Music

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today's Song of the Day is "Fuck Boy" by Lyssi Featuring E-40

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM

According to the Rap Dictionary, "[t]he term 'Fuck Boy' originates from Atlanta, GA. It is used to mean a weak man who can't get right." The Online Slang Dictionary defines a fuck boy as "a male who tries to be something that he knows nothing about." We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Urban Dictionary's rather offensive though strangely poetic definition:

"A person who is a weak ass pussy
that ain't bout shit." (line break their own)

And rapper/singer Lyssi is frankly sick of 'em. So, in a club-minded, foul-mouthed addition to the lineage stretching from TLC's eternal "No Scrubs" to "Bills Bills Bills" by Destiny's Child, her and her Bay Area godfather E-40 proceed to eviscerate these deadbeats in a variety of suitably devastating ways. In short: get your game up, bro's.

E-40 will be be at Showbox Sodo on Monday night in support of G-Eazy.

Radio Show Subtronic Is the Beginning of The End's EDM Experiment

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

On November 15, KNDD (107.7 The End) debuted its EDM-oriented radio show Subtronic. Hosted by DJ Zach, Subtronic airs every Saturday from 10 pm to midnight. It departs from The End’s usual alternative rock™ playlist with an emphasis on big-name electronic-music artists who typically rack up YouTube views in the hundreds of thousands and millions, like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Kaskade (see the complete setlist here).

“We've been laying the groundwork for this thing for a couple of months,” says KNDD program director Garett Michaels. “We sent our listener survey in the middle or end of August. We got it back and were looking at the interest in it and that's when we thought we gotta move on this. But it takes time to put it together and figure out what the vibe of it is gonna be. There's everything from getting music together to identifying who's gonna put the show together to piecing together the production of it and all that other stuff.”

KNDD chose Zach (last name: Van Lue) to DJ the show because of his experience, which dates back to the ’90s. “I love the fact that he's had to deal with the diversity of doing this and then having residencies in Spain and Egypt,” Michaels says. “It was an easy decision once we really started thinking about it. But I didn't think of him right away, because he didn't really raise his hand. He's had a regular gig at night at 107.7 The End since last winter.”

Michaels is still uncertain about increasing Subtronic’s frequency beyond one night a week, if it really takes off. “The most important thing is to see what the audience wants. This is the first time we’ve put this show on. It’s going to take a little time to ascertain how it’s doing. The initial feedback was fantastic. But right now it’s a Saturday night thing. The first step would be to determine whether we want to expand it to more than two hours. If the demand is there for it, we’d be open to expanding it beyond 10 to midnight.”

Unusual for modern commercial radio, Zach makes the selections himself. Michaels admits his expertise does not include electronic music, so he’s happy to delegate those decisions to Zach. “I love the fact that the show has four sets—two sets per hour,” Michaels says. “Each set had a vibe and a theme, stylistically. If you talk to anybody in EDM, there are multiple genres within the genre.”

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RIP, Soul Great Jimmy Ruffin

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Motown great Jimmy Ruffin passed away Monday, November 17. He was 78. There has been no official cause of death yet listed, but he had been in ICU, perhaps with pneumonia, in a Las Vegas hospital since October.

Ruffin was born in Collinsville, Mississippi, in 1936, and got his start singing, along with his younger brother David, in local gospel group called the Dixie Nightingales. In 1961 he moved to Detroit and started as a session/solo singer for Motown. He had one killer single issued by Motown's Miracle label, "Don't Feel Sorry For Me" b/w "Heart," and then he was drafted. In 1964, after completing his national service, he returned to Motown and was tapped for a spot in the Temptations; a spot he lost out on after the boss changed his mind and chose his younger brother David, instead (tho' to hear Jimmy's version he gave the Temptations spot to his brother). As a solo singer, initially, Jimmy Ruffin did have a good run. I'd reckon he's best remembered for his Top 10 song, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." For my money tho', my fave Jimmy Ruffin side has got to be "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got."

After his '60s Top 40 run the only real stateside chart action was via an album he recorded with brother David, I Am My Brother's Keeper. The album was kinda meant to restart both Ruffins' dragging careers, but beyond a couple of the LP's singles bubbling under, it came and went without reviving either brother's career. It's a bummer, as the LP is GREAT; just dig the strength of their single "When My Love Hands Come Down." GODDAMN!

