Music

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Walter Tunes Up Some HEAT!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Even in today's summer shitpouring rain, I found some sweaty HEAT in this Little Walter side; it's a side I'd NEVER heard before hearing it this morning. Godamn.


Little Walter is mostly known for blowing harp for Chess Records, his solo work ("My Babe"), and was in Muddy Waters' band for a bit too. I don't think he ever recorded a shitty song.

Tonight: Living Liner Notes Delves into Seattle's Soul/Funk Scene Documented on Wheedle's Groove Volume II

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Today at 7 pm at the Project Room City Arts Magazine editor Jonathan Zwickel will host a discussion about Seattle's soul, funk, and boogie scene of the '70s and '80s. A former Stranger music editor, Zwickel wrote the liner notes for Light in the Attic's compilation Wheedle's Groove II: Seattle Funk, Modern Soul & Boogie 1972-1987. He'll moderate a discussion with Family Affair drummer Robbie Hill, Teleclere member Tony Benton, gospel/funk/soul diva Bernadette Bascom (who's sung with Stevie Wonder), and Frederick Robinson lll, famous for the religious-funk jam "Love One Another."

This free event is part of the Project Room's How Is Seattle Remembered? series. More info here. Project Room is located at 1315 E. Pine St. in Capitol Hill.

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Tonight in Music: Teebs, Rakim and Serial Hawk!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

TEEBS AND JON HOPKINS' ELEGANT, ETHEREAL ELECTRONICA

(Crocodile) Out of all the brazenly talented artists on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, Teebs (aka Mtendere Mandowa) might be the one who infuses the most beauty into his music. Known for its acute, mutational shifts of instrumental-hiphop paradigms, Brainfeeder has issued three full-lengths by Teebs: Ardour, Collections, and the new Estara. The latter release retains Teebs’s trademark oneiric, aquatic production style but toughens up the beats in places, although tempos continue to move at a languorous pace. (Teebs may be an ex-skateboarder, but he’s a deeply mellow and sensitive dude in the studio.) No exaggeration, he may be the closest thing America has to a Boards of Canada. London’s Jon Hopkins may be Coldplay’s favorite electronic musician, but I assure you he’s worth your time. He has a huge canon of finely wrought ambient, downtempo, and techno compositions, and in 2010 helped Brian Eno make one of his best late-era albums with Small Craft on a Milk Sea. A masterly arranger whose scope is cinematic, Hopkins creates elegant yet gritty tracks that sound at home in both the orchestra hall and the dance club. DAVE SEGAL
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Check out the rest of Data Breaker here »


RAKIM'S NO NONSENSE BARS

(Neumos) New York hiphop icon Rakim was one of the most innovative rappers to come out of the genre's "golden age," and without his pushing of new styles and complex cadences, things may have never moved past the simplicity of '80s rhyme schemes. His career (which is also longer than the lives of most current-day rap fans) is full of accomplishments, from releasing multiple classic albums with Eric B. to continuing a long solo career afterward to allegedly ghostwriting the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff's "Summertime." Pay tribute accordingly as the man rocks the mic and moves the crowd in legendary fashion. MIKE RAMOS
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Fears and Hopes for Capitol Hill Block Party This Weekend

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Of all the thoughts currently keeping me up at night (why does my neighbor only skateboard at 4 a.m.? Does that cracking/clomping noise mean he's really good or really bad? Are tootsie rolls really supposed to be chocolate?), the most stressful one is this: Who will do the Drake and Kendrick Lamar verses on A$AP Rocky's hit jam "Fuckin' Problems" at Block Party this weekend? We all know that's the song we want to hear, but it was made to be executed by three very-specific rappers (plus 2-Chainz on the chorus, which we can do without in a pinch).

I mean, either someone else does them (not recommended), or A$AP does the "mic to the audience super-shitty shout-along" (which no festival crowd has ever pulled off), or… DRAKE AND KENDRICK COME OUT AND SAVE BLOCK PARTY??? Er, or they'll probably just play the recording while A$AP politely waits on the side of the stage for his turn.

