In a Jewelbox: Fergus & Geronimo, Seapony and Idle Times

Fergus & Geronimo, Seapony & Idle Times at the Jewelbox Theatre, Seattle | 4 March 2011

I wasn’t expecting much from Fergus and Geronimo last night at the Jewelbox Theatre after being underwhelmed when I saw them a year ago at SXSW, but as luck would have it I was anything but underwhelmed.  The tiny Jewelbox is one of my favorite places to see a show in the city. It’s been around since the 1920’s. It is an intimate place to see a band holding about 100 people, with good sound. Besides the location a few other things had changed for Fergus and Geronimo in the last year besides the obvious, like Jason Kelly’s new haircut.  They’ve recently released an album on Seattle’s Hardly Art and re-jiggered their band with a new bass player and guitarist both of which were top notch.

The four piece fit snuggly on the small stage with Kelly behind the drums full-time (another change from the last time I’d seen them). They seemed right at home, exchanging friendly banter with the audience and showing off some humorous new songs: one about roman numerals (video below) and another about their guitarist getting hit on by a very inebriated woman. They also threw in a cover of Devo‘s Girl U Want, did some Powerful Lovin’,  their ode to Blind Muslim Girls and voila my impression of their live show is totally 180’d. Crazy how good a band can get in a year, they were a blast.

Newly signed to Hardly Art, Seattle’s  Seapony took the middle slot of the night.  I had seen them a while back and neglected to blog about it, but what I took away then was that they sounded good, but needed a drummer.  The same thoughts came to mind as I watched them last night, and the fact that they’re really shy. I don’t think they said anything except “this is our last song”.  Their songs are really good and twee, but the no drummer thing is kind of distracting to my aesthetics.  It’s early days for Seapony so we’ll see how things progress. They’ve got some great songs, I’m sure the delivery will come.

Openers Idle Times rocked my socks off, and if I would have ever gotten around to doing a best Seattle records of 2010, their self-titled debut on Hozac would have been near the top. Damn my indolence.

Here are the remaining Fergus and Geronimo dates go see ’em:

03.09.11 – Portland, OR – East End
03.10.11 – Oakland, CA – The New Parish
03.11.11 – Sacramento, CA – The Hub
03.12.11 – Los Angeles, CA – The Troubador
03.13.11 – Tucson, AZ – Sky Bar (free show)
03.14.11 – El Paso, TX – LIPS Lounge
03.15.11 – Marfa, TX – Padre’s
03.17.11 – Austin, TX – Force Field PR Party @ Shangri-La – set time TBA
03.18.11 – Austin, TX – Sub Pop / Hardly Art Showcase @ Red 7 – 12:15am
03.19.11 – Austin, TX – Hardly Art Pizza Party @ End of an Ear – 2:30pm
03.19.11 – Austin, TX – Panache showcase @ Mohawk (inside) – 10:30pm
03.23.11 – Nashville, TN – The End
03.25.11 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
03.26.11 – Baltimore, MD – Golden West
03.27.11 – Washington, DC – Comet Ping Pong
03.28.11 – Montclair, NJ – The Meat Locker
04.01.11 – Philadelphia, PA – The Ox
04.02.11 – Brooklyn, NY – Death By Audio

More Pop Overload

I’m sure there will come a day when we are all scrounging around for some semblance of a new good song to listen to and coming up dry.  Well , that day ain’t here yet.  Once again the mp3’s are piling up in my head, so here’s another Pop Overload to clear it out.   Like the ones before, the Pop Overload is about both quantity and quality…and the bonanza continues…

Don’t have to call it a comeback, but Brideshead are.  Germany’s Brideshead return with a four song 10″ after a long hiatus.  Indiepop aficionados undoubtedly remember these guys for their two albums Some People Have All The Fun and In and Out of Love.  It’s bright bouncy fun that isn’t afraid to let the sunshine flood in.

mp3: Brideshead – The World Stopped Turning (available from Shelflife)

Outdoor Miners seem to be victims of geography. If they were from Denton or Brooklyn or LA everyone would be going all verbal on these guys. As it is they’re holed up Edmonton, Alberta probably frozen in some snowbank by now. This is their second single on Pop Echo. Both are limited to 300 copies and inexplicably still available. These should’ve sold out long time ago.

