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June 17, 2013

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at the Crocodile Tuesday Night

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::: Lady Lamb The Beekeeper ::: Photo by Shervin Lainez

  The journey that we call life. It’s anti-climatic maddening, joyful, painful, obvious yet unexpected…that is if you’re doing it right. You have no control of your own life. It’s really just a series of events that you experience or witness poured into the manmade linear caster of “time.”  

And then there’s the pacing. Oh, the pacing.

What may take you an entire lifetime to build, may take someone else a television commercial break. You have problems therefore you want answers. Your methodology of going into the woods with a book and a flashlight for a couple of weeks, won’t serve as the catalyst for inspiration for that foreign soul that follows in your footsteps.

Life. It works, then it doesn’t. It never works.

This all brings me to Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and her outstanding album Ripely Pine. If you listen to this album and were completely unaware of Aly Spaltro’s musical background, what do you anticipate that your first thoughts would be? I’m guessing it would something similar to, “How many records has she made in the past? What other musical projects has she been involved in? Did she go to school for music?” Etc.

Do you know what your first thoughts wouldn’t be? “Did you ever see that movie Be Kind, Rewind?” “I bet Aly Spaltro found inspiration in her songwriting while working at a secondhand DVD store in Maine.” “It’s obvious she honed her craft writing these songs after hours adjacent to the Horror and Drama sections of the video store.” “This is definitely her first studio album.”

Artistically speaking, Lady Lamb is in her musical infancy. She’s been mining hard hours for these musical diamonds since 2007.  However, Ripely Pine consistently expresses a depth, creativity and understanding that is not only impressive, more importantly it’s exciting. Practically every song has a sound or rhythm that is completely unexpected. In case you missed the memo, this is a great fucking album. To paraphrase the philosopher Kool Keith, this lady is a master of the game. As a result, we are left with an album of note. It would have taken others several albums to arrive at a similar conclusion, if they were to arrive at all.

Gentle readers, I can not overstate the importance of being unique entity in the singer/songwriter genre. There’s only so many notes a human play. There’s only so many notes a human can sing. Your offerings only differ presentation, instrumentation and arrangement. For all intents and purposes, music is music. If you have any idea what you’re doing, you can make Akimbo sound like Arcade Fire. A musical alchemist can turn Frank Zappa into Jay-Z. These aren’t hidden secrets we’re talking about here.

If you’re still reading and desperately searching for the expected, somewhat mundane, journalistic musical comparisons to/for Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, look no further. Lady Lamb vocally reminds of Feist on The Reminder. In terms of songwriting, if Kelli Schaefer moved to Washington, D.C. and listened almost exclusively to Wolf Parade’s “You Are A Runner and I Am My Father’s Son”, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. However, I want to be perfectly clear that Lady Lamb is like neither one of those mentioned contemporaries. I would have even avoided the dreaded and borderline sexist “female artist comparison” thing if I had a better grasp of this genre. Ignorance isn’t bliss, they just told you that to make you feel better.

Tomorrow night (or tonight if you’re late to the game). Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is playing the Crocodile in support of Torres. Doors are at 7pm. Tickets are $8 in advance. All-Ages.

June 17, 2013

Sasquatch 2013!

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::: Sasquatch! ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

Sometimes never is actually preferable to being late.

Since we are so far removed from Memorial Day weekend, I am not going to bore you with what was and what could have been. The Gorge, always a picturesque venue for any musical carnival that touches down upon its fairgrounds, seemed painfully empty at times. Don’t worry, that didn’t prevent concert-goers from turning it into landfill status long before the Postal Service played their final songs on Monday night. Git R’ Done, Mother Earth.

Were there fake natives (read: people dressed as Native Americans)? Of course, but there weren’t that many. Did I hear more than one person singing R. Kelly’s “Ignition(Remix)” on more than one occasion? Yes, we are talking about a four day overpriced cocktail party. Gimme some of that choo choo beep beep.

To make a long story short, there were things I wish I didn’t miss (Built to Spill, Red Fang, Death Grips, Alt-J) and there are things I will never forget unless my genetic predisposition to alzheimer’s and the like rob me of my memories.  Let’s go to the videotape that has been cleverly disguised as recollective transcribed jabbering:

