Categories
Fitz and the Tantrums Florence and the Machine Imaginary Scoop Sharon van Etten Tallest Man on Earth The Head and the Heart The Walkmen Wild Flag

Live at KEXP vol. 7: on sale now!

{Live at KEXP volume 7 is here!}

Welcome to Rocktober, everybody! And what better way to start the month than with a celebration of what makes the Seattle music scene so great? Yep, we're talking about KEXP. The fall pledge drive is on, and it needs your pledge off support!

You can call anytime this week {locals call 206.903.KEXP, toll free is 866.903.KEXP}, log in online and do an electronic pledge, or walk yourself on over to the station and give. There's tons of great thank-you gifts — shirts, totes, lunchbags, 500 Club memberships — nothing is too small to count. Whether you can give five dollars, five dollars a month, five hundred dollars, or five hundred dollars a month, everything makes a difference and everything is appreciated. We've given to the station at varying states of financial gain (and diress), we've been one-time donors and Amplifier Club members, and year after year we remain in good standing in whatever capacity we can, giving our hard-earned money (and time, when we can!) to support a cause that's near and dear to our hearts for so many reasons.

One thing that's particularly exciting about this year's slew of thank-you gifts is the most recent version of Live at KEXP Volume Seven. Since the Live at… series began back in 2005, every release has been good — but none have ever really reached the level of awesome that Volume One came to bring upon our ears. With tracks from bands like the Shins, The Stills, Alexi Murdoch, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, Snow Patrol, Rilo Kiley, and Ben Gibbard, it quickly went to heavy rotation in our headphones and cars, accompanying us as part of our everyday soundtrack. And this year, both the bands {and sweet design!*} have sent us running to pick up a copy. Check out this track listing!

1. Florence and the Machine – Rabbit Heart
2. My Goodness – C'mon Doll
3. Wire – Moreover
4. Fitz & the Tantrums – Breaking the Chains of Love
5. Mad Rad – Underwater
6. Destroyer – Song for America
7. James Blake – Limit To Your Love
8. Jonsi – Boy Lillikoi
9. Susana Baca – Bendiceme
10. The Walkmen – Juveniles
11. Wild Flag – Romance
12. Capsula – Magnetic Brain
13. Steve Wynn & The Miracle Three – Amphetamine
14. Aurelio – Laru Beya
15. The Head and the Heart – Lost in my Mind
16. The Tallest Man On Earth – A Field of Birds
17. Sharon Van Etten – One Day

If you act now, you can get it with a donation and/or pick it up at selected local retailers. But whichever method you choose, don't wait! Once the drive as over and the copies sell out, it's done for and unavailable.

What are you waiting for? Take a moment and give back a little bit to help the station that gives so much to you.

{*This year's release includes, among other things, some radtacular photography from our friend Christopher Nelson. Nice work, Chris!}

Categories
Aloe Blacc Brandi Carlile Bright Eyes Charles Bradley Cold War Kids Elbow Fitz and the Tantrums Fleet Foxes Gillian Welch Imaginary Scoop Mavis Staples Moondoggies On The Road Phosphorescent Ray LaMontagne Stevie Wonder Telekinesis! The Cave Singers The Head and the Heart The Walkmen We Are Augustines Yellow Ostrich Zilker Park

Here we go, Austin! Here we go! *clap!* *clap!*

Yup. There sure are a lot of exclamation points up in that headline, and with good cause: we're heading off for Austin City Limits this weekend, to catch some bands and some tan in the near-hundred-degree sun. Between pre-trip laundering, hydrating, charging our camera batteries and getting all that three-ounce-or-less business handled for the flight, we thought we'd take a minute to let you know about some of the acts we're particularly excited about this year — especially since there seems to be a particularly strong PNW presence to be reckoned with every single day of the 'fest.

{Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Brandi Carlile / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The start of the fest on Friday is kind of like easing in to that hot, soapy, not-too-dirty-yet festival bath. Hometown heroine Brandi Carlile will be getting things going early in the day, and we're hoping her sweet sounds will put us in the right kind of mood to slide over into Ray LaMontagne's late afternoon set — they're both playing at the AMD stage starting around 2p. As the day darkens, we hope to get a little more gritty with the Cave Singers, and while Cold War Kids and Bright Eyes blow their sets out back-to-back {on the Honda and AMD stages respectively, for those of you following along in your custom-made schedules at home}, we might have to weasel our way forward to get a bigger-than-Bumbershoot-sized helping of Charles Bradley as he closes out the Vista Equity stage just before forever-legend Mavis Staples. As to whether we end day one with Kanye West or Coldplay — my vote's on Kanye. But seeing as the fest is all sold out except for a few Sunday passes, we might not be able to make it close enough for a photo report. Fingers crossed!

