entered the Pacific Science Center's Laser Dome with three other writers who had participated in a panel discussion at EMP's Pop Conference. We found seats, gossiped a little, and waited for Sub Pop's preview of Shabazz Palaces' second album, Lese Majesty, which would be released in late July. Then it happened: The place went as dark as the night outside and laser lights transformed the dome above our heads into a universe in tune with the new beats and raps. But more impressive than the movement of the lights and the fantastic shapes they formed and reformed was the fullness of the music flowing from what certainly felt like the best speakers in the region. In fact, after the album's first track, "Dawn in Luxor," it was clear to me and everyone else that the dazzle of the lasers was superfluous. The music and the darkness were more than enough. By the second track, "Forerunner Foray," I understood that we were listening to the best hiphop album of 2014. The event ended with "Sonic MythMap for the Trip Back," a work whose echoes and chants have the kind of sad beauty one imagines can be located at the point where black holes dissociate stars and other astronomical bodies into scintillating streams of matter…
This was the year I realized I might not be as "down" with festivals as I used to be. The increasingly full Porta Potties, the increasingly assholeish assholes, the increasingly intense press-pass applications similar to having your teeth pulled, while being audited, at the downtown DMV. But I'm a sucker for giant shows, and not ALL festivals are the worst, even the worst festivals...
SXSW was the usual muddle of highlights and lowlights that are somehow one and the same: cheap tacos, Lone Star beer, one pretty-okay band heard per 37, and wasted buddies you see only in Austin, while wasted. Just as the ultra-commercialized festivities were kicking in, actual tragedy occurred when four people were killed by a suspected drunk driver while simply standing outside a crowded venue waiting to get in. The whole event erupted in sadness and finger-pointing, with little actual information, and an eventual "the show must go on" attitude that made each alcohol-branded tote bag that much more obscene. BUT THEN THERE WAS CHRISTEENE…
I don't mind the winter solstice hollerdays: The lights can be pretty, but I DO have a deep, boiling hatred for the winter solstice hollerday's soundtrack! I guess it's fitting the darkest day of the year coincides with endless and inescapable plays of the worst country Christmas crap and scat-filled holiday songs like "Sippin in Seattle's Latte Land." Seriously, WHAT in the fucking FUCK?! Anyway, the only saving grace during this trying time of my shit-song-filled ears is, as it always has been, the Muppets!
There ain't much this time of year that could beat the silliness of Animal, the Swedish Chef, and everyone's favorite tweaker, Beaker.
Last week, Emily Nokes asked me what my favorite Christmas song was. I said I didn't have a favorite Christmas song. The truth is, Christmas carols drive me a little bit crazy. When it comes to music, I crave novelty; my idea of hell would be listening to a corporate classic rock station for all eternity. All of which is a long way around saying that Christmas music is probably my least favorite kind of music. (Yes, even "Fairytale of New York," which I used to love, has lost some of its elasticity for me, partly because it's become canonized by self-styled noble drunks.)
But I wish I had remembered "Hard Candy Christmas" last week when Emily asked me that question. It's the perfect Christmas song: Sad, full of yearning, with maybe a glimmer of hope. And, you know, you can't go wrong with Dolly Parton. This is a Christmas song I look forward to hearing once or twice a year, and so I'm happy to share it with you.
Sun City Girls' Torch of the Mystics is one of the most coveted underground-rock albums in the world. It was originally released on vinyl in 1990 by Majora, and then reissued on CD in '93 by the Tupelo Recording Company. It's an understatement to say that demand for this classic psych-rock record is strong. Torch's golden reputation among heads combined with its scarcity has driven up the price of it to astronomical levels. Discogs currently lists three vinyl copies for sale, with the lowest at $180 and the highest at $250. Even the CD goes for $40-$155 on the same site. The consensus opinion is that among SCG's vast, diverse catalog, Torch of the Mystics is their best work. It's a riveting, often conflagatory mélange of Arabic-influenced psychedelia, spaghetti Western soundtrackage à la Morricone, antic skronk, and Venusian surf rock. The mood ranges from ominous to celebratory to passages of unbearable pathos (see especially "Space Prophet Dogon").