Other than my high-level panic about how that one song is going to play out on Sunday, here's what I'm excited about:

• Local bands like Dude York, Stickers (who have a new album coming out soon!), Neighbors, Childbirth, Constant Lovers (that band photo), Katie Kate, Country Lips, Sashay, and Wolfgang Fuck (based solely on the band name). PLUS the Thermals and Audacity.
• Chugging water all day on Friday in order to be the first person to baptize the clear-blue water of the immaculate, 4 p.m. Porta Potties.
• The unbridled level of stooooooned I'm going to get in order to make everything more interesting.

Here's what I'm less excited about:

The Julie Ruin not being able to play. Please feel better, Kathleen!
• The fact that there will be no Shishkaberry's stand for my lunch and dinner.
• The heaps of bands this year that sound like clouds, waves, being asleep, and Instagram filters.

Our guide to Block Party will be out tomorrow. For now, find more info here.

Weirdly Fortified Dance Music: GOODWIN's Ramparts EP

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Seattle-based Debacle Records today issues the fourth installment of its MOTOR series of unconventional club bangers with GOODWIN’s Ramparts EP. GOODWIN is Scott Goodwin, a former Stranger music intern who moved to Portland about eight years ago. Since leaving our city, where he primarily focused on the minimalist drone project Bonus, he’s gone on to play in the off-center dance-music units Polonaise and Operative (both of whom were relatively short-lived) while also establishing a thriving solo career.

Ramparts kicks off with the title track, an exciting and ungridlike species of house music, full of intricate counter rhythms and acutely warped textures. The other highlight of this four-song EP is “Framework,” which has a frisky, knocking beat, a melodramatic synth motif that out-moroses New Order at their glummest, and a cornucopia of crazy, arcade-game-like FX that integrates smoothly into the piece’s complex house matrix. Ramparts is a tonally and melodically advanced addition to MOTOR’s campaign to knock dance music off its mundane treadmill.

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Idaho Casino Cancels Performance from Racist Piece of Shit Ted Nugent

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Hatewatch reports:

Less than seven hours after being asked about the racist legacy of rock entertainer Ted Nugent, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians this evening cancelled a scheduled performance next month by the controversial performer....“We adamantly do not want our casino to be used as a venue for the racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses,” [executive director of marketing for the tribe’s casino Laura] Stensgar said.

“Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an entertainment perspective, as an 80s rock ‘n roller, who we thought folks might enjoy,” Stensgar said.

Nugent is full of shitty views, including his claim that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel." Media Matters has compiled a list of thirteen racist, sexist, and/or homophobic things Nugent has said.

Just saying: Nugent is scheduled to make an appearance at the Emerald Queen Casino next week. I wonder how they feel about giving money and a platform to a racist piece of shit?

Tonight in Music: Ryley Walker, the Foreign Exchange and Magik Markers!

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM

RYLEY WALKER'S METICULOUSLY BEAUTIFUL FOLK

(Barboza) When a folk-oriented acoustic guitarist records for Tompkins Square Records, it means he/she’s basically arrived. That label’s imprimatur implies excellence in this style, as releases by Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw, Shawn McMillen, Mark Fosson, and many others have proved. Add Chicago-based Ryley Walker to this esteemed legacy. His 2014 album All Kinds of You is a gorgeous collection of serpentine, spangly instrumentals and soulful, Pentangle-esque ballads sung in Walker’s deeply felt, vibrantly grave tones. Calling him an American Bert Jansch might give Walker a big head, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. DAVE SEGAL
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THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE CHANGE IT UP

(Crocodile) Rapper/singer Phonte (formerly of celebrated supergroup Little Brother) and Dutch producer Nicolay didn’t meet in person until after the release of their first album, Connected (hence their name), an instant classic based on its backstory and breezy indie-rap sound. All of the results since the two finally met and collaborated in person—including last year’s Love in Flying Colors—have taken a much more grown-n-sexy R&B approach than their debut, with Phonte almost completely abandoning rapping for singing, which he fortunately does well. Though fans of their initial head-nodding, backpacker-friendly stuff might be turned off by this, the Foreign Exchange’s music is pretty well-suited for a live environment, especially if it’s on a date night. MIKE RAMOS
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Jazz History You Need to Know Today: Lana Turner and Ava Gardner Were Just Two of the Eight Women Artie Shaw Married During His 94 Years on Earth