Pending crowd surges (and weather permitting), we hope to also make time to get a little Delta Spirit, Smith Westerns, Kurt Vile, and Santigold into our schedules too!

{Aloe Blacc / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Telekinesis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Then, we'll be off to sweet, sweet Saturday. Also known as Dance Party Day. Also known as Stevie Motherfucking Wonder Day.

No matter which way you arrange the docket we'll be starting our day with Telekinesis, and then shifting over to catch Aloe Blacc & The Grand Scheme on one of the main {Bud Light} stages — and at that point, it'll be pretty tempting to park our white-girl selves there for the day to have a chance at even a relative glimpse of Stevie Wonder's headlining set at 8p. Mind you, it wouldn't be the end of the world to take the day in with sets from J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Allison Krauss & Union Station, and Cee Lo. However, with glittery gems like Phosphorescent, Iron & Wine, the Moondoggies, Fitz & The Tantrums, Gillian Welch, Wanda Jackson, and My Morning Jacket shining their respective love-lights all over the park — we might just have to venture out to see some of it. This will likely be determined by a coin toss, and you'll just have to wait for the photos sometime next week to find out what happens…

{The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Easy like Sunday morning, for sure! Yellow Ostrich, yes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., yes yes. The Head and the Heart, yes to the frigging YES. The Walkmen? Yes. Broken Social Scene? YES. But holy hell in a handbasket, ELBOW {!!!!!!!!!}. Which, on some level, is just as mind-melting of a concept for us as being in the presence of Stevie Wonder the night before. That's a stretch, of course — but for us, Elbow : minor league alt.indie.ihavenoface-ness :: Stevie Wonder : major league legendary status-ness.

Sunday's second half of the day must-sees that we'll be running from stage to stage to catch include (but are not limited to) Gomez, We Are Augustines, Fleet Foxes, and Hayes Carll, all of whom combo together to put us into a reflective, insightful, foot-moving, sun-kissed state. And capping the night off will be none other than Arcade Fire, who'll be launching their modern anthems out into the sweltering nighttime.

Here's to keeping track of our luggage, our earplugs and our water bottles! We'll have a full report with photos next week post-fest.

{Photos by Victoria VanBruinisse. From top: Cave Singers at the Moore (2011), Brandi Carlile at the Crocodile (2010), Aloe Blacc at Sasquatch! (2011), Telekinesis at the Crocodile (2011), and The Head and the Heart at the Comet (2010).}

Categories
Bobby Bare Jr. David Bazan Imaginary Scoop Joshua Morrison Laura Veirs Menomena Okkervil River On The Road Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside Tallest Man on Earth The Cave Singers The Decemberists The Head and the Heart The Helio Sequence The National The Thermals The Walkmen

Countdown to Musicfest Northwest in 3… 2…

Technically, you can get your Musicfest Northwest (MFNW) on starting tonight — there will be a few gigs going on around town down in Portland to warm up the masses — but our imaginary coverage will officially begin tomorrow and we can’t hardly wait!  There’s quite a few acts and sorta-showcases that we’re espcially stoked to see… so without further ado, here are some of our picks for the best-of-the-fest shows for the next four days.

Please note: the approximate start times are listed for the first band only and are subject to change — always check your internets before heading out!

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
Thursday, 10p @ Berbati’s Pan

[sallie ford and the sound outside]

Having seen and heard a lot about these darlings since their 2009 blip on our Seattle radar, it’s going to be quite a treat to catch them at a hometown show. Full of good ol’ fashioned big-bodied electric sound and a pair of lungs that just won’t quit, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside are as swoon-tastic as it gets!

David Bazan + band / Joshua Morrison
Thursday, 9p @ the Doug Fir

[david bazan / by hot avocados photography]

Does this even need an explanation? Hot on the heels of two stellar performances at Bumbershoot, David Bazan (along with the current installment of his band) have fine tuned their sound to some true indie rock perfection. Achy and anthematic to the core, we’re super-stoked to catch them at a venue like the ‘Fir. Add in local favorite-home-safe Joshua Morrison, and you’ve got a night on your hands to remember.

The Thermals
Thursday, 10:30p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[the thermals]

The Thermals killed Bumbershoot, the new album rules, and we’ll be there with bells on. ’nuff said.