One of Sun City Girls' former members, Alan Bishop, runs two labels: Sublime Frequencies (with Hisham Mayet) and Abduction, both of which are based in Seattle. The former primarily releases obscure music from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey and issues DVDs about arcane music and rituals from those far-flung places. The latter is mainly an outlet for Bishop's Alvarius B. solo project and his Cairo-based group the Invisible Hands.
Recently, a Seattle record label inquired about the possibility of reissuing Torch of the Mystics. Bishop's reply? “Yeah, everyone wants to reissue Torch, but I will do it eventually myself.” And that is that. Be patient and ye shall be rewarded. Or you can shell out the big bucks for a used copy. In the meantime, you'll have to make do with inferior facsimiles, like the YouTube clip below.
I made this sexy, fur-trimmed, fireside Slog post last week in order to simply state a fact.
Now that other facts have come to light (like the fact that I missed the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York," which was admittedly not okay) via a gaggle of Slog commenters miffed because their favorite Christmas songs weren't included, I've made a second holiday-themed SOTD post JUST FOR YOU. Once you're done with "What Can You Get a Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?," that is.
"What We Do on Christmas" - Atom and His Package
"Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" - Albert King
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Darlene Love
"Run Rudolph Run" - Lemmy Kilmister, Billy F. Gibbons, and Dave Grohl
"Happy Xmas (War is Over)" - John Lennon
"How to Make Gravy" - Paul Kelly
"It Feels Like Christmas" - The Muppets
"Christmas Wrapping" - The Waitresses
"Oi! To The World" - The Vandals
Zachary Houle, the Canadian music editor for Popmatters.com, has chutzpah—and the Indiegogo campaign to back it up. For "reasonable" fees, the Ottawa-based Houle will provide several services for your aspiring musical project, dispensing advice about labels and PR, critiques of your live show and demo, band-name ideas, album-name ideas, and other valuable tips to help you become the next War on Drugs.
Here's a little taste of Houle's spiel.
I'm willing to provide expertise to UNSIGNED musicians. In saying this, if you agree to use my services I WILL NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT review your album or EP for PopMatters.com. I have to maintain my journalistic integrity. Nor, if you have an album or EP out there or about to be released, will I ever ask you for money for review consideration. That's my pledge.
However ... .
If you're still struggling to get heard and get the stars aligned for you, I can help you.
For one, I can listen to your demos and tell you what's great and the thing about your music or act that will twig the interest of the media (I have seven years of freelance journalism experience for the likes of SPIN, Canadian Business, the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen and others). I have connections with writers in Canadian music and the metal genre. And where I don't have connections, hey, I know people who I can turn to for advice.
I will also tell you — quite honestly — what stinks and needs fixing. (One of the most flattering things I was ever told by a fan of my music writing via e-mail is that I "tell it like it is", which was helpful to this individual in terms of buying music. I think I still have the email if you want to see it.)
WARNING: If you agree to hire me to listen to your music for honest feedback, that feedback is yours and yours alone. If I find my feedback as a quote in the press anywhere, I will get mad. You won't like me when I'm angry. :-) Seriously, you have to agree to protect my reputation.
Now, as someone who's in a similar position to Houle, I can sympathize with his hustle. Music journalists dwell near the bottom of the income spectrum. But using crowd-funding to earn extra revenue? That's kind of crass, man. It's safe to say most of the public has reached exhaustion with such maneuvers. Can't you use LinkedIn, like everyone else, Zach? [Insert sarcastic chuckle here.]
Houle's Indiegogo launched December 22 and he's yet to receive a donation. Rest assured, though, people in music journalism's penurious realm will be keeping tabs on this campaign, which ends February 20, 2015. What I'm wondering is: Would any upstart musicians reading Slog contribute to this thing to gain access to Houle's expertise?
To learn about everything Houle can offer—including for a mere 1,250 Canadian dollars, lyrics of a Guided by Voices nature to 10 songs—go here .
Let us take a break from the continual horrors, the specter of death, and the march of injustice—or from our chosen inane diversions from all that—and listen to what the fuck I'm talking about right now: EPs.
