Tonight in Seattle:  

Merge

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.

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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.

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

Recommended Show + Ticket Giveaway! Win tix to Magnetic Fields at the Neptune {3/19 & 3/20}

Huzzah! The Magnetic Fields are coming to Seattle (!!!) and we've got a pair of tickets for you to win! One of the Imaginary Girls' favorite melancholy indie-pop bands will be gracing the stage at The Neptune for two nights: Monday, 3/19 and Tuesday 3/20. Their newest album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, was released 3/6 on Merge records. (You can take a listen to the single "Andrew in Drag" in the video above.)

But look, I don't need to explain to y'all how great they are, YOU ALREADY KNOW IT. On to the deets! Shoot an email over to tig {at} threeimaginarygirls {dot} com sometime between now and the end of the day Tuesday {3/13}, with the subject line "69 Love Songs". We'll pick a winner and notify you on Wednesday, 3/14 that you're on the list +1 -- just don't forget to let us know which night you want to attend! ♥

The Magnetic Fields — Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

The usual is all here for The Magnetic Fields fans: Stephin Merritt with Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, John Woo, Shirley Simms, Johny Blood, and Daniel Handler making Spanish influenza-catchy, basement speakeasy lo-fi itchy, top shelf bourbon-breathed novelty hate snog orgies out of lyrical cliches, turned around and spanked sweetly.

However, there are some obvious twists on Love At The Bottom Of The Sea -- starting with the fact that they're back on Merge Records, the label that launched them as DIY synth-pop demigods in the 90s. And for the occasion TMF bring back the keyboards with all the squeaking, squonking, squealing, and the beep-beep-beeps beneath. The sweet fragrance of infatuations crooned and bleated on alt-boom classics like Get Lost and The Charm of the Highway Strip lingers here, but richly infused with the robust LP-learnin' Merritt and friends have been bringing in from late 60s/early 70s pop-folk-AM cabaret on their albums since the immense, ever-expanding 69 Love Songs.

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Latest comment by: George: "Great album. We really enjoyed listening to it and writing down the lyrics. Check them out at the link bellow. http://www.dvdlyrics.com/albums-t-the_magnetic_fields-love_at_the_bottom_of_the_sea.html"

Wild Flag — Wild Flag

Wild Flag is a quartet love affair smooshing Portland and D.C.-based warrior women together, combining the velvety and violent vocals/guitars of Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), Mary Timony (Helium), and Rebecca Cole (The Minders) with the superb shuffle and stomp of mighty drummer Janet Weiss (S-K, Quasi, etc.).

Wild Flag is a rock album that needs to be in everyone's playlist this year, as it constantly excites and snuggles up to the listener with openly emotional attempts at romantic music-fandom bonding ("Romance"), twists and turns about feeling hot and cold with mysterious scratches ("Something Came Over Me"), whilst a whole lot of skittery guitars tweak and even psyche-chug above Weiss's skin-rattling fury. It's boss.

Sounding as fresh as a debut by a Go-Go's era femme-powered new wave band made up of grown-up punks, all of those great garage gal voices bringing to mind glories recent (e.g. The Woods, by S-K) throughout, but also the brutal, passionate art-pop rants of Lene Lovich ("Boom"), and even early 70s feminist rock ("Glass Tamourine"). Dub bass notes dangle with Elastica-sharp guitar tones ("Short Version"), and all out expansive American Patti Smith-esque rock anthems spill towards the end of the ten track full-lenth ("Race Horse," "Black Tiles").

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A summer "Romance" that has nothing to do with Grease: preview Wild Flag's new single

Sleater-Kinney are kind of like capers: you either really like them, or you really don't. Perhaps the most polarizing quality about them was the sound of Corin Tucker's voice -- that aside, the musicianship was almost always razor sharp and drum tight, and their breakup was a mixed bag of sadness. The reunion of drummer Janet Weiss (previously of the delectably square-jawed Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks) and guitarist Carrie Brownstein is therefore both wonderful, because they are excellent musicians, and -- despite the fact this may be Riot Grrrl sacrilege -- free of the histrionics of Tucker's vocals. Joined by Mary Timony (Helium), and Rebecca Cole (The Minders), the four come together like a Pacific Northwest rock-and-roll Voltron to create Wild Flag. Commenting on likelihood of the union, Merge Records stated on their website that "if someone drew a visual representation illustrating the ways in which all indie bands are interconnected, Brownstein, Cole, Timony, and Weiss would be in the same tiny sphere, so playing together felt almost inevitable." Amen.

