Toronto trio BADBADNOTGOOD—with help on guitar from Luan Phung—sink their jazz-college-trained teeth into My Bloody Valentine's most notorious song, "You Made Me Realise" (from BBNG2), and quicksilver sparks ensue. It begins in faithful replication of the original's hurricane-force momentum (sans vocals), but when time comes for the holocaustic noise bridge, BBNG tone it down to a spare, contemplative guitar spangle and piano/bass rumble. Perverse! They proceed to really apply their advanced jazz studies to breathtaking ends over the last two-plus minutes. Have to believe Kevin Shields would be impressed.
BADBADNOTGOOD play Neumos Tues. Oct. 14.
I dunno if y'all are turned onto Little Barrie, but if you ain't, IT'S ABOUT TIME!!
Holy shit what a single!! Them riffs!! Them fills!! Them shades of 1968!! Godamn. I dig that I can still be slightly shocked to hear a group like Little Barrie, a three-piece from London, properly blending a supreme rock 'n' roll Englishness with '60s garage. Like, they know Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera and the Remains. They're well connected too; they've backed Paul Weller, opened for Charles Bradely for his Spring, 2012 US tour, and (ahem) Steve Howe's son, Virgil Howe, plays drums!! Oh, also I suggest getting to the show early enough to check out local group, Killer Ghost, 'cause they lay out some proper '60s sounds.
• What'd you think of the Juggalo-family band Twizted at El Corazon last night? You didn't go? Well, Kelly O did. At least, she talked to some people who were were standing in line. Overheard: “What up, Fam? Whoop, whoooooop!”
People came from Alaska, Spokane, and Oregon just to be there.
• But before that, yesterday was the Seattle Faerie Festival at Volunteer Park, where we met the Seattle Garden Gnome who gave us a rock that, when cracked open, revealed a tiny plastic emerald. He told us, “If you plant the emerald in your garden, magical faeries will grow there." A skeptical Marcus Wilson from Pony mumbled, "I'm not sure that's how faerie procreation works."
• On Saturday, I went to Ballard for Señor Moose brunch and rekindled my love for plantains. Unsure of what else to do in Ballard during the day (that's not eating), I walked down to the boat parking lot (dock?) to judge the boat names harshly. On the way, I peeped inside the newly renovated Sunset Tavern—they just reopened and it looks crazy different! Excited to catch a show there.
• On Saturday night, Lo-Fi hosted Bali Girls, the Gods Themselves, and the Intelligence. The Black Lodge hosted Lisa Prank, Childbirth, Deep Creep, and S. Everyone did their best to run back and forth between the venues, conveniently located next door to each other. I wasn't early enough to catch the first band of either show, but the Gods Themselves (the new project of Astra Elaine from Atomic Bride) put on a solid record-release show with much waaah waah swagger and a smoke machine—their hit "Last Chance for Love" is super B-52s with epic Shocking Blue-esque vocals (Elaine was also in a Shocking Blue cover band). The Intelligence were as sweaty and excellent as ever; same goes for the bands next door, though S, Jenn Ghetto's project, also celebrating a record release, was a different, more heartbroken kind of sweaty. Yes, actual tears were cried by adoring audience members.
• Speaking of Decibel, we never got a firm answer on how all these people were able to stay awake all night.
• Hot graf tip:
• Okay, okay, fine, you want one more faerie pic?
In a context vastly different from what he does in Nine Inch Nails, Buchla synth master Alessandro Cortini wowed the polite Nordstrom Recital Hall crowd Friday evening with a panoply of styles and moods from his instruments. Pieces ranged from almost cute electro pop à la Felix Kubin to oddly tuned ominous pulsations to introspective, alien ambience recalling Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. II to a very stark, methodical strain of minimal techno, and then ending with an apocalyptic flourish. “Fucking amazing,” concluded Medical Records owner Troy Wadsworth, to which I agreed.
Meanwhile at the Crocodile, Fleck was entranced by up-and-comer Eden Hagos, saying she "significantly funked up her exotic blend of downtempo atmospherics and detuned house. Hagos' set contained some of the more straight-forwardly gorgeous music of this year's Decibel. And it paid off big time: despite being one of the lesser known names, the crowd gave her lots of love throughout the evening."