Anyway, for the remainder of the '70s, Ruffin's records only charted in Europe; so in 1980, as his career in the US had evaporated, he moved to England. There his career rebounded a bit, he recorded a new album (produced by Robin Gibb ), Sunrise, and scored a UK Top 10 pop hit, "Hold On to My Love." Following Sunrise, in the mid-'80s, he recorded a couple tracks with Heaven 17, and then, in the '90s he became a radio host. He eventually relocated to Las Vegas, and, from what I can tell, he essentially retired from making music. However, after a 2010 reissue of the I Am My Brother's Keeper, he recorded an album's worth of new material which was set to be released on his 77th birthday, but it never materialized.

My Philosophy: Remembering Big Bank Hank and Looking to Seattle Hiphop's Future

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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Near the dawn of the '80s, Sugar Hill Records chief Sylvia Robinson was trying desperately to sign a rap group, but she couldn't find any that were interested in actually going into the studio—until then, rap had been a strictly live phenomenon, existing only in clubs and at house parties. When Robinson's son discovered Henry Lee "Big Bank Hank" Jackson tossing pizzas and rhyming, she offered him a spot in her put-together crew, the Sugar Hill Gang. Of course, the rhymes Jackson had been reciting at the time were from the Cold Crush Brothers, who he was managing, and the ones he brought to his first studio session were straight from another of his clients, Grandmaster Caz (who'd willingly loaned Hank his notebook for the session, a fact he bemoans to this day). Thus was born hiphop's first giant leap into the music business, Sugar Hill Gang's multi-platinum 1979 hit "Rapper's Delight." When thinking in terms of culture and industry, it's good to remember that the first rap song all your favorite rappers ever heard was—as scribe Oliver Wang once put it—"an inauthentic fabrication."…

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Song of the Day Is Bratmobile's "Cool Schmool"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

You know why? 'Cause Kill Rock Stars just this week re-released Bratmobile's Pottymouth on bright-pink vinyl. The first pressing in more than 10 years! F$%CK YOU! What's so cool about being cool? We're not in junior high school! Rather be dead than cool.

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Have You Guys Met Eugene? He's a "Cool Dude in a Loose Mood"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 1:45 PM

I dunno if this ever made the MTV, but Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band's ridiculous video for their 1980 A-side "Eugene" kinda speaks for itself.

I ran into Eugene's son, Gary, this past Saturday night. I knew he was Eugene's boy because he acted exactly like his dad. The only difference is Gary has the cliché contemporary update: a shit ton of quickly fading "meaningful" tattoos, one of those fancy new Hitler youth haircuts (grown out, no less), and a sketchy Eddie Rabbitt beard. Oh, and all the girls at the table said Gary routinely booty calls texts Faceboook Instant Messages them tho' they aren't friends online or in real life.

Crazy Joe and the Variable Speed Band were a Kiss related group. Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley cowrote "Eugene" and, I think, you see him in the video as a member of the band. It's been hinted the "Eugene" character is based on Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. Crazy Joe, BTW, was in fact NY producer Joe Renda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Song of the Day Is: Intelligent Hoodlum's "Grand Groove"

Posted by on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 5:07 PM


Back in the day, when DJ Riz Rollins had a popular residency on Friday night at the Rebar, he never failed to blend this hiphop classic with the source of its funky sample, "Remind Me" by Patrice Rushen´╗┐. A tune about a woman worshiping her lover's appearance is transformed into a track about a rapper dealing with loss, childhood memories, and existential ideas on the essence of life and the nature of presence. The funk of the original is not lost in the seriousness of the revision.

I bring this up because DJ Riz Rollins, one of the best humans in this city, is spinning this Saturday at the Northwest African American Museum with two other DJs (Sassy Black and Top Spin). The purpose of the event, called NAAMTASTIC Voyage, is to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit—Funky Turns 40: The Black Character Revolution. You can get tickets for the party right here.

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  • The Museum of the Uncut Funk

Live for the funk, die for the funk.

