April 1, 2012

My Favorite Songs and Records of 2011

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So originally I was going to post this around the beginning of the new year. Then extreme laziness mind-numbing force known as “life” took over and I couldn’t quite finish the task at hand. I had a arbitrary Valentine’s Day date set but I quickly decided that there was no reason to post this list in the middle of February. One morning at the end of February while I was doing dishes I decided I would wait until April Fools Day to post this blog entry. Why? Because I have a poor sense of humor and thought that these bands/musical acts should once again know of my appreciation. Bands, Musicians, Human beings that happen to do musical things, I just want you to know, I have a thing for you…..and I can’t let go. Some records I don’t discuss at length because they were already were talked about here on Sound on the Sound.

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Grenades/Mercy Ties Split 12″ on Echolalic Records – These delicately crafted songs remind me of autumn leaves slowly turning from a pleasant mixture of auburn, gold and chestnut to a darkened brown indicating their impending death.

Just kidding. For a majority of the year, this was my thoroughbred racing horse. When it wasn’t racing past the competition, it was mounting them to show absolute dominance.

I loved this record so much that I ended up doing the copywriting for it on Robotic Empire’s website. Grenades is currently in the process of mastering their new record should be releasing new material by the end of the year. Mercy Ties re-recorded some of the songs that appear on this split and recorded a few new songs as well. The newer tracks can be found here. You should be stoked on both. Let it be known, from the deepest crevice in the darkest depths of the ocean, to the mountain tops of some very tall mountain that none of you are athletic or determined enough to climb, THIS WAS PRETTY MUCH MY FAVORITE RELEASE OF THE YEAR 2011.

Standout Tracks: “Get Wise” and “Chrononaut” by Grenades || “Harla” and “Stretched Like A Drum” by Mercy Ties

“Owen Heart” by Earth Control…or is it “Earth Control” by Owen Hart…? (Whatever. It Rules.) I had to say “pretty much” in terms of “record of the year” because this record “totally slays.” I thought this came out in 2010 but apparently it came in January of 2011. I’m not going to lie. I slept on “Owen Hart” for two years because…they were called Owen Hart. For all of you old school WWE WWF wrestling enthusiasts, Owen Hart (the character, god rest his soul) was by far the weakest link of the “famous” Hart wrestling family. He was about ten percent of the wrestler his older brother (BRET “THE HITMAN” HART — deserving of all caps) was. Owen Hart wasn’t even as cool as his weird brother in-law Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart or his other brother in-law “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith. So when you’re an awesome hardcore band named after a third rate wrestler (You might even say fourth rate, he was tag team partners with Koko B. Ware for crying out loud!) that often plays shitty bills at El Corazon…how am I supposed to figure out how devastating you are? Anyway. Whatever you want to call this record, it is the most satisfying piece of “metal” that I came across this past year. It’s like Pig Destroyer grindcore combined with Pantera-esque breakdowns and Crestfallen’s, (Ask my old neighbor from Virginia Will from the Comet about his old band, so good.) “We’re going to thrash and not give a fuck about whatever” attitude. If you are into things that are dark, fast and heavy — then you must start and end your days with this record.

Standout Tracks: “44 Black,” “Poor White Straight Guy,” “The Vertigo of Murray Morgan” and one of my favorite songs of the year, “Fuck Morrisey. Fuck The Smiths. Fuck The Cure.”

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BOAT – Dress Like Your Idols

I’m guilty of not talking about BOAT nearly enough and I feel other writer’s are guilty of the same inexcusable act. For the first quarter of 2011, this record was in contention for my favorite record of the year. People, there are some pop gems on this record. “(I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong” is not only a great first single, it’s a great single period. “Landlocked” is the strongest song on the record and reminds me of Nerf Herder in its nerdy frankness. However, my favorite song on Dress Like Idols is “(do the) Double Take.” The narrative pretty much summed up my life for a decent amount of 2011. Being fucking miserable in a bar Sitting quietly at the end of a bar, smiling at a girl as she walks by…and there’s where it ends. Do you know why? Because I didn’t have a job. Men who don’t have jobs should be taken out behind a bar and shot aren’t allowed to date. It’s actually considered a social felony in most states. BOAT plays their first show of 2012 at the Sunset on April 13th, with the Bismark and Police Teeth.

Police Teeth – Awesomer Than The Devil

I kept on telling my friends (the ones that didn’t like Police Teeth) that this was a dope record. They didn’t listen to me. They kept on insisting, “We don’t like pop punk.” I told them to shove it. I don’t like pop punk either. Eventually they actually listened to the record and saw things my way. Some great tunes on this record, notably “Rock & Roll Is A Pyramid Scheme (Parts 1 & 2)” and “Public Defender.” You know what? While you’re at it, you can also add “Send More Cops” to that list.