Saturday at Triple Door's Optical showcase, Loscil did what he's always done best: Create pacific synth motifs laden with a heavy undertow of unease. The chronic tension between balm and menace in Loscil's poignant and dubby aquascapes made you sea the light.
Bearded and behatted, Norwegian prodoucer/DJ Lindstrøm brought his ultra-vivid party game Saturday night at Showbox at the Market—real hands-in-the-air, big-room business: brash house with electro-funk percussion; chugging, percolating disco; uptempo, New Order-esque juggernauts; sexy-ass, cosmic disco, and more. I wanted to ask the young guy in the CRASS T-shirt what he thought, but he walked out of the club before I got the chance.
Kyle Fleck adds that he was very pleasantly surprised by his discovery of Midnight Magic at the same show, saying: "Opening for spacy Italo-auteur Lindstrøm is no small task, but New York disco troupe Midnight Magic pulled it off with aplomb, with front woman Tiffany Roth pumping up the hipster crowd in no insignificant way. Definitely ones to keep your ears peeled for."
I could catch only the last 25 minutes of Richie Hawtin's Saturday EMP Sky Church set, and while it wasn't as heady as his '90s underground parties in Detroit, it explored some of the lysergic minimal-techno elements on which he built his lofty rep. If the tunes had matched the visuals' psychedelic splendor, Hawtin's slot would've been one of the greatest of the festival.
Fleck, who got there early enough to spend half of his time waiting in the beer garden, had this take: "Beefing up his stripped-down minimal techno to stadium proportions, Hawtin's set at the Sky Church lived up to the lofty expectations surrounding it. Much of the material played with ghostly diva vocals, Hawtin stretching them like taffy over unrelenting jackhammer 4/4 beats. Though my favorite moment of the night may have been waiting fifty minutes in the jam-packed "beer garden" only to realize it was cash only when I made it to the front (though cheers to the cute lady with the frizzy blonde hair who spotted me a drink anyway)."
Rival Consoles performed six tracks at Triple Door's Erased Tapes showcase Sunday evening, and each one sounded different from the other and was gripping in its own way. So we got some serrated instrumental hiphop, like a noisier Flying Lotus; klanging, clattering IDM that recalled the Phthalo and Schematic labels' angular abrasiveness; jittery glitchwerk with urgent melodic filigree; melancholy, majestic techno; and more. Call it beneficial sonic schizophrenia... which, come to think of it, could be Decibel Festival's mission statement.
Constantines' album Shine a Light shot out of Ontario, Canada, in 2003 like a musket ball of rock and punk. It's been rolling thunder ever since. The songs charge at you rowdy and tight from a piston-fired impetus of bass and drums. Crankshaft guitars in their oil pan light off Bryan Webb's graveled howl. "Make your love too wild for words, stumbling through the city with the ordinary birds," he blares in "Young Lions." If you're isolated, Constantines' music makes a mettle-filled companion. If you're with a crowd, the crowd gets raucous. If you're driving across South Dakota or Kansas, Constantines work well on repeat. Out of print on vinyl since 2007, Shine a Light was reissued by Sub Pop this past June, featuring a newly cut vinyl master, a 7-inch of B-sides, and the original gatefold artwork rephotographed to show how it aged in basements over the last 11 years. Constantines are touring again as well, and for that, the hammer and anvil in our ears are thankful. Bryan Webb spoke from his home in Guelph, in southern Ontario.
What American city would you compare Guelph to?
Imagine a smaller, Canadian version of Portland. Guelph is weirder than most of its surrounding cities of comparable size. We're about an hour from Toronto. There are a few lakes nearby, and a fair amount of hippies...
Constantines play tonight at Neumos at 8 pm.
THIS is the kinda rural '70s jam I crave. Gospel Oak's "Go Talk to Rachel" is a driving track packed with cool guitar fills, and those vocal harmonies kill me!!
Gospel Oak was American, most of the fellers were from Indiana, but somehow they all landed in England and then formed this band. Unfortunately, even tho' they had the Beatles publicist Tony Barrow as their manager, they went nowhere. Their lone LP, Gospel Oak, is a good mix of early-'70s power pop, easy-going rural jams, and country rock.
Jesse [left] "The shots of Fireball I did earlier." "Mustrash" [right] "PEDs, baby! Performance-enhancing drugs. Just like an athlete."