  • Seeing Elvis Costello live for the first time in your life feels just as good as you would expect. I think the same can be said for anyone who is a legend at their craft and you sincerely appreciate what they do. The music of Mr. Costello and I haven’t always been the best of friends. I feel fortunate to have become more receptive to things that are obviously great, as my calendar days pass.
  • Divine Fits sounds like you would expect (Just in case you weren’t familiar, the band features Britt Daniel from Spoon and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs). It’s pretty “rocking”….mostly. For me personally, it’s a weird happenstance that parties from the aforementioned bands would join forces. Both Spoon and Wolf Parade have the uncanny ability to go from much beloved to passionately despised depending on the song/album we are discussing. That sentiment transitioned seamlessly a couple of weekends ago.
  • The internet ruined any authentic glee that one could feel when witnessing Baauer perform the song in-person. Or maybe it’s just me? (Imagine. A rhetorical sigh.) Has my life reached such a flatlining low that the internet is now more enjoyable than my real-life existence? If I were in a different tax bracket, would that make a difference? It didn’t seem like people were “going ham” for “Harlem Shake.” However, once Baauer smoothly mixed that into this, it was a whole different story. It was definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments. I need to become one of those smartphone savvy bootleggers…
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    ::: Elvis Costello ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • Nick Offerman, not funny. I think I got him confused with another guy named Nick that does comedy. Who would have thought. He did write a catchy song about handkerchiefs, I’ll give him that.
  • Radical Face is anything but despite their name. Maybe he/they should be called, “Nobody Will Remember Us.” They do have a song about the Merchant of Venicethat is pretty good.
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    ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • I’m not an avid listener of the multi-talented Andrew Bird. However, I must say it does feel pretty damn good laying on your back at the Gorge and daydreaming to his music. Suddenly my life went from distractingly digital to serenely sun-dialed.
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    ::: Tilson XOXO ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • I like my R&B experience to be as organic as possible, which is why I despise most commercialized R&B these days. It’s not that the music or performers don’t have “it.” What turns me off is that the production is so goodthat it makes everything sound like the most soulless shit ever put to tape in what I’d presume is a recording studio. With that being said, I think ya’ll need to check out Tilson XOXO.  Much like 2Chainz proclaims to be, this cat is “different.” Everything from the songwriting to his stage attire is a bit off (in a good way). One minute he had a love song that sounded like the B-52′s. The next minute his entire band had a GoGo-esque percussion break with Tilson repeatedly reminding the crowd that, “I can do anything I want.” Indeed you can, cool cat. Indeed you can.
  • Rose Windows is the best, most groovy band on the planet right now. I saw nine minutes of their set because I suck at time management.If pop culture were a horse race (actually…..) I’d bet on Rose Windows before those stall gates opened.
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    ::: Rose Windows ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • My favorite concert-goers (in terms of costumes) were back at the Gorge for Sasquatch this year. Jellyfish Crew! Good to see you and your crafty umbrellas that strangely resemble translucent sea life.
  • James Adomian,very funny. His brand of “disclaimer comedy” had me cracking up. I never realized how homoerotic Gillette Sensor commercials were until this gentleman pointed it out to me.
  • Chvrches were responsible for my “earworm of the weekend.” As soon as I heard “Recover” from this arresting Scottish electro-pop group, I was basically done for. It reminds me of that one time I got unsuspectingly hooked to Annie’s “Heartbeat”around seven or eight years ago. Even someone such as myself, the most ardent fan of the abrasive forms of punk must show their softer side on the dance floor. I also must give props to Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry for telling a hilarious (read: unfortunate) tale of being hit with a cup of piss, while sitting on a friends shoulders at a musical festival in Scotland.
  • Caveman are the only band that I can think of who sound like “There, There” by Radiohead one moment and within a blink of an eye, Huey Lewis and the News the next.
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    ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • “Okay, so I’m a little weird, but I try to be a good guy.” - Kristian Matsson of The Tallest Man on Earth. He also fucked up the words to one of his songs and accidentally created one of the more tender public moments to take place all weekend.
  • If Jay and Silent Bob had a favorite band, that band would be DIIV.
  • Fang Island’s“Daisy” there was circle pit of air guitar players. To think of all the shows I’ve been to in my life and I’ve never seen that before. Looking back, I can’t decide if it was the daytime strobe lights or the lyrics, “It don’t matter what you find on the way to find it” but I found myself on the verge of tears by the end of the song. Oh, what a glorious honor it would have been to become “The guy that is crying next to the air guitar circle pit” guy. Maybe next year?
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    ::: Shovels and Rope ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • “Don’t be squirtin’ and desertin!” – Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope. Hearst was cautioning the audience as it pertained to procreation and the treatment of the environment. Pretty good advice for both unrelated realms, if you ask me. After the band played “Up in Smoke” (which conjured up strange Tom Petty-esque feelings as the sun started to descend), she also told the audience, “It ain’t what you got, it’s what you make.” This might as well serve as the official creed of this Charleston, South Carolina two-piece. They don’t have a lot, but they make a ton of noise. Their set was the definition of a barn burner.
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    ::: Kingdom Crumbs ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

