Tonight in Seattle:  

Don't miss: Damien Jurado at the Neptune {1/17}

{Damien Jurado / Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son}

Rejoice, fans of the Saint Bartlett > Maraqopa trajectory: I have heard the new Damien Jurado album, and it is good.

As we reported back in October, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is here (yeah, he's talking about Jesus -- don't worry, it's a rad trip; take a drag on what Father John Misty had to say about it) and with it, a release show at the Neptune this Friday. As the first official show endorsement of 2014, I would highly, highly recommend not missing this performance. Here's why: the first time I heard Brothers and Sisters, I immediately tried to figure out how to get some peyote, so I could go jam out in the desert someplace with "Silver Donna" fed through a transistor radio on infinite repeat, eventually disappearing completely.

Yeah -- it's really accesible, but it's that kind of record.

With the helping hand of Richard Swift, Damien Jurado continues to expand his consciousness -- and seemingly, his alignment with the art he wants to make, not the art that's expected of him -- with his most psych-tinged record yet. And while I'm still very much present, typing at this keyboard without said substance or desert experience coming to pass in real-time, it is crystal clear to me that this is for sure a trip that I want to be on. The very touchable, dimensional reality is that Jurado can go from a song like "Go First" to something like this:

and whoever has that kind of incredible range of work in them also has me at the front of the line, for all performances and record pre-orders, forever and ever. (Amen.)

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Imaginary Keenan's navel-gazing 2013 wrap-up

2013 was one of the most challenging years of my adult life. I tackled a ridiculous amount of life and ALL CAPS FEELINGS all at once but somehow came out alive and mostly unscathed thanks to finally learning how to take care of myself. 2013 found me taking solace in music much more than the few years preceding it, mostly because I needed it. 2013 was the year of obsessive repeats and the return of music as therapy to my life. Here are a few things that really shook me to the core and pulled me through even the darkest days.

Fortunately, this year featured new releases by two of my all-time (and seriously imaginary) favorites, BOAT and Tullycraft. I spent the first quarter of the year listening to both on repeat, generally in succession. I owe my sanity in the first few months at a brutal corporate job I have since (thankfully) left mostly to these two records.

BOAT's Pretend to Be Brave is a beautiful, slow burning record. My husband and I have a joke about BOAT songs - "My favorite BOAT song is the one about overcoming difficulties and becoming a better person" {cue rim shot} and that couldn't have been more true on the latest effort nearly a decade into their career. But like with every BOAT record, the songwriting becomes more focused, more honest and the hooks become even stronger. The secret weapon on this record is the absolutely perfect backing vocal performance provided by Portland's Shelley Short, adding just the right amount of sparkle. My only disappointment was that BOAT didn't play more shows in 2013. Hopefully this is something they'll correct in the new year. Please enjoy the lead single, "Hating the Criminal".

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Latest comment by: Diana Wegener: "Very rocking and dashing as well. I like you guys, I like the way you present your news. Keep us rocking in 2014! In It Pokies "

2013: a mostly-local year in the rearview mirror {pt. II}

{David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
David Bazan at the Neptune, as part of the Barsuk 15th-year anniversary shows.

Summer -- endless summer! -- was full to the brim of incredible shows: I had the fortune of hosting John Vanderslice in my living room (and my backyard), spending a few days with Tom Brosseau, seeing Paul McCartney from the third row at Safeco, strolling around the farm for a hot weekend at Pickathon, and it all closed out with a most excellent Bumbershoot experience. I literally couldn't have asked for more!

At the same time, my sonic landscape was interspersed with the likes of Crosby Stills & Nash, KEXP's Six Degrees of Sharon van Etten, a hearty Zeptember, and tracks off the new releases from Laura Veirs, The Moondoggies and a random (to me) band that hit the imaginary inbox called Brass Bed.

I love these songs the same way I love "Northwestern Girls" by Say Hi. They feel so locally-steeped and hand-forged, bringing the best of the PNW home to roost in their respective deliveries: Laura Veirs takes us on a light-soaked journey paying homage to the sun, the Moondoggies bombard us with sound from the stage of our favorite Ballard bar. A+++. {Get the MDs album here, and Laura's here. Hers is even available on reel-to-reel!}

If we're going to get super technical here, this Brass Bed track came out on a 7" in 2012 as a preview of the 2013 album, The Secret Will Keep You. So, filed under new-new or new-to-me-new, it still counts so far as I'm concerned. I haven't spent a ton of time with the full-length, but the single struck me enough to slip it into a few mixes this year. Not local, still magically delicious. Start with their bandcamp and go from there to see if anything else strikes you -- there's an EP of Nilsson covers from 2012, and tour dates if you're inclined.

{Tom Brosseau / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Tom Brosseau, holding down the fort out behind our own Tractor Tavern.

Speaking of Tom Brosseau, not only did I get to take in two incredible shows on the tour he did with Sean Watkins this past summer -- at the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, and the following night at the Tractor -- I've got my bets hedged on his 2014 release, Grass Punks, being one of the best non-local releases of the year (right alongside my pending-official-release northwest favorites, Damien Jurado's Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son and Barry Uhl's An Account of the Happenings at Wretched Knob). It's my favorite record he's done since I fell in love with what I mean to say is goodbye -- I've been listening to it pretty much non-stop since picking up a tour-only copy at those shows this summer, and I can't wait for it to get officially birthed out into the world. Keep an eye on all things Tom at his website here.

