Chop Suey's new owners and popular talent buyer Jodi Ecklund have come to an agreement to keep her on staff, and the club will remain committed, as Ecklund put it in an e-mail to The Stranger, to being "a live music venue with a heavy focus on continuing to foster the local music community." Chop Suey's last show was on January 20; its schedule is currently empty, as Ecklund was instructed to cease booking beyond that date.
I've contacted new Chop Suey co-owner Brianna Rettig for comment about the Capitol Hill venue's future direction and re-opening date and will update this post when/if she responds.
The beginning of S.O.S. Band's "Just Be Good to Me," off their 1983 album On the Rise, is just incredible. There is a cry from what sounds like the urban wilderness. It is the cry of a woman. She seems to be suffering in the worst way. What kind of trouble is she in? We know that whatever it is, it is unrelated to war, or work, or politics. "Just Be Good to Me" is an '80s R&B tune (produced by the legendary Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis—see Janet Jackson for more information), so we can be certain that the matter has something to do with love, with the heart, with the state of a sexual relationship. That cry is followed by a blast of synthesizers. The chords move with the thickness of a giant walking out of the sea, across the beach, and into the city; the melodies swirl like leaves in the wind. The suspense is terrific. What is the singer going to tell us? What is on her mind? We must wait for more than a minute before she, Mary Davis (the original and defining voice of S.O.S. Band), opens up and tells all. Can you imagine a tune in our day spending more than a minute just preparing us for a confession? We are no longer that kind of animal…
Edgar Froese—founding member of the vastly influential German band Tangerine Dream and a remarkable soundtrack composer and ambient musician—passed away January 20 in Vienna from a pulmonary embolism. He was 70.
As keyboardist for Tangerine Dream, Froese helped to establish them as innovators of an infernal brand of kosmische rock on early albums like Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit, and Atem. The group gradually evolved into more of a spacious, synthesizer-heavy project, but they retained their capacity to create extremely deep and unsettling soundscapes on LPs like Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet, and Stratosfear. Froese also played a key role in Tangerine Dream's soundtrack success, contributing to the outstanding scores Thief, Sorcerer, and Risky Business.
During his prolific solo career, Froese remained the master of the arpeggio that connoted both menace and bliss and a conjuror of exceptionally tactile and elementally evocative synth tones, which set the bar high for thousands of ambient and new-age producers who followed in his wake, as exemplified by Aqua, Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, Macula Transfer, Ages, and The Stuntman. RIP, Edgar Froese.
You think it’s over now/But we’ve only just begun.”
So goes the priceless, invigorating taunt that Elvis Costello and the Attractions used to commence 1986’s we’re-back-and-ready-to-wreck-shop classic Blood & Chocolate.
That same spirit of exhilarating defiance infuses every last note of Sleater-Kinney’s tough-minded, soul-bearing return from exile, No Cities to Love. A brilliantly forceful, funny, and catchy set of songs, the record seamlessly picks up the thread from 10-year-old would-be career closer The Woods and promptly reimagines all that this great band can be. It’s worth noting that during the long and demoralizing history of rock-and-roll reunions, a fully unqualified success of this magnitude is practically unheard of.
“They broke up 10 years ago and then got back together! And this may be their best record!” Those particular words have been spoken approximately never. Until now…
I dunno if y'all remember last year's hype over this thing, the Pono—a new digital music player that is supposed to deliver major sound improvement over all the other current music/sound delivery devices/services. Celeb musician involvement notwithstanding (Neil Young is the "founder and CEO" of Pono), its promise of fidelity WAS encouraging. However, after waiting patiently for a year, The Stranger did NOT get a Pono demo unit to test, even though Megan "Ding Dong" Seling wrote about the thing last March. GAH!! I collected, like, hella WAV files in anticipation.
NOW that Pono is available* for retail purchase, has anyone taken a Pono punt? And if so, DOES IT DELIVER? Does it sound as amazing as Mr. Young had hoped? Or were you bummed your headphones couldn't handle the expanse of uncompressed sound?!
* The Pono website is currently only taking pre-orders, but I've found them for sale otherwise on eBay and Fry's."
Musicians' gripes about insultingly tiny payouts from streaming services like Spotify and YouTube have been widespread. Tess Gadwa, co-founder of Attention Based Currency and CEO of Yes Exactly, is planning to create a platform that will fairly compensate musicians for digital consumption of their work. She saw an entry into the market in the wake of Bitcoin's devaluation. Ergo, Attention Based Currency. "My motivation for ABC is to create a way to include the right brain in a potentially world-changing technology," Gadwa says in an email interview. "A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is based on extremely powerful computers solving extremely difficult equations. Math has a lot of value, but music has equal value. ABC is designed to give artists and creators of every genre a boost, by providing an alternative way to monetize content online."
