June 9, 2010

Sunday at Sasquatch 2010

by

Girls ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

It wasn’t the early bird who got the worm when it came to Sasquatch. No, the Sasquatch early birds got 8-hour traffic back-ups, while people like me, who made our way east on Sunday morning, got to The Gorge in record time.  It was one of the many counter-intuitive surprises that marked Sunday at Sasquatch: the buzz bands lived up to their hype, intimate electronic songs worked beautifully in the wide-open space and the Tallest Man on Earth turned out to be just about my height.

It came as no surprise to me that The Local Natives, who ended up being the first act on the Bigfoot Stage,  played to a packed and appreciative crowd. Just over a year ago I saw the band play to 20 people or so, but even then it was easy to predict that the band would be playing to a Sasquatch sized-crowd soon. Packing every grassy nook available and well-versed in the Los Angeles’ bands songs, a crowd of thousands joined me in an early afternoon sing-along that had me beaming.

I expected the crowd to clear out for the mellower stylings of Swedish folk troubadour The Tallest Man on Earth, but the crowd crushed forward against the barrier as they strained and struggled to be closer to Kristian Matsson. If you want to know what the kids are surprisingly going crazy for these days, it is for this petite Swede. Matsson does Dylan the same way Dylan did Guthrie — with reverent fetishism. Clad in tight blue jeans and with a cigarette smoking cowboy emblazoned on his leather guitar strap, Matsson enraptured the crowd doing Dylan better than Dylan does these days and much more succinctly. The fervor of his crowd and the way he filled the festival stage with just his lyrics and his guitar, was certainly one of Sasquatch’s biggest surprises. His cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” was one of my favorite musical moments of the entire weekend. 

The surprises and solid covers continued as the day went along: a new Long Winters line-up showed off a full-grilled John Roderick and they ended their set with the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey.”  Sub Pop’s Avi Buffalo offered an elastic, complex and catchy set which belied the bands youth and showed great promise. They’re definitely a band to watch as they inch towards the legal drinking age. After the rock roller-coaster Avi Buffalo treated us to, Freelance Whales seemed like nothing more than pleasant afternoon filler. Admittedly, despite their sweet stage banter, the band couldn’t keep my interest for longer than the first few songs.

Happily, fellow blog buzz band The xx fared better than the Freelance Whales when it came to impressing and living up to the hype.  As out of place the black-clad British trio looked in the wide open and neu-hippie crowd of Sasquatch, the band’s dreamy and throbbing sounds translated much better than expected (or feared). Despite the almost infinite expanse of the Gorge, The xx’s songs retained the intimacy that made them so pleasing in the first place. Despite the crowd of thousands, it still felt as if the band was whispering the song in your ear. For the most part, the band was all business and no banter on stage, but their aloofness came across as endearing and shy, though on stage they clearly know what they are doing. As I have always been with this band, I was ready to be disappointed by The xx, to pass them off as a blog blip, unworthy of the hype, but the band yet again pleasantly surprised me.

My surprise took a much less pleasant turn when it came to the attendance for San Francisco’s Girls. Their set was the most disappointingly under-attended of Sasquatch, as seemingly 95% of the crowd enjoyed LCD Soundsystem at sunset on the mainstage. Those of us who stayed behind, a lucky handful of hundreds, enjoyed the coming dusk backed by the sad and sunny eccentricities of Girls’ cascading retro hooks. With a twitchy intensity Christopher Owens, clad in high-waisted pleated khakis and a Dwight Yokam tour shirt, took little notice of the crowd (whatever size it was) and performed the hell out of some of 2009′s best songs including “Lust for Life,” “Laura” and the plodding “Hellhole Ratrace.” The band may have been better suited for the smaller stage or an earlier time slot, when they wouldn’t have been challenged by the dance-thems of LCD Soundsystem, but those of us who stayed behind for Girls didn’t regret the decision.

The fastidious Dirty Projectors fared better in terms of attendance and as you’ve hopefully already read, their golden hour set made me a believer in this Brooklyn band. Unfortunately, the night peaked with the Dirty Projectors for me as the final big name acts I caught that night: Pavement and Public Enemy were plagued by technical issues beyond their control. While the false starts and sudden stops added to the sloppy charm of what one would expect from a Pavement show, the technical issues completely derailed the momentum of Public Enemy’s set. For a call and response rap to work, the audience has to be able to hear you calling … after about six moments of sudden silence during the Public Enemy set and having already screamed “Flava Flaaaave” at the top of my lungs, I called it a night on what turned out to be a surprising Sunday at Sasquatch.

