REVERB, the Seattle Weekly’s music blog, has been one of the city’s biggest advocates of local artists for years. At the beginning of this month they gathered samples from 42 local artist and label releases they reviewed and put them in one place for you to get serious earful for the latest sound here in the “City of Music”. It will take the better part of your day to listen to them all but what do you really have better to do.. work?
If you want to save time, here are a few that stuck with me. There’s a link at the bottom for you to enjoy them all. -it’s worth it.
I was going to skip this last Critical Sun gig because I needed a day to get some writing done, both for this whole SXSW shindig and for some short stories and poems and new books and such. There’s always writing to be done. It’s a solitary endeavor, of course, this thing of writing, so after a week at SXSW I needed a break from the over-stimulation, I needed some quiet, time alone at the hotel out by the pool with a beer and the laptop and the word, but then I got some news last night while a couple of us were drinking slightly warm Budweisers with a band from Denmark (Foreign Resort). It might have been a slip of the tongue, but it was some good news so I decided the quiet could wait, that I could do some writing at the gig before that news needed to be acted upon.
The gig is at a place called Hardtails about thirty minutes north of Austin. It’s a cool place with a large outdoor stage in back with enough room on the lawn for a few hundred people, maybe a 1000, an amphitheater almost, and the ground slopes down from the bar to the stage in the back of the lot. It’s easily the best venue these bands have played this week, and that makes me glad, of course, for the news I received last night, the news that is confirmed as the bands are setting up when Jason Lightfoot of Sightseer repeats the same. He comes up to me, “Hey, man, …” then says the same I heard last night. I’m sitting at the bar with a Blue Moon (What else?) typing away, taking notes on the day when he says it. I look at him. We both smile. “Thanks,” I say. …Read the rest »
3:00 P.M. Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day. Julia Massey is playing at Bar Louie’s on 6th Street, and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting for a green beer that does not come. Julia finishes her second to last song, “One at a Time”, and then pauses. There are some claps. She thanks everyone for listening, thanks The Jesus Rehab, whose song “Vertigo” is most excellent, for opening the show, and then says, “Also thanks to Dave of Seattle Subsonic for stopping by.” That means nothing to anyone there, of course, but it’s a nice gesture on her part. I raise my imaginary green beer that I’m still waiting for (twenty minutes now) to toast her mention of me. She smiles, and then breaks into “Brand New Telescope”. It’s a good tune. There’s a guy at a table up front mimicking the playing of a bass guitar adding flourishes when he feels like, a guy next to him bobbing his head. The Jesus Rehab sings along, and afterward, a woman comes up and buys a CD. And that’s what this is all about. It’s a chance to travel cross country for the simple joy of playing music, for some clapping and head bobbing, and well, if a band can pick up a few new fans along the way, sell a few CDs, so much the better. …Read the rest »
Wake up at 8:10, and I just know it. No laptop. My heart sinks. I look under the hotel bed, in the bathroom, under the bed again, out by the pool, in the van, in the lobby, under the bed one more time. Nothing. I remember having a brief conversation with a woman last night at Opal Divine’s since she was reading some Bukowski, and I had just lost some Bukowski. I’ve been losing things down here, you see. First, there was the phone I left in the back of a taxi. The cab driver brought it back but before giving it to me, he just looked at me, spread his arms, gave me that look that said he’d gone out of his way to bring it back to me. What could I do? I needed the phone so I gave him $20.00 and said thanks. Then there was the Bukowski book, You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense. I bought it years ago. It traveled with me to Korea and Japan and Bali, had pages dog earred, had receipts in there from bars and coffee shops during all that span of time, but now it’s somewhere in Austin where I am not..
And now this morning it’s the laptop which means the laptop case too, which means my phone charger as well. My phone has a battery life of about an hour at most when it gets any use other than simply being on so it looks like I’ll soon be completely off the grid, back to the old days when I carried the Bukowski book to Japan in 1998 and spent a day and a night in Osaka’s Kansai airport because I’d planned badly with regards to money. That was a good day though, a quiet day. I went to the top of the parking garage, looked out over the water surrounding the airport (It’s on an island in Osaka Bay) and read some of Buk’s poems and spent a day in contemplation as the planes landed and took off and landed and took off with all those people in them going places and coming home while I read verse to the sound of the waves. …Read the rest »
The day begins, as many such band days do, with the wonder of how to fit all the people and all the gear into one van. There are musicians and girlfriends and friends and guitar techs and even a writer along for the trip, and there are all manner of instruments and rack cases full of cables and extension cords and extra sets of guitar strings and, of course, merchandise, CDs, stickers and tee shirts, some specific to a band, some to the whole Critical Sun 2012 event. We all stand around the van. It can’t be done. Some of us are going to have to bus it to the first show, the first of two shows on our second day here.