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A very imaginary “best of” 2013 movie list

It is time once again for me to dig into the vault of my ever-failing memory and pull up a list of the best movie things I saw in 2013. (Thankgod for Letterboxd...) 

Best acting job I’ve ever seen Leo do: The Wolf of Wall Street
I completely forgot that was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen while I was watching him reenact Jordan Belfort’s insane life … which is really unusual. And while I’m saying for the second time how much I loved this film and can’t wait to see it again, I’ll just throw in that I am not in the camp that thinks this movie glorifies Belfort’s behavior. It’s not about the victims, because that would be a different movie. It’s about excess and greed and hookers and drinking and drugs and money. You know, typical Scorcese stuff. And it’s great. It’s really, really, really GREAT.

Best film about a guy you probably shouldn’t care about, but do anyway: Inside Llewyn Davis
I’m still not sure how I feel about all that folk music, but I do know how I feel about the Coen Brothers. I like those guys an awful lot. Llewyn Davis is kind of a dick, but he’s also kind of not. And you end up rooting for him, even if he isn’t rooting for himself. Confused? I might be too, but it’s a good film anyway … and I sure do like that orange cat.

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2013: a mostly-local year in the rearview mirror {pt. I}


RSD2013 release, and quite possibly one of the best things I heard all year, AKA Shearon van Ettenwater.

In years past, I've looked forward to the construction of my end-of-year lists, especially during years that ran toward the fuller side of new (and new-to-me) music that I was excited to compile and share. Since the days of digital music management, my standard operating procedure has been as follows: pull up my iTunes, sort by "date added" and take a stroll through the year in what I've added to my library -- which all worked fine and well in conjunction with a scan through that year's photo sets to jog my memory -- until last year, when I transferred libraries to a new computer, and my whole library had a singular import date. Hrmph.

As square as it is to admit -- and I'm sure I can't be the only person who does this! -- with a computer fix on the horizon, the only thing that made sense (and seemed remotely idiot-proof) to assist with the process this year was keeping track of the best things I came across over the course of the year in a spreadsheet in my Google drive. It worked pretty well, and I wound up with notes from every album that struck my fancy, every live show I saw (since I could access it remotely on my phone), and every uptick in a particular record's rotation, new or otherwise. I suppose in another era I would have done something more along the lines of, say, writing it down in a notebook or something archaic -- but knowing me, I'd likely misplace the notebook at some point. Is this where we talk about the pros and cons of how the internet never forgets? Anyway.

So, without further ado: of the fifty-odd things this year saw fit for me to be moved by to the point of making note of them, here's what ranked the highest, in chronological order.

{Fathery John Misty / by Victoria VanBruinisse}
Baby's First Father John Misty Show, at the Neptune in January.

The beginning of the year saw new releases from Telekinesis, Hey Marseilles, Wimps, Sallie Ford, the Heligoats, and Pickwick; as I was still steeped in Greg Vandy's best of 2012 show and releases from bands like the Allah Las, Jake Bugg, Nick Waterhouse, and the Orwells. While all of those releases were good (if not excellent!) a few stood out above the rest, which I covered back in March.

{Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside}

Regarding Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside's Untamed Beast, I noted it was [...] clear from the nuance of the songs that Sallie (and/or her in-song character) is ready to rumble, drink, fuck, and pony up -- at least, that's the story her voice tells as we take the trip from the first to last track. It's a good listen with a delicate balance of vulnerability and toughness coming through from song to song, and I'm excited to see what this band puts out over their next release or two as they continue to grow, grow up, and evolve.

Well, we won't get a chance to keep on this trajectory with the band, as they announced a few weeks ago that they were breaking up for good. Hopefully they all keep on with individual projects and don't stop making music! (I was really stoked for those next two imaginary albums, y'all.) Pick up Untamed Beast, Dirty Radio, and that sweet Not An Animal EP while you still can here.

Another early year obsession was the demo (followed by proper full-length) from local punk band Wimps. I couldn't get it out of my brain, specifically, the track "Repeat" in the video above. Plainly stated: [...] this shit is good. The thing about Wimps is that there's no buffer, no... shtick, nothing but the sounds and the delivery. It's almost as if they've all dialed in to exactly what they need and want to be doing musically right now, one of those seemingly effortless phases that's actually the result of a lot of hard work. On top of putting out a great recording, Wimps translates live, putting on a just-tight-enough performance that manages to be equal parts fun and kickass.

They've continued momentum over the year, you've likely seen them live by this point -- but on the odd chance you haven't, upcoming dates are in their Facebook 'about' section here.

Longstanding imaginary BFF-band The Heligoats put out a proper full-length this year, Back To The Ache, and "Drai Zich" promptly went on almost every mix I made over the year: [...] my love for Chris Otepka's bizarre, beautiful songwriting knows no bounds, so it's no surprise that I'm legitimately whipped on a few tracks from The Heligoats' latest release, Back To The Ache. Out last week with a video premiere on IFC for the most solid takeaway from the album, "Drai Zich," BTTA is a start-to-finish journey of the inner workings of Otepka's brainspace, a welcome follow-up to 2010's Goodness Gracious.

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