The xx ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons

The Tallest Man on Earth ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons

The Gorge at Dusk ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

More photos after the jump…

(more…)

June 3, 2010

Dirty Projectors Pleasantly Surprise at Sasquatch

by

Dirty Projectors ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

I’ve never said it here on the blog, for fear you’d revoke my music writer credentials, but until this weekend I just didn’t get the Dirty Projectors. After being inundated with cries of “the best thing EVER” (since Animal Collective) by every music blog from Brooklyn to Portland, there was no way the band was going to meet the impossible sonic expectations that had been placed on them, and despite repeated listens to Bitte Orca and David Byrne’s stamp of approval, they never did. Until Sasquatch, that is.

Part of my long held concern with Dirty Projectors was the seeming impossibility of recreating the layered intricacies of their sound in a live setting without five minute stops before every song to get the loops just right, but the band did so with aplomb — even in the open air of Sasquatch and with no Memory Man’s to be found. The intricacies of the band’s sound comes not from technology, but near super-human musicianship amidst six people who play as a single finely tuned machine. Playing during dusk, with the light of the Gorge’s golden hour illuminating them, the golden-tongued praise for Dirty Projectors made perfect sense.

They’re still not the best thing EVER, but as far as Sasquatch was concerned, they were pretty damn close.

Just take it from the conversation I overheard while waiting for the band to begin from two teenagers in the front row:

“Dude, we have the best spot EVER.” “Yeah, unless lightning strikes.” “If lightning strikes, we’re toast.” “If lightning strikes [during Dirty Projectors] at least I’ll die happy.” “Unless it happens right now.”

And they were right. It would be a shame for lightning or over-hyping to keep you  from appreciating the Dirty Projectors.

Dirty Projectors ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Dirty Projectors ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

December 28, 2009

Josh’s Favorite Songs of 2009

by

“Eet” by Regina Spektor

Here is my list of thirty songs that dominated my iTunes, the songs that moved me to learn them on guitar, and the songs I will identify with 2009 forever. In no particular order. Though I suppose the top five could be my top five.

“Walkabout” by Atlas Sound + guest Noah Lennox from Logos (Kranky/4AD) Listen: Get mp3 via FADER

“Technicolor” by Nurses from Apple’s Acre (Dead Oceans) Listen: Download mp3 courtesy of Dead Oceans

“Lisztomania” by Phoenix from Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix (Glassnote) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“World News” by the Local Natives from Gorilla Manor (Rough Trade/Frenchkiss) Listen: Download a live version via a Daytrotter Session

“Come Monday Morning” by Widower from Widower (self-released) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“At the Cut” by the Cave Singers from Welcome Joy (Matador) Listen: Download mp3 courtesy of Matador Records

“Comets” by Fanfarlo from Fanfarlo (Canvasback Music) Listen: Stream at Fanfarlo.com

“Alamagordo” by the Ironclads from The Space Between the Maps (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of the Ironclads

“Young Heart Sparks Fire” by Japandroids from Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Polyvinyl Records

“Eet” by Regina Spektor from Far (Sire Records) Listen: Watch the Video above, Stream at Myspace

“Walk Away” by The Maldives from Listen to the Thunder (Mt. Fuji Records) Listen: Stream a Video from a KEXP In-Studio

“Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne from A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw Records) Listen: Stream the Video at Vimeo

“Ready, Able” by Grizzly Bear from Vecktamist (Warp Records) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“For Now” by People Eating People from People Eating People (The Control Group) Listen: Stream at Myspace

“Lust for Life” by Girls from Lust for Life (True Panther Sounds/Matador Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of True Panther Sounds/Matador Records | Watch the Video Below

 

“Lust for Life” by Girls (Safe Version)

“Lazerbeams” by Fresh Espresso from Glamour (Out for Stardom) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“The Town” by Macklemore from The Unplanned Mixtape (self-released) Listen: Stream the Video at Youtube

“Otherside” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from VS. (Sound Records) Listen: Download VS. EP courtesy of Ryan Lewis Productions

“You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying” by Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers from Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Stillness is the Move” by the Dirty Projectors from Bitte Orca (Domino Records) Listen: Stream Track via Domino Records

“Magic Mtn” by Arthur & Yu from Don’t Piss into the Fire Sub Pop Singles Club Record Store Day Release and Hardly Art Label Sampler (Sub Pop/Hardly Art) Listen: Download Track at Amazon via Hardly Art