mp3: Outdoor Miners – Disgust (available from Pop Echo)

You’re probably saying to yourself, hey wasn’t Idle Times on the last pop overload?  I can’t help it, the more I hear from their upcoming album on Hozac the more I can’t wait.  Seattleites, don’t miss their next gig, September 30 at the High Dive with Coasting.

mp3: Idle Times – Hey Little Girl (coming from Hozac)

Seems the Crystal Stilts have come out of hiding with a new single and it could be the least unhappy (notice I didn’t say happy) singer Brad Hargett has ever sounded.  It’s definitely late 80’s British in style, I hear the Railway Children.  On the b-side they sound like they’ve been getting drunk and listening to country music.  Weird, I think I may like their drunk country better than their 80’s Brit.

stream: Crystal Stilts – Shake the Shackles (on the way from Slumberland)

Alex Kemp (Small Factory) is back with Rat d’Hotel part deux in his three part series.  Heart Goes Boom is understated and slyly danceable that will make you weak in your knees. Just as good as Rat d’Hotel part one, only this time with more rats.

mp3: Alex Kemp -Heart Goes Boom (get one from the man himself)

The new Flight song from the upcoming Lead Riders EP is my favorite Flight since his Sweet Rot debut.  It keeps the dark blown out Blank Dogs feel, but adds a slithery melody that snakes into your brain.

mp3: Flight – Turns To Blood (coming soon from Zoo Music)

Philadelphia’s Reading Rainbow give us a teaser from album number two due from Hozac in November.  It’s a big sounding song.  They sound like they got a whole bunch of their friends to help belt out the song.  Infectiously happy sounding and pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face while your wasting time.

mp3: Reading Rainbow –  Wasting Time (coming soon on Hozac)

Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury, and Radio Dept. know it. This song hit the ether this week in advance of Sweden’s election. It’s a fair guess to say Sweden’s current right wing government is not the band’s preferred one.

mp3: Radio Dept – The New Improved Hypocrisy

The Cave Comes Alive

Ty Segall & Idle Times at the Comet Tavern, Seattle | 28 June 2010

Prior to Melted I was on the fence about Ty Segall. After seeing him at the Sunset Tavern a few years back opening for Thee Oh Sees and Intelligence, I was kind of amazed how he played guitar, drums and sang all at once, but I thought the songwriting on his first two albums was  monochromatic and sonically they seemed a little flat. It was all  three chord jams that pegged the VU meter in the red. Listening to his self-titled debut or Lemons all the way through could be monotonous and a little bit mind numbing. Somewhere along the way Segall eschewed the garage for some acid.  Last year’s Reverse Shark Attack record he did with Mikal Cronin  and the single on Trouble in Mind (that included a cover Echo and the Bunnymen‘s Do It Clean) hinted at a move toward something a little different.  His third album Melted which came out earlier this month on Goner meets those heightened expectations and  is leaps and bounds ahead of than anything he’s done to date.  It’s got this rich garage-y psychedelic sound, and sees Segall hitting a sweet patch with regards to his songwriting.  Melted boasts songs so good they could make you start believing all of the wunderkind accolades this guy was getting early on are valid.

I’m not sure if the packed house at the Comet cared whether or not Segall was branching out as a songwriter or not. They mainly cared about getting their PBR’s and rocking out. The bar seemed a little overwhelmed for the thirsty mass of Ty Segall fans on a Monday night, but Segall was more than obliged to provide the jams for the rocking out part.   The set was sprinkled with a couple new songs, some older ones, but mostly concentrated on the new album. He set the bar high early on with the song Imaginary Person. While good on record, this song really shined displaying its huge unabashed pop hooks. Segall looked all California, with his sun bleached Surfer Joe locks and his laid back, rocker attitude. He sweetly dedicated songs to his muses, his home state California and the girl at the merch table, but forcefully delivered the garage jams. The set ended with Caesar, the song from Melted that features piano and Thee Oh Sees’s John Dwyer of going nutty on a flute. There was no piano or flute at the Comet just a killer song with a huge chorus and a room full of sweaty Ty Segall fans wanting more.

mp3: Ty Segall – Imaginary Person (from Melted, destined to be one of the better albums of the year)

Seattle’s own Idle Times opened as a three piece and sported a new drummer.  Leo Gephardt who is usually in the band only stepped out of the crowd and played guitar for one song, leaving Brian Standeford to handle all the guitar and vocals the rest of the time.  This downsizing didn’t seem to alter Idle Times’ ability to rock out. In fact, I think every time I see Idle Times I’m more impressed by them than the last.  To me, their songs evoke Led Zepplin and Bad Company without being too obvious. Their first full length is due soon from Hozac and is something you should keep your eye out for.