According to ABC's website, this patent-pending technology "lets listeners 'mine' currency by playing music from a streaming audio service. It creates a unique identifier/datestamp which is then linked to a traditional cryptocurrency. No specialized software is required. All listeners need is Internet access and time to listen."
The Attention Based Currency player will be based on the Ampache streaming application. Every time you listen to a song using this system, both you and the artist get currency. Musicians retain all rights to their music. Gadwa says that musicians will receive 50 percent of all currency mined. "This is a core bedrock principle of Attention Based Currency—and one of the ways in which it helps address the gap in online streaming music royalties for artists, as experienced in the music industry today."
Besides Gadwa—who says she's been an ardent music fan since her early teens—ABC is run by Erik Amlee, a musician and owner of Mandragora Records and founder of the Weirdsville Internet radio station. Gadwa explains that ABC has, "a number of other musicians, DJs, and record geeks involved in the project, in an official or unofficial capacity."
Gadwa projects that ABC will launch on June 25. The company will announce the list of participating bands, venues, and artists in early April. It is also looking for code contributors and collaborators, as well as beta testers. Interested musicians can upload songs at Million Song Mixtape.
Fresh off the twin successes of a new album release and their very own DAY, Portland's beloved and bescorned the Decemberists appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show on ABC last night and whipped out this little ode to the troll nation.
No Seattle tour date has yet been announced, but don't worry. They'll be along. If you're feeling desperate for Decemberists-related secondary source material in the meantime, perhaps you'll enjoy reading this incredibly long feature I wrote about the band 10 years ago, during the making of their album Picaresque.
It's been a good fortnight for NW rock on TV shows, with Sleater-Kinney's rousing return to Letterman last week. Next week the festival will continue when Death Cab for Cutie 2.0, hot on the heels of their triumphant return to the Crocodile this past Tuesday, appear on Letterman Thursday, January 29, and CBS's The Late, Late Show the very next night, Friday, January 30.
Local punk-pop four-piece Livingston Seagull released their Puget EP late last year, and it's a pleasingly scruffy, surprisingly melodic set of Dinosaur Jr.-styled guitar chug and half-time sing-along choruses (bonus: their vocalist sounds nothing like J. Mascis). Standout cut "Frog Rocker" leads off the collection, managing to pack more instrumental twists and turns into four minutes than many less imaginative bands could in a whole album, including a killer breakdown featuring the lyric "The last time I had a time-out was in second grade." #Rebel4life. Now go shoot a damn skate video to this thing, ya punx!
Seattle metal trio Brothers of the Sonic Cloth will be releasing their long-gestating self-titled debut album on Neurot Recordings, February 17. Featuring local rock legend and all-around supernatural force for good Tad Doyle on guitar and vocals, Peggy Doyle on bass, and Dave French (the Anunnaki) on drums, BOTSC have produced a powerfully anguished seven-track opus that's mostly as heavy and foreboding as human history, but occasionally lightens up with passages of spare beauty. You can get a hint of what Brothers of the Sonic Cloth sounds like via "Lava," a concise slab of fierce and girthful rock that may be too hard and traumatizing for radio.
Press release and tracklist after the jump.
You're at the club, you're extremely well-groomed, and you're caked in so much fragrance that raccoons in Klickitat County think a barge of Drakkar Noir has run aground at Cal Anderson Park. You ingest an $11 vodka Red Bull and slide to the dance floor like a cobra. RL Grime's gusty, crystallized "Amphibian" swishes solidly out of the speakers. This is the sound of the selfie, and it's time to display to potential mates that your vibe couldn't be righter. Grime's sonic ingredients set you up well—the glide of rave, the tonnage of Southern rap beats, and the game (shame) of meathead trap. Your moves are succinct demonstrations of pelvic knowledge. Next up on the system is the harder-hitting "Valhalla" off Grime's new album, Void. You let out an eighth of a twerk, and then it's the build. Feel it ascend—whap whap whap whap, tat-tat-tat-tat, ta-ta-ta-ta shuffffle. Then the moment of silence, the hesitation, and the drop. The room loses it when the beat kicks in. Vodka Red Bulls spill everywhere. People fall and flail. This is what you've worked for—this losing it. The room combusts in selfies, sex explodes, and you dance like a condor. Twenty-three-year-old RL Grime (born Henry Steinway—yes, as in the piano) spoke from his hometown of Los Angeles.
