Seattle Subsonic - September, 2011
Nico Vega. With my book coming out, I’m a little late getting to this since I saw Nico Vega back in August, but it isn’t for any dislike of the band that I’ve been slow to write about them. In fact, I quite like the band … a lot. They’re one of the few bands I’ve seen recently that simply owned the stage, the sound, the audience. They filled The Mix in Georgetown on a Wednesday night, which for an up and coming band from L.A. is pretty good I’d say.
A lot of bands attempt to describe their sound and their influences on their websites and Facebook pages. I’ve seen more than one band say they’re attempting to melt people’s faces off. Fair enough, but Nico Vega goes a different route. They don’t mention other bands or sounds or faces falling off. They talk about togetherness, music as a way of life, a modern day saint bringing salvation through music. A lofty goal perhaps, but then, why not? All art reaches for such. Before I saw them, I read the Bio page of their website and decided not to listen to the music. I wanted to experience such live. I read the last sentence, “If you come to our show, throw your hands up so we can feel you… you will feel us,” and see if I would feel them and they me.
The short answer is yes, a definite yes. They groove and tumble and rock. The drummer stands up a lot almost seeming to use gravity for a little extra force when slamming back down on the drums. The guitar player splits his signal out to an octave pedal that runs through a bass amp which fills things well in the lack of a bass player. Coupled with reverbs and delays and choruses and textures, Nico Vega, unlike some other bassless bands (more on those coming soon), did not suffer from want of some lows to bridge the gap between guitar and drums. There was movement and frantic vocals, and she sang, and she bounced. She made wide eyes. She owned it. She was up, and she was down and left and right. She was standing on the kick drum, grooving on the kick drum, grooving with the drums flailing head and arms and legs all about. And arms in the audience were indeed thrown up.
Good time. Great band. Not sure when they’ll be in Seattle next, but I’ll be there. I’ll leave the notebook at home though so I can do a little arm raising of my own.
Photos by Jacob Lucas (view more)
Seattle-based record label, Critical Sun is bringing some of their artists to the High Dive on Saturday, October 1st. I’ve seen Down North, and after listening to some of Reji Lefluer, I know to be prepared a lot of wah pedals through the course of R&B, alternative soul, and funky rhythms that might even get the likes of me to dance a little.
I pretty much love this, too. Com Truise is definitely my favorite producer “right now” and has been for several months. Sci-fi noir is SO in.
So, I pretty much love this.
One of Zonoscope‘s best tracks.
So you’re out for a drink with your scenester pals in some hip locale with classically unfamiliar tunes playing overhead. And given the nasal male vox buoyed by a surf-y, smart-Alec (Firefox made me capitalize that) bass line and a snappy, clean, well-plucked guitar, perhaps you thought the Intelligence—beloved and zany Seattle glo-fi outfit—had recently released some new tunes. Or, at the very least, had some tunes you hadn’t heard before. Well, you’d be forgiven for that mistake (though if someone offers to flog you, accept!), since their tunes are generally awesome and ringleader Lars Finberg has recently been coined a STRANGER and a GENIUS, but, well, you’d be wrong. Yes, I’m in your head and the band you heard was the GGNZLA-approved Seattle via Portland Orca Team.
If this little bit of crazy sounds like something up your alley, Kissing Cousins is an album you should look into. Orca Team is a bit more committed to melody and song structure than that other band’s bizarro world, and the “Mod”-inspired sparse quirky pop with distant, tape hiss recordings just might make you wanna bust the Twist, the Swim, the Watusi or EVEN THE MASHED POTATO GUYS. Also, you might need a beach blanket. Leif Anders slaps the bass and sings, Jessica Baldauf runs the guitar section and Dwayne Cullen holds down the snare-heavy skins. The music is real good-like, but I think they could really hit it out of the park with some more polished recordings (gasp!). Blasphemy, I know.
Get the cassette or mp3′s over at GGNZLA’s bandcamp or check out a few highlights below:
Note: the band released another limited edition cassette through High Fives and Handshakes, which included—you guessed it—a cover of the Intelligence’s “The World Is Not A Drag”. Both came out in July.
If you’ve at all followed the surge, praise, backlash, and evolution of the genre that became known as “chillwave”, the name Neon Indian is likely not foreign to you. In mid 2009, a then-21-year old Alan Palomo released Psychic Chasms and ushered in the era of 80s-indebted slacker lo-fi blurry electronica for all to either cherish (like me) or gulp the hater-ade. National artists like Toro Y Moi, Memory Tapes and Washed Out released better-than-outstanding debut albums, while local guys such as USF, Big Spider’s Back, and Beat Connection all stood tall within the flexible confines of a rather ignominious “movement” where laptops ruled and guitars drooled. In short, a metric shit-ton of great records have been made in this malleable mold. I know because I’ve heard many of them (you can read my 2010 roundup here).