Rrose’s set at a packed Re-bar started like a great, terrible beast slowly awakening, all chthonic bass drones and metallic castanets, and then it gradually accelerated and intensified into heroin-house tempos, accentuated by acid-techno bleeps. Although the sound was too quiet, her set methodically tore asunder the space-time continuum and made one feel like one was inside a womb the size of a submarine. The serious 20something dude next to me said it was “heavy and awesome.”
Vatican Shadow (Prurient noise provocateur Dominick Fernow) came out the gate with a flurry of 150ish-bpm S&M techno, beats hitting like they were holding a bitter grudge. Nobody danced harder or twitchier to these Nietzschean will-to-power tracks than did Vatican Shadow. A friend who compared one track to Bigod 20’s “The Bog” said, “I’m liking this more than I thought I would.”
Demdike Stare’s set roamed far, wide, and deep over the spectra of darkest electronic music: grinding industrial (un)techno, the coldest, illest dub this side of Techno Animal, Test Pressing-style quasi-jungle beat tactics with nightmarish textures, chase-scene techno with rattlesnake percussion, horror-film soundtrackage to scare Throbbing Gristle fans, etc. The sound at EMP Level 3 was immaculate and full-bodied, perfectly capturing Demdike’s historically great performance (too bad Rrose didn’t play here).
No Good Deed Is Suburban Dread Wrought Large: And it comes highly recommended.
Decibel Festival: It's keeping everyone up until four in the morning.
Local Sightings: It goes into full swing tonight at the Film Forum. Read a preview here.
The Miracle of Girl Trouble: They're still around, kicking out the reliably melodic indie rock we love.
That’s Not Art: That’s been the number one complaint levied at readymades for the last one hundred years. Go to the one-night-only show at Vermillion tonight and decide for yourself whether the emperor is naked. If you’re looking to get into a weighty conversation with a stranger about the nature of modern art, this event was made for you.
John Darnielle: Anyone who's ever listened to a Mountain Goats album already knows that he can write some amazing lyrics, so maybe the fact that his debut novel is delightful will come as no surprise. Darnielle will be at Barboza with his book tonight at 7 pm.
"Kiss me baby, kill the night": Sultry torch songs and a nice li'l touch of David Lynch tonight at the Blue Moon.
And if you're picky, here's everything else happening today. Have a great weekend!
Anna Minard, our city hall reporter, claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we're forcing her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.
Resident music nerd Dave Segal gave me Sheet One while grinning, so I knew this was either (A) something he really loved or (B) something he thought I would really hate. Whee! Plastikman has his own logo, which is a little dude (that dude must be Plastikman?). He's bendy and looks like he's about to start running—kind of like Dave Segal.
This is almost completely wordless electronic music. Beep beep boop boop, nts-nts-nts-nts kind of stuff. It's more entertaining than I thought...
If you're at the EMP Sky Church for Decibel Festival, which is happening now through Sept. 28, you will notice a five-sided, 4'x4' object behind the sound booth. That's the dBcube, produced by Microsoft and enhanced by artwork created by Stimulant, specially for Decibel. Within its clear acrylic laminate surfaces sit five CPUs, five projectors, and four Kinects. When people dance in front of the dBcube's panels, it creates kinetic geometric shapes and fizzy explosions of light in conjunction with their movements. The general idea is to have dancers on every side of the Cube and generate connections with strangers through this new artform. It's a merger of art and technology converging to bridge the physical and virtual worlds.
In the video above, Microsoft senior director Michael Megalli says that “you can imagine so many possibilities that the Cube can open up.” I asked Josh Santangelo, technical director at Stimulant, what those might be. "The debut of the Cube is about interactive artwork, and the Decibel piece expresses Stimulant’s passion for music and dance, but that’s only one possible expression. Other artists will likely come up with wildly different experiences. For example, dBcube responds to audio played in a venue, but the hardware includes eight speakers that we’re not even using. Another artist might use the sound system to produce sound rather than react to it.
"Aside from artwork, the structure lends itself to the creation of illusions of the interior. I imagine a museum context where artifacts are shown within the virtual center of the volume, where various details are highlighted as you walk around it. We don’t quite have sci-fi holographic tabletop displays yet, but the Cube could create something similar using current technology."