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Teenage Fanclub, Superchunk, and Telekinesis at Showbox at the Market October 14th

Welcome to Mergefest, Northwest edition. We're so unbelievably giddy about this show, we can hardly contain our little imaginary selves. From the moment this show was announced, we've been ticking off the days on our imaginary calendars, waiting and waiting for the magic that will occur the night of October 14th at Showbox at the Market, when the reverby swoonful magic of Teenage Fanclub will meet the crunchy and masterful indie rock of Superchunk, supported by our own hometown indie pop hereos Telekinesis. It's gonna be amazing.

On top of that amazement, all 3 bands will be touring new material! Teenage Fanclub just came out with the fabulous Shadows, which our own Chris Estey adored, stating of the track "The Fall" "Like with many great Teenage Fanclub songs, it creeps in the background till you remember what poured the Scotch into the Scotch-taped remnants of your own multi-shattered heart." Superchunk have the ever anticipated Majesty Shredding coming out in September, and Telekinesis are working on a new record right now. I'm sure we'll hear the hits we all want to hear, but we'll also be treated to some new stuff as well.

 

And, to celebrate, here's a video from each band:

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Latest comment by: Steve: "all those three in one night. how can one contain themselves. i'll get to see two in one night and then enjoy TFC on the saturday...gotta try and savour each set..."

Summer's almost gone, time to get your Superchunk on

Superchunk Majesty SheddingOn Sunday, September 12th at Neptune Coffee, the Imaginary Crafty Listening Party will commence (Kelly's showing everyone how to make fabric flowers, woot!), and it will feature an original crafting soundtrack from Superchunk and the Thermals' new albums.

We have a full review of The Thermals coming up (it's a power pop romantic masterpiece), but we thought it would be good to specifically plug the seminal work of 90s punk pop royalty Superchunk. Especially since the new LP Majesty Shedding arrives along with must-have generational-rousing reissues of the band's second and third releases, No Pocky For Kitty and On The Mouth (1991 and 1993, respectively).

First of all, Majesty Shedding is the band's full-on reunion after many years and comes after Superchunk rubbed fan's tummies with their toys in the attic EP Leaves In The Gutter.

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Imaginary Crafty Listening Party with brand new albums by The Thermals and Superchunk

Thermals and Superchunk Listening Party

{Thermals photo: Westin Glass / Superchunk photo: Jason Arthurs}

Last month's Imaginary Crafty Listening Party was bumpin with Lo & Behold Shrie teaching us all how to embroider {and armed us with TIG birdies to practice on} while we blissed out to the new Darren Hanlon and Menomena albums.

Join us Sunday, September 12th from 1p-3p at Neptune Coffee {in Greenwood} for the  September edition of the Imaginary Crafty Listening Party. We would love to have you join us as we feast on brand new albums from The Thermals and Superchunk and our dear friend Kelly is going to teach us how to make fashionable fabric flowers {photo examples} from scraps of fabric and a button . You don't have to partake in the free tutorial, bring your own knitting needles, papercraft, or current craft project and join us for fabulous crafty conversations and good times.

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Latest comment by: Anonymous: ""the fabu fabric flower tutorial" Any tips on the how-to for those of us too preoccupied with real flowers?"

Teenage Fanclub — Shadows

(Teenage Fanclub play with Superchunk on October 14, 2010 at the Showbox in the Market.)

It's been a half decade since the last Teenage Fanclub record Man-Made, but their influence has never gone away, even if melancholy power pop bands have come along within that span of time which don't know how much they owe to the Scottish kings. Of course, on early 90s brightly shined gems like Bandwagonesque the band was itself unafraid to remind underground pop-lovers of Big Star or Badfinger or the brimming years of indie bands like Orange Juice and Josef K. from their own region less than ten years before.

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