Tonight in Seattle:  

Recommended shows

Don't miss: Tractor Tavern's 20th anniversary celebration, featuring The Maldives {this weekend!}

If Ballard had a soundtrack, The Maldives would surely be it. Our favorite good old boys have played SeafoodFest, KEXP’s Ballard Hood to Hood party, and the venerable Tractor Tavern over fifty times. OMG, fifty! So fair warning to the new bougie Ballard, they’ll be leading a two night hipster hootenanny this Friday and Saturday to celebrate the Tractor’s 20th Anniversary. It’s time to get dirty.

The Tractor remains a bar for the masses where PBR tallboys are the house specialty and mixed drinks don’t come with more than three ingredients (one of those being the ice). And we love it like that. Dance hall hospitality collides with punk rock enthusiasm to create the best type of dingy beer soaked venue. And while the graffiti covering the bathroom walls provides enough entertainment in itself, the Tractor’s real draw has always been the stellar talent they continue to book. Known for keeping the alt-country / Americana musical flame aglow here in Seattle, everyone from Wanda Jackson, Old 97’s, El Vez, Dale Watson, and Evan Dando have taken the stage. C’mon, where else in Seattle can you square dance every week under a garland of old cowboy boots? We’ve got our very own honky tonk and that’s definitely something to celebrate!

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Are you on the Seattle Living Room Shows list yet?

You know how in the movies all the beautiful people go to secret shows in lofts and warehouses where you can only get in if you’re on the list? And it’s always some band you’ve never heard of but when you watch the movie years later you’re like “Oh my god! Those guys are famous now!” Well, it turns out that actually happens in real life, and all you have to do to be one of the beautiful people is sign up for an email list.

Since 2008, sisters Carrie and Kristen Watt have been organizing Seattle Living Room Shows. Every month they put together a show in an unconventional space – often a real living room. You only find out the location and sometimes the final lineup after you buy your tickets. But the coolest thing about the Living Room Shows is that they’re not about being cool. They are about providing the best live listening experience possible.

Okay, that totally sounded like marketing copy, but everything about the shows is designed to get fans up close and personal with really great music. They get artists like Lemolo and Damien Jurado to play in lofts and galleries to a few dozen people. While the Quietus bemoans 2013 as the year the gig-talkers won, SLRS are providing intimate listening room experiences for people who actually want to hear the music. The only talking during the show is between the performers and the audience. I’ve only been to two of them so far, but SLRS are quickly becoming my favorite way to see live music.

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Latest comment by: David Leech: "Very excited about this"

Don't miss: Damien Jurado at the Neptune {1/17}

{Damien Jurado / Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son}

Rejoice, fans of the Saint Bartlett > Maraqopa trajectory: I have heard the new Damien Jurado album, and it is good.

As we reported back in October, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is here (yeah, he's talking about Jesus -- don't worry, it's a rad trip; take a drag on what Father John Misty had to say about it) and with it, a release show at the Neptune this Friday. As the first official show endorsement of 2014, I would highly, highly recommend not missing this performance. Here's why: the first time I heard Brothers and Sisters, I immediately tried to figure out how to get some peyote, so I could go jam out in the desert someplace with "Silver Donna" fed through a transistor radio on infinite repeat, eventually disappearing completely.

Yeah -- it's really accesible, but it's that kind of record.

With the helping hand of Richard Swift, Damien Jurado continues to expand his consciousness -- and seemingly, his alignment with the art he wants to make, not the art that's expected of him -- with his most psych-tinged record yet. And while I'm still very much present, typing at this keyboard without said substance or desert experience coming to pass in real-time, it is crystal clear to me that this is for sure a trip that I want to be on. The very touchable, dimensional reality is that Jurado can go from a song like "Go First" to something like this:

and whoever has that kind of incredible range of work in them also has me at the front of the line, for all performances and record pre-orders, forever and ever. (Amen.)

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Ring in 2014 with The Black Angels {Moore Theater, 12/31}

 {The Black Angels}

There are an assortment of events taking place on New Year's Eve in Seattle, ranging from fireworks at the Space Needle to a Bollywood Masquerade at the Nectar Lounge in Fremont. As usual, there are a host of concerts around town, and our recommendation is one that is certain to include no party favors and a paucity of prom night attire: this year, celebrate the darker side of things with The Black Angels at The Moore Theatre. Their latest LP, the fantastic Indigo Meadow, came out earlier this year and it continues their murky trajectory through all things psychedelic.

One part Velvet Underground, one part Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and with a healthy tablespoon of Spectrum, The Doors, Love, Red Krayola and other late 60s influences, The Black Angels have been releasing dark, lysergic garage rock since 2005, when our very own Light in the Attic Records picked them up. Four full-lengths later, they are continuing their stride with little sign of diminishing quality. The only difference is that their third and fourth releases are slightly more pop-oriented than the first two, but the ingredients are all there.

The Black Angels stop in Seattle fairly frequently and always put on an excellent show. Their hypnotic live performances are powerful, featuring kaleidoscopic light shows and projected images, a perfect setting for their music. Whether you are a fan or a bystander, this is the perfect opportunity to catch a great show -- and the historic Moore Theatre is a wonderful venue to see anything at, really. It is gorgeous and is not too large (or small), providing the right amount of intimacy and charm.

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Recommended Shows: A very imaginary holiday weekend at the Volterra Drawing Room {12/20 and 12/21}

The holidays are in full swing, and what better way to get into the spirit than to spend the evening in a cozy venue with a bunch of awesome local bands doing acoustic sets? My buddies Marco Collins and Michelle Quisenberry TOTALLY have you covered! 

