Filtering by Category: music
As a person who doesn't necessarily enjoy giant sweeping changes in the cultural landscape of a city or paying higher rent because of said changes, I can't honestly say I've been excited about the changes I've seen in Seattle in the past 6 years since I've moved here. While I'm sure there are multiple people who have enjoyed some fantastic career prosperity because of these changes, it's been hard to watch some of the grimier, more colorful bits of Seattle evaporate into immeasurably deep holes that magically sprout gigantic condos overnight.
One of the casualties of the gigantic South Lake Union/Queen Anne wipeout of the past few years has been stalwart punk venue The Funhouse. When The Funhouse's building was purchased in late 2012, it left a gaping hole in the city's scene for growing bands. Many venues exist for a good portion of the established local and touring bands playing in Seattle, but where were the fledgling bands supposed to play? While venues like Barboza, The Black Lodge, and The Rendezvous have stepped up their game, it's still left a void in the venues for a city of this size.
Thankfully, it appears that El Corazon and The Funhouse have teamed up for a joint venture. Former Funhouse booker Brian Foss will now be in charge of the front room of El Corazon, as well as a co-manager of El Corazon. “About a year and a half ago, I made a drunken pledge to my friends and my wife that I was going to grow this beard out until I found a new place for The Funhouse,” Foss says in an article from Seattle Weekly.
Kudos to El Corazon for embracing change and uniting with one of the better clubs this city has seen, and kudos to Brian Foss for never giving up hope. The Funhouse rides again (no joke) on April 1, 2015.
Episode #10 of The Royal Basement podcast is up! This go-round, we chat with Tony Ruland and Kyle Holland about their new project SOFT SLEEP, featuring former members of The Lonely Forest, Cumulus, The Globes, and Death Cab For Cutie. Tony tries on my Guy Fieri costume and the band debuts its new single "Unravel" from their forthcoming 7". It's worth a listen. Head over to the podcast page and get soft.
I also just recorded a new podcast/basement session with Trapper Schoepp when he was through Seattle. That should be up in the next week or so. Keep your eyes and ears peeled!
Philadelphia's Dr. Dog are easily one of the finest, most consistent bands working today. Their live shows (documented beautifully on their new double live LP Live At A Flamingo Hotel) showcase a band with an incredible quality control over their own songs , who constantly push the boundaries and growth of even their oldest material, teetering precariously at times on the precipice of jam band territory without ever falling into the noodles. I had a chance to chat with drummer Eric Slick when the band came through Seattle recently, and just put it up (along with his lovingly curated playlist) for your listening pleasure over on the podcast page.
I've been playing catch up down here in the basement, and finally getting around to editing and posting this podcast and Basement Session that I recorded in December with Alex Robert of the Seattle-area band Black Whales. Run over to the podcast page and give it a listen and download some exclusive Basement Session songs that Alex recorded with me. Black Whales are playing this Friday, February 20th at the Columbia City Theater in Seattle along with The Mama Rags and Prom Queen.
I just recorded a couple new podcasts this past week, so be on the lookout in the next few days for episode #9 (Eric Slick of Dr. Dog) and #10 (Tony Ruland and Kyle Holland of the new band Soft Sleep, featuring former members of The Lonely Forest/The Globes/Cumulus/Death Cab For Cutie). Good sounds a-comin'. Keep hitting refresh.
Episode #7 of the Royal Basement Podcast is live now, this time featuring an interview and guest DJ session with Chris Porterfield (above, left) of Field Report. Head over to the podcast page and give it a listen!
In the magical pre-internet days of 1992, discovering new music wasn't as ridiculously easy as it is in 2015. For a kid growing up in the suburbs of Kansas City, my musical expansions were generally found in pilgrimages to record stores, stocking up on fanzines and whatever used CD's my grubby 16 year old mitts could afford (which, in all fairness, was basically the same as downloading a record these days, but whatever). The gaps therein were filled by having Monday evening watch parties with friends, poring over VHS recordings of last night's 120 Minutes (MTV's version of Pitchfork), occasional lapses in judgment that lead to joining BMG/Columbia House for the 10th time, and picking up copies of SPIN at the grocery store.