Update From Seattle

In case you were wondering, summer has yet to arrive in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s nearing the end of June and we’re just now starting to shed our thick blankets of clouds and precipitation.  So enough with the weather update, let’s move onto the  music update.  This weekend is has a lot of music packed into it.  The rock and roll marathon is Saturday and there’s a band every mile.  I don’t know too many indie rockers who run marathons (not enough irony in it), but even if you’re not a runner you can get up early to see BOAT, the Purrs and the Redwood Plan play along the route.  If you’re not an early riser, the annual Georgetown Music Fest is this Friday and Saturday and starts a little later.  Friday the bands start at 6:00 PM and Saturday things get underway at 2:00 PM.  The line-up is always worth a trip down to the south of end of town and this year is no exception with Webelos, Pica Beats, Pink Snowflakes, Hotels and the Tea Cozies all playing.

If you’re more the stay at home type the rest of this post is for you. We’ll start with the  GGNZLA crew striking again, this time with the new Partman Parthorse record.  The song that’s gotten a lot of mileage around town is Emerald City Dollar Bin which is one big giant diss of Seattle bands.  Partman Parthorse are arty punk rockers and could never be accused of being too soft, cuddly and melodic, but it’s pretty funny to hear lead man/horse Gary Smith take the piss out of the Seattle indie scene (Dutchesse and the Duke? They make me wanna puke/Mount St. Helens Vietnam Band, more like Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Bland). If you’ve ever seen Partman Parthorse, you know then that Smith likes to strip down to his skivvies when they play.  Partman Parthorse? More like Partman Part-Underwear Model Wannabe.  Bonus: cover of the Intelligence‘s World Is a Drag.  They’ll be opening for Eddy Current Suppression Ring and the A Frames tonight at the Funhouse.

mp3: Partman Parthorse – Emerald City Dollar Bin (don’t be a dummy, get Emerald City Dummies from GGNZLA)

Consignment are a band that seem to be pals with the Shackles who’s Carlos Lopez (you may have seen his hilarious video for Butt‘s Panty Exchange) shot their video for sleepy sounding Always Tired. The band recently put out a cassette on Hi Shadow and have a 7″ due soon on Vancouver, BC’s Sweet Rot. If you’re like me, high and dry with no cassette player and waiting for the vinyl, here’s the Carlos Lopez directed video for Always Tired to tide you over.  The next Consignment gig is Monday, July 19th at the Comet Tavern.

The Night Beats sound like they should be from Austin instead of Seattle with their Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Black Angels, Woven Bones inspired sound.  No. A quick check and I can confirm they are from the Northwest.  I can also confirm that they have a 7″ due out on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind in July.  A couple of weeks ago Insound made it their mp3 of the week (whatever that means, besides a free song for us), and local blog Seattle Subsonic have been all over them as well.  Night Beats play Black Lodge on Monday, July 5th and will be at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party.

mp3: Night Beats – H-Bomb (soon to be released on Trouble in Mind)

Picking up where the Turn-ons left off are Hunting Grounds.  They’ve got three songs up currently on Band Camp.  They’re all slow burners that definitely have a highly stylized UK slant to them.  It’s kind of precious stuff with whooshing keyboards evoking barren fields and gray skies.  I’m always pleasantly surprised when a local band goes all anglophile, and Hunting Grounds with these three songs have have me reaching for my  Suede, Sub CircusRoxy Music, and Bowie records.  Hunting Grounds play this coming Thursday, July 1st at the Blue Moon in the University District.

mp3: Hunting Grounds – Life In Ice

Former Catheter and Tall Bird Brian Standeford and his new band Idle Times finally have a full length record coming out after a couple of singles.  The self-titled album is coming out on Chicago’s Hozac later this summer.  You can get a preview over at Hozac’s blog thing.  They’re streaming Hey Little Girl in all of it’s paint peeling stupendous-ness.  Get an even more in your face preview when they open for Ty Segall this Monday, June 28th at the Comet Tavern.

