Seattle Subsonic - May, 2009
Alright, so first of all, I’m an idiot. Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears were the opening band for Lucero. Not the other way around. But I’ll claim ignorance on this one, on numerous fronts. Didn’t know either band well enough to know who should be supporting who. Oh well, I knew from listening to a sampling of both that they both had a good amount of good stuff to offer. I was not disappointed. Let me just say, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears tore it up! The crowd was a bit slow to fully recognize the whirlwind of a band before them. But damn, when you’re that tight, even single-celled organisms gotta give it up. They ratcheted up the energy with each song and by the end of the set, Black Joe Lewis and his stellar band had the crowd screaming for more. You can’t ask for more than that. An opening band who is not only worth showing up for, but who leaves you wishing for an immediate reprise of a headlining show? Goddamn! They were good tonight.
And yes, I was surprised–I truly had no idea BJL&TH were the opening band. Regardless, a short break later, Lucero took the stage and launched into their gritty, no-pretense set of well-crafted southern-tinged rock-n-roll. These guys are not pretty boys, they’re not gonna be anyone’s camera darlings. But that’s not to say they’re ugly dudes–they’re just normal dudes. Talented, skilled dudes, no less. And they played to a room of fans and friends. And it only woulda been better if I’d stumbled upon this show at an Elks club in Boise, Idaho, or something. It was that kind of ‘miller beer’ commercial feeling nights. Not commercial as in product, but as in the comfy, common-sense vibe you get from an ol’ skool Miller commercial. Definitely not a bad thing. That’s very nearly the exact type of welcome I’m sure either of these bands could only hope for.
So it took me a few days to get this up, but I’ve taken the long (and lovely) weekend to listen to each bands’ latest recorded efforts. And no apologies, I immediately love, and need, Black Joe Lewis’ “Tell ‘em What Your Name Is”. This is the serendipity of a perfectly-timed album and season. And with the weather Seattle’s having right now, there could not be a more celebratory album, that also manages to fade comfortably into each dusky evening. Just awesome.
I’ve given an equal listen to Lucero. Not my requisite 10 full listens, but a good solid listen to the full album. It’s good. Much better than I, or most others, could do. But it doesn’t grab me much–mostly for the same reason the show didn’t stick with me…Ben Nichols’ voice is one flavor of gritty, barroom rockin’ growl. It’s just that I’ve gotten that for years from Social D, Mark Lanegan, and Tom Waits, and Ben just sounds like their younger brother. The band doesn’t seem to stretch out enough to take advantage of Rick Steff (recently of Cat Power’s “The Greatest”) keyboard additions, and despite the legion local Lucero fans, the show didn’t seem that energetic to me. I’d still go see Lucero anytime I stumbled upon them in some convenient, unsuspecting locale. I just wouldn’t go much out of my way. But I bought their latest, and I’ll listen to it. Maybe I’ll regret the missed opportunity of seeing them before I really appreciated them. We’ll see.
Neil Young sang, “tonight’s the night”, and in that one phrase he expressed both a feeling of looking forward and a kind of resignation to what was likely to go down. But tonight, there’s no need for resignation. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are rockin’ the Tractor Tavern, and I am looking forward to it! Now if that isn’t enough to get you off your couch, add that opening band, Lucero, are set to bring their amped-up bar band sounds of southern/punk rock to get the crowd warmed up and the night goin’ right.
Let’s set the scene here–imagine if you will, an opening band that sounds a bit like hometown heroes, Supersuckers, crossed with alt-country faves, Uncle Tupelo. Now I’m gonna come clean–I’d heard of Lucero, maybe even heard some out of the corner of my ear on KEXP, but before this morning–I hadn’t really heard their stuff. But dammit, I like it. And I don’t give a ratsass if you do or don’t. But I’d suggest you give it a listen, and why not do that at the Tractor tonight?!
Now Lucero is one thing, but Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears, well that’s a whole nother thang entirely. If I told you you could see James Brown & the J.B.’s at the height of their energetic prowess, and you could see ‘em at an intimate little place with great sound and great energy, would you even flinch before saying LET’S GO!!? If you would, please excuse yourself from this evening’s festivities. These bands are the real deal, and the deal tonight costs $17 at the door. Party starts at 9pm, and plan to bring your thirst, cuz these bands are gonna get you movin’ and tah thinkin’ ’bout drinkin’. SPOILER ALERT, tune in to KEXP at 4pm this afternoon to catch ‘em live and in studio.