  • Hip-Hop kind of dominated Sasquatch. I can confidently say that despite missing Death Grips and a few other notable acts. Although I don’t listen to Macklemore, I love seeing him take the stage because he’s really good at what he does. Watching “Same Love” being performed in front of all those people, it felt like I was really listening to the song for the first time (Spoiler Alert: I’ve heard this song a gazillion times prior to Sasquatch). Earl Sweatshirt performing “Whoa” was the coldest even without the accompaniment of Tyler the Creator. Danny Brown Detroit is in the building! snapped out of his “Kush Coma” long enough to dazzle onlookers with a snaggletoothed delivery over the most outlandish stereo system ever assembled. I’m pretty sure folks in Grand Rapids heard Brown’s set. I finally saw Nissim (formerly D. Black) perform for the first time. His set was a good mix of songs from his days under his former moniker (including songs off of Ali’Yah) and he even played the first single (unless my notes are mistaken, I penned it down as “Miracle Music”) off of his upcoming album, Nissim (it drops in July). With so much of contemporary hip-hop being focused on the stage persona rather than the music that entity produces, I found Nissim’s set to be extremely refreshing. ocnotes played a somewhat spaced out, almost free jazz-styled set on the Cthulu stage. In the process he coined one of the coolest phrases I’ve ever heard (“LSD Viper Gang”) during his song “Run and Bounce.”  El-P has been a favorite artist of mine ever since I heard his groundbreaking album Fantastic Damage. El Producto continues to do a better job painting a post-humankind dystopian landscape better than any other author I’m accustomed to reading. Book recommendations welcome.  The rest of us mere mortals woke up to the news of the NSA over a cup of coffee. If you listen to El-P’s lyrics, he’s been deftly existing under the radar of a Philip K. Dick novel before the Patriot Act was signed into law. Run the Jewels (El-P’s project with fellow Sasquatch performer Killer Mike, who also had a good set over Memorial Day weekend), album will drop on June 26th. Last, but certainly not least, Kingdom Crumbs continues to be “clutch” performing act. Every time I’ve seen them over the past twelve months, they’ve gotten better and better (and I thought they were good to begin with). In my heart, I’ll always be “some kid with a bunch of punk records.” Leave me alone, Roderick! Yet on this fateful weekend, Hip-Hop was the love of my life.
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    ::: Photo by Hilary Harris

    So there you have it. A small slice of the Gorge over Memorial Day weekend. Next year Sasquatch will be happening on Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend. Festivals are getting jealous of Coachella, they want in on some of that thunder. In 2030, there will be no such thing as a “local concert.” All musical experiences will be in festival form. A festival will happen every other weekend. All concerts will be sponsored by Bank of America, Zombie CISPA, NSA, Robotic Farmers Guild of America and The Dream Police (as envisioned by Cheap Trick, obviously). You heard it here first.

    June 7, 2013

    Gaytheist Album Release Show Tonight at Black Lodge

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    Gaytheist, Portland’s criminally under-hyped, supercharged supergroup is having a release show tonight at the Black Lodge in support of their album Hold Me…But Not So Tight. It will be the second full length released on Seattle’s own Good to Die Records.

    Gentle readers, I don’t have to tell you that Sound on the Sound has been relatively mum over the last several months because of all the “life changes” that have occurred to us as individuals. Am I embarrassed to say that I still haven’t posted my “Best of 2012″ list and that I’m still working on it at a glacial pace? Apparently not because I just did.

    Gaytheist was featured in that list, due mostly in part to the strength of the songs found on Stealth Beats. The topsy-turvy balancing act of the hard-rocking yet infinitely catchy “Can’t Go To Mecca.” A narrative with a distorted staccato backdrop, that focuses on an impending barren wasteland ripe with litigative scarcity and the absence of designer threads (“Post-Apocalyptic Lawsuit”).

    For a rock and roll group comprised of only three components, this group does enough collateral damage to make other bands reconsider getting rid of that lazy second guitarist who always shows up late to practice and never adds any real value to the songs. Beyond the muddled crunch of Jason Rivera’s six string and and the familiar overdrive of Tim Hoff’s bass, Gaytheist drummer Nickolis Scott Park Fleischman plays the craziest drum fills I have ever heard in a “conventional” rock band. I haven’t heard anyone in this genre accentuate the end of measures like this since Burning Airlines old timekeeper Peter Moffett. Both of the aforementioned percussionists sound like an entire drum line at times and they make no apologies for it. Ladies and gentlemen, the benefits of practicing and perfecting your craft.