"All the subpar mediocre shit is over with/I'm pro with this, y'all, I'm raw." Local scene queen (who shouldn't be local much longer) Gifted Gab's new three-song EP, G-Shit, reminds me exactly why I love short li'l projects so much—like Ice Cube's Kill at Will, E-40's Mr. Flamboyant, Black Flag's Jealous Again—when done right, they're just a perfect meal. Even though it's a good deal shorter, G-Shit is pound for pound—from cover art to sonic fidelity to song quality—a step up from her sophomore album, Girl Rap, and it feels a great deal more developed, with Gabby further exploring, and nailing, her best instincts—namely her, ah, gift of combining some of the region's Tim-sole hardest bars with on-point '90s R&B flava...
Forgive me, Slog Out, I've obviously been dragging my sweet bottom when it comes to hollerin' about the release of this Johnny Thunders documentary DVD, Looking for Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders.
There's such legend surrounding New York Dolls/Heartbreakers guitarist, Johnny Thunders, and this film does do a great job of telling his story; director Danny Garcia keeps it all above the belt, mostly. Y'all need to watch the film for all the dirty details, but, in short, Thunders' story is a (Chinese) rock(s) and roll life of touch and go till 1991, when he was found dead in a motel room (perhaps of an overdose) from undiagnosed leukemia.
There's a LOT of cultural impact behind Thunders. I'd say his biggest footprint was admittedly not by design, but rather by accident, as the New York Dolls became the cornerstone '70s punk archetype. There's little doubt that without the Dolls, Malcolm McLaren would have never put the Sex Pistols together—and then there's the Heartbreakers.
To the discerning deep nerd, the musical artist Meco needs no introduction. For everyone else, Meco, born Domenico Monardo, was the fella who contributed to the canon of Star Wars exploitation a deathless disco arrangement of John Williams's theme music in 1977. Hunger for anything to do with the film was so intense that "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Music" was a number one radio hit, and the album that contained it, Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, made it to the top 20.
Meco tried his hand at other music—big band medleys, similar treatments of themes from The Wizard of Oz and The Black Hole—but his Star Wars spinoffs kept the bread buttered for several years after mania for the original film had abated—who can forget 1983's "Ewok Celebration"? (See below the jump if you dare to care.)
Though both Star Wars and Return of the Jedi provided Meco with memorable musical moments to plunder, The Empire Strikes Back did not. So he did what any innovator would do: He wrote his own. And given his keen commercial instinct, it's no surprise that when he did, he combined the Star Wars thing with the holiday song thing. The result was the beloved chestnut "What Can You Get a Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?"—a confluence of novelty, exploitation, and sheer meretricious tackiness unrivaled in the canon before or since its 1980 release under Meco's nom de guerre, The Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir & Chorale. (Attentive listeners may detect the stylistic debt owed to this number by Christopher Guest & Harry Shearer's Waiting For Guffman gem "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars"—see below.)
Good luck getting this one out of your skull. Merry Christmas, fuzzball.
The celebrated b-side, "R2-D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (featuring a young Jon Bongiovi on vocals), and more classics from the Meco hit parade after the jump.
Paul Stanley is the star-eyed frontman of KISS, a zillionaire rock band that's been packing stadiums for more than three decades, while earning vast supplementary millions from its ambitious licensing deals.
Nevertheless, Paul Stanley once saw fit to star in a commercial for Folgers coffee, and thanks to YouTube user imakissfan2, the world can finally see it.
Does what passes for "Christmas spirit" in America depress you? Do you yearn for something to obliterate the inane ubiquity of holiday music? Very well, then. I present to you Pharmakon's "Body Betrays Itself," off her 2014 album Bestial Burden (on Sacred Bones Records). It's a grim, grinding piece of traumatized noise that will trigger the tinnitus of anyone who's come within earshot of an abattoir or a Wolf Eyes gig. Pharmakon (aka Margaret Chardiet) wails over the foreboding, hulking rhythm and abrasive drones with a disconcerting delirium. Shit is seriously real. Merry Hannukwanzaa, everybody!
An Englishman with one of the most powerful sets of lungs in rock history, Joe Cocker succumbed to cancer of said organ December 21. He was 70.
Over a 53-year career, Cocker hit the US charts 20 times; his appearances included rearranged versions of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" (which became the theme for TV show The Wonder Years) and the Box Tops' "The Letter," plus Leon Russell's "Delta Lady," Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," and Billy Preston, Dennis Wilson, and Bruce Fisher's "You Are So Beautiful." His 1972 composition "Woman to Woman" only reached #56 on the US charts, but was sampled by several hiphop artists, including Dr. Dre, Ultramagnetic MCs, EPMD, and Quasimoto. In 1983, Cocker won a Grammy for his duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong."
