January 19, 2012

A Few Blurry Photos & Recollections from our 5th Annual Blue Moon Birthday Bash with My Goodness, Dude York & The Golden Blondes

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The Golden Blondes ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Despite my mother’s worries about me hanging out at bars most nights a week for concerts, the truth is what I do at night is not very rock’n'roll and there’s nothing for her to worry about. While I enjoy concerts very much, I treat them like work. I observe. I take notes. I don’t have more than a drink, though I usually don’t drink at all. I am constantly scanning the stage and the crowd for the best shots. I do my best to be present in the show but not lost in the moment, so I have something of insight or worth to say the next morning.

Such was not the case at our Blue Moon Birthday last Friday the 13th at The Blue Moon. Notes were not taken. I had considerably more than one drink. I managed to not take photos of an entire set (sorry, Dude York). And I totally, 100% lost myself in the moment … as told by my aching neck the past week from too much head-banging. I am still a little sore.

And if I can say so myself, it was an awesome moment to get lost in. The Blue Moon was filled with faces both familiar and un, but all friendly, three kick-ass eardrum-numbing local rock bands took the stage and played stellar sets. The Golden Blondes with considerable swagger from Josey Markiewicz, one of Seattle’s most under-rated front-men, ended their starting set with a James Brown style audience participation sing-along which the entire Blue Moon happily howled along with. Dude York got the Moon dancing and laughing with their infectious punk and in-between songs banter. The last time I saw the band I thought they were one of the best new young bands I’d seen in a long, long time and they blew that performance out of the water. As tellingly told by the fact I was so caught up in said dancing, being charmed and screaming along, that I didn’t pick up my camera once. That’s an unusually successful set from a band to be sure, but a failure on my behalf.

Last but not least, My Goodness playing one night only as HOT DAMN! worked the crowd up into a lather with a sweet set of balls-to-the-walls blues originals and a much appreciated Salmon Thrasher cover, a nod to the first time I’d seen the band at the Blue Moon. There, on the weirdest night I’d ever spent at the Blue Moon (there was an engagement, a drummer feared dead, a fist fight that cleared the stage and a death threat) it was My Goodness, the evening’s opener playing their second or third show ever, that stood out the most. To see them back on that stage, even through slightly blurry eyes, was a birthday gift beyond imagination.

We can’t thank all three bands and the Blue Moon for a night we’ll never forget, or perhaps one that we’ll always try to remember.

My Goodness plays Portland tonight with the Pack A.D. at The Doug Fir were supposed to play Portland tonight, but have had to cancel due to weather. They’ve got their debut record on gorgeous red vinyl for sale at shows and in local stores starting January 31st.

Dude York plays their next Seattle show next Saturday January 28th at Cairo.

And we’ll keep you posted on The Golden Blondes next Seattle show, because every party should be lucky enough to start out with these fellas on stage.


My Goodness ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

The Golden Blondes ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

My Goodness ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

The Golden Blondes ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

December 30, 2011

Our Ten Favorite Local Records of 2011

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Now that we’ve reached the top of our favorite local records countdown, we wanted to have links to all the reviews in one convenient place.

While yes, all these albums were released by either Portland or Seattle bands, we hope you don’t get stuck on “local” as the important part of the descriptor. Because no one outside of the Pacific Northwest released records we loved more than Fleet Foxes, Shabazz Palaces or Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers. So please, focus instead on “favorite.”

It was such a rich year for albums from the Pacific Northwest we couldn’t possibly only share ten records we loved, nor could we enumerate what our 31st or our 23rd favorite records. So next week we’ll be sharing 25 more local records released in 2011 you shouldn’t miss, in much more manageable alphabetical order.

 

 

#1 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

#2 Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

#3 Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers – Starlight Hotel

#4 Cataldo – Prison Boxing

#5 Bryan John Appleby – Fire on the Vine

#6 Radiation City – The Hands That Take You

#7 My Goodness – s/t

#8 Wild Flag – s/t

#9 Kelli Schaefer – Ghost of the Beast

#10 Gold Leaves – The Ornament

December 22, 2011

Our Favorite Local Records of 2011: #7 – My Goodness – S/T

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Over the next two weeks we’ll be counting down our 10 favorite records released in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. Follow along!

