Tonight in Seattle:  


SIFF Review: The Otherside

This was an interesting time for director Daniel Torok to do a documentary on underground hip-hop in Seattle. In a strange way, it either seems a little late, or a little too early. (Maybe that means it's right on time -- the way a new record doesn't quite make sense, recalling memories of other music while transitioning the mind into a new situation, the heart into a fresh appreciation.)

It's a period in which people who have been enlivening the scene for years, like Larry Mizell Jr. of Don't Talk To The Cops and Sportin' Life owner DeVon Manier (two of the most thoughtful, generous, and charismatic men you will ever meet in the music business), are enjoying the vivified, elevated energies of a scene they dug out swell up with new talent coming up around them (muchly due to them). It's also a moment in which irresistible, invigorating breakthroughs come from unexpected sources, such as the comeback of Macklemore from a once-doomed grid, jacking into gold sales from as near middle America as 206 hip-hop has ever gotten.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

{The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in Seattle on Friday, 12/14 and is screening pretty much everywhere, but I personally recommend the Cinerama}

In order to talk about Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you have to talk about the craziness of him creating a new 3D film technology and deciding to use it—even at the risk of alienating some hardcore fans, and also, uh, making some of them literally throw up. But, we’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the actual plot first.

I was worried going into this that the dwarves would mean a lot of slapstick-y nonsense, and my fears were proven true as soon as the prologue about the dwarves was over, and they reached Bilbo’s house. It’s absolutely true that the dwarves are so similar that outside of the leader, Thorin, you can’t really tell them apart. It’s also absolutely true that the quickest way to make me facepalm is to have a bunch of characters sing while juggling dishes, but I digress.

The plot (like any of you going to see it DON’T know—humor me here) is thus: the dwarves were once rulers of this incredible mountain kingdom, and had more gold and jewels than they really knew what to do with, which unfortunately attracted a greedy dragon named Smaug who forced them out in order hoard the treasure.


Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

I sure did enjoy that! Especially the part where you called everybody who disagrees with you "dumb", "stupid", and "prejudiced", and imply that they should all lose their jobs and be replaced with people who LOVED The Hobbit -- ...

Did you catch our post on Daily Candy yesterday?

{Matt and Kim at Sasquatch! by Christopher Nelson}

True story!

The fine folks over at Daily Candy featured a playlist of ours, on the heels of Imaginary Victoria's what-you-can't-miss-at-Sasquatch post we ran last week. It's a quick drive-by of some local (and farther-reaching) favorites that we're excited to see this weekend, and includes tracks from Yellow Ostrich, Pickwick, THEESatisfaction, Hey Marseilles, We Are Augustines, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Damien Jurado, The Cave Singers, and more!

Pop on over to Daily Candy's site to check it out -- there's even a playlist with (most) of the tracks that you can spin(?) on Spotify.

{Photo by Christopher Nelson.}

Recommended Show: Willis Earl Beal at Barboza {5/4}

You know that feeling you get when you hear a band or musician, and within about 20 seconds say to yourself, "Wow, this person is going to be pretty big before too long"? That's the sense I get when I watch videos of 27 year-old Chicago musician Willis Earl Beal

Beal just put out his debut album Acousmatic Sorcery on Hot Charity, an imprint of XL Records, earlier this month. While the album itself has drawn a good amount of attention, Beal's backstory is equally intriguing: he gained attention around Chicago from flyers he hung up saying that he'd sing you a song if you called him, and that he'd draw you a picture if you wrote him. Seriously, you can still find his phone number and address right here on his website!

Beal wrote the songs for Acousmatic Sorcery while living in Albuquerque, NM before moving back to his native Chicago. His music is very raw, often accoustic, and dripping in soul and emotion. He often gets compared to Tom Waits, a comparison that Beal himself does not shy away from, and as he told Pitchfork in an interview in February, Waits is his favorite artist -- stating clearly that he "want[s] to be the black Tom Waits." Musical styles on the album range from slow acoustic ballads to stomp-and-clap roots numbers.

You can catch Beal this Friday, May 4th at the brand-spanking-new Barboza, which is located downstairs from Neumos. 

