While we don’t know what they sound like, what their album is called, when it will be released, or well, ANYTHING — we do know that Dave Bazan has a new band called “Overseas.” We stumbled on their mysterious website today and found a few tweets with no more details given, which makes us even more curious than we would be … which is very curious indeed.
We’ll keep you posted on just what Overseas is, when and how they’ll be releasing an album and more details when we know … until then, we’re gonna have fun imagining what’s to come.
Remember when we said we’d share our list of 25 other unmissable records the first week of January? Whoops. Thing is, the first month of this new year, we were still listening to and falling in (and out) of love with records from 2011. Discovering albums we should’ve shared months ago and finding out what sounded good in summer, didn’t survive snowmageddon. We added and whittled and debated and listened and when it comes down to these 24 albums, all released in 2011 by bands from the Pacific Northwest, we loved.
Here’s what you won’t find on here: records we wrote about in 2010 (The Head and The Heart, Beat Connection, Joseph Giant, Baltic Cousins), just okay releases from bands we’ve loved before, collections of 7’’s made into best of EPs, EPs in general and plenty of records that you loved with your whole heart and we just, didn’t. But, after hundreds and hundreds of hours of listening and seeing these bands live, slightly fewer spent talking about the albums amongst ourselves, we’re confident these are 24 records you’d be remiss to miss from 2011.
Here’s what you will find on here: bands from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Boise. Psychedelic symphonies. Menacing metal. Four-Eyed Soul. Modern R&B. Party Punk. Folk confessionals. Hip shaking hip hop. These albums are self-released, funded by fans and put out by labels big and small. They are debuts and albums that defied sophomore slumps and career defining work. Albums that have been loudly lauded and others who’ve been mostly ignored. Its a sample of what makes being a music lover in the Pacific Northwest right now so exciting, there’s a little something for everyone and we hope you find something you love too.
AgesandAges – All Right You Restless (Knitting Factory)
Agesandages fills up a room. With no fewer than seven people adding harmony to the airtight, country-funk rock that spins off Alright You Restless, the debut record enthralled me with the desperate joy that permeates its entirety. Playing with the bog of loneliness and defeat, and inviting the world into that dark fold to find comfort in each other, it’s music that offers salve in stomps and hope in runaway choruses. (Kathleen)
“I’m sick and tired of soul music looking so clean and proper! Cause my soul… my soul… my soul is just a little big greasy!” This is how Allen Stone introduces himself to the crowd from the stage. Obviously steeped in tradition but not married to its dictates, Stone’s four-eyed soul is unrepentant in both its influences and its willingness to disregard them entirely. Repping the Northwest he’s more than likely on stage in a flannel or Sonics jersey instead of any Detroit mandated button-up uniform like most of his current peers. This un-buttoned attitude extends to the dynamic mixture of straight R&B ballads and kinetic pop and funk on display in this record. If nothing else, just like the live show, Allen Stone represents Stone being unapologetically himself. (Excerpted from Josh’s full October review.)
Case Studies – The World Is Just a Void to Fill the Space (Sacred Bones Records)
It’s plausible to say that every music fan in Seattle cried a tiny tear when Jessie Lortz and Kimberly Morrison decided to end their tenure as The Dutchess and The Duke a few years back. Yet, if any and all knew that Lortz would take the new found freedom and put an album as poetic and gorgeous as Case Studies’ The World Is Just a Void to Fill the Space, I wonder, how sad would we all of been?
I discovered Case Studies during a two week period where I was living out of a hotel room in Dubuque, Iowa. My girlfriend was in the midst of a two-week intensive dog-training course and I’d signed out to drive out there and then “focus on my writing” for two weeks in a thrifty Day’s Inn a few blocks from the Mississippi River. To say the least, the smell of old cigarettes and scratchy linens inspired nothing in me and I found myself grabbing my keys and drifting through the Midwest in a chrome-green Honda Element. The Midwest is a strange, lonely place for a city dweller, and with no destination in mind I’d pick a spot on the map an aimlessly cruise towards it. It was on one of these roads with the green blur of farmlands speeding by in the background, the thin snake of the Mississippi my only landmark, that I not only discovered Case Studies but fell wildly in love with it.