#7. My Goodnesss/t

If notable echoes of Seattle’s musical history as a rock town exist, it is surely in the persons of Joel Schneider and Ethan Jacobsen who make up My Goodness. More mutant blues than anything else, My Goodness is certainly hard rock but not “grunge,” stylistically and topically drawing further back to Seattle’s original rockstars the Sonics. Like the Sonics debut 45 “The Witch” did for 1964, in 2011 with their self-titled debut out on Sarathan Records My Goodness are setting a high bar for local rock.

The unglamorous portraits of the young and stupid painted in My Goodness is a refreshing and sometimes ugly sight. Starting off the record is a triad of do-wrong songs “Blackout Baby,” “Cmon Doll” and “Cold Feet Killer.” All portray the shitty moment where object of affection transitions to an object of scorn. On this record the object of affection is in every case undeniably a woman. It isn’t entirely happy material and the knife edge of Schneider’s guitar tells that tale as much as the lyrics. Out of that world populated with party weary souls searching for escape, conniving women, and steadier relationships with a bottles than people “Let Me Free” captures a rare sober moment as our protagonist begs “I keep this mess going strong, for that alone come please help me.” Immediately following on “I’ve Got A Notion” the frustration reaches a boil as Schneider screams “Did you find another lover? One that’ll treat you nice? I could have kept them all believin’, that you’d found your Mr. Right.” This is the sound of crashing breakers of testosterone as the tide comes in. Schneider’s words and delivery progress later in the record toward contemplations, but the heat and the raw ‘blues’ in his voice never completely dissipates.

Throughout Schneider’s vocal delivery is gritty and unaffected and his muscular guitar slashes through Jacobsen’s hurricane of cymbals, floor toms and bass drum. For this record alone Jacobsen deserves a nod for 2011′s best local drumming performance; he’s so big, you could be forgiven for thinking this band has two drummers per current trends. Uh-uh. This is just one guitar and one drummer. One of the biggest selling bands in America right now prove it a robust formula, and it’s an arrangement that’s certainly working for My Goodness.

December 22, 2011

Our Favorite Photos of 2011: Slack Fest

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American Girls at Slack Fest ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

The things we would do to relive this summer’s return of Slack Fest are obscene. For now, these photos will have to do.

My Goodness at Slack Fest ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Dancers at Slack Fest ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

Maldives Finale at Slack Fest ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

December 14, 2011

Abbey’s Favorite (Almost Entirely Local) Songs of 2011

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Kelli Schaefer ::: photo by Dylan Priest

 

 

Having fallen deep down a used-vinyl sized hole this year, I managed to completely miss most of the national blog buzz bands and mp3s making the press release copy&paste rounds of 2011, those things that so often fill end of the year lists. But considering the immense output from our little corner of the country, I don’t feel I suffered or starved for new songs to keep me company. These are the forty songs from 2011 that were my soundtrack and that I played on repeat. I’m not bold enough to say they are the best songs of 2011, but they are my favorites.

While this list is not enumerated, my very favorite song of the year, Kelli Schaefer’s heart-aching-to-the-point-of-breaking “Gone in Love,” is at the top with some other absolute favorites. “Gone in Love” is a song that has not lost its emotional wallop despite hundreds of listens and many live performances over the last 12 months. And every time I see Kelli sing it, I can’t stop my chin from quivering. “Gone in Love” isn’t just one of my favorite songs of 2011, it is one of my favorite songs.

That’s hardly true for every song on this list. Every year has its one-hit wonder and I have no shame in saying I played the hell out of 2011′s. Whether its a song that stays with you for decades or a song you only blast until the end of the year, I hope you might discover a new favorite of your own by taking a listen to some of mine.

