Tonight in Seattle:  

Sub Pop

Slowdive Returns Next Week with Special Guest Low

Slowdive, courtesy of Slowdive's Facebook Page

{Photo courtesy of Slowdive's Facebook page}

It has been twenty-one years since Slowdive last performed in Seattle in August of 1993, where they were supporting that year's magnificent opus Souvlaki. Within a few years, Slowdive would no longer exist. In early 1995, the band released the equally compelling and experimental Pygmalion before being dropped almost immediately by Creation Records, a move that officially lowered the curtain on the group.

However, in the nineteen years that have passed, the members have remained impressively active. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell immediately moved on and started the much more organic and primarily acoustic Mojave 3, who released their first album, Ask Me Tomorrow, in 1995, and have been active ever since. Halstead and Goswell have also released solo records and been involved in various side projects over the years. Last year’s Stars Are Our Home by Halstead’s group Black Hearted Brother was the first chance to hear him perform psychedelic electric music since 1995.


Summer lovin', had me some jams!

{KEXP library / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

I recommend all these tunes because apparently I can't stop playing 'em: here's a quick alphabetical assessments of what's been hummin' in my iPod on Metro the past few weeks!

The Blank Tapes, "Coast To Coast" from the album Vacation

A little Zombies-meets-Badfinger surf hippie flower power pop from this (not surprising) SoCal band. The Blank Tapes is Matt Adams, an eight-track addict who piles on the tasty garage riffs atop lyrics about throwing the gear in the van and leaving baby behind, and not necessarily paranoid conspiracy theory podcasts. (Although there is a line about "Waking up the ghosts ....") Breathy a-has, peeling oranges, the radio is playing, as Matt and his pals hit your town. Sample lyric: "Malibu/touching you." Currently touring everywhere from Huntington Beach to Santa Cruz. I imagine they always will be, happily.

Cali Giraffes, "All My Life" b/w "Lazy Days" single

Evan Dando had something to do with the origins of this band, which I find confusing and yet somehow understandable (still a damned shame about Ray). But the deep adoration comes for Fastbacks' legendary bass goddess Kim Warnick's vocals on the A-side here, a jumping, joyful, but gentle lyrical variation on the meaning of Blondie's "One Way Or Another." And co-creator Mikey Davis takes the mic on the just-as-great pining and slacker days-celebrating B-side "lazy Days." Both are chockful of chiming, grinding hedonistic thrills, in the sunshine, by the fire, wherever life-loving major chord happiness can be found. A perfect match!

Daughn Gibson, "The Sound Of Law" from the album Me Moan

This sounds like a dust-kicking American Gothic soundtrack to a big 70s car racing movie, with celebrity-stars like Burt Reynolds but also some sinister dude like Jack Nicholson in an inimal subplot sabotaging the prize, or maybe in-between in some oil-saturated slice of life like Two Lane Blacktop. Anyways, next track on the Sub Pop elpee is "Phantom Rider" which is just as good, and the whole thing is certainly worth owning. Rumor has it this Pennsylvania truck driver's sound is a new thing, and it certainly drawls well and peels out of the parking lot slow. Neat neat neat nocrturnal automobile-soul rock. I give it two bong-loads and a box of Pine Tree air fresheners. 

Future Bible Heroes, "Living, Loving, Partygoing" from the album Partygoing

Like a much more friendly (and queer and cool-weird and not at all violent) take on Spring Breakers, all tinsely keys and Top 40 melodies, floating from scenes like "John Waters' soiree" and "Mink Stoles' birthday," deejaying, taking "god knows what and danced till dawn," getting into clown's shoes and waking up with two friends in the same bed after sleeping for half a week. This is probably the happiest thing Stephen Merritt ever wrote, and it's gloriously transgressive while being awesomely frisky. Really gorgeous and fun and would be blasting out of every passing car stereo if a true tastemaker like John Waters himself ran the country.


How to Block Party like a kamikaze pilot: day one {Friday, 7/26}

Y'all ready for the solid Block Party they hold every now and then up on that ol' Capitol Hill? It's this weekend, already!