What's the greatest number of selfies you've ever seen someone take during one song?
Sometimes people get on a roll, you know. Where it's nothing but selfies. A number? I'd say 10? Or 15? Maybe higher...
Anna Minard, our former city hall reporter, claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.
Dig Me Out
(Kill Rock Stars)
WOOOO-HOOOOO, this is a hell of a week for this album—and I mean that in a good way! This week, I:
• Spent a bunch of time reading three comic books: Bitch Planet, Ms. Marvel, and Y: The Last Man (all of which are packed full of boss ladies kicking people's faces and saving people and being cool)...
For Record Store Day 2014, Tacoma's most famed back-from-the-grave garage band, the Sonics, released a new single side, "Bad Betty." The song was on a split single with another popular local garage band, Mudhoney. Well, here is the new version, the soon-to-be-released ALBUM version.
This Is the Sonics, the band's first new full-length since 1980, is due out March 31 on their own label, Revox. The current, and recording, lineup is original members Jerry Roslie, Larry Parypa, and Rob Lind, plus the Kingsmen's Freddie Dennis and Dusty Watson on drums. Also, they have a short tour with Barrence Whitfield & the Savages sorted to follow the album's release!!!
I'm excited! "Bad Betty" is a jam—I can't WAIT to hear the rest of the record!
Everyone everywhere knows the '80s gothy, electro-pop/dance group New Order, right? Well, did y'all know there was ANOTHER, earlier group also named New Order? Uh, and they hailed from the least gothy place EVER: California!
California's New Order was formed in 1974, after the Stooges split, by former Stooge guitarsonist Ron Asheton along with ex-MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson. This New Order's jams are mostly solid; they were trying to be a high-energy, heavy band, but they come across more like a sweatier, leather-clad version of Kiss. Sadly, the night they were to be signed to Mercury, at their live-for-the-label-fat-cats "showcase" show, their singer choked—he arrived so stoned, he couldn't perform. Of course he was fired, but the failure killed the band. As a result, no proper studio album was ever released, however FUN! released an album, The New Order, of the band's demos in 1977.
And they say that times change/Well times will always change the same."
—Shabazz Palaces, "Capital 5"
Hiphop—for those just tuning in—is the story of a people uprooted, enslaved, and killed, then freed, terrorized (by a massive, nationally supported terrorist organization), and killed, then uprooted again, terrorized (by much the same)... and then killed some more. Oh, and enslaved (aka "punishment for a crime," as detailed in the 13th Amendment) some more! And: killed.
And, of course, seemingly everywhere you look—uprooted again. Gradually forced out of the areas that they were forced into in the first place, between those old red lines. When black faces initially showed up in these neighborhoods, looking for a fresh start, it caused the white flight that created the flavorless suburbs...
Origin Peoples is a mysterious collection of mixes that began as a sort of pen-pal exchange between the two DJs who curated the renowned Made Like a Tree podcast series (disclosure: I contributed two mixes to MLAT), after one of them—Jeremy Grant, aka D'Jeronimo, co-owner of the Nuearth Kitchen label—moved to LA in 2013. Shawn Kralicek (aka DJ Struggle) is the other contributor. You wouldn't be able to glean any of this by looking at the website, though, as the duo decided to reveal no information about themselves or the music in each mix—a bold, perverse move in the '10s.
Click on any of the seven entries currently on Origin Peoples and prepare for an unpredictable glide through ultra-obscure, intriguing songs that traverse much territory with a smooth dream logic. Transitions never jar, even though styles shift often. You may hear in any given episode the following: alternate-reality disco, national anthems for advanced, unknown countries, the best new age you’ve never heard, blissed-out jazz, Balearic beatitudes, pop tunes crafted by people on rare drugs you've never heard of, and more.
"The Origin Peoples series started off as a music project/concept centered around the idea of mythological civilizations," Grant says in an email interview. "Each mix is sort of a vision or time capsule from different regions... aural articulations of unknown cultures. The whole thing has turned into a sort of 'pen-pal' exercise between Shawn and me; since he and I now live in different cities, we can't share music as regularly as we once did. There's no 'intended effect' with them, except perhaps to try and have them be provocative and well curated."