Cocker's boisterous, sandpapery voice was instantly recognizable and, for some, an acquired taste. But there's no denying the man's passion and unique interpretative skills on the mic. He was a massive, distinctive presence onstage and on record. RIP, Joe Cocker.
In a mighty holiday celebration of Chop Suey's *maybe* final days, I hosted a Santa and Mrs. Claus photo booth during the Thursday/Friday Shannon and the Clams two-night extravaganza with bands La Luz, Gazebos, Fe Fi Fo Fums, Connie & the Precious Moments, and Dancer & Prancer.
Both nights were packed and Shannon and Clams played two, count 'em TWO, Metallica covers! And surprisingly, for once, nobody cried during their Santa photos. Please enjoy these 12 Claus couple photos below (and if you were there, find your own picture here on Flickr). This fun-time Santa stand-in can be purchased at the one and only Champion Party Supply. Happy Holidays!
Look, I love the English progressive group the Moody Blues, but I don't quite "get" why we need THIS, a fancy reissue of the Moody's The Seventh Sojourn album. Uh, there are ZERO bonuses and this new reissue retails for $28!?! WHA?
Out of print on vinyl for years, Seventh Soujourn was impeccably mastered from the original Threshold Records tapes onto 180 gram vinyl and packaged in a gatefold jacket with the original full color album art unavailable since the original 1972 release.
Okay, I understand 180 gram wax and fancy remastering are VERY popular with the kids and audiophiles, so MAYBE that'll shift some units, but to say Seventh Sojourn has been "out of print since 1972" doesn't mean thousands of copies haven't been readily available! Moody Blues albums, ALL OF 'EM, even their first LP Go Now! on Decca/London, are routinely seen on offer for LESS than a fiver! In fact, most of the American versions of Moody Blues LPs all sold by the truckload and are now dollar bin ballast. My copy of Seventh Soujourn, which cost me a dollar, looks unplayed and sounds AMAZING; the mastering wasn't broke, so WHY FIX IT?!
Really, what I'm wonderin', as a record nerd, is: Do we need fancy, expensive reissues of common, inexpensive records? Especially if there aren't any EXTRAS, like some detailed liners or a bonus LP of demos?! I willingly buy "expanded" reissues, but heavy wax and a (suspect) remaster don't sell it for me. Whatever, I know it's "the market," but damn I feel like newb record folks are getting RIPPED OFF sometimes. Oh look, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours for $25!!
CHOP SUEY REPORTEDLY BEING EYED FOR PURCHASE BY LA ENTREPRENEURS
Capitol Hill Seattle blog reported on December 8 that Los Angeles club owner Erin Carnes and LA musician Brianna Rettig have designs on buying Capitol Hill club Chop Suey. Carnes currently runs the Escondite in downtown LA with Brian Houck. When contacted to find out what the status of the deal is, Rettig said: "Thank you for your interest. At this moment in time, I have no comment and neither does Erin Carnes or her partner Brian Houck." Chop Suey talent buyer Jodi Ecklund told The Stranger that she's been ordered by her boss "to cease all bookings starting January 20" as well as to cancel all future bookings. "I have no idea if the new owners plan to keep any of the current staff or not," Ecklund said...
Slog Out, I'd hope '50s R&B vocal group the "5" Royales would need no introduction, 'cause they're one of the first groups who took steps to evolving gospel, R&B, and jump into what by the '60s would become soul. Also, they were from MY home state of North Carolina!
"I Got to Know" was one of the group's later B-sides; I love the shuffling "the stroll" rhythm, harmonies, and the guitar break! The "5" Royales were also important to the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown and the Flames; on many of their early sides you can hear how the Flames took their background vocal harmonies from the "5" Royales. Oh, in 1960 the Flames rearranged the "5" Royales "Think" into their own big beat dancer, and it's a real good version!
Hallstrom, Heels to the Hardwood, Xolie Morra & the Strange Kind play Fri Dec 19 at the Crocodile.
Once-near-universally loved comedian/actor Bill Cosby’s had a rough year, as anyone’s who looked at the internet or read the news realizes. His reputation’s currently swirling around the toilet and only his wife and daughter have stepped forward to publically support him against numerous accusations of drugging and sexually abusing women.