I am going to list a bunch of bands, artists, musicians, sherms, and troublemakers that I plan to peep on and creep up on between walking around a weird big fence in the middle of the whole thing (and sitting on that bench outside the Cha Cha imagining what it's like to live in the apartments above). If you run into me say hi, but please don't run into me because that would probably hurt us both, and I don't slam no more with knees like these. Get ready to toss your mitts to the clouds like you actually have a major concern in your short-lived existence for once, and prepare: 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gates open at 3 p.m. Don't buy a bunch of stuff people are selling there, because you will have to carry it around for a few hours. (Those were pretty awesome X-Mens and Avengers that one year you hooked me up with tho, Lar Mizell, Jr., I do have to admit.) Do play pranks on the SPD standing around smirking and glaring at the weirdos, as this is the time they will be least likely to taze your arse. 

5:00 - 5:30 p.m: Deadkill at the Vera Stage

A knee-buckling smack hit of Detroit throbbing in Seattle, courtesy of this testosterone-charging panther-pants rawk act. Guitarist Michael Stubz (who also drums for Absolute Monarchs) mechanizes their rock-punk-cum-punk-rock through a set of actual songs and hedgehogging sonic fireworks, soaked in scattered gas and collected bad-boy sweat. Later, the bands' tattoos will jump off their bodies and come down and French kiss everyone in the audience. 

5:45 - 6:45 p.m: Fly Moon Royalty at Neumos

The deejay-emcee-hypeman Action Jackson digs Stevie Wonder and Danny Elfman and DJ Premier, and I have to hear that turntable omelette frying for myself. Meanwhile, a saucy lady named Adra Boo is rumored to belt 'em out sweet and sharp enough to make hippies at Doe Bay cry (or maybe stop crying? I just don't know). Sportn Life was involved? I'm there, I'm a bear, this is my pickanick basket.


Latest comment by: Andrew: "I think KEXP has Barboza locked down before 6pm on Friday- maybe thats their big secret...."

Sub Pop takes over Seattle {7/11-13}

{Sub Pop logo}

You've likely heard the news, but just in case you've been on a media / internet fast or something: Sub Pop is taking over Seattle, with a couple of ginormous events around town in honor of their 25th anniversary {aka their Silver Jubilee}. There's a lot of details to get to, so we're going to jump right in...

Today {Thursday} // Mudhoney, The Space Needle


Yep, you read that right. Not only is Mudhoney playing on top of the motherfucking Space Needle, KEXP will be broadcasting live today from noon - 5:30p from the observation deck -- the first live broadcast from the Space Needle, ever! Leading up to the performance, there are a bunch of excellent in-studios and interviews scheduled too. Check out the schedule, and tune in:

12:30p: Interview with producer Jack Endino
1:00p: Sera Cahoone
1:30p: Interview with photographer Charles Peterson
2:15p: Interview with Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil
3:00p: J. Mascis
4:00p: Interview with label founder Bruce Pavitt
5:00p: Mudhoney

We heard on the Morning Show today that Charles Peterson will be shooting Mudhoney from a god damn helicopter. More information at KEXP here, where you can also find a link to a live video stream later today. Killer!

Tomorrow {Friday} // Jonathan Meiburg, Columbia City Theater

While this isn't going to be an official Silver Jubilee event, it's going to be an excellent show, and you should absolutely make it part of your Sub Pop-themed weekend {so long as you don't already have tickets to the Silver Jubil-Eve Comedy Thing}: Jonathan Meiburg (of Shearwater) will be playing at Columbia City Theater (!!!) and we're so excited, we can barely contain ourselves.

Somehow, tickets are still available for the show -- they're TEN DOLLARS, you guys -- pick yours up here, and PS, be sure to get to the show in time for the second band on the lineup, Brass Bed. They're not a Sub Pop band, and have nothing to do with the Jubilee, but the single off their upcoming release, "A Bullet For You," has been on heavy rotation in the imaginary offices of late. We're betting they'll be an excellent precursor to some solo Shearwater vibes:

{Saturday} // Sub Pop Jubilee, Georgetown

Okay, here's the meat and potatoes: the Jubilee itself will be taking place all day and all night Saturday in what's arguably one of Seattle's best neighborhoods, and the whole entire thing is f-r-e-e FREE.


Latest comment by: John (In Ballard) : "Liz, I was listening to that yesterday and even watched a little of the live youtube stream of the Sera Cahoone set. It looked so nerve racking, and kind of windy. This Saturday is going to be pretty sweet; I'm trying to guess who or what those TBA's are ...

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.


