Tuesday, December 30, 2008
So please come, say hi to me and enjoy the show!
Saturday, January 3rd 2009
No-Fi Soul Rebellion
Boy Eats Drum Machine
@ The Rogue Hero
$4, 10pm, 21+
See you there!!
Monday, December 22, 2008
*Lyuda has to have a muzzle on because when I rescued him he was not socialized. We're working on that. And Lyuda is still getting used to his muzzle.*
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Fleet Foxes Review 12.20.08
The buzz around the Seattle-based Fleet Foxes is unmistakable. Their album was described as "one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of 2008" by Conan O'Brien as he introduced them for their appearance on his show just a few days ago. Rightly so. Favorable reviews are all over the net, everyone from Rolling Stone to NME to Pitchfork.
When an album is preceded so by its reputation, there's a risk of letting your perceptions of the album be colored by the hype, and of subconsciously making yourself like it because you think you should. Not so with Fleet Foxes. The music is so purely infectious that all of your expectations and ulterior motives melt away. Much like the escapist fantasy found in a children's storybook, you are led into a world of vivid folk pop music where all of your preconceived notions are put on hold.
The album starts out with a brief a capella piece which then rushes into the folk-tinged acoustic rhythm guitar that forms the basis for the Fleet Foxes style. It's joined by the kind of sparkling clean, vintage country-inspired electric guitar riffs that Fender amps are built for. Vocalist Robin Pecknold's voice soars up to a crystal-clear falsetto and back down again with ease, backed by a Pet Sounds-style harmony. True to the indie-pop spirit, the voices are absolutely soaked with reverb.
Lyrics are cryptic and vague... and hauntingly beautiful. In the mournful acoustic ballad "Oliver James", Pecknold sings, "On the kitchen table that your grandfather did make/ You in your delicate way will slowly clean his face/ And you will remember when you rehearsed the actions of/ An innocent and anxious mother full of anxious love". Heartwrenching.
There's a distinct feeling of antiquity that runs through the entire album. If you allow yourself to forget for a moment that this music draws mainly from Twentieth Century musical styles, you can almost place it right into the Renaissance. Of course this requires a little bit of cognitive dissonance, but perhaps that's what Fleet Foxes intended: to create an album so timeless and classic in style that it doesn't neatly fit into any time period, and requires a little bit of mental squashing and stretching to categorize it.
Rating: 4 out of 4
Reviewed by: Brenton William Brookings
Friday, December 19, 2008
NWB Presents No-Fi Soul Rebellion & Boy Eats Drum Machine @ The Rogue Hero in Bellingham!
Come, Dance, Sweat and have fun!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
We are happy to support a great local label, Burning Building Recrodings. They are home for many of our clients but more than that- our friends. Friends we have beers with on Monday nights at Havana, friends we have had family dinners with, friends we've known since before they could legally buy porn... we are happy that BBR has welcomed so many of our talented, misfit friends into their family. We gladly support a great showcase of all of our friends in the BBR family on January 9th at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard!
See you there!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
We're doing a best album list, best artists list AND the best BEARDS list. Because lets face it, beards are beautiful and amazing and seattle boys love growing them. :-)
Expect NWB's best of 2008 list in the next couple weeks.
I only caught the tail end of this set, but the part that I caught was just as glitter and smiles as I remember USE being in shows past. I just wish I was a part of the dance party longer!
Ok, so I wasn't really sure about some of those kids dancing on stage. Did anyone else thing this girl in the green and white stripped shirt may have a furture job at Deja Vu? Or how about that really adoreable geeky kid that took off his shirt? OMG, I could not stop going "awww"! The music was fun but watching the 100+ kids crammed on the stage was far more fun, sorry Girl Talk!
Le Savy Fav
Again, I only caught the tail end of this... but the part I saw was the lead singer stripped to a un-buttoned shirt and his breifs! Not the sexiest sight, but definitely fun!
By their set I was exhausted. I love this band, so I stayed and watched their set. They sound great live and played many of my favourite songs! I was happy to finally see them live- and in such a familiar place, Capitol Hill.
Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground
Only 10 people spanned the stage this time. By "only" I mean that at past shows they've had as many as 14!
Kay Kay brought their usual progressive, funky, dirty, just plain weird style to the block party's main stage.
This band is definitely breaking some ground amongst the Seattle music scene and they're loved for it.
The Cave Singers
How beautiful was their set? It was awesome. I managed to find this little space at the side of the main stage that let me see the lead singer perfectly. I have seen them before but this was a far better experience- with such a huge crowd-every band was stepping up their game!
She is SO FUNNY! She was really nervous at first and the songs were a little too fast but as the set went on she relaxed and played to the crowd like a pro! She told a few stories, had her brother play a song and had a sing-along with the crowd. Not to mention she had the crowd help with one of her songs "Now boys and girls, what other animals can you think of? ... And what sounds do they make?" It was adorable!
I only saw a few songs by them because I wanted to go in and see Jaguar Love. The few songs I saw were from the same corner I found for the Cave Singers set- great view of a few of the members. However, I had some really annoying people standing really close to me and they were talking SO loudly. I could barely hear the band! I plugged my ear closest to them but it didn't help much. So sadly, I didn't really hear much of the 3 songs I was watching the Fleet Foxes for. Damn loud talkers, go to the back of the crowd!!
Holy crap... the first time I saw Jaguar Love at Neumos I was totally blown away and tonight at the Capitol Hill Block Party 2008 was no different.
This mash up of NW talent is on a whole new level than the Blood Brothers or Pretty girls Make Graves ever were (though both were f.cking amazing bands!).
To add to even more to this shinney new outfit- they have Craig Bonich and JC from Head Automatica playing with them!
And can I just say that I cannot get enough of Cody... he's so entrancing when he's on stage. He's a bouncy, sliding, rock-star posing fool! His dancing really is hypnotizing... try not to look.
