Tonight in Seattle:  

New Releases

God’s Pocket

Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro on God's Pocket

{God’s Pocket opens in Seattle on Friday, 5/16, and is screening at Landmark Varsity Theatre}  

Oof. I didn’t expect watching one of the last films Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in would be so … awkward, but it was. And for more than just the obvious reasons.

God’s Pocket is the first feature from Actor and Director John Slattery (aka Roger Sterling on Mad Men), and while the movie features some strong performances, the execution is definitely flawed. The story, set in a working class neighborhood in Philly in the 1980s, is based on a novel by Peter Dexter.

Main character Mickey Scarpato is something of a small-time crook; selling meat from the back of his truck that he gets from sketchy sources, stealing other trucks, and predictably, losing all his earnings at the horse track. His wife, Jeanie (played by Slattery’s MM co-star, Christina Hendricks) is gorgeous, and predictably, dissatisfied. She also has a 22-year-old-going-on-13 son named Leon, who, predictably, the entire neighborhood hates because he’s a racist, drug-addicted jerk.

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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 "

Record Store Day 2014 is here! {this Saturday}

{Record Store Day 2014}

It's time for Christmas in April, you guys! Yup, Record Store Day 2014 is here, and with it, no less than a few thousand RSD-only exclusive releases that you can't get anywhere else, on any other day. To try and help you wade through it all, here's a few helpful links for you to print / sort / map out as you see fit so you can have the best plan of attack possible on Saturday.

First things first: here's the main site for Record Store Day 2014, and here's the link for RSD-only releases and limited editions.

And while this is by no means exhaustive, here's some our favorite certified RSD-participating shops, in no particular order, with addresses, opening times, and any specials we've found advertised so far.

Easy Street
4559 California Ave SW, West Seattle
{website} // 206.938.EASY
They'll be open Saturday at 7am. Keep an eye out for in-store performance announcements here, and check out their blog for RSD recommendations!

Sonic Boom
2209 NW Market St, Ballard
{website} // 206.297.BOOM
Shopping starts at the regular opening bell (10am). Expect raffles, discounts, and even a live performance later in the day (St. Paul & The Broken Bones at 6pm).

Everyday Music
1520 10th Ave E, Capitol Hill
{website} // 206.568.3321
Everyday will be opening an hour early -- 8am -- with performances going strong from noon til 8:30pm, poster and more details here.

Light In The Attic Records
913 NW 50th St, Ballard
{website}
Per a recent blog post, the shop will be expanding their Saturday hours (usually 12-4p) to 9a - 5p on Saturday. LITA also will have tons of other hand-picked goodies available and a hefty 25% discount on non-RSD merch.

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Don't miss: Tom Brosseau at the Fremont Abbey {2/26}

{Tom Brosseau / by Nathaniel Wood}

No surprises here: I've been looking forward to this show since it hit my radar almost two months ago, when I was making my best-of-2013 lists and had to throw in an honorable mention for this guy's pending release. Yes, I'm talking about Tom Brosseau and yes, the final cut of the record is as good as I'd hoped. He'll be at the Fremont Abbey this Wednesday night with Shelby Earl, and if you know what's good for you, you won't miss it.

To speak to the album for a moment, Grass Punks is hands-down my favorite release since 2005's what I mean to say is goodbye, and as I type this I can't believe that nearly ten years have passed between them. While a beautiful body of work has been birthed in that decade, Grass Punks rings my bells so specifically because it's just very... well, Tom: a perfect fusing of traditional roots sound with a razor-sharp edge; a hybrid of North Dakota wheatfields and blistering days on the streets of Los Angeles. His dense, multi-faceted prowess shines through in separate-but-equal ways in standout tracks "Love High John The Conqueror Root" and "Today Is A Bright New Day," both of which are yours for the listening and purchasing here (and below).