Strong KillingsS/T

Best local punk record of 2011.

Youth Rescue MissionS/T

Carissa’s Wierd was my proverbial novocain for the soul in 2010. Youth Rescue Mission won this pretty handily in 2011. With songs like “Floorplan” and “Great White,” it’s easy to understand why. I spent a lot of time staring off into space with watery eyes, then pressing the “repeat” button because I’m really into emotional masochism.

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Sleeper Agent – “All Wave and No Goodbye”

I don’t really like this band or the the album Celebrasion, because the album is pretty fucking boring in all honesty but this is a good song. I’ll be interested to hear what the follow-up to this 2011 release sounds like. This band is currently on tour with Fun, they’ll probably make quite a few new fans.

Alpinist - Minus. Mensch

This album actually came out in 2009 but it dominated my Ipods so much that I had to include it in this list. German hardcore that isn’t messing around. I suggest you get familiar.

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

Duh. Wale ft. Rick Ross and Jadakiss – “600 Benz”

I think the new Wale album Ambition is garbage. Maybe I had set my expectations too high considering some of the slight work he had put in months prior to releasing that record. This song is some FI-YAH (pronounced “fire”) though.

Cat From Hue – “Never Again”

Cat from Hue actually re-released this song on their newer self-titled EP but I think the version found on Forgetters is infinitely more impressive. This is another one of those soul-searching tunes that I can play again and again without ever tiring of it. Be careful, you listen to this song too much and you’ll be stuck in reminiscing mode for the remainder of your day. This song makes you want to call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time and tell them that they’ve forsaken your friendship tell them that you miss them. Great song.

Constant LoversTrue Romance

Admittedly, every time I listen to this record I wonder how the hell that poor chap on the album cover got his finger stuck in a stick of butter.

Helm’s AleeWeatherhead

Duh.

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Nurses – Dracula

You know that guy or gal that shows up late to a party and then completely takes it upon entry? Dracula is kind of the musical equivalent of that.

CastevetMounds of Ash

This album actually came out in 2010 but I didn’t hear it until 2011 (so in my book it qualifies for this list). Do you like heavy and menacing with the occasional twisted time signature? Castevet are your band then. I’ve definitely misaligned my spinal column rocking out to this.  So much for fixing my scoliosis….

Matsuri - Endship

If it weren’t for that legendary self-titled Strong Killings vinyl, this would be my favorite LP purchased in 2011. The word “thoughtful” doesn’t do the packaging justice. It’s like holding a 12″ miracle of wax in your hands. This band reminds me of the reasons why I got into music to begin with as an adolescent looking for something to belong to. This is raw, pure energy that I want you to have.

OCnotes - Medicine

Duh. OCnotes is “the truth,” as kids say these days. He also does some pretty interesting stuff with “The Wiz” as well.

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Kelli SchaeferGhost of the Beast

When I was originally compiling this list, I asked myself the following question:

Who on this planet sounds like Kelli Schaefer?

I still haven’t found the answer.

Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Niggas In Paris”

I wasn’t even feeling this song until I saw that Youtube clip of the guy on the NYC Subway. Suddenly everything fell into place and I now go bananas every time I hear this song. All I can think about is, “Fuck. Fight. Win.” Literally. That’s all I want to do when the track hits my stereo, in that exact order.

Absolute, No Bullshit, I’m Not Kidding…Favorite Song(s) of the Year:

BOAT –  ”(do the) Double Take”

This song reminds me of my inability to communicate effectively women and sunshine, kind of like the 2010 winner “Sunshine/Pretty Girls” by The Unnatural Helpers. What can I say? I’m a sucker for sunshine, women and very brief songs. I have no attention span.

Owen Hart Earth Control – “Fuck Morrisey. Fuck The Smiths. Fuck The Cure.”

Honestly, this might be the most perfect song ever written. Clocking in at a fierce 80 seconds, it combines the best two elements of my all-time favorite bands (I have like twenty “all-time favorite bands”) Pantera and Pig Destroyer. The results? A goddamn electric masterpiece.

December 16, 2011

Our Favorite Local EPs, 45s & Cassettes of 2011

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2011 wasn’t just a great year for local full-lengths, awesome releases abounded in all formats: EPs, 7”s and yes, even cassettes. In fact, Phil’s favorite local release of all of 2011 was Mercy Ties and Grenades split 12”.

