Tonight in Seattle:  

Northwest Bands

Ben Gibbard's solo record announced

{Ben Gibbard and Nick Harmer / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Mark your calendars, Ben Gibbard fans: on Tuesday, October 16th, Barsuk records will be releasing Former Lives, the very first full-length solo LP to be put out by the Bremerton, WA native. For as long as Gibbard has been involved in the music scene, fans have come to understand that he is not afraid to leap into new, unexplored spaces with other musicians -- this has led to an astounding catalog of music that is rich and diverse in it's influences and sounds.

Fomer Lives has been explained by Gibbard as a collection of tunes that have not necessarily been the scraps leftover from his previous ventures, but rather songs of equal quality that merely did not fit into the flow and scheme of previously released albums. As he points out in a recent interview with Stereogum: "In the past whenever I've put out any solo recordings it's just been of a function of the time in which I was in. I'm a songwriter and that's my job, and with every record that we've made there would always be a couple of tunes that just didn't seem to fit in with the band."

Fans expecting a finely polished Death Cab for Cutie album might be a little surprised, but anyone with a keen interest in getting a closer, more intimate look into the creative mind of Ben Gibbard should be delighted -- as this is shaping up to be an eclectic gathering of songs that have been years in the making. As Gibbard also stated, "I kind of like that the record is something of a mixed bag. The songs themselves are not all of a particular mode and they're not all about one subject, and they're not from one definitive era of my life."

Read the whole Stereogum interview here, and keep up with announcements at Ben's official site here.

{Photo of Ben Gibbard and Nick Harmer by Victoria VanBruinisse.}

Capitol Hill Block Party 2012 review: Best year yet?

{Grimes crowd / by Brady Harvey}

Monday has come and gone, and we're still having sweet, only slightly-sticky memories of this year's annual Capitol Hill Block Party. This year's was definitely the least hot or humid, making it pleasurable for those of us who aren't too into the sun (no offense to the lovers of the big yellow lava-lump in the sky). Saturday heated up as the musical apex of the fest rose, with Brooklyn's The Psychic Paramount awesome possum-saucing new fans on the Main Stage (and then again at a semi-secret show at unofficial CHBP venue The Comet on Sunday, with a whole bunch of fellow psyche freaks a-jambling).

Special little shows erupting here and there through the fenced-in Broadway neighborhood that surrounds The Stranger offices was a topic of much chatter as we walked between Neumos, the Vera Stage, et. al., to catch the already delightful scheduled line up Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Duff McKagan of Guns N'Roses immortality played a little bass for Walking Papers, a new thang he had swinging in the always-chuffed-and-stuffed bunker of the Cha Cha. There were a lot of other hidden thrills, but this is possibly my favorite Capitol Hill Block Party ever simply because there was so much sweetness going on officially, you couldn't not hear a great band just a few feet away from wherever you stood / swayed / jitterbugged / passed out in a tipple pool. I saw maybe one or two bands that didn't light my fire, but they were up-and-comers and may burn brightly later on when I catch 'em another time.

Now let's get to what was seen and supremely dug, by the EMP's photographer and Tea Cozies' Brady Harvey and myself, since Friday afternoon, July 20:

Father John Misty (Friday, 4 p.m., Main) craftily created a record worthy of an L.A. Wolf King earlier this year, but it was no warmed-over homage to SoCal succubi and champagne made by long-haired millionaires filling up your daddy's and mama's orange crated elpee collections. Josh Tillman perfected a musically appealing (and at times satirically astonishing) journey to the end of the weird scenes in one man's gold-dust mind. There was no reason to think this one-time drummer for the Fleet Foxes wouldn't blow everyone away by loosely, confidently, and joyfully singing the songs from this new persona's one platter oeuvre, but his personableness and professional surpassed expectations. I have never experienced such a warm, welcoming, wowing start to a festival. We were all into the music and J. was into us, his lanky frame curling its upper limbs into the air, pointing at the gods, tearing at the moon's face paint, calling out to friends like Joel Cuplin and Eric Fisher (of Constant Lovers), his band aces all the way. Hey, I could have left the festival then and been pleased as deadly nightshade. But the trip was just starting to ball.

Deadkill (Friday, 4:15 p.m., Neumos) somehow juggles being ferally fearsome with sometimes being really funny (lyrically), reminding me slightly of the late 90s rosetta stone of performance art punk, Raft of Dead Monkeys. But the humor is more reserved, and that is probably the only thing one can describe as reserved about the band, as they make sounds that smell like a Detroit muscle car factory spitting out speed flames. Lead singer Bryan Krieger has tattoos as if he's ready for some mixed Martial arts and a body to match it, and his boys don't slag watching his back in total panther-rock attack. Ecstatic. Great rawk, no holding back. OK, I'll stop "pa-rapping" now.

