Plebeian Paradise, it’s so good to see you again. It’s been about a year but every July you come to Seattle, sashshaying your way into the conscious of local residents who then proceed to complain to me about how awesome it used to be before I moved here who then in turn show up in droves to populate the aforementioned metropolitan arcadia despite their reservations. It’s a vicious cycle of self-hatred, sunburn and inebriation. I suppose I should include the concept of “fun” or “enjoyment” in there, but we all know that simply does not occur. Patrons of summer festivals, would you have it any other way? Block Party, what will you be wearing this year? I’d bet a sixpence on a can of PBR that has been sitting in the trunk of a 1993 Honda Accord all day that it will be the following:
Dudes – Tight blue jorts that your kid sister would have worn when she was nine years old and imitating Clarissa Explains It All, a graphic t-shirt with a picture of a “fierce” animal on the front (Grizzly Bear, Grey Wolf or Golden Retriever all accepted) and white Keds (no laces, duh). You can substitute the animal shirt for something that Pee Wee Herman might wear, that is allowed.
Ladies – Thrift store Jordache jorts that make your butt look like you gave yourself a wedgie for a good 40 minutes before you left your house (you can’t spell “summertime figure” without “sheeplike faux modesty”), a brightly colored blouse that looks like it was attacked by moths and boots that Burt Reynolds wore on the day of his famous Cosmopolitan shoot. Yes, you can substitute the blouse for a bevy well placed cigarette burns. That’s totally cool with me.
Oh my god, don’t forget your sunglasses.
As far artists and recommendations go, you can either look at the official lineup/schedule here or you can heed the advice of Sound on the Sound’s own Kathleen Tarrant and follow her recommendations.
As for what I’m looking forward to, continue reading at your own peril.
C’mon, you didn’t actually think I’d publish my 2011 lists during the actual year of 2011…did you? Now that I have the undivided attention of eight people:
Best Show(s) That I Never Saw
Lightning Bolt at Healthy Times Fun Club (RIP)
Soundgarden/Queens of the Stone Age/Mastodon etc. at the Gorge
Pig Destroyer at El Corazon
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings with Fly Moon Royalty at the Showbox Market
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Neumos
Matsuri at the Black Lodge
Portishead at WaMu
Scratch Acid at Neumos
The Lightning Bolt, Portishead, Pig Destroyer and Scratch Acid shows are the ones I’m most upset about. Who knows if I’ll ever have a chance to see those bands in the city of Seattle again (and in some instances, anywhere else). I suppose I could hop on a plane for the sake of noise and nostalgia. Who am I kidding? I’m too poor to do that. Being broke is the reason why I missed that Portishead show at WaMu. I made the conscientious decision to avoid the “Dinosaurs of Rock” show at Gorge. I’m not too ashamed (“shame” is a word I am unfamiliar with) to admit that I still listen to Soundgarden and enjoy their music. This is the exact reason why I did not want to see them play the Gorge. I’m one of those people that likes to leave the past in the past. Which is why you’re not going to see me embracing the reunions of At The Drive In or Refused as much as my inner high school spirit would like to. Mastodon has been dead to me for a couple of albums now. When I heard they were coming to SoDo, I immediately assaulted the first human being I saw (some elderly woman with no legs) and yelled, “This is what happens when good bands put out terrible albums!”
Her hearing aid fell out during the attack. I don’t think she heard me.
I was actually at the Matsuri show when they played the Black Lodge. I went to my car for a second and by the time I got back they were done. I picked up their record “Endship.” It’s pretty great.
The Kool Keith “We Do This All The Time” Live Music Award(s) For Excellence.
There are few winners for the most recognizable award in the music community the award that is inspired by Black Elvis himself. First and foremost, I have to give it up to Spurm. They were the best act I saw at Capitol Hill Block Party, but I never published my post out of crippling writer’s block, oh-my-lanta sheer laziness. Here’s what I wrote (consider the “theme” of those write-ups):
“Of course you’re back in the bowels of Bimbo’s Cantina, the shadowy underworld that is known as Cha Cha. Today, there is hope because it is Sunday. For some reason the only time good things happen at Cha Cha is when the calendar day is Sunday or Monday. What brings you to the Cha Cha? One word: Spurm.
You’ve never been a pervert (unless the lights are off, meow) but Spurm feels so good. They are like a demented version of the B-52′s. You realize that you must rephrase your assessment of Spurm. Whoever is reading your thoughts is already aware of the “bananas” behavior of the aforementioned legendary Athens, Ga. based “New Wave” band. Whereas the B-52′s might tuck their kids in with stuffed animals that resemble Brer Rabbit, Spurm play the part of Anansi and spin webs to ensnare those same children and their pathetic limitless dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, Spurm know how to have fun. But there is a darkness in the presentation my friends.