Some have tried to buck the trend with their follow ups (Toro Y Moi), while others have stood pat (Washed Out). Palomo decided to do neither with his latest Era Extraña, which is both a marked improvement on Psychic Chasms, but also holds true to the sound that got him recognition in the first place. Was this due to his move from Texas to Brooklyn? The fact that he recorded it in isolation in Helsinki in the dead of winter? Or that his dad was a Mexican pop star? I think it’s prolly that last one, guys.
Anyway, all this is to say that the album is currently streaming over at Spinner and comes highly recommended by “this guy”. I’ve already spun it, like, five times in the last two days. I’m hooked! And because I’m way into the fictitious representation of science and spend a large portion of my day on the internet, I really enjoyed this interview with a surprisingly insightful, humble, and interesting Palomo. His thoughts on recording music in today’s non-stop cannibalistic cycle are of particular intrigue. In recording Era Extraña, he was influenced by J&MC’s Psychocandy, re-watching “Blade Runner” on painkillers and the future-now of trippy technology. Kind of a no-brainer, right?
Neon Indian plays the Crocodile with Com Truise (FUCK YES) Wednesday, Oct 5. Washed Out plays the Neptune the following night. Weird!
p.s. this one’s for you, Tyler J. Botts!
I’ve kinda been digging on this band Blouse from Portland. They’ve, predictably, got the wistful and gloomy early 80′s emo-smear-pop thing going on. I’ve highlighted their labelmates, Soft Metals, a few times, and while the two don’t really sound that much alike, much can be gathered from those different than you. We should be more open-minded!
Below you’ll find a video for their single, “Videotapes”, which uses a bunch of Minolta stock advert footage from decades past. I also added a few mp3′s I found on some of those bigger, more successful music blogs. The self titled album will be out on Captured Tracks November 1st.
Like Polonius, I will be brief.
Motopony: Good enough to make me think about seeing them again. (Photo by Sandy Lane)
Fly Moon Royalty: I liked them early on in their mellow tunes. Not as much later on with the dancing numbers and the two dancing women. (Photo by Sandy Lane)
My Goodness: I’ve seen these guys twice now, and without a bass player, I just sense something missing. They rock, but they just don’t quite get all the way there for me. (Photo by Sandy Lane)
Phantogram: Pretty damn awesome in the KEXP Lounge. (Photo by Sandy Lane)
Lemolo: This is the mellower end of what I want a band with no bass player to sound like. I dig these two women a lot. (Photo by Sandy Lane)
You Am I: From the beer garden, they sounded good. I even wrangled my way backstage to get a photo of them. Being an Aussie like the band, Lauren Jackson was backstage too, but I didn’t bother her for a photo, and that’s probably for the best as I’d had just enough Shock Top in me that if I spoke to her I might have gone the fool route to be so bold as to ask her out for a drink.
Phantogram: Good enough to see twice in one day
More photos coming to our Facebook page soon.
If you like Bourbon and singing and instrument-playing Broads (and what’s not to like about either?), then the Neptune Theater will be a good place for you this Friday, September 16 as STG presents, obviously, Bourbon & Broads. There will be women playing music and bourbon reps on hand to provide all the infromation you’ll ever want to know about their bourbons, and there will be bourbon drink specials, flights, shots, cocktails at the bar and what not. All bourbon, all night. Just be careful driving home.
As for the music there will be Sera Cahoone, Betsy Olson, Maggie Bjorklund, Alessandra Rose, Shelby Earl and Side Saddle. I’ve seen Shelby a couple times, most recently at Bumbershoot, and she’s got that beaufitul country-indie-folk-pop thing going on, and I’ve seen Maggie Bjorklund perform with Rachel Flotard’s Cobird’s Unite (great show), but this will be my first time seeing her do her own thing. The others? Betsy Olson will be the most rocking act of the night, and I do quite like the groove of “Waitin’” … maybe even enough to mosey out on the dance floor should she play it.
A quick listen to most of the Broads promises a largely mellow evening though, and that’s fine with me. I like to sip my bourbon and relax, anyway, maybe carry on a conversation with a broad or two. And so you’ll find me back by the bar sipping, talking and taking notes, and letting the Broads, those singing and instrument-playing ones, do their thing. Should be a good time.