Here are 15 of our favorite local EPs, 7”s and cassettes of the past year and our favorite nationally released EP with links to listen or look at each of them:

Mercy Ties / Grenades 12”

Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest In Funk & Soul 1965–1979 Limited Edition 45s Box Set

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Night BeatsH-Bomb

Joshua MorrisonBuilder

Richard SwiftWalt Wolfman

Richard Swift “Whitman” by DOJAGSC

10 More of our Favorite Local EPs, 7”s, Cassettes & Our Favorite National EP of 2011 (more…)

October 28, 2011

Your Halloween Weekend as a One-Sided Conversation

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We Wrote the Book on Connectors as Beastie Boys ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

Some traditions die hard should have never been started. Last year I gave you a Halloween weekend preview that was basically a third party eavesdropping on a hipster having a conversation on his cellular phone. This year will be a different. You will hear from a great white shark that has political ambitions that may involve the Oval Office…

Yes, you read that correctly.

The object of man’s darkest water related fears will give a political speech directly related to the blessed conundrum of having too much music to see and only one pair of eyes to experience it with. You come to Sound on the Sound for respectable writing and you get this!?! It’s Halloween, my parents aren’t around and I can do what I want!

[Scene shows a large fish tank at the entrance of Wild Waves. The tank has a spiderweb of microphones hanging above it, the audio machinery is hoping to capture the sentences of this politically savvy deep sea predator. The Sound on the Sound camera pans around the parking lot and spots an abundance of media trucks with its lens. Suddenly the shark stops "pacing" the tank, anchors itself in one place and begins to speak.] Mr. White: Some of you may wonder why I have called this press conference all of you here today and I’m here to answer the question that I’m assuming is on your human mind. I’m here to make a speech that addresses the issues.

[Mr. White stops speaking and does a methodical lap around the tank.]

Mr. White: I’m a shark, when it comes to media relations I am mostly ignorant. Is it proper to call a press conference in order to make a speech? I’m really not sure. All I know is third party candidates don’t have the luxury of debates leading up to primaries and presenting State of the Union addresses to a doting nation. This event is actually paid for by “Sharks Against Campaigns to Give Human Rights to Orcas.” PETA is a fascist organization that does not give equal consideration to sharks. My contentious relationship with that agency is neither here or nor there. Like I said I’m here to talk about the issues.

[Mr. White stops to swim to the surface and to see if there are any PETA protesters in attendance.]

Mr. White: This weekend is Halloween weekend. Many of the events that are taking place and are related to the every day lives of the voters. If you did not realize this, now you do. If you are below the age of 18 I suggest you turn your Ipod off and tune in, shit is about to get real even though you are not old enough to vote. For instance, the Black Lodge is having a benefit show tonight that features Numb and Mercy Ties. I tell you this because I am pro-small business and independent industry. The Black Lodge has done many a service for being a great DIY venue that routinely has all ages shows. If something were to happen to this place, what would you do? Where would you go? You tell me you’d hang out in Belltown but I don’t believe you.  Sharks may not be chimpanzees but we are not dinosaurs either. Literally. Don’t let those other two political parties tell you they are for all-ages shows when I think their record speaks for itself. They are for money and that’s it. Personally I don’t care about monetary symbols, I care about blood in the water. That is my priority and that my friends, is a selfish agenda you can trust.

[Mr. White stops speaking to detect if there is indeed blood in the water.]

Mr. White: Did you see that? I already fulfilled a campaign promise. Also happening tonight is the ten year anniversary show of Glenn or Glennda? happening at the Croc. Individuals like myself that are big-time players in political shuffleboard can appreciate the innovate legacy that the aforementioned act has crafted over the past decade. They took an old idea and twisted gender-bended it into their own creation. They tested the market and passed with flying colors. People want to talk about raising taxes and job creation, what about shifting chromosomes in order to achieve annual entertainment for nostalgic punk rockers? Glenn or Glennda can’t resign just yet, they are a pillar of the ghost and goblin community. I propose another term. I also believe that Strong Killings and Steel Tigers of Death second that notion by offering their support for this anniversary engagement.

[The affable great white stops to contemplate what he meant look like as a cross-dressing member of the Misfits. These are the kind of thoughts that go through politicians minds during media events. Duh.]