    Hold Me continues the same songwriting formula carried over from Stealth Beats. In other words, the tunes are explosive, catchy and brief. I graduated from the school of, “The shorter the song, the more memorable it is.” Powerviolence is all I listen to. It pleases me to no end that the average song on this album is around two minutes in length.

    Once upon a time, artistic segues were all the rage. Why not throw three or four brief interludes in a single album to validate your creative merit? All of the people that write for the print copy of Spin will be so impressed! Does Spin still have a print copy?

    Then people found out how to use the internet for its unlimited potential in workplace efficiency (ie. cat memes and youtube wormholes). NOBODY HAS TIME FOR YOUR MUSIC ANYMORE!

    Gaytheist is fully aware of this. I’d even make the not-so-outlandish claim that there compositions on Hold Me are superior to those found on Stealth Beats. There were times while listening to Stealth Beats> that I thought the following: “This is pretty fucking zany. It reminds me of those old ‘Yipes! Stripes! Fruit Stripes Gum!’ commercials from the 90s.” In other words, there was a lot going on. Eventually with enough listens to Stealth Beats, the rotation of the Earth and all other planetary traffic return to normal speed and expected trajectory. No superstar team of astronauts needed to be launched into outer space to usher in the untimely demise of any asteroids.

    And that is where Hold Me begins, with the cinematic tears of Steven Tyler singing a god awful ballad. with a blistering tale of loneliness that could describe the life of yours truly any melancholy enthusiast. Complete with walls erected for self-defense and palm muted guitars desperately trying to outrace the rhythm section. Straight forward and quickly to the point, “Starring In ‘The Idiot’” clocks in at a swift 34 seconds. Genius. 

    “60 Easy Payments” reminds me of Chicago rock and roll in the middle nineties. Out of the Loop-era hulky pop that rallies against the pitfalls of greed and competitive consumerism. For some of you, the main riff will sound Torche-esque. I don’t listen to Torche so I made that last sentence up, sorry. Gentle readers, once again the message is much like the song, straight and to the point. It’s basically the complete opposite of those work-related conference calls you take from home. The aforementioned being the sole reason why there is no god.

    Can we pretend for one moment that Cheap Trick is no longer a band in the year 2013? Cool. Literally the first thing I thought when I heard “Contest of Competence” was, “If Cheap Trick knew how to play their instruments this frantically, I could totally see them writing a song in a similar vein to this.” I’m not sure why but after numerous listens, Hold Me is really starting to conjure up visions of midwestern power pop from yesteryear with hints of momentary violent fits. I’m sold.

    My only complaint about Hold Me is that my new favorite Gaytheist song “Ock of Rages” is only on the “MANhattan” single but not on this record. Talk about anthemic efficiency, good gracious. Be sure to check out the previously stated on the bandcamp.

    May 21, 2013

    SIFF: Mistaken for Strangers

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    Mistaken for Strangers was meant to be a film following the National’s worldwide tour in support of the release of their critically acclaimed 5th record Boxer, but in the making it departed from that original intent to be a charming story about brotherhood. Told from the perspective of National singer Matt Berninger’s younger brother Tom who tags along on the tour as a part-time roadie and full-time jester with his sight’s set on living the rock and roll lifestyle, the mundane reality of capturing that lifestyle to film quickly sets in and his fun-loving hijinks instead begin to encroach on his real responsibilities and his own credibility as a documentarian. Though the younger brother is a joyful and often hilarious presence on the tour, and as much as character in his own video sequences as the band, nobody appears to much appreciate his humor as long as it’s getting in the way of the simple official tasks assigned to him: keeping the green room stocked and generally being a personal assistant to the band.

    Instead of a document of a live band at the peak of their powers with generous passages of live footage and a general feeling of cool, brief live stage scenes offer interludes to the saga of the Berninger brothers trying to figure each other out, clashing and laughing as brothers do. Conversations about too much drinking, about what Tom is doing wrong, what he needs to do differently, and his lack of focus, it all feels slightly uncomfortable. But that it’s done with the blunt caring of an older brother who obviously really does care and delivered to a person with minimal capacity for shame, the litany of poor choices and mistakes only serves to make the situation endearing and increasingly funny. Tom absolutely seems like a fun guy to have as a brother, so long as he’s not your brother.