The back pages of SPIN were a veritable Etsy shop of alternative culture, and an ad for "Rock Video Monthly" sucked me in. It was a subscription service that delivered a VHS tape chock full of alt-rock videos to your door every month. As a voracious devourer of the alt-rock culture at that time, it didn't take a lot to sell me. Long story short, a tape came one month, full of forgettable cutout bin also-rans, but one video captured the entirety of my brainspace. Rocket From The Crypt's "Sturdy Wrists" was a firecracker in my television set, exploding with air-raid horns and a relentless staccato riff that went supernova during the chorus.
That video set me off on a Rocket From The Crypt binge that I'll write a doctoral thesis about some other time, but it also served as a wormhole into the world of the San Diego music scene. Singer John Reis is arguably one of the figureheads of the scene, and his involvement in Drive Like Jehu and Pitchfork spiderwebbed into the discovery of a network of new bands that I wasn't seeing covered by the zines that I was reading. Before I knew it, my stereo was stacked with records by No Knife, Heavy Vegetable, Three Mile Pilot, Tanner, Inch, Creedle, and enough Cargo Records samplers to fortify a small jungle hut.
I've always been amazed at the quality and diversity of sounds that came out of San Diego during this time, and thankfully, director Bill Perrine felt the same way. In his new documentary (It's Gonna Blow!), Perrine does his best to fit the tangled web of San Diego bands from the mid-80's to the mid-90's into a tidy 90 minute time period, and does a fantastic job at balancing live footage with stories from the music makers themselves, never focusing too much on one success or failure. While so much has happened in the nearly 20 years since the film's cutoff, it's crucial to go back and revisit this particular time period. From an industry standpoint, it's about appreciating the wheels that were in motion that brought punk and alternative rock into suburban households. All of this music was happening so close to Los Angeles, the music epicenter of America, and most of these things barely registered so much as a blip on that radar. Something about that was truly magical to my 16 year old brain, and is still befuddling to my 38 year old brain. From an artistic standpoint, this was a musical golden era for a lot of cities, but the growth and body of work that came out of San Diego during this period is fascinating (and a bit overwhelming). It's Gonna Blow does a great job touching on the significant players in this period, explaining why these bands were important while giving live snippets that inspire further inspection of the bands and their respective works. Bring a notebook and be prepared for a few hours of YouTube wormholes soon after viewing.
It's Gonna Blow! San Diego's Music Underground 1986-1996 is showing at the Grand Illusion in Seattle on January 24th and 25th. Saturday night's showing includes a live performance from San Diego band Physics. Tickets are available here.
We recently had the chance to chat with the wic-ked-ly talented Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals/Neon Neon/Gorillaz) when he came through Seattle. We chatted about his new film/album/book (American Interior), as well as his songwriting process and some of his creative tools. Head over to the podcast page for a listen!
If you're deep into the world of classic power-pop, dropping Paul Collins' name into a conversation about as common as blinking. For the more casual fan who can't name everything Bomp! Records has ever put out, discovering the world of Paul Collins is the sort of rare treat that you don't find every day. Collins started out his career with Peter Case (The Plimsouls) and Jack Lee ("Hangin' On The Telephone") in The Nerves, honing his chops as a songwriter and a drummer before forming The Beat in the late 70's.
Without falling into the hyperbole-filled world of "what ifs", The Beat should have been a massive band. A pass through the band's 1979 self-titled debut release reveals a band firing on every cylinder, blowing through some absolutely perfect power-pop songs that don't have an inch of fat on them with crisp drums and guitar solos that cut through the mix surprisingly well for a 35 year old recording. Collins' voice leaps through the speakers, simultaneously charmingly clear-headed and chain-smokingly anxious, pining away for the planets to align and that perfect girl to find her way to him atop a bed of major chords. Alas, the band found modest success in the days before MTV (appearing on the Merv Griffin show and American Bandstand, when those were cultural barometers), but ultimately, never took flight to the extent that those songs deserved. True to the loyal underdog he plays in his songs, Paul Collins has continued to soldier on, having released 15 records as The Beat/Paul Collins Beat/Paul Collins over his career. In another universe, Paul Collins Beat is selling out amphitheaters on a reunion tour. In this universe, we get to see him up close and sweaty, blaring through a duct-tape-infused PA system. The Beat goes on, indeed.