Read the Rest of Phil Mr. White’s Halloween recommendations (more…)

October 12, 2011

What to do on a Wednesday Night

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Besides work! *insert percussion joke sound here*

Wednesday night is for getting your zumba weird on. Come on, there’s no reason not to. The anticipation of assumed days off weighs you down like the anchor that can be found on Popeye’s overly muscular forearms. Look to the left, Monday and Tuesday are in your rear-view mirror. Look to the right, a Thursday night rendez-vous with Lesbian at the Funhouse or a visitation from St. Vincent at the Neptune sound like charming engagements. But we’re not talking about Thursday or Friday (another night which also has a lot of good shows), we’re talking about the most under-appreciated day of the week, Mercredi Wednesday. Tonight, you have two options. If you’re a male who likes wearing purple cut-off jorts (it might be a little cold for that gentleman), have a drum key on your keychain and only buy t-shirts that match your kid sister’s fashion sense, then I expect to see you watching Battles perform at the Neptune. This is a great choice. I haven’t seen a concert at the Neptune yet, but seeing Battles perform anywhere (yes, even inside the cozy confines of Cowgirls in Pioneer Square) is a good decision. It’ll make up for that tie-dyed Hello Kitty t-shirt you’re wearing with those white Jordache women’s jeans you found at the Buffalo Exchange.

Your other option is a spastic tour kick-off show at the Nut Hut. Gentle reader, I swear this is not other clever scheme to get you into my lair in the middle of the night. It’s also not a plan to get you stuck to a questionably “sticky” floor at a place where everyone is wearing an overcoat and sunglasses for some reason (not that I’m familiar with this lifestyle…ughhhh). This tour kick-off show is for the one and only Mercy Ties. They have new material to give to you and I suggest you except their gifts. They are not three wise men but four rather, if it worked for Jesus then surely it will work for you. Perhaps these three brand new songs will inspire divinity within you (without being born in a manger).

Gentle readers, get weird for me this evening. I’ll be making food for strangers.

June 23, 2011

Feel Me?

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and this is why i speak to you in parables by White Orange

In honor of Tupac Shakur’s 40th birthday (actually took place last Thursday) and one of my favorite hip-hop ad-libs (my favorite being Young Jeezy’s “YEAHHHHHHHH!”) of all-time, I am here to share some of the things I have been “feeling” over the past six months. Some of these things are related to the current calendar year, some of them aren’t. Youth Rescue Mission “S/T” – One of my early front-runners for local album of the year, I have spent an incredible amount of time with this record. The music is great but it’s the fiercely personal stories behind the songs on the album that resonate with me personally. Tales and dynamics so close to the heart that I don’t feel comfortable sharing them with you. To paraphrase the press release, this is a family of individual songwriters that have combined their shared experiences and the end result are ten poignant, revealing songs. If I owned this on vinyl, the grooves on tracks “Floorplan” and “Great White” would be so worn from overplay that I would have to resort to cassette digital download for their audio alleviation. Might I also add that “Dark Star” is the most metal, un-metal song that has ever existed in Seattle. OK, that might be a reach. Nevertheless, I have learned how to play it, and as a result turned it into a beast that only Kim Thayil and members of His Hero Is Gone would recognize. Righteous. Catch them tonight at the Comet with the Foghorns + others.

Femi Kuti at Neumos – It’s not often you get the chance to dance, have a one-sided conversation about social injustice and get sex advice all during the course of the same event (there’s a political fundraiser joke in there somewhere), but that happened when Femi Kuti ended his North American Africa to Africa tour in Seattle. Like a charismatic, manic composer he orchestrated Positive Force through a two-hour set that made sure newly converted fans (like myself) will be counting down the days until he returns in Seattle. This set is in the top five of the “best sets of 2011″ so far.

Good Rock n’ Roll Comes in Three’s (Three good albums, all totally different in content. I’ll have reviews of all three posted shortly) -

and this is why i speak to you in parables by White Orange – From the opening phase shifter (possibly flanger?) drenched riff of “Where,” you are a wayfarer, trapped inside a brobdingnagian 1982 ghetto blaster that is peculiarly placed in the middle of a sandy oasis.  This sequence would be fantastic if you were the protagonist in a Beck video directed by Spike Jonze. Instead your end is near because you have no access to food or water. The only item that you have at your disposal is the Queens From the Stone Age/Kyuss split EP on cassette tape. As you hold the tape in your hand, fond memories flood your mind, feel good hits of the summer transposed over an idealistic youth. Suddenly you realize the obvious and the smile your memories have crafted is removed from your face. What good is a tape if you’re trapped inside a boom box? Where is the cruel god that has done this to you… Weatherhead by Helm’s Alee - Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?” – Edith Sitwell

This release feels like a band fully entrapped in the throes of self-realization. Night Terror, for all its sullen triumphs, (and god bless you, there were a great many) lacked something that I currently cannot find the proper words to describe (hopefully by the beginning of next week, this is not the case). Perhaps it was because you knew that no matter how effervescent a song might have started, a tempest was coming to make short work of its vulnerable beginnings. In the case of Weatherhead, what is ethereal remains that way, choosing to stay beautiful despite what you might expect. “Music Box” and “Anemone of the Wound” could not have existed on Helm’s Alee aptly-named previous album. I think fans of this band will be pleasantly surprised upon first listen (don’t you worry, Helm’s Alee still rock). Put to rest any potential fears by clicking on the soundcloud link.

