Tonight in Seattle:  

Northwest Bands

Heavy rotation: Western Medicine, new Damien Jurado video + more

Damn, Seattle. It doesn't seem like a minute goes by when you aren't blowing our minds with a lineup, a song, or some kind of incredible creative expression, and this week is no exception. We're gearing up to head down to Pickathon this weekend, we're still reeling from Block Party, City Arts just dropped a great lineup on us, and our inboxes have been full-to-the-brim with great releases and good vibrations. And it's not showing a sign of stopping anytime soon, PS -- from what we can see so far, fall tour is gonna be a doozy this year.

So, here's a few things we've been digging on lately that we wanted to share:

Crush #1: Western Medicine's new single, "Belly of the Beast"

Easily the freshest new summer jam to throw on whatever mix or playlist you're currently in the middle of concocting, "Belly of the Beast" is our go-to track from Western Medicine's brand-spanking-new self-titled release. You'll likely recognize more than one member of the lineup: the four-piece stars Adam MacKinnon {of Ambitious Career Woman, and also current Barsuk Records warehouse manager}, Laurel Hoffman, Rudy Gajadhar {Waxwing, Gatsby's American Dream}, and David Audino {Crimewave}. Together, these folks are cultivating a terriffic sound, in our opinion best showcased on this particular track -- and per their bio, "...Gajadhar and Audino lay down a powerful rhythmic foundation, while Hoffman's melodic keys play perfect counterpoint to MacKinnon's low register leads." That takes the words right out of our mouths!

Turn it on, put it on repeat, and then get yourself to the Sunset for their record release show on August 9th. They'll be taking the stage with Hot Panda and Runt, and will likely be the best six dollars you spend all week.

Crush #2: New video for Damien Jurado's "Museum of Flight"

Hello, gorgeous! Seriously.

It's not enough that Damien Jurado put out two stand-the-test-of-time records (so far, at least) in a world of flash-in-the-pan buzz bands, but he continues to evolve, collaborate, and make beautiful soundscapes that wow us every time. We couldn't get enough of the risks and bliss on Saint Bartlett, then our minds were blown with the creative turns of Maraqopa -- and now we look up and our pal Tyler Kalberg makes an insanely beautiful video for one of Maraqopa's standout tracks, "Museum of Flight". Full of scenes from Jurado + band's most recent whirl through Europe, the visuals and seamlessness of this video are at once soothing and staggering. Did we mentioned it premiered on Spin.com a few weeks ago, ps? Killer. Check here for EU and stateside tour dates, we'll see Damien next time around locally at Bumbershoot.

Crush #3: Bowerbirds

{Bowerbirds / by DL Anderson}

Not just the band, per se, but this incredible track "House of Diamonds" that we featured on our Pickathon preview playlist. It's really just seventeen hundred different kinds of perfect, and we're having a hard time shutting up about it. Bowerbirds have a new album out, and will be touring behind it post-Pickathon, first for a batch of dates in Europe and then across the US in the fall. If you're digging it, on top of a stop at Pickathon this weekend they'll be at Neumos and the Doug Fir toward the end of October {full list tour dates here}.

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Heineken City Arts Festival: one very impressive lineup!

It's safe to say that we're all recovered from yet another fantastic weekend at Capitol Hill Block Party -- toxins have been sweat out, legs have been rested, and ringing has left the ears. Now, it's time to start getting prepped for yet another awesome festival to sweep the streets of Seattle: City Arts has unveiled the initial line-up for this years upcoming Heineken City Arts Fest, and it is shaping up to be one eventful weekend! Gathering some of today's best performers, City Arts plans to transform our Seattle streets into one big haven for creativity and fun. On top of the initial lineup, you'll find limited capacity shows in secret locations littered about the festival, leaving attendees with little surprises around every corner. City Arts will also be offering scavenger hunts, bike races, booty-shaking after parties and many other vehicles for experiencing Seattle in a new and artistic fashion.

As for the music? The line-up has been released and features heavy-hitters such as: Two Door Cinema Club, Ghostland Observatory, Joshua Radin, A Fine Frenzy, Reignwolf, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, and many more {including Lemolo, The Maldives, Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground, Ravenna Woods, Fly Moon Royalty, Case Studies, Tiny Vipers, Stephanie... whew!}. What should get most of your salivary glands working overtime is the headlining act, what City Arts describes as a "much anticipated collaboration from David Byrne and St. Vincent". If you have seen either St. Vincent or Byrne perform live, you most certainly understand what sort of treat this would be for the senses and, of course, the opportunity to see what will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

If you haven't heard, David Byrne and St. Vincent have collaborated on an album titled Love This Giant, which is due out September 10th (UK) and September 11th (US). Check out a track from their upcoming album below:

With what City Arts has planned for this years' festival, the bar will most certainly be raised. Again, boasting a impressive list of entertainment and festivities for all, this is one you certainly will not want to pass up. Passes for this event go on sale Thursday, August 2nd.