The Paul Collins Beat play The Garageland Fest at Lo-Fi Gallery/Victory Lounge tonight alongside Rich Hands, Acapulco Lips, The Gods Themselves, The Knast, Loud Eyes, Bread & Butter, The Crush, Killer Ghost and others. Alongside the bands, there will be record vendors who are stocked up on all sorts of power pop and garage rock. Show starts at 5pm. More information available here.
If you're a fan of Seattle's Campfire OK, you've probably been curious about the band's whereabouts for the past few months. After quite a few years under that moniker, changes in membership and artistic direction seem to have instigated a name change. If their first single ("1983") is any indication, the band now known as The Weather seem to have kept a lot of the same melodic sense as Campfire OK, but with the gloss knob turned up to 11. Trust me, that isn't meant to come across as snarky; singer Mychal Cohen's musical world has always had a beautiful and dark atmospheric side, but hearing that vision fleshed out into more explorations with electronic elements (and not so rooted in organic instrumentation) literally makes the songs shimmer like fever dreams.
The Weather's forthcoming album "Waters Electric" will be released in early 2015. They play Neumos on Saturday, January 17, 2015.
Greetings from the tip-top of 2015! 2.5 days into it, and I'm feeling pretty alright about this year. Here's hoping you and yours had a fantastic new year and wonderful holiday season all around.
But hey, what's a music site without a best of list these days? Pretty worthless, right? Like, why even make a site if you aren't going to make a list! Thankfully for you, I compiled some of the best songs to hit my ears and live shows to hit me in all three dimensions in 2014 for you behind this little clickaroo. Just be a lamb and go ahead and click the link below and let's talk about the BEST THINGS OF 2014.Read More
One of the finest pop songsmiths alive today, John Davis from Superdrag is back (with his old Superdrag bandmate Brandon Fisher) in a new group called The Lees of Memory. John chatted with me and picked out an awesome guest DJ set for the newest episode of The Royal Basement Podcast. All of this can be yours if you just click here!
Just when I made plans to do something other than be in Seattle for New Year's Eve, Jeremy Enigk (the reclusive solo artist/frontman of Sunny Day Real Estate/all around incredibly inspired creature) announces a New Years Eve show at El Corazon. Enigk has been pretty quiet since I moved to Seattle 6+ years ago; aside from the Sunny Day Real Estate reunion tour, I've seen Enigk play one solo show (complete with small chamber orchestra), where he proved to still have that same charisma and otherworldly possession that he's always had. Here's hoping we see a bit less reclusiveness and more new material out of Enigk in the new year. Tickets for Jeremy Enigk's New Years Eve show are available here.
Just published a podcast that I did when I was back in Kansas City for the World Series with one of my closest buddies and former bandmate, Mr. John Nguyen. John was the drummer for The Believe It Or Nots as well as a band called The Times. Go listen over at the Podcast page.
We've also wrapped a few more podcasts with John Davis (Superdrag, The Lees of Memory), Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), and Chris Porterfield of Field Report. We're getting them edited down and they should hopefully be up within the next couple weeks. Pretty stoked about those conversations and the ones we have in the works!
While it's hard to complain about carving out a decent living in a place like Seattle, there isn't a week that goes by where some little innocuous thing pops up and tugs at my heart strings to remind me of my hometown of Kansas City. All political shortcomings aside, Kansas City is where I grew up and is the place I feel the most at home. After six years in Seattle, I still have a tendency to feel a lack of history in this place, and a lack of historical context for the incredible things that I know have happened here, and times where my existence here merely feels like a wonderful lucid dream that I'm sure I'll wake up from someday.
Long story short: I love you, Seattle, but Kansas City will always be the place that made me.
I'm guessing fellow Kansas ex-pat Brendan Hangauer feels pretty similar these days. Having relocated to the Bay Area after years in Lawrence, Kansas fronting local favorites Fourth of July, Hangauer obviously still feels that calling back home (or at the very least, the acknowledgement of the uncertainty of the new ground below one's feet). Debuting his new project (Empty Moon), Hangauer wanders aimlessly through the desert in an Andrew Wiggins jersey, lamenting over life's swift changes, his old college days and being a stranger in a new town. Sometimes a line hits you in your bones, and hearing Hangauer's closing confession that "you said you wouldn't miss the seasons but now you do" gave me chills.
Hangauer has always been a plain-spoken, confessional songwriter, but my early impression is Empty Moon has a bit more musical weight to it, shifting the focus of his compositions away from the sugary pop blasts of Fourth of July and into a deeper, more melancholic place. It's a good look, for sure.