Mudhoney TONIGHT {4/1} at Easy Street!

This is not an April Fool's prank, friends: if you weren't able to make it out to Neumos on Saturday night for Mudhoney's record release show, you've still got a shot at seeing them live! They'll be taking the stage at Easy Street Records in West Seattle tonight at 8pm, celebrating the release of Vanishing Point as well as the 25th anniversary of Sub Pop (and Easy Street). All of our favorite things!!

Entry for the in-store starts at 6, and if you're a cafe frequenter, take note that they close today at 3.

We'll see you in West Seattle!

Latest comment by: imaginary liz: "

That is one beauuuutiful poster.


Winter rotation: The Transmissionary Six, The Great Um, The Glass Notes, Pissed Jeans, Starflyer 59

{Pissed Jeans}

The Transmissionary SixSongs 2002-2012 (Skok) 

One of my favorite bands ever, The Transmissionary Six, has roots in The Walkabouts (which both TM6 founders Terry Moeller and Paul Austin have played in by now), and recording and live connections to all the best kept secrets in Seattle: Graig Markel, Head Like A Kite, and others. But they easily stand alone as one of the most gorgeous songcrafting teams from the Pacific NW. Seattle-raised Terri was a drummer from The Walkabouts back in the day, Paul played with Willard Grant Conspiracy on the East Coast, collectively having played to thousands in Europe and to a loyal following here. They started something with Transmissionary Six neither had quite tried before, but they excelled at immediately: bringing to life heart-trembling Noir Rock, as steeped in mystery as it was in hooks. Like the movie House Of Games, or Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, or an album like Marianne Faithful's Broken English, it was all about blissful times and twisted times, and their stories and melodies were immortal. This is an excellent collection of their work, featuring essentials like "Black Tin Rocket" (the superbly cinematic opener to early album Get Down), "Top Of Your Lungs" (a lady-like take on a "Positively 4th Street" character study / piss off), and the very groovy "Edison Stare." I wish "I Want To Deprogram You" was here, but that just means if you love this go out and buy Cosmonautical, the album it's on and still available. Hell, buy 'em all!

The Great UM, What The People Want

We're absolutely freaking lucky we live in a city that constantly brings people in who in some other world have cannily created and crafted some new trick out of the mined-gold and heart-jank of the pop song. Artists move to Seattle to be part of an almost parochial (closely regionalized) music scene with connections elsewhere, intimate enough to build a following, but still breathing second-hand smoke from a cosmo-world. Okay, I'm fronting. I have no idea who these guys are and I think they're from somewhere else, otherwise why hadn't I been involved before? How'd they slip by me into here? Were they always here, what is happening - ?! Oops, sorry. I want to know more! The Great UM make me bounce like it's Friday near midnight at my favorite sloppy pub and forgive the girl next to me for spiashing her drink on my best shoes, whilst I totally wonder what they're going to sing next the way mysterious rock real men have since Gene Vincent. They remind me a bit of The Jam, a little of Ted Leo, the recent UK folk-rock kids, and then there's all those 60s freak-beat followers. They're here to bring the clap-along to the secular, bringing out the singalong from those who don't meet much mercy. Their scrappy but solid songs make fun of their bosses "selling those good times," chatting unemployment and borrowed car blues in exactly the opposite tones (chin up mate!).  This is Caleb Thompson (singer/guitarist), Robb Benson (drummer), and Jake Uitti (bassist), and there isn't much out there about them now but they're going to change that by playing gigs and asking some very decent questions. Do you yearn for the day when groups like Dolour would jump out of the shadows from behind the bar down the street from the all ages club, building a bridge out of music niches and the nestles of the mundane? This is that kind of band. Choice track: "Stay," a song John Lennon should have and could have written. Then right away, "Daydream" reminds me of McCartney fronting Big Star. Whoa.

Robb Benson (Guitar, Voice, Songsmith) 

Perry Morgan (The Drums, drop da’ Beats) 

Rock Tim Dijulio (Lead Guitar, sweet riffs)


Formula: Jake gives Robb a new Poem. Robb writes a song from it, records a demo then brings it to the group. Tim adds his stamp in an almost in-house producer style, suggesting arrangements, adding bridges and weaves blistering guitar lines. Perry drops the big beats live and on the new record! That is how the group created “As the building crumbles” 


Love's Not Impossible: My Top Ten Songs of 2012

We had to have some good tunes to get us through a year of watching a psychopathic plutocrat trying to pitch us back into the black and white world of fifties-era paranoia and imperialism. That victory against vileness confirmed, going back over the songs that made us swoon for the past few months is very pleasurable, as great music can transcend the tough times it was made to get through.

