Catching Chook Race While They’re Around the USA

October 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Australia, Jangle, Music, Seattle, Shows | Leave a comment
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Taking on America with an extensive 25 date tour is ambitious for any band, but when you’re Chook Race, a little known three piece jangle pop band from Melbourne, Australia it’s downright impressive (and maybe a little insane). The band made its way into Seattle Wednesday night to play the Victory Lounge, a bar with no stage in East Lake. This is one band I thought I would never see in Seattle, but after self-releasing their first album, Chicago label Trouble in Mind signed them making their second LP widely available in the United States as well as this tour a reality.

Singer and guitarist Matthew Liveriadis has a slight monotone delivery, but drummer Carolyn Hawkins provides a beautiful juxtaposition with her backing harmonies. The trio played an energized and jangly set inspired by the Bats and Close Lobsters mixing soon to be jangle pop classics from their first LP with ones of a slightly more classic pop sound from their new second album Around the House. In their short existence the band already have a stash of A-list songs and they didn’t leave any of them out including jangly diamonds like Dentist, Time, Sometimes and Hard to Clean and Older. The band’s tight sound and laid back attitude easily won over the likely already won over folks in attendance and made us all appreciate the long trip they had made to get here.

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Like minded Seattlites Zebra Hunt opened for Chook Race with a set that consisted almost entirely of new songs (Half Right was the only old one). Apparently the new album is nearly ready and based on this evidence I would agree. One song really stood out with its Feelies-like crazy rhythm, even slowing down and then rebuilding itself into something quite raucous. Zebra Hunt has still got it!

In the Art House

November 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Music, Seattle, Shows | Leave a comment
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The Intelligence at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle | 15 November 2015

Why are rock shows always at night and in some beer soaked hall filled with annoying inebriated people? Why can’t they be on sunny Sunday afternoons in a friendly warm room with works of art hanging on the walls and children running around instead? The fine folks at the Frye Art Museum must have wondered this as well and they decided to do something about it by inviting the Intelligence to play their Museum. The Frye is one of the few museums in Seattle to allow free admittance and they extended their gratis support of the arts by putting on this free afternoon show as part of their ongoing Genius / 21 Century / Seattle exhibition. Apparently quite a few other folks are down with this idea too, because the show’s pre-registration was full and there was quite a lengthy stand-by line of people hoping to get in. I was one of them on line and luckily I think we all made it in.

If you haven’t heard, the Intelligence have a new album called Vintage Future. It’s their eighth LP and is easily their best sounding and best recorded one. The band have been increasing their sonic fidelity with each release, though they seem to maintain the same bent humor and attitude that front-man Lars Finberg exhibited since the very first Intelligence 7-inch Boyfriends and Girlfriends back in 2000. Fifteen years is a long time to try and hold your interest, but the intelligence have continued to metamorphosize into a better and better band. As they state on the new record, they refuse to pay the dues, but they also refuse to stay the same which makes a new Intelligence album something I always look forward to.

You may also know that the band no longer call Seattle home since front man Lars Finberg moved down to Los Angeles so this show was something of a homecoming for the band. In their best museum attire (Finberg was sporting some leopard print shades and smart blue blazer that gave him the air of a Hollywood mogul), the Intelligence ripped through about 15 songs that featured many highlights from the new album as well as few classics like Dating Cops, Estate Sales and Back of the Galaxy. The set started with the moody Cleaning Lady that allowed the band to warm up the room with it’s obsessive compulsive refrain of “It’s clean, but it’s not that clean to me.” Parents immediately grabbed their kids to insert earplugs into their little ears.

The new album has a sort of morbid jauntiness to it that is interspersed with aggressive forays of punk rock. Finberg continues his deliver from his deep well of sharp self-deprecating one liners and observations of the absurd (“I’m tired of people who like me”, “I want true love that I can step out on and that I can still count on while she waits with a warm plate”, “Shitty guitars, touring in cars”). Closing the set with Romans another song from the new album, the song’s sinewy guitar rif and patience was the Intelligence at full power. It’s one of those songs that could double in length and continue to please, but they kept to its abridged form. I wonder what the people who were at he Frye to take in the art on the walls thought while the cacophony of the Intelligence bounced into them from around an unseen corner? At least the the band and its audience enjoyed this afternoon dalliance in the museum.