If you weren't able to catch them at the Capitol hill block party- you can catch them playing an all ages show at the Redmond Firehouse next Saturday, August 2nd!! 8PM $6
Also, for a review of their last homecoming show in June go to the reviews page!
Jaguar Love will be releasing their first full length Take me to the Sea on August 19th through Matador Records- in the mean time you can download their 3 song EP on iTunes or pre order the full length!
I ended my night with... CHROMEO!
Ok, I'll be honest here, I had never actually listened to Chromeo. I know, I know- I'm horrible. I was so surprised at how much I loved them! Their performance was electric and they were fun and you could dance to them. I just really loved it. Guess what album I'm gonna buy next?
Its okay though, I had a gerat time and am not really motivated to go to SXSW this year!
Interview number 4
Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground
Interview with Kirk Huffman of Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground
NWB: Where did the band name come from?
Kirk: Originally, kyle and i were just recording songs in hotel rooms all night long while on tour with the band we used to be in, gatsbys american dream. we were flushing out songs with no attempt at that time to start a band, the idea was to write a pop cantata with the lyrical drama being inner monologues of a central character in the midst of falling into schizophrenia, kay kay. schizophrenics are characterized by their hallucinations, prophetic delusions and indications of split personalities, his weathered underground, a reference to the vietnam-era radicals, is the fools paradise kay kay dwells in or the music to the allegory.
NWB: Is there an actual line-up to Kay Kay? Every show I see there seems to be another member.
Kirk: It's a never-ending rag-tag rotating cast. but it's essentially myself, kyle o'quin and phillip peterson and the others acting as the weathered underground
How would you describe the Seattle music scene?
i think it's clearly thriving in a way now that it hasn't ever, at least since i've been here and that's 21 years. this years block party was such an epiphany to me. the fact that whole intersections were shut down, stages erected, a killer line-up of national to international acts from aesop rock to the cribs were booked and all the while the local acts held their own on those stages too. i've been to the every lower 48th state and i know there isn't another place as unique and ahead of the rest of the country as seattle. everyone in my neighborhood is so god damned talented it's downright frightening and as a consequence its a city that enstills a particular drive and ambitiousness in you because everyone is making a name for themselves on their own terms while still being part of a community. i mean fuck, city hall threw a yo la tengo show so there you go.
NWB: What other bands have members of Kay Kay been in?
Kirk: tennis pro, wild orchid children, the lashes, strong killings, the divorce, surrounded by lions, gatsbys american dream
NWB: How did Kay Kay form and what was the idea behind the band? (IE: This is the band that will pay your bills, or this is the band that will relieve you from the job that pays your bills? etc.)
Kirk: When gatsby had called it quits and ended the 5 straight years of relentless touring both kyle and i really wanted to get to recording studio versions of the demos we had been making on the road. we had no money, but we knew phil peterson who is an extremely talented composer, arranger and producer in his own right, who also had a makeshift studio in a charming old northwest home that made a perfect setting for putting these songs to tape. the three of us basically tracked and recorded all of the basic instrumentation and music ourselves while phil charted the orchestral parts to the tunes, which he then brought in string and horn players to track. after piecing together 8 songs we cut a live dvd and lp at the pretty parlor boutique in seattle and released a double-disc lp/dvd under our own imprint, bombs over bellevue. i've never been able to pay my bills with any band i've been in, so i didn't have a whole lot of expectations with this project, so everything that has happened has been an unexpected delight.
NWB: How do you have time for Kay Kay? Each member seems to be in multiple bands- and have jobs. Is this why Kay Kay plays so few shows?
Kirk: Thankfully and luckily we have a host of talented players, so practicing isn't something we have to deal with much, i can send everyone home with a copy of our live record and charts to the songs and know when they come to the show, they're going to do great. everyone is extremely busy, but also extremely dedicated to being on the bus with everyone. scheduling of course is a small reason we choose to play so few shows, but it's much more about the original idea for kay kay's live set, to be over-the-top and jam the stage with a gang of musicians, to have it be less about kyle and i's songs and more about the spectacle and sensory overload. being an event and idea rather than a band on a bill sticks with people, also allowing the listener to not over-consume us cause we're playing in town every weekend.
NWB: Songs like ‘Hey momma’ have an unusual mix of genres (reggae, indie), what are your musical influences – and how do they effect your song writing process?
Kirk: Our musical influences are everything to our song-writing. i don't care who you are, everything is derived from something else. it's the small additions, objections and dashes of unique personality that make the next thing, the next thing and the interesting niches you create from the ashes of a handful of influences. it's never been a big secret that kyle listens to odyssey and oracle endlessly or that i have muswell hillbillies and emmit rhodes tunes on repeat, any bozo can listen to us and figure that out. but again that was the idea when kyle and i started writing the songs. we know we're not and will never be as clever and groundbreaking as mike patton, that wasn't the point. all the records we wanted to model our cantata after are based in traditional american roots music, the same things all our favorite bands were mimicing in the 50's, 60's and 70's and if you know the basic physics of music, how notes are derived from vibrations and what happens to air molecules in the atmosphere around your body when tones are made and received, then you have to understand that there is a much deeper connection between humans and music than ninety-nine cent singles on itunes. that's trading in tradition and heritage for cheap thrills. the point was that we wanted to touch on those classic chord structures and changes, while trying to navigate three styles of music in one song, so the songs had a familiarity at first listen and an ability to get the hair on the back of your neck standing, again, to try and be less about kyle and i's songs and more about the mood and emotions you feel from listening and absorbing the music.