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Wikipedia:

A self-proclaimed "very difficult man," Shaw was married eight times: Jane Cairns (1932–33, annulled); Margaret Allen (1934–37, divorced); actress Lana Turner (1940, divorced); Betty Kern, the daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern (1942–43, divorced); actress Ava Gardner (1945–46, divorced); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946–48, annulled); actress Doris Dowling (1952–56, divorced); and actress Evelyn Keyes (1957–85, divorced). He had one son, Steven Kern, with Betty Kern, and another son, Jonathan Shaw, with Doris Dowling. Both Lana Turner and Ava Gardner later described Shaw as being extremely emotionally abusive. His controlling nature and incessant verbal abuse in fact drove Turner to have a nervous breakdown, soon after which she divorced him. Shaw also briefly dated actress Judy Garland in 1939.

There is a way to picture the verbal abuse endured by Hollywood goddesses during their time with that awful Shaw. Just look at Ava's beautiful face...

..as you listen to "Nightmare"...
The abuse is right there in the music. And the music is so dark and gorgeous.

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Rest in Power, Bobby Womack: The Heavy Life of the Bravest Man in the Universe

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The Poet, the Preacher, the Bravest Man in the Universe—Bobby Womack was an elemental wizard of soul. Most of the greats, at their best, always seemed to exist in their own pure, lofty dimension—but Womack's gruff soul proved to be incredibly earthy, immediate, and relatable, while his falsetto tapped the heavens with a strident spirituality born in the church. Like all the rest, his best work came from pain, and he had his fair share—just as much as he had triumphs—over the course of a career that was incredibly diverse and enduring.

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An Earworm Full of Mingus' B.S.

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Luckily, I don't often have days of a single, torturous song stuck in my head. I dunno why, but an earworm for me is a rare thing. Maybe it's because I'm constantly listening to music and nothing can get stuck on a loop? However, it does occasionally happen; sometimes it's good and some times it's, uh, slightly inappropriate. Right, today I woke up with Mingus' "II B.S." as my worm.

If you see me today, most likely you'll hear me whistling the horn bits. I CAN'T STOP! But, it IS Mingus, so I kinda don't wanna.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jazz and Classical Musicians Gripe About Pitiful Trickles of Money from Streaming Services

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Salon's Scott Timberg has a piece about the grim financial straits in which many jazz and classical musicians find themselves due to poor payouts from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Man, is it depressing.

But between low royalties, opaque payout rates, declining record sales and suspicion that the major labels have cut deals with the streamers that leave musicians out of the equation, anger from the music business’s artier edges is slowing growing. It’s further proof of the lie of the “long tail.” The shift to digital is also helping to isolate these already marginalized genres: It has a decisive effect on what listeners can find, and on whether or not an artist can earn a living from his work. (Music streaming, in all genres, is up 42 percent for the first half of this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, against the first half of 2013. Over the same period, CD sales fell 19.6 percent, and downloads, the industry’s previous savior, were down 11.6 percent.)...

[Indie labels] have been largely left out of the sweet deals struck with the streamers. Most of those deals are opaque; the informed speculation says that these arrangement are not good for musicians, especially those not on the few remaining majors.

Jazz historian Ted Gioia offers one possible solution to this seemingly hopeless situation. He says labels, in conjunction with their artists, need "to control their own streaming.... They need to work together with a new model, to control distribution and not rely on Apple, Amazon and everyone else. The music industry has always hated technology—they hated radio when it came out—and have always dragged their feet. They need to embrace technology and do it better.”

Do any jazz and classical musicians out in Slogland have any anecdotes to relate re: your own streaming payments?

Read Timberg's whole story here.

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Monday's Music News and Gossip

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Does not age.
  • Weird Al refuses to age.

• Satire king “Weird Al” Yankovic released a brand-new album last week—Mandatory Fun—with eight days of video releases expertly spoofing Iggy Azalea, Pharrell Williams, Charli XCX, Lorde, Robin Thicke, Crosby, Stills & Nash (?!), and more. Though his shtick is polarizing, we’re firmly planted in the “he’s a fucking genius and always has been” category. Stay weird!