“Let Me Fall” by the Final Spins from THIS IS THEN/THAT WAS NOW (self-released) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Ed Jackson” by See Me River from The Great Unwashed EP (Aviation Records) Listen: Download MP3 via KEXP Song of the Day

“Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh” by Say Hi from Oohs and Aahs (Barsuk Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Barsuk Records

“Please Baby Please” by David Bazan from Curse Your Branches (Barsuk Records) Listen: Stream a solo version at youtube

“The Perfect Space” by the Avett Brothers from I and Love and You (Columbia) Listen: Stream via theavettbrothers.com

“What Took So Long” by the Moondoggies (unreleased) Listen: Download a live session version via Luxury Wafers

“Summer of Hate” by Crocodiles from Summer of Hate (Fat Possum Records) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Fat Possum Records

“Isabella” by Lands & Peoples from Lands & Peoples EP (self-released) Listen: Stream via Bandcamp

“Norway” by Beach House from Teen Dream (Sub Pop) Listen: Download MP3 courtesy of Sub Pop

December 9, 2009

Katelyn’s Favorites: 2009

by

Katelyn & Thomas at CHBP 2009 ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons

[Editor's Note: As a local hip-hop aficionado, Katelyn Hackett has been the one introducing us to much of the best emerging talent in Seattle's hip-hop scene. Recognizing her passion, we've been dropping hints hardcore that she needed to write for Sound on the Sound for about as long as we've known her. Until we bribe her on board, we're happy to present her List for 2009. -josh]

2009 was a fantastic year for local music across the board. Instead of naming which releases I think were the best, I’d rather tell you about some of the (mostly local) new tracks, albums, and performances that I’ve held especially close to my heart this year. I’ve had all of these on repeat at one time or another, and my family and close friends all have links to this music from me scattered through their ’09 email archives. To them I apologize for repeating myself, and to the rest of you, I’m thrilled to present my list! I hope you find something in here that resonates with you.

Performances

Kevin Murphy of The Moondoggies playing “Empress of the North” in the KEXP Lounge at the Capitol Hill Block Party

I’ve been a Moondoggies fan since Abbey (of Sound on the Sound)  introduced me to “Make It Easy,” which was one of my most-listened-to tracks of 2008. This year’s Moondoggies highlight was an acoustic set from Kevin Murphy in Caffe Vita’s Bean Room stage at the Capitol Hill Block Party. Nursing a gin & tonic, my face red and radiating heat from sunburn, surrounded by some of my very best friends, I sat on a wooden bench and listened to Kevin’s beautiful voice and sad guitar. By the time he’d finished his set, I knew I’d be writing about those minutes as a festival highlight. Thank God KEXP caught “Empress Of The North” on video.

Watch it at Youtube!

John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, singing “We Sing In Time” at the Song Show This year I was proud to support Mark Baumgarten as he presided over SoundNW Magazine and started what I hope will be a long-standing event called the Song Show. During each monthly Song Show, Mark interviews a few artists and asks them to do an acoustic set; all of these interviews and performances are captured on tape, edited, and put online. One of my most beloved performances over the months was from the very talented John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest. I didn’t get to see the interview live, but his rendition of “We Sing In Time” is stunning.

Watch it at Vimeo!

 

kevin murphy

Kevin Murphy at the Block Party ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons

Tracks

“Go Easy On Me” – Goldfinch, Goldfinch This contemplative, heart-wrenching, somewhat angsty song from Tacoma rootsy singer-songwriter duo Goldfinch has been on repeat on numerous occasions this fall, especially since I undertook a big out-of-state move and dealt with the emotional turmoil of leaving my home, family, and friends. “Go easy on me, go easy… I can’t undo what I’ve done wrong.” Simple, beautiful harmonies and evocative lyrics crowned by a pleading, sincere chorus have me returning to this track often.

Listen: Via Artist Home Booking.

“Stillness Is The Move” – Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca

The Dirty Projectors aren’t, of course, local. But I learned about them through Larry Mizell Jr. of The Stranger & KEXP and Andrew Matson of the SeattleTimes, and listened to the album Bitte Orca probably forty times, mostly while commuting between Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square for work at the magazine. “The question is a truth… The stillness is the move.” I might not know where I’m going or why, I might not feel like I’m making much progress at all, but sometimes disorientation and stagnation are exactly what I need to experience in order to grow as a person. This track’s been really important to me on a personal level, and plus it’s just a damn good song, complex rhythms and interesting structure. Love it.

Listen: via Domino Records.