It starts with “You Folded Up My Blanket Like We Were Already Lovers,” a deceptively upbeat story about love in a car, on the stairs, in a garden. The road will numb you, and my musical selections weren’t cracking the shell, but “You Folded Up My Blanket…” with it’s beautifully simple lyrics slipped in and I played it on repeat, memorizing every word like a smitten teenager. From there “My Silver Hand” squeezed in to the gap, Lortz’s deep, whiskey-soaked voice rising above the simple violin and guitar, the words full of heartbreak and the need for redemption just peppering my emotional core. Somewhere between Dubuque and Hazel Green, Wisconsin, I fell wholeheartedly in love with the album as a whole. I pulled over the car and sat and stared out in to an endless stretch of green and felt lonely and a bit sad and completely won over by everything Lortz was crooning, every simple beat that stretched out from the door behind me. (Noah)
I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on why or how, but every moment on No Witch seems suffused with joy. Maybe it’s the way Derek Fudesco’s guitar notes dance like afternoon sunlight on the living room wall, or maybe it’s the honest, folksy feel of the foot-stomping energy. Whatever the case, No Witch has become my go-to cheerup album, my foolproof impetus for dancing around the kitchen with gleeful abandon. It’s not that there’s no darkness – “My mind wakes me up every night sir, see devils in my backyard,” Quirk sings on “Black Leaf,” but the bleak and the bright are bundled up together in little boxes of hope. Weather moves in dark patterns, but as Quirk espouses in “All Land Crabs and Divinity Ghosts,” “It’s too big of a world to give up now.” (Brittney)
When Macklemore said “My city’s filthy,” this wasn’t quite what he meant, but as its cover art indicates, True Romance listeners are in for a low-down dirty ride. This album is a tribute to sybarite pleasures of all kinds, from the warm burn of whiskey in your stomach to the red memory of teeth marks on skin, from the hip-thrust of the drums to the thrust of, well, other things. Conveniently, it’s also the perfect soundtrack for the unbridled enjoyment of these recreations. (Brittney)
I recently turned thirty. Not long after, I found myself looking back on the 20s version of me and thinking, “What an ass.” 28-year-old Mangan (who, incidentally, is incredibly polite and charming) seems to be going through a similar process a couple of years early, and has done us all the favor of turning it into a delightful album. With endearing honesty and trademark wit, Mangan crafts carefully textured odes and confessionals that reward with every listen. (Brittney)
See the rest of our 24 unmissable records from 2011 after the jump (more…)
It happens every time I sit down and try to write about Dave Bazan. Ask me in person and I have plenty of well thought out, downright insightful things to say. I know Bazan’s catalogue backwards and forwards, for a decade I’ve heard and connected to his words as if they were my own and thanks to a feature I wrote for Sound Magazine on Curse Your Branches, I’ve spent more time talking with Bazan about his craft than any other artist making music today. But sit me in front of a blank page or give me a deadline and … nothing.
And I think I’ve finally figured out just why it’s so hard to commit words to paper about Bazan and his records. It’s because I feel like I know Dave Bazan better than any other person making music today. And that has nothing to with having interviewed him.
It’s because I’m a fan.
We all seem to feel this way. That Bazan is more friend than famous musician, a trusted companion on a difficult journey, whether our courses have run parallel or polar opposite. Bazan encourages this closeness, not only by releasing deeply personal albums about the most intimate parts of life — faith, family, addiction — but by opening himself and his songs up for debate at every single show. From The Showbox to living rooms all across America, Bazan shares an unvarnished side of himself that many people don’t share with their closest acquaintances, to anyone brave enough to raise their hand or listen closely. There is no question too intimate or insipid to answer –from “Do you still believe in God?” to “How many black t-shrits do you own?” — I’ve never once seen Bazan be anything less than 100% engaged and disarmingly upfront.
Strange Negotiations does nothing to distance Bazan from his fans or his fans from his life. The questions left by Curse Your Branches have been answered. Bazan has moved from doubting to disappointment. Like Curse Your Branches before it, Strange Negotiations laments a loss of faith, not just in God, but organized institutions in general. In the government. In organized religion. In marriage. In American consumerism. These things have let Bazan down with wounds that still throb like the steady kick-drum that backs one of the most thoughtful rock albums you’ll ever hear.
