April 26, 2012

Neighbors John in Babeland

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Full disclosure. I hate indie garage lo-fi pop stuff.

I’ve been writing for this website for almost three years and the only music styling I’ve taken more cheap-shots at than the aforementioned genre is of the “I’m a male Seattle singer/songwriter who happens to have a beard” folk variety.

Nobody likes an over-saturated market, regardless of the product. Yes, I just described your “artistic achievements” as a commercial enterprise. If that makes you feel dirty then maybe it’s time for a hot shower complete with tooth and nail introspection. Yes, you’re allowed to include a shower beer in that experience but only after 4pm PST.

Before you do that, let me tell you about NeighborsJohn in Babeland (Released on Lost Sound Tapes)

This is an album by all accounts I’m supposed to be vehemently against. I’m supposed to tell you that their songs sound like every other jangly indie pop song. I’m supposed to tell you that I look forward to the day when Stephen Malkmus lawyers hand Neighbors “cease and desist” order, telling band members to stop trying to hijacking his life. I’m supposed to tell you that Brooklyn probably already has enough of these kind of bands (Neighbors doesn’t do the fake Afro-rhythm Paul Simon thing though) and there’s no need for another one.

But I won’t, because I can’t.

This is the most interesting “garage pop” album I’ve heard in quite some time. From the slow waltz and down on bended knee feel of “If I Were Good” to the disjointed horns and festive atmosphere of “Fireworks,” to the quirky and appropriate “La la la’s” of “Black Angel.” That’s not even mentioning “All United Grocery,”  which is akin to a spontaneous Pete and Pete dance-fest after you have tired of building a giant fort using blankets, chairs and boxes you found hiding in a dusty storage room. This is so good that I’m reconsidering my absolute hatred for music released in tape form. “Reconsidering” being the operative word.

If you can appreciate the music of Pavement, North of America (Think the attitude, not the songwriting. NoA is too mathy.) Sebadoh and The Pharmacy, I think you can get into this.

Neighbors play their CD album tape release show this Saturday at the Josephine with Make-up Monsters, Knife Hits and Punishment. The show starts at 8pm.

November 9, 2011

The Last Show at Healthy Times Fun Club

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Heatwarmer ::: photo courtesy of Robbie Augsperger


I hate saying goodbyes. I always have. Whenever I have to leave somewhere (especially if it’s crowded), I usually don’t even say anything. I just walk out. Nobody will notice. Why? Because there are billions and billions of people on this possibly overcrowded planet. When you leave, someone will take your place soon enough. The world does not stop just because you are transferring your neurons and atoms to a different location. You might be the protagonist (or antagonist in my case) in your own story but you’re an insignificant detail in the plot line of someone else.

Gentle readers, can you count how many venues there are in Seattle? There’s more than you think but not nearly as many as there were, not nearly as many as there should be. It’s with great sadness that tonight we say goodbye to Healthy Times Fun Club. A place that will never be replaced, no matter how many DIY venues might pop in other locations around this city.

Some of you never made the journey to Healthy Fun Times and I thumb my nose in your general direction and I lament at the memories that you never made. Personally I know such sorrows because I missed Lightning Bolt this past April. My ears have no regrets but I possess a heart that sinks from tremors never felt and a melee unseen. I remember the first show I saw at Healthy Times. It featured two “defunct” band that I miss greatly. The Whore Moans and The Hands rocked my newly relocated socks off. I remember playing the tambourine at one point and joyously collapsing to “Wall of a Song” (I miss you more than I miss my first golden retriever…OK, that’s not true Misty! It’s not! It’s a tie. All Dogs Go To Heaven) because I knew I had made the proper, hasty decision to cowardly flee from my former life to emancipate myself from post-graduate depression in my parent’s basement. Go west young man, become a pioneer of the unknown.

Tonight, there will be four bands performing the last rites at Healthy Times Fun Club. Two of them I can speak on, the others will remain an unknown surprise, just in case you decide to pay your respects before the Fun Club goes to DIY heaven (where it will join Camp Nowhere and countless other now defunct Seattle show spaces).

Neighbors will be in attendance, grasping a nail in one hand and a hammer in the other. Coffins don’t close on their own you know. Neighbors play “that stuff,” meaning that they play indie rock from a forgotten time (they call it the 1990′s). When indie rock was exactly how the name sounded and it could not be confused with crap like Mumford and Sons and other artists I won’t name because your parents might read this and think it’s cool to download such nonsense via ITunes. Yes, I just went there. It’s not my fault the people that are responsible for your creation like landfill fodder. Neighbors are much more enjoyable than your real life neighbor. I know that’s true in my case (weirdo, has an obsession with sweeping his porch stairs and washing his Jetta — I think he has a body farm in his basement).

Heatwarmer is easily one of the most under-rated bands in Seattle. I wish they’d play out more often because they are the only band of its kind that exist in the Emerald City. In other words, they use an electric woodwind instrument and have jazzy time signatures that make most musicians seem amateurish at best. I’m aware that members of this band have other musical projects that they are involved in, BUT THAT’S NO EXCUSE. In a perfect world, Heatwarmer would play at least twice a month and I’d be at all their shows…and so would you. Well, not if I don’t like you.

Tonight we dine on turtle soup Put your ears where your heart should be, Seattle Music lovers that are stricken with naivete. It’s not too late to make this your first visit to Healthy Times Fun Club. However, if you try to pay your respects tomorrow, it will be too late.