    Coming from a family of brothers myself, echoes of my own experiences in the scenes between the Berninger’s were what really made this film a winner to my mind. The unfiltered and sometimes biting banter that cuts deeply without regard for offense is a hallmark of brothers, and one that I’m all to familiar with. Talking face to face without any pretensions or judgement is such a rare thing even among close friends, and I wonder whether blood brotherhood might be one of the last bastions of brutal honesty. Mistaken for Strangers serves as a reminder for how valuable of a thing that kind of honesty really is, no matter how embarrassing or frustrating it may sometimes seem.

    Mistaken for Strangers plays again tonight for SIFF at the Egyptian Theater 4pm.

    April 30, 2013

    Played To the Beat: A Tribute To the Hockey Night In Canada Intro Video

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    Tonight begins a very special time of year. At 5pm Pacific Daylight Time, the Chicago Blackhawks will face off against the Minnesota Wild and the LA Kings against the St. Louis Blues as sixteen teams begin to narrow down to two, and then to one, in the race for the Stanley Cup. At nearly two months, playoff hockey season lasts nearly as long as Christmas, and like the other holiday is full of rituals and traditions. My way of observing the season is simple: I watch hockey, and I cry.

    The playoffs are full of intensity and high drama, but with the exception of last year’s circus sideshow debacle of a Penguins-Flyers series, it’s not the hockey itself that gets me really worked up. I’m a fairly magnanimous fan, eager to see my team clutch the giant silver prize but quick to forgive those who defeat us as long as they play a good game of hockey. What really opens the floodgates is not the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, but the CBC’s beautifully crafted, emotionally manipulative video montages of it all.

    The Hockey Night In Canada intro video has become a treasured part of the season over the past few years, earning the sort of cult following that spawns multi-page discussion threads and sixty-five-video YouTube playlists. The premise is simple: a montage of previous-game highlights, energetic crowd shots, mournful footage of defeated teams, and home-team-local-color-B-roll is set to a vaguely-thematic modern pop hit. It’s not revolutionary stuff, but the team at CBC has made a true art of it.

    Some of the best opening videos came out of 2011′s brutal Canucks – Bruins final series. The Bruins, looking to end a thirty-nine-year Stanley Cup drought, and the Canucks, playing for their first Cup, brought a fire and intensity to the ice that made for some rough play – Aaron Rome’s brutal hit on Nathan Horton, Alexandre Burrows’ hearty chomp on Patrice Bergeron’s finger – and some great video. The teeming masses of emotional fans gathered in the streets of Vancouver offered both dramatic, sweeping footage from above and reporter-on-the-scene shaky-cam urgency that made a beautiful supplement to the on-ice action.

    One of my favorites from the series was for Game 6, set to oh-so-Canadian band The Tragically Hip. It’s a slow burn, simmering quietly for forty-four seconds, then exploding into the of screams and exultations of the Vancouver crowd with a replay of Maxime LaPierre’s third-period Game 5 goal. The remainder of the video is a montage of chirps, checks, fights, and celebrations battering you at a blistering pace and ruthlessly notching up your adrenaline levels. In the midst of all this are hidden little references and plays on words: a shot of Rachel McAdams, an actual movie star, before a decidedly less glamorous image of Canucks center Ryan Kesler as the line “I ain’t no movie star plays”; a broad crowd shot set to the phrase “for miles around”; a replay of Rome’s hit and a fight clip with the line “throes of passion.” These synchronizations are subtle enough not to be cheesy, but smart enough to let you know they’re deliberate.

    But CBC’s all-time best work is found in the video shown before Game 1. Backed by the gut-felt emotion of Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep,” this intro to the final round pulls no punches as it brutally shows the forlorn postures and expressions of eliminated teams against the refrain of “we almost had it all.” The list of deposed teams grows slowly, like a playoff beard, but I lose it early on, with the footage of Canadiens goalie Carey Price slumped sadly in his crease. (Sad goalie shots are the worst.) The editors deploy every weapon in their arsenal, from artful slo-mo to drag out critical moments to the Instagram-esque blue-tinge and heavy vignetting that manages to add the feel of nostalgia to events that happened only the previous month or week.

    If I could bring myself to be cynical about all this, I would; the true genius in these videos lies in their usefulness as little bits of marketing. The recap in the finals intro draws viewers back into the game by reconnecting them with the narrative of the playoffs, reminding regular viewers of what came before or catching new viewers up on what they’ve missed. It also offers an emotional reconnection to fans of teams no longer competing, giving them a new reason to care about the games and their outcome. But maybe the genius is demonstrated most clearly by the fact that a hardened cynic like me knows she’s being marketed to, and doesn’t care. I’ll turn on CBC tonight at five to watch them read me the opening chapter in this year’s playoffs book, and to see what they have to sell me.

    I hope it’s a giant-size box of tissues. I’m going to need one.