NWB: With the amount of bands/musicians in the NW, do you think that any two NW bands could be connected to each other in some way or another? What way do think is most likely? (a producer, label, band member…etc)
Kirk: There are a handful of bands who operate like that especially locally, i think that is why seattle is so unique and ahead of the game. take minus the bear who used to have a producer, matt bayles, playing in the band as well as engineering, mixing and producing the bands records, then gained all the noteriety on a small seattle label. that's the future man. there's no need for the middle-men or major expenses. more and more i think you're going to find collectives and communes keeping everything under one roof while still hustling using the same tools the major labels do. it's the digital age and all the things the big labels are doing that everyone thought for so long you couldn't do without their help, are right at your fingertips. every band should be their own producer, label, booking agent, publicist and distributor. that's clap your hands say yeah, devandra barnhart, saddle creek and omaha, nebraska, the chuck norris house or the amount of northwest bands signed to sub pop. the band connections and people playing on other people's records, that's all evident in seattle and has been going on for years and a huge reason the kay kay thing even got off the ground. it wouldn't have ever evolved from demos on a lap top to playing on last call w/ carson daly if kyle and i didn't live in a city where talented musicians want to feel connected as a part of a group or community.
Interviewed By: Jacquee
Interview number 3
NWB: Where did the name 'Jaguar Love' come from?
Cody: Coming up with a band name is tricky. Almost anything you comeup with is going to conjure up different imagery for anyone who hears or reads it. Everything is a little too 'this or that'. As well, a band name ends up being really only associated with how a group sounds. Its hard though, because you dont want something totaly lameas well. If its easy to say and looks good written down then your ok. We had a list of all the names we could come up with, went through pain and suffering trying to decide, then chose Jaguar Love in the end. Johnny really wanted to use something with Jaguar and i really wanted to use Love. We just put em together and it fit.
NWB: Do you have any labels looking at you? Are you hoping to sign to a label or do things independently?
Cody: We have a label, but are sorting out the details so I'll have to get back to you on this one.
NWB: When do you plan to go in the studio to record a full length album?
Cody: We are going into the studio just after Christmas to record a full length. Hopefully it will be out in early june.
NWB: Will your current recorded songs (currently available to buy on Crystalcityclothing.com) be available on other sources such as iTunes, CDbaby, etc?
Cody: We've recently taken them down off the site because we are going to record the album. I haven't actually given any thought to the itunes thing, but our record will be available on iTunes I'm sure.
NWB: Both The Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves had great success, do you feel any pressure to live up to your former bands' fame?
Cody: I definitely feel that there is pressure on us, but only pressure that is self-induced. No tangible pressure. Just our thoughts. It hasn't influenced how we write or anything though. We are starting from the ground up, so we are just trying to focus on writing songs that we think are good and fun to play. Its really exciting in the end. The pressure might sneak up on us every once in a while, but for the most part we are just enjoying writing music. We want to make a great and purposeful album. It will be nice if some or our previous fans come along and support it, but we are pretty realistic as well. Its not Pretty Girls, and its not Blood Brothers, so some people who love those bands might not like what we are doing now. Its totally understandable and just sort the way it goes when you start a new band.
NWB: What do you think about the recent evolution in downloading presented by Radiohead, do you think it will spread throughout the industry and remedy some of the illegal downloading?
Cody: This is a tough one. I have been thinking about it more and more and im not sure. I do think that its really cool that they would give the power to their fans to decide. It didnt really seem to stop people from downloading it for free tho. I read something that said only 37% of people actually paid something for it. Im wondering if this has only reinforced illegal downloading. It seems people already dont think that they should have to pay for an album and that the artist and the label dont need to get paid for their hard work and time or something. Im not sure if people just dont realize that they play a small part in a large world of downloading. One person downloading doesnt seem like much, but It really adds up. To me, Radiohead offering their album for whatever price someone wants to pay is cool because maybe they can afford it(even there i am assuming this). But what many people dont realize is that its not easy for most bands to record and go on tour and pay for all the things you have to pay for to be in a band. Its exspensive and hard for people to afford it. Its a very complex situation and we all wish we knew what to do. So im not sure if i think that it will help or reinforce illegal downloading. I do commend them for trying something new however. Somethings gotta happen and this has definitely got people who arent in bands or working at a record label talking. We will see I guess.
NWB: How long have each of you lived in Portland?
Cody: Johnny moved here early last summer and J and I moved here August 1st.
NWB: What's the most fulfilling part of being a musician/band?
Cody: We started at such a young age and its consumed so much of our lives. I can speak for all three of us when i say that its something we have always had to do and will hopefully continue to play for the rest of our lives. I really can't imagine never playing the guitar again.
NWB: Were your parents supportive of your decision to become a musician?
Cody: My mom supported it but never truly got what i was doing at first. It took some time, but now she is probably my biggest fan. It wasn't a conscious decision to become a musician either. It was just something i did as a kid that turned into something that would carry on to my adulthood. There wasnt even really any discussion about it. It just happened.
NWB: The band has already scored some amazing shows (such as the shows with Queens of the Stone age), do you have plans for a national tour. If so, what
time frame and who do you hope to tour with?
Cody: We will hopefully be touring next spring. No concrete plans yet but its going to happen.
NWB: Which member is most likely to win in a dance off?
Cody: Hmmmmm.....I think it would be too close for me to say. I'm picturing each one of us dancing in my head and it's really funny.
NWB: What other projects do you each have going on? Does one project take priority over another? (Neon Blonde, Crystal City Clothing...etc)
Cody: Right now, Jaguar Love is our priority. Crystal City is going strong and im not totally sure on johnny's plans for Neon Blonde are. J has a solo project hes been working on thats really good. There have been talks of getting some Head Wound City stuff going as well, but nothing concrete.
NWB: What has been your favorite concert that you've attended (and not performed at)?
Cody: Kris Kristofferson at the Moore Theatre in seattle.
Interviewed By: Jacquee
Interview with Paul Meany of MuteMath
NWB: After seeing the amount of physical damage (9 stitches) that Darren suffered at your Seattle show at Neumos, I began to wonder; What's the worst injury a member has suffered during the beautiful chaos that is- a live Mute Math show?
Paul Meany: That probably was the worst. Although there has been a lot of physical mishaps that led to more emotional injuries.