Okkervil River / Bobby Bare, Jr.
Friday, 10p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[okkervil river]

One of those lineups that makes you grateful that the bookers are playing close attention: a headlining set with OKR and a warmup by local favorite Bobby Bare, Jr. sounds like the next best thing since sliced bread. The boys of Okkervil have been hard at work, following up their last album with some amazing work next to the great Roky Erickson, and judging by the sound of the twitterverse, on to the next recording of something beautiful.

The Tallest Man On Earth / The Cave Singers
Friday, 11p @ the Doug Fir

[cave singers / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Talk about a pity party. In the best of ways, we mean. With the sweet, haunted, fill-the-room-up sound that both of these acts generate, we’ll be lucky if anyone is left standing at the end of the night. Gorgeous, powerful, goosebumpy times are a-comin’.

The Decemberists / Laura Veirs
Saturday, 6p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

[colin meloy / the decemberists / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Well, duh. If you didn’t get to hit the mainstage this past weekend in Seattle, make sure you get yourself over to this show to get your night started right.

The Head and the Heart
Saturday, 9p @ Berbati’s Pan

[the head and the heart / victoria vanbruinisse]

Yay! Seattle, represent! Deemed by Seattle Weekly as “the best band that didn’t exist twelve months ago,” our very own Head and the Heart will be taking Portland by storm on Saturday night. We’re excited to hit the town with them and watch our friends in sister-city PDX take in everything they’ve got to give. It’s gonna be Blissfest 2010, for sure.

Shabazz Palaces / Champagne Champagne / THEESatisfaction
Saturday, 9p @ Jimmy Mak’s

[theesatisfaction / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Another no-brainer. Three fantastic cuts that showcase the best of the PacNW’s specific flavor of alt.backback.hiphop.ish, with well-delivered lines and thoughtful beats crafted to match. The perfect antithesis to any one of the achier lineups of the weekend.

Menomena
Saturday, 11p @ the Crystal Ballroom

[menomena / laura musselman]

Menomena. Crystal Ballroom. Saturday. Be there. (Seriously.)

The National / The Walkmen / Helio Sequence
Sunday, 5p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

[the walkmen / by victoria vanbruinisse]

Deemed the big headline show of the weekend, we can’t wait to get our elbows into the crowd for this one and all the amazing it has to deliver. Between the solid freakout that the National brings and the feel-it-in-your-back-teeth loud of the Walkmen, we’re pretty sure we might disintegrate on the spot as we close out the ‘Fest with this mega-show.

Phew. That’s a lot of music. Tickets are still available on the MFNW website, where you can also make your own handy-dandy schedule in an attempt to make it to every show on your but-all-of-these-are-a-must-see list! We’ll be splitting ourselves into quadruplets, covering everything we can get our happy hands on, and sending in reports as we’re able.

See you in PDX!

{Big thanks to Laura Musselman for the Menomena photo, and to the TIG flickr pool for the stellar Thermals shot!}

Categories
Berbati's Pan Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom David Bazan Imaginary Scoop Menomena Okkervil River Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside Tallest Man on Earth The Cave Singers The Decemberists The Thermals The Walkmen Wonder Ballroom

It's time to prefunk! Music Fest Northwest is coming, September 8-12

[video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d7d23xDgq0]

While everyone is prefunking Bumbershoot, we’d like to take a moment to officially get the prefunk to the prefunk for Music Fest Northwest going. Starting today.

If you’ve never been, MFNW is like a crazier, spread-out-ier Bumbershoot — spanning four days and venues all over town — or a tinier, cleaner SXSW. Minus the industry hoo-ha and power-showcases and seminars. Beginning on Wednesday, September 8th, our sweet sister-city will be hosting a veritable slew of amazing bands all over town. Acts like Okkervil River, Menomena, the Decemberists, the Cave Singers, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, the Thermals, Dave Bazan, Bobby Bare, Jr., the Walkmen, the National, and the Tallest Man On Earth — among many, many others — will be bringing an extended weekend of bliss to Portland for our listening and viewing pleasure.

We’ll be featuring more of the bands we’re excited to see play this year over the next week, and posting our recommendations on which shows we think you’d like to catch, day-by-day. Until then, however, please enjoy the official MFNW commercial — and when that’s done, take a minute to swing over to the MFNW website and get started on your schedule. Tickets (may) still be available by the time this posts — you can check here to see what’s left, although the three-day VIP tickets have already sold out.

Stay tuned for more prefunk!