S/T by Strong Killings -  The morning buzz off my grumpy neighbors lawnmower, a woodpecker that only visits my house on the sabbath in order to serve as a terrifying alarm clock for my baby sister, the beckoning call of the ice cream man, watching fireflies coexist with bats, often meeting their end in the process — these are a few things that remind me of summer. Now added to the list of dog day admonishments is the self-titled album by Strong Killings. I know, we really haven’t hit summer quite yet, but in my mind it’s been summer for months and I’ve been nodding my head to this album for weeks now. If Once If summer does make an appearance, mark my words, you’ll agree with me.  “Minimum Wage” and “Licked, Nicked” are bonafide anthems that won’t leave my ipod unless someone puts a gun to my head. Even then, depending on what’s going on in my life, I still might refuse. Gentle readers, the wait is almost over. I can’t wait for you to have this…

Other songs that remind me of summer. Some good, some not so good. “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey (f. Ol’ Dirty Bastard) “Natural One” by Folk Implosion “Comin’ Home” by Hum “Street Dreams” by Nas “Slow RIde” by Foghat “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter Band “Overnight Scenario” by Rare Essence

Actually, I lied. All those songs are awesome. medicine by OCnotes – The strongest argument for our government to implement universal health care. Performing at the Electric Tea Garden tomorrow (Friday) night. Mercy Ties/Grenades Split 12″ on Echolalic Records -So good. I’m actually tired of telling you how good this is. Ride The Fader by Chavez - A classic. I listen to this album all the time. One of the best albums of the 90′s that nobody talks about. I can’t remember how I heard about Chavez (I think a Jawbox interview? Or maybe it was John Angelo also produced  Triple Fast Action’s Cattlemen Don’t — another criminally underrated group) but I am very fortunate that I did. Not many bands can claim that they have their own sound, yet Chavez can boast about this achievement and I wouldn’t go against their words. Just about all the songs on this record are good. The opening riff to “Lions” will make you wake up in a cold sweat. “All I want to do is open my barrage,” sings a sweet yet irratated Matt Sweeney on “You Must Be Stopped.” Ever been in a hurry to get somewhere but know your efforts are futile? That is what the song sounds like. “Ever Overpsyched” is the best Beatles song that the Fab Four never wrote.

June 10, 2011

Friday Mailbag

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The Builders and the Butchers ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

Dear Phil,

I’m a terrible singer. My mother once booed me at my 2nd grade talent show because nobody else in the audience had the guts to do it. My unique vocals have been compared to a fox that is getting run over by a lawn rider mower (with a Hemi — no less!). I love to sing and I’m tired of people telling me to shut my mouth. Don’t people realize that this is Earth? There are so many people on this planet, there has to be someone with worst vocals than me. If that’s not the case, there has to be a niche for someone with unique vocals…what about the Cave Singers and Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah?

- Contemplating Buying a Talkbox on Ebay (Auburn, Wa.)

Dear Contemplating,

As someone that may or may not sing in a crappy local band, I know what you mean. People think just because I’m black I’m supposed to sound like John Legend or Marvin Gaye. I open my mouth to sing and it sounds like one of the guys from Yaphet Kotto doing a bad impression of Guy Picciotto. Every time I play a show I hope the microphone gives way so nobody can hear me. There is hope for people like us, if you play music that is good enough, people will overlook your vocals and enjoy what you have to offer. Are you familiar with The Builders and The Butchers? They are playing a Noise for the Needy benefit show tonight at the Tractor with “math folk” (new genre! mind explosion!) rockstars Ravenna Woods. Ryan Sollee has a better voice than you (sorry, I’m still on the lookout for someone as bad as you are). He should offer you inspiration to achieve greater things and a temporary refuge from your own shortcomings. This is going to be one hell of a show. The last time I saw Ravenna Woods at the Tractor they brought the house down.