Sub Pop’s A&R squad hit up Chop Suey Saturday night to check out flamboyant LA prog-pop group Fever the Ghost. But one rep told us that he was more impressed with dynamic psych-rock openers Morgan Delt. “Their album’s fucking incredible,” the Sub Pop staffer said. He’s right. No offense to FTG, but we hope Sub Pop opts for Morgan Delt.

Substrata 1.4 lived up to our high expectations. Rafael Anton Irisarri’s annual festival of experimental drone and ambient music featured nine acts July 17–19 at Wallingford’s beautiful Chapel Performance Space; all were compelling, and a few were sublime. Finnish producer Mika Vainio ruled, his set a shocking conflagration of extreme frequencies, tension-building pauses pregnant with danger, and sounds of otherworldly war. Mountains member Koen Holtkamp used his Eurorack module synthesizer to optimal effect, erecting radiant, oceanic drones and punching out manic, Subotnick-like passages that sounded like termites doing the cha-cha. Once again, Substrata gave us our highbrow musical highlight of the year.

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Tonight in Music: Seun Kuti, LA Takedown and Timm Mason!

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

ECLECTIC AFROPOP GOODNESS FROM SEUN KUTI

(Neumos) Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary Afropop king Fela Kuti. He has been making music since he was a boy. Music is the only life he knows. Seun currently leads Egypt 80, a band his father founded in 1979. In 2011, Seun released a solid album From Africa with Fury: Rise (which the legendary Brian Eno coproduced); in 2014, he released A Long Way to the Beginning (which features production and musical contributions by the genius jazz pianist Robert Glasper, and also some spitting by M-1 of dead prez). The reviews for Beginning have mostly been positive, and we can expect to hear many of the tracks from this album during the show tonight. We call also expect to see lots of good sweat flowing down the faces and bodies of people on the stage and in the audience. CHARLES MUDEDE
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THE STYLIZED ANGELENO ROCK OF L.A. TAKEDOWN

(Hollow Earth Radio) Right off the bat, L.A. Takedown's band name wants you to know what they're all about: the soundtrack to a fashionable, slicked-back Los Angeles summer in the early to mid 90's. An arid synthesizer creates a backdrop for the evening, which is full of hot sunset colors and lots of teal; sultry guitar riffs enter the scene with a handgun that is never used, but creates tension. They have song titles like "Crying in the Shower," "Sexual Blue," "Something About Forgiveness," and "Something Else About Forgiveness," and a highly-stylized eight-minute music video for their song "Heatwave." I assume this project is very related to the actual made-for-TV movie L.A. Takedown, upon which the movie Heat was based-though I've never seen either of them. With Lori Goldston, Slashed Tires and Nicholas Krgovich. EMILY NOKES
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Which Was Your Favorite New Weird Al Video?

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM

We have finally reached the end of Weird Al Yankovic's eight-day album-release assault, in which he debuted a new video from his new album on a different website every day for over a week. If you missed the weekend debuts, you can watch all eight videos right here. A friend of mine texted me on Friday that he had finally gotten sick of Weird Al, which is something that neither of us would have believed to be possible a decade ago. But that's the problem with these internet marketing onslaughts; if they go on too long, they move from "flurry of amiable press releases" territory into "maddening internet ubiquity."

What do you think?

The New Weezer Song Goes "Back to the Shack," Whatever That Means

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:36 AM

I know, I know. Weezer. Oof. At this point you either love the band unconditionally and are happily going along for whatever ride they're taking you on (read: dad jams and summer cruises), or your heart is forever broken past the point of repair and you'll never like another song they write ever again.

I fall into the latter group, but I still couldn't resist listening to the first single of their new album, "Back to the Shack."

What the hell is this? First of all, if you're going to write a throwback song about how you want things to be the way they used to be, you sure as hell should make it as good as it used to be. This is not. Secondly, I understand your desire to rhyme, Rivers, but how can you go "back to the shack" when you were never in a shack? That was a garage, dude. You were in a garage.