Categories
Beach House Johnny and the Moon Live Show Review The Walkmen

Photo Essay: I think the Walkmen broke my face

That's what I tweeted on Saturday (well, Sunday) around one in the morning when I got home from seeing the Walkmen at Neumo's. And I meant it. They were so loud – so unbelieveably loud. But it was loud on a frequency I'd never heard before, not earplugs loud or "I have to get out of here" loud. It was good loud. Blissy loud, amazing loud, that can not be possibly coming from one guitar kind of loud. To the point where I sought out the sound tech after the show and thanked him for it.

I felt the reverb in my molars the same way you can feel bass in the floor at a dance club, which I had never experienced before. And similar to a good DJ's set, the sound made me want to stay there for hours, for as long as my eardrums — and teeth — could take it. I swore we were going to come outside to cracked windows on the cars. In short, this band was simply amazing, as many of you know, and their shows don't disappoint. The ambient, second-slot crowd pleasing Beach House set was the perfect warm-up for what was to come; Johnny and The Moon's warm, jangly vibe started the night off right as one of the best opening acts I'd never heard of so far this year.

Also, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the show at the Triple Door, where the band was doing a gold club performance for KEXP. Two songs in, I moved to the back of the room to listen to the forty-minute set, to experience my first listen of live Walkmen. Simply put, they knocked me off my chair. It was as if the sound cracked open my chest, reached in, and pulled out my heart for me so that I could throw it at the stage. I wanted to hear them write love songs; epic, emotive love songs.

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

I knew immediately I'd have to get to Neumo's early, to insure a spot up front for their set. Here's what it all looked like, I'm amazed these shots even came out — all three bands played in almost total darkness. Which made the show sound even better, if that makes any sense at all.

Johnny and the Moon [by Hot Avocados Photography]

Beach House [by Hot Avocados Photography]

Beach House [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

The Walkmen [by Hot Avocados Photography]

I will not take the breadth or space to discuss the details of the girl next to me, crying — yes, crying: the Beatles are coming, I'm sobbing and clutching my hair kind of crying — but I will take time to point you over to the flickr set for this show, as well as the sparkly pool of goodness, where you can always see more photos.

See you at the shows!

Categories
Calexico Chop Suey Fleet Foxes Frightened Rabbit Goldfrapp Gutter Twins Imaginary Scoop Lykke Li Mates of State Mitch Hedberg Notwist Sigur Ros The Hold Steady The Magnetic Fields The Raveonettes The Walkmen

Best of 2008: Top 10 Albums from Pete Greenberg of Chop Suey

As mentioned here Friday, I had asked a few music-related friends to submit their best of 2008 top 10 lists. The next to send their list to me is Pete Greenberg, the very smart and friendly booker at Chop Suey.

Pete's top 10 albums of 2008 "that made my head spin (in a good way)" are:

1. Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight
2. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
3. Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eryum Vid Spilum Endalaust
4. The Walkmen – You & Me
5. The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me
6. The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
7. Lykke Li – Youth Novels
8. The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
9. Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
10. Mitch Hedberg – Do You Believe in Gosh?

Pete also gave honorable mentions to The Gutter Twins' Saturnalia, Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree, The Hold Steady's Stay Positive, and Calexico's Carried to Dust.

For more info about upcoming shows and whatnot check out Chop Suey's calendar online at chopsuey.com.

Categories
Bloc Party Bonnie Prince Billy Coldplay Deerhunter Fleet Foxes Girl Talk Hercules and Love Affair Hot Chip Imaginary Scoop Kanye West Los Campesinos! Maus Haus Portishead Ratatat Reefer Shearwater Silver Jews The Walkmen TV on the Radio Vampire Weekend Xiu Xiu

Erik Gonzalez's best o' 2008

It has now been 2.5 years since I moved out of Seattle for the Golden State. I've slowly drifted out of the NW music culture, so sometimes I wonder if I know what to say on TIG these days.

Combine that with the fact that I was so distracted from music for a lot of 2008, this year's "best of" lists were especially difficult. Heck, I don't even think I can make a Best of NW music list this year, not because there was insufficient music, but because I just missed so many of those important-but-not-well-known releases that make these lists. I did enjoy Fleet Foxes, Common Market, Colin Meloy live, Malkmus and the like, but really, that isn't a "Best of the NW" list but rather a list of albums I liked that happened to be from the NW.