“Mama’s Eyes” – Justin Townes Earle, Midnight At The Movies I fell for the suit-clad, string-bean roots musician Justin Townes Earle out of Tennessee at the No Depression Festival over in Marymoor Park last spring when he performed “Mama’s Eyes.” This song about his identity and his relationship with his parents is simple, heartfelt, and brought tears to my eyes as I watched him sing. “Sure it hurts, but it should hurt sometimes.” One of the few non-local tracks I had on repeat this year.

Download “Mama’s Eyes” courtesy of Bloodshot Records.

“Jesus Christ Pose” – Pat Staten & Total Experience Gospel Choir, Kearney Barton, Wheedle’s Groove The second Wheedle’s Groove album, Kearney Barton, features the lovely Seattle soul & gospel legend Patrinell Staten (now the Rev. Pat Wright) with the Total Experience Gospel Choir putting their own holy twist on Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose.” Daaayum, it’s full of righteous fire! “You looking at me like I’m the one who drove the nails in your hands.” I knew the good reverend had an interesting story, but this track convinced me to stop sleeping and start unearthing Patrinell Staten recordings from the 60s. What I found led me to more research on the rest of the Wheedle’s Groove roster, through which I learned just enough about Seattle’s rich soul, funk, jazz and gospel heritage to permanently whet my curiosity.

Buy: via Light in the Attic Records.

“Curse Your Branches” – David Bazan, Curse Your Branches “All fallen leaves should curse their branches for not letting them decide when to fall, or not letting them refuse to fall at all.” As do so many others, I closely identify with singer-songwriter Bazan’s documented crisis of faith. This beautiful track of his in particular captures some of the anger, grief, and disorientation I’ve experienced over the course of my own journey away from the religion of my childhood, and for my own sake, I’m grateful that Bazan is willing enough to brave the darkness and talented enough to express it so well in song.

Watch: a live performance of “Curse Your Branches” at Youtube via Undertow.

“My Volvo” – Grynch, Chemistry [EP]

Grynch, the proclaimed rap King of Ballard, hit his stride with this endearing, funny, absurdly catchy track off his Chemistry EP (released for free at www.getgrynch.com this summer). I cranked the volume every time I heard “My Volvo” on KEXP, emailed it to my friends, sang along at several live performances; the song is a crowd-pleaser and a perfect fit for Grynch’s voice and flow. Grynch is still developing as a lyricist, but he hit gold with this track. Production by Ill Pill.

Watch: Grynch’s rendition in “My Volvo” complete with Katelyn shout-out from this year’s KEXP Lounge at the Capitol Hill Block Party via KEXP

 

grynch

Grynch at the Block Party ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

Albums

D. Black - Ali’yah It’s rare that I can listen to an unapologetically religious modern album without breaking out in hives, given an allergy I developed while recovering from my adolescence spent listening to painfully simplistic alt-contemporary Christian music. But D. Black manages to talk about his deepening faith in an admirably uninfuriating, compelling manner without compromising his sometimes controversial message in the least. “Closer To Yah,” “Yesterday,” and “Let It Go” are some of my favorite tracks on the album. A memorable line from Fatal Lucciauno in his verse on “Close To Yah” has been echoing through my mind these days: “Through your son it was told I can do all things // So why can’t I get a job?” Damned good point.

KhingzFrom Slaveships To Spaceships This incredibly emotional, brave but vulnerable album from emcee Khingz sat on my coffee table for weeks after I listened to it once and set it aside. It took me a few more listens to fully grasp what I was hearing, but when I did fall for From Slaveships To Spaceships, I fell hard. “Bladed Poems,” “Electric Tantra,” the hella nerdy “Blaq Han Solo,” and the title track were my favorite tracks; the album as a whole is a ferocious celebration of creativity and freedom against all odds. Khingz’ live performances are serious business, too, so catch him while he’s in town this winter if you can (he recently relocated to British Columbia).

Shabazz PalacesS_T, Scimitar I’m still somewhat wordless on the subject of Digable Planets alum Ish Butler’s brilliant new project, Shabazz Palaces. Suffice it to say that I’ve listened to both albums countless times, perhaps leaning a little more heavily on Scimitar, over the past four months or so. This music is untamed and yet considered; grown-up, complex, organic, philosophical, primal. I’m entranced. I hear something new every time, and my admiration only grows stronger with the weeks passing; this is one of the very best local releases of the year, regardless of genre. Yes, I’m gushing. You will be too, once you’ve heard it a few times.