The Rock Show I WISH I Could Attend Tonight

Posted by on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Like, I can't go out tonight, um, I have to see a man about a dog, BUT you peeps ought to dig this action! C'mon, it's Tuesday, I KNOW, but is it really ever TOO early to CUT LOOSE??! All right, so, tonight's bill: there's Minnesota band Teenage Moods, who are a jangling Midwest/'80s indie-sounding group with hints of a charming anglophile affection, Wiscon, a local quartet whose lo-fi, keyboard led coolness is ALL late-'70s new wave sans checkerboard blouses, Skates feature ex-members of Redwood Plan and are accurately self-described as pop-punk, and UK group Esper Scout, who are quite well sorted with their BIG indie sound, like proper '90s indie sound; they come off like Jale with bigger amps or Come without the drugs.

Right, so there you go: FOUR bands, FIVE bones—NO EXCUSES! Well, unless you're going to see a man about a dog. Oh, be sure to show up early, as the Victory gets real packed real QUICK!

TONIGHT! Tues Nov 18 // Victory Lounge // $5 // bands at 9:30 pm

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UK Post-Punk Legends the Pop Group to Play Neumos March 12

Posted by on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 1:03 PM

One of the most sonically and lyrically revolutionary bands from the UK's post-punk movement, the Pop Group, will be playing Neumos March 12, 2015. It's their first-ever Seattle appearance. The Pop Group's combustible combination of funk, dub, jazz, and no wave made a huge impact on the musical underground, influencing important groups like Minutemen, Fugazi, and bIG fLAME not only with their radical music but also with their astringent, left-leaning lyrics (they were social justice warriors in extremis).

The Pop Group resurgence picked up steam earlier this year when the Freaks R Us label reissued the Pop Group's We Are Time (early live and studio recordings) and released the rarities collection Cabinet of Curiosities. (I reviewed the former here.) Both 1979's Y and 1980's For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? are essential documents of a band that put out some of the most uncompromising sounds and words this side of the Last Poets (see their collaboration on the latter LP, "One Out of Many").

Tickets for the Pop Group go on sale Friday November 21 and can be purchased here (it's a 21+ show). Read Rolling Stone's oral history of the band here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grappling with Post-1970 Frank Zappa

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 5:24 PM

I LOVE concept albums. Some of my favorite albums are narrative driven concepts, like the Pretty Things' SF Sorrow or Skip Bifferty's Skip Bifferty album. And I'm all for pop/freak theater in rock, like Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown, or even the Tubes. However, as rock staggered into the 1970s, a lot of the groups got real self-conscious and serious about their concepts. For example: Rush. Anyways, after the original Mothers of Invention split, and band leader Frank Zappa became known as just Zappa, I lost interest. Part of it was Zappa records, by the mid-'80s, were worth more than GOLD, which made it difficult to obtain 'em, AND every pretentious rock freak was soooooo "serious" about everything Zappa. Ugh. They'd endlessly, and obsessively, yammer on about the genius of his '70s and '80s recordings, especially harping on 200 Motels! At the time, by the way, most of these serious rock bros hadn't even seen the film yet!!

Honestly, I kinda dig Zappa's early solo records: Hot Rats is my fave, Chunga's Revenge keeps it weird, while Waka/Jawaka, Weasles Ripped My Flesh and The Grand Wazoo are okay. I say only "okay" as his jazz thing cuts a bit too close to prog's love of fusion for my thick-skulled primitive tastes. And that is as far as I've seriously gotten into the Zappa catalog. Honestly, what I've heard of his mid-'70s albums, after Phlorescent Leech & Eddie were employed, always sound too much like proper theater, like... musicals? Which is fine, but I'm not a fan of musicals. I think my hang-up is feeling once Zappa let the narrative drive his writing process, the music became a frame for his jokes/stories, so there was, um, an imbalance. Personally, I wanna be challenged by the music along with the narrative in a heaving tandem!! (Sigh.) I know Zappa is CHEEKY, but there is just so much cheek I can take before I feel the gags have burned out. That said, I imagine a handful of you on Slog Out are Zappa smarty pants, so I hafta ask, are there any later Zappa records AS solid as Freak Out! or did he keep on being "Zappa" the creator of cheekiest musicals till he died? I'm hoping I gave up on Zappa when the giving up was good?

The Track of the Day Is Afrocop's "Worlds of Wonder"

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 5:15 PM

What Seattle's Afrocop have done here is to reimagine Can's “Vitamin C”—a subliminal slab of shuffle funk and a B-boy favorite for years—as a space-jazz odyssey. In doing so, they (Noel Brass Jr., Andy Sells, Carlos Tulloss, and Doug Port) continue to add evidence to the theory (mainly mine) that they're one of this city's most fascinating bands.