Man, the weather’s great, the music’s pumping, the venue’s perfect, it’s Friday of a 3 day weekend. GODDAMN, ain’t life great?! Check ‘em out tonight or be sorry tomorrow. Don’t say Tyrone didn’t tell you so!
The line up for Sasquatch did look amazing this year, but if you, like myself, forgot to purchase the tix in advance, they’re either sold out or way too f*ing expensive for a 2 hour car ride. Forget about that and catch a bus down to four days of Northwest Folk Life Festival. Make a donation and then lay around the grassy nooks of Seattle Center; gaze at the wild blue sky while listening to the most eclectic and enjoyable music that can possibly be crammed into the Center.
Last year, I went to Sasquatch and Folk Life for the first time (yeah, I’m sort of new) and Sasquatch was enjoyable but really more of a hassle. Folk Life was a welcomed surprise the next day. Besides the 30 official stages and theaters; every corner had its own talented buskers and was a diverse celebration of Seattle’s art and music. I was fascinated to see teenagers still honing their skills on instruments that I had forgotten. Others jammed out in jug bands and kept rhythm by scratching on their washboard instruments. I saw Native American rappers, traditional Russian dance and music, plus some bigger local acts on the main stages. Outside there was such a variety of music that I could walk from one bubble of sound and instantly into the next and the sound would be totally different and inviting.
I don’t know many of the groups on the endless Folk life schedule and I’m more than ok with that. I’m excited about it. Because I know all year long I miss out on great performances that I never hear about. Of the more well-known performances I’ll be checking out: the jammy sounds of Flow Motion, the “hot tranny mess” of Panda Conspiracy, the insane 8-bit beats of Kids Get Hit by Buses (and Fighter X), and the foot stomping fun of the Tall Boys!
You’ve got 3 beautiful sunny days off. No need to drive 2 hours to the desert or to get “gorged” by ticket prices. Show up at Seattle Center May 22-25, 11am – 10pm and relax!
Check it out more on 38th Annual Folk Life Music Festival.
Maybe you’ve heard this, maybe you haven’t, but über-hip producer Danger Mouse has recently told his record label to fuck off. In what’s being described as an “on-going legal dispute” between industry dinosaur EMI and DM, Dark Night of the Soul will not be put out by the label, despite its online availability and its impressive supporting cast. The highly successful DJ/beatmaker—in cahoots with Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous) and outlandish overlord of the bizarre and preeminent auteur David Lynch—has opted to “release” his new album simply as a blank CD-R, and with a book of photographs spawned from the netherworld that is Lynch’s brain. The CD will supposedly come with the simple message of “use however you see fit”. That means go get it at the online getting place.
In an ever-evolving music industry, this is just the latest in the line of radical ways artists are releasing their music (“their” is the operative word in that phrase). From Radiohead’s “pay what you will” formula, to myspace players filled with full albums, all the way down to small local musicians handing out digital download cards at their shows, the landscape is changing and corporate labels are being left in the fucking dust. I think it’s a pretty bold move for Danger Mouse, and I hope it pays off. For my money, DM is the marquee producer worth the hype. Forget the bloated, over-consumed crap produced by Timbaland, T-Bone Burnett, Pharrell, or Kanye West, Danger Mouse is more talented, more interesting and more innovative than any of them.
The news caused me to ponder all the projects of his I’ve enjoyed and the list is long: Gorillaz (with Damon Albarn), his 2004 collaboration with Jemini (Ghetto Pop Life = awesome), with Cee-Lo in Gnarls Barkley (loved both albums), and took the Black Keys in great new direction on Attack & Release. Not to mention his DANGERDOOM work with MF Doom, his revitalization of Beck‘s career with Modern Guilt, and, of course, The Grey Album that put him on the map. Now he’s working with David-fucking-Lynch?! How cool is that?
You can go listen to the album right now on NPR. It includes a guest list worthy of any record shelf: Black Francis, Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, James Mercer, the Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas, Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Vic Chestnutt, and Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals). My favorites, naturally, are the songs with Black Francis and Iggy Pop. The title track with David Lynch is top notch, too (sounds like his movies!).