Please, Weezer, just stop. You really did give it a good go, but that's enough now. That's more than enough.

Everyone Should See Alive Inside

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:05 AM

The documentary Alive Inside is an attempt to garner support for Music and Memory, a bunch of science types who've proven music therapy is a way to combat dementia. Theirs is a simple solution: Give dementia patients an iPod full of music, preferably music they loved when they were younger and more lucid and, as they listen, they come back to life! It is SO awesome to watch!!

I bet most all'a y'all have already seen the remarkable clip from Alive Inside featuring, "Henry," a dementia patient who is essentially paralyzed from the condition. Well, if not, WATCH THE CLIP—it's fucking beautiful. There are no pills involved with this therapy; it's all sensory, and you can actually watch Henry's brain light up as it reconnects paths, even as his alertness is fleeting.

Alive Inside did screen at SIFF this year, but returns August 22 at the Varsity.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Poster of the Week Celebrates the POTW All-Stars!

Posted by on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 4:54 PM

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For those of you who like to look at, talk about, and/or buy posters, Ghost Gallery and yours truly have chosen 27 Poster of the Week veterans to show new and classic work from July 19 through August 10 at Saint John's. Don't miss the opening artist reception on July 19!

Remembering Rock-Star Hairdresser (and Literal Rock Star) Betsy Hansen

Posted by on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Betsy in Hawaii during a high-school graduation trip, 1984.
  • Jena Pilling Lawrence
  • Betsy in Hawaii during a high-school graduation trip, 1984.

I met Betsy about eight years ago, when I walked into a hair salon on a whim and she happened to be the next available person. She was so genuine and friendly—telling me stories of her days playing bass in her band Blank Its or her past Bellingham bands, Mystery Date, Foxmange, and A Frequency (she'd moved to Bellingham from Napa before settling in Seattle), and talking about how her husband, Johnny Samra, was a phenomenal cook, and they "just knew" from the second they met (they would celebrate that day, March 18, 2000, as their "love-at-first-sight-iversary; they married in June of 2004). She quickly became my all-the-time hairdresser (who put up with my frequent and tedious hair-color changes), and we discovered mutual friends in local bands like the Coconut Coolouts while bonding over our belief that the Funhouse was pretty much the best venue at which to play and/or see a show. It wasn't long before I considered her my real friend (who still put up with my frequent and tedious hair-color changes).

In July of 2010, Betsy and Johnny realized their dream of running their own hair salon and record shop and opened Radar Hair and Records in Sodo—the grooviest shop to get your hair done and buy artwork, records, and vintage clothing while bands like the Cramps or the B-52s blasted through the speakers...

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Tonight in Music: The Finale of Substrata and Morgan Delt

Posted by on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM

SUBSTRATA SIGNS OFF WITH A BANG

(Chapel Performance Space) Most folks, your columnist included, are beyond thrilled that Finnish minimal-techno legend Mika Vainio is crossing the Atlantic to grace us with his uniquely icy and monomaniacal takes on ambient and bare-bones dance music. An innovator of noise-infused techno with Pan Sonic, Vainio (aka Ø) has created a bountiful canon of Andrei Tarkovsky–soundtrack worthy analog synthscapes and industrial- disaster techno. Might be prudent to bring earplugs. Evan Caminiti made his rep in the two-man guitar-desperado lineup of Thrill Jockey artists Barn Owl. Like a slightly more cosmic late-period Earth, Barn Owl loft grandiloquent, twangy, astral drones for those blessed with long attention spans. In his solo work, Caminiti adds synthesizer to his guitar machinations to produce a more interiorized strain of contemplative zoners that may tickle the tympanic membranes of anyone who flipped for those mid-'70s Fripp/Eno LPs. On records like Dreamless Sleep and Night Dust, Caminiti's compositions bloom at the intersection of deep thought and profound bliss. The wife-husband duo of Mamiffer (multi-instrumentalist Faith Coloccia and ex-Isis guitarist Aaron Turner) patiently build somber, majestic songs that sound like doom metal transposed to the conservatory. A mysterious, elegiac mood informs Mamiffer's ennobling gestures and Coloccia's stoic, dulcet vocals. Listening to their music is one of the heaviest ways to get lifted.