Dear Phil,

I’m not of age and I hate everything. I hate Sound on the Sound because you’re a bunch of sellouts that only talk about “Americana” and “Folk.” I hate you because your writing has nothing to do with the music you’re covering. I hate your photographers because they take pictures. I hate my parents because they brought me into this world. I need to get out of here. Consider this hate mail. Sellout.

- Get Bent (Bellevue, Wa.)

Dear Bent,

Your grievances are noted. It seems to me that the label “gentle reader” does not apply to a young ruffian like yourself. There was once a time when I was just like you, smoking cigarettes at the bus stop to be cool, sneaking into R-rated movies, stealing hundreds of CD’s from Best Buy and Sam Goody, leaving my porn stash in my sister’s swim bag, completely forgetting that she was on a year-round all-star swim team. I’ve been there, kid. I relied on Fu Manchu (The Action Is Go) and Jack Endino’s (probably long forgotten by him) e-mailing list to get me through adolescence. What you need is a license to bear arms are raw forms of self-expression. Local bands that I happen to think you’d like and the places you can catch them. Please note that not all these bands sound as “angry” as your letter to me. I am concerned for the safety of others.

Mercy Ties -This is probably my favorite local band right now. Do you like Ed Gein circa It’s A Shame…? Mercy Ties are in a similar vein only much more creative. There’s a vulnerability in their songs that remind me of the legendary Saetia. This is the point of the conversation where I patronize you by saying you’re too young to know how to deal with emotions. I want you to go to their show at the Old Redmond Firehouse tonight, it’s an American Red Cross benefit show for Japanese tsunami victims. Don’t fret, it’s all-ages. I want you to rock out really hard and then buy their 12″ split with Grenades (another band you’d like, who are also playing with Mercy Ties tonight). Spillway - There is an intense discussion taking place in the scientific community about what exactly “Spillway” is. Are they indie rock? Do they sound like the big city version of Modest Mouse (what is this)? Are Doug Barber’s screams that of a tortured genius, eager to bury his past or an unassuming madman, bent on the destruction of Seattle? You are a misguided young soul that can’t get into bars. The next time you have a chance to see Spillway will be at a party at an undisclosed location. Use your internet smarts to find out the top-secret, very hush-hush, location. Don’t forget your chaps. I’m assuming that you’re planning on riding two horses at the same time.

Bat CountryYou are a teenager, therefore Judging by your letter, two things are true: 1) You are a soap opera unto yourself. 2) If it sounds “dark,” it’s in your wheelhouse. Let Bat Country be the soundtrack to your angry bedroom brooding. They could never be described as “evil” like Mercy Ties or Grenades but the darkness is there my aging friend. This is the sound of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, families failing to make gains, dying in their place in every sense of the word. Bleakness achieved, but is it enough for your wild heart? Bat Country is the sound of miner’s drinking themselves to death because their pans remained absent of gold. We’re not on Skype but I can see that the misfortune of others brings a slight grin to your face. I can only think of Bat Country in storyline form because they have too many hooks to considered “Country,” and are too theatrical to be considered “Americana.” Genre-defying. Very classical, macabre and beautiful. I would never encourage buying a fake I.D. and sneaking into the Conor Byrne on a Saturday night. But if you do…

Dear Phil,

Some friends and I were talking the other day about musical trends. Currently there seems to be a lot of the “multi-instrumentalist” thing going on. What do you think of that and what do you think the next trend is going to be?

- Inquisitive Thick Black-Rimmed Glasses That Are Worn Strictly Because Of A Stigmatism And Not For Fashion I Swear To God (Seattle, Wa.)

Dear Inquisitive,

The multi-instrumentalist thing is something that has taken me some time to get used to. Call me old fashioned but I am of the “band nazi” generation. You have one person who is a controlling force in the band. That person brings a majority of their ideas to the other band members as a blueprint for a majority of their songs. With each new song written, the primary songwriter grows in power and prestige. Eventually “the conductor” oversteps their role, comes to the conclusion that they can play all the band roles by their lonesome and transforms into the “band nazi.” Everyone is fired. A solo project ensues. That’s it. Call it “The Axl Rose Process” or whatever tickles your fancy. Having a multi-instrumentalist in your band is almost like a concession of power. You’re coming to the realization that other people may be almost as gifted as you are. In fact, they may even share your same musical goals and enhance your compositions?!? Who would’ve thought so adventurously back in 1997? People that would burn at the stake or be tied to large stones so they could drown, that’s who.