Weird quirky keyboard that is sometimes defiantly noisy. Punk rhythms. Where did that fucking saxophone come from? That guitarist plays like he used to be in The Pretenders but his personality was licks were too vicious so they kicked him out. A charismatic, matter-of-fact lead singer, who dons a white ship captain’s hat and makes gestures to the crowd that are both exciting and flamboyantly menacing. At one point in-between songs Jordan Adams says something to the crowd but you can’t remember his exact words. You just know that he said something about this particular song being his favorite Spurm song. When the lead singer of a band says that before his/her band plays a song, your expectations tend to grow by the second. To no surprise the song exceeds whatever conjecture you have tied around its neck. At one point Mr. Adams enters the heart of the Cha Cha audience and is swallowed be the most eager jazz hands that the world has ever seen. It were as if ten thousand Richard Simmons just finished an exercise routine and had given the lead singer of Spurm a metacarpus cocoon.”
Man, they were so good. Simply outstanding.
Strong Killings at their Record Release Party at the Rendezvous.
If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, you missed one of the most magical moments in music history. I’m not kidding. People in Seattle think they can get away with murder every once in a while act proactively dickish and think it’s OK.
“What the fuck are you doing to do about it? Passive aggressive, coffee-drinking, Subaru outback driving, yoga-mat carrying, vibram five-finger rocking, mostly neutral color wearing…”
I don’t remember the exact details of the exchange between the heckler and Nathan (the lead singer of Strong Killings) because too many grains of sand have sunk to the bottom of the hourglass. Did Nathan respond to the drunken heckling with a karate chop? Did the heckler leave the venue after he got the volume turned up on his antics? Gentle readers, just remember one thing the next time you go to a Strong Killings concert….
TALK SHIT. GET HIT.
(Cue “Too Cool.”)
To read the rest of Phil’s live music stand-outs and disappointments from 2011 (more…)
In my romanticized view of how bands booked shows before starting Sound on the Sound, bands arrived at venues based on merit and magic, plugged in, rocked out, unplugged, were paid fairly by a kind, considerate venue employee, greeted off-stage by appreciative fans and road off in their pristine vans without having to break a sweat loading gear. That is to say, I had absolutely no fucking clue that countless people and tireless hours go into booking good shows and supporting bands.
People like Carly Henry, head of Starbird Booking, for who the means and ends of working for musicians is largely love. Starbird Booking began six years ago with the persistent begging of members of Black Eyes & Neckties to help book a West Coast Tour. What began with that West Coast Tour in Bellingham has evolved into a passionately run booking agency based out of Portland with a roster full of some of the heaviest names on the West Coast: Lesbian, Dog Shredder, Grayceon (from SF), Black Math Horseman (from LA), Giant Squid, Via Vengance and Jersey’s Fight Amp.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Carly over the years and while her roster is not to my usual listening, she has never once led me astray. I may not love metal, but when Carly sends a band my way, I am always eager to listen and more often than not she gets a reply email saying “Holy Hell Carly! (Insert whatever band name she just sent) is great.” Despite a general focus on heavier and metal bands, there’s a little something different and special about each band Carly chooses to work with whether it’s the theatric ghost-stories of Black Eyes & Neckties, the female fronted and cello shredding of Grayceon, or the break-neck guitar Olympics on display with Dog Shredder’s brutal progressive opuses. The one thing they all have in common is slaying live and Carly has turned me from skeptical listener with delicate ears to full on front-row fan on more than one occasion.
This week, Carly is celebrating six years of booking with showcases of her artists in Portland, Bellingham and this Friday at Chop Suey with Lesbian, Grayceon, Fight Amp and Dog Shredder. Carly was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy booking schedule to answer some questions about Starbird’s history, her philosophy on booking and advice for bands looking for bookers/tours/etc.
What’s your business and booking philosophy?
“What I think sets me apart from many booking agents – or people’s idea of a booking agent – is that I pride myself on being a very honest person. Meaning, I’m honest in my love for my bands, I’m honest in my business dealings and I can get stuff done without being an “asshole”. We agents have a rep of being sleazy and asshole-ish.
The bands on my roster are like my family. I spend alot of time genuinely cultivating interest in my bands and I think it’s evident that I love and respect them all as bands and as people. I don’t work with bands just to make a quick buck. All of the bands I work with, I was a fan first.”
[Scenes of me as a five-year-old getting a retainer filled with fluoride shoved in my mouth against my will. The dentist smiles as he initiates a five-minute timer resulting in the longest 300 seconds of my young life. Classical music softly plays in the background.]
[Scenes of me sitting in the principal's office as a ten-year-old because I stuck a thumbtack on a kid's chair and it got stuck in his ass. Classical music plays softly in the background.]
[Scenes of me zoning out, staring at the math portion of an SAT practice test on a Saturday morning. Classical music plays softly in the background.]