{7p doors / $12 adv / 21+}

Grimes — Visions

What's up, haterade-makers? Are you ready for the next Wavves or Coco Rosie to dump "comments" scorn on in this city of ciphers? Well, Claire Boucher (who is Grimes) sees herself as Phil Spector per Pitchfork, and the multiple internal personalities she evokes through her Nylon magazine collage of fashion-friendly-but-flirting with sounding roguishly ugly, J-Pop and K-Pop, and astrology-reading cassette-funk, is prime target for chillwave lads imagining their jittery jams have some sort of deeper meaning. (You can start that process by comparing yourself to Phil Spector and not sounding anything like Ronnie.)

I don't know if any in the bloggy woggy boy glitchy gang has any scholarly Scott Walkers (crazy cosmopolitan craftsmen) compared to this expressionist Nico (who used cigarette-scarred vocals to paint romantic distance as Grimes uses sugar-stuffed pixie-sticks from-the-diaphragm sprays). I don't listen to their mates closely enough. I do know Visions is a very pleasant trip through Asian pop plagiarism meets Flying Lizards novelty rock, and if the deeper ideas Boucher espouses in interviews don't seem to quite make it into the sequence, there is historical precidence for enjoying weird stuff for just being weird stuff. Grimes for me falls somewhere far away from Tuneyards' ecstatic, erotic, energizing DIY cosmic body rock, and maybe a little closer to Amy Grant's cute, pure odes to some theocratic order based on a monotheistic editor. 

My utterly reductivist wife, walking through the living room while this played, was like "Oh, the new Cocteau Twins." That's a little shorthanded, but my wife really likes the Cocteau Twins, so you know --


Latest comment by: Chris Estey: "

I'll have to check out those KEXP performances, John. I have the feeling when she's not trying to keep it together with the "proper" drum machine sounds matched to overt hooks, or using a live drummer, it can be really inspiring. (I'll ...

Heavy rotation: Nada Surf, Tennis

{Nada Surf}

In a land where we are inundated by new music on a weekly, if not sometimes daily basis -- few things feel better than starting a nice, fresh playlist of tracks that have made the cut (in both the new-release new and new-to-me new ways). I like to organize mine by month, so at a moment's glance, I can see what's new when a friend is looking for something to woo her ear, or what to pull from for a DJ night. That first playlist in the first folder of the year holds special appeal for us over-organizing audiophiles, and while it's already starting to flesh out with some new-to-my-rotation tunes -- "For The One" / WATERS, "Goodness Gracious" / Heligoats, "The Dreamer" / Tallest Man On Earth -- one of the first outright new tracks of 2012 that's become stuck in my proverbial craw is Nada Surf's "When I Was Young".

Slated for release later this month, and undoubtedly one of the many songs the crowd will be set to swoon for when they take the stage at the Tractor on February 2nd, this song has the same kind of intimate-cum-cinematic appeal of Band of Horses' "Funeral" -- the kind of track you turn up because the opening strains start to pull at your heartstrings, and before you know it, you're thrown into this building, accelerating wall of indie-rock, while those signature vocals hold steady and soothing. If the rest of the album is anything like this, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy will absolutely have a firm place in your top-ten list of 2012, local or otherwise. {band official} {preorder at Barsuk}


Heavy rotation: fall edition, part I

Autumn is upon us, and once again, we've found ourselves happily submerged in a sea of grey mornings at the local cafe with headphones on, poring through new releases and marking our calendars for upcoming shows. And in case you're in one of those spots where you had to put New Release Tuesday on the back burner for a bit, we'd love to help you catch up! Part one of two, this post features stuff we heart to the maxx that also has a live show coming up in November -- and PS, we've got tickets to give away for almost everything featured here! Read on:

Who: tUnE-yArDs, aka Merrill Garbus

{tUnE-yArDs at Sasquatch! 2010 by Victoria VanBruinisse}

What: new(ish) album from earlier this year, upcoming show, all-around awesomeness
Sounds Like: super-melodic, experimental freak-out tribal chanting over sweet beats + some very catchy sing-a-long-y vibes
More info at:
Playing: The Neptune on Sunday, November 20th