Is there a plan to mass produce the Cube and sell it to clubs? Does Stimulant see this product as having long-term viability? "Currently the Cube is a one-off piece meant to inspire creative technologists to do things with Microsoft technologies," Santangelo noted. "While more might be produced, I can’t really speak to Microsoft’s plans. Clubs are not really the best fit for something in this form factor, as it requires quite a bit of space, and every square foot in a club represents income. It only works in EMP because the venue is so large."
When asked if the Cube’s visuals could be altered, or will it always have the same repertoire of graphic possibilities, Santangelo said, "Anyone with the appropriate expertise can create new software to do new things with the Cube. Currently the learning curve is a bit steep there, but we’re working with Microsoft to provide something of a bootstrap get other artists creating with less friction."
A keyboard riff that sounds like it was lifted from a Sega Genesis-era hockey video game. Behemoth bass hits as slimy and menacing as the creature from The Host. And two young, swagged-out Auto-tuned MCs talking a whole lot of nothing over the top, bitching about how their mamas say they "ain't living right." Like fellow Atlantan Young Thug, the medium is the message for Rae Sremmurd's staccato flows. In this case, the medium is a bottomless, all-consuming beast of a beat by producer Mike WiLL Made-It; everything else is ornamental.
When I first wrote about this new local group, the Gods Themselves, they'd just released their first single, "I Am the President," and it was with that song I got a distinct sense they were a noisy, blues-born, aggro-NYC group like the Honeymoon Killers or early Boss Hog. The song was pretty noisy and raw, plus the tGT instrument lineup is right guitar versus left guitar and drums, so a LOT like some of them NYC groups.
Thing is, they suggested they were actually playing "angular dance dirges laced with heavy wah-wah" while acknowlegding knowing nods to the Make-Up, Gang of Four, and Eazy E. Hmmm, but the single, to my ears, WAS kinda contrary to how tGT described themselves. Well, having lived with the entire The Gods Themselves album for a couple weeks now, I totally dig their scene, man! I get it, there are some NYC aggro vibes via their pointed, stabbing guitar bits, along with a subtle, sweet grooviness throughout the entire album; their groovy propels and unifies the album. And, yes, there's plenty of wah-wah. Also, the album is shrouded in a little bit of creepy. It's not dark goth "creepy," but there's a bit of darkness in their tone. So yes, it IS dirge-y!! Of course, they ARE admittedly in the post-punk business, and post-punk can be the most SERIOUS of business (thankfully they don't incorporate post-punk's reggae affection). For all the convergence in tGT's mix they've really stepped into their own and produced a solid LP which carries start to finish. Oh yeah, they even toss a Ginuwine cover into their mix (headphones on, it's slightly NSFW!):
The Gods Themselves' The Gods Themselves album is officially released Tuesday, September 30 (as all records are released on a Tuesday), but the record-release show is this Saturday night, September 27. Uh, yes, the event was already well showcased by Mr. Dave Segal. The show looks killer, dig the lineup: The Gods Themselves, the Intelligence, and the Bali Girls—this is also a TRIPLE record-release show as all three bands are celebrating new records!
Also, there's a Stranger™ TICKET GIVEAWAY for this show, so click HERE and type "GODS" in the subject line for a chance to win a pair of tickets. DO IT, this show will be massive.
Saturday, September 27 // Lo-fi Performance Gallery // doors at 9PM.
Kyle Fleck and I preview Decibel Festival in this week’s paper, but obviously it’s impossible to cover everything we think is worthwhile within the tight strictures of the print edition. So to complement that feature, I’m going to quickly note some other artists you may want to check out. As with any festival this size, the schedule’s a gnarly logistical puzzle you have to work out to maximize your experience. Good luck—and I hope you’re well rested.
Peace, y'all. I write this now while on tour with Shabazz Palaces. Though by the time you read this I'll likely be in Boise or on my way home, we sit at this moment in a hotel room in St. Louis, watching the news after completing a 19-hour drive from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Shouts go out to STL stalwarts Black Spade and Coultrain (aka the Hawthorne Headhunters), who've helped found an exceedingly chill art/kick-it spot called the Blank Space—a renovated house on the city's south side with a bar and great sound upstairs and in the basement. (Just the sort of place I can't imagine the uptight 206 ever pulling off aboveboard.) Shouts go out to Spade's younger bro, the MC Tef Poe, who's been a source of on-the-ground intel about the scene in Ferguson since the beginning almost, what, two months ago now? Go check Tef's Twitter and his latest LP, Cheer for the Villain.