Over the years what has been classified as “classical music” and I have been occasional adversaries. Judging from the above examples you should realize that we usually only cross paths when I have done something wrong or I am in the process of achieving the most undesirable results on a standardized test I am forced to listen to it is against my will. It’s not that I don’t appreciate this particular form of music, it’s existence is the foundation for much of what I listen to. I’m not sure what it is exactly but if I listen to classical music (and it’s not accompanied by a visual other than the artist performing), I usually start to feel unglued. My heartbeat feels irregular. My eyes pace frantically inside my head. I start drumming on my legs. What’s the quickest way out of here? One of these days I’ll make the transition from Herbie Hancock to Tchaikovsky.
That’s why I appreciate Portland Cello Project more than someone who owns a collection of bootlegged Bach live recordings. I don’t mean to brag, but you can even go as far as saying that I am a proud member of Portland Cello Project’s “intended audience”. These fine men and women are crossing state lines to bring orchestral music to the people who need it most, the ones that don’t hear it often.
Which brings us to Night School: Chamber vs. Chamber at the Sorrento Hotel. Before I go any further I would just like to say that if you’ve never been to the Sorrento Hotel, it’s a very cool place. I would love to go on some interior designer rant right about now but I am incapable of doing so. A boy can only fake so much. Gentle reader, if you’ve got a dime and some time, definitely check this swanky joint out. I try my best to separate performance versus venue because it can be unfair and almost perverse to the performer depending on what the circumstance is. With that being said, having this concert held at the Sorrento Hotel really enhanced the experience of the concertgoer. Comfortable seating. Beautiful layout. Nice lighting. I felt right at home standing in my dark corner.
As for the music itself, Portland Cello Project started the night off by playing a few songs. One of the first songs reminded me of riding a chocobo through a fictional world, using great quantities of magic points that result in a massive loss of life and wielding a weapon bigger than my body. I must save the princess. If you can play a composition that will set alight the heart of this role-playing gamer, you will win the day and the bright approval of these hastily thrown together words. It’s weird how such a tune conjured up these particular feelings when it was actually the theme song from Halo. How is Portland Cello Project going to top this with the rest of their set? Suddenly they launch into Brittney Spears’ only best song (and music video) “Toxic”. This song when presented in any musical form can still be accurately described as infectious pop. Did you know that the “hook” of the song is comprised of a string section? Sure you did. I see the five-star rating and the “most played” label in your iTunes library. I have come across some terrible covers of this song by accident (Are you into new nu-metal? What about pro-activ face cleanser?). Portland Cello Project only does covers well, so you won’t find them on that growing list. Thankfully they performed Pantera’s “Mouth for War” and it served as a perfect transition into what was about to come. Seeing them perform this song only once at Doe Bay was not enough to satiate my Dimebag Darrell appetite. I would be eager to hear a Portland Cello Project take on “Goddamn Electric” or “A New Level”. This is an open letter to Portland Cello Project. I want you to indulge in my wildest symphonic thrasher fantasies. You already shred your bows shredding, what else is there to do? These few songs from the Portland Cello Project’s set serve as a diverse teaser to the 800+ compositions that they are capable unleashing on their audience at any given moment. If you are like me and classical music gives you visions of unpleasant academic experiences, I demand that you give PCP (not the drug) a chance. Your entire musical world will be turned upside down.
After Portland Cello Project was done putting down there bows. Lesbian rocked the Sorrento hotel in the most mild-mannered way possible, I mean that literally. If the power of Lesbian would have been fully unsheathed, we all would have perished in the aftermath. Once again I’m going to use a pop culture reference tying two things together that you may not be familiar with. For those who don’t know Lesbian or the Sorrento Hotel, have you ever seen the movie Jumanji? You know that scene (well, there’s actually a lot of these) where there is a stampede of rhinos and other assorted scary, rambunxious animals wreaking havoc in that Elizabethan house? If Lesbian would have played at normal volume, the Sorrento hotel would have turned into that. Monkeys throwing expensive cocktails in the faces of the well-dressed. An ostrich takes out the eye of someone’s mother. Gators chewing on someone’s pair of gators. Lesbian turned their amps to four, maybe five if I feel like inflating the numbers. It was because of this courteous act alone that the safari gone wrong scenario did not take place on First Hill.
With their sound lowered to approximately 50% normal output, Lesbian gave a performance that was met with 100% approval. This evening proved to me, and other twentysomethings that have worse hearing than their grandparents, that you don’t have to go deaf all the time. It’s okay to leave a concert and not have your ears ringing from swilling well drinks listening to music. Lesbian played “Raging Arcania” with Portland Cello Project and it sounded outstanding. Arguably the most atmospheric beautiful track on Stratospheria Cubenisis, “Raging Arcania” is like most Lesbian songs in the way it changes pace and feel over the course of several minutes. The track differentiates itself from its peers in that it never gets as heavy as you would expect. Lesbian could have made this song “lost in outer-space without the proper protective apparel” heavy if they wanted to. Especially during that last dual-delay guitar part that is accompanied by trampled under foot drumming before the guitars totally change as Lesbian’s fuzzy stompboxes reveal themselves appropriately. The beauty of this track was fully realized when Lesbian partnered with Portland Cello Project on this evening. I expected a great collaboration between these acts but there were moments during this song where I think my high expectations were succeeded.