That being said, I did get a last minute music revival for the year. Maybe it was the election being over (and the good guys winning), maybe it was finally getting a faculty position after many years of trying (lets just say Erik will be moving east in 2009), maybe 2008 just didn't mesh with me musically. Who knows? However, there was a lot of great music anyway, and here are my top 20 (for your praise or fist shaking). Feel free to read the full commentary

 

  1. The Walkmen – You & Me
  2. Portishead – Third
  3. Los Campesinos! – We are Beautiful, We are Doomed/Hold On Now, Youngster …
  4. Hercules & Love Affair – Hercules & Love Affair
  5. TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
  6. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
  7. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
  9. Hot Chip – Made in the Dark
  10. Deerhunter – Microcastle
  11. Ratatat – LP3
  12. Xiu Xiu – Women as Lovers
  13. Bloc Party – Intimacy
  14. Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
  15. Bonnie "Prince" Billy – Lie Down in the Light
  16. Shearwater – Rook
  17. Maus Haus – Lark Marvels
  18. Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak
  19. Coldplay – Vida la Vida
  20. Reefer – Reefer
Here's to 2009!

Categories
Beck Beehive Das Vibenbass Estelle Fall of Troy Grynch Kinski Live Show Review M. Ward Man Man Mono In VCF Nada Surf New Faces PWRFL Power Saul Williams Thao and the Get Down Stay Down The Girls The Walkmen Throw Me the Statue

Bumbershoot 2008: Day 1

Bumbershoot is a musical extravaganza, spanning the three-day Labor Day weekend with more bands, arts, and elephant ears than anyone can possibly capture. We had a posse of imaginary writers (ChrisB, Chris Estey, imaginary elle, imaginary dana, and Cory), and photographers (Chona, Kyle, Nathan, and Andrew) all over Seattle Center, trying to capture the frenzy and mayhem of Bumbershoot 2008. Below you can see and read about our adventures during the first day, which kicked off with local electronic duo Beehive and ended with superstar Beck, and covered over 20 other bands in-between.

Enjoy!

Beehive, Wells Fargo Stage

Beehive must be one of the most hard-luck bands in Seattle. The local electronic duo had gotten a difficult timeslot – Saturday at noon but tried to make the most of it. They played an energetic rock set that lasted about 35 minutes, simulating a rock band with electronic instruments. To get the crowd on their side early started off with two covers known by everyone in the fairly large crowd – “We Will Rock You” and “Helter Skelter.” Overcoming a scratchy microphone, they got a lot of the crowd to stand and even a few danced. They found their groove early and singer/programmer Alethea, or “Butterfly Beats,” delighted the crowd with her soulful voice. (ChrisB)

Beehive. Photo by Andrew Waits

Beehive photo by Andrew Waits

Beehive photo by Andrew Waits

Beehive photos by Andrew Waits.

 

New Faces, EMP Sky Church

I’ve seen this band a bajillion times — I practically stalk them — and this was a very good show. They had a great dynamic with a pretty big turnout. They owned that huge stage. (Chona Kasinger)

New Faces photo by Chona Kasinger

New Faces photo by Chona Kasinger
New Faces. Photos by Chona Kasinger.

 

Throw Me the Statue, Rockstar Stage

An important aspect to booking festivals is kicking things off with a band to set the right mood. Throw Me The Statue was just such a band, with their undemanding pop tinged with elements such as a backing horn section. Their crowd was comfortable enough to stand or sit, a few head bobbers sprinkled here and there. (imaginary elle)

Throw Me the Statue. Photo by Chona KasingerThrow Me the Statue. Photo by Chona Kasinger.

Throw Me the Statue photo by Kyle Johnson

Throw Me the Statue. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

 

Neko Case, Samsung Mobile Mainstage

It makes sense to put former Washingtonian Neko Case on the mainstage at Bumbershoot because it was the first time I’ve seen her in a venue big enough to contain her voice. She played for about 75 minutes and was funny and likeable throughout, making note of playing depressing country songs in the middle of the day. “Deep Red Bells” and “That Teenage Feeling,” played back to back sounded enormous and expansive – especially with three different guitar parts (Jon Rahouse on petal steel, Paul Rigby on electric guitar and Case herself playing acoustic guitar). She and longtime collaborator Kelly Hogan joked midway through the set that it was too early in the day for them to get wasted. Their humor was hilarious and provided a necessary balance for the emotional content of her set. {see the setlist} (ChrisB)

Neko Case. Photo by Nathan Feder.Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. Photo by Nathan Feder.