Speaking of—months ago, NYC's Bobby Shmurda was a total unknown, but now everybody knows his single "Hot Nigga," partly due to the song, but mostly due to the video, featuring Shmurda's "Shmoney Dance," which has become a joyous living meme in itself...
Kyle Fleck and I preview Decibel Festival in this week’s paper, but obviously it’s impossible to cover everything we think is worthwhile. So to complement that feature, I’m going to quickly note some other artists you may want to check out. As with any festival this size, the schedule’s a gnarly logistical puzzle you have to work out to maximize your experience. Good luck—and I hope you’re well rested.
...because I'm feeling nostalgic and because I graduated high school in 2003. I have decided, now that I am almost 30, that vintage Jimmy Eat World shall be the soundtrack to fall. I used to LOVE them! They were the first band I ever saw at a big stadium show with people who were not my parents (they opened for Green Day and Blink-182, best bill everrr). Plus I always thought it would be nice if Jim Adkins was my boyfriend. That unibrow and floppy hair parted down the middle? #swoon #swoon #swooooon
Anyway, I'm not ashamed to say the entire Bleed American album (except for that one slow song) and also some of Futures are holding up extremely well on my walks to work and make me want to air drum with my eyes closed JUST like a did in high school. (Should I have started this post with "Dear Diary" or what?)
Confidential to Jim Adkins: Hi.
Update: YOU GUYS, I just looked at the Jimmy Eat World website and they are going on tour next month for the 10-year anniversary of Futures!!! They're not coming to Seattle, but I will accept a ride to their Oakland show on October 4 as an early birthday gift…
For the 2014 Decibel Festival art show, 40 designers have made posters—using whatever media or process they choose—for this year's performers. If it's anything like 2013's show, it'll be one of the best poster events of the year. Find out more at dbfestival.com.
DECIBEL OPENING GALA & POP-UP ART SHOW
w/Lusine, Natasha Kmeto + Effixx, Sabota
Wed Sept 24, EMP Sky Church
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth have been purveying a brutal yet artful brand of heavy metal over the last five years. Led by the iconic frontman/titanic force of nature Tad Doyle, BOTSC—who include bassist Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French—take his previous band TAD’s pugilistic, song-based approach into more extreme, epic realms of the rock spectrum. All of BOTSC's hard toil has paid off in a deal with Neurot Recordings, the respected heavy-music label run by members of the bands Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot. Expect the album sometime in early 2015. The Stranger conducted a brief interview with Tad to see what's on the horizon for BOTSC.
The Stranger: What factors made you decide to sign with Neurot Recordings?
Tad: I’ve known those guys for a long time and I really respect all the work the label’s done. It has a really good sense of integrity. I thought it would be a good fit because we have similar backgrounds.
What’s the album's title?
I think it’s just gonna be Brothers of the Sonic Cloth.
What can we expect sonically and lyrically from your Neurot Recordings debut album?
Sonically, it’s going to be a lot heavier than anything I’ve done. Those people looking for the poppier end are probably not gonna find it. Lyrically, it draws on a lot of personal and spiritual experiences as well as me recognizing mortality and being more in the moment and present.
Have you had any close brushes with mortality?
No; just living every day will do it. You get to be my age [Tad’s turning 54 this month], you kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How do you feel like your new music’s stacking up compared to your old work?
I really feel that this is my best work to date, and hopefully there will be some more. It’s different inasmuch as there’s more depth and meaning to it than the previous Tad stuff—which was good on its own, but different. When you have some time to step away from music for a while—which I did—you discover a lot of stuff that I was missing during all those years I was touring. I found a lot of great stuff and am drawing on inspiration from all across the board.
What are some examples of this inspiration?
There’s a modern composer Edgard Varèse that I really like. Neurosis records have always been inspiring to me. I’ve always liked Yob since I found about them. Cult of Luna. There’s some good black metal out there. I try to stay diverse in what I listen to.
Are you working with a producer on this record, or are you producing?
The recording engineer who mixed the album is Billy Anderson [Sleep, Mr. Bungle, Red House Painters]. I chose him because I like what he’s done in the past. I knew he was going to put his heart and soul into it, like we have into the music. I feel like he’s done that. It couldn’t have been mixed by anyone else, in my mind.