MORGAN DELT'S STRANGE PSYCHIC UNIVERSE

(Chop Suey) Rare is the modern-day musician who can replicate the without sounding like a hopeless poseur. To smoothly assimilate the opiated feel and sonic trickery of that late-’60s psych rock in the 21st century requires a special skill set that’s beyond the earnest record-collector pantomime artists. Enigmatic California phenom Morgan Delt is one guy who’s mastered the gloriously disorienting and intricately designed song structures of that era’s best psychonauts. He released Psychic Death Hole in 2012 (Trouble in Mind reissued it this year as Morgan Delt); it sounds like a long-lost psych classic from 1968, but not in any corny-ass way. Delt deploys a light instrumental touch and reverbed, willowy vocals to create songs that approach you like a watery mirage. For example, “Little Zombies” seems to have sprouted from the strangest bits of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and gone into an even deeper zone, the better to alter your brainwaves. If Delt can manifest the magic of his debut LP live, we’re in for a spectacular treat. With Fever the Ghost.
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And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, and beyond!

Art and Music Making Love on the Stage

Posted by on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 1:56 PM

ss-sun.jpg
I started Verse Chapter Verse because I wanted to bring a party atmosphere to literary events, and this could be the party-est one yet. Cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley will present Seconds, his long-awaited follow-up to the beloved Scott Pilgrim series, in a rare Seattle appearance. And! He'll be...

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Seattle Eye and Ear Control: Saint Genet Member Garek Druss Plays Live Tonight at Sylvan Grove Theater

Posted by on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Seattle experimental composer/keyboardist/visual artist Garek Druss (A Story of Rats, Dull Knife, Saint Genet) performs today at the outdoor Sylvan Grove Theater at 7 pm. His set will be an extrapolation of the auditory tours—known as Summer Field Studies—that he recorded to be heard while perusing artworks on University of Washington's campus, from Henry Art Gallery to the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering.

You can get an idea of of the sort of hauntological drones and chilling atmospheres Druss has in store for tonight here. More info about the event can be found here.

For another facet of Druss' music, check out an excerpt of the performance by his very sporadic side project, Stenskogen (with Midday Veil's David Golightly and Ecstatic Cosmic Union's Aubrey Nehring), who played a certain Stranger writer's birthday party at the old Comet Tavern a couple years ago.

Too Many Excellent Shows Tonight: Modest Mouse, the Hold Steady, and More!

Posted by on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

MODEST MOUSE KIND OF SAVED INDIE ROCK, Y'ALL

(Showbox at the Market) If you're new: Modest Mouse are a band from Issaquah, Washington. Fronted by the high-voiced Isaac Brock, they were considered by some to be indie rock's early-2000's savior when The Moon & Antarctica gave everybody chills on the inside with its smart 'n' sincere lyrics and swells of melodic guitar-jangle music that flickered from chaotic to meloncholy. Nerds will tell you the earlier stuff was better, and they may be right; I will tell you that I was a salty college freshman-done with whiny boys and their whiny music-when "Float On" played approximately every half-hour on the radio. I didn't get it then, but I kind of get it now. And that's the best you're going to get out of me. EMILY NOKES
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"THE THINKING MAN'S BAR BAND": THE HOLD STEADY

(Neptune Theatre) The Hold Steady’s boozy, swaggering, late-’70s radio rock has always been a bit of a tough sell for the general public. But their charm stems from Craig Finn’s boisterous storytelling, which manages to address sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll in a capacity that is neither glamorous nor cautionary. Over the course of their last three albums, the Hold Steady have gussied up their sound with bigger choruses and stronger production, tapering Finn’s revelatory rambling into more traditional songwriting. This bodes well for the band’s accessibility, but it also diminishes the impact of their strongest asset. Still, for listeners reading along with the lyric sheet at home, recent songs like “We Can Get Together” are as poignant as anything Finn did in their early years, provided you can see past the glare of the high-gloss production. BRIAN COOK
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RIP: Blues Guitarsonist Johnny Winter

Posted by on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 7:01 AM

Johnny Winter, the older brother of Edgar "Frankenstein" Winter, died this past Wednesday. In the '70s, this gaunt, albino guitarist was a heavy. Like, he was an ordained GODHEAD of rock 'n' roll. Now, however, he's prolly best known for his hit, the sweaty, classic rock standard "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo."