Photo by Kyle JohnsonNeko crowd. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

 

Das Vibenbass, Wells Fargo Stage

The aptly titled quartet Das Vibenbass bring the jazz vibe and bass to the 21st Century music listener, bringing the genre to a more accessible level. Hell, as their set progressed, I started to realize I wished we were listening to the local band–an upright bass, saxophone, drums, and vibraphone–in an exclusive, smokey hidden jazz club with a gin, rather than out in the sunshine on fold able chairs. Wait a minute… are they playing a jazz rendition of “Black Hole Sun” not in a cheesy Kenny G covers Top 40 sort of way, but a very slick, enjoyable way? Never mind, they do know how to bring jazz to the modern ear. Their entire set was brilliant, definitely fetching all the praise they have received, such as being nominated in the Seattle Weekly for Best Jazz act. Doesn’t hurt that their saxophone player was a good looking, well-dressed fellow as well. (imaginary elle)

Das Vibenbass by Kyle Johnson

Das Vibenbass photo by Kyle Johnson

Das Vibenbass photo by Kyle JohnsonDas Vibenbass photos by Kyle Johnson.

 

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, KEXP LoungeThao and the Get Down Stay Down

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down by Andrew WaitsThao and the Get Down Stay Down photos by Andrew Waits.

 

The Girls, EMP Sky Church

In the dark crowded Sky Church at the Bumbershoot Festival yesterday afternoon there was briefly the flavor of a late 70s small club show, with the one “wavo” band in town that “got it.” The transgressive energy of sleazy humor (“Fixing The Chairs”), light-hearted Futurism, clipped robot rhythms, weird stop-starts (“TV Glow”), and shuffle beats from Shannon Brown (vocals), Elie Goral (drums), Derek Mason (keyboards), Vas Kumar (guitar), and (bassist) Griff happily entranced the hometown Seattle mob. The crowd wasn’t frenzied but it was very cheerful. Just like the shared similar aesthetic Figurines and Futureheads, The Girls is even better live than their recordings, wishing they would add more of that spontaneity and rawness next time out to their songwriting. It would be great if this city had its next Screamers, and this band maybe could be a contender for that role. (Chris Estey)

The Girls photo by Chona Kasinger

The Girls photo by Chona KasingerThe Girls. Photos by Chona Kasinger

 

Grynch, Fisher Green Stage

Grynch photo by Kyle Johnson

Grynch photo by Kyle Johnson

Grynch photo by Kyle Johnson

Grynch photos by Kyle Johnson.

 

Mono in VCF, KEXP Lounge

Mono in VCF photo by Andrew Waits

Mono in VCF photo by Andrew Waits

Mono in VCF photo by Andrew Waits

 


Nada Surf
, KEXP Lounge

The KEXP Lounge is such an amazing refuge from the hurried, elephant-eared pace of Bumbershoot. There a few hundred lucky fans can see bands in a intimate dark (air-conditioned) setting. Catching Nada Surf acoustic style was definitely a highlight of my Bumbershoot experience; Matthew and Ira’s spot-on harmonies positively sent chills down my spine. Also of note: the bassist for Osma did an admirable job filling in for an injured Daniel Lorca. Watch a video of the band performing “Weightless.” (imaginary dana)

Nada Surf photo by Chona Kasinger
Nada Surf photo by Chona Kasinger

Nada Surf photo by Chona Kasinger
Nada Surf photos by Chona Kasinger.

 

Fall of Troy, Exhibition Hall

Fall of Troy photos by Kyle Johnson

Fall of Troy photo by Kyle Johnson

Fall of Troy photo by Kyle Johnson

Fall of Troy photo by Kyle Johnson

Fall of Troy photo by Kyle Johnson
Fall of Troy photos by Kyle Johnson.

 

PWRFL Power, EMP Sky Church

PWRFL Power photo by Andrew Waits

PWRFL Power photo by Andrew Waits

PWRFL Power photo by Andrew Waits

 

The Walkmen, Rockstar Stage

The Walkmen photo by Chona Kasinger The Walkmen photo by Chona Kasinger

The Walkmen photo by Chona Kasinger

The Walkmen photo by Chona KasingerThe Walkmen. Photos by Chona Kasinger.

 

Estelle, Fisher Green Stage

Estelle, the British R&B/soul star, delivered what will be one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Playing before a huge crowd on the Fisher Green stage, she more than lived up to the buzz surrounding her new <em>Shine</em> album. On stage she reminded me of a cross between Sharon Jones and Lily Allen – two of my absolute favorite performers. Her band was tight and funky – although I wish they would have been funkier; their obvious influences are Parliament/Funkadelic, The Famous Flames and The Dap Kings and only on a few songs (“Pretty Please” and “American Boy”) did they seem to break out. “American Boy”, the #1 UK single that also features a cameo from Kanye West, closed the set and the enormous crowd sang along and danced – it was one of those great moments where a huge and diverse crowd shares a fantastic performance of a song that is the soundtrack to a whole lot of summers. (ChrisB)

Estelle photo by Nathan Feder

Estelle photo by Nathan Feder
Estelle. Photos by Nathan Feder.