Video by David Delmar.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poster of the Week by Nat Damm

Posted by on Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

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It's time once again to check in with one of Seattle's most prolific and recognizable poster artists, Nat Damm. Pretty much anything Nat does could appear here in this column, but the blank band faces really put this one over the top. See more of Nat's work at natdamm.com.

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The Song of the Day Is Richard Twice's "If I Knew You Were the One"

Posted by on Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM

I really go for the bright, sun-lit, heavily dosed, and dreamiest of sike, so "If I Knew You Were The One," couldn't make me happier. Gosh, it's also kinda the sweetest love song, too.


The duo that recorded this dream, Richard Twice, were songwriters both named Richard—Richard Atkins and Richard Manning—thus, Richard Twice. The pair were from LA and their lone 1970 LP is a solid mix of spot-on harmony folk, sike, and pop. The Richards were helped in the studio by Drake Levin, from Paul Revere & the Raiders, Larry Knechtel of Bread, Mark Tulin from the Electric Prunes, and Rusty Young from country-rock group Poco.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beginning Hits: Listen to Fugazi's First Demos

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM

The internet is somewhat aflutter—but Mike Nipper isn't—over Washington DC post-hardcore band Fugazi making their First Demos available for streaming. Cut in 1988 at Inner Ear Studio, these 11 tracks capture the group at a very raw and stark stage of their development. The passion and earnestness are already in full force, with their inchoate dub-like tendencies occasionally surfacing. Guy Picciotto only sings lead on one track, "Break-In." The only song not on the original cassette, "Turn Off Your Guns," is one of the best of this batch. It sounds like a chaste Stooges.

Listening to First Demos, you can understand why Fugazi would go on to make fans out of so many aspiring social justice warriors and other species of the post-hardcore diaspora. As someone who listens to Fugazi about once or twice a decade (usually when I hear 'em over a record store's PA), I find First Demos refreshing and exhilarating. I still think they should've delved deeper into dub, though.

Dischord Records releases First Demos on November 18. Read an old Fugazi interview conducted in early 1988 by Andy Perseponko of Desperate State here. Press release after the jump.

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We Asked 13 People at the GWAR Concert: Patriarchy or Matriarchy?

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Actually, because of the addition of new GWAR frontwoman Vulvatron, we asked: What's a more powerful tool for destroying your enemies—a GIANT PENIS SWORD or BREASTS THAT SPEW BLOOD?

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  • Kelly O
"Booooooooooobs! Boobs that shoot lots and lots of blood—it's so GWAR!"


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  • Kelly O
(left) "The boobs, please." (right) "I think the giant penis sword would be a better, more immediate death—versus drowning in boob-blood. The penis sword is more humane."


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  • Kelly O
(left) "Boobs that shoot blood, 'cause, I mean, we're at a bloody GWAR show." (right) "I'd like a penis sword... More fun for a woman to have a big, fat penis... sword."

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Non-Profit CASH Music Exists to Help Musicians Thrive in the Digital Age

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM

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Former Bangs bassist/Kill Rock Stars publicist/current Bikini Kill Records manager Maggie Vail is executive director of a Portland-based non-profit venture called CASH Music. It originated from a concept hatched by Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh and ex-L7 frontwoman Donita Sparks. The organization exists, Vail says, to “help artists become more sustainable in the digital age. We build free open source digital tools, are working on education for artists, and host summits around the country. Our summits are designed to bring musicians and technologists together to talk about building a better future that works for all.” So far CASH has held summits in Portland, LA, New York City, and Chicago.

With CASH Music, artists can oversee their mailing list, sell their music, and basically manage their entire digital world on a platform that the company boasts is “free to use, now and forever.” Artists currently using CASH Music include Zola Jesus, Raincoats, Deerhoof, Explosions in the Sky, and No Age.

So, how will CASH survive if it’s free? “We survive on grants, donations, sponsorships, and fellowships,” Vail says. “We don’t need a lot to operate—we’re a pretty lean organization with only three full-time employees. Right now we’re funded mainly by a fellowship that my [CASH Music] partner Jesse von Doom was awarded last spring from the Shuttleworth Foundation. We have a long-term plan for membership, but the tools will always be separate from that.”