Origin Peoples is a 180º change from the approach of Made Like a Tree, which had in-depth interviews with DJs, photos, and tracklists. Is this new approach born from the belief that everything sounds and looks better if it's mysterious? (I've listened to five mixes so far, and have been been able to identify only one track, by former Seattle electronic musician K. Leimer.) "Yes, most definitely," Grant says. "Shawn and I both agreed when we started the Origin Peoples series that two things were key: 1) simplicity and 2) no tracklists.
"On the one hand, MLAT was incredibly complicated and laborious to produce; coordinating the interviews and podcast assets with the artists on a reasonable timeline took a lot of effort. And on the other, those entries became too easy for our audience to judge at face value. I think we always wanted there to be a bit more of an opportunity for discovery and surprise with the MLAT mixtapes. I'm sure that this existed for some, but with Origin Peoples we want these tapes to be driven more by people's imagination(s); having the listeners fill in whatever 'unknowns' there might be themselves. With such a framework, we can lead more with abstraction, allowing the music to have a purer foundation to grow out of."
As for the enigmatic, beautiful art that accompanies each mix, it is something that Grant says "just sort of happen[s] organically. Each one is designed while the entry that its for is being playing out on some good speakers. Some are collage (repurposed and retreated assets), while some are created entirely from scratch. Each piece is supposed to be a relic from the region that the mix is from. The Origin Peoples logo is an homage to one of the primary inspirations for the project."
So far, not many people know about Origin Peoples, but those who've experienced it have been enthusiastic. Grant and Kralicek aren't aggressively promoting it and this post is the first media exposure for the site. The DJs have no long-range plan for OP other than, says Grant, "to keep the series rich, well varied, and interesting." Their anti-hustle is refreshing, but I think Origin Peoples deserves to massage many more brains than it has done already. Immerse yourself in its strange aural/visual magic here.
Last night at the Crocodile, Death Cab for Cutie played a not-exactly-secret-but-still-hastily-announced show that had something for almost everyone in the crowd. Those of us who fell for them when songs felt like entries in a Best American Short Fiction compendium got a surprisingly healthy serving of now-classic indie hits—sick burns on Los Angeles, meditations on New Year’s Eve, half-conscious thoughts about long late commutes. The generation whose hearts were possessed by the band’s Overt Intense Feelings Era got all of the souls meeting bodies, promises of finding love after a one-night stand, cheerily scored ICU vigils, and death pacts that their fully functional normal-human-emotion-processing modules required. And people hungry for a preview of new material got to hear three new songs from Kintsugi, their next album, ahead of its March 31 release. On first listen, lead single “Black Sun” seemed to split the difference between these lyrical eras—musings on the mundane cruelty of fairness, garbage day, and that time-bending planet from Interstellar, with a just a dash of electronic texture. I’m terrible with set lists, but I don’t think that anyone got much in the way of Facts or anything about Airplanes.
I saw the band play in the much smaller showroom of the (original) Crocodile Cafe—amid its beloved and terrible sight lines, dusty papier-mâché, and unraveling-wicker-crowded showroom—in a fundraiser show right before they took Transatlanticism out on the road. Even then, well before they were headlining festivals and arenas, it felt like a huge deal to see them playing in the intimate setting of a venue that they’d long since outgrown. So it was no surprise when last night’s all-ages show sold out in under 15 seconds and that the place was packed with people drinking sodas from paper cups (all-ages, man) spilling the way from the edge of the stage (aka the “Gibbard Sweat-Splash Zone”) all the way back to the doors and under the VIP overlook.
As much as the small show was a treat for fans, it was clear that it was also a special occasion for the band. Before playing a solo acoustic performance of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” Gibbard emotionally recounted how excited they had been to drive down from Bellingham to headline a show at the Crocodile way back in 1998, saying that it remains their most memorable show and one that convinced them that they were a real band. The show also provided an introduction to the band’s two newest members. Joining in the wake of Chris Walla’s retirement from the band last summer, Portlandian Dave Depper (“the fastest guitar player in America”) and Los Angeleno Zac Rae (“America’s best bearded keyboardist”) are your newest Death Cabs for Cuties.
In a nod to that much-less-crowded/more-secret 2003 show, the band finished strong with an encore that included “A Movie Script Ending” and “Transatlanticism.” As well as the show was received, one also got the sense that a sizable portion of the older and wiser audience were pleased to be getting home at a reasonable hour on a school night. Snippets of overheard conversations on the way out: “I can’t believe how geriatric that made me feel,” “My back is killing me, man,” “I’ve seen them so many times, it’s hard to rank them.”
