Tonight in Seattle:  

SIFF 2014 Preview: NW Connections

I honestly feel like the SIFF NW Connections programming gets better every single year! The 40th Seattle International Film Festival has an impressive roster of documentaries and features with local directors, actors, writers, and locations. ALL of this makes me incredibly happy! Let’s take a look at what’s happening this year.

My first thought when I spied the new Megan Griffiths film in this year’s line-up was, “AWESOME!”  And awesome it is. Lucky Them stars Toni Collette as a Seattle music journalist (for fictional magazine STAX) who’s never quite gotten over her famous and handsome musician beau’s disappearance. It’s packed with great acting from Collette and her co-stars, lots of recognizable Seattle scenery, and more introspection than you usually get from a “dramedy.” GO SEE IT! It’s great. {Screens 5/22, 7pm at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, and again 5/23, 9:15pm at The Egyptian}

Raging grannies seems like a thing I’d like, so I’m planning to check out Two Raging Grannies, a documentary about Seattle residents and best friends Shirley & Hinda, who ride around on their scooters with megaphones shouting suggestions about solving the global economic crisis. I LOVE IT. {Screens 5/28, 7pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 5/29, 4pm at Lincoln Square Cinemas, and again 5/30, 1:30pm at AMC Pacific Place}

And this one should be ... funny? Maybe? Local director Brett Fetzer’s first feature My Last Year with the Nuns involves Seattle monologist Matt Smith’s 8th-grade coming-of-age story set in 1966 … with Smith playing ALL the roles. Whoa. {Screens 5/21, 6:30pm and 6/26, 11am at The Egyptian}

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check out the TIG flickr pool

SIFF 2014 Preview: Face the Music

Hello, Imaginaries! I can’t believe that the 40th Seattle International Film Festival starts THIS THURSDAY! (what. the. what.) Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Face the Music line-up this year, let me moonwalk you through it, because there’s a lot of really rad stuff I don’t want you to miss!

First up, let’s take a look Keep On Keepin’ On, a tribute to jazz legend Clark Terry, who taught Quincy Jones and Miles Davis, and who helped blind pianist Justin Kauflin realize his dream. There are two special events happening around this spectacular documentary: An Evening with Quincy Jones, in which the Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Jones at the premiere screening of the film, and The Justin Kauflin Trio is playing at The Triple Door as a companion performance with a special introduction by Quincy Jones. Sounds like a 3-day jazz-lovers extended dream date! {An Evening with Quincy Jones Special Presentation Screening & Tribute 6/4, 7:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Keep On Keepin’ On screens again 6/6, 4pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown; Companion show with The Justin Kauflin Trio, June 5 at The Triple Door, 7pm}

And of course, Opening Night is the premeire of Jimi: All is By My Side, a story about Jimi Hendrix before he was Jimi Hendrix. Sure. Okay. Why not? Outkast's André Benjamin stars as Jimi, a rising musician caught in a sticky love triangle between Linda Keith and Kathy Etchingham. SCANDALOUS. {Screens on SIFF Opening Night, 5/15, 7pm at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall} 

Nick Cave fans, check it: get a peek into the enigmatic musician & writer’s everyday life—sort of—with a fiction-mentary by Directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard. 20,000 Days on Earth is described as “blending fact, fiction, and fantasy” and the trailer looks AMAZING. Can’t wait to see this one. {Screens 5/16, 10pm at Lincoln Square Cinemas, and again 5/21, 9:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown}

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Happy birthday, Seattle Living Room Shows!

at Lively Lounge

How do you throw yourself a surprise party? If you’re Kristen and Carrie Watt, you book a festival’s worth of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite indie musicians and a glamorous private venue in SoDo and then sell tickets announcing only the date and time. And if you’re the Watt sisters, fans and friends of Seattle Living Room Shows will trust you and flock to see your mystery acts. And they will love it.

