1. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
2. Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers – Starlight Hotel
3. Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming
4. Dolorean – The Unfazed
5. Bryan John Appleby – Fire on the Vine
6. Gardens & Villa – s/t
7. Other Lives – Tamer Animals
8. Radiation City – The Hands That Take You
9. Alabama Shakes – s/t EP
10 (tie). Quiet Life – Big Green
10 (tie). Gem Club – Breakers
My Favorite Musical Moments of 2011
1. Mavis Staples Singing “The Weight,” “You Are Not Alone” and “Freedom Highway” back-to-back-to-back at Bumbershoot
Mavis Staples at Bumbershoot ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
2. Kelli Schaefer and Her Mom Singing “Gone in Love” at Cathedrals II
Kelli Schaefer and Mom ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
3. Being Front Row for Charles Bradley at the Aladdin Theater During MFNW
Charles Bradley ::: iphone photo by Abbey Simmons
4. Pickwick Performing (and performing with Pickwick) at our 5th Anniversary Show
5. Slack Fest (all of it)
Whalebones at Slack Fest ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
My Favorite Videos of 2011:
My Favorite Thing I Forgot to Include on the Appropriate Best of List: New Carissa’s Wierd
These new Carissa’s Wierd and the subsequent 7” out on Hardly Art this year, definitely should have been on both my favorite songs and favorite EPs / 7” / cassette of the year list, but absolutely slipped my mind. This is not acceptable.
For me, large music festivals are great for two reasons: I see local favorites on gigantic stages and I get to discover new non-local bands I probably wouldn’t ever see outside of a festival setting. And as thrilling as it was to see The Head and The Heart on the main stage or watch Macklemore control a crowd of thousands, my favorite sets of Sasquatch this year came from three bands I’d never seen or heard before and whose records I came home and purchased immediately: Black Mountain, Cotton Jones and Other Lives.
BLACK MOUNTAIN – Vancouver, BC
Black Mountain ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
The Sasquatch band that had me asking, “where have you been my whole life?” answered politely, in Canadian clip. “Good afternoon Sasquatch,” they formally greeted the crowd, “we’re Black Mountain. We’re from Vancouver, that’s in B.C.” But lest you think this is another twang-tinged folk band (those come later), you’re wrong. Black Mountain is a classic stoner rock band, marrying powerful female vocals like Jefferson Airplane with Deep Purple through-a-Led-Zeppelin-lens groove. Though she stood meekly as her band-mates shredded on riffs as sharp and stoney as a knife hit, there’s nothing delicate or soft-spoken about Amber Webber’s singing and her powerhouse vocal performance left me mouth agape on the Sasquatch lawn. Had I been imbibing on fungus, as Black Mountain’s grooves all but beg your brain to do, you would not have been able to convince me we weren’t watching Grace Slick’s reincarnation wailing on 2011′s version of “White Rabbit.”
Powerful, but polite. Psychedelic without getting weird. Retro without sounding tired. Black Mountain’s sexy stoner grooves took me on a trip I’m not wholly certain was legal. Unlike the bad shit you picked up in the parking lot that one time, this is a trip you want to relive and thanks to NPR’s recording of their Sasquatch set, you can.
COTTON JONES – Cumberland, Maryland
Cotton Jones ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
Cotton Jones was paired against Typhoon on a Sunday morning in a battle of bands I’ve been told I will adore, but that had never grabbed me. And Cotton Jones, playing to a small but appreciative crowd not much larger than the band Typhoon itself, won that fight so handily it felt like it might have been fixed. Cotton Jones might have had a small crowd, but they were fervent in their love, calling out requests and seeming to know every word. I sat on the hilly sidelines, watching as couples two-stepped and hippie slow-danced together to the band’s slow-burning, country soul. The crowd, much like the band’s sound itself, was an even mix of tie-dye and cowboy boots.
Cotton Jones writes songs for road trips with the windows down, rolling on dusty back roads. Hazy summer songs, new country soul classics and tie-dyed twang with a trombone. It should come as no surprise, Tall Hours In The Glowstream was the first record I picked up after I crossed the mountains.