 

 

“Gone in Love” – Kelli Schaefer “Before the Night is Gone” – Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers “Montezuma” – Fleet Foxes “Letters” – Lemolo “I’m Not Leaving” – Big Sur

“I Found You” – Alabama Shakes “I’m Losing Myself” – Robin Pecknold / Edward Droste | download “Father’s Clothes” – Grand Hallway “Leaves, Trees, Forest” > “Rows of Houses” – Dan Mangan “Boys” – Bryan John Appleby

“The Round” (From the Basement) – Pickwick “Park” – Radiation City “Twins” – Gem Club | download “Mute” – Joshua Morrison “My Silver Hand” – Case Studies | download

The rest of my favorite (almost completely local) songs of 2011 (more…)

August 26, 2011

Abbey’s Bumbershoot Schedule and Three Scheduling Dilemmas Solved

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Sharon Van Etten ::: photo by Josh Lovseth

It’s hard to believe that Bumbershoot is just next week. Heralding the end of Seattle summer, Bumbershoot 2011 seems to be coming just when summer decided to say “hi” and I’m nowhere near ready to part ways. But if I’m going to have to say farewell, at least I can do so after a festival full of favorites, local and national alike.

You can head to the Bumbershoot site to make your own schedule, but here’s what my personal schedule is going to look like next weekend and the three greatest scheduling dilemmas I faced, with handy resolution.

Pickwick ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

Saturday

12:00 – Campfire OK (Fountain Lawn Stage) or Shabazz Palaces (KEXP’s Music Lounge) or Tomten (EMP Level 3 Stage) 1:30 – Craft Spells (Fountain Lawn) 2:15 – Champagne Champagne (Fisher Green Stage) 2:45 – Red Fang (Exhibition Hall Stage) 3:00 – Shelby Earl (EMP Level 3 Stage) 5:15 – Why Nerds? Why Old Timey? Why Now? (Words & Ideas Stage) 5:45 – Shabazz Palaces (Fisher Green Stage) 6:00 – Pickwick (EMP Level 3 Stage) or Beat Connection (EMP Decibel Stage) 6:45 – Vetiver (Fountain Lawn Stage) 7:30 – Little Dragon (Fisher Green Stage) 8:30 – Starfucker (Fountain Lawn Stage) 9:30 – Mavis Staples (Mural Amphitheater) 10:00 – Bumbershoot After Dark

The great debate of Saturday: Shabazz vs. Pickwick vs. Beat Connection:

Once you get over the existential debate as to how to start your Bumbershoot (Campfire OK vs. Shabazz Palaces in the KEXP Lounge vs. Tomten), the greatest scheduling dilemma on Saturday comes right around dinner time when you’ll have to choose between three of Seattle’s most buzzed about and beloved bands: Shabazz Palaces (5:45 at the Fisher Green), Pickwick (6:00pm at EMP Level 3 Stage) and Beat Connection (6:00, EMP Decibel Stage). Normally, I’d say catch the first 15 of Shabazz before bee-lining it to the EMP to have whatever dance party you most desire: soul or electro.

Unfortunately, if you want to catch any of Pickwick’s set in one of the smallest stages on the Bumbershoot grounds, you’re gonna have to get there early. So that’s what I recommend you do … if you can’t get in, you can head down stairs and still get your dance on with Beat Connection or head out the The Fisher Green and get elevated with Shabazz.

(more…)

July 12, 2011

The 5th (Sorta Semi-Annual) Slack Fest

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Kevin Large of American Girls

American Girls at Slack Fest 2011 ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons

How do you get a eight of Seattle’s best rock bands all on the same bill on the same day? You take them to Stanwood. Stanwood? Yes, Stanwood. Far enough from anywhere to trigger a proximity clause problems, but close enough to where it can still be just a day trip.

