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Best of SIFF 2014 series {6/12-6/19}

Dior & I

If for some reason over the past month you’ve missed the TIG SIFF team's extensive coverage, overlooked the 'round-the-block queues at some of our fine local movie houses, and/or remained oblivious to the palpable cinematic energy felt throughout the 206 and surrounding area codes, you've been at least vaguely aware that our local cinema megathon was going on at some point between opening night mid-May and closing night Sunday.

On Thursday SIFF Cinema kicks off a ‘best-of’ series that whittles down the gargantuan festival lineup to 18 programs (17 features and a shorts package) of festival award winners and audience favorites, all screening at the Uptown and Film Center through Sunday, with a few multi-screening engagements through next week. Perfect opportunity to see what all the buzz was about if you missed out on SIFFing altogether for some reason, or if the insane schedule made you pick a certain film over something else you really wanted to see, or if the #SIFForty SIFFatigue got to you early and just caused you to give up.

Or maybe none of those scenarios applies and you're just interested in checking out some good films. In any case, you're in luck, because there are some genuinely fine cinema experiences to be had. Here’s the lowdown on the lineup.

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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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Barsuk takeover of Audioasis = basically the best thing ever

If you were near your radio and tuned in to KEXP this past Saturday night, you likely caught a bit of the Barsuk takeover of Audioasis. Label co-founder Josh Rosenfeld and Long Winters frontman John Roderick assaulted the airwaves for three hours with choice tunes, smart banter, and an in-studio performance and interview with The Revolutionary Hydra. (Not kidding!!)

This is all in advance of Barsuk's anniversary celebration shows, starting this week with Nada Surf at the Showbox on Thursday, and continuing through the weekend with performances all over town by The Long Winters, Phantogram, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, Ra Ra Riot and more. Everything is sold out (boo / yay!), full lineups here for you to either lament or get giddy with anticipation over.

Back to the Audioasis show: the archive will be available at KEXP's site for about a week and a half, you can listen to it live by clicking here {that link should work through next weekend}. In the absence of the live feed for Future Imaginaries, or, if you want to go build a killer playlist, here's a cut-and-paste of the playlist:

Death Cab for Cutie - "Company Calls"
Quasi - "It's Hard To Turn Me On"
Telekinesis - "Dirty Thing"
This Busy Monster - "Belated"
Little Champions - "Pillow Ass"
Hutch and Kathy - "In Brilliance"
Pete Krebs & the Gossamer Wings - "Sweet Ona Rose"
Laura Veirs - "Snow Camping"
The Revolutionary Hydra (live) - "Barton Sharp",
The Revolutionary Hydra (live) - "Bomb Squad"
The Revolutionary Hydra (live) - "Oxygen=Death"
The Revolutionary Hydra (live) - "Queen of the Gravity Urge"
Destroyer - "City of Daughters"
Modest Mouse - "Sleepwalking"
Sunset Valley - "Solid Goldmine"
Harvey Danger - "Loyalty Bldg."
The Halo Benders - "Don't Touch My Bikini"
Andy Fitts - "My Axe"
Leisure World - "All In Preparation"
Fleet Foxes - "In The Hot Hot Rays"

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Latest comment by: EveSalt2: "Yes, it is the best thing to happen for you. Indeed, everybody is really looking forward to that one. - Aaron Kocourek "

This Transatlanticism demo is the best thing you'll buy without hearing all day, promise

 
"I can't wait to go / grey."

I have the new / old Transatlanticism demos in my earholes right now, you guys, and I am seriously freaking out. The short version is that they are fucking incredible: "Sound of Settling" >> "Tiny Vessels" will pull your heartstrings and finish you off with a one-two punch of feels; "Passenger Seat" puts you right in the room with Ben and the piano. Although prone to hyperbole, I mean it without exaggeration when I say that these tracks are downright stunning.

Listening to Transatlanticism is always an all-encompassing experience, and the demos take it a step further: I feel like I'm holding a perfectly preserved time capsule, a glimpse into the as-is idea-brains of the musicians behind one of, for me at least, the most seminal albums of the early 00s. Reverse-equivalent to my recent obsession with the Wrens' deconstructed cover of "They'll Need A Crane" by TMBG, it's a preconstruction snapshot of what these songs were about to become, and it gives a beautiful, perhaps priceless, insight into the band's creative process.

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Celebrate 15 years of Barsuk! {UPDATED!}

{Barsuk Is The Best}

UPDATE:

The lineup has been announced, and it's a doozy! The Long Winters performing When I Pretend to Fall, Nada Surf performing Let Go, Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter, Menomena -- plus tons of other bands and special guests! The links below have all been updated, and non-VIP wristbands are available to get you in to all four shows for a mere sixty dollars. They're on sale now, so get to clicking!

***

It's a red-letter day, you guys!!

Last weekBack in June, our friends at Barsuk announced their fifteen year anniversary celebration. After we all get our faces melted off listening to Death Cab for Cutie run Transatlanticism start-to-finish at Bumbershoot, we'll have a mere sixty days until a weekend of incredible shows: from Thursday, November 7th through Sunday, November 10th, Barsuk will be showcasing present and alumni artists at lineups across town; specifically, at the Showbox, the Neptune, the Tractor, and Neumos / Barboza. Holy shit!