CASH’s Seattle summit takes place 12:30 pm Saturday, November 15 at Vera Project and 11 am-4 pm Sunday, November 16 at Rhapsody. The former will involve a discussion day hosted by John Roderick, who’ll be talking about CASH with Shelby Earl, Chris Sutton (Hornet Leg, Gossip), Sean Nelson (ex-Harvey Danger, Stranger arts editor), and Glenn Fleishman (The New Disruptors, Boing Boing). The latter will tackle several topics that will give musicians, developers, label bosses, fans, etc. what CASH is all about. Both confabs are free, but you need to RSVP here.

Hey, Neat, We Reviewed Some Albums! The Newest from the Pop Group, Ex Hex, and Black Hat

Posted by , and on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

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THE POP GROUP
We Are Time

(Freaks R Us Records)

The Pop Group were the rare unit whose revolutionary lyrical content meshed perfectly with their agitational aural attack. Listening to Pop Group classics like 1979's Y and 1980's For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, one felt compelled to redistribute wealth and cave in oppressive government leaders' heads. The five left-leaning members of this British band browbeat funk and rock into radical new shapes. Of all the innovative talent in Britain's postpunk era, the Pop Group may have been the most galvanic of all. Ask Minutemen and Fugazi.

We Are Time consists of live and studio recordings from '78 and '79. For hardcore fans...

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Microglobe's "High on Hope (Long Hot Summer Mix)" Is Your Choice Cut of the Day

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The English translation of Der Klang Der Familie, an oral history of Berlin's influential techno scene following the "fall of the wall," has just been released to mark the 25th anniversary of that occasion, and it's surely near the top of many a gearhead's hypothetical holiday wish list—you can check out an excerpt on Pitchfork. Particularly of note is the origin story of Tresor, a legendary underground club that showcased and incubated a mind-boggling amount of electronic talent since its inception in the early 1990s.

Microglobe's "High on Hope," from the seminal 1992 compilation put out by Tresor's home imprint, isn't necessarily representative of the Berlin scene as a whole: It's a bit more flowery and house-influenced than the monolithic, steroidal machine music favored by many at the time. The track's an unwieldy thing too, taking its sweet time on two minutes of stop-start piano vamps and untethered acid before recalibrating itself into a carefree, nimbus-light techno tune. But the early ’90s rave vibe of unbound, MDMA-assisted discovery is present in every note, and the squelchy bass line/four on the floor beat duo are vintage Tresor. Those who stick it out are treated to one of the most euphoric breakdowns of all time, a masterful moment of tension and release that hangs with the best out there. "The sound of the family," indeed.

The Bug Makes the Kind of Dub You'd Expect to Hear on a Space Station

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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"As they worked, Case gradually became aware of the music that pulsed constantly through the cluster. It was called dub, a sensuous mosaic cooked from vast libraries of digitalized pop; it was worship, Molly said, and a sense of community." This quote is taken from William Gibson's Neuromancer, the 1984 novel that founded, in the consciousness of the mainstream, the cyberpunk movement in science fiction and also provided the first popular name for the internet, cyberspace. Case, the hero of the novel, is in a space station, Zion, that was built by construction workers and is now run by Rastas. As the Zion orbits the zone between dark space and earth's blue atmosphere, "bass-heavy" dub music reverberates through the station's crammed compartments, segments, nodes, locks, and docks. When I ever reread or recall this striking passage in Neuromancer, I always try to imagine the sound of this dub. What is it like? What kind of dub do Rastas in the future of the time that the novel was written (the early '80s) listen to?

We can begin the search for this sound with an appreciation of the fact that in the early '80s, the first major dub movement, its golden age...

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The Bug plays tonight at Nectar. Click here for more info!

My Philosophy: All Your Friend's Friends Signals the Return of the Hiphop Comp

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

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My introduction to the Seattle Hiphop Scene™ came one day in 1997 as I pawed through the CD racks at some record store in Ballard (shouts to Grynch, who was like 10 at the time); I was instantly intrigued by the distinctive Specs One art that was the cover of 14 Fathoms Deep, a local hiphop compilation put out by Loosegroove Records—founded by Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and Brad's Regan Hagar. (Crazy to think that I actually discovered local rap due to the largesse of the NW rock groundswell. Glad I bought that Ten cassette all over again.)