NWB: Responding to fan mail and creating personal video blogs on you tube creates a unique bond with fans that a lot of other bands don't have- do you feel this has become an extension of the marketing and promotion for Mute Math or are you just a bunch of guys that really like video taping each other and putting it on the internet?
Paul Meany: So basically your asking me if we like promoting our band or are we just creepy. How bout a little bit of both.
NWB: With your growing visibility and fan base you're able to tour with larger known bands, which band has been your favourite to tour with so far and who would you like to tour with in the future?
Paul Meany: It's not who you tour with but who you tour for. As long as there are some people in the audience we'll be in for a good time.
NWB: The energy that you present on stage is infectious, your audiences must be as insane as you at times; what has been your most intense fan interaction at a show?
Paul Meany: I remember this one guy at a show in Nebraska who heckled us the whole time in between songs but positively. I sincerely couldn't figure him out. He would not shut up about how wonderful he thought the show was going as it was going. We were just caught in between feeling flattered, patronized, and annoyed. But it did make for quite an entertaining show.
NWB: If you weren't in an amazing rock band, what other career would you choose to invest your time in?
Paul Meany: I'd make suitcases.
NWB: As a band, what are your goals and aspirations- have you reached them?
Paul Meany: When Mutemath becomes an official word in the Dictionary, then we will have achieved our goals.
NWB: Will your forthcoming album be in the same vein as the first or should fans be prepared to be shocked and amazed by a new suit and style?
Paul Meany: Yes.
Thanks for the entertaining answers Paul! Looking forward to the next show!
Interviewed By: Jacquee
Interview number 1
NWB: 1000 words is an audible autobiography of your music career, what gave you the idea to create this song and was it written/recorded on a whim?
Scroobius Pip: It's just as much an audio autobiography of my life. When I wrote it I didn't have a music career you see. It tells the tail (part true part fiction) of how I got my stutter. I have had one since the age of 4.
NWB: I discovered 'Scroobius Pip' via 'Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip ' and the song 'Thou shalt always kill', did you expect Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip to become a gateway for your solo music?
Scroobius Pip: Everything that's happened has been a lovely surprise really. Dan le Sac's beats have a way of making my poems and writings all the more accessible. Its strange because, individually neither of us have the most commercially accessible styles but when we work together something seems to just jel.
NWB: When did you start performing in front of live audiences (including open mic night type situations)?
Scroobius Pip: Around April 2006 when I released my solo album (no commercial breaks). I quit my job, recorded the album the toured the country living in my 1987 space cruiser and performing on street corners, open mics and anywhere else I could get heard. I decided that turning up to gigs by artists like Buck 65 and Mr Scruff and performing to their queue was a great way to get my stuff out there. They will literally line my target audience up against a wall for me.
NWB: What are your musical influences as a solo artist and have those changed since Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip was formed?
Scroobius Pip: My influences are really varied and they develop (as opposed to change) all the time. Guys like Sage Francis, Saul Williams, Aesop Rock and many others have been a huge influence but then so have Rancid, Glassjaw, John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman, Jim Morrison and Minor Threat. I try to take influence from everywhere i can. Recently, on the UK spoken word scene, I have been blown away by the likes of Polar Bear, David J and Poem Inbetween People. Its great to get inspired.
NWB: What was the first venue you played and who else did you play with?
Scroobius Pip: First performance I did was a street one outside a DJ Shadow album preview. I then jumped in my van and drove to Camden to do my 2nd street performance, which was outside a Buck 65 gig.
NWB: What/who is your biggest inspiration when writing a new song or poem?
Scroobius Pip: Everything really. I know that's a rubbish answer but its true. Literally anything can inspire poetry whether it be an event or just hearing a new word or phrase and wanting to manipulate it.
NWB: Being from Seattle Washington I am unfamiliar with UK venues, do you have a favourite venue that you would suggest to a tourist or curious journalist?
Scroobius Pip: Its all about the promoters as opposed to the venue in my opinion. There are a group of artists/promoters called One Taste that put events on in London and they have a consistently high standard. On the poetry front Pojazzi and Lazy Gramaphone are also great promoters.
Outside poetry it gets real varied. DIY Womp and Best Laid Plans always seem to have a high standard and wide range of acts.
NWB: Dan le Sac is occasionally responsible for your live beats and you two collaborate often, did 'Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip' seem like the natural evolution of your musical relationship?
Scroobius Pip: Very natural. And it is the main focus for everything i am writing and moving forward with. Its just really exciting to meet someone that is so good at making beats and that i can just bounce off of. I received the beat for "Thou Shalt Always Kill" via email and within an hour and a half I had adapted a poem, recorded the vocal and emailed it back. There's a real buzz and excitement between the two of us.
NWB: What is the group mentality of Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip - Is it similar to Ghostland Observatory's "Ghostland is not a band, but an agreement between two friends…"?
Scroobius Pip: I feel we are very much a band. As I said in the last question, nothing I have done previously has excited me as much as the work with Dan le Sac and the work we are doing for our forthcoming album. We will both continue to collaborate elsewhere and do solo stuff I'm sure but this is the main focus.
NWB: In the northwest area of the states Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip is getting a fair amount of radio rotation, how wide spread is Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip's visibility and is the visibility in the states strong enough for a U.S. tour in 08'?
Scroobius Pip: We are hoping to hit the US in late 2007. We will hopefully be visiting New York and LA (predictably) but if the word continues to spread then, yeah, we would love to have a bigger tour in 2008
Thank you to Scroobius Pip for being a good sport, he is a sweet and talented guy!
Neumos, Seattle June 2nd 2008
Blood Brothers and Pretty girls make graves fans have a new love affair! Johnny Whitney, Cody Votolato and J Clark form Jaguar Love.
They wrapped up their US tour in their former home, Seatlle, to an intimate crowd of excited fans. Dressed down in matching white outfits and vests, Jaguar Love took the stage after sharing the show with local boys Das Llamas at Neumos.