Marco has curated an Acoustic Christmas in Ballard: a great selection of amazing musical talents playing two intimate Christmas shows next weekend at the Volterra Drawing Room! Tickets are $15 for standing-room GA, or $25 for reserved seats. AND: you can make a reservation at Volterra restaurant for a pre-show dinner for only $30 (trust me. the food, it is good.) awesome, awesome, and more awesome!  

The holiday-tastic line-up is as follows: 

Friday Night {12/20}

KRIS ORLOWSKI
BRADEN BLAKE (Super Deluxe)
BEN CARSON (Hot Bodies in Motion)
NOAH GUNDERSEN
EXOHXO

Saturday Night {12/21}

HOLLIS WONG-WEAR
HOBOSEXUAL
ADRA BOO (Fly Moon Royalty)
KATIE KATE
WANZ

{Acoustic Christmas in Ballard | Friday, December 20 & Saturday, December 21 | Doors at 7pm, Showtime at 8pm | All Ages | Volterra Drawing Room, 5407 Ballard Ave NW | $15 standing GA | $25 Reserved Seating}

Recommended show: Brite Lines at the Crocodile

Mark your calendars, imaginary friends! Brite Lines, who stole the show at last year's Imaginary Holiday Spectacular {and are currently taking over the immediate internet with their recent mockumentary} will be middle slot at the Crocodile this Friday, and we highly recommend their set! Here's what we had to say about them last year, which still rings true today:

Brite Lines is fronted by our pal Zach Gore, and even in the band's simplicity, they span such a wide array of adjective from song to song (as evidenced on this year2012's EP Make Shift) that they're hard to sum up in a few short sentences. The music is earnest, rooted in New America; part haunted songwriter; broken-hearted and hopeful, with an all-encompassing catchy post-indie rock-folk vibe. Somewhere between the pain of breaking up with your last girlfriend and the day that the sun finally shines through the clouds on your face lies your allegiance to this band.

In addition to everything we know and love about Brite Lines already, you can hear a beautiful and evolving facet of their signature sound on a single that came out earlier this year, "Greenville, WA":

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Recommended Show: The Redwood Plan, Black Swedes and The West at The Sunset {11/30}

You guys! I found the perfect thing to shake you out of your Turkey/Tofurkey coma on Saturday night: a trifecta of awesomeness at The Sunset!

The Redwood Plan, fronted by the always-amazing Lesli Wood, is hitting the stage along with Black Swedes (who I have fallen all over before), and The West (who released a pretty kick-ass video a few months ago). Black Swedes is also releasing their new album, “Phase” that evening: a poppy, moody tangle of lushness that will suck you in and wreck you in all the good ways.

It's only $8! Go, go, go, go (Green Light) Go. 

{The Redwood Plan | The West | Black Swedes | Sunset Tavern | Saturday, November 30 | Doors: 9:30pm, Show: 10pm | $8 | 21+}

Don't miss: Quasi at the Tractor {Friday}

Okay. Seriously, can we talk about this for a minute, imaginary friends? Quasi are playing The Tractor on Friday. QUASI. TRACTOR. FRIDAY. FUCK.

Janet Weiss AND Sam Coomes AND that almost-untouchable, best-pairing-since-chocolate-and-peanut-butter vibe, AND a new album (Mole City), and I think our faces just got rocked off before we could even a parking spot in Ballard.

Here's what the press release has to say about it:

Mole City is not in the tradition or deviating from the tradition -- it is the tradition. After 2 decades of launching drums, guitars and pianos through the shifting interzones between harmony and chaos (moonlighting along the way with the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag, Elliott Smith, Built to Spill and a long list of others [Ed. note: LIKE SLANG]), Quasi are a genre of their own -- they write songs in the style of Quasi, and Mole City is the Quasi Song Book: Parlor Sing-alongs for the Last Century.

Now in their 20th year as a band, and a two-piece once again, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss hand-deliver the double album/Liberation Cookbook/Encyclopedia of Kicking Ass, Mole City, to those of us who still care about well-built, homemade objects crafted with integrity, spirit, fire, and skill. In other words, those of us who don’t fit into a world where the empty noise of crass capitalism, slick branding, and high profile hot pants have drowned out nearly all other concerns. Mole City, their ninth album, is a set of anthems for the refuseniks, Molotov tossers, pacifist soldiers and bug-eyed freaks, and Quasi is the band playing as the Titanic of what was once Independent Music goes down.

Amen to that! Get your tickets (if there's any left by now) at The Tractor's (new?) site here. We'll see you in the front row!

{9:30p / 21+ / $15 adv. Hobosexual and Blues Control open.}

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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Recommended show: The Besnard Lakes {Crocodile, 11/12}

There are so many great bands that have come out of Montreal in the past decade, you have to wonder what it is about the French Canadian city that spawns such a diversity of great acts like Wolf Parade, Stars, Grimes, Purity Ring, and Arcade Fire -- just to name a few. The Besnard Lakes founders, husband and wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, are no stranger to the prolific Montreal music scene -- as the owner of Breakglass Studios in Montreal, Lasek has produced and engineered albums for Wolf Parade, The Dears, and Stars among others.

It was this immediate access to a recording studio that helped the duo when it came time to make their own music as The Besnard Lakes, beginning with their 2003 debut album Volume 1. They really found their stride, however, on their 2007 release The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, the first release for their current label Jagjaguwar. The album found them honing their dynamic sound of crashy, explosive guitar riffs with gentle melodic instrumentation, laid over Lasek's falsetto vocals. They further expounded on that sound with their 2010 release The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, and again earlier this year with their fourth full length Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. Each of their last three releases have all been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, which goes to the best album released by a Canadian artist.

Check out the video for their song "Albatross", featuring vocals from Goreas:

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