Oh, and as part of this assignment I was tasked with reporting on the State of Ben’s Hair: I can report that his locks remains strong, long, and lustrous. More pictures after the jump.
Patti Smith, who just celebrated her 68th birthday on December 30, played the Moore Theatre last night. Dressed in baggy jeans tucked into boots and a black vest and jacket over a T-shirt, Smith radiated the same edgy cool as always; her energy oscillated from sweet stories about love and passion to off-the-rails rage-outs verging on feral. And her voice somehow hasn't aged at all. No wavering, no faltering—in fact, during some of the more mellow songs, it seemed like she had to restrain herself, all the while moving her limbs with defiant grace. And yes, Lenny Kaye, her bandmate of over 30 years (he's also 68) was also there, the beautiful beanpole with impeccable solos and vocals.
The crowd was exuberant, ranging in age from early-20-somethings to folks around Smith's age; the latter half seemed to think perhaps this was a private show just for them, laughing like crazy at every small joke and anecdote and trying to interact with her stories with yelling ("Ha ha! So then what did you do???"). Yes, Smith and co. definitely covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (which every touring act is required to play before a larger venue will approve your contract) but their version was the best I've seen (even though it featured a banjo). Other covers from the set included "My Little Red Book" by Love and "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon (played after Smith announced she had become a grandmother since her last visit to Seattle).
I intended to keep this review fairly straightforward and tell you mostly about how impressive, inspiring, and empowering it was to see a woman in her late 60s holding her own so ferociously—spitting on the stage, straight-up ripping every string out of a guitar, snarling things like "We are the future! We need stand up! Power to the FUCKING people!!" with her fist raised… But when I got to mentioning the last song she played, my "review" took a turn that I want to explore.
The ever-complicated "Rock n' Roll Nigger" was the final encore song she played, as wildly an unapologetically as ever. While I understand that this song was written for and about radical outcasts—a group which Smith identified/identifies with—in a time where, to quote a very smart friend "there wasn't much analysis on white people using black peoples' oppression to paint a picture of their own oppression," it seems like a heavy and difficult song to choose, especially on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. What may have been a provocative choice in 1978, maybe meant to shock people into discourse, feels uneasy in 2015, to say the least—especially with a packed audience excitedly singing along.
But then, self-censorship doesn't seem like Smith's style. It's never been easy being a woman in music—an outspoken, hard rock 'n' roll woman at that—so I imagine there is a complicated timeline (dating back to before we really investigated the idea of "reclaiming" a word that was never used against you in the first place; dating back to a time before women had even a fraction of the equality we have now, which is saying a lot because the playing field is still ridiculously far from even) attached to Smith's attachment to the song.
I'm not an expert on this, I just felt a discussion was necessary. I've been looking around for an essay or interview with Smith that might help me frame this conversation better, but there doesn't seem to be anything very recent. What do you think? (Perhaps without the trolling and spewing of vitriol?)
One Reel, the company that manages the Bumbershoot Festival, has let go of its programming director Chris Porter. He had worked for One Reel and Bumbershoot for 18 years. Last year's schedule was one of the finest Bumbershoots in recent times, with artists like Negativland, the Dream Syndicate, Wu-Tang Clan, Jonathan Richman, Elvis Costello & the Impostors, Danny Brown, Chimurenga Renaissance, Mission of Burma, Jacco Gardner, and a fantastic tribute to Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers album.
Booking Bumbershoot is a very tough job and a delicate balancing act, from logistical and aesthetic standpoints. Porter acquitted himself well, year in and year out; trying to appeal to a wide range of people with diverse tastes while sticking to a budget and dealing with often-times massive musician and comedian egos sounds like a stressful occupation, no matter how you cut it.
Porter sent out an e-mail to the press, industry peers, and friends explaining the move.
As some of you may have been aware, One Reel has been going through financial challenges for a number of years now. Although we had some fantastic recent successes that put the company in a greatly improved situation, we unfortunately found ourselves in a dire financial situation late this past year in which a major business partnership was needed in order for the company as well as the Bumbershoot Festival to be able to move forward for future years. Subsequently One Reel, the City of Seattle, and AEG Live have been working toward such a partnership in recent weeks. Most aspects of this collaboration have been finalized. I suspect any further needed agreements will be taken care of later this month.
For a while it seemed that there was a good possibility for me to continue to work on Bumbershoot as I have been. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way and I now find myself in an unsatisfactory situation. So after 18 years of being Programming Director/Manager for One Reel events, I will be moving on from both One Reel and the Bumbershoot Festival.