Before you start building your fantasy shows off of the roster {like, Ben Gibbard doing a set of All-Time Quarterback songs to open up for John Vanderslice opening up for Nada Surf at the Tractor, maybe?}, get this: today at noon, Barsuk is selling fifty pre-sale wristbands that get you into all four shows, with Uber transportation to and from each one and a complete set of limited edition numbered and signed screenprints {by Jason Munn}. The wristbands are $175.00, which works out to about $43.00 per show for the bands and a ride and a poster. That's not new math or anything, it's just a really fucking good deal. In fact, it saves you money! And PS, all of the net proceeds -- all of them, from these wristbands and all of the single show tickets -- are going to benefit Gilda's Club Seattle.

So: set your timer for 11:55a PST, bust out that credit card, and head on over to the ticketing page to get ready -- these wristbands are going to sell out in a hot minute. As the lineups are announced and single-show tickets go on sale later this month, we'll be sure to post all the details, so check back often for news!

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Sub Pop takes over Seattle {7/11-13}

{Sub Pop logo}

You've likely heard the news, but just in case you've been on a media / internet fast or something: Sub Pop is taking over Seattle, with a couple of ginormous events around town in honor of their 25th anniversary {aka their Silver Jubilee}. There's a lot of details to get to, so we're going to jump right in...

Today {Thursday} // Mudhoney, The Space Needle

{Mudhoney}

Yep, you read that right. Not only is Mudhoney playing on top of the motherfucking Space Needle, KEXP will be broadcasting live today from noon - 5:30p from the observation deck -- the first live broadcast from the Space Needle, ever! Leading up to the performance, there are a bunch of excellent in-studios and interviews scheduled too. Check out the schedule, and tune in:

12:30p: Interview with producer Jack Endino
1:00p: Sera Cahoone
1:30p: Interview with photographer Charles Peterson
2:15p: Interview with Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil
3:00p: J. Mascis
4:00p: Interview with label founder Bruce Pavitt
5:00p: Mudhoney

We heard on the Morning Show today that Charles Peterson will be shooting Mudhoney from a god damn helicopter. More information at KEXP here, where you can also find a link to a live video stream later today. Killer!

Tomorrow {Friday} // Jonathan Meiburg, Columbia City Theater

While this isn't going to be an official Silver Jubilee event, it's going to be an excellent show, and you should absolutely make it part of your Sub Pop-themed weekend {so long as you don't already have tickets to the Silver Jubil-Eve Comedy Thing}: Jonathan Meiburg (of Shearwater) will be playing at Columbia City Theater (!!!) and we're so excited, we can barely contain ourselves.

Somehow, tickets are still available for the show -- they're TEN DOLLARS, you guys -- pick yours up here, and PS, be sure to get to the show in time for the second band on the lineup, Brass Bed. They're not a Sub Pop band, and have nothing to do with the Jubilee, but the single off their upcoming release, "A Bullet For You," has been on heavy rotation in the imaginary offices of late. We're betting they'll be an excellent precursor to some solo Shearwater vibes:

{Saturday} // Sub Pop Jubilee, Georgetown

Okay, here's the meat and potatoes: the Jubilee itself will be taking place all day and all night Saturday in what's arguably one of Seattle's best neighborhoods, and the whole entire thing is f-r-e-e FREE.

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Latest comment by: John (In Ballard) : "Liz, I was listening to that yesterday and even watched a little of the live youtube stream of the Sera Cahoone set. It looked so nerve racking, and kind of windy. This Saturday is going to be pretty sweet; I'm trying to guess who or what those TBA's are ...

"Best" of SIFF 2013 series begins Today {6/12} at the Uptown

Populaire

So unless you've been hiding under a giant rock for the past month, missing the TIG SIFF team's extensive coverage, overlooking the 'round-the-block queues at some of our fine local movie houses, and/or oblivious to the palpable cinematic energy felt throughout the 206 area code, you've been at least vaguely aware that SIFF was going on. It kicked off May 16 and ran through this past Sunday, and it featured over 447 films from 85 countries. A total of over 700 screenings. Whoa.

Well, today through 6/20, SIFF Cinema Uptown presents a 'best-of' program that whittles down that gargantuan, overstuffed lineup to 19 programs (18 features and a shorts package) of festival award winners and audience favorites. Perfect opportunity to see what all the ado was about if you missed out on SIFFing altogether for some reason, or if the insane schedule made you miss something else you really wanted to see, or if the SIFFatigue got to you early and just caused you to give up. Or maybe none of those scenarios applies and you're just interested in checking out some good films. In any case, you're in luck.

Some of my personal favorites (Wolf Children, Our Nixon, Populaire, 7 Boxes) are making well-deserved repeat appearances, while others (Una Noche, Stories We Tell, The Spectacular Now, Die Welt, The Fruit Hunters) are conspicuously absent. And, IMHO, there are some that probably don't belong at all (C.O.G.? Seriously?). But I can almost guarantee you'll find something to appreciate. After the jump you'll find the schedule in screening order, with the TIG staff's thoughts on the films we covered, other reviewers' takes on the ones we didn't, and/or my own humble opinions of the films I saw too late to include in my weekly preview roundups.

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Latest comment by: imaginary embracey: "

Also note: a few SIFF 2013 films have begun theatrical runs and can be seen elsewhere around town --

The East - opens Friday 6/14 at Sundance Cinemas

Frances Ha - now playing at the Meridian and Sundance Cinemas

The Kings of ...