It’s long after midnight as I stare into a bonfire I’d seen brought to life by an honest-to-god flamethrower. To my right, two fellows are vigorously debating the veracity of ones claim of the largest number of unidentified flying objects to have been seen at a time. “Fifteen?” “Fifteen.” “Fifteen?” “I’m telling you! Fifteen!” Off to my left in the beer garden, the kegs are finally being retired though the music on stage has been done for hours. Just behind me, Moondoggie Jon Pontrello has started up the music again by the bonfire, quietly passing the guitar and banjo around. As he finishes a song, he changes position and loses balance, tumbling backwards into a bed of discarded Rainier cans. Righting himself, he doesn’t miss a beat and immediately begins another song. Now that “Stripper Pole Chris” has given up on his megaphone-led version “Flea Fly Flow Mosquito!” and self-promotional public service announcements about an upcoming race at the mud track, quiet is finally setting in at the Slime Dog Raceway, home to the 5th semi-annual Slack Fest.

The day kicked off at the center of the raceway under sunny skies with part-time Seattlite Jack Wilson sounding as good as I’ve ever heard him. Lately Jack’s been pursuing his craft in Austin, and the town Willie calls home has obviously been sinking in. The Golden Blondes, made up of no actual blondes, launched us into the electric portion of the Fest with some hangover humor, a fitting topic for a Rainier-fueled afternoon. Joined by their band dog, Whalebones stepped on the flatbed stage just as the heat of the day was beginning to make me regret my choice of a black t-shirt (worn in solidarity with Don Slack who seems to have a different black band t-shirt for every day of the year) and making others head for the swimming nook in the shade right alongside the Stilaguamish River. Joseph Giant, now seven men strong, found frontman Joe Syverson at the helm of a group no longer just playing songs, but making music that stands outside of anything else being done in the Northwest. This kind of a mature take on pop that’s both inventive and works simply is hard to find anywhere right now (though Stephen Merritt might have you thinking otherwise).

Wait, let me back up. Yes, you heard me right. Swimming nook. And going back to your tent as you please. Instead of legions of perimeter security with orders to only say “No” to every question, adults were treated as adults. Much like sibling festival Doe Bay Fest (who is put on by the same people, Artist Home Booking), Slack Fest attendees were allowed to come and go as they pleased to a directly adjacent camping area where we had setup a tent less than 100 yards from the stage. With most people were half the distance we were, to take a youngster (or yourself) back for a nap or spot of shade was as trivial as it should always be for an all day event like this. Though we are a sun-starved people in the Northwest, a full day in unsheltered sun is still probably more than most people want or are prepared to endure and the close and open campsite offered much needed shade and respite for Rainier naps.

Though every band played hard, My Goodness was unquestionably the band that turned the most heads. “How can this be just two people?” was the oft repeated question. Still making a name for themselves, Slack Fest was an unusual opportunity for them (and every other band) to do just that in front of some of our area’s current most notable bands, as well as the music fans die-hard enough to make the short trek north. Earlier this year for City Arts Best new Bands Poll, where they were tied for #3 with Ravenna Woods, behind the Head and the Heart (#1) and Campfire OK (#2), I wrote that My Goodness has “become the standard against which I’m measuring everyone else doing rock in Seattle.” Six months into 2011, a stellar debut release, and Slack Fest to influence me has done nothing to change my feeling on that. They’ve set a new pace and are keeping it.

As the light begins to turn golden, American Girls are the next best thing to Tom Petty himself. Overlooking the flatbed truck stage an American Flag unfurls with the wind. Two bald eagles soared overhead. Everything about it screamed ALL-AMERICAN. Surely, Tom Petty songs were made for exactly this moment.

If anywhere was the place to draw out your solo’s Slack Fest is that place, and headliners The Maldives and The Moondoggies obliged that sentiment mightily. Though they’ve got a whole new record practically in the bag, The Maldives pulled out just about every old long-burner they had. “The Time Is Right Now,” “Blood Relations,” and “Blood on the Highway” all got the Slack treatment. The Moondoggies capped the night with a foot-stompin’ dance-party at the foot of the flatbed that would eventually overflow over the fence of the beer garden. As headliners they had the freedom to do as Moondoggies do and play until they get shut down, and starting out with a slew of new songs built with an augmented lineup, they did just that from sunset into the moonlight, the race track and stage lit only by the blinking of the kid controlled stoplight overlooking the starting line. With the aforementioned Pontrello now a capable second on rhythm guitar, birthday boy Kevin Murphy is free to do what he does best. Instead of sneaking in hooks where he has the time, he’s now weaving hook into hook into hook.