Saul Williams, Fisher Green Stage

Saul Williams photo by Kyle Johnson

Saul Williams photo by Kyle Johnson

Saul Williams. Photo by Kyle Johnson. Saul Williams. Photos by Kyle Johnson.

 

Man Man, Rockstar Stage

Man Man photo by Chona Kasinger
Man Man photo by Chona Kasinger
Man Man. Photos by Chona Kasinger.

Man Man photo by Andrew Waits

Man Man. Photo by Andrew Waits.
Man Man. Photos by Andrew Waits.


Nada Surf
, Starbucks Stage

Nada Surf photo by Chona Kasinger
Nada Surf photo by Chona KasingerNada Surf. Photos by Chona Kasinger.

 

West Indian Girl, EMP Sky Church

West Indian Girl by Andrew Waits West Indian Girl. Photo by Andrew Waits.

West Indian Girl. Photo by Chona Kasinger.West Indian Girl. Photo by Chona Kasinger.

West Indian Girl. Photo by Kyle Johnson.
West Indian Girl. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

 

Kinski, EMP Sky Church

Kinski photos by Kyle Johnson

Kinski photos by Kyle Johnson
Kinski. Photos by Kyle Johnson.

 

!!!, KEXP Lounge

I really enjoy !!!, the Sacramento-based, punk/funk/jam band but writing about them gives me fits with MS Word’s grammar check; using Google isn’t any easier. Still, their 30+ minute set in KEXP’s music lounge was great fun. Playing mostly newer songs (singer Nic Offer even said that they would give us “a hit and a half”), they still delivered the same dance punk they are known for. Offer might have forgotten a few times that this performance was being broadcast on the radio because he dropped the f-word a few times. The funniest time was when he said that he thought the room was full because we were all “the fucks who are going to see Beck tonight” (!!! and Beck is the most unfortunate scheduling conflict of the weekend) and threatened to give a crappy performance for the last song. They didn’t; in spite of their threats, they still rocked. (ChrisB)

 

M Ward, Rockstar Stage

M. Ward photo by Andrew Waits
M. Ward photo by Andrew Waits

M. Ward. Photo by Andrew Waits.M. Ward. Photo by Andrew Waits.

 

Beck, Samsung Mobile Mainstage

Did you think Beck was watching a legend in action, as Imaginary Kiku did? Or did you think he was, in a word, bullshit, as ChrisB did? Our imaginary coverage has a little something for everyone.

Beck. Photo by Kyle Johnson.Beck. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

 

Categories
Record Collection Record Review The Walkmen

A Hundred Miles Off and 'Pussycats' Starring the Walkmen

The Walkmen have been busy little beavers in 2006. Two full-length albums for our enjoyment and they couldn't be more different. One is made entirely of sprawling originals (A Hundred Miles Off while the other is a song-for-song remake of a classic 70's album ("Pussycats" starring the Walkmen). They each has its own merits and flaws, especially when you have to compare to their last album, Bows & Arrows that might be one of the peaks of the '00s indie music. However, an only OK Walkmen album is still much better than most of the music heard on the radio these days in the first place.

It is abundantly clear that Hamilton Leithauser, lead singer of the Walkmen, loves Bob Dylan. His vocals on A Hundred Miles Off, the album of all originals, border on undecipherable at times, slurred and dirty, but that's part of the charm of the band. Opening up with "Louisiana," you can tell right off the bat that the Walkmen want to have that sound of recording in a warehouse, full of echoes, distortions and imperfections. The song itself is actually quite beautifully arranged with intertwined guitars, pianos and horns, but never takes off. You can feel it building to something, but then it just ends. This is a recurrent event on A Hundred Miles Off, almost as if the songs are only half there, none seem to have the focus of classics like "The Rat" from Bows & Arrows. Both "Danny's at Your Wedding" and "Good For You's Good for Me" almost get lost in their own deformation, as if they were recorded in one take with Leithauser half in the bottle, and while it had its charms, leaves the songs lacking any cohesive center. There is a little more focus on "Emma Get Me a Lemon" (my vote for favorite song title of the year") but the best aspect of the song is a strong presence of the Walkmen's drummer, Matt Barrick. The Walkmen are one of the few bands that the drumming stands out, and Barrick is in top form on "Emma…" with thick rolls and foot stomping thunder.