With that being said, the next musical trend is — and write this down — people not playing music. In the year 2012 people will stop playing music altogether. Every live musical experience will feature pre-recorded music with performance art instead of musicians. After the presentation is over, the “musicians” will sit at a round table drinking cheap beer and talking amongst themselves about the importance of their own art. As an audience member your job is to watch as they are flooded in self-centered trivialities. Do not save them. You will remain standing in steadfast admiration throughout, refusing to hand them an olive branch for rescue. Mark my words, this is the future.

Until next time, keep those letters coming.

May 19, 2011

Mercy Ties/Grenades Split 12″ Release Show At Black Lodge

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Well, that’s it. I am telling my hunting party to circle the wagons. I’m closing up shop for the rest of May. I will ignore what I hope to be a long, beautiful Seattle summer. When fall ends and November ushers in another half year of grey, will it matter? Future emails that are music related will go directly into my virtual trash can. All other musicians are now branded as solicitors. I won’t stand for it.

What release (local or otherwise) could possibly be better than this one in the year 2011? None. I mean, I hope every album ever released is this good or better, but what are the chances that will happen? I let out a brief cackle, my eyes scroll backwards in their sockets from ecstasy while Mercy Ties’ “Harla” plays in the background. No chance. Grenades have done an honorable thing and streamed their side of the 12″ on their bandcamp page. You can watch them perform some of these songs on their website. My two favorite tracks are “Chrononaut” (think some of the more straight forward punk tracks on Converge’s Jane Doe) and “Handbook for the Recently Diseased” (a tasty, more straight-forward Breather Resist-like treat). If my memory serves me correctly, there are videos for both of those awesome songs on their website. Thank you Grenades. Mercy Ties are going to become a new obsession of mine, I guarantee it. Where legendary bands Jerome’s Dream and Neil Perry limited themselves in their clear-cut approach, Mercy Ties don’t let their influences or unconventional songwriting style handicap them. I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. You have no idea what’s going to happen next in their songs. This makes for some very exciting musical theater. From “Caves” to “Harla,” every song feels different from the last, yet the music maintains continuity and the tracks flow together nicely. Compositions that are seen as outliers are not welcome here. The show is at 9pm tomorrow (Friday) night at the Black Lodge. Tickets are $3! You’re not imagining that, that’s less than $1 per band. This will leave you with enough pocket change to buy the split 12″ courtesy of Echolalic Records. Buy it even if you don’t own a record player or your needle is broken (guilty as charged). Lozen and Sandrider are not to be ignored so get there early.

April 9, 2011

Saturday, You Are Music Glutton, Yeah?

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MONOGAMY PARTY ::: photo by Keith Johnson

Good heavens, where do I even begin? Saturday night is like a episode of Man vs. Food to the tenth degree. Do you think you can eat a 11 pounds of red meat, a baker’s dozen worth of cupcakes, eight strips of bacon, one pound of jalapeno peppers, six packages of Ramen, one jar of mayonnaise, five bananas and a confetti cake that is covered in coffee grinds that have been lying in your compost pile by accident for the last two weeks? If so, you should seriously consider getting your own reality-based television show titled “Disgusting Pig-Faced Slob”. Don’t use your greed to ruin your digestive tract. Use your illusion desire to consume at an alarming rate to support those who play musical instruments on-stage from time to time. Gentle reader, this is your quest for the evening.  Let’s see if  you can somehow prove to me that you were actually present at all of the following shows, I can promise you two things will happen:

1) I will build a false idol of you in my bedroom. Apparently you are everywhere at once and should be considered the most powerful human being that has ever lived.

2) You will spend lots of money on admission and traveling expenses. Unless you’re boning every musician in Seattle (and I know some of you are pretty damn close), this could be a problem. I promise to reward you for your efforts, but you must provide the proper documentation. Having 14 black marks on your wrist will not be credible enough to qualify, sorry. Go take a shower.