Like Portland Cello Project, Lesbian were given a chance to showcase their craft alone. The song that they chose is also the first Lesbian song I ever heard, “Black Forrest Hamm”. If you just have the newest Lesbian album and are unfamiliar with the track, go back and get “Power Hor” on Holy Mountain Records. Sometimes I’m an idiot and I get the opening riffs of “Black Forrest Hamm” and “Poisonous Witchball” mixed up, even though they sound nothing alike. As a listener, all you need to know is that both songs are pleasant introductory tracks that will lead to spinal adjustment after multiple listens.
After both bands were finished playing there was a thoughtful question and answer segment that was hosted by City Arts Mark Baumgarten, KEXP’s Hannah Levin and One Pot founder Michael Hebb. Among the topics discussed were what inspired this unique pairing of musical acts, the perception of classical music and metal “cultures”, the origins of the name “Lesbian” and what was the album or song that first attracted these musicians/panelists to the dark side of metal.
To expound a bit further on the aforementioned subjects, the stark contrast between the perceived “cultures” of metal and orchestral music strikes me as bizarre. There is no denying that is real. You can see it when you can go to shows or symphonies, you could feel it at the Sorrento Hotel. But why does it exist in the antipodal form that it does? Metal is a direct descendant of classical music. I don’t have to tell you that not all extended family members get along with one another. However, if the general populace were to eavesdrop on these distant relatives having a conversation, most of them would not realize they are speaking the same language. Voyeurs turn to gawkers, “Why are they talking, let alone in the same room together?” I look at my Chuck Taylor’s in disbelief. This type of gap does not exist between those who primarily love blues and those that like The Strokes (see “modern rock”). Maybe I should put the needle down on an Ion Dissonance record for someone who loves Count Basie and Charlie Parker. That’s probably a more accurate comparison. Regardless, I’m incredibly saddened that Metallica’s S & M did not completely erase this cultural divide many moons ago. I’m still waiting for Lars to vanquish world hunger.
Finally, the age old question of, “Why is Lesbian named Lesbian because they are a bunch of dudes and by definition cannot be lesbians unless they became transgendered but doesn’t that mean a whole different classification altogether, maybe?” was answered. The internet has the memory of one trillion elephants my friends, use both your left and right brain. Just in case you are too lazy to click on that link, Lesbian was formed at the Funhouse in 2004 with the intention of playing one set only. I’m glad they’ve extended that one-off for another seven years. I think we’re all the better for it.
As far as compositions that beckoned our esteemed musicians and panelists to a blackened realm, Metallica seemed to be the dominant band referenced when the gateway to drugs metal was discussed. There were some other nominees, Mortification, Quiet Riot, Tool, Mahler’s First Symphony and even Lesbian got a shout-out from one of the members of Portland Cello Project. At one point this conversation ventured off-topic to “What is the hardest musical composition for you to play?” I remember the question being pointed in the direction of the Portland Cello Project but I could be wrong. What I remember most about this tangent was that at a member of Lesbian declared that they have a 55-minute song…
Excuse me. What?
I said a 55-minute song.
That sounds like the most exhausting thing I have ever heard. I consider myself to be an adonis-like physical specimen slightly above average as far as physical fitness is concerned. Nothing I have done in my entire life compares to the amount of mental and physical acuity it would take to complete a composition that almost lasts an hour. Until I partake in a 56-minute song, nothing I do will ever compare to that feat. No solo breaks? No sparse jam-outs? That is incredible. I have to witness this one day. Until then my neurons will misfire and my muscles will quake in fear at the possibility.
If you have a chance in the future, do not miss out on the Night School: Chamber vs. Chamber series. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this. This was my first time but surely it won’t be my last. Click on the above video so you watch that which you have missed. The hurt, it stings. Luckily for you, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered:
Portland Cello Project at the Crocodile on May 12th and the Aladdin Theater in Portland on May 20th
Lesbian at the Jinx Art Space in Bellingham on May 5th and Chop Suey on May 6th and Plan B in Portland on May 7th
PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT ::: photo courtesy of Billions
Ring Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, mammals and crustaceans, welcome to the Sorrento Hotel. Tonight, (well it’s really Sunday night, but we don’t want this fictional ring announcer to be hanging out in the dark for 24 hours do we?) we are privy to witness the fight of this millennium. Why is this bout of epic proportions taking place at a hotel? Because I once read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and it seemed like a good idea. Now for our worthy combatants…
Coming out of the blue corner, representing the good people of Important Records and Starbird Promotions, we have four gentlemen whose musical chops are eerily similar to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, if the aforementioned equestrian enthusiasts played instruments instead of arriving to signify the end of the world. Their weight is unknown but their hair is mostly long. Their music, much like my attitude if I were currently wearing a mood ring, is black. The gentlemen coming out of the blue corner, do not fear any sort of fungal abyss or black hole suns because they do not know fear as it relates to creating music. Their album, Stratospheria Cubensis, was one of the best local albums of the year 2010. Arguably, they have the most sensual, dedicated and sexually open “fans” that a band’s facebook page has ever seen. If you Google their name, there better not be minors in the room or you might hate your life. The best thing to happen to the word “lesbian” since that movie Wild Things, hailing from Seattle, Washington……LESBIAN!!!!!!!!!