While not condoning Cosby’s alleged crimes in the slightest, I’d like to offer one positive observation about the 77-year-old entertainer: He made a fantastic jazz-fusion album in 1971 titled Badfoot Brown & the Bunions Bradford Funeral & Marching Band. (Dusty Groove America’s 2008 CD reissue might be the easiest way to find it.) This is the one cultural artifact I own by Cosby—although I also have Herbie Hancock’s Fat Albert Rotunda, which is the soundtrack to a special animated TV show based on a Cosby concept, Hey, Hey, Hey, It' s Fat Albert.
Now, the man’s good name may be tarnished forever, but holy shit, is Badfoot Brown a mind-blower. In a review of the album published in the OC Weekly six years ago, I wrote these words, behind which I still stand—albeit with more of a sheepish slouch now:
Consisting of two long tracks, Badfoot Brown starts with the 15-minute "Martin's Funeral," which eulogizes in exceptionally soulful fashion assassinated civil-rights leader Dr. King. Cosby leads the way on keyboards; his uncredited bandmates are spirited ringers who could've graced stages with any of the era's major fusion figures. Passages of exquisite tension and suspense (thanks to the massively rumbling bass drums) alternate with those of building exultation as these excellent musicians try to come to terms with tragedy and rise above it through collective energy and inventiveness.
The 20-minute "Hybish Shybish" delves deeply into malarial groove science; it's not exaggeration to rank this with the best compositions by Miles' sprawling '70s groups and Herbie Hancock's mystical Mwandishi outfit. This is jazz-funk fusion with an explosive sense of purpose. It's powerful and intense enough to make one forgive Cosby for his misguidedly sweeping condemnations of hip-hop—and those dubious sweaters.
Oh for the relatively innocent times when Cosby’s greatest perceived transgressions were fuddy-duddyism and risible fashion sense.
Cosby's liner notes in the CD reissue conclude with this humble plea: "I hope you enjoy what you're listening to, and I would appreciate you telling your friends about it so that the Bunions Bradford Band can stay alive and record, and the Uni [his record label] folks can be proud and happy. I do not mean to run them into the ground and spend thousands and thousands of their dollars to satisfy my own ego. So, if records do not sell, then there will be no Bunions Bradford Band. Just one old Bill Cosby walking around humming his little tunes."
Note: I asked Bill Cosby—via his Twitter account—for an interview to discuss Badfoot Brown, figuring he could use a sliver of positive media attention right now, but have yet to hear back from him or his “people.” As I enjoy quixotic endeavors, I will keep on Mr. Cosby about this matter.
That moment marks the second Ultimate Serenade™ this column has brought me during my tenure as a professional music idiot. The first, which I will also cherish for all my years, is when Charles Mudede burst into an impromptu full-throated Kate Bush medley in my office. It was transcendent.
Anyway, 69 Love Songs is the kind of album that sends people into fits of adoration and sing-alongs. I was pretty psyched to fall into its full thrall…
This morning, One Reel and the international music and sporting event promoters Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG Live) signed a deal to keep the Bumbershoot festival going.
This partnership—which includes the AEG facility Showbox Presents—comes after months of speculation and indications that One Reel has been in serious financial trouble, including layoffs, stagehands and other workers saying they have not been paid for the 2014 festival, and a slide in assets.
Heather Smith, who worked with One Reel between 1995 and 2007, returns to replace Jon Stone as executive director. Stone will remain with One Reel working on other projects. "He’s got some incredible institutional knowledge, over 25 years of history working on One Reel events," she said.
One Reel will remain a nonprofit, Smith explained, while "AEG is going to be backing the festival financially. Because of their size, they'll be able to take risks in a greater way than a small non-profit can and we can focus on the mission of the festival and what makes it so unique." Smith emphasized that the new arrangement was more like a "coalition" than a partnership, and One Reel will also be working with the city's Office of Arts and Culture, Office of Film and Music, and the Seattle Center.
As for One Reel's debt—and the people who are currently unpaid, including people who worked at this year's festival—Smith said, "I am not at liberty to disclose that... but it is important to meet with all the people who've been working with this festival and make sure they're taken care of."