Will there be a major tour to support the album? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We’ll be doing some sporadic touring. We hope to go to some festivals in Europe and do some dates in the states. It probably won’t be like the old days of touring nonstop. We’ll make it out here and there. No shows are in the works yet.
Press release after the jump.
Be sure to check out the documentary on Tad, Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears, if you haven't yet.
That marathon electronic-music extravaganza known as Decibel Festival returns for its 11th edition, and this time The Stranger's offering two perspectives about how to optimize your enjoyment. Both Segal (old) and Fleck (young) will guide you toward what should be the highlights of your show-going year—or your money back. (Visit dbfestival.com for more info.)
Rrose @ Re-bar, 10 pm
Rrose is the queen of pitch-black, fathoms-deep techno. After witnessing her max out everyone's serotonin levels during a 4 a.m. gig at the defunct Electric Tea Garden last year, it's going to be odd experiencing her set before midnight, but don't worry: We trust Rrose will deliver the sort of hallucinogenic, stroboscopic cuts—especially "Waterfall"—that turn club spaces into cyclotrons of subatomic synth matter and psychedelic percussion. DAVE SEGAL
This Wreckage May Look Familiar: Samantha Scherer lifted her subjects from actual news photographs of wreckage or scenes from TV crime dramas. Her work is on display at the G. Gibson Gallery.
Pain of Salvation's Hook-Heavy Rock: Will be in full effect at El Corazon this evening.
A Chorus Line: For four more days!
Breadline Poetry: This installment of the quarterly reading series features a jazz trio and several writers. It's at Vermillion tonight at 7 pm.
Decibel Starts Tonight: Check out our comprehensive guide to make sure you're making the most of it.
Parler la Meilleure Langue du Monde: tonight at Café Presse.
Universal Pre-K: If it's one of your issues, you should go to the community discussion with Tim Burgess tonight.
And here's every other thing happening today, in case that wasn't enough.
This film of a Croton-on-Hudson, NY, teenaged
Battle of the Bands Band Festival is awesome, kinda awkward (dig the attempts at choreographed bands moves), and hella cute. Legend has it this was filmed for a TV news broadcast.
1967 may'a been the Sumer of Love on Haight Street, but in the rest of the US it was still 1964. I think those li'l fellers, the Bad Habits, who KILL IT with "Disco Grandmother," are my favorite.
This is a *BRAND NEW* song off of a *BRAND NEW* local concept album. I dare say it's not quite like anything you've ever heard before. At least not on THIS planet. Some of the players involved are country-punk Brent Amaker, musicians Vox Mod and P Smoov, along with dancer/artist/musician Molly Sides, photographer/artist Frank Correa, and menswear designer Chris Jones (Like a Rockstar). Its fine, fine concept is best explained, by Amaker, after the cut.
You can preview/preorder the album here. And the live performance (think more performance art than live music set) will explode with a singular, one-time-only live event at Neumos on November 7th.
All album pre-orders will include one entry to win a flyaway to a live Prince performance at Paisley Park Studios in October.
Press release after the jump. Here's "Breakfast Can Wait" from Art Official Age.
I'm sure it's not a surprise I have a TON of friends who play music. I'm a record nerd, usta be in bands, and was part of the "scene" or whatever, but there came a point where I mostly gave up making music. Like, I still care, but now I'm grown and real specific about my tastes and how I spend my time—if I cared to rock and/or roll, I'd prolly still be at it.
However, a lot of my old friends (high-school era, natch) are still in bands. Some have "projects" or are in newish bands either trying to have fun or (gulp) trying to make a living making music. I fully support them playing, but occasionally I get asked for my opinion of their new band. Ugh. Their bands are routinely mediocre. I remember when being pointedly underground meant evolving and progressing to the NEW, but most of my friends lost that thread years ago and they've ended up remaking the same boring indie rock or sorta-punk something they were tryna play in 1987. Making shit worse, now they've gotten "good" at playing guitar so there's ZERO immediacy. So to be nice, I lie and say nice things about their band. Smiling and saying, "Uh, yeah, you guys sound kinda like Dag Nasty" while slowly backing away is cool, right?
Okay, RANT OVER. Thanks for listening, Slog Out.