[Polite round of applause from men wearing top hats, monocles and tuxedos and women wearing flapper attire. Yes, it's 2011 but Value Village and some other stores on the hill had a recent influx of The Great Gatsby attire.]
Their opponent, coming out of the red corner, a small colony of cellists that have taken their bows and decided to pimp smack the idea that cellos can’t play any type of music and make it sound great. This group, occasionally represented by The Billions Corporation, has received critical acclaim for their performances and musical vision in media outlets as large as NPR and as small as a regional blog post that features a fictional character in the likeness of Michael Buffer. When Kanye West wrote “All of the Lights,” he actually had this pacific northwest group in mind. If you like Pantera, you are allowed to like this musical entity. If you like The Dandy Warhols, you are allowed to like this musical entity. Their weight is none of your business but they are well dressed and ready to carry out their three-fold musical mission, even if it means politely destroying their audience by technical knockout. Hailing from the birthplace of breakfast, which in this public announcement that features the occasional revisionist history is Portland, Oregon….I give you…the PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT!!!!
[Polite chants of "PCP!" can be heard from the audience. Several gentleman who are seated in the back-row can be seen fist pumping while wearing white gloves. Don't worry, they are not hoodlums and are doing so in the most elegant way possible.]
LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
*The bell sounds at 7pm. Don’t forget your mouthpiece.
We’ll be the first to admit this list is arriving, oh, at least a month late. On the other hand, 2010 was an expansive year for Northwest music in many regards and worthy of chronicling one last time with thoughtful and focused intention. So we hope you will see that the extra time we’ve given this piece has led to more in-depth reviews of each release in a way that a December 31st publish date didn’t allow. Hopefully you’ll read one of them and discover a great local record that you missed in 2010 proper.
Unlike some other lists who will cite being on a Northwest label as being a candidate for a “Best of the Northwest” list, ours only includes bands from and making music in the Northwest right now. We’ve expanded to include Vancouver to the north, south to Cottage Grove, west to Forks and east to (at least) Billings, however there’s no denying, our list is heavily Puget Sound area-centered, and mostly Seattle at that. We didn’t pay as close attention to Portland and Vancouver as we should have in 2010, something we plan on remedying in 2011.
With that please enjoy our take on the 25 most significant records we heard from the Pacific Northwest in 2010.
“Clocking in just over 30 minutes, the long-awaited debut establishes it was worth the wait with the first strums of “Girls With Accents,” whose chorus of “I’m fucking up, I’m fucking up everything” is destined to become a teenage anthem. But this album isn’t just for moody teenagers. Fences sings sad songs filled with snide sweetness, self-deprecation and a confessional honesty that hits home to anyone whose been brave enough to admit they fucked up and flawed enough to do the same thing all over again.” [abbey]
Were you ever young? Nod your head “yes.” What did you do when you were young? I’m not talking elementary school age, that’s real kids stuff. Let’s focus on the beast that is adolescence. What did you do when you were young? Did you do what your parents told you? If so, you probably listen to (insert conventional musician using complex social analysis matrix here). Were you a bookworm or liked to secretly play with action figures even though you were probably too old for it? If so, you probably listened to Hum. (editor’s note: Hum totally rules…I swear I left the GI Joe’s alone.) Did you get inebriated in the woods behind a strangers house on the beer you kept buried in the ground, then had Roman Candle fights in a neighboring cul-da-sac? Did you go skating at night and drink beer out of your own Vans sneaker? Did you do acid and see thousands of David the Gnomes come parading out of your bathroom as you tried to sleep? If so, you probably listen to Wild Orchid Children.