In the future, she said, AEG and One Reel will divide up revenue generated by the festival. But for now, "because of the situation, AEG is going to need to recoup costs—helping us out with the people we are needing to resolve our financial issues with. It’s going to take awhile."
After a few years of focusing on big, expensive, marquee names (the often-cited example is Bob Dylan), One Reel had been trying to return its focus to the Northwest cultural scene. Smith says she intends to keep going in that direction, but that AEG will have some curatorial influence.
"We're going to work collaboratively," she said. "What we’re trying to do with AEG is take advantage of their strengths. They will be able to help programming the larger national acts and looking to us to maintain the essential character of the festival. Its a partnership that allows us to dig in deep."
She cited AEG's work with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival—a partnership that was begun in the difficult year after Hurricane Katrina—as an example of AEG's willingness and ability to work with festivals that have a long history of reflecting local interests and culture.
Though she was unable to talk about specific numbers, Smith says last year's festival was considered an artistic success but was financially harrowing for a variety of reasons, including ticket sales. "It's hard to Monday-morning quarterback what happened," she said. "There's not a lot of give on ticket sales. It doesn't take much to be off on that—and it can be a pretty big off. It was a very challenging situation."
Smith couldn't confirm whether other potential partners had been approached, but said that One Reel's negotiations with AEG have been ongoing for months. "There were a number of conversations happening," she said. "But Seattle's iconic event, Bumbershoot, is really an important part of our community—an essential part of the cultural fabric of the city."
It's a big news day for Kathleen Hanna. The riot-grrrl catalyst and riveting frontwoman for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and the Julie Ruin has a new song for your ears, "Blueberry Island," from the forthcoming limited-edition 7-inch on Federal Prism. It's a dollop of dulcet, midtempo pop, complete with winsome "bah bah"s and gently glowing keyboards. The flipside features a YACHT remix of "Right Home."
Finally, Hanna is starring in the short film Myrna the Monster, voicing the role of Myrna, "a heartbroken alien dreamer from the moon transitions into young adult life in Los Angeles just like any other 20-something," according to the press release. This Ian Samuels film will premiere at Sundance. Check out the trailer below and the press release after the jump.
Sprouting up now through the crisp, white Swedish ice into the thicket of the hiphop world is the replica-rap of Yung Lean. Direct from Södermalm in Stockholm, Sweden, 18-year-old Jonatan Leandoer Håstad and his Sad Boys crew are charging through the internet to a stage near you. Their debut album, Unknown Memory, just dropped, so spaz out and step right up to hear the Swede in a bucket hat imitate a Southern "baller" accent. Yung Lean hints at syrup-drinking and disses bitches just like his rap heroes. He also raps in caves with a My Little Pony doll. Yes! He's from Sweden, but does that make the rapping any less blocky or obvious? Is there skill? Is it parody? Is this hiphop evolution or gentrification? Questions abound…
By now we're all aware how our government chose to use torture in attempts to extract information from those they deemed terrorists. Well, it should be no surprise music was incorporated into their techniques of information extraction.
In some cases, songs would be played in repetition for hours or days on end, as to drive the prisoner to insanity. Music was also used to prevent detainees from sleeping, which is another way of creating delirium and vulnerability in the detainees. Some songs were chosen because they were annoying, while others were chosen because they may have been offensive to the prisoner’s culture or religion.
The list— you can read it here—is mostly what you'd expect: bad metal, hiphop, and a couple kids' favorites, so mainly stuff you'd reckon conservatives or your grandparents would find off-putting. To me, it's obvious why Tupac, Dope, Saliva, Eminem, and Deicide songs were used, but the inclusion of the Top 40 hits like the Bee Gees' "Stayin’ Alive," Don McLean's "American Pie," and Prince's "Raspberry Beret"? I guess if all secular Western music is considered pagan, or whatever, then even the most well-known American radio hits are abusive.
As for the rest of the list, and I don't mean to be flip, but as a grown-up I have a DEEP understanding of how repeated playing of the Barney & Friends theme song, the Meow Mix jingle, David Gray's "Babylon," Matchbox 20, any bit from Janeane Garofalo/Ben Stiller's Feel This Audiobook, and the Sesame Street theme song could result in "delirium and vulnerability." Hmmm, I wonder how many of these songs Dick the Dick has on his personal iPod™?
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