For a complete list of the initial lineup and additional details, click here.  

Recommended festival: Pickathon 2012 {August 3-5}

We know, we know -- Pickathon? you say, with an air of disbelief. Isn't that a bunch of beardy hippies with banjos out on a farm someplace in rural Oregon? Do they even have wi-fi? Fret not, dear imaginary friends: we are here to share the good news, which is the plain and simple fact that Pickathon Is Awesome. It's kind of got everything you ever hope for in a festival -- multiple stages in the open air that vibe on well into the nighttime, it's not too crowded, there's abundant camping on-site, and it's chock full of local food vendors and boasts a purposeful, sustainable green vibe. And of course, first and foremost, Pickathon's got the bands. (And ps, apparently, abundant wi-fi.)

This year's lineup has everything from sad bastards and bastardettes {like Laura Gibson, Alela Diane, and the Bowerbirds} to full frontal shredders {Heartless Bastards, Cave Singers} and back again. Whether you like the cool, sweet croon of Neko Case or the jamtastic vibe of Dr. Dog, or those multi-faceted types like Langhorne Slim -- who gives us a little bit of everything, from scream to croon to a howl -- you'll find your groove on Pendarvis Farm. And to sweeten the deal for you not-so-rootsy folks, the weekend is parsed through with some of the best of right now's straight-up indie.fill-in-the-blank vibes, with sets by Y La Bamba, Typhoon, Thee Oh Sees, and THEESatisfaction.

Here's a little more on the folks you already know and love:

Cave Singers {Pickathon artist page}

{Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The idea of hearing the Cave Singers rage on into the nighttime on a farm in the middle of nowhere (kind of) has got me near-giddy with delight. Imagine if they went back-to-back with Heartless Bastards? HELLO, DREAM SET. Their shreddy, full-volume indie-roots part Zeppelin, part campfire vibe is unlike anything else out there, and we are bummed out to the max that we won't be hitting town until late Saturday morning -- their Friday night set is going to be a doozy. If you're up there on time, catch these guys on Friday night from 1a - 2a (hell yeah!) in The Galaxy Barn, and on Saturday on The Woods Stage from 4:30p - 5:30p.

Neko Case {Pickathon artist page}

Fresh off of a well-recieved performance at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Ms. Case will be gracing us with her one-of-a-kind croon twice at Pickathon as well. Her stories are well-worn and beautifully crafted, and as her bio states, walk the line between contemporary and timeless with nary a mis-step. She'll headline The Woods Stage on Saturday from 9p - 10p, and the Mt. View Stage on Sunday from 8:45p - 10p.

Alela Diane {Pickathon artist page}

We're lucky to have the folks at More Dust Than Digital and our pal Greg Vandy in our midst, creating killer artist portraits like the one above for local folkster Alela Diane. She's currently on tour in Europe (per her gorgeous recent Instagram photos) and will be making her way back this way for two sets at the festival. Catch her at The Workshop Barn on Friday from 5p - 6p, and again on Sunday on The Woods Stage from 3p - 4p.

Blitzen Trapper {Pickathon artist page}

This Blitzen Trapper track ("Furr") is the one that got me hooked, and the one that keeps me coming back to this band for a contribution on about half of the mixes I make for friends looking to be turned on to 'new' music. They're fresh off of a tour supporting Wilco, will be making a stop out at Doe Bay Fest later in August, and they'll be hitting the road in late September / early October with our pals The Head and the Heart. Short version? Get hip if you're not already there. You can take them in at Pickathon Friday on the Woods Stage from 9p - 10p, and Sunday on the Mt. View Stage from 6:45p - 8p.

Dr. Dog {Pickathon artist page}

Hello, jamtown. To quote Dr. Dog on recording their latest album: "It was reminiscent of when we were starting out and were these fearless weirdos in a basement, so confident and reckelss and bold." That's exactly the vibe we're hoping to catch from them up at Pickathon, as they take us on a trip from noodle-jam to gritty rock and back again. Couple their instrument-wielding talents with an at-times unprecedented lyrical prowess, and you've got a recipe for a good time. Dr. Dog plays The Mt. View Stage on Saturday from 9:45p - 11p, and The Galaxy Barn on Sunday from 1a - 2a

Heartless Bastards {Pickathon artist page}

Just like the Cave Singers, I am beside myself at the opportunity to spend a set or two with The Heartless Bastards out in the starry, clear nighttime. The cut above (yep, that video is about six years old) is "Brazen", off of 2006's All This Time, but still stands up strong -- it easily could have been recorded last week. They'll be kicking ass on The Mountain View Stage on Friday from 8:45p - 10p, and again in The Galaxy Barn from 1a - 2a on Saturday night (Sunday morning).

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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.

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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
Brad
The Young Evils
Posse

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

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

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}

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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}

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