That’s right, rock album. Where Curse Your Branches wept as it wondered, musically with piano and atmospheric electronic elements and in lyrics that softly, subtly, asked the most devastating questions, Strange Negotiations shouts with certainty through driving guitar and songs that all but sneer. When Bazan sings “you’re a god damn fool, but I love you” in album opener “Wolves at the Doors” or “what a beautiful day to stay the same” in “Don’t Change” you can see the Bazan’s middle finger raised in full-on fuck you. But, like Curse Your Branches before it, this middle finger isn’t raised only in anger, rather an intimate place of understanding, of an outsider looking in at something he once believe and trusted fully. Looking in now, removed from the comfort of unquestioning faith whether it be in God or government, its all you can do to not shake your head at your former self and ask “…really?” The wounded disappointment that permeates Strange Negotiations isn’t directed only at the external institutions, but internally.
Nowhere is that more clear than the emotional centerpiece of Strange Negotiations, “People.” (Download it courtesy of KEXP.) Bazan, in my opinion, could have put this out as a single — no b-side with just the words: “In case you had any questions” on the cover. Because “People” is the song that answers ALL the questions, not just of Curse Your Branches but of Bazan’s career. In a catalogue rich with insight, nothing comes close to “People’s” chorus:
And I know that it’s dangerous to judge.
But man you’ve got to find the truth and when you find that truth don’t budge.
Until the truth you found begins to change
And it does. I know, I know.
When you love the truth enough you start to tell it all the time
When it gets you into trouble you discover you don’t mind…
It is not just a chorus, but a statement of an artist, a career and a person. It’s a promise from Bazan, that whatever comes next, it will be the truth as he knows it. That he will tell us exactly how he’s feeling, whatever that truth looks or sounds like and whether or not it one day has us standing from the outside looking in and wondering “…really?”
I could ask for nothing more from a friend, in real life or on record.
This Saturday Dave Bazan and band will be celebrating the release of Strange Negotiations at The Showbox alongside Quasi and Rock Votolato.
Sharon Van Etten “Love More” ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
If my 2010 was a mix tape (or a couple mix tapes as it were), these would be the tracks. These were the songs that were my most frequent and adored companions of 2010. They’re the songs I’ll know the words to for the rest of my life. They’re largely local, though my favorite song of 2010 hands down, no questions asked, comes courtesy of Sharon Van Etten. I’ve listened “Love More” at least a hundred times more than any other track. I still think in just over 5 minutes, Sharon Van Etten manages to accomplish what most artists spend a lifetime trying to attain: perfection.
This list only covers my favorite songs released in 2010, though many of my most cherished discoveries and companions weren’t born of 2010. (A list not specified by date of release would include a lot of Carissa’s Wierd, Baptist Generals and early Damien Jurado.) Speaking of Damien Jurado, he’s noticeably missing from this list, despite releasing one of my favorite records of 2010. Why? Because Saint Bartlett is an album, in full and despite a hundred listens, I couldn’t single out one song as a favorite and saying “all of them” seemed like a cop out. Also, you won’t see “Airplanes” by Local Natives, “What Took So Long” by The Moondoggies or “Vanderlyle Cry Baby” by The National on this list, though they were doubtlessly favorites. That’s because they made my listsfor 2009 … that’s what you get for being ahead of the curve.
p.s. I say “favorite” because I can’t say these are the best songs of 2010, my listening isn’t broad enough to make such a statement, but I hope you find something you love all the same.
Today he’s digging into Amnesiac and covering “Packt like Sardines” during a city-wide power-outage in Charlottsville, Virginia last night.
You can catch more videos from Bazan and his new band as they tour the country on No Depression. Hopefully he keeps up with the Radiohead covers, he’s doing the band justice with these sparse acoustic covers, which is saying something indeed.
Last summer after years of playing solo shows, David Bazan rounded up a band and crisscrossed the nation in support of his debut solo album Curse Your Branches. (Which I contend is one of the finest albums of the past decade.) With Bazan on bass and again the leader of a band, the first Bazan Band recreated the 10 heart-aching confessionals that composed Curse Your Branches faithfully; never straying far from the renditions Bazan had recorded largely by himself in his basement.
At the tail end of this summer, during a sunny Sunday at Bumbershoot, Bazan continued the ever-rotating Pedro pattern by debuting a mostly new band to his hometown. But it wasn’t just the cast of characters that was different, this incarnation of Bazan (and his band) took more creative freedoms with the material, treating it with more rock than reverence. There was an edge previously unseen and unheard in Bazan’s earlier incarnations. Even though the lyrics still sound like “bad diary days,” the singer-songwriter that we’ve long known was gone and in its wake stood the leader of a solid rock band.