Crystal Stilts (Friday, 5:15 p.m., Neumos) was good, and made me appreciate them more by seeing them live. No, I am not a fan, but a casual admirer at least. (Put down your shoegaze; don't hit me with their I'm-so-high heels.) There is something about the Stilts' sound that is mesmerizing, but also an aspect that seems like it could be beefed up somehow. Live, it's a wonderful flow -- it moves me more seeing them grind their organs, lurched over stacked keyboards and singing like they're peeved poets at the bottom of an ennui well. Old man flashback: they kind of remind me of Polyrock from back in the very early 80s, being both fuzzily dissonant but also new wave streamlined, and not too concerned with direct listenership connection. 

Doomtree (Friday, 5:15 p.m., Main), on the other hand, which I walked out to from CS, roared and bounced and spun soul music and gave crazy good advice about living and exploded like a firecracker party on a hot asphalt island. You could not help but be pulled in by their thick-groove, big-hearted, Minneapolis funk and flow. Nothing ambivalent about this hip-hop, it's rooted in a head scene but it's sheer body rocking beauty. Dessa's deeply adored for a reason, and I found more than one to feel the whole way about Doomtree this day. How'd I arrive at this jam so late? People were loving this, really loving it.


Save the date(s): KEXP's 2012 Concerts At The Mural series

{The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

With August right around the corner, the time of year has come once again to reserve every Friday for a lovely lounge with your friends on the lawns of Seattle Center, where KEXP will be presenting another fantastic year of their Concerts At The Mural series. There's a night for everyone, with bands ranging from roots to indie pop to hip hop and back again -- in some cases, all in one night! Take a look at the schedule below, and mark your calendar accordingly:

Friday, 8/3 // Hosted by DJ El Toro
Shovels & Rope
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
Legendary Oaks
Fly Moon Royalty

Friday, 8/10 // Hosted by Quilty 3000
The Young Evils

Friday, 8/17 // Hosted by Troy Nelson
Love Battery
Absolute Monarchs

Friday, 8/24 // Hosted by Larry Mizell Jr.
Fresh Espresso

Don't forget, these concerts are always free and always all ages -- and for those of you looking to imbibe, there's a reasonably-priced 21+ beer garden with a great view on the back half of the Mural lawn.

We'll see you there! All shows start promptly at 5:30.

{Photo of The Head and the Heart at KEXP's 2010 Concerts At The Mural series by Victoria VanBruinisse.}

A few picks for this weekend's Block Party {7/20 - 7/22}

Is it mid-July already? Holy shit. That means that the Capitol Hill Block Party is here, and there are a couple of things that will be crucial to keep in mind as you head out this weekend to inundate yourself with sun, buddy hangs, and set after set of live music.

One, if the weather stays in our favor {right now Saturday and Sunday are looking like 74 and clear!} you'll need plenty of sunscreen -- for full coverage of your fair PNW skin, folks, it's best to put it on before you leave the house. (Wait, who let my mom in here? Ahem.) Two, if you're knocking back tons of a few drinks over the course of the day, don't forget to hydrate properly. Water = your BFF. Three, for some reason, the ATMs that are loaded up in the "festival grounds" seem to all run out of money at the same time -- so make sure you pick up cash before you head in. And four, try as you might, you can't catch every band on every stage, and that's why you should take our picks with you to make sure you don't miss the best of the fest:

Must-see #1: Lemolo {8:30pm, Vera Stage // Saturday, also at 3:30pm on the Barboza Stage for KEXP}

We can't get enough of Lemolo, and we've waxed on and on about their live shows, their video, and most recently their full-length album, The Kaleidoscope. With two back-to-back sold out shows for the album's release a few weeks ago, most of Seattle has caught the buzz about what makes this duo great -- but if you haven't yet, make sure to get yourself in front of the Vera Stage for their 8:30pm set on Saturday for a slice of their one-of-a-kind shreddy indie dreamscape bliss. Lemolo will also be playing on the Barboza stage at 3:30pm as part of KEXP's Block Party setup, similar to the secret lounge at Bumbershoot. Two shots to catch them = no excuses!