Winter grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and was performing by the time he was 10 years old; by 15 his band, Johnny and the Jammers, had recorded a 45: "School Day Blues." Post-the Jammers, Winter got real busy. In fact, if he'd only left a trail of 45s (I think he recorded something like 15 singles in eight years), he'd still be considered an incredibly important and prolific Texan. Oh, he also played on some Roy Head sides, too. DAMN!! It was one of his first albums tho', The Progressive Blues Experiment, which defined his career. The LP wasn't, in fact, that progressive, but his playing style on the LP became his standard: sweaty, long-haired, rockin' urban blues rock. Um, sometimes there'd be heavy riffs or perhaps he'd get a bit "out there," but mostly he stuck true to the blues-rock form. In 1969 he was signed to Columbia after he was invited on stage to play with Mike Bloomfield. Also, later in'69, he turned in a stellar performance at at Woodstock. He continued on through the '70s playing blues rock and in 1977, he achieved his dream of making an album with Muddy Waters: Hard Again. Winter would record two more albums with Waters, I'm Ready and Muddy "Mississippi" Waters – Live. All three Waters records earned Winter Grammys. After his success with Waters, and up till his death, Johnny Winter had continued recording and touring; he'd just played on Monday night at the Cahors Blues Festival in France.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Love So Low: Lewis' L’Amour

Posted by on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM

LewisL’Amour album might be the most mystery-shrouded release in Light in the Attic’s history—which is saying something, as the Seattle/LA-based reissue specialists have a knack for unearthing records with mighty peculiar back stories.

According to record collector/blogger Jack D. Fleischer’s liner notes, not much is known about the auteur behind L’Amour, which was self released on the R.A.W. label in 1983. Lewis’ real name apparently is Randall Wulff, and on the cover shot done by Ed Colver, he looks like Nicolas Cage’s better-looking, blonder brother. Lewis reputedly lived at the Beverley Hills Hilton, dated a model-beautiful woman, drove a white Mercedes, and paid photographer Colver with a bad $250 check. Like most private-press albums, L’Amour went nowhere and Lewis pretty much vanished from the scene. And Colver’s still out a quarter grand.

Thankfully, Lewis left a low-key gem of an album that is one of the most minimal and shiver-inducing singer-songwriter opuses I’ve ever heard. Embellished with tasteful synthesizer sighs from Philip Lees, the 10 songs here feature Lewis delicately playing piano and guitar and singing in a voice that drifts somewhere in the vicinity of Nick Drake, Arthur Russell, and John Martyn—hushed and mush-mouthed (you can decipher like every five words Lewis sings, but it doesn't matter; the feelings come through clearly).

The general mood is lugubrious but oh-so light, every sound tickling your ears and causing little bouts of ASMR (a really good thing). This record should sound dippier than a collab between Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor, but through some strange force in the air at that time and in that Hollywood studio, L’Amour captures a poignant mournfulness and aloneness that make you want to elevate it into the pantheon next to Five Leaves Left and World of Echo.

Superficially, L’Amour scans as a hybrid of folk and country, but it’s so stripped of those genres' usual signifiers that it seems to exist in a hermetically sealed capsule, a stark yet lush specimen of West Coast melancholy, cut by a damnably handsome enigma. There’s a song on L’Amour titled “Things Just Happen That Way,” and that seems like a fitting epitaph for this record.

The CD for L’Amour came out in May; the vinyl version was just issued. Learn more about it here.

Ascend to the Drone: The Fourth Annual Substrata Festival

Posted by on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Koen Holtkamp
  • BRADFORD BAILY
  • Koen Holtkamp

It's time again for that splendid display of rarefied drones and other unconventional, highbrow musical manifestations known as Substrata. For the fourth year in a row, Rafael Anton Irisarri has booked an extraordinary festival composed of artists who rarely venture to Seattle. He and his wife, Rita, recently had most of their possessions stolen before they moved to New York in June, so this event will surely have even more resonance than usual for them. Let's look at who's going to be expanding your mind this year in the acoustically magnificent Chapel Performance Space.