Throughout their electrifying set Whitney was rockin so close to the crowd that nearly every head whip sprayed sweat all over the front row. No one seemed to mind because they were so enraptured his addicting vocals and his hot poses.
Whitney wasn’t the only one whipping out his best moves! Votolato can do a fierce electric slide and even snuck in a few moonwalks! Just saying, Cody- you had it going on!
As talented and entertaining as Whitney and Votolato were, it was hard to take my eyes off of Clark. His drumming was fantastic- I often looked over at my friends and mouthed “Shite!” and got nods of agreement.
Speaking of fantastic, did anyone else recognize the surprise guests Craig Bonich and JC of Head Automatica? It was an awesome treat to have Bonich and JC play along side the infectious Jaguar Love boys. Both Bonich and JC are incredible musicians and fun performers.
Going from killer bass lines to smoky guitar riffs, Bonich switched instruments from song to song. JC stood next to Bonich and they exchanged friendly smirks as he jammed on the keys, supporting one foot on the top of a monitor. Classic rock star move.
Currently touring in Europe, this Neumos show was likely one of the last small, intimate shows we will witness from Jaguar Love. They have their show down and I’m definitely stoked on this mesh of amazing musicians, they have great chemistry and are already highly popular.
Welcome home Jaguar Love from their European tour by watching them at the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle on July 26th!
Reviewed by: Jacquee Sovereign
Vera Project :: 01.15.05
Ms. Led left the stage after playing their catchy, melodic Green Day-esque set. The lights at Vera Project came on while the next band, "The Fitness", prepared to pump you up with their semi-unique, 80’s synth & drum machine retro comeback originals, which didn’t really sound all that original. Most of their songs reminded me of Berlin’s “The Metro”, but with lots of unintelligible yelling. It was as if I was listening to many different versions of the same song. Later in the set they added an abrasive, lo-fi, distorted guitar or two to change it up a bit, but overall I wasn't that impressed. They redeemed themselves somewhat and really got the crowd shaking with "Chauffer", a catchy celebrity-worship-themed song which has been making the rounds on local radio stations. Their rendition of 80's metal band Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil”, was a crowd pleaser to the all-ages crowd who, ironically, probably didn’t know it was a cover tune. All in all, the songs were catchy, but with the lack of musicianship and one-dimensional sound, I can't see The Fitness being more than a one hit wonder at best.review by: Alysin Crase
Common Ground:: 6.19.04
John Van Deusen, a 16 year old from Anacortes, has an exclusive technique that separates him from the majority of the local musicians.
Following the set of his good friend, Tim Leighton, John easily grabs the crowds' attention and displays his ability to try new and unusual things despite possible expectations of him.
The atypical sounds booming from John's IPOD were intriguing and engaging. After a few minutes of John and his audience listening to a compilation of chaotic sounds, a slight hip-hop beat was added. Van Deusen pierced the machine-produced music with bracing keys that were further captivating. This being the second time I have seen John perform a solo set; I am still floored by the mature voice that comes out of the young artist.
John Van Deusen is an obvious creative soul. Despite having little training on piano he is still able to create suiting melodies that do not sound even slightly novice. Natural talent and presence behind the mic is an advantage. John's calmness on stage makes even the most chaotic moments comfortable for his audience. That is the definition of good stage presence. If he is nervous at all while performing he certainly masks it well.
The fourth song on his set list is a song influenced by the book "1984". This song is yet another example of John's strong artistic quality, with lyrics that are deep and experienced.
Ending his set by turning up his guitar so loud that the audience began to wonder if it was truly intentional, while screaming repeatedly, he set an amazing ambiance. With an abrupt end to his song, it felt much like a gasp. Like everyone in the room was holding their breath while John poured out the piercing chords from the guitar and unanticipated screams. It was an amazing end to a wonderfully surprising set.review by: Jacquee
Upon first hearing the opening few tracks of “Dead Children” I was really at a loss for words in terms of how I was going to describe their sound and what I would qualify as the strong or weak aspects of the album as a whole. In truth, I really had no clue what to think of them in the first place. To say that Isaac Marion’s Moon Colony was my cup of tea, or right up my alley would be entirely false, in fact. However, as the album drew on, I found myself slowly drawn in by the churning rhythms and slightly irregular melodies. It’s definitely not the kind of album marketable to a mass audience, but will certainly draw in their target crowd in droves.
To start, the mixing on “Dead Children” is nothing short of brilliant. Although at times it feels as if there’s almost too much going on at once, there is still a sense of “organized chaos”, as the cliché goes. Despite the amount of things going on at any particular time, each sound seems to be carefully organized and well structured throughout the duration of the album. In truth, though, my favorite bits of the album were the much more isolated and simplistic musical pieces. A simple driving bassline here, a mellow piano piece there. Isaac Marion (and indeed, his entire Moon Colony of guest musicians) is incredibly gifted at creating and properly implementing captivating and interesting melodies. They’re definitely not the same kind of sing along pop melodies you’ll hear on top forty radio, but they have the same sort of innate ability to draw the listener in.
Vocally, many of the songs are actually reminiscent of newer Modest Mouse, but Isaac’s much more powerful voice (and powerful lyrics alike) as well as his diversity and range make for a more interesting listen. The only real difficulties I had with the album in general were that the songs seem to blend together into on giant track. Usually I’d praise an artist for being able to so seamlessly and coherently blend together entirely separate sonic concepts, but in some cases here, I could imagine where a listener could feel slightly bored and want a more varied set with a couple quicker pace changes to keep things interesting.
The most intriguing aspect of “Dead Children”, however (and I realize I’ve mentioned this same concept for a couple other bands) is the perfectly placed use of external noises and sound effects to give the music a more full vibe. This fits in the same general category as the mixing in a way, but I feel the selection of backing quotes and sound effects themselves are just as, if not more important than the way they were seamlessly mixed in. My favorite quote from the entire album is actually from the last track, in which a man talking to a small child says “Do you know why Jesus was born? To die.” Dead Children is full of similar interesting little quirks, and they’re what make it the solid album it is, from start to finish.