The show starts at 9pm. Punishment and Slashed Tires will be there shoveling dirt as well.

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…)

May 8, 2011

Sound on the Sound Mailbag (Mother’s Day Edition)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

You probably didn’t know this, but I keep a diary mailbag for all Sound on the Sound’s readers. When your real-life friends aren’t enough, when your family has decided that you are a racing horse with a broken leg, when your parole officer simply “doesn’t have time for this emotional shit,” you come to me. Usually your cries for help get lost in the trillions of press releases I get about bands I don’t care about. However, every once in a while, I will take time out of my busy schedule to put a star next to your e-mail in my Gmail account. Then many days later, I will resurrect your problems and put a metaphorical band-aid on all your ouchies. I do this because I want you to sleep with me it’s been a long winter and I don’t want to inspire anymore depressed singer/songwriters. I’m hoping if I cheer enough people up, we can eliminate contrived folk music, together. Let’s go to the mailbag….

Dear Phil,

My mother is really into BOAT’s latest album Dress Like Your Idols. She’s always blasting it in front of my friends, while she’s force-feeding our cat anxiety pills and when she does P90x workouts. I’m a huge fan of BOAT but I’m afraid if my mother keeps on getting down with this “sloppy guitar pop” that I will grow to hate BOAT. I blame my sentiment on that whole “You Can’t Like What Your Parents Like” teenager syndrome. What should I do?

- Forever in Armitron (Tacoma, Wa.)

Dear Forever,

I totally understand what you are saying. When I was growing up I was really into Tony Orlando and Dawn. My love for Tony and his hair was so intense that I actually developed a rare childhood disorder where I went around tying yellow ribbons on every tree I could see. My mother ruined it by becoming a bigger Dawn fanatic that I could ever dream of. What you need is an alternative. Are you familiar with Neighbors? They don’t sound like BOAT, but they are cool, just like BOAT. You like Stephen Malkmus right? Well, unfortunately for you, he’s not in this band. Nevertheless, if Mr. Malkmus ever listened to Neighbors, I bet he’d approve.

Dear Phil,

My parents just recently got divorced and I’m having trouble dealing with it. To make matters worse, my mother’s main reason for filing for divorce? She wants to be “hood rich.” She’s tired of tangible wealth, valuable assets and a good credit score. She wants to be with a man, who doesn’t mind stabbing another man, when it comes down to who is getting stuck with the bill at Denny’s. Where can I find such a man?

- Searching for Chris Brown (Tukwila, Wa.)

Dear Searching,

Good grief, your mother sounds like a psycho hosebeast pretty unreasonable woman. I don’t think she wants a man with a felony on his record. I am under the impression that your mother is looking for some adventure. After you take her out for brunch today, you should seriously consider taking her to Nectar tonight for Raekwon and Fatal Lucciauno. Are you going to find a felon there? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that Raekwon put out one of the most iconic hip-hop records of all-time (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx) and that Fatal has been a Seattle hip-hop mainstay for as long as I can remember. Tickets are $20 and the doors open at 8pm. Don’t forget that you’re the one paying for the tickets! There’s a place in hell just for you if you let your mother foot the bill on Mother’s Day!

ps – If the bitch wants doubles, buy her doubles!

Dear Phil,

I recently just got engaged to the most wonderful woman in the entire world. My only problem is that my wife-to-be has a mother that really likes Steve Miller Band. It wouldn’t be that bad if she were only into Fly Like An Eagle, but she never stops playing Side A of Abracadabra! It’s killing me. I don’t want to call off the engagement but I’m seriously considering washing my hands of all this nonsense, calling up an ex-girlfriend I don’t even like, knocking her up, doing the honorable thing and marrying her, rearing some children, working a job that I hate, becoming addicted to booze and Viagra cocktails, searching for my spirit animal, thinking about moving to Hollywood… [letter continues for another 600 words..too long to publish]

- The Joker (Seattle, Wa.)

Dear Joker,

Settle down man, I am not a miracle worker. I can’t help you find your spirit animal.  What I can do is give the best possible advice on getting your future mother-in-law to eliminate her Steve Miller Band fetish. Seriously though, why Abracadabra? This is a code red. We’re going to have to bring out the big guns. You need to let this woman know that you have a heart that beats. It’s 2011 and we need to podcast your intentions. My advice, soften her up a little bit with some John Heart Jackie, Smokey Brights, Youth Rescue Mission and Lemolo. I officially endorse all four of those acts. In fact, that Youth Rescue Mission record is absolutely crushing my soul right now. It’s so good. However, you don’t want said mother-in-law to think you’re a complete pussy that you are eager to follow in the footsteps of Chris Carrabba and/or Morrisey. You’ve got to show the mother of your future wife that you don’t mind catching an assault charge if someone looks at your old lady the wrong way. What better way to illustrate this than by giving her some Carbomb, Racebannon, Wizard Rifle and Owen Hart tracks? You want to show that you’re Prince Valiant and can protect your woman? Don’t buy a gun, create an effective podcast that will win the heart of your lover’s mother. Last but not least, you don’t want to come off as a man of extremes. Nothing is scarier than a man who hides his emotions like a real fucking man can’t control his emotions. You need to include some OCnotes, Battlestations and Gun Outfit in that podcast as well. Let her know that just because you’re an overgrown man-child that can’t fucking deal reality sometimes, at least you think critically about the fact that you can’t get your shit together.

Keep those emails coming. Until next time…