That’s exactly what this album is like. It’s like lighting your friends’ parents roof on fire by accident then instead of calling 9-1-1, you decide to make Smores on the ashes. The insurance company has its eyebrows raised. Are you an arsonist? You tell them to fuck off go kick rocks. You are Alexander Supertramp. [Phil]
Lesbian enjoys buttering up the listener with unassuming riffs at the beginning of their songs. Take the beginning Raging Arcania or Black Stygian for instance. The former being otherwordly while the latter is an obtuse delight. Eventually Lesbian decides your peace of mind is a bad joke and they’re not laughing. Insert weird metal breakdown here. Lesbian does something a lot of metal bands don’t but should. The band will throw in thrashy parts out of nowhere, creating quite the tempo shift. During these “brutal” fits, you would expect conventional usage of blast beats but Lesbian will not cave in to the needs of mundane metalheads across the globe. They stay true to their original outlandish form. After a few minutes of putting your mind in a blender, Lesbian decides that your pain bores them. The magical mushrooms that the band ingested before they decided to fuck-with-you-for-the-fun-of-it have worn off. They decide against taking you to Harborview because you don’t have insurance. They suture your skull back together with rusty, mostly heavier gauged guitar strings. That’s exactly what listening to this band is like. A prime example of this occasionally interrupted mayhem is the album’s title track. [Phil]
Though it was a tough choice (a really tough choice) between the two full length albums LA put out this year (the other being Roll With The Winners with producer Blu-Ray), it may have been the warm feeling of nostalgia that surfaced while listening to Gravity that kept it on repeat for such a large part of the year. LA is arguably the most lyrically sound MC in the area code, from street-side cyphers to formidable entries on wax, and Def Dee’s classic east coast style, lowest-fi production, the sixteen tracks feel timeless. [Todd]
All of us can reach back into our past and select a day. Depending on which day we take hold, the meaning and the outcome of those moments would be different. Close your eyes and think for a second. What day did you choose and would you change anything about it? Did you say the right things? Did you make the right decision? Has anything about you changed from the brief moment you selected? Is regret a shadow that follows you constantly even though we never see the sun around here?
The self-titled demo released by Baltic Cousins resonates heavily with those who hear it. There is not much to their bare approach to songwriting. No bass. No keys. No additional percussionist. This Bellingham supergroup doesn’t need the bells and whistles of the current dog and pony show that is indie rock. What Baltic Cousins lacks in number of members or presentation they make up for with remarkable honesty that is manifested in both lyrical and musical form. [Phil]
My husband suggested the following review for this album: “Weird, but worth it.”
Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph is an intricate concerto of noise, Bach for the rock and roll era. Seemingly influenced by everything from Dinosaur Jr. to Baptist preaching, this record is a master class in bringing together a slew of disparate influences into a harmonious – if not particularly melodic – whole. Sometimes delicate, sometimes rushing and rattling like a runaway train, Paul’s Tomb is a howling journey through frontman Carey Mercer’s brain. [Brittney]
Read the rest of our Top 25 Northwest Albums of 2010 after the jump(more…)
What does this headline mean and does it scare you? It probably does. Mushrooms get a bad wrap from people in some social circles. “What? Why would you eat fungus? I don’t eat Blue Cheese, that’s mold.” Yeah, but it’s delicious and it won’t kill you. That’s why you should eat it. Don’t tell me the “texture is creepy” or that it is “beneath me to ingest something so befouled.” You look human to me. As a human being it is your duty, to do as many things as “humanly” possible in this life. Call me life coach.
We’ve already established that you’re Mycophobic (fear of mushrooms, amateur). I’m willing to bet money that you have an irrational fear of those who troll social networking sites and befriend anyone that has the term “Lesbian” on their page. Add me, Lesbians. *wink* So why venture to the Josephine to check out ear-splintering “metal” on a Friday night? Were you in the studio when the Beatles wrote Sgt. Peppers? Were you at Lesbian’s practice space when they wrote Fungal Abyss? It’s kind of the same thing, right? Not really. There’s something I must tell you:
The Fungal Abyss has never been performed for the living. Only spirits that break on through to the other side haunt the practice spaces of metal bands have heard this masterpiece. This may never be performed again. If this does not create a sense of urgency, Lesbian is also selling limited edition t-shirts and posters. Gentleman, way to use your marketing genius. Lesbian has been on tour recently, meaning that this might be your first chance in quite a while to see them live. Many of you have been longing for this day to come for ages. If you’ve never been to the Josephine, you are in for a treat. The sound that Lesbian creates is going to create havoc (and I mean that in the most lovely way) on the walls of the Josephine. The Richter scale may get some usage during their set.
I’m going to be upfront, Midday Veil remind me a bit of Heaven’s Gate. Yes, I am talking about the suicide cult. I’m not against suicide cults, but obviously due to my current status as “living tax payer,” I am not pro-suicide cult either. My point of view has more to do with the video for Asymptote II that is on their website than it does their sound. As far as their sound is concerned, it varies greatly. Jonestown arsenic in the kool-aid fuzz on one track. Atmospheric and minimal on the next. Acoustic and beautiful on the track after that. I like a band that has many faces. Who wants to listen to a band play the same song over and over again? Not me, unless that’s one good fucking song. I’m not into schoolyard crushes like I used to be. I don’t want to get my feelings hurt. I’m going to admire this band from afar and see if I should chase after them in the upcoming months. Maybe a romantic evening in the future? We’ll see. This is good stuff.
I’m trying to get into This Blinding Light but I think I’m too sober. They aren’t bad, I just can’t get a good feel for them via the internet. They do have a song which reminds of Fu Manchu only much simpler and slower. The other stuff, atmospheric and fuzzed out. Two central themes in this evening bill, “atmospheric” and “fuzz.”