The venue is Kick Butt Coffee where there is another Critical Sun showcase so we pile in the van as many as can fit and while the rest take the bus Stacey from the Furniture Girls states calmly from the back of the van, “This amp will sound better since I’m straddling on the way to the show.” There are nods of agreement. One can’t argue such a thing. The amp probably would sound better after rubbing along a woman’s private parts. Rock and Roll. …Read the rest »
So this place is nuts. There is music seemingly every ten feet down the street, in bars, on corners, in the back of vans, in coffee shops, guitar stores, restsaurants, any place you can imagine. It’s nothing short of awesome.
So we were at the Jackalope last night for the Critical Sun showcase, and as there was free beer, things were going well. The music was sounding good for two reasons. One because it was good. I admit that I’m biased. I like these bands (if you hadn’t already guessed) and second, the music was good because of the free beer, of course. It puts an ease in the mind of the musician and the listener. People came in and out of the bar, and they grooved and bobbed their heads and smiled big when the bartender said, “Yeah, that’s free.” They invariably looked to the stage in that moment as if the band then playing was responsible for the free beer. They were receptive to the music, gave a discerning look and a nod of approval, pulled up seats and stayed for a while.
I was writing of course, anchored at the end of the bar with a good view of the bands and the patrons discovering the freeness of the beer. Stacey, the lead singer of the Furniture Girls came over and said hi, noticed me on the laptop and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not looking.” She’s good that way, understands not to peek at a work in progress. “Let me know when it’s done.”
Her is head on my chest, her left arm across my body, and the sound of her breathing is musical. It’s the first time we’ve spent the night together. I look around her room at the dresser, the closet door half open, the previous night’s glasses of Merlot, both still half-full, on the night stand next to the clock, the opened condom wrapper on the floor.
“What time is it?” she asks.
“5:30. I should leave soon since I have a plane to catch.”
“Damn. I forgot you’re going to South by Southwest … bastard.” She smiles, lifts her head up.
“That I am.”
“What, a bastard?”
“Funny … South by Southwest.”
“You want some coffee?”
She gets up still naked and leaves the bedroom while I lay and stretch so in the spaciousness of her king size bed. It’s true, that bit about me going to Austin for SXSW. I’ll be staying with, hanging out with, watching and listening to a few Seattle bands on the indie Seattle-based label, Critical Sun. They’ll have four or five gigs over the course of the week (details here), the most promising of which apprears to be the March 14th show at the Jackalope where there will be seven bands (Furniture Girls, Sightseer, In Cahoots and more) and, from what I’m told, free beer. That bears repeating, FREE BEER. With 4271 (as of this writing) on the Facebook RSVP list, it looks like it’ll be a packed house, and certainly a good time. …Read the rest »
When I first saw Eighteen Individual Eyes, they were an all female band, and I’d just seen a few all female bands that simply were not very good so it stuck in my small brain, All Female Band. It was unfair to EIE, though. They weren’t an all female band. They were just a good band that happened to be all female. It was, and is, all about the music.
And the music is good. U2ish at times, even a little Radiohead like in the beat of Mares (my favorite EIE tune). They have energy, but they need space, a good mix, like Four Poses that rides a cool bass riff while guitars right and left do their thing. They spread it out rather than go over the top. And there’s a sweetness, even when they bring it up and rock. It’s partially Irene Barber’s voice. She sounds sweet even when she’s balls out screaming, and that’s one thing about them. They have an edge, but there’s always a soft spot, a tender spot, and they aim for it, and they usually get there.
Their new CD, Unnovae Nights, is being released today with a show at The Crocodile this evening (details below), a place where the mix is good and, I imagine, where the astral sounds of EIE will fill the space quite well.
Local independent label, Critical Sun, is sending a number of its bands to SXSW, and in the spirit of such, they have released a compilation of said artists who will be making the trek south to Austin. And I must say, I’m simply digging this Furniture Girls tune. Since this was recorded, they’ve added a second guitar player, Jason Lightfoot from Sightseer, and having seen them a number of times recently, their heavily danceable electronica is even beefier now, maybe danceably heavy, and apologies to the vegetarians out there, but more beef = good. Catch them live for the beef, and for Stacey Meyer’s sultry swagger. I’ve seen them play the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck” as a show closer, but I think that listening to this music, one would never have that problem. It feels too good.
One of my local favorites, Julia Massey and the 5 Finger Discount just released a video for “Aghadoe” from their CD Is There Room For Me? This song is one of those that seeps in under the skin and soon has one walking down the street with that keyboard intro repeating in the head, maybe singing along, “Please forget me,” maybe tapping out a few notes on the invisible air keyboard. And for me, this is a good thing. I like that intro. As for the video, it captures the fun element of the band. They have a humor and an easy manner in addition to being excellent musicians, and this video just cracks me up. And well, what’s not to like about a rock video with pretty, alcohol-stealing wood nymphs and where the drummer vomits on himself?
Screenplay/Director/Producer: Andrew Birchall. 2012.
They’re going on tour starting March 8 and will end up down in Austin for SXSW where they hopefully can get a little bit of much deserved attention. And Julia has kindly agreed to join me on stage in the not too distant future, but more details on that to come.