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Tonight in Music: Thunderpussy, Free the Robots, and a Whole Lot More!

Posted by on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM

CELEBRATE BOAT-BASED SEATTLE MUSIC SHOWS WITH A WHOLE RAFT OF LOCAL TALENT

(Chop Suey) If there's one thing Seattle loves, it's an independently produced show in which musicians are interviewed on a boat. One such show, Clyde Petersen's Boating with Clyde, will be setting up shop at this year’s Bumbershoot. The other such show, Bobbi Rich's Hangin Tuff, is gearing up for its second season of interviewing musicians on a hot-tub boat, and tonight's Chop Suey show is a benefit for Hangin Tuff's forthcoming season, while simultaneously being a release party for the brand-new EP by Thunderpussy, the anti-demure Seattle quartet who'll perform tonight alongside Lozen, Dusty Lips, and Unprotected Sax. DAVID SCHMADER
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FREE THE ROBOTS' SCI-FIDELIC BEATS

(Barboza) “Sci-Fidelity,” a cut off Free the Robots’ stunning Ctrl Alt Delete album for Alpha Pup, pretty much captures his music’s essence in one neat phrase. Sure, a lot of musicians take inspiration from science fiction and space-age/comic-book effluvia, but Free the Robots (aka Chris Alfaro, Santa Ana, California’s finest producer) forges those familiar raw materials into potent laser beams of kitsch-free, bass-heavy productions that sound like a more fun-spirited Flying Lotus. Steeped in jazz, funk, hiphop, weird early electronic music, prog, and psych rock, Free the Robots disperses his eclectic influences into eventful, equilibrium-upending tracks that put him in the upper echelon of Low End Theory-affiliated artists. DAVE SEGAL
See event info »

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Drinking Wine and Screaming along to the Go-Go’s

Posted by on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:56 AM

ss-sun.jpg
I can’t even downplay my adoration—the Go-Go’s are cool as fuck. Originally formed as a punk band (Belinda Carlisle was in the Germs for a minute!) in the late ’70s, the LA foursome went ultra-pop and became the first all-female band (who played their own instruments and wrote their own songs) to top the...

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Perfume Genius Adds a Whiff of Glam Rock to the Mix

Posted by on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:11 AM

...and comes up with a song (and video) that's taking the internet by storm—which makes the work sound more salacious and directly confrontational than it is. The lead single off his forthcoming LP Too Bright, "Queen" finds singer/songwriter Perfume Genius (aka Seattle's own Mike Hadreas) adding some highly rewarding aggression to his music. Citing influences on his new sound, Hadreas has mentioned Kate Bush's The Dreaming, a classic example of a would-be wispy type harnessing the power of furious percussion. But in "Queen," I hear more of what Dave Bry at the Awl rightly clocked as T-Rexiness. The video is its own work of art, littered with beautiful visual provocations. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hypothetical Bong Rips with Tori Amos

Posted by on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Vulnerable and deep and more than a bit witchy.
  • Vulnerable and deep and more than a bit witchy.

"Hi, Tori Amos! Good morning!" I practically scream into the phone. I was a little excited. In reality, my "good morning" was a ridiculous faux pas—she was calling from Istanbul, which is 10 hours ahead of regular old Seattle time. But who cares? Good morning, good afternoon, good night—good what-the-fuck-ever. Tori Amos!

"I'd always imagined talking to you sitting on beanbags with a great big smoldering bong between us!" I confess. She laughs, generously enough. Such a darling laugh! I imagine that she smells like strawberries, patchouli, and a fresh summer breeze.

"Hello, Adrian! I am so happy to be talking with you!" Oh, really. Tori Amos is so happy to be talking with me? Well. You know what this means, naturally. I can die now. "Well, let's pretend we are on beanbags!" she says. "My beanbag is in Istanbul right now, and your beanbag is in Seattle."

KEEP READING and get all the details for tomorrow's show at the Paramount »

And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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Poster of the Week

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