14 Fathoms became an everyday/all-day listen for me, as I first fell in love with the breadth and talent of the hiphop community in my backyard—and it still holds up. It also wasn't alone: Tribal Productions had dropped the classic crew comp Do the Math the year before—and 1998 brought us both Conception Records' Walkman Rotation and Classic Elements, put out by Olympia's K Records. Thus the compilation became the gold standard...

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The Young Evils' Major-Label Travails and False Starts

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Seattle pop-rock group the Young Evils have been through the sort of major-label rigmarole that gives major labels a bad name. Maybe you can relate. In 2012, they released an EP titled Foreign Spells. Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend, Cults) produced it. Soon after its release, popular local DJ Marco Collins posted the lead single “Dead Animals” on his Facebook and someone from Fairfax Records—a Universal subsidiary—contacted the band. After months of negotiations, the Young Evils secured a deal with Fairfax and went to LA’s Sound City Studios (where Nevermind, Rumours, and Pinkerton, among other famous albums, were cut) and recorded 10 songs with Kevin Augunas and his engineers Gavin Paddock and Clif Norrell. They returned to Seattle, but didn’t hear anything from Fairfax for a couple of months, and then they found out that Universal had ceased operations with Fairfax.

But hold your tears… Universal said it wanted the Young Evils to move up to the big leagues. Guitarist/vocalist Troy Nelson picks up the narrative from the band’s Facebook page. “[Universal] wanted more songs, they didn’t love the production, they wanted to re-record, they wanted 30 new songs to choose from (wrote them) and we dutifully plugged away at this exciting opportunity. Unfortunately it felt like some of the classic symptoms of dealing with a major label were setting in - keep the band busy delegating tasks and just hurry up and wait. It was becoming painfully clear that the Young Evils were going to have a tough time fighting for oxygen in meetings mostly devoted to Rhianna's next release.”

Gradually, both band (Mackenzie Mercer, Brendon Helgason, Michael Lee, and Scott Helgason) and label decided to end the relationship, and through what Nelson calls “killer managerial assistance and lawyering, we were able to retain the rights to the music we recorded and walk away.”

Six of the songs from those sessions at Sound City, plus a recent stint at Ben Jenkins’s Kill Room, form the False Starts EP, which will be self-released on November 18.

I caught up with Nelson, who also DJs at KEXP, to discuss the Young Evils’ harrowing encounter with the biggest label conglomerate on the planet and their new music.

What initially convinced you that getting involved with a major label was a good idea? Did any musician friends warn you about the risks?

Nelson: We only became involved with Universal because they had a subsidiary label called Fairfax Records and they really liked our darker EP Foreign Spells. Ever since we drastically moved away from our acoustic-pop beginnings and finally had a solid band in place, we felt like we confused anyone who may have paid attention to us in the first place. Fairfax was the first [label] to be very supportive and vocal about our new direction, and we were happy to fly down to LA and start working with them. They only had three bands on their roster, and one of them was Broncho, who we love. We signed a deal, recorded 10 songs at Sound City, and waited for mixes. During the mixing process, Universal pulled the plug on Fairfax completely, almost overnight. So for months we didn't know where we stood contract-wise and whatnot. We heard that Universal may want to move us over to Universal Republic if they liked the songs. We weren't exactly sure how to feel about everything, but when we found out Phantogram were on that label, we figured there had to be some cool people there.

Months went by and we didn't hear much of anything. Then we saw on Twitter, of all places, that they added us to their lineup. We talked to someone in A&R, and they were ready to finish the mixing and possibly do some more recording. After another few months, we got word that they had laid off quite a few people involved and things were a bit unstable. By that point, we just wanted to release some new music without being in limbo, so we worked on getting out of the whole deal, which is exactly what ended up happening.

Was it painful and expensive to get out of the deal? Has this experience soured you forever on working with majors?

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Vice Mag's Noisey Design: Art Chantry

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM

This short but sweet bit from Noisey Design, "The Lo-Fi Art Of Seattle Grunge," features local design legend Art Chantry.

In the late 80's and early 90's, Art Chantry pioneered the visual style of grunge — designing posters and art for bands that defined the seattle sound. The lo-fi and deconstructed nature of photo set type, xeroxed old imagery and collage can be seen throughout his work and career. With over 500 lp covers, 400 45's and 2000 posters made to date for artists as various as the Sonics, Soundgarden, Hole and the Flaming Lips, Chantry is prolific in his contribution to the worlds of design and music.