Vintage Future is out now on In the Red Records.

Alvvays On My Mind or You’ll Mosh To Anything

December 5, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Barboza, Music, Seattle, Shows | Leave a comment
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Alvvays at Barboza, Seattle | 2 December 2014

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Alvvays debut album which was recorded by Chad VanGaalen is a subtle dreamy affair and one of the better records to come out this year. It has elements of shoegaze, but really it’s singer Molly Rankin that makes the record so good. Her voice has a vulnerability to it, while at the same time a strength to it. It’s like she’s singing for her life, but doesn’t want to be too obvious about it.

Their show in Neumo’s basement earlier this week was sold out and the band were obviously chuffed about it. Even going as far to say in their heady delight that it was better than the Portland show the night before. Live they have a more substantial sound probably because of the twin guitar attack and Molly Rankin formidable voice that sounds stronger live and loses some of its vulnerability but still sounds great. Kids were pogoing and moshing for most of the set which seemed a bit odd because Alvvays could never be interpreted as a punk or a party band. Dudes who mosh to dreampop I assume have a poor sense of direction and walked into the wrong show. Nevertheless, they went especially went crazy for Archie, Mary Me which is the stand out song on the album, but still not noshing material.  The show sort of reminded me of seeing Belly back around when Star had come out where there were bros moshing while couples snuggled together at the edges. Like Belly, Alvvays seem to have that that crossover appeal that brings out the bros, the lovers and this aging indie kids like myself.

For their encore they included a surprising cover of Out of Reach by the Primitives. I’m not sure how many of the youngsters recognized it, but it was exciting to hear a deep cut from an overlooked band. Like the rest of the set, Alvvays added a bit of grit to their version but the innate pop of the song shown through.

Tropical Temperate Zone

October 24, 2014 at 10:44 am | Posted in Music, Reggae, Seattle, Shows, Tropical Pop | Leave a comment
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Hollie Cook at the Nectar Lounge, Seattle | 21 October 2014

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I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing Hollie Cook at the Nectar Lounge earlier this week. Would anyone show up considering none of Cook’s albums have been released in the US? I shouldn’t have worried, people turned out for the show, obviously aware how good her records are, especially her newest one Twice which is string drenched tropical bliss. The basic sound is reggae, but with the help of collaborator Prince Fatty her records transcend that genre’s narrow confines. Cook’s father Paul plays drums for Edwyn Collins and Vic Godard, he also played in a punk rock band back in the 70’s. Her mom sang in Culture Club for a while and Hollie herself did a brief spell in the reformed Slits. Even though she comes from a performing family, Cook has a shy onstage demeanor that she occasionally bursts out of with infectious smiles, sincere dialog and serene dance moves.

The strings that are so prevalent on Twice were missed on some of the songs, but it was understandable since touring with a string section is economically unrealistic. Cook more than made up for any of the missing studio flourishes. Her band was all top shelf and Cook’s sweet voice glided gently over everything with ease. She played all the best stuff from her two albums, opening the set with Ari Up, her ode to the Slit’s front woman. She also did a cover of the Slit’s Newtown, emphasizing how influential this seminal band is to her. Shadow Kissing and 99 were the clear highlights for me. The only one I wished she would have played was Desdemona, but it was likely left out because it features a significant string section.

I don’t go to many reggae shows, so it was refreshing to see and experience the positive vibrations. There was much dancing, bands interacting with the audience, lots of smiles and general cheerfulness and of course ganja. Near the end of the set a fellow lit up a spliff and brought it up to Cook, who graciously accepted it and hung onto it while she sang. For most of the evening it felt so un-Seattle, almost tropical.

Fell from a Cloud: Eternal Summers, Bleeding Rainbow & Zebra Hunt at the Sunset

September 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Ballard, Music, Seattle, Shows, Sunset Tavern | 2 Comments
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Eternal Summers, Bleeding Rainbow & Zebra Hunt at the Sunset Tavern, Seattle | 8 September 2012

Someone yelled out in between songs of Eternal Summers set Saturday at the Sunset, “I just want to move to Roanoke!”  Nicole Yun deadpanned back, “Be careful what you wish for.” Yun and her band Eternal Summers are from Roanoke, Virginia, so it wasn’t exactly encouragement. Even so I can see the potential attraction. These days southern Virgina is dotted with attention deserving bands like White Laces, Super Vacations, Young Sinclairs and Wild Nothing, but Eternal Summers are my favorite. The bounty in the South right now reminds me of late 80’s when there was a highway of great pop from Mitch Easter‘s Drive-in studio in North Carolina all the way down to REM‘s hometown of Athens, Georgia.