Must-see #2: Father John Misty {4pm, Main Stage // Friday}

Another performer we'd be surprised to see missing from your non-negotiable list is Father John Misty, a brilliant incarnation of everything you didn't know you needed in your new favorite band. It's a part rock, part thrust, part hip-swinging croon that manages to embody a well-read version of a great high (but maintains enough edge to keep you guessing). As if being a killer percussionist, a tremendous vocalist, and an all-around genius aren't enough, Josh Tillman is insanely hilarious -- for those of you who didn't catch it the first time around the tubes, this interview is nothing short of brilliant:

Fuck you, Joe!

Must-see #3: Alicia Amiri {as herself at 5:45pm, Cha Cha Stage // Friday, as Nightmare Fortress at 2pm, Neumos Stage // Saturday}


Recommended Show: Fort Union album release at the Tractor Tavern {7/27}

Nothing can really fill the hole in my heart left by the absence of Friday Mile, but Fort Union comes close.

Two Friday Mile bandmates, Jace Krause and Jake Rohr, have come together once again to create some beautiful songs, traveling back-and-forth from Portland (where the relocated Krause runs an amazing food truck called Fried Egg I’m in Love) to Seattle (where Rohr still lives and works, at Columbia City Theater) to record an album full of them, on—wait for it—pretty-pretty BLUE vinyl. And they’re officially releasing it on Friday, July 27 with a show at the Tractor Tavern.

Jace & Jake are both good musicians AND good guys. So I have to recommend that you head down to the Tractor and show them some support! They deserve it; trust me. Take a listen to “Border Song” below for a sampling of their debut release:

{Fort Union Album Release Show with Cataldo and Widower | Friday, July 27, 9:30pm | Tractor Tavern | $8 online, or at the door | tix also available at Sonic Boom Records}

Latest comment by: John in Ballard: "

Yeah it seems right now Portland certainly has us beat in the food truck industry. 

Have you seen the video Jake and Jace made on their kickstarter to help make the ...

Recommended show: The Young Evils at Barboza

You've heard it here before, and we'll say it again (and undoubtedly, again sometime in the future): we sure do love The Young Evils, and if you're not already on their wagon, you are missing the f*ck out. Their brand of indie-pop went from a blast-of-sunshine sound on 2010's full-length Enchanted Chapel to deeper, darker waters -- with plenty of light still filtering through, mind you -- on Foreign Spells, the band's most recent EP.

You can listen to the albums yourself and see, of course, but we think you should get yourself over to Barboza, that rad new space underneath current-day Neumos, and check them out for yourself. The Young Evils will be celebrating the formal release of Foreign Spells there on Friday, July 13th {yep! That's this Friday!} and for a mere eight bucks, you can get your hooks into what they're cooking up live and in-person. The night opens with The Grizzled Mighty and tunes from none other than DJ Marco Collins, so it's a win-win-win all around.

PS, we've been hearing from a few Barboza frequenters that the shows tend to get started relatively soon after doors open, so make sure to shake a tailfeather and get over to Capitol Hill on time so you don't miss a beat.

{21+ / 7p doors / $8. Advance tickets available here. Photo courtesy of The Young Evils.}

Latest comment by: imaginary victoria: "PS, just saw on the internet that the YEs are playing tonight {Tuesday, 7/10} at Easy Street in Queen Anne at 7p -- for free! Let's go!"

Photoessay: Eef Barzelay {Clem Snide} and Chris Otepka {Heligoats}

at Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Lofts

{Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

By some stroke of fortunate timing, we found ourselves at the Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square this past Friday night, for a few beautiful sets of music from Eef Barzelay, Chris Otepka, and Shannon Stephens. It was one of those heard-it-through-the-grapevine "house" shows, with a few dozen folks scattered about on floor cushions, a table full of shared food and booze, and a donation jar for the musicians at the front door. For a few hours, we sat shoeless and took in the pretty vibes of Shannon Stephens + friends {most notably with our pal Andrew Rudd on the brush-and-file-folder percussion}, a quick but engaging set from Heligoats frontman Chris Otepka, and finally, a handful of mostly-new tracks from Eef himself.

Here's a few shots from the night to prove it all happened:

{Chris Otepka / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Chris Otepka and Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}


Recommended Show: Jon Auer at The Volterra Drawing Room {7/19}

Calling all Posies fans (Hey, that’s me!)! !!! Mr. Jon Auer is having another one of his fantastic shows at The Volterra Drawing Room on Thursday, July 19.

{Dear} $23 gets you in the door, or if you’re feeling fancy pants, you can pay $100 for the VIP experience: a meet and greet with Jon at 7pm, hosted wine and light apps by Volterra (yum!) and—Jon will play 1 requested song for each VIP! Hooray! There are a limited number of seats (only 65), so buy your tix before this sells out. Because it will.