My only complaint is the film is short on a lot of details, like things I wanna know/remember. Hell, I bet Chantry could talk for DAYS about the past and its contemporary relevance, but still, despite this problem, it's nice to hear Chantry speaking truths. Maybe Noisey Design will eventually get around to interviewing other famous Seattle grunge designers like Hank Trotter, Lisa Orth, Justin Hampton, and Jeff Kleinsmith to round out the history of the Seattle grunge design.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Song of the Day Comes with a Question: Do People Still Love Marilyn Manson?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Here's the first song released from his newest album, The Pale Emperor (due out January 20). Sounds like he's mellowing out. Though a "Seven Day Binge" sounds a lot like a "Dope Show," now doesn't it?

I love his new press photo. No signs of aging...

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Local Musicians Band Together to Pay Tribute to The Last Waltz and Help Rain City Rock Camp for Girls

Posted by on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM

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Several Seattle musicians have been rehearsing like mad to take on one of roots rock’s sacred cows: The Last Waltz LP by the Band. They’ll be paying tribute to it November 23 at the Tractor Tavern. (If you haven’t seen Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film of the same name, get on that.)

The Band’s doppelgängers on this night include Leif Dalan (piano/organ/vocals), Joe Michiels (guitar/vocals), Bill Nordwall (piano/organ/vocals), Michael Rognlie (bass/vocals), and Jasen Samford (drums/vocals). A four-strong horn section and 14 guest singers will also participate. All proceeds for the event go to the local organization Rain City Rock Camp for Girls. The Stranger talked to Samford, who’ll be fulfilling the Levon Helm role for this show, about the motivations behind this The Last Waltz re-creation as a vehicle to raise funds for Rain City Rock Camp for Girls.

“The Band has been a huge influence to me, personally, and that love and influence is shared by a lot of my friends and musical cohorts,” Samford says. “The Band represents everything great about a rock band; it highlights every member’s skills with consummate versatility. I'd talked with friends for years about doing a tribute to The Last Waltz (it is ‘the finest of all rock movies,’ after all). The timing finally worked out right for everyone, and we were able to pull it all together.

“We knew we wanted to make it a benefit show, and Rain City Rock Camp for Girls is one of my favorite local charities. They are, as their mission statement states, ‘dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music, providing girls with an opportunity to participate in an environment that fosters leadership, encourages social change, and cultivates a supportive community of female peers and mentors.’”

Samford and company won’t be performing every song from The Last Waltz at this benefit show, but they’re hoping to make it an annual occurrence, so expect the rest of the album’s repertoire next year, if all goes according to plan. “We went through and tried to pick a sort of ‘best of’ song selection,” Samford says. “Paring down a list of 44 amazing songs was no easy task! We did end up putting in a couple songs that were played at the concert, but didn't make the cut for the film. We settled on: ‘Up On Cripple Creek,’ ‘The Shape I’m In,’ ‘It Makes No Difference,’ ‘Georgia on my Mind,’ ‘Ophelia,’ ‘King Harvest (Has Surely Come),’ ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,’ ‘Stage Fright,’ ‘Coyote,’ ‘Caravan,’ ‘Mannish Boy,’ ‘Helpless,’ ‘The Weight,’ ‘Forever Young,’ ‘I Shall Be Released,’ and ‘Don't Do It.’"

Samford says that there’ll be guest vocalists on every song, including Jason Dodson (Maldives), Tamara Power-Drutis, Ayron Jones, Star Anna, Nouela Johnston, and others. “Nouela will be singing Van Morrison's ‘Caravan,’ and yes, we absolutely talked about really getting into the role for those high kicks.”

Tickets and more info about the personnel are available here and here.

The Many Lives of "Mary Lou"

Posted by on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 7:04 AM

I reckon most of you folks know the jam "Mary Lou" as the closing killer track off the Oblivians' "gospel" album, The Oblivians Play 9 Songs with Mr Quintron; it's a solid version, indeed. Well, the original version, there are two takes BTW, was first recorded by R&B singer Young Jessie in 1955.