Here’s Pitchfork’s report.
Since I’ve belabored the point already, I won’t tell you how high my opinion of Grand Archives is (ok, I will: it’s really high). I also happen to be a pretty big fan of See Me River. (I’m actually an even bigger fan of the band’s creator, Kerry Zettel, for introducing me to one of the best tequilas I’ve ever tasted: Chamucos. We’re not friends, he tends bar at the Cha Cha.) Their last record, Time Machine, is the kind of dark-seeded country-blues that fits perfectly with a tortured soul soaking up some sunny rays.
Local psych-wanderers The Curious Mystery recently dropped a stellar album with K Records, full of cinematic soundscapes, droning and/or jangly guitar charming, and molasses-thick sonic fiber. Read more about my “hallowed” opinion here.
This concert is part of the Noise for the Needy festival, and since I’m also a big fan of helping out the needy, you’ll find me at the Crocodile June 12th.
21+ / $12 Adv / $15 DOS
So its been a week now since i saw MAE at Neumos. I think it really took me this long to let it sink in how amazing the show was. Ever had a multi sensory experience? I sure did. With a fantastic visual projection going on during the whole set which even included two songs in 3D! If you managed to get some of the 3D glasses before the set started. When was the last time you got a 3D experience at a concert that’s wasn’t Laser Floyd? Next up on the trip was a scratch and sniff insert in their tour EP “(m)orning”. During the song “Ocean” the audience was instructed to smell said insert which in fact smelled like the Ocean! Brilliant! Now to cap off this whole show was the best performance I have seen from MAE. They turned up all their songs and rocked Neumos. I was truly blown away. I was a huge fan a few years ago but had sort of moved on from their sound. They found a way to bring me back though. This show was how to do it.
Also they are currently working on a project call “12 songs, 12 months, 1 goal”
the mission is as follows..
” * Each month during 2009, we will be bringing you a new Mae song.
* When you visit whatismae.com, you will be able to hear the music for free.
* Every song will be available as a digital download for a min. donation of $1.
our current cause building Rhonda’s house in conjunction with Habitat For Humanity Penisula”
they have raised $39,689.33 since 1/1/09 with a goal of $65,000
Head over to their site www.whatismae.com to check out the songs and learn more about their cause. and if you get the chance i would go see them live.
I don’t quite remember the first time I heard about The Curious Mystery. I think maybe what happened, as is common with nerdy types who ingest an inordinate amount of music materials from local sources (blogs, zines, radio, telephone poles, etc.), is their presence and apparition slowly burrowed their way into my cognizance without me ever really participating. Seeped into my cerebrum, if you will. Yet somehow I managed to retain a functional role in this mental modification—it is my brain, after all—listening for clues, keeping tabs and digging in. This is the best way I can introduce you to their music. Rotting Slowly, their debut on K Records, is a crawling, creeping panoramic desert-rock vista that intently blazes your brain, parches your senses, and allows you to quench with sweaty vocals and twist-heavy garage psychedelia dirges. Gothic Americana layered thick with ramblin’ hippie blues.
Shana Cleveland and Nicolas Gonzalez, a couple of Midwest transplants who formed the Seattle band in 2005, have crafted a formidable batch of textured songs, full of wandering slide guitar solos, droning stops and jangly starts, protracted song structure and absolutely no regard for sober song listening. Ok, so I haven’t gobbled a handful of mushrooms and spun the record, but you catch my drift. Gonzalez and Cleveland, joined on the drums by Faustine Hudson and Bradford Button on bass, show no restraint in utilizing whatever soundmakers they have handy (autoharp, keys, banjo, dinner bells, “whathaveyou”).
My favorite so far is “Nicaragua”, a cinematic soundscape that earnestly plods through the grass fields, palms outstretched, searching for that familiar country home. Gonzalez masters his strings like a snake charmer, and the final flourish from a hypnotized Hudson really delivers. On “It’s Tough”, Cleveland amiably shifts between lovelorn tavern poetess and sultry lounge singer (there’s also some high pitched whining in there from god knows who), while the rest of the band improvises around her, jazz band-style. A militant drum and Cleveland’s autoharp buoy “Black Sand”, a pick-me-up song that illuminates their affinity for legendary blues-jammers the Doors.