This is admittedly a surreal and somewhat sad time for me. Bumbershoot has been my love, my art, and my living for quite a long time. The festival is the main reason I came to Seattle from Boston in 1997 and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I have remained so long. I’m truly very proud of every Bumbershoot and One Reel event I worked on and cherish my time with many wonderful colleagues and artists over the years. But nothing lasts forever and I’m frankly looking forward to a short break and a chance to explore other potential opportunities in the world. With over 25 years of music industry experience and being blessed with many great industry friends and contacts, I’m excited to make a change and see what’s next for me whether it be in Seattle or elsewhere in the world. In the meantime I will remain in Seattle working on a number of freelance event-related projects (including the main stage at the Fremont Fair and some other local events).
UPDATE: One Reel executive director Heather Smith, when asked who would replace Porter, replied: "AEGLive is booking music programming with Chad Queirolo heading that effort up. Our shared goal is to preserve the unique character of the Festival, which has a strong local flavor across many art disciplines."
As you undoubtedly know, today marks the release of Sleater-Kinney's eighth LP, No Cities to Love, which is as righteous as most everyone says. Before you go to your friendly neighborhood independent actual record store to buy your copy of this essential release, why not celebrate by reading Elizabeth Nelson Bracy's* excellent essay about the importance of this band, to her and to us.
* No relation.
The good news for lovers of analog-synths and the music that issues forth from them: Moog is going to start manufacturing three of its much-loved, idiosyncratic modular synthesizers—the System 55, the System 35, and Model 15. (These instruments initially went into production in 1973.) The bad news: These reissues will be limited edition and consequently quite expensive. To quote the press release: "There will be 55 units of the System 55, priced at $35,000 per instrument; 35 of units of the System 35, priced at $22,000 per instrument; and 150 units of the Model 15, priced at $10,000 per instrument." Unless you're Vangelis or Trent Reznor, you may have trouble affording these synths. But, as Malcolm Cecil says in the clip below, Moog synthesizers will help you achieve "new sounds that have never been heard before." And such an achievement as that is priceless.
Check out the video, which includes commentary by Moog users Cecil (Tonto's Expanding Head Band, co-producer of Stevie Wonder's best '70s albums), Suzanne Ciani, Dick Hyman, David Borden (Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.), M. Geddes Gengras, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Patricia, Gavin Russom, and others.
Press release after the jump.
In 2003, I moved from my miserable basement apartment on 26th and Cherry in the Central District to a slightly less miserable basement apartment on 13th and Republican on Capitol Hill. That week, I read in The Stranger's then–hiphop column The Truth (written by one Sam Chesneau) that there was a new hiphop night at the old Breakroom on 13th and Madison, now called Chop Suey. Troublingly done up in a faux-Chinese pastiche, red-lit, and allegedly selling $40 microwavable meals to gullible drunks, Chop became a second home during an exciting time in my life and in the life of Seattle's rap scene.
I wasn't at the first night of Yo, Son! but I was at the second. The trademark "Low Class Hiphop, Turntablism & Bad Taste" was like nothing that had come before it—except maybe a backwater micro version of the old New York Mudd Club scene where Grandmaster Flash and Russell Rush partied and politicked with Madonna and the Clash. As far as I saw, it was the first time that the hiphop contingent and the city's rock 'n' roll power structure meaningfully intersected to drink and debauch…
SHABAZZ PALACES TO RECORD LIVE ALBUM AT JACK WHITE'S THIRD MAN RECORDS
Who knew? Former White Stripes main man Jack White is a huge Shabazz Palaces aficionado; no record received more spins in the latter half of 2014 in his Third Man headquarters than Lese Majesty. To prove his fanaticism, White has invited Seattle's most forward-thinking hiphop group to cut a record at Nashville's Third Man Records on January 17. There they will enter the Blue Room and make a direct-to-acetate record in front of a live audience…
Tho' he was a very sick man, it's hard to believe the legendary producer, songwriter, and cartoon king of rock and roll sleaze, Kim Fowley, died yesterday. Most folks know Fowley for getting the Runaways together and sparking the careers of Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, and Lita Ford. However, before he got those young ladies together, he already had a jam-packed résumé.