Stream: Idle Times – Hey Little Girl

Big Hair, Flying V’s and Lots of Spit

Jay Retard, Thee Oh Sees and Idle Times at the Crocodile, Seattle | 15 June 2009

John Dwyer looking like the man possessed that he is.

As I was waiting for Jay Retard last night, I kept looking up towards to the ceiling expecting to have to dodge giant gobs of spit and phloem that I imagined must be stretching from down like stalactites after Thee Oh Sees saliva heavy set. Lead Oh See, John Dryer excreted more liquid from his mouth during their short 30 minute set than I thought was humanly possible. He shot gobs of spit straight up, aiming for the lights, and he shot them across the stage. Saliva also seemed to spill out of his mouth as he contorted his body around his guitar and tried to swallow the microphone numerous times, the man was one giant secretion. The rest of the band didn’t seem to notice, or mind getting a little wet, they were all business. Dwyer is easily the center of attention, but the rest of band seem to be doing all the heavy lifting. Bridgid Dawson provides her Grace Slick as cave woman vocals that really give Thee Oh Sees their haunting sound, also being easy on the eyes she takes some of the attention away from Dwyer. Second guitarist Petey Dammit stood in the back playing most of the leads, while drummer Mike Shoun sat up front dodging spit and putting up with Dwyers antics while keeping time.  Thee Oh Sees aren’t really reinventing the wheel, but they are experts at delivering garage-psych in the short three minute bursts, and  in a live setting they are all the more potent.

mp3: Thee Oh Sees – Ruby Go Home (from Help, buy it)

mp3: Thee Oh Sees – Castiatic Tackle (from the 4 song tour only split 7 inch)

Jay Retard aka Cousin Itt
Midway through their set, Dwyer commented on the puritanical Seattle law that disallows alcohol on the stage, chiding the audience saying: ‘Next election make your vote count,  because frankly Seattle this no beer on the stage thing is pretty fucking weird.’  Jay Retard , looking like Cousin Itt from the Adams Family with his curly locks of hair obscuring his face most of the night, didn’t have any beer on stage with him, just a can of Red Bull that he pounded and then hurled into the audience.  Apparently the Retard van had broken down on the way to Seattle, causing the band to barely make it to the show, Jay wasn’t deterred in the slightest, facetiously saying : This rock n’ roll thing is fucking easy.   The three piece band made it look easy and fun,  ripping through their set, hardly stopping for a breath.  Jay wasn’t the only one with lots of hair, his bass player Stephen Pope sports a big fro and both of them prefer the flying V for the shape of their guitars.  A few times last night they simultaneously would get in their hair band pose, you know the one where the guitarists get together on stage half kneeling hair flopping/rocking out/head banging  like it ‘s 1984 again.   Every song seemed to take on a punk anthem persona and the crowd reciprocated the punk and disorderly attitude by slamming, crowd surfing, stage diving, and throwing beer cans.  The show was a blast, though not too varied.  On record, Jay has been growing as a songwriter and varying the pace as well as adding different sounds and timbres to his songs.  Live there was none of that, every song was a fist pumping thrash up.  Even songs like I’m Watching You with its melancholy feel got turned in to a thrashy punk song somplete with crowd surfing.

Even though Jay Retard live is a bit different than his live persona, you still get the impression that he’s a teddy bear.  He dedicated his final song, Let It All Go,  to Chris Knox who recently suffered a stroke.  Jay met and became fast friends with Knox when he was last in New Zealand, and was shocked by this bad news.  I’m not sure if the rest of the Crocodile knew or cared about what Jay Retard was saying last night between songs they just wanted to rock and Jay Retard delivered that in spades.

mp3: Jay Retard – It Ain’t Gonna Save Me (from the forthcoming Watch Me Fall)

mp3: Jay Retard – Blank Blogs (from the tour only split 7 inch)

Here’s some video I shot of I’m Watching You.  Be warned, the sound is kind blown out.