Songs to keep an ear on: “The Colonist”, “The Saints Go Marching Out”, and “Dead Children Talking”.
Reviewed by: Brian Anderson
Hold us Down
Words cannot accurately express how impressed I am with the newest from the Mob Law, titled "Hold Us Down". A unique (and for once, I really do mean unique) blend of hip hop, reggae, punk, and ska, they find themselves somewhere on the musical spectrum between Sublime, Blue Scholars, Pepper, and Public Access. Generally, when listening to similar-minded bands, I find myself noticing that although they "blend" different genres, each song will generally sound exactly the same, with the same basic recipe for putting together each track. In The Mob Law's case, however, each song has its own entirely different feel and although I can definitely hear each of the different musical influences in basically every song, they still remain separate musical entities with very different styles of composition.
Vocally, they actually do strongly resemble Sublime and although that is certainly a compliment (as Sublime is one of the quintessential ska/punk bands of the 90's), it may also throw off some listeners who find them simply derivative. If this is your school of thought after hearing the first few songs, I implore you to reconsider and continue to listen to the entire album. Although they do draw in influences from several quite noticeable genres and even more specific bands, they find ways to use their creative prowess and make each track their own. Lyrically, they also seem to blend each of the influential factors behind their music, drawing in the revolutionary aspects of underground hip hop and punk and mixing with the more chilled out aspects of reggae and ska.
For the most part, they keep the music pretty simple, as they let the vocalists and lyrics carry the band, but there are definite moments of brilliance and at several points the precision and crafting of the drumming/percussion is nothing short of spectacular. Throughout the entirety of "Hold Us Down", there is a sort of musical cohesion that is very rarely found anymore. The boys of the Mob Law work incredibly well together and it's completely apparent from the first thirty seconds of the first track. In fact, the only qualms I have at all about the album at all is that it's been nearly impossible for me to pick out a favorite song. I told myself I'd be a bit harsher and more critical with my reviews in 2008 (a sort of twisted new years resolution, I suppose), but I simply cannot find anything negative to say about them. The record is solid from start to finish and will probably be on permanent repeat for a while by the hookah in my garage. Even the six minute epic ska journey, titled "Promises" kept my attention throughout the lengthy track.
However, the most important factor behind the brilliance of "Hold Us Down" are the melodies driving each song. After only a couple listens, I've already found myself singing along, humming along, and getting the tunes stuck in my head. There's a big difference between a well crafted song, and a well crafted song that can get stuck in your head all day, and The Mob Law have created an entire album of the latter. In short: an absolutely incredible album. I love it.
Songs to keep an ear on: "Hold Us Down", "Life Worth Livin' ", "Keep On Shinin'"
Reviewed by: Brian Anderson
Upon hearing the first thirty seconds or so of the latest from the boys in The Sea Navy, titled "Oh These Troubled Times", I began to worry I had gotten myself into another album filled with the stereotypical northwest indie-rock sound, and wasn't really sure how I felt about it at all. Luckily for me, I was pleasantly surprised shortly thereafter, as their sound began to evolve not only song to song, but inside each individual track as well. Their sound ranges everywhere from mellowed out soft acoustic indie to more upbeat guitar driven rock, almost reminiscent of Against Me. They seem to find a way to make a simple three man indie group feel like a much deeper and more complex full sound. Lyrically they seem to break from the mold (or at least what I expected of them) as well, which was certainly a nice little surprise. In fact, if I had to categorize "Oh These Troubled Times" in one short phrase, that's the exact wording I'd use: "a nice little surprise".
Songs like "Super Power Syndrome" are a perfect example of the band's ability to shift through and blend various genres as they push their way through a variety of stories and perceptions of the world and the people in it. The song starts off with a guitar/drum combination straight out of Gainesville. Just when I thought I had a grasp on the style of the song, the chorus hit, and I found myself bopping along to some keyboards that sounded like they were straight out of the late seventies, completely confused, but entirely content at the same time. The song "Avenue A" (which, coincidentally, is also by far my favorite on the album) begins with the same sort of Against Me-esque guitars, but stays on the mellower side, taking listeners through a story in the most melodic and well organized campfire style song I've ever heard. Part of what makes their songs so easy to listen to and follow along (aside from the aforementioned melodic nature and mellow, simplistic structure) is their ability to create a sense within the listener (or within myself at least) that they can relate to the lyrics. I'm not talking about relating to lyrics in a sense of understanding more simplistic emotions, but on a much broader, yet deeper level, of the journey through life and all the ups and downs in between.
Musically, it's hard to categorize this piece of collective work as anything in particular without lumping them into a more generalizing category such as "indie rock" but don't let the label fool you. Their ability to take simple songs and melodies and make them seem timeless and free of the boundaries of any typical indie band. Vocally sometimes I wasn't really sure what to make of certain songs, but as a whole I was pretty content with the sound and it certainly added more than it detracted from the overall sound of any given song. However, it seems that Jay Cox (vocals) doesn't really use his voice to its full potential, as I feel like I can hear a lot of hidden power and grit hidden underneath there. In total though, I was incredibly impressed with the the overall effort an sound in "Oh These Troubled Times" and look forward to hearing more from the Seattle boys, The Sea Navy.
Songs to keep an ear on: "Super Power Syndrome", "Avenue A", and "Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived".
Reviewed by: Brian Anderson
This week I had the pleasure of reviewing the album "With Me" by Siberian. My choice of words is sincere. It's been a great listen.
I recently got to see Siberian live in Mount Vernon, Washington. Unfortunately I was distracted that night by a pounding headache that left me curled up on a reclining chair in the back of the room. As much as I hate to say it, any faint recollection I might have of Siberian's set that night is obscured by a painful blur. It would have been a terrible thing if my exposure to this band had been left at that, marred by my unfortunate circumstance. This is why I am so glad that this album was presented to me for review, because it gave me a second chance to discover them (sans headache, this time).