Eternal Summers second album Correct Behavior deftly combines the sweet pop of Belly, moodiness of the Cure, attitude of Smashing Pumpkins and the angular bounce of Pylon. Behavior is a huge leap forward from their debut Silver in both songwriting and production. It’s one of the year’s best records and the trio ably put on a show to rival the record.

Now officially a trio, which according to Mr. Robert Forster (I am in accordance with and Eternal Summers prove),  the purest form of rock and roll expression. They ripped through an hour long set that did not have a single let down. Millions, You Kill, I Love You, Prisoner, Wonder and Disappear all delivered the goods. Drummer Daniel Cundiff even snuck in his ace Girls In the City. Yun’s singing easily rivaled the squall created by the band and she is also no slouch on guitar either. Many of her leads sounded like there were two guitarists. My only complaint about the show was how sparsely attended it was especially for a Saturday night. Has word not gotten out about how great this band is, or has everyone moved to Roanoke?

mp3: Eternal Summers – You Kill (from Correct Behavior on Kanine)

Eternal Summers are on tour with Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow (né Reading Rainbow). Previously a duo they’ve expanded to a four piece and kind of reinvented their sound. I like the new direction, it combines the 60’s Topanga Canyon with effects laden guitars similar to territory that the Telescopes were exploring in shoegaze heyday of the early 90’s. Look for a new album from them early next year on Kanine.

stream: Bleeding Rainbow – Pink Ruff

Seattle’s own Zebra Hunt opened the show. Their Dunedin sound by way of Ballard, which I can’t get enough of at the moment, sounded great. They played all three songs from their darling bandcamp EP and threw in a very appropriate cover of the Clean‘s Oddity. Like I needed another reason to like these guys.

Weekend On a Monday

September 29, 2011 at 10:40 am | Posted in Crocodile, Music, No Wave, Noise Rock, Seattle, Shows | Leave a comment
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Weekend and Talk Normal at the Crocodile, Seattle | 26 September 2011

I’m not sure why this show was booked at the Crocodile. With only a handful of people showing up to see Weekend and Talk Normal, someone had to lose money. This show would have been much better for all in involved in a smaller place like the Comet, Lo-Fi, or Sunset. At any of those places, it would have seemed like enough people showed up to see them. At the Crocodile it was conspicuously empty. This didn’t seem to phase either band in the slightest. Weekend filed on stage, switched on their red lights and smoke machine, turned up the bass amp to 11 and proceeded to pummel all 25 of us.

Sometimes a band pummels in the right way and sometimes it’s not. I wanted San Francisco’s Weekend to do it the right way. Their records do it correctly, balancing just the right amount of noise and melody, but Monday at the Crocodile it was mostly noise devoid of any melody. Weekend feature bass guitar prominently in all of their songs, but live it overpowered everything. I moved around to see if it was where I was standing (there was a lot of space to move around), but the mix was the same. The guy would sing, but you couldn’t hear it. The other guy would play guitar but you could barely hear it. Everything was overwhelmed by out of control bass. Last year at the Vera Project they seemed to have a better handle on their live sound, or maybe I just had higher expectations for them the second time around. Their new Red EP is a leap forward for them. The songs are less buried and a more nuanced atmosphere is created than on their album from last year. Hell, you could even dance to Hazel. Any nuance flew out the window Monday and it was replaced by sheer volume, making it hard to tell one song from another. Kind of a bummer.
stream: Weekend – Hazel

Openers and tourmates Talk Normal come from Brooklyn and can trace their roots to their city’s rich No Wave past. The duo of drums and guitar created a respectable cacophony in the cavernous Crocodile. Screwdrivers were insterted into the necks of guitars and drums were pounded in rhythmic patterns. Not being a conoseur of No Wave, I can only assume that this made for a great set.
stream: Talk Normal – Lone General

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