Below are the most repeated recent songs in my playlist, save for the tracks from bands I did publicity for. (I will say that I only do PR for bands I truly love, which is why the Big Freak roster is so small. I'm a picky and fussy little bear. But this is not the place to hype my own wares.) Also, I will note that I will not have a list of albums this year; I think there are still great full-lengths out there, but not enough for me to make a list of. You can blame that on the limited amount of albums I have access to; but I do buy and acquire enough that that's not quite the case.

It could very well be that there's too many great records coming out to keep track of 'em, and to get anything done in terms of keeping up the format of ten or twelve tracks released by one artist or group is increasingly becoming an arbitrary time-lump of expression. Yeah, it's the obvious technological changes (songs trumping long-players, even with the re-rise of vinyl), but also the fact that much more product and much less discriminating gatekeepers are flash-flooding over the trickle of sweet stuff. It's out there, but we're going to need new ways to hook in. This is making places like KEXP or NPR or WFMU, your extinction-threatened informed record store clerk, what you hear at your favorite DJ night, the journalist with an actual story, the in-touch blogger with deep tastes, even labels who don't sign every band (and publicists who don't take on every client, ahem), and of course beloved community-amping affairs like Three Imaginary Girls, that much more necessary.

Believe it or leave it.

Now to the tuneage, in order of honest amounts of plays (assuming my devices aren't fibbing):

{Dum Dum Girls / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

1.) Dum Dum Girls, "Trees And Flowers"

It may be ludicrous to most big boy and bought off rock crits to say, but Dum Dum Girls is arguably the best rock band going today. Tapping into the sixties, seventies and eighties without being a straight hippie-power pop-new wave Freakbeat homage, and crystallizing a powerful dual voice in vibrant vocals and velvety music, they hypnotize as they freeze-dry your tears. Every song on this End of Daze EP is a too-sweet tease for a Dee Dee 2013. 

{THEESatisfaction / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

2.) THEE Satisfaction, "Queens"

"Whatever you do, don't funk with my groove." The apex-high point on possibly the best Seattle album of the year, awE NaturalE, it is a perfect song about sleek and confident boundary setting. Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons are truly among the best in modern art-soul, following up the heat from their dangerous live shows with a contagious meditation on Being and Blissfulness with a little help from mentor Ish (Shabazz Palaces). There are other great songs on the Sub Pop debut full-length, but this is first pick for my own mix-tape. 

3.) Constant Lovers, "Open Toe Heels"

Constant Lovers is a slow drag of a drug-dipped cigarette after feral sex. A stagger home after too many drinks with someone who lights all your fireworks. It's toxic-bad for you, but no mere basement-boy sludge-punk or anything like an AmRep rip off (cough cough). Don't trust the locals who pass on these guys, they're tourists in our town. This is the real Seattle sleaze and squeeze. This pole-dancing clear-heeled 3:31 freak-out is just going to shiv your liver and rot your gut but you won't smell a thing as she plows under. This is a particularly ballsy blast of hot spicy cocktail sauce at the center of their True Romance full-length (get it!!), a hard rock hassle truly good for these times. With Ben Verellen (Helms Alee) now on drums (!!!), maybe the feudal lords with labels will start buying in what's primo and already available in their own hoods and stop exporting cash and stash to GQ-core wanna-bes elsewhere.


Latest comment by: selena: "tea cozies sound so much like old pgmg. "

Fall rotation: The Pharmacy, The Coup, Dum Dum Girls, Doug Stanhope, King Tuff

Autumn is a favorite, TIG-cherished time of year, but that isn't necessarily good for new music for me: I am a sentimental bastard and tend to pull out worn-down LPs by my long-time sources of melancholic joy, rather than creeping the current release racks for song-buzz. Besides that, this year Sean Rowe's summer-released The Salesman and the Shark wouldn't stop pounding on my door and nibbling on my toes whenever I hit the 'wake up!' button on my iPod. (Don't want to short-cut it too much, but if you love the croaky love-monk rummy-rheumy ruminations of L. Cohen, V. Morrison, and T. Waits, get into his second Anti- album ASAP.) There was at least one full-length that should have been in that hot-months sweep though, which I end this seasonal assessment off with, in case anyone missed it. 

