You know what’s better than records? Almost nothing. You know what’s better than coffee? Almost nothing. When you combine two of our favorite things, you get Porchlight Coffee and Records, a neighborhood coffee shop, record store and record label. In the past, Porchlight has released vinyl from Sound on the Sound favorites Grand Hallway and Cotton Jones. Today they’re adding a new name and gem to their roster: Black Hills, a Seattle super group of sorts, bringing together members of Minus the Bear, the Lonely Forest, Argo and The Quiet Ones.
“Sterile Eyes,” the A-side of the band’s debut 7”, which we’re proud to premiere today, is a perfect companion for Seattle winter weather; with its 3:30pm “sunsets,” 500 shades of gray and blustery winds. Its the type of song you want to cozy up to by your lonesome, with only your turntable and something strong to drink or smoke to keep you company. Its sleepy like the Seattle sun that doesn’t rise for four months, yet surprisingly sweet, thanks to hooky harmonies, a swelling bridge and a rich ’60s guitar tone which anchors the entire song. It does exactly what a 7” is meant to do — make us want to hear more.
Take a listen for yourself:
The band is performing next Saturday (December 22nd) at the Comet with Black Whales.
The Lonely Forest are steadily touring and establishing themselves as representing the new Seattle sound outside of Seattle, and is as close to the status of “all-ages institution” in Seattle as anyone. TLF continue to grow their local legend this weekend by going big with the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Hard to believe I was buying hand-made pink CD covers with Sesame Street stickers mixed with fart jokes from these dudes just a few years ago, and now they’re fronting a full on string section.
Drop your name in the comments with gusto, and at 12 noon on TODAY, MARCH 1st, just hours from now, I’ll randomly pick a winner of a pair of tickets to go to this all-ages show on Saturday March 3rd.
Above you can watch a few songs we filmed a while back with John Van Deusen wandering the streets of Wallingford. Yes I know it’s the opposite of what you’ll be seeing this weekend, but I thought I’d offer it up anyway as a primer on the essential elements of some Van Deusen’s best songs with no instrumentation but his own. With a full band these songs are powerful, but I expect with a garrison of strings for backing, we might get a bit more into the heavy and heady nature of his lyrics that the video lays bare.
Taking a step back (or perhaps forward) from the indie rock anthems he’s best known for as the lead singer and songwriter of The Lonely Forest, John Van Deusen’s solo songs as And The Moon Be Still As Bright are a delightful departure. The three new solo songs recorded in Van Deusen’s laundry room using Garageband and one mic, sound maniacally different, while still highlighting his handiness with a hook.
“Sinking” with its weighty guitar and Van Deusen’s signature helium high vocals, sounds as if it could end up on the next TLF record.
Never leading where you expect it to, “Universal Sigh” features chugging almost tropical percussion and some Frank Valli “ooooohhhhs” straight out of “Walk Like a Man.”
My favorite of the bunch is the droning buzz and heartbeat build up of “Always on Fire,” which recalls both the wintry-yet-warm electronica of Postal Service and the bedroom recordings of Emperor X’s Blythe Archives.
All three, as different as they are, have me looking forward to hearing whatever else is made in Van Deusen’s laundry room.
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.
When I was working on my “Five Things You Can’t Miss at Bumbershoot” posts, I noticed something strange. Save Red Fang, not a single band I recommend was local to the Pacific Northwest. And that’s not because there aren’t some great local bands playing this years Bumbershoot, there are scads of them. The Fest did a solid job booking Seattle and Portland bands I want to see from hip hop to heavy, from beats to banjos. But, for the most part they’re all bands I’ve seen before and all bands you can see again as soon as the Bumbershoot blackout dates pass. Which means while I’m not anticipating them quite as much as my Top 5 acts, you better believe I’ll be there in the front row for lots of local acts. Here’s three Pacific Northwest bands for all three days of the festival, you shouldn’t miss.
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.
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.
After a band a day in May, Bumbershoot has burst with its full day-by-day line-up. We’re loving the local selection including: Shabazz Palaces, Grand Hallway, Lemolo, Pickwick, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, My Goodness, Ravenna Woods, Curtains for You, Whalebones, Allen Stone, Kaylee Cole, The Lonely Forest and lots more. Though it’s soul singer Charles Bradley and Brooklyn’s Sharon Van Etten who I’m most delighted to see make the line-up, their inclusion make Monday the Fest’s unmissable day for me.
Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs with Vusi Mahlasela / Minus the Bear / Mavis Staples / Little Dragon / Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue / STRFKR / Shabazz Palaces / Warpaint / MarchFourth Marching Band / Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible / Eyehategod / Väsen / Champagne Champagne / Astronautalis / PS I Love You / Yuni in Taxco / Campfire Ok / Meklit Hadero / Caleb Klauder Country Band / Craft Spells / Valient Thorr / Jayme Stone: Room of Wonders / Pickwick / Red Fang / Scribes / Wagons / Shelby Earl / Free the Robots / Witchburn / Nice Nice / Kris Orlowski & The Passenger String Quartet / Emancipator / Tomten / Pezzner / LawnChair Generals / The Great Mundane / Natasha Kmeto / DJ Nordic Soul
Wiz Khalifa with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis / Broken Social Scene with The Lonely Forest / The Kills / Butthole Surfers / Carbon Leaf / Leon Russell / Toro Y Moi / Anti-Flag / Das Racist / Vetiver / Jessica Lea Mayfield / Dam-Funk / Atari Teenage Riot / NoMeansNo / Tennis / Thee Oh Sees / Mad Rad / The Jim Jones Revue / School of Seven Bells / Joe Pug and the Hundred Mile Band / Davila 666 / AgesandAges / Wayne Horvitz Café Paloma Band / Kore Ionz / Sol / Whalebones / Allen Stone / Massy Ferguson / Tycho / Thomas Marriott’s Human Spirit / Kaylee Cole / Com Truise / HTRK / Lusine / Gail Pettis Quartet / Kasey Anderson and The Honkies / Shigeto / The Sight Below / DJ Justin Timbreline
Daryl Hall & John Oates with Fitz and The Tantrums / The Reverend Horton Heat / Over the Rhine / Phantogram / Grant Lee Buffalo / Urge Overkill / Charles Bradley / Vendetta Red / Sharon Van Etten / Dennis Coffey / Head Like a Kite / YACHT / Greensky Bluegrass / Quadron / Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils / Grand Hallway / You Am I / Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside / My Goodness / LAKE / Beat Connection / Purity Ring / Truckasaurus / Ravenna Woods / Curtains For You / Lemolo / SPLATINUM / Legendary Oaks / Mash Hall / The Horde and The Harem / 214 / WD4D / Ill Cosby / DJ Introcut
Every day for the month of May Bumbershoot will be announcing an act for this year’s Festival. You can watch the line-up announcement trickle out live via Bumbershoot’s Twitter or Facebook or you can bookmark this post and check back daily. Here’s the eclectic line-up announcement by day so far.
We’ve had the opportunity to watch the Lonely Forest’s John Van Deusen grow up from the very beginning of this blog, from a moment when he played over-the-top piano-rock epics and wasn’t old enough to be let into the bar he was performing in. As Van Deusen has aged, so has his band’s most notable anthem “We Sing In Time,” which for the last four years has been the song. That many years of formative growing, from an experimental teenager to a now married and sober philosopher, Van Deusen is a fundamentally different person from when that song was written. He is his songs, so it then follows that the performance of the song should also reflect this changing persona.
For our time with Van Deusen on a Wallingford front porch, he stripped down two of his out-and-out anthems into moving portraits representative of this new more measured, if still slightly mischievous, headspace. Graciously agreeing to stroll in the street for us while doing “We Sing In Time,” the neighbors were drawn out by Van Deusen’s natural projection. I had to wonder whether he was trying to do that all along. On the porch the rendition of a personal favorite of mine “Live There” was no less emphatic, this ode to the Puget Sound-as-home rings true to anyone who’s spent even a short amount of time living in and loving the Northwest.
The Lonely Forest open for the Joy Formidable at the Crocodile Tuesday April 12th. If you can’t make it to that, earlier that night they’ll be doing a free in-store at Easy Street Records on lower Queen Anne to celebrate the release of their new record Arrows.
A big thanks for this video goes to Dylan for his porch, Mike for the use of his Guitar, and Tyler Kalberg for his dedication to capturing Seattle’s best musicians on film. Thanks of course also go to John Van Deusen for continuing to want to share his very personal songs with us with real conviction and intention.