The Northwest leg of the tour kicks off tonight at Mississippi Studios, with a handful of left-coast dates that dip down into California and an appearance at SXSW before Tom heads off to Europe:

2.25 // Mississippi Studios, Portland OR
2.26 // Fremont Abbey, Seattle WA
2.27 // Axe and Fiddle, Cottage Grove OR
2.28
// Veterans Memorial Theatre, Davis CA
3.01 // House concert, Sacramento CA
3.03 //
Freight and Salvage, Berkeley CA
3.04 // House concert, San Francisco CA
3.06 // North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe, San Diego CA
3.07 // Sanctuary, Santa Monica CA
3.08
// House Concert, Lompoc CA
3.11 // Javelina, Riot Act Media SXSW Showcase, Austin TX

Tickets for the Fremont Abbey show are right around nine dollars with fees, and are available through Brown Paper Tickets here (first two rows reserved are sold out). 7p doors / 8p show, all ages welcome. We'll see you there!

{Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Wood / Mary Jones Management.}

The Wolf of Wall Street

{The Wolf of Wall Street opens in Seattle on December 25, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place, and the Regal Meridian}

At one point last eve, amidst the rum balls and hot buttered rum and glasses of cava, I declared that I had to write this review and my love suggested that I could just claim my drunken state was “research” into the excess shown in The Wolf of Wall Street. Brilliant, right? And then, I totally forgot and fell asleep.

Brushing the sleep out of my eyes early this morning instead, I’m here to tell you that Wolf is my favorite Scorsese movie since Goodfellas. It’s funny, no, I mean, REALLY funny, and Leo. Mygod. I didn’t even notice it was Leonardo DiCaprio up there on the screen. It WAS Jordan Belfort.

The “wolf”, if you don’t know, is a guy who started on Wall Street as a stockbroker’s intern, got laid off on Black Friday, and then lucked into selling penny stocks and got really great at it, opened his own boiler room turned firm, and proceeded to screw his clients while making millions and millions and millions of dollars for himself ... but of course you can only do that for so long before someone catches you. 

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XVIII Eyes releases new album, plays Chop Suey TONIGHT

{XVIII Eyes / by Adrien Leavitt}

I've had the newest release from XVIII Eyes {fka Eighteen Individual Eyes} on repeat since the end of last month, trying to find a way to describe the wash of feelings I get from each start-to-finish listen. As a result, I've got notes about how the sound is delivered through a legit indie rock / alt.electro-synth modernized Cure-esque filter, and how a stunning movie-soundscape of capital-R Relationship flashes through my brain with the meter of heartbeat-synced percussion, and how those clear, clean vocals both mirror and constrast piercing guitar work that hits me right in the center of my person.

While those words do, of course, help frame out the personal experience I'm having with this record, rather than attempt to deliver it all into some concise essay about song-feelings, I'm just going to link I'll Keep You here and let you see / hear for yourself:

Thankfully, the vibe of both the album and the fundamental shift in XVIII Eyes' paradigm has been encapsulated in a most excellent descriptive from the album's official press release, excerpted here:

The transformation to something more accessible and decisive – essentially, the tapping of a pop vein - is mirrored in the band’s sophomore release, I’ll Keep You (self-released November 12, 2013). In a guitar-driven pop adventure through sound and space, XVIII Eyes reveal that the dark, brooding figure, the subject in the band’s 2012 debut Unnovae Nights, emerges from the bog turning out to be perfectly human. A handsome stranger that says “hello,” takes you by the hand and says, “Let’s hit it.”   

Triumph, however, is held in delicate balance. Songs like “I’ll Keep You” and “San Francisco” wear themselves inside out as the haunting, hypnotic pulse of the Wood/King rhythm section pushes Barber’s siren warnings (“Your heart just ain’t cold enough / to get caught up in this”, “Now you know what criminals are made of”), but are pulled just out of foreboding reach by Aaron’s sanguine guitar. The commanding psych drive of “SUN150” shifts pace and carries an urgent message of steadfast romance heard throughout the album.

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New Damien Jurado album available for preorder

Jesus is out of his goddamn mind, and I want to live in Damien’s America.