The show starts at 8:30pm on Friday night at the Josephine. Seriously, the show starts at 8:30pm.
These are a few of my favorite local albums. Without further adieu..
Album I’m Most Likely to Listen to When I’m Driving to Portland – Demons and Lakes by Ravenna Woods
I don’t know what it is about traversing Interstate Five for a matter of hours that inspires me to find my CD wallet and insert this album into my alien-like console. Some might say it’s because I know that I’m going to hit traffic in Tacoma. Let’s say by the grace of god that fails to happen. I’ll hit traffic well, I went to school in Olympia. It does not matter the hours. It does not matter the time. I’ll stop at a rest stop and grab free coffee from an elderly woman that eyes me in a suspicious manner. I mean no harm, I come for the caffeine. Watch the dread on my face when I realize I’m in Portland and my gas tank needle is dry-humping the “E” sign. Who wants to shine my shoes? All these emotions take a backseat to the fact that at some point, whether I’m going to or coming from Portland, I’m going to listen to Ravenna Woods.
First lured by the circus-y video that was In the World, I’ve been a keen observer and huge fan of Ravenna Woods ever since. Then I had the pleasure of seeing them at the Rendezvous. After the show I built them a shrine in my closet, complete with handmade bobble head dolls and child sweatshop knitted band-related winter scarves. Both items are available on Ebay and are not licensed by the band. Much like Juelz Santana, I’m about getting that bread homey. Dipset.
This album brings out many emotions from within. Where else would emotions come from, right? I contemplate my own mortality and intentions (even though I’m not a canine) when I listen to Simple Fates. The prior song is not just my favorite song on the album, it’s one of my favorite songs of the year. The message in the song is universal and especially easy to understand during these uncertain times. Simple Fates is all about maintaining perspective and not forgetting what is important. Whether it is losing your mind as a twentysomething (yours truly) or having trouble finding a job knowing that you have a family to provide for. Other songs off this album remind me of reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The paranoia of Careful Where You Are…actually there is a lot of paranoia on this album. By the end of song entitled, The Road, the characters are fleeing for their lives. On They Ran the author laments about the imminent darkness and the dangers that accompany it.
Darkness. Paranoia. Materialism. Three elements of human existence that Seattle is all too familiar with that are routinely discussed on this album. Despite lyrically exploring territory that would make Edgar Allen Poe look like a Mr. Rogers, The music that Ravenna Woods has created is adverse to their seemingly bleak lyrical content. It also should be said that Ravenna Woods has created a sound that is all their own. Who sounds like them besides…them? It’s a unique landscape worth taking in, much like the distance traveled from Seattle to Portland. The songs off of Demon and Lakes are well crafted anthems, reminding me of the “hardcore” days of yesteryear. There’s only one song on this album that reminds me of another band in the most subtle of ways. I will not prevaricate, While the Town Was Sleeping does remind me of Tears for Fears a little bit. Am I insane? I can’t be the only one that feels this way. That’s not an insult to Ravenna Woods. Tears for Fears had moments of greatness, not all musical acts can say that. I know at least one of you is listening to Shout or Everybody Wants To Rule The World as you read this. If you aren’t, why the fuck not? Imbecile.
I look forward to Ravenna Woods’ upcoming release that is slated for March 2011. Undoubtedly you’ll be able the to find that release on our “Best of 2011″ list. Much like you can find Demons and Lakes on our “Best of 2010″ list.
To read more about Phil’s eclectic favorites of 2010, follow the jump.
Hey, you remember that time that Kanye West put out his first decent albumsince College Dropout and received a perfect rating from Pitchfork? Wasn’t that crazy? Or what about that time that the Arcade Fire put out their least memorable studio album to date and ended up on everyone’s “Best Records of 2010″ list? Wasn’t that kind of weird? Have you ever seen a pre-school child eat those goldfish cracker snacks? They devour them. You could drop them on the on a public bathroom floor and those kids would not blink. They have one goal in mind and that is to put those little golden crackers into their stomachs. I like fishes because they’re so delicious. Gotta go fishing. Music reviewers can be the same way. An artist they love can do no wrong. Ever. Before the goldfish album drops, the music critic has already decided to eat it up. What else can they do? Judge it for what it is? No way. That’s wasting food blogosphere credibility. Why think, when you can GroupThink?
This is not really a “Best of 2010″ list. Most of the music I continue to enjoy is rarely released within the current calendar year. Ever since I was a youth, I have let albums find me. Rarely do I go seek an album out. It’s a blessing and a curse. For instance, I still have not heard the National’s High Violet. I like the National’s past releases a great deal, why am I being so sluggish in giving their latest effort a listen? I don’t have an answer for that. I just know that when the time is right, I’ll have that record and hopefully enjoy it. The following couple hundred words is just a list that relates to individual songs. I’ll post additional lists that reference albums, live performances and moments that you may have missed during the past year. Actually it’s more of an awards show without live video. Maybe next year.