The Curious Mystery is currently on tour and will be back in Seattle June 12th at the Crocodile Cafe with Grand Archives and See Me River as part of the Noise for the Needy festival. Count me in. Rotting Slowly came out today. You should check it out.
A big “heeeeyyyyyyyyy” to everyone who made it out to our 1st birthday celebration at the Sunset last night. Friends, family, bands, the five regular readers, dudes and dudettes all came together for a collectively fun time. Each band put on such a great set that it felt like we got a triple scoop ice cream cone and one of them didn’t fall off. I know, right? This website’s a lot of fun, and it wouldn’t be anything without the actual musicians. Anyway, for lack of mental clarity (tequila-induced) and because I’m one of the few geeks with a desk job, I offer my impressions and observations below in bullet point form.
- There was a pretty good turnout by the SSS “staff”, but not everybody was able to make it. Come ON, people!
- C-Leb‘s harmonica skillz are, frankly, quite amazing. The party was kicked into gear with his and A-Bro‘s high-energy, Chromeo-style dancetronica.
- A-Bro tapped that drum machine like a bat outta hell. The conga drums were bangin’. I also appreciate gold lamé ties such as the one he sported.
- At least one (and probably only) local celebrity musician showed up last night: Dave Einmo from Head Like A Kite. I always thought his music rocked, but now I think he rocks. He also brought along local singer Graig Markel, who’s got a new project named The Animals at Night (who’s myspace lists an impressive collection of collaborators; go see).
- Chris Craig plays a cunning, fret-shifty guitar. One of Liars Club‘s new songs, “Proposition”, was especially tight.
- Mark Arm RSVP’d on Facebook that he was coming. He didn’t show and now I’m starting to think Ledoux’s opinions travel farther than maybe we thought.
- I’m looking forward to seeing some of the video that Seattle Show Gal shot. Holy hell, that was a big fucking tripod.
- Man, I got kinda wasted last night.
- At one drunken point later in the evening, C-Leb was wearing an audio cord wrapped around his head. It might’ve become uncomfortable and he might’ve dubbed it a “Crown of Cords” and I might’ve pushed his back against a pillar so he would emulate a crucifixion pose. SORRY.
- The Celebrity Orphans‘ cover of Daft Punk’s “Da Funk” was hands down the best song of the night. Certainly no disrespect to all the original material played, but MAN that was rad. The entire set, btw, was top notch.
- Lots of photos were taken, especially by dpphoto. Post that shit, duuuuuuuuude. Major Update: Check out the Subsonic galleries for photos from the night. Please ignore my obnoxious countenance in the first one.
- I’m totally jonesin’ for some Doritos right now.
I know, I know, it’s a Sunday night but the Detroit Cobras will make it worth your while with their blend of lo-fi motown rock. Show starts at 8 pm with Dex Romweber Duo opening . Oh, and it’s 12 bucks.
A little about them from their myspace page:
“Crawling out from the weed-choked lots of the once proud town, The Detroit Cobras whip out ass-shaking anthems to good times, wild times, and the high and lows of L-U-V-E; you best believe it and you best not mess with it. Singer Rachel Nagy and guitarist Mary Ramirez are the bad girls by the exit doors at the school dance, all leather and heels, sneaking smokes and passing the flask. They have no time for dewy-eyed love songs or girl group decorum; theyll take care of business themselves with a bat of the eye or an elbow to the kidney. Rachels warm as the bourbon under the seat of your car voice can boom to the back pews (Did we say “pews?” We meant “barstools”) and Marys riffs let you know that love and good times can be found in the tilt of a hip or at the end of a fist.”
Yea yea I know… Its the day after Sasquatch and Memorial Day weekend and most of you will be spent. But for those of you that are veterans and troopers and don’t let good shows slip through your musically delicious fingers this one you don’t want to miss. Along with groups like Daft Punk the Chicago duo Fischerspooner has been redefining the meaning of performance art with their live show for over a decade. The group incorporates photography, dance, lighting, special effects, film reels, smoke machines, theatrical props and Zoolander-esque costumes into each show it performs. Don’t let the electronic sound fool you, Fischerspooner is a full blown entertainment sight, sound, sensory overload and well worth the last $20 bill in your pocket till payday after Sasquatch.
Advanced tickets available through ticketbastard.
Fischerspooner at the Showbox Market
Tuesday May 26th 8pm