So states Father John Misty today over at Spin.com, as part of an essay on Damien Jurado's forthcoming (read: January 2014) release, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. From what the trailer implies, this is the next step in the Saint Bartlett > Maraqopa trajectory, and it's a damn good one.

What do you do with all this incredulousness? Preorder the album, and sit tight for a few months. The album proper is out on the 21st, and your digital download will arrive a few weeks prior.

Damien heads to Europe in early December, with a show at the Neptune on January 17th to celebrate.

Don't miss: Laura Veirs at the Tractor {tonight!}

Okay, so, there's seriously at least a dozen places to go tonight in town tonight. Fiona Apple is at Benaroya, Mark Pickerel and his Praying Hands are doing a set at Easy Street (for free! 8pm), Dave Chappelle is at the Moore, Fox and the Law have their album release at Neumos, Dug is going down at Lo-Fi... and while they'll all be great shows, I'm putting my bet on Laura Veirs and Karl Blau at the Tractor.

"Sun Song," my favorite track off of Veirs' most recent release Warp & Weft, strikes a very specific chord with me as a now-resident of the Pacific Northwest: her bell-like vocals wrap long arms around the cities I know and love, when the warmth finally wins out over the mossy bones, string-plucks celebrating the first rays of sun breaking through they grey skies.

And to speak to the entirety of Warp & Weft, from her bio:

Beautiful, lush and at times deeply dark, "Warp and Weft" captures the intensity of motherhood, love and violence. Primarily electric-guitar driven, it is a fever dream of an album and could well be Veirs’ best work to date... Veirs was eight months pregnant with her second child during the recording; she says her experience as a mother brought about some of the more beautiful and painful songs. “I’m haunted by the idea that something terrible could happen to my kids but that fear pushes me to embrace the moment. This record is an exploration of extremes – deep, dark suffering and intense, compassionate love.”

Add in opener Karl Blau and you've got a recipe for a near-perfect night of northwest music. Feel all those from-here feelings in real-time tonight at the Tractor: the 21-and-up party gets started at 9:30pm, advance tickets are $15 and available here.


 

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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Is the comedy album dead?

Nope! The comedy album is not dead. It probably should be, as almost every comedian has a podcast or YouTube channel now, or is appearing on three podcasts and talk shows and in festival line-ups this very week.

But an album -- the format of audio-based long-playing something or other, usually music, but then allowing for a full set of comedy when the 50s went "LP" -- is a certain kind of thing. As I bought these comedy CDs below, I often asked myself why I was bothering. Can't we get our comedy from a bunch of other sources now, some not even involving pestered cats on the Book of Face; much of which is available on that other silver disc, the DVD? 

Yes, memes and sitcom and stand-up collections are taking up a lot of our time both at work and in the after-hours, as diversions and consumables. But your career comedian, your yuck-bucket soldier that can't just snap his fingers and get the Internet to PayPal a million into his personal account, they still need to crank out the equivalent of a 40-minute collection of new material the way bands do.

And like those bands, the albums tend to rotate a bit on a theme, and to highlight a bit or two that makes its way to the before-referenced YouTube or talk shows. These albums may not have the majestic allure of the original, mysterious masters of the format -- Redd Foxx, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Albert Brooks -- but they are excellent live sets of the comedian's contemporary repertoire. Now will comedy albums ever get back to the conceptual hijinks of the Firesign Theatre or Monty Python? Maybe. Probably not. But it's kind of strange though.

Think about it this way: It's as if the pop music format hit the apex of Frampton Comes Alive in the 70s, and from then on, every musician was recording everything, everything since, through voice boxes on their guitars in front of a cheering, bong-loaded, Bic-waving mob of wing-hairs. That is, live set BOOM. Done deal. There are exceptions -- Norm MacDonald records studio comedy albums. (They're great, save for the homophobia. Ouch.) And there are always going to be They Might Be Giants-type bands as adept at yucks as they are rolling out the rock. But below are about as imaginative and cool and experientially fulfilling as comedy albums get these days, all of them recorded before a live audience, and all basing their artfulness on the direct appeal of their jokes'n'stories. So with that understood, let's hit 'em:

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