Fowley began as a label lackey in the late '50s, but soon was writing and producing; he co-produced the Hollywood Argyles' number one hit, “Alley Oop,” Paul Revere & the Raiders' "Like, Long Hair," wrote B. Bumble and the Stingers’ “Nut Rocker,” and the Murmaids’ “Popsicles and Icicles.” Then, in 1963, he moved to London. While there he wrote the flipside of Cat Stevens’s first single, worked with Them/Belfast Gypsies, Soft Machine, and the pre-Slade group, the N'Betweens. When he returned to LA he installed himself as a constant on the Sunset Strip, made some solo records, guested on the Mothers of Invention’s album, Freak Out!, produced Gene Vincent, the Seeds, co-wrote songs for the Byrds and Warren Zevon’s Wanted Dead or Alive album. Oh, he also MCed John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band performance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. In the '70s he worked with Blue Cheer, Helen Reddy, Kiss, Alice Cooper, the Modern Lovers, and THEN, in 1975, he introduced Joan Jett to Sandy West, sorted the rest of the band, and called them the Runaways.
Yesterday on Twitter, Andy Zax, an LA music producer tweeted perfectly, "Kim Fowley was an anti-hero, a super-villain, a genius and the greatest talent scout/opportunist in the history of the music business." Yeah, he was all those things, and for all the awesome music he made, a LOT of folks hated Fowley. His persona could be jarring, he was a cynical prick, AND he liked to run his mouth, but being KIM FOWLEY was a choice he owned.
I always reckoned Fowley was so brash because when he started out, in 1960, he knew needed to be different than the music-biz fat cats in order to attract bands/groups with the NEW teen SOUNDS. And once he got his (shit)ball rolling, he spent the rest of his life on the make for new sounds, anything exciting or edgy. Uh, I don't think he did any of this for the money; he did it because he loved making music and inventing something, a spectacle maybe. In fact he's quoted in a 2012 San Diego Reader interview saying, "It's necessary for a band to have charisma, and it's necessary for a band to have a Kim Fowley in there someplace. The behind-the-scenes people are as much a part of rock 'n' roll as the guys onstage.... Kim Fowley is a necessary evil." He was indeed one of a kind and very, very necessary.
Today it was announced that Death Cab for Cutie will be playing the tiny (for them) Crocodile January 20. This will be the hugely popular rock band's first performance with new members Dave Depper (ex-Loch Lomond, tour guitarist for Laura Gibson and Ray LaMontagne, and session player on Sean Nelson's Make Good Choices) and Zac Rae, a keyboardist whose credits run from Lana Del Rey to Santana to the Growlers. Expect to hear songs from their forthcoming album, Kintsugi.
[Dig DCFC's Neu! homage.]
Ever leaned on an electric fence after sledgehammering a watermelon? This is the sensation of Blood Drugs, a four-piece Seattle punk-rock band. Feel the voltage flow and wallop through you. The shock, the shot of pain, then pleasure from the pain. Guitarist Shawn Kock (from Absolute Monarchs), guitarist/vocalist Kyle Bradford, drummer Thomas Burke, and bassist Gwen Stubbs swing from muscled shoulders with tones of Hot Snakes and Fugazi. This past November, Blood Drugs signed with Good to Die Records, and they will have an album out in the spring. For this interview, Blood Drugs met me at the Puget Sound Blood Center. Platelets were everywhere.
Your song "Lowest" sounds very killer. How did the song happen?
Kyle Bradford: Shawn sent me a 30-second video of the guitar changes...
"Watch these guys build sonic vehicles and take you for a ride," says Timm Mason, aka Mood Organ, describing a typical episode of MOTOR, a monthly event that's pushed Seattle's electronic underground into overdrive during the last two and a half years. A prime mover in MOTOR's Northwestern stable of synthesizer masters, Mason is one of nine live performers participating in MOTOR XX, a special eight-hour edition of the city's most adventurous showcase for hardware-based electronic music.
Organizer Sam Melancon has curated 19 MOTOR shows with the same keen ear for left-field brilliance that he's brought to the annual experimental/drone-oriented Debacle Fest. But things really accelerated for MOTOR in 2014, with headliners such as Hieroglyphic Being, Container, Powell, Profligate, Dreamweapon, and Best Available Technology bringing world-class avant-techno darkness and wildness to the event's latest and most apropos home, Kremwerk. While Melancon is known for the weird music he releases on his Debacle label...
Sub Pop Records announced yesterday that it has signed LA psych-rock auteur Morgan Delt. Last July, when Delt played Chop Suey, Sub Pop's A&R staff was out in full force scoping that night's headliners, Fever the Ghost. But Delt must've made a greater impression then, because he's the one with the new contract. Delt immediately becomes one of Sub Pop's stranger artists, as his debut album, Psychic Death Hole (reissued as Morgan Delt by Trouble in Mind last year), demonstrates. (Check it out below.)