If anything, A Hundred Miles Off is at least a sunnier, cheerier sound for the Walkmen. "Lost in Boston" is almost downright fun, with lightly strummed guitars filling in between the crashing drums. I would love to point out some lyrics, but after Leithauser's initial "Lost in Boston/drinking rum and chocolate/a hundred thousand blinking lights are making me exhausted," darned if I understand much else. If only they could have focused a little more, the new mood could have really shown through, but sometimes the looseness gets a little overboard (e.g., "Always After You (Until You Started After Me)") and bordered on outtake material rather than a finished song.

The flipside to the A Hundred Miles Off anarchy is the Walkmen's song-for-song remake of Nilsson's Pussycats. Here, suddenly the band has morphed into a later-day Afghan Whigs. Leithauser sounds disturbingly like Greg Dulli on the opener, "Many Rivers to Cross" (and you can actually understand his vocals. Go figure.) The original Nilsson album is half covers in the first place and has a reckless abandon that one might think would be hard to recapture, however, the Walkmen do an excellent job of not just rehashing but re-invisioning the album. It seems vaguely amusing to hear the Walkmen sing "Subterranean Homesick Blues" considering they perform it in such a non-Dylan fashion when compared to the sacrifices to the Dylan altar on A Hundred Miles Off. This amusement continues on "Save the Last Dance," which takes a great 70's ballad into a drunken plea. Leithauser transforms into a poor, abandoned lover, practically channeling a less raspy Tom Waits into the vocals and when you put those vocals over the languid piano, echoed drums and barroom harmonies, the song takes on an entirely new life. The same might be said for "Loop de Loop," that sounds like a lost Springsteen outtake recorded deep into a drunken party night. Not all of the album works, many times the covers sound a little too by-the-numbers (such as "All My Life" or "Mucho Mongo"), but is mostly made up by the oddness of tracks like "Rock Around the Clock" that is tackled like any good post-Sex Pistols band might hack at Bill Haley.

Overall, the Walkmen have had a good year. They released two pretty darn good albums, neither are classics, but they are a lot a fun. If I were asked at gunpoint which album was better (and I'd love to hear any examples of how this situation could arise…), I'd probably lean towards Pussycats starring the Walkmen for its quaint strangeness and more spontaneous but still focused feel, but A Hundred Miles Off is no slouch in itself. In any case, it still makes you pleased to see that as of late 2006, the Walkmen are already proudly proclaiming they are recording for their next disc. Yes gentlemen, go forth and multiply!

Categories
Graceland Kaito Live Show Review Sushirobo The Walkmen

Sushirobo

And on the fifth day, Seattle's own Sushirobo played their CD release party at Graceland with Kaito and the Walkmen, to support their brand-spankin' new CD, The Light-Fingered Feeling of Sushirobo (Pattern 25 Records). igDana heard what they played, and she knew it was good.

I think Donny and Marie Osmond said it best when he said: "They're a little bit funky… and a little bit rock and roll." Here's a band that named themselves after a Vancouver restaurant where robots make sushi, playing music that intentionally de-emphasizes traditional guitar, instead opting for spacious tones with plenty of room for the irreverent. With saucy, well-articulated lyrics, Arthur Roberts made me giggle by rhyming a sentence ending in the word "Belladonna" with, "You light a candle and pretend it's marijuana." Tee hee.

And I don't even think that lyric was from a real song — I believe it was his consummate-front-man-filler-schmutz while guitar player Dave Einmo troubleshot his instrument's technical issues. Now while it might cause a "normal" rock band anxiety to have guitar functionality meltdown during a CD-release show, that effect must have been exponentially greater for Sushirobo, as they had wacko guitar effects a-go-go.

Not that their anxiety showed. Their effortless charm was infectious, and after one improv song, Sushirobo were back up playing, deconstructing the very notion of guitar — as in, eliciting wildly-wacky sounds from it that didn't even sound like guitar-like — part swirling weirdness, part scary little Asian-sounding guitar blips and pings and wizzbangs, all the while carrying their songs along with a strong methodical rhythm section and quirky vocals.

While at times I found the overall sound was a bit thin — hey, I like driving indie guitar rock! — I totally dug that Sushirobo elevated indie-rock sound effects to a new level of ingenuity. I've decided to dub them Seattle's capricious-pop masters.