    April 24, 2013

    Kathleen’s Spring Playlist: Chaos and Calm

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    Spring music in the past has been different for me. I always wanted something to evoke the riotous bloom of flowers, the world opening its clenched palms toward the jolly sun. The rain splattering on thirsty ground, and on the wet shins of kids running around in the park for the first time since October. I have always played music that’s about one metronome tick away from full on summer anthems. But spring is not summer. It is not blistering pavement and burying toes in sand, not sweaty nights spent on top of the covers, with naked permeable skin soaking up night breezes through thrown open windows. It is not the azure sparkle of summer days, or the smoky closeness of summer nights. Spring is its own being. And suddenly, this reluctant spring, I wanted to find its true voice.

    In that way, this playlist completely anthropomorphizes spring. If spring could sing to you beyond the enthusiastic birds outside your window (BIRDS, WE GET IT, YOU’RE BIRDS) then this is what I think it would say.

    I spent the past week examining spring. I have plenty of time, since summer doesn’t slather on sunblock and join the party until about July in Seattle. So far in March and April, Seattle has had buckets and buckets of rain. Not normal buckets, either. Buckets sent from Mount Olympus. Old Testament buckets. Buckets that even Roald Dahl’s BFG couldn’t hoist.

    It’s been wet, is what I’m saying.

    Also last week we had hail. So everyone stop making fun of the Mayans because I was sure the world was about to collapse in on itself for those ten minutes.

    But we’ve also had sunny days. Days where I sat out on the deck and accidentally got a really weird tan line that I will still be sporting when I make next year’s spring playlist.

    What I have noticed, though, is that spring is unpredictable. It hasn’t quite decided. One day you’re rushing out to Golden Gardens with perspiring beers in tow, giddy and sun drunk, and the next day you’re scowling at the sky as your boots fill up with about seven quarts of rain water. Spring is what summer needs. For summer’s show-offy splendor, we need the heavenly sky rivers and we need the days of sunny, growing rest. We need a gentle shake from the hibernation of winter. Also we need to have some time to find a spare hour to deal with the reality of showing legs again. Or perhaps that’s just me.

    This spring playlist is dedicated to the necessary, annoying, totally separate spring identity. The indecisive, warm, chilly, stretched days that don’t really give a flying…kite whether or not we were planning on grilling. It is here to make you dance, and to make you rest. To be alone, and to entangle yourself in loving arms. It is a playlist of contradictions that work together, all bundled in the magnificent kinetic energy that is this transition season. Find the beat, sing a long, embrace the chaos. Summer will be here soon, and your tan lines will be just as funny as mine.

    (Also, I danced like a fool at a wedding last weekend to “American Music” with Abbey, and it did wonders for my well-being and happiness. I suggest you do the same.)

    April 24, 2013

    Timber! Adds Seven New Bands to Their First Fest

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    A couple months ago, we introduced you to Timber! the new festival from our friends at Artist Home, the hosts of Slack Fest and Doe Bay Fest. The new outdoor jamboree, will be held in Carnation, Washington on a sprawling 574 acre river-side park July 26th and 27th. (Yes, sadly, it will be held the same weekend as Capitol Hill Block Party … but we know someone will be excited to use our parking space on the Hill as we head to the country.)

    Since we told you about Timber’s intention, they’ve began to announcing the big bands, who will be taking their small stages: Helio Sequence, Fruit Bats, Quasi, Hobosexual, Lemolo, Bryan John Appleby, River Giant …

    Today, we’re thrilled to share seven new additions to the Timber! line-up. While Quasi, River Giant, Hobosexual and Kithkin will be making the tall trees shake, many of this week’s additions will ask festival goers to embrace the quiet of Carnation. Seattle singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen will be backed by the sweet sounds of the Passenger String Quartet, busker Ben Fisher returning to his roots, the beautiful bummer of S (Jenn Ghetto of Carissa’s Wierd), the awe-inspiring ache of Avians Alight and a name that might be new to you: Vikesh Kapoor. Kapoor’s protest poetry is so potent, he was asked to perform at Howard Zinn’s memorial. But it won’t be all singer-songwriters or shredding at Timber!, there’ll be some honky-tonk too. Also joining the line-up today is the return of Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers and Jacob Miller & the Bridge City Crooners, who’ll be burning down the barn … though, hopefully not literally, as they’ll be hosting a late night dance party in an old hayloft on the festival grounds.

    We couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with Timber! during their first year and to watch a new festival build from the ground up. There will a few more line-up announcements, so we’ll be sharing with them here and hoping your tents are close to ours this summer.