Ever reinventing himself and his material, Bazan’s driving dual sets at Bumbershoot featured not only songs from Curse Your Branches but rocking renditions of old Pedro favorites like “Bands with Managers,” “Indian Summer” and even a rare return to Headphones’ “Gas and Matches.” As a fan of Bazan’s past work and as someone who hopes for a fruitful future for one of America’s finest songwriters, the sets were some of my favorite of the entire festival.
David Bazan ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
Blake Wescott of the Bazan Band ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
Andy Fitts of the Bazan Band ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
Bazan and his new band are in the midst of a national tour, they’ll be back in Seattle on November 27th at the Showbox with J. Tillman and The Head and the Heart. If you missed their Bumbershoot set, I highly recommend you check them out that night. And if you just can’t wait, you can watch a three-part documentary about Bazan below.
Day two of Bumbershoot was all about dualities for us. We bounced back and forth between impassioned sets from folk troubadours such as Billy Bragg, Dave Bazan and Horse Feathers and hip hop sets from Fresh Espresso and Jay Electronica that brought some serious swagger to the festival. Here’s the photographic proof.
We’ve just returned from the first big Northwest summer music festival to arrive home to the line-up of Bumbershoot, the fest that marks the end of summer and the festival season. It’s Bumbershoot’s 40th Anniversary and they’re pulling out all the stops, booking big name headliners like Bob Dylan, Mary J. Blige, Neko Case and the return of Hole.
As exciting as Bob Dylan is, his shows are hit and miss. (I saw him about 10 years ago and couldn’t decipher “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” until the third chorus) But the best thing about Bumbershoot is you could avoid the Mainstage all weekend and still see tons of great bands. I know, because that’s what I’ve done the past few festivals. Off the big stage there’s still plenty of talent to get excited about including: Justin Townes Earle, Dave Bazan, The Thermals, Japandroids, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Atlas Sound and many more.
As usual, the festival has done a great job booking local bands as well. You can see a few Sound on the Sound favorites at the fest including: The Moondoggies, The Maldives, Hey Marseilles, People Eating People, Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers and Fresh Espresso.
Here’s the full line-up so far:
Headlining: Bob Dylan / Mary J. Blige / Weezer / Hole / Rise Against / Neko Case / The Decemberists / J. Cole
Also Playing (we’ve bolded the bands we’re most excited for):
LMFAO / Billy Bragg / Ozomatli / Angelique Kidjo / Solomon Burke / The Dandy Warhols / Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros / Jenny and Johnny (featuring Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice) / Jamie Lidell / The Raveonettes / Balkan Beat Box / Motion City Soundtrack / The Thermals / Ra Ra Riot / The English Beat / Justin Townes Earle / Booker T. / Surfer Blood / The Bouncing Souls / Japandroids / Bob Schneider / Anvil / Bomba Estereo / Jay Electronica / Aterciopelados / Baroness / James Cotton “Superharp” Blues Band / David Bazan / Meat Puppets / Crash Kings / This Providence / Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express / The Moondoggies / The Whigs / Greg Laswell / Civil Twilight / Trampled By Turtles / The Clientele / Atlas Sound / Laura Veirs & The Hall of Flames / The Budos Band / Bobby Bare Jr. / Horse Feathers / Vienna Teng Trio / HEALTH / Plants and Animals / Georgia Anne Muldrow & Declaime / Wheedle’s Groove / Hey Marseilles / Kings Go Forth / Sweet Water / Delorean / JEFF the Brotherhood / Chris Pureka / Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra / Garotas Suecas / The Maldives / The Constellations / Coryell, Auger, Sample Trio / Grynch / Visqueen / Victor Shade / Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs / Fresh Espresso / Pete Molinari / Sista Monica’s “Singin in the Spirit” / Lay Low / Unnatural Helpers / Idiot Pilot / The Round / Wild Orchid Children / The Cute Lepers / Feral Children / Fences / Caspar Babypants / The Tripwires / Fatal Lucciauno / Loch Lomond / The Physics / THEESatisfaction / School of Rock All Stars / See Me River / Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers / People Eating People / Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme / Brent Amaker & The Rodeo / Born Anchors / Slender Means / BOAT / McTuff Trio / Parlour Steps / The Redwood Plan / Helladope / Lisa Dank / Greta Matassa Quartet / The Lonely H / Matt Jorgensen Quintet / Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin’ Daddies! / Great Waves / Brian Vogan / Johnny Bregar with more to come, including comedy, performing arts, film, literary and visual arts!