Blank Dogs at the Funhouse

Blank Dogs, Naked on the Vague, Love Tan, Idle Times at the Funhouse, Seattle | 2 April 2009
blank dogs funhouse seattle

This was easily the most packed I’ve ever seen the Funhouse.  I arrived around 10 o’clock for the last part of Idle Times opening set and there was already a crowd around the stage.  The combination of two really good Seattle bands as openers and highly prolific and getting better with each release Blank Dogs from Brooklyn as headliners was a pretty good reason to be at the Funhouse on Thursday night.  I saw Idle Times back in December at the Sunset and liked them, but they sounded much better this night.  The guitars sounded bigger and they just seemed more confident as a band.  The live version of Idle Times is bigger than the recorded one.  Instead of  just Brian Idle you get a full band which means the songs just sound bigger.  The guitar riffs become more accented, giving them a more Dinosaur Jr. feel.

Love Tan are the project of the Lights’ Craig Chambers and former Intelligence drummer Matthew Ford.  Armed with the ever popular combination of guitar and drums, on paper these guys may seem like minimalists, but they are fully capable of rocking. Their stage personas come off as kind of smart-ass with Ford renaming all their songs to include skull in their titles and Chambers with a mischievous look  that reminds me of the bully Scott Farkus in A Christmas Story.  These guys clearly are playing without a rock rule book.   Their knob twiddling jam Dissolve where Chambers screechy, piercing sounds without actually playing his guitar was killer and the highlight of the set for me with their most pop-like song This Land is No Good coming in a close second.

mp3: Love Tan – Ex (from Misc. Night Feelings, buy it)

Blank Dogs were on tour with Naked on the Vague who are from Australia.  I had checked out the Vague’s myspace a couple days before the gig and thought they sounded like industrial music, literally.  Not the Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry gothic style that Blank Dogs are fond of, but the clanging, and pounding dissonance of a factory.  Live, they were no different deconstructing songs to their most basic noise elements.  To quote Bob and Doug McKenzie from Strange Brew, Beauty sound, but not my style of music.  Blank Dogs, with a few minor quips,  did not disappoint.  Mike Sniper, who is Blank Dogs on record brought along a full band including a keyboard setup that looked like medical machine in an intensive care unit with knobs and wires sticking out everywhere.  The band were in no need of life support ripping through a ten song set with hardly a pause.  Sniper’s vocals were pretty much indecipherable, partly because there was so much reverb and partly because the everything else was so loud.  He left most of the lead guitar work to  the other guitarist who’s leads seemed to pierce through the industrial haze of the rest of the band.  My two complaints were that one song didn’t sound much different from the next, and that you could barely hear the drums.  On record Sniper seems to be stretching out a bit with his latest Captured Tracks EP putting a emphasis on more clarity and melody.  Live, he hasn’t quite gotten there yet, though his band does pack quite a wallop.

mp3: Blank Dogs – The Tied (from Seconds, buy it)

Rainy Dawg Birthday

when it rains it pours

Photo from c00lmarie’s flickr

April is the month of showers, but it looks more like a month of downpours in terms of great gigs coming up this month (Don’t believe me? Have a look over there on the right). I think the one that put it over the edge for me was the University of Washington’s internet radio station Rainy Dawg announcing today that they’re having a birthday party.   If you read the comments on this blog (yeah, you probably wouldn’t admit to that) this is probably not news to you since Omar left the news about this gig happening in a comment here yesterday.  It’s now official.  Rainy Dawg radio will be hosting New York’s Crystal Stilts, San Diego’s Wavves and Seattle’s Idle Times and AFCGT to celebrate the station’s sixth birthday.

I’m always jealous of New Yorkers getting to see Crystal Stilts every other week, so I’m pretty psyched that they’re making the trip out to Seattle specifically for this gig.  I saw them back in November at Chop Suey and they did not disappoint. Wavves have yet to play Seattle.  Nathan Williams is a one man band on record, but live  he gets a little help from a drummer (Wavves are also playing the Funhouse on 9 April if you’d like a preview). I caught Idle Times around Christmas opening for the Intelligence. On record it’s one guy Brian Idle, but live he’s got a full band which gives the songs a totally different dynamic. As for AFCGT, they are the remnants of the A-Frames and Climax Golden Twins and they are able to make an immaculate racket. It should be a time.

It all goes down on 24 April at the North Husky Den located in the HUB on the University of Washington Campus at 7pm. Don’t Be Late, or you’ll miss the cake.