John Gilbreath is the workaholic who heads up Earshot Jazz Festival, an annual month-long examination and celebration of the art form that includes over 50 concerts featuring acts both local and (inter)national, old and young. This is his 24th year of involvement with the fest. In a sense, what Decibel Festival founder Sean Horton is to Seattle’s electronic-music movement, Gilbreath is to our local jazz scene. He toils year-round as a radio DJ, journalist, and event organizer. The Stranger asked Gilbreath some questions about what it takes to run something as unwieldy as Earshot—which runs from Oct. 10 to Nov. 11 this year—and the state of jazz today.
Earshot Jazz Festival has a nine-person staff. Is this a full-time occupation for everyone or is it all done on a volunteer basis while Earshot members work other jobs? And how do you work in two radio programs on top of all this?
We actually have a staff of only three, and that third person is new. For years, it was just the two of us here in the office, and I myself have three other jobs, including KBCS ["The Caravan"] and KEXP ["Jazz Theater"]. What can I say? I’m a worker. Earshot is like many over-achieving non-profits; compelled to offer more than should be expected on limited and always-vulnerable resources. Earshot Jazz is in its 30th year, publishing the monthly magazine, offering education and services to the community, and putting up 100 concerts annually, of which 70 percent are by Seattle artists. For the festival, we bring on just a few hard-working production and promotion contracts. We’re also blessed with many great volunteers.
Describe the process of selecting performers for Earshot. What qualities are you looking for in these artists? It seems mighty arduous to fill a month’s worth of slots.
The booking process is pretty organic. Our artistic philosophy is well established, and the Earshot festival, and entire Seattle scene, is already known worldwide. Plus, we’ve already worked with thousands of the artists, giving many of them the first Seattle hits of their careers. Since we are not working with huge budgets, we’re generally participating in existing tour routings for the New York and international artists. Sometimes, we even create tours for emerging artists, with like-minded presenters. And we are always open to new creative projects by Seattle’s incredible resident artists.
Nobody in recent times has been better at keeping the sound and spirit of ’60s/’70s-era Terry Riley alive than Chicago’s Bitchin Bajas. Riley—the legendary minimalist composer who created In C, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Persian Surgery Dervishes, Shri Camel, and many other masterpieces—imbued his long, mantric pieces with deep spiritual resonances influenced by his study with Indian classical master Pandit Pran Nath, and coaxed out of his keyboards holy drones and bubbly, celestial tonalities. Bitchin Bajas (an extremely incongruous name for the cerebral music they make) tap into that exalted vein of tone poetry and, like their mentor, dole out majestic swaths of sonic peace in their compositions.
“Bueu” isn’t even the best cut on their recently released Bitchin Bajas LP on Drag City; that would be the nearly 19-minute “Tilanga.” But “Bueu” has a cool psychedelic video to accompany it and clocks in at a more blog-friendly 12:15. Like the rest of the Bitchin Bajas album, this track can make the most hardcore atheist feel like a benevolent deity created this dadblasted universe. Even if that thought is fleeting, Bitchin Bajas deserve manifold blessings for inspiring it.
At her Showbox at the Market set on Friday, I was totally caught off guard by how deep Jackson’s speaking voice was when she bantered between tracks—I mean, the woman sings in an angelically high soprano. But the shockingly low register only compounded the alien-like aspect of her sound, as if her singing voice wasn't so much coming out of her as it was channeled through her.
She played quite a bit of material off of her new record, Trouble in Paradise—unfortunately, survey says that new record is a little flat. Everyone I spoke to at the show was still riding the high from her self-titled debut and just wanted to hear her old hits. I can’t say I blame them. The new material is much less innovative—it lacks that punchy, futuristic quality that was so compelling about the first record. In comparison, the follow-up feels a little like hustling backwards. She ended the night strong with her hit single “Bulletproof,” and the crowd was ravenous. The floor shook from the vibration of hundreds of dancing feet. It was clear that this was the moment we had all been waiting for, and when it was finished, thunderous applause rang throughout the venue.
More photos after the jump.
I bet y'all know Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' version of "I Love Rock and Roll"—it prolly defined her career. But what y'all might not know is that it was a song nicked from a popular-for-a-minute English glam/lads group called the Arrows.
"I Love Rock and Roll" was first issued as a B-side, but was reissued as an A-side after a TV performance earned them their very own short-run TV series!! Frontman Allen Merrill has been quoted saying "I Love Rock and Roll" was "a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll." Hmmm, I do hear the obvious sleezy Jagger swagger in the song. (By the way, this group was not connected to ANY other groups called the Arrows.)
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