It’s not a stretch to say that actually embodied in the laid-back, hard rocking spirit of Slack Fest is it’s namesake, inspiration and MC, Don Slack himself. Aside from his duties at KEXP, Don is a die-hard supporter of local music, so much so that you will see him out until the sun comes up night-after-night. He lives his support for his favorite bands, often making appearances at multiple shows a night to spread his love. Not because he’s obligated to be there by any of the band’s he loves so much, but because among the action is where he wants to be. These are those bands. A band is a moment, and Don Slack lives to appreciate each moment. Slack Fest was the living, breathing, head-banging, dancing, whiskey swilling incarnation of that moment for us all. It might make the next morning a little rough, but it made for one hell of a party.

Slack Heaven

Slack and his Truck with the Moondoggies ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth

To see lots more Slack Fest photos … (more…)

July 6, 2011

Win Tickets to Slack Fest, See The Moondoggies, My Goodness, The Maldives & More

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The Maldives at Slack Fest ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

[COI alert: Slack Fest has paid me to help with press, but as you can tell by the line-up I'd be excited for and writing about Slack Fest were that not the case.]

Rock’n'Roll festivals and racetracks don’t have the best, um, track record.

But unlike Altamont, which Jerry Garcia described as “a nice day in hell,” Slack Fest promises to be 100% less stabby and it has all the makings for the party of the summer. With a forecast of 70 degrees and sunny, eight of the best local rock bands scheduled to take the flatbed truck stage, the promise of after-hours bonfire jams and a few kegs of Vitamin R — Slack Fest is worth taking the rock’n'roll on a race track risk. Featuring sets from local favorites The Moondoggies, The Maldives, My Goodness, Joseph Giant, Whalebones, Golden Blondes, Jack Wilson and a sure to be raucous sing along to American Girls, all in a way you’ve never seen them before (unless you caught The ‘Doggies and the ‘Dives at the last Slack Fest) — this is a day you’ll be spending all summer trying to remember.

Two lucky readers and their friends will be catching Slack Fest this Saturday for free. Just leave a comment and we’ll pick a lucky winner at noon on Thursday.

June 17, 2011

KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural Summer Line-Up

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Since the weather’s not cooperating, we’re going to have to take cues from other places to remind us it is, in fact, summer. Things like a partial peek at KEXP’s always excellent free summer concert series at the Mural Amphitheater during the month of August.

There’s lots of Sound on the Sound favorites on the list – Pickwick, The Maldives, Ravenna Woods, Drew Grow & the Pastors’ Wives – but its the August 19th, all rock line-up that has me most excited. Headlining will be my favorite discovery of Sasquatch, Vancouver BC’s Black Mountain with two of the most solid rock bands in town, My Goodness and Whalebones, lending their support. Whether you’re in the front row (fingers crossed for a mosh pit) with me or in the very back of the beer garden, that’s a bill you’ll want to bring your ear plugs for.

August 5 – The Maldives, Hey Marseilles, Black Whales

August 6 – KEXP’s Summer BBQ: Fool’s Gold, Capsula, Virgin Islands, Mad Rad

August 12 – Seapony, Gold Leaves, Math and Physics Club

August 19 – Black Mountain, My Goodness, Whalebones

August 26 – No Depression Presents: Shane Tutmarc, Pickwick, Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives, Ravenna Woods

Tip of the Hat to SSG Music for the line-up.

June 8, 2011

My Most Played: May 2011

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Lemolo – “Letters” (live at KEXP) Dave Bazan – Strange Negotiations (especially “People“) My Goodness – s/t and Live at KEXP Radiation City – The Hands That Take You Case Studies – “My Silver Hand” Kevin Murphy – “The Grieving KindGold Leaves Grand Hallway – “North Cascades” Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – Dirty Radio Sonny Smith’s 100 Records Volume 2: I Miss The Jams