"I'm really excited to work with Sub Pop!" Delt said in an e-mail interview. "When I first started talking to them, I kind of nerded out and thought, 'Wow it’s the label that put out Jennifer Gentle!' Because The Midnight Room and Valende were a big influence on me."
Delt says that he's "in the middle of working on the new record and I’m probably not as far along as I should be, but it’s coming along. It’s hard to say what it will sound like at this point, but I’m going to try to stick a little more bubblegum and sunshine in there."
Previewing Morgan Delt's 2014 show in The Stranger, I wrote:
To smoothly assimilate the opiated feel and sonic trickery of 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; 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 brain waves. If Delt can manifest the magic of his debut LP live, we’re in for a spectacular treat.
As it happened, Chop Suey did receive a spectacular treat. It'll be interesting to see where Delt takes his rarefied talents while backed by Sub Pop's presumably bigger budget. You can catch him onstage next at Barboza February 7.
Today is Captain Beefheart's 74th birthday and, normally, as I'm a gushy Beefheartist, I'd be getting gushy and whatnot, right? Well, I'm also a MST3K/Riff Trax fan and I just discovered my Beefheart and Riff Trax worlds collide over the awesomely awful Mexican B-movie called The Brainiac!
HUH?! Yup, turns out, details from The Brainiac is incorporated into the narrative for “Debra Kadabra,” the first track off Frank Zappa and the Captain’s collaborative album, Bongo Fury. It's a sweetly damaged song, with Beefheart's bent boogie meeting Zappa's prog while the narrative is about a teenaged Captain Beefheart's allergic reaction after bathing in Avon cologne! Zappa said poor Beefheart "looked like an alligator!" Eesh. It seems his face was in such bad shape he did go hide out at a relative's house in East LA till the swelling subsided!
Anyway, here's the movie, The Brainiac, in full, if you can stand it. I highly suggest watching it with the Riff Trax commentary and in the spirit of the horror that was the Captain's swollen teenaged face!
h/t: Dangerous Minds
Seattle radio station KEXP offered media a guided tour through its current and future homes yesterday. It started in the current Dexter Avenue North spot (8,500 square feet), which vividly revealed why the popular station is moving to a much larger space (27,000 square feet) in the Seattle Center later this year. Over the last 14 years at 113 Dexter, KEXP has run out of room for its collection of CDs, vinyl, and tapes. Some of the vinyl dates back to the early '80s, according to DJ and guide Larry Rose. In addition, the current live room is minuscule (it seems much bigger when viewed on YouTube; by the way, Rose says that KEXP's YouTube channel's racked up more than 300 million views so far). The new live room will comfortably fit 75 spectators. Last year, KEXP hosted 392 live performances. More than 400 free performances are planned for the new facility.
KEXP's new location at First Avenue and West Republican Street (the edifice was designed by Paul Thiry and built in 1961) features amenities that proved impossible for its current building. With the design and build by SkB Architects, it'll be much easier for bands to load in, for one thing. In addition, touring musicians will have access to a washer and dryer, a shower, and storage space for their gear, so they can go sightseeing without having to worry about leaving their stuff in a van. Live performances will be simulcast on screens out to the Gathering Space/Reception area and the courtyard in Seattle Center. Speaking of the Gathering Space, it will house a record store and a cafe. Details about those businesses have not been revealed yet.
KEXP director of business and operations Denise Burnside said that the new Seattle Center location will provide opportunities for KEXP to collaborate with nearby Vera Project, SIFF, and EMP on future projects. KEXP station director Tom Mara also spoke to the assembled journalists, saying that the move would be akin to the station "turning itself inside out." It will give KEXP "more ways to interact with listeners." He said KEXP's mission will continue to be "connecting listeners with emerging artists and artists that they may have not discovered" on their own.
In order to finance this major move, KEXP has formed a Campaign Advisory Committee that is cochaired by Seattle musician Paula Boggs (Boggs Media LLC), Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, community advocate Ashley O'Connor McCready, and Scott Redman (Sellen Construction). As of January 14, $8.1 million has been raised toward a goal of $15 million.
On January 28 at 10 a.m., a groundbreaking ceremony will take place, followed by an open house at noon. Construction will start February 17 and last eight months. Installation of technology and infrastructure is expected to last three months. KEXP needs to exit its current location by December 31. The record shop is projected to open April 2016, in time for Record Store Day.
More architectural drawings and photos by Kelly O after the jump.
All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122