From the get-go of this album, Siberian presents to us a swirl of guitar chords tied to the framework of a syncopated drumbeat. Reverb is used to pleasing effect, and lends to the sound a slightly dreamlike quality.
Enter vocals. Comparison to Thom Yorke is unavoidable. The singer's voice carries these lilting melodies that rise and fall in punctuated bursts. His voice is sad and distant for the most part, and occasionally reaches up into a gentle falsetto that seems tender and introspective.
Guitar tones range from clean and dripping with reverb to a crunchy overdrive. There is a lot of motion in the instrumentation, which creates a frenzied, frenetic feel. There's even an acoustic track (entitled "Georg Bendemann"), fingerpicked and mellow.
The lyrics are a little tricky to make out at first because of the punctuated rhythm of the melody, but a closer listen reveals them to be intelligent and poetic. They use wit that is sometimes harsh and biting to address an unnamed, yet well-known confidant. The use of metaphor and imagery paint a distinct and poignant picture.
This is an album that has earned its way into my collection, and I am thankful that I had this opportunity to give them a fair listen without the distraction that encumbered my earlier attempt.
Reviewed by: Brenton Brookings
The bright tinkling of piano keys leads us into the opening track of the self-titled album from the Southern California-based War Stories, to be joined moments later by the rest of the ensemble. Upon the arrival of a heavily-distorted guitar tone partway through the song, we are greeted by a confident, optimistic pop/rock sound that the band carries through the entire album.
In fact, "confident" and "optimistic" are two qualities that permeate every aspect of this endeavor, including the lyrics. Even when the subject matter is not all roses, it’s always handled in a way that leaves us feeling inspired and strong. It’s never dark. It’s never desperate. And that’s what makes this album such a pleasure to listen to.
These lyrics are delivered to us by vocalist Evan. His regal-sounding croon is almost reminiscent of Morrissey at times, and does an exceptional job of giving their music a unique signature. His voice channels all of the passion and sincerity of the lyrics into a tangible form.
Their swirl of positive-sounding alternative rock is accompanied by near-constant synthesized keyboard tones in the background of the often clean guitar chord arpeggiations of guitarist Reid, which in more intense moments builds to heavily-distorted power chords. This variety of dynamic levels prevents the music from ever getting boring. Musical keys seem to be predominantly major, which lends to the bright sound that the band carries. Strategically-placed moments of chromaticism characterize the thought-provoking nature of the politically-conscious "What Does God See", a ballad in 6/8 time.
Thematic content ranges from social and political awareness to romance and sexual desire (and everything in between). I walk away from this album feeling inspired and encouraged. Sadly, not enough albums do this for me anymore. And for that reason, I regard this album highly.
Reviewed By: Brenton Brookings
Viper Creek Club
Organized chaos. That is essentially what makes up the foundations the latest effort from Ambulance For Angeles, entitled "Viper Creek Club". This piano driven indie-rock band delivered something I certainly didn't expect with this EP, but after a few listens I found myself enjoying it more and more. The elements making up the music are virtually the same as most other prominent indie bands, but are arranged in a much different manner. It seems that most bands described as "piano driven" tend to be generic rock bands that happen to incorporate pianos. In this case, though, the songs on Viper Creek Club, with the exception of "Sweaters for Spring", really are carried almost solely by the piano/keyboard tracks. The melodic, yet chaotic tracks seem to blend together into one cohesive unit. The only thing it leaves the listener wanting is more.
However, musical construction aside, the most prominently impressive aspect of Viper Creek Club is the pure passion with which each song is created. From start to finish it delivers a solid twenty three or so minutes of passionate (both musically and lyrically) rock, drawing the listener into their own little world where they are left to explore the emotions and driving forces behind the music. Melodically, each song is kept fairly simple, as they certainly do not have the need to overcompensate for a lack of content. Of the five songs on the album overall, I actually tended to gravitate towards the two musically simpler tracks. The more basic guitar, piano, and backing vocals provide a perfect strengthening background for the leading vocals, which were a bit perplexing at first, but slowly grew on me. The vocals on songs like "Sweaters for Spring" and "My Embroidered Tusks" contain a certain wavery quality, almost reminiscent of (dare I say) early Conor Oberst. Songs with this emotional style of vocals and the addition of an almost campfire-esque guitar, mixed with their style of lyrics, create an almost irreproducible overall sound that will likely carry Ambulance For Angeles as they continue to grow as a band. On top of that, once paired with the more rocky, piano driven songs, it creates an even more interesting juxtaposition of sounds and helps create a truly cohesive (although unfortunately short) EP.
Songs to keep an ear on: "Sweaters for Spring" & "When We Were Showgirls"
Reviewed By: Brian Anderson
Somewhere, floating around the vast sonic universe, swirling in a maelstrom of music, culture, and storytelling, can be found the Kindness Kind's album, "A Novel". Pulling in elements from every corner of the musical spectrum, they've created an album as diverse as it is brilliantly put together. Think of vocals reminiscent of Metric blended with Blonde Redhead, the almost classical quality piano of Muse, the dream-like aqueous aspects of Thrice's "The Alchemy Index", and the delicately engineered sounds and noise construction of Radiohead's "OK Computer". Yes, I'm well aware that sounds like a complete mish-mash of completely opposing genres and sound-styles, but they pull it off incredibly well.
Musically, a good portion of the album was slowly lulling me into a sort of musical trance. I found myself sitting on my bed, eyes gently closed, slowly swaying my head as dream-like melodies pulled me through a variety of mental states and images. It is their ability not only to create these soft, carrying melodies, but also to incorporate a variety of (seemingly) computer generated sound effects and other noise variations which strongly bind the songs together. In addition to that, Alessandra Rose's powerful yet eerily wavy and melodic voice is what truly lifts their sound to a higher level. She seems to have the concept of power and timing down pat, and knows exactly when to use what style. The song "Roadmaps and Guidebooks" (which, on a sidenote, is by far my favorite on the record) demonstrates this perfectly, as her voice begins the song slow and dreamy, building slowly up in a bright crescendo, blossoming into a powerfully driven rock voice in the latter stages of the song.