After a decade of R&B, during which he record more than 15 singles, Jessie switched to recoding jazz and novelty records, and he's still at it today. As for "Mary Lou," well, it's been a very well-loved song: Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, the Steve Miller Band, Bob Seger, AND Gene Clark have all turned in versions of the song.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Magical Teen-Bedroom World of the Courtneys

Posted by on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM

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The Courtneys create dreamy slumber-party-soundtrack songs, perfect for taking fashion mag personality quizzes, prank-calling the babely delivery boy, or scrapbooking photos of Point Break–era Keanu (to whom they've devoted a song). Though I imagine the Vancouver trio would do all of these things half-jokingly, perhaps as a pre-party to the kind of DIY punk basement show that was the band's norm before landing an opening slot touring with Tegan and Sara. Using Clean-influenced jangle-pop guitar riffs, catchy post-punk bass lines, and giddy gang vocals, the Courtneys manage to sneak sophistication into their magical teen-bedroom world. At times, they delight in the fun of crushed-out pop culture (singing odes to Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys, for example); other times, they get bittersweet and poetic about minimum-wage jobs and social anxiety—all with an effortless, grungey cool that causes their songs to linger in my head for days. I interviewed guitarist Courtney Loove, the only member of the band who is actually named Courtney (Jen Twynn Payne sings and plays drums; Sydney Koke plays bass). She was drawing ducks at her animation-studio day job when I called.

What are some of your favorite cartoons? I really like more adult shows like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. I watch a lot of classic cartoons. I watch a lot of Daria. It's totally the best...

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The Courtneys play the Paramount with Tegan and Sara tonight! Click here for more info.

Karen Black and L7 Perform "Bang Bang" on Public Access Show: Decoupage! 2000

Posted by on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Decoupage! was a charming, "lightly" scripted, and ridiculous send up of '70s talk shows that was featured on Los Angeles public access TV from '89 to '90. The elaborate sets and show production time eventually proved to be restrictive, and the producers shuttered the project after seven episodes, I think. However, the show returned in '97 as a one-off with a sci-fi/Barbarella theme called Decoupage! 2000: Return of the Goddess. This episode was scripted and included guest Exene Cervenka reciting "They Must Be Angels" and actor Karen Black backed by L7 performing "Bang Bang." It's quite badass.

Jeez, I lerve THEM WIGS! Also, it's kinda weird to see L7 kitted out like the Pandoras pretending to be the Fonz! Oh, the Decoupage! YouTube™ channel is FULL of amazing clips.

Check Out a Cut from Seattle Garage-Rock Trio Dreamsalon's New LP, Soft Stab

Posted by on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Rugged, swaggering Seattle garage-rock trio Dreamsalon will celebrate the release of their second album, Soft Stab (Sweet Rot/Dragnet Records) Friday, November 21, at the Highline. It's the follow-up to 2013's flinty and instantly catchy Thirteen Nights. Guitarist/vocalist Craig Chambers, bassist Min Yee, and drummer/vocalist Matthew Ford all have excellent histories in an array of crucial underground-rock units, including A Frames, Yves/Son/Ace, Evening Meetings, Factums, and Stranger Genius winners the Intelligence.

"Walkin' Past My Dreams" arrests you from the start with the electric-bass equivalent of Bernard Herrmann's strident string shrieks from Psycho. The song gradually accelerates into an urgent, feral scrapyard rock that threatens to fly right off the Bandcamp template and scorch your noggin. God damn, this kind of recalls A Frames at their most frenzied, and it bodes well for the rest of Soft Stab.

Press release after the cut.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Track of the Day Is Martin Rev's "Triton"

Posted by on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Martin Rev is the musical genius behind Suicide, his revolutionary NYC duo with Alan Vega. On their best-known albums, Suicide and Second Album, they stripped things down to severe, menacing synthesizer swells and drum-machine pulsations over which Vega intoned and yelped with nerve-racking, Elvis-oid spasms. Rev’s solo works reveal a more psychedelic sensibility, with Martin Rev, Clouds of Glory, To Live, and Les Nymphes being prime examples of his more densely layered and disorienting compositional approach. With its slashing riffs and timbral power, “Triton,” from 2008’s Les Nymphes, verges on heavy metal, but it bears Rev’s trademark maniacal devotion to repetition, which leads to a kind of pinwheel-eyed awe. It’s only a matter of time before Gaspar Noé uses this in one of his films’ pivotal scenes.

Martin Rev is making his live solo debut Friday, November 14, at the Triple Door, headlining the first night of Hypnotikon II, an event I helped to curate.

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Not All Horns Blow

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