    April 16, 2013

    Akimbo – Live to Crush

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    Akimbo ::: Live to Crush

    [Scene opens with Alyssa Milano meandering in the middle of a soon-to-be empty parking lot. There is a building that has been foreclosed on a couple of paces behind her. A few menacing Bobcat construction vehicles wait like vultures in the distance. Orange mesh fence and yellow tape serve as the veil to an imminent end. In the corner of the shot, a gentleman with a salt and pepper colored beard drinks something that is being concealed by a moist, brown paper bag. He's wearing a Canadian Tuxedo. Instead of "Angel" by Sarah McLaughlin playing in the background it's Akimbo's "Acid Grandma." Mrs. Milano moves her lips and words form accordingly..]

    All the mosquito nets in the world couldn’t prepare the United States, the world’s leader in all things we have deemed important, from the seismic shift that has taken place in the music industry. Beginning with the years that preceded the dawn of the new millennium, the record industry has been a veritable sinkhole.

    Nevermind the Bollocks Not even our very own “Prince Valiant” (Lars Ulrich) could stop high-powered, futuristic bit torrents, the unholy union of behemoth record labels and record executives that would rather eat their own children, than give a fair shake in royalties and licensing agreements. Artists have become chow mein for the “Old Men of the Desert.”

    What was once a mechanical, predictable an elegant process has become mutated beyond recognition. As a result, record stores everywhere are becoming extinct. Why buy a record at the store when can you download the files for a paltry fee? The Earth is becoming overpopulated and I no longer have room for my cream-sicle colored, limited edition 7″ of that one touring band whose name I have totally forgotten (Rinse. Lather. Repeat…oh…about 40,000 times). For the love of petrol money.

    [Camera zooms in on the middle-aged gentleman wearing denim on denim. He takes a drink of his mystery beverage and winks at the camera.]

    Why leave your house when all the music in the universe can come to you? Why walk to the bathroom when you can just wear an adult diaper? Why live when you can just die? 

    [Milano walks toward the camera.]

    In honor of vinyls “Day of the Dead” Record Store Day (April 20th, 2013), Akimbo has decided to release their final album on Alternative Tentacles RecordsLive to Crush, further expounds on the “Eat Beer. Shit Riffs” philosophy that the band has worn on their sleeve for a number of years. Akimbo’s final document will be limited to 500 copies on vinyl. The remainder of the spoils can be downloaded in digital format. The last time you kissed someone goodbye forever, what were the words you left them with? What themes, memories or harsh realities did you gleefully nail into their conscience? Akimbo left us with their most powerful creeds to date. Let us delve into the hypothetical topics that this album presents us with. Tales of America’s playground ribbing and phantom rivalry with France (“The Fucking French!” — sans les frites de la liberté), completely ignoring the tyranny of the politically correct establishment (“The Retard Blues”) and my personal our society’s obsession with good looks and an immaculate physique (“Building A Body”).

    [Camera cuts to archival Akimbo footage during the voice over.]

    The lead guitar during the bridge on “I Am Very Successful” mimics our stock market on a semi-daily basis. Fre Descending with a brief flirtation with mania, mocking and oddly cruel. Freshly minted in the minds of the participating. “Acid Grandma” presents itself as the unwilling bride to Helms Alee’s “Grandfather Claws.” The biggest difference is where the husband and wife originate from. Mr. Claws sounds as if he is from Boston. Mrs. Grandma sounds like she is from somewhere between Savannah and Athens.  

    These songs are better than the songs that appear on previous albums. The songwriting is more intelligent yet it doesn’t subtract from Akimbo’s cardinal mission of command and conquer. These are significant statements because I say so. If you’ve spilled your drink during “Lungless,” then you know that such  accomplishments are mountainous in stature. In terms of being “brought out to pasture” in the musical sense,  the In Memoriam we are privy to is often worse than the actual demise itself. Freeze framing old glories. Nostalgic reverie over faded photographs. Reshaping the legacies found at the end of the noose for no reason other than the fact that it “feels good.”

    That is not the case on Live to Crush.

    [Camera cuts back to Milano. The middle-aged man that can only be described as fashionably debonair is peeing behind some construction vehicles in the background.]

    There are no hints or slight indications of musical atrophy during the course of this 40-minute tantrum. As a listener, you want to tell Akimbo, “Get back into the van! Finish what can never be finished!”

    Your hopes are in vain (as always). It’s not happening, not for you or anyone else.