Here’s the song I’ve had stuck in my head since their Sasquatch set:
Cotton Jones ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
Cotton Jones ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
OTHER LIVES – Stillwater, Oklahoma
Other Lives ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
Other Lives is a band made of talented multi-instrumentalists. Five musicians held down at least 10 instruments from cello to trumpet in a soft set that featured moody ballads reminiscent of both Radiohead’s ghostly strings and the hymnal harmonies of the Fleet Foxes with a touch of Damien Jurado’s lyrical sinisterness. Their song “For 12′s” string introduction is so spot-on “How to Disappear Completely,” I thought for the first few moments it had to be a cover. But then the quiet gallop of hand drumming starts and the guitar riff takes a turn towards the cinematic American West. Other Lives paint wistful Western landscapes with their music, but despite sounding and looking like Seattle archetypes, they hail from Stillwater, Oklahoma. While a festival setting was a less than ideal introduction to Other Lives, this is music to be listened to in enclosed spaces like your headphones or in a small club in the shadows of dim stage lights, their brooding and beautiful songs managed in their quietness to rise above the antics of countless other Sasquatch acts and tamely steal my heart.
You can stream the band’s brand new album Tamer Animals below and after a listen I predict many of you, like me, will be running out to buy it.
It appears that we have collectively left our brains somewhere East of the mountains and while we’re awaiting their return from Ellensburg, we thought it was time we shared some daily photos from Sasquatch.
There is no question that day three of Sasquatch for us was all about Monotonix’ set, their last set in the U.S. for a while before heading back across the Atlantic to release a new record. Grizzly Bear’s main stage set came in a close second. I also had the privilege sneak in an interview and a Gorge portrait with Hardly Art’s the Pica Beats after their longish very good set at the Yeti stage, so look for that later today. We ended the day with Girl Talk’s non-stop dance party, which of course jumped off an expansive conversation on the legitimacy of sampling, legally and as an artistic device. See all of our day three pictures at our flickr page.
Other Lives ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
The Pica Beats ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
The Pica Beats ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Black Moth Super Rainbow ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons
I’ve got a strange obsession with hair and rock n’ roll or maybe just more generally hair and popular music. I’m currently testing the theory that by growing longer hair I may in fact also be increasing my aptitude for rocking. Looking through history one finds the association of long hair and rocking hard is strong, though I’ve yet to come to a firm conclusion based on my own short experience.
Up here in the Northwest it seems we may have also taken that theory a whole ‘nother step by deciding to now bundle our mana in our beards, or at the very least our facial hair. (It’s just that much closer to our hearts I guess.) Among the latest crop of musicians who are easily identifiable with the new popular Seattle sound are beard supporters aplenty. Band of Horses and Grand Archives practically started this whole beard rock thing. Common Market. The Maldives. The Moondoggies. Fleet Foxes. The Dutchess and the Duke. The Cave Singers. Aqueduct. Throw Me the Statue. David Bazan. The list goes on. And the baby-facers? We’ll the ladies I suppose, but even the Sera Cahoone band has it’s own beardo and fair share of legit mustaches.
To drive my point home I thought I’d evaluate a few short match-ups of artists appearing at Sasquatch in this column to determine: Is Seattle the beardiest of them all? In my quest to weigh each band equally I’ll be asking myself primarily this question: which band most embodies the spirit of beardedness? Diversity, quantity (how many members), size and overall aesthetic are all factors that go into determining a winner.
To set the stage a little bit more, let’s delve a little deeper into just how serious we take our beards up here in the northwest. Before Sasquatch was to even happen, two local party loving hip hop groups Mad Rad and Champagne Champagne, who each sport a notably bearded member agreed to a one on one basketball challenge where the loser would have to lose the beard before their Sasquatch appearance. I checked in with Mad Rad’s Terry Radjaw today to learn the results, and they’ve decided to make more of an event out of it, moving the showdown to later in the summer, to happen at the Funhouse on July 24. To get warmed up, let’s start with their virtual beard-off…
Real Life Local Beard Off
Champagne Champagne (SEA) | myspace |
Noon Saturday May 23 at the Yeti Stage
Mad Rad (SEA) | myspace |
Noon Sunday May 24 at the Yeti Stage
Winner: Champagne Champagne.
While we won’t venture a guess as to the eventual winner of the basketball challenge, we’ve got to say as far as beardedness goes, Thomas of Champagne Champagne is the clear winner. Thickness, face coverage and the fact that his beard’s style is unified with his hair style make him a model member of the beard brigade. Terry Radjaw gets props for overall commitment, but let’s be real here: a beard without a properly developed upper lip is hardly a beard at all.
For the other festival match-ups I’ve tried to match similarly constructed bands into various logical categories:
Main Stage Veterans
Murder City Devils (SEA) | myspace |
5:20pm on Sunday May 24 at the Main Stage
TV On the Radio (NY) | myspace |
6:35pm on Sunday May 24 at the Main Stage
Winner: Murder City Devils.