Short version? One of the stand-out small-stage acts at Sasquatch! 2010, plays huge venues now, not to be missed. Long version: tUnE-yArDs -- which is comprised mostly of a lady-genius named Merrill Garbus, along with some loops and accompanying musicians depending on where and when you catch her -- is not like any other band out there today. It's part crazy catchy beats, part tribal warpaint, part musical catch-and-release, and all amazing. 2009's Bird-Brains kicked our asses, and 2011's w h o k i l l took things to a whole 'nother level. Buy both albums and make sure you're front and center for her Neptune appearance later this month.

Who: We Were Promised Jetpacks

What: new album, upcoming show, mosh potential
Sounds Like: straight-up indie rock, big guitars, angst, Scottishness
More info at:
Playing: Neumos on Tuesday, November 15th


Latest comment by: Ryan: "I have heard many songs sung by Anastacia. Heavy Rotation is one of the albums sung by her. I have tried to download it, but unable to do this. Just wants to know the site from where we can download this. Also can anyone tell me other songs by her? It will really ...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

{Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opened in Seattle on Friday, July 14 and is playing at the Majestic Bay, the Pacific Science Center IMAX®, the Cinerama, and other area theaters}

THE END of Harry Potter is here. And as I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan. But Amie! You’re nerdy. And you love supernatural things. And you heart the crap out of reading. All this is true, but the first 5 HP books (won from a work contest many years ago) sit dust-covered and untouched on my bookshelf.

See, Harry Potter is one of those things where every single person and their brother’s brother said some variation of this to me, “OMFG they are so amazing you will totally love them read them all right now whatiswrongwithyou?” - which is the best way to make sure I NEVER do something. So instead of reading, I just went ahead and cheated by seeing all the films. And while there were a few moments I appreciated, they kind of all blended together and I just wasn’t that impressed.

So I wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by this, but I joined in the hype just because it was fun. And on the day of the press screening for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I had to go ahead and post this smartass tweet:

HP Tweet

Which naturally totally screwed me, because I ended up pouring out some serious waterworks over the course of 2 hours and 5 minutes. So I’ll just say it: this movie surprised me.



Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

I think you will LOVE it, Liz! And the Cinerama is the best place to see it.


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides

{Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened in Seattle on Friday, 5/20, and is playing at the Majestic Bay, the Metro, the Meridian, and the Cinerama}

Well thank god Disney for a swashbuckling return to form after the last two abysmally long and confusing PotC movies. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has cast off the dead weight of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly's complicated romance in favor of focusing solely on the star of the show: the scruffy, drunken, and hilariously awesome Captain Jack Sparrow (obvs. played by Johnny Depp).

After seriously botching an attempt to break first mate Gibbs out of jail, Sparrow discovers the nefarious Barbossa (Geoffery Rush - now one-legged) has joined sides with the royal guard, and is now seeking legendary Fountain of Youth--which only Sparrow knows the way to.

What follows is a kick-ass adventure involving a very sultry Penélope Cruz as Angelica, the former scorned lover of Sparrow, and the recently reunited daughter of the evil and ruthless Blackbeard--played by Deadwood's Ian McShane with heaps of Al Swearengen swagger, if Swearengen had a foofier outfit, a magic sword, voodoo dolls, and the power to raise the dead that is.


Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

Thanks Chris! I really enjoyed it. So much fun!


Fleet Foxes + Cave Singers = a mindbendingly beautiful night at the Moore

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

There's one word that comes to mind above all others in regards to Monday night's Fleet Foxes / Cave Singers show at the Moore -- and that word is simply stunning. The impeccable sound, lighting, and setup of the Moore made for a veritable breeding ground of amazing, as two of the Pacific Northwest's best alt.beardcore bands brought their respective brands of greatness to the stage. The Cave Singers let loose with a tight, polished, best-of catalog-spanning set that washed over us like the force of nature they are -- followed by this imaginary's inaugural live Fleet Foxes set.

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}


Latest comment by: Imaginary Amie: "

Beautiful pix, V! Sorry I missed this (and Tuesday's show).