The Pharmacy (Old Flame Records), Stoned & Alone - 7.8

Scottie Yodher is his own Vashon Island-raised maestro-dude, but in just a few short years he's cheerily channeled all those isolated and passionate feelings of being a musician in the Pacific NW into superb pop rock bursts of glistening garage roque. Brendhan Bowers comes along to help flesh out these awkward little creatures of longing, like the Badfingering "Baby Be," the misery strum-lunge of "Josephine," and the keys-twirling "Dig Your Grave." Somehow I couldn't totally warm up too much to the seven inch they released under that title earlier this year, but this is fully blossomed and rosy-cheeked, no matter how times Yodher was kept awake all night pouring it all out. Stoned & Alone sounds ready to surround the surreal humor of scenes in a Monkees-style Saturday morning TV show for moptops who ride second hand Vespas (or have lovers who do). 

The Coup (Anti-), Sorry To Bother You - 8.5

Possibly my favorite new album of the year, in a scrap with the Rowe, which is fascinating because both are on Anti- (kicking ass there, kids). Why do I love The Coup so much? Boots has a flow that is neither concerned with pleasing the suburban punters or the inner city poseurs; it's both snake oil revolutionary and working class caustic, somehow trustable by not sounding like anything you've hard on the radio in the past twenty years. (That is a good thing, trust me.) Like a lot of punk rock, Riley has lived and learned the system against the hot-heads in power or powerless, but has devoured enough empowerment not to be melodramatic about his own bruises or boring about what damage he can cause. He knows theory but sounds like he's read more at PM Press than a mere anarchist pamphlet, or chased an MFA doing weird things with her elbows and hands as she choppily unpacks abuse she's read about. Unlike a lot of new wave, it's weird and quirky and funky and a post-punk geezer like me knows most of the samples (Art of Noise! Alice Cooper! I could do this all night). This is about something, but isn't oblique in sharing it, unlike other adult rap that doesn't want its older brother scowling for mysterious freak outs like "We've Got A Lot To Teach You, Cassius Green" (what the fuck is that all about?). It's all technically called hip-hop, but it actually moves a story along more than that it IS hip-hop (who cares?), give me your money, blah blah. The Coup is party music for heads, both smart ones and freaks; a full album of the kind of synth-driven power pop Prince made ("I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man") that doesn't leave out the possibility of a guillotine for social change. The Coup is the MC5 of hip-hop, which scares the Man now as it did then.

Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop) - 8.7

I already thought the world of Dee Dee and her chilly, sonorous blasts of well-read black licorice-flavored punk-into-power pop bomp, Menthol-smoke blown Girl Group romantic desolation, and late night Dusty In Memphis appreciation soul-ache. But working with Sun Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes as well as longtime mentor Richard Gottehrer ("whose track record includes the Brill Building, CBGB, and Sire Records," and if those ring pop culture bells, we share the same church). These five pretty slices up the arm of the listener send shivers down the spine, casting failed love affairs into a Dante's Inferno of crushed empathy and bone-broken medicated bliss. "And I hate the trees, and I hate the flowers, and I hate the buildings and the way they tower over me," she sings, soaking in the sadness of the city and turning it into a celestial cathedral about as beautiful as Chrissie Hynde ever harmonized (no shit). The upcoming full-length is going to be ferocious/gorgeous, I have every expectation from this sumptuous five song communion.


I love this shit: Husky

As we mentioned this summer, recent Sub Pop signees Husky have taken on the world with their "meticulous, soothing, gentle-assault, looking out the train window movie-soundtrack sound", and so far as we can tell, the masses agree. Since that post, we saw Husky come through town on a bill with Shearwater, and the next time we turned around, they're premiering the very video above on Rolling Stone's website. Bravah, Heathers -- the beautiful, attention-grabbing, slow-chugging train of "Tidal Wave" deserves all the attention it can get.

Husky just played a few dates in the Northwest last weekend -- but if you happen to be out in the rest of the country {Chicago, Boston, New York and the like}, you've still got a chance to catch them live over the next few weeks. Pop on over to their Sub Pop page to take a peek at their upcoming tour dates, and head on out to the shows if you can.