Lightning Bolt at Healthy Times Fun Club – I literally yelped when I heard Lightning Bolt was coming to Healthy Times. Then I started crying because I realized I won’t be able to attend this show. If you’ve never seen their DVD The Power of Salad and Milkshakes, I’m going to pretend to not know who you are the next time we’re together in public. The aforementioned movie that features live performances from all over the country is absolutely unreal. Lightning Bolt are a noise rock two-piece (a three-piece if you include the noise they create) from Providence, Rhode Island. Arguably one of the best bass and drum duo’s to exist in the history of modern rock. Even though the music they create isn’t always easy for the average person to withstand, if you watch that DVD, I can promise you will be converted into a fan. Show starts at 8pm. Monogamy Party and Mercy Ties at the Galway Arms - Are you a Lauryn Hill fan? If the answer is yes then you should probably be in Portland watching her perform at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall. If you’d rather see three dudes get sweaty and weird, then you should be on The Ave, brah. Monogamy Party play with such reckless abandon that they’ll probably be destroying a northwest festival stage in the near future. Check out their tune “Pus City,” live at The In. Mercy Ties, much like Grenades, are one of my favorite local bands around right now. Did you know those bands have a split 12″ coming out in the near future?  I’ve heard most of the split already. *evil laughter* Blogging makes me feel all-powerful like Drago in Rocky IV. Holy hobgoblin, I might as well hand them my release of the year award now. Mercy Ties are the kind of band that makes me want to quit my musical projects because I’m not sure I can compete. “Greed Keeps Us Warm” is the official song of this post. Show starts at 9pm.

Virgin Islands, Wow and Flutter, Princess and High Class Wreckage at the Comet - Virgin Islands album Ernie Chambers v. God will be coming out soon. In the meantime you can listen to “No Doctor” right here on Sound of the Sound and go see them tonight at the Comet. Princess is a band I’ve heard promising things about but I haven’t had the opportunity to see them perform yet. Perhaps you can do some detective work on my behalf? It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen High Class Wreckage. If my memory serves me correctly (and it always does) they are a rock and roll good time to be had. Show starts at 9pm.

Here are more shows that are happening that I’m probably too lazy busy lazy to talk about. That does not mean they are not good shows, that just means this laptop is burning my thighs.

Modern Athletics, Motopony and The Solvents at the High Dive. Show starts at 9pm.$7

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Those Darlins at the Crocodile. Show starts at 8pm. $15

Seattle 4 Japan: People Eating People, The Young Evils, PonyHomie and Guests at Chop Suey. Show starts at 9pm. $10 donation

Owen Hart, Power and Wreck, Envision, Breaking Ground at Ground Zero Teen Center. Show starts at 7pm. $6/$5 with a canned food.

Yonder Mountain String Band at Showbox at the Market. Show starts at 9pm. $24

Don’t feel like being a hippie and dancing to Yonder Mountain String Band? Suit yourself, conformist. There’s always my favorite thing to do every second Saturday of the month, Emerald City Soul Club at the Lo-Fi. Get there late and stay even later. There is also music going on at the Blue Moon that I’m not permitted to talk about. Party safe. Party hard.

February 9, 2011

Rad Touch, Mercy Ties at The Comet

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Mercy Ties

I swear I’m not the press person for the Comet. The venue has a number of shows this month that I would feel it would be a criminal act to ignore. Gentle reader, tonight is no exception. In the words of KISS, “You wanted the best?! You got the best!” Does Paul Stanley even say that? I must admit I know nothing about a band that has better coffins than albums.

Rad Touch, a band featured in “I Like You OK” back in December will be at the Comet tonight. There’s no exact science to reading a show poster. According to any and all visuals I have seen, Rad Touch are slated to perform second. This means you want to get to Capitol Hill at about 4pm. By getting to the Hill in the late afternoon, this will give you five hours to find parking before the show starts. You never know, it may take you that long to find a parking spot. It took me almost as long when I saw Virgin Islands last weekend. Check out Rad Touch’s band camp and listen to some of their newer tracks. That’s what I’ve been doing all week. Seattle sounds, sound great. My favorite of the “new tracks” is Freddy Mercury Poison and not because it has a killer name. I’m sucker for those early 22nd century song titles. Long live hardcore? Maybe not. Then again, this was a phase I was suppose to grow out of many moons ago. Let’s compromise and scream to our hearts delight, “Long live Rad Touch!” Amen.

The following leaves me scratching my head. How have I not heard of Mercy Ties? Mother always said, I had a Bloodhound’s nose for rock and roll. Especially rock and roll action of the hardcore variety. Mercy Ties are a cocktail consisting of one part Combatwoundedveteran and another part The Now. I like this band a lot. Click on their name, go to their band camp and take a listen. No Harm, No Foul recalls a time where the NBA was ruled by the likes of Charles Oakley and Bill Laimbeer.  I Guess I’m Guilty of Letting Go is the perfect audio Valentine’s Day card to give a loved one. I enjoy looking at all the pictures of my ex-girlfriends while listening to this song in the dark, alone with my tears. If you see me at the Comet tonight, sobbing and headbanging at the same time, you’ll know why. Some secrets are too amusing for my diary to contain.

The show starts at 9pm. Remember it’s going to take at least two hours to find parking. So get there early and make yourself comfortable.