    If you buy this record, will you reverse the misfortune of the retail cathedrals known as “record stores”? You’re a smart consumer (you are “watching this commercial”, aren’t you?) so I am going to assume you know the answer to that. You know what mother said, it doesn’t hurt to try. That’s the same mother who would drive you to the record store and bring a good book. She’d sit in the car for hours and hours while you lived out your adolescent fantasies thru listening stations and captured moments that make great wall art. It’s the same woman that could see her son finding solace in the sounds and ideas put forth by total strangers. Foreign souls he felt like he’d known his entire life. The same woman that bought you a drum kit and selflessly encouraged you to pursue your passions, even though it gave her a headache…literally.

    [Camera zooms in on Milano's upper torso.]

    Record stores? Who needs them! They only lead to heartache and erosion of self-esteem. This space could be used for expensive downtown parking!

    “12 more hours in this fucking hole. Somebody give me a sword!”           

    [Camera zooms in on Milano's face.]

    Akimbo, you can’t leave now. We were supposed to rid the world of danger.

    [Scene ends with the camera zooming in on the gentleman wearing denim on denim. He's giving the lens a John Kerry-esque thumbs up.]

    April 8, 2013

    Letterbox: On The Road With Pickwick (part two)

    by

    Ellie Arciaga and Eleanor Lonardo spent March on the road with Pickwick chronicling the band’s first national tour and giving fans an intimate glimpse behind the scenes of a travelling band. This summer they’ll be publishing a book of photos from their adventure called Letterbox, but first they’ve agreed to share some shots with Sound on the Sound and all of us who wish we could’ve been in the van with them. This second leg of the tour covers the madness of a week in Austin for SXSW….

    “In our minds, SXSW is known as, ‘The Big Haul.’ For the Pickwick dudes, this was referring to eight shows in four days. As two first-timers, we knew little of what to expect; we only knew to be ready. Luckily for us, the guys navigated through the Austin madness like old pros, even managing to get some down time in to do a little laundry, and sip on some whiskey every now and again. They survived SXSW in one piece, and with one last leg through Colorado up to Oregon, home was beginning to show up on the horizon.”

    The band hit’s the road again this week heading off on a North American headlining tour through Canada and then the Northeast and Midwest, but first they’ll be getting in front of the biggest crowd of their lives: today they setup between home plate and the mound to play the Seattle Mariners home opener at Safeco Field.

     

    April 6, 2013

    The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” Turns 50, Read the FBI File

    by

    On April 6th, 1963 Portland group the Kingsmen recorded “Louie, Louie” in just two takes. By their own accounts the sloppy second take probably shouldn’t have been good enough, but their manager was happy with it as it was, and so that was that. Or… that was just the beginning. Probably no other tossed off recording would go on to have such an interesting history that would involve politics, the FBI and an outright ban by radio stations across the nation.

    “Louie Louie” was wasn’t a Kingsmen original, but a popular standard among Northwest teen dance bands in the early sixties. Every band had their own rendition of the crowd favorite, a repetitive jam so popular that the Kingsmen would play it multiple times a night. The Fabulous Wailers had a regional hit with the song a few years earlier, and their sped up version of the Richard Berry original would be the prototype for it’s popularity among the early sixties Northwest dance bands. In truth the Kingsmen version was pretty unprofessional, and it’s initially tepid radio reception was probably reflective of that and the fact that Paul Revere and the Raiders had their own recording of the song out at the same time on the national Columbia label. But with the help of Jerry Dennon’s local Jerden Records, and then Wand Records to take it beyond the Northwest, by January of 1964 the rock n’ roll record had scooted past the Raiders’ version nationally and would climb to Billboard’s number 2 position and competing chart Cashbox’s number 1 position.

    As the record initially floundered in 1963, the band’s lead singer Jack Ely refused to give up his singing duties to the drummer (who had legal possession of the name “The Kingsmen”) and subsequently departed the band. As the single gained traction Ely tried to patch things up and put the band back together with the former drummer but animosities would keep him out of the band as the song reached it’s peak and the increasingly large audiences would be disappointing not to see the original singer of the smash recording.

    After topping the charts, in a most unexpected turn Indiana Governor Matthew Walsh followed by a few other states would deem the single “obscene” for what they imagined the unintelligible singing of Ely might be saying. Kids would compare notes about the different lyrics that might emerge when the 45 was played at alternate RPM’s. Despite the Kingmen’s own protestations to the contrary, Wand stoked the flames of controversy by offering a reward to anyone who could prove the lyrics were risque in a move to jack up sales even more. Election year antics would kick off an FBI investigation of the song’s possible lewd messages, an investigation that ultimately “discovered no evidence of obscenity.”

    Read that FBI file online and take a gander below the fold at a few of the many renditions of the song from over the years (in chronological order), including Richard Berry’s original.

    (more…)