{Jon Auer | Volterra Drawing Room | $23 GA, $100 VIP | All Ages | Cash bar for 21+ | Doors, 7pm (VIP)/7:30pm – Showtime, 8pm}

Heavy rotation: new Lemolo, new Young Evils, and more

{Lemolo / by Genevieve Peterson}

Let's jump right in: I'm torn between starting this post with "this Lemolo album is seriously haunting me" and "Lemolo could totally beat up your favorite synth-y indie dream-core band" because they're both true. In the case of the former, I find myself humming harmonies absentmindedly at varying points in my days and nights, wondering what the song is -- and then realizing it's a track off of The Kaleidoscope; and the case of the latter, the lyrics are smarter and more gripping than anything I've heard in this genre before, and the emotion-pendulum they swing on is more vast.

Whichever way you slice it, The Kaleidoscope is a keeper. It'll be your new go-to for warming up, coming down, pondering, soundtracking, arriving, leaving, making out, and everything in-between. The album as a whole is intelligent and tight, meandering over to casually shred your face off in one moment and placing it's hands directly on your heartstrings the next. There's such a big-yet-right-in-the-next-room feeling that pervades from start to finish, and it would be easy to make comparisons like 'Beach House with a better edge!' or 'Phantogram with less dance party and more smart-kid!' but we'd be doing Lemolo an injustice by saying so. Instead, I'll fine-tune it a bit and say that this album holds up to the landscape of Washed Out's "Feel It All Around" {one of my favorite dream-jam tracks} and the brilliance of a portion of the Broken Social Scene catalog {"Sweetest Kill" and "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl come to mind}, while still standing apart with a tone and center all it's own.

Every single song has a piece in it somewhere that punches us square in the gut, in the very best of ways. "On Again, Off Again" is the big single from the album, and of course there's the "Open Air" video... it's great to finally hear tracks from shows put to waxdisc, like those two, "Who Loves" and "Whale Song" -- but "Move Me" is taking the proverbial cake at the moment. "Move Me" wraps the listener around the axle with the line that repeats I don't / want to / be away / from you / too long, and coincidentally enough, that's exactly how we feel about this album (and this band in general, PS).  I'd strongly encourage every single one of you reading this to be sure and catch Lemolo at Columbia City Theater this Friday and Saturday, but both shows are sold out. You'll just have to get yourself over to the Capitol Hill Block Party for a chance at taking in a live set.

{The Young Evils / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

While the Lemolo release and this next one have nothing to do with each other, they both hit my stratosphere in the same week, and so I've taken them in at the same time -- and as a result, there has definitely had a yin-and-yang effect taking place. When I'm all full-up on Lemolo's smart soundscape-y vibes, I shift my attention to my other favorite thing of the moment, the equally smart yet sonically-opposite Foreign Spells {the new Young Evils EP}. Foriegn Spells is short, to the point, and provides an excellent sampler-pack of songs that show the direction the band is headed in. While we've made no secret here in the imaginary office about how much we loves us some Enchanted Chapel, we're double-down excited about the new tunes that the Young Evils have seen fit to bestow us with, especially now that we've got "Darker Blue Bayou" in the flesh and can add it to the next mix we make. With the last release as evidence to compare and contrast against, the songs seem smarter, darker, fuller, and more concise -- the EP really shows the listener the difference between a bright idea and more of a fully-formed realization of what these stellar musicians are capable of. And while Foreign Spells is totally killer on the stereo, as is the case with many other bands, we think these lady-and-gents do their best work live -- so be sure to get yourself to the formal release party at Barboza next month, on July 13th.

There have been a handful of tracks that are making their way onto mixes of late, and a few doing repeat duty, so I thought it best to mention them as well if we're talking about what's been filling our imaginary ears and iPhones with happiness. Some are new-new, some are new-to-me, and some are just new in that they were buried at the bottom of the stack and recently found their way back up into heavy rotation.


Latest comment by: Roger: "just gotta love the ladies and music of Lemolo"

Imaginary Watch This: Atomic Bride "Radio Recession"

One of the bands that's been rocking my literal socks off lately is Atomic Bride. I still haven't had time to sit down and fully absorb their full-length CD Dead Air yet, but the second I slipped it into my CD drive, I was dancing to their retro-surf-punk-poppy tunes as hard as I ever did to early The B-52's. (If anyone could hold their own against Kate Pierson, it's lovely raw-throated vocalist Astra Elane). 

So anyway! Let's just say I'm INTO it. And I think you will be too. Check out their video for the ultra-catchy "Radio Recession" above, and then go see them live at The Comet on 7/14 (with The Valley).

Latest comment by: Avtar: "Here's the new one: [video:]"