The venue was the Lively Lounge, a recording studio cum concert hall atmospherically decorated with chandeliers and candles, with two bars serving drinks and room for 300 people. The crowd was uncharacteristically chatty for a Living Room Show; Kristen had to put her bossy pants on and remind the audience that SLRS is a listening room experience. Maybe it was the size of the venue that made people forget themselves, but common courtesy would have led the conversationally inclined to one of the couch-filled side rooms where they wouldn’t have disturbed those who’d rather hear the music than their neighbors.

Iska Dhaaf opened the celebration. The drums and guitar/keyboard duo sounds heavier live than recorded. Reverb-drenched vocals and Doorsy keyboards give them a bit of a ‘60s sound, but the songs have more of an angular Alt-J feel than a retro one. Every aspect of their performance had clear intentionality that you rarely see in a live show. Even the guitar feedback was controlled. In fact they talked to the sound guy more than the audience, but all this attention to detail did nothing to diminish the intensity of the performance. People on either side of me were asking, “Who is this again?” as they danced. Yes, that’s right folks. Seattleites danced to unfamiliar music.

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Latest comment by: Violette B: "The Marc Broussard show on 5/23 has sold out. Luckily another has been added 5/22 and tickets are still available (as of the time I am posting this comment. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/676604 "

Get hooked on Shrink Dust, see Chad VanGaalen at St. John's tonight (yes, seriously)

What in the fucking shit, you guys. This record. 

In case you missed it all over the internets last week, Pitchfork had an advance-stream of Chad VanGaalen's new release up -- and so here in the imaginary offices, we clamored about, set our guns to stream, and promptly took it for a spin. After having it on repeat for days on end, we were all quite literally splayed out on the floor, trying to soak it all in for the umpteenth time, full to the brim and going back over and over again for more.

Our conclusion is this: Shrink Dust, the first full-length release since 2011's Diaper Island, is nothing short of a freakish masterpiece.

Personally, as a casual VanGaalen fan -- a friend had put a track of his on a mix a few years back, and I loved everything about Diaper Island as a result -- I knew Shrink Dust was going to be good, but I don't think I was fully prepared for exactly how good it was going to be. The sheer imageric power of this album put a whole movie to reels in my mind, setting off a series of sequences I can't (and don't want to) unsee. Threaded throughout these songs are a total and absolute ache, a filtered insanity bridged with utter clarity, some blinding sunshine, and some all-out rock. It's daydreams and nightmares and wakings-up, all at once. Shrink Dust, simply stated, is a force to be reckoned with, regardless of your personal taste leanings or wheelhouse.

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Tennis Pro — Small Basement Encore

Hey, Seattle. Got a minute? We need to talk to you about something. Pull up a seat.

Here's the thing: you do a lot of stuff right. Those are great shoes, and we saw you out at that show last week. You're real cool! You listen to good records. You support small businesses. You like that weird shit that nobody else likes but you, and you've got all those rad posters to prove it. You're doing good work! But we're not sure if you're down with Tennis Pro yet. Are you? Because there's no excuse for you not to be. They've been putting albums out for the better part of a decade, and if you're not totally hooked, you're kinda doing it wrong.

Thankfully for you, this is an easy fix: Small Basement Encore was released last week, and it's a great place to start building out this corner of your wheelhouse. SBE is the very best of Tennis Pro's intelligent, infectious releases to date, and it's available as a digital-only release through iTunes (and cdbaby). It's kind of like your BFF made you an all-Tennis-Pro-hits side A to your new favorite mixtape.

What starts off as an intelligent, hilarious trip through some killer chord choices quickly turns the corner into a veritable symphony of awesomeness. If you don't catch the depth these guys dive to on the first listen, plug in your headphones and give it a second play. Then a third. Soon you'll be hollering "Rock Over Tokyo" in the shower before work, and tapping your pencil in a daydream to the tune of "Caught The Wrong Wave" without even realizing it. Scratch your symphony itch with "Rounding Up The Frightened Pets," find a new smart-kid fuck-you power jam in "We Put The Punk In Punctuation" -- whatever you do, just buy this album today and let it be your gateway drug to the band's catalog.

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Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "I LOVE this review so much! Just as much as I LOVE Tennis Pro. xoxoxoxoxo "