I actually found myself at a loss when trying to compile a list of critiques of the album. Every time I'd begin to pick a point out where I thought a change was in order, I'd listen to the same track again and I found myself realizing they had already done what I was thinking of. The only even slight issue I had with the album as a whole was the transitions between some of the more varied song styles. It works well throughout most of the album, and everything seems to be pieced well together logically but there are a couple instances, for example, the transition between the much more abstract "Roadmaps and Guidebooks" into the much more generic indie-rock song, "Midnight Flights", where the transition seems to be too much, too fast. The listener expects a change of lanes, and instead find themselves on a completely different road, which left me slightly baffled upon my first few listens.
The single aspect of "A Novel" that drew the greatest portion my attention on first listen were the intro, interlude, and outro tracks (if they could be labeled as such). They provide an interesting transition between concepts and help tie the album together as a singular entity. In essence, if the record is the multi-course meal, they are the palette cleansers than ready one's ears for the next course.
However, musically, there isn't even the slightest of hiccups in "A Novel". For me, it's the type of album that requires being in a certain mental place to listen to, but once I find myself in that mood, I seem completely unable to put this record down. It is solid from start to finish and is definitely one of the better whole albums I've heard out of the Northwest this year. You'll find yourself putting this CD into your car, or boombox, or iPod, or whatever you play music with, and simply letting it play again once it finishes. Just when I think I'm ready to listen to something else, the next song begins and I realize why I'm still listening.
Songs to keep an ear on: "The Rain Came Late", "Street Song", and "Roadmaps and Guidebooks".
Reviewed by: Brian Anderson
What happens when you cross melodic folk-rock with acoustic hippie jams, throw in some classical as well as classic rock influences, and add in a few dashes of modern indie? Well, even after listening to this album several times, I still have absolutely no clue. What I DO know, however, is that I like it. A lot. The Lonely H have seemingly created what I thought to be an extinct item in the modern world of music: an original album. Although each aspect of the album is fairly easy to pick out, when mixed all together, it creates a distinctly unique blend of sound, setting it well apart from their "classic rock" and indie-rock contemporaries.
The song "The Drought" alone is enough to leave any listener in an awe-stricken stupor. It contains such a diverse amalgam of sound that it essentially makes it impossible to place a single genre on it. However, unlike many other genre-bending modern artists/bands, the Lonely H does much more than simply juxtaposing a few different styles of music and dispersing them throughout the album. While each song has its own distinctive sound, they each also contain the same general principles of sonic blending. Each song seems to have been very carefully musically crafted, with a pinpoint attention to detail.
Although Hair is strong in virtually every aspect throughout the entire album, it certainly comes as a bit of an acquired taste. It really took me a few listens to start getting into, so keep that in mind when listening, and never dismiss it upon first hearing alone. Musically, there were only a few small pieces I found troubling, but although the pieces may have been slightly bent, they still fit perfectly into the rest of the puzzle. The vocals falter at a few points as well, but in terms of an overall piece of work, Mark Fredson delivers a strong performance throughout the duration of Hair.
The most intriguing thing about the newest product from The Lonely H is the diversity in melody. Most bands seem to find a melodic pattern that suits them and write their songs to fit around that particular pattern. This album, however, seems to have been written so that the melodies each fit the distinct songs they were written for, and creates an interesting mash-up of different sounds to compliment the already vast diversity in terms of musical genres. This sort of songwriting is a rare gem in today's "market" and sets The Lonely H apart from nearly all of their contemporaries.
Overall, the album delivers a solid (nearly) forty minutes of everything from mellowed out chill songs to faster paced rock jams that won't leave any listener disappointed. Songs to keep an ear on: "The Drought", "Captain", and "Yeah, Yeah".
Review by: Brian Anderson
Lately, when people have approached me in search of new music, I’ve been insisting that the music scene in Portland, OR, has been spawning one great band after another. And Boy Eats Drum Machine (BEDM) is point in case.
BEDM is back with the evermore whimsical 2007 album, “Two Ghosts.” I haven’t heard a band hold such abstract music together with such delicate threads since Anathallo burst onto the scene a couple years ago. With everything from epic timpani beats in “(in) Crossing Wind” to edgy turntable mixes in “’We’ll Blacken Up the Sky,’” this band knows how to take educated risks.
Lead vocalist, Jon Ragel, has a familiar voice that makes singing sound like an easy task. He has an almost Brad Nowall voice; and even uses some Sublime-esque lyrics. Check out “From an Oregon Shore” and see for yourself. There are also hints of electronic collaboration, much like what local sweethearts Mercir are doing. But wait, there’s more…
Many of the tracks feature heavy, repetitive drum beats, especially evident in “Into the Deep Spaces of the West” and “’Tie Them to the Trees.’” But along side these nearly tribal and electronic sounds, Ragel sprinkles in triumphant strings and soothing vocal melodies, creating a musical mishmash that can only be pulled off by a select few. BEDM brings a fresh approach to what it means to be a musician in today’s indie rock scene.
The organization of “Two Ghosts” as a whole is a story of lovers escaping an oppressive society, and the album artwork inside the CD case reflects that theme. The CD is meant to be listened to as a whole, rather than picking out a catchy single. The overall musical experience being set-up as a story helps tie together any loose ends that might remain from the random combinations of genres and instruments, which is typical of BEDM.
What I can really appreciate about “Two Ghosts” is that BEDM doesn’t seem to have to try very hard to make this album a work of art. The juxtaposition of uncommon tones and the variety of styles present could easily make a band seem like they were trying to accomplish something great with a new album. Especially when you add operatic backup vocals, a full set of symphonic strings, and an accordion. But kudos to BEDM: this album is a precarious orchestration of well-executed creativity.
Reviewed by Karalee