I've been clamoring for Dr. Dog to make a live record for quite some time. (Well, clamoring sounds pretty strong, like I've been partaking in a letter writing campaign to various congressfolk or picketing a lot. It's not that strong, but STILL.) I've seen Dr. Dog at least 10 times now (words about those experiences here), and they manage to always deliver their set in a convincingly powerful manner, while pushing the development of songs that have been documented on album into fresh, developing territory; loud rockers find space to air out and breathe, and quiet strummers are reinvented as noisy, raucous anthems . Add their rough-but-polished theatrical presentations to the mix, and you've got one of the finest live bands on the planet right now. (Also, note some of the footage from their last trip through the Neptune Theatre here in Seattle!)
Live At A Flamingo Hotel is out January 13th on ANTI- Records.
While I've written about Gruff Rhys' solo shows before, this tour promises something different, even by Rhys' standards. Well known as a founding member of the genre-hopping Super Furry Animals, Rhys' solo work tends to be a bit more slightly more placid while still retaining it's stratospheric ambition. With his newest project (the playful and curious American Interior), Rhys has written a bit of a rock opera dedicated to his ancestor John Evans, a Welsh explorer who came to America on a quest in search of a fabled tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. Rhys embarked on a tour of the areas that Evans had traversed, stopping to speak with town historians and stand in the footsteps of Evans along the way, and documented the whole thing in a recently-released documentary (also called American Interior). The documentary is available online until November 16th, and is a fascinating tale of a man exploring his own heritage in a foreign land and obviously taking a boatload of creative inspiration from the fearlessness of his ancestor. The tour appears to involve Powerpoint presentations, history lectures, puppets, and Rhys' trademark gentle nature and dry wit. Gruff Rhys' restless energy and relentless curiosity is contagious; while the American Interior project is a fascinating look at our own history as well as Rhys', I would bet money that an evening of Gruff reading off nutritional label information would still be hilarious and inspiring.
I'm also incredibly excited to chat with Gruff for the Royal Basement podcast tomorrow evening. The podcast should be available sometime in early December for your listening pleasure.
Read more about Gruff Rhys' American Interior project here.
Gruff Rhys plays at Barboza in Seattle, Washington on Friday, November 14, 2014.
The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $13.
Mike Gallacher is a man from Tacoma, Washington who currently resides in Detroit, Michigan. We've been friends for a good long time due to circumstance (weddings, road trips, happenstance and location have all factored in). Sometimes, friendship explodes out of nothing, and next thing you know, you've hit the ground running full speed with a new buddy who suddenly feels like family. Mike has been that sort of friend for me. (It also doesn't hurt that he's a wizard with all things guitar-related and my go-to guy for any sort of gear-related questions.)
So, Mike has been working in secret on a new EP for a good while, and finally has it released to the public. The band is called Monarchs, and the EP is called Citizens. I've asked to hear this stuff for months, and none of my requests have gone answered, so I'm thrilled to finally hear this monster he's been working on behind closed doors for so long. The songs are bombastic and leap out of the speakers with life, hovering wonderfully in that same hooky anthemic-but-angular territory that J. Robbins was mining with Burning Airlines, while vocally taking after a more maladjusted Bob Mould.
Put your ears on the new Monarchs EP here.
As you get older, you can glide comfortably (or acceptingly) into the adult world, accepting the tedium and monotony that life often gives you when you accept that comfy office job. Pissed Jeans is an embracing of those jittery voices of daily dissent, celebrating those moments of dark discomfort and adult awkwardness while occasionally tossing a gladly-welcomed splashing and screaming trantrum in the kiddie pool. The four piece from Pennsylvania come from a background full of East Coast hoodie-hardcore, but piece those frenetic elements into concise, well-structured blasts of chuggy, chaos ridden sludge pop. Add frontman Matt Korvette's manic personality and self-effacing observational lyrics and half-serious/half-sarcastic Iggy Pop-isms into the mix, and you have one of the most compelling live bands on the planet right now. Given that the band has embraced the office/family life, they don't tour much, so any chance to see Pissed Jeans (especially on the West Coast) is a "do not miss" affair.
Pissed Jeans plays at Barboza tonight. Stickers and Vexx open. Show is at 7pm. Tickets are $15.