Local Song of the Year: “Sunshine/Pretty Girls” by the Unnatural Helpers
I know what you’re thinking, “How the hell did this song win ‘Local Song of the Year’?” I’ll tell you how. At first, I hated this song. I thought that a handful of kids that got rejected from Seattle’s School of Rock could probably craft a better tune. It’s got three chords, barely. If the lyrics were written on anything besides a two day old pizza box it would be a travesty. Everything about this song screams “novice” and “Hey, want to listen to the band I played in during high school?” However, this song rules and your high school band sucked. I can listen to this song anytime, anywhere. It has not left my head or I-Pods (plural, bitches) since I got over my initial disdain for it. Let’s dim the lights and get sensitive for a moment. The song’s subject matter of “sunshine” and “pretty girls” happens to be my two favorite things on Earth! Incredible! The author pretends not to care about them and that’s fine he can let the listener do that for him. This song is about vanity, stubbornness and fun. Incidentally, those are the only three personality traits I have. Winner.
Other local songs that I love that could have won this award:
“Simple Fates” by Ravenna Woods * “All the King’s Men” by Hounds of the Wild Hunt * “Bobby O” by What What Now * “Capital 5…” by Shabazz Palaces * “Break Bread” by Baltic Cousins * “Poisonous Witchball” by Lesbian* “I Want You To Come Home Now” by Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives * “Gasoline Rainbows (Jesus Is a Blackman)” by Wild Orchid Children * “Whale Song” by Lemolo * “Rivers and Roads” by the Head and the Heart * “My Oh My” by Macklemore “Floorplan” by Youth Rescue Mission * “Emerald City Dollar Bin” by Partman Parthouse
Any song that is going to appear on the upcoming Helms Alee album. If I knew the names I guarantee you that at least one song would be listed here.
My five favorite songs of 2010 that were not released this year (But I heard them for the first time this year):
“In My Wake, For My Own” by Coalesce *“Salt” by Portugal. The Man * “Victory Is In My Clutches” by Jay Electronica * “So You Wanna Be A Superhero” by Carissa’s Wierd “Freeze Me” by Young Dro f. T.I and Gucci Mane
Lesbian ::: photo courtesy of Holy Mountain Records
I had the utmost privilege of typing out a couple of inane questions and sending them to the guys in Lesbian. I’m extremely grateful that they did not read my questions, google my name, find my home address and burn me at the stake during one of their Neverending Story-like masterpieces. Lesbian have done the unthinkable, they have made me a fan of the “epic” song. Throughout the history of rock music, there have been very few songs that exceed the ten-minute mark that are worth your time. Relax Phish fans. I’m talking about studio recordings and not the element of live music. Some of you old timers will talk about how you drank cheap beer in the front seat of your Trans AM while listening to Iron Butterfly and Pink Floyd play until the end of your fabricated eternity. Radio Disc-Jockeys would put these lengthened tracks on the airwaves so they could go do cocaine in the bathroom or force an intern to go. With the invention of the blog, this is no longer feasible or even productive in most fake sense possible. If I listen to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” for writing inspiration or narcotic consumption, I’m just an asshole that’s fully endorsing audio masturbation. That’s fine, releasing tension is a never a bad thing right?
My point is, I can listen to Lesbian without feeling too self-important or yearning for my usual not-even-three-minute-grandchild-of-punk songs. The band has put together an incredible new album entitled “Stratospheria Cubensis” on Important Records. The album was released today, October 26, so I expect you to run out and go get it. Don’t let the fact that you’re currently dry humping your space heater to stay warm keep you from reaching your consumer goals. Just like your parents who you haven’t spoken to in weeks, I believe you can be anything that you want to be. In this case, a connoisseur of psychedelic metal. My two favorite tracks off an album that consists of only five songs? The opening track “Poison Witchball,” introduces the album in the best possible way and the closing track “Black Stygian,” reminds me of my schoolyard heroes, The Melvins. I like this album enough to review it in the very near future, despite its usage of “metal font.” Argh. Death to metal font, seriously. Before I copy and paste the interview, Lesbian is playing the Comet on Friday, October 29th with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Diminished Men. Show starts at 10pm. Special thanks to awesome drummer guy Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy for answering my questions. Remember kids, don’t do hard drugs.
Sound on the Sound: I’m going to start off with an obvious question and that’s about the length of your songs. How do you go about constructing such voyages? In prior bands was this a common occurrence? Is this something Lesbian has always done or is this something the band morphed into?
Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy: The music tells us how long the song should be, always has, and always will. From our very first song, the 25-minute “Loadbath” to our newest epic, which is just over 42 minutes, we have had a musical vision of ascending to new heights through long songs. We want the listener to be transported somewhere different than this piece of shit existence that we all live in. Our previous projects have run the gamut from short attention to long span. We have inadvertently married the two into short attention long span, and we’re stoned.
SOTS: Google search results for your band, friend or enemy?
Ben T-K: Both.
Read the rest of Phil’s interview with Lesbian after the jump.(more…)