These two heavyweights play the mainstage one right after another, so you’ll easily be able to judge for yourself who the winner is of this one. We will always give props where they are due: Kipp Malone’s beard is impressive. Very impressive. But the Murder City Devils aren’t exactly slouches either. You’ve got a Spencer Moody’s “backwoods crazy” beard counterpointed by bassist (and Cave Singer) Derek Fudesco’s typical well groomed Seattle style. It’s a one-two high-low punch combo that’s stood the test of time. What really put this band over the top though is their roadie Gabe. Have you seen his beard lately? He could practically win this competition single-handed. (Or maybe single-bearded?)
Fleet Foxes ::: Photo by Josh
Expansive Melodies and Harmonies
Fleet Foxes (SEA) | myspace |
4:45pm Monday May 25 at the Main Stage
Other Lives (TN) | myspace |
12:35pm Monday May 25 at the Wookie Stage
Winner: Fleet Foxes.
Other Lives singer Jesse Tabish leads an impressive enough band that they’ve been asked to open for the Decemberists for a few Oregon stops in the coming days, and his beard is no minor effort let me tell you. Yet Seattle’s Fleet Foxes sport two of Seattle’s most notable and bushy beards in Robin Pecknold and drummer Josh Tillman, while the whole band at times supports a total of four beards on stage at once. Even if Fleet Foxes wasn’t the biggest band in the world right now, in this competition what band could compete with that?
Northwest Head To Head
The Dutchess and the Duke (SEA) | myspace |
4:20pm Monday May 25 at the Yeti Stage
Horse Feathers (PDX) | myspace |
2:10pm Monday May 25 at the Yeti Stage
Winner: The Dutchess and the Duke.
I thought this match-up was a very good one and a hard one to tease out a winner. Neither band uses a drum, both are pretty acoustic, and both have a primary female member. Both also have front-men with beards. We had to include another beard from the Northwest to properly be able to judge if Seattle was really the place, or if it was just Northwest thing in general. You might call Horse Feathers’ Justin Ringle the model Portlandian Beardo: sensitive, acoustic, and thoughtful. D&D are those things too. What puts the The Dutchess and the Duke on top in this is the overall sense of unreserved fun. A happy beard always wins over a frowny beard in my book.
After laying it out like this, it seems pretty clear that Seattle is the beardedest of them all. Though I suppose luckily for our locals God wasn’t a player in any of these head-to-heads. If Matisyahu had been attending Sasquatch, things might look much different…
The Lonely H have just announced a release date for their new album titled Concrete Class. Every ten days until the release date of June 10, the band will be posting a new song from the album on their myspace page.
A couple weeks ago, on the same day I notedthe Cave Singers had posted a new song, a little bit later that day the band blogged that their new album has a release date of August 18.
Kaylee Coleblogged that she is working on a new “secret project” with Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, but it will “be very different than what you currently hear on my myspace.”
Alex Brown Church of Sea Wolf has announced he’s headed to the studio with Mike Mogis, master producer, engineer and musician of Bright Eyes fame later this April. If all goes well a new Sea Wolf album will be available come September.
Albums out today we recommend considering for your collection include:
If there was any doubt in my mind that a good festival showing for a fairly new band would garner a nearly capacity crowd at the nearest large city 7 months later, it was laid to rest last Friday when the Delta Spirit rolled through town on their first headlining tour to the Tractor Tavern. As I arrived the opening band Dawes was just finishing up to an already full venue and I felt lucky to be let in.
Tour-mates Other Lives first full length won’t be released until March, but they’ve already got an impressive batch of songs highly evocative of the British rock sound. From Bowie to Doves to Radiohead to a host of others from the Isles, they’re a grab bag of modern styles. Incorporating a cello and piano (and some times a violin) gives them the starting elements of an orchestra and they milk that sound it for all it’s worth; this is sophisticated pop to be sure. On a personal note, I’d probably be really into this band if the songs didn’t tend to progress so slowly on a consistent basis. Even so, I’m thinking they’re onto something.
When I caught the last few songs of their set at Sasquatch, the Delta Spirit defied the swirling winds of the high ground stage and sounded rocking and great. Without question it made a difference in the attendance for their return to Seattle; I saw more than one dude sporting his festival memorabilia. Visibly excited at the turnout, the band was eager to please and entertain, and taking up the tempo a notch seemed to succeed thanks to an equally revved up Friday night crowd.