Pop! Goes Seattle: Best of 2012

December 27, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Albums, Lists, Music, Seattle, Sub Pop | 2 Comments
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Could this have been the year that Seattle went pop? Sure, there have been bands here and there with pop leanings, but this was the year that Seattle finally shed it’s flannel, got out of the garage, and didn’t feel like it had to be wooly, bearded and mechanical all the time. Look out old Seattle, the kids don’t care about your hang-ups!  Here are my favorite 15 records (album, ep’s and singles) from the Emerald City and environs.

erikblood
1. Erik Blood – Touch Screens (Self-relased)

It was pretty cool to see much of Seattle’s music press unanimously agree that Erik Blood’s Touch Screens was a brilliant record. He took his shoegaze leanings, added some electronics, a motorik beat or two and came up with a concept album about pornography. Too bad that recognition seemed to stop at the city limits. Dear rest of the world, you may have missed one of the finest records put out this year.
The Lonesome Death of Henry Paris:



stream: Touch Screens

theesatisfaction
2. Thee Satisfaction – awE naturalE (Sub Pop)

Part soul,  interstellar hip-hop, and trip-hop, the duo Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White combined to create a record that sounded like little else in Seattle and anywhere else for that matter. It didn’t get as much gushing attention as the Shabazz Palaces album did last year. It should have because it’s a better record.
QueenS:


neighbors

3. Neighbors – John In Babeland (Lost Sound)

Neighbors’ deft songwriting seemed to effortlessly take their REM and Pavement influences and create a record that could rattle as well as soothe. John in Babeland came out cassette way back in February, luckily I got a download of it because as much as I’ve played it, the cassette wound up all scrunched in a tape deck by now.
All United Grocery:


Stream: John In Babeland

eveningmeetings
4. Evening Meetings – Evening Meetings (Sweet Rot)

Dark clouds, dark allies, dark dark. Evening Meetings wouldn’t, no couldn’t take place in the light of day nor in any other place. Claustrophobia induced by low pressure and heavy dark clouds and dusk that sets in around 3pm.  This time of year in Seattle it’s dark most of the time and in some weird strange way this record turns on the bright lights every time I listen to it.
Shimmer Street:


zebrahunt

5. Zebra Hunt – Zebra Hunt (self-released)

Half Right is the best song to come out of Seattle this year. If I didn’t know any better I would have guessed they moved here from New Zealand and started a PNW Flying Nun shop right here in our midst. Seattle, rejoice! There is a pop band in our midst that breathes kiwi air.

Half Right:



stream: Zebra Hunt

laluz
6. La Luz – Damp Face (Self-released)

Have you ever been to the beach in Washington? You can actually drive right onto it with your car because nobody’s there. It’s flat, cold and windy no matter when you go, winter, spring, summer or fall. La Luz don’t belong in this surfer’s nightmare. Their surfer’s paradise of an EP had to have been born in warmer climes, but being from Seattle, perhaps long winter day’s indoors, hanging with the ghosts of the Ventures and  dreaming of an endless summer did it.
Sure As Spring:


stream: Damp Face

orcateam

7. Orca Team – Restraint (HHBTM)

The basic sound of Orca Team record hasn’t changed much over their short career. Their bass-driven 50′s surf pop jangle consistently pleases. They’re random output of  singles, cassettes and CDr’s has been scattershot. Finally the band has seemed to focus and that concentration makes Restraint feel like a proper record. Its concise songs make quick long lasting impressions.

Michael:



stream: Restraint

posse
8. Posse – Posse (Self-released)

Posse’s self-titled debut is brazen with amazing pop songs. They have the gritty boy-girl back and forth in their songs and slashing guitar solos that aren’t over the top but just right. You older folk will appreciate their affinity towards Versus. Back in the 90′s during that post Nirvana signing frenzy Posse undoubtedly would have been sitting on piles of cash and big record deal. Oh how times have changed.

Hey Suzzane:



stream: Posse

teacozies
9. Tea Cozies – Bang Up (Self-released)

Tea Cozies re-materialized after three years in the wilderness with this killer five song EP. It has an air of confidence about it and flare that will have fans of both 90′s Britpop and college rock hopefully reaching for their pocketbooks as well as old albums by the Tuscadero, Blake Babies and Sleeper.
Silhouette In A Suitcase:



stream: Bang Up

chastitybelt

10. Chastity Belt – Dude (self-released)

You thought I was kidding about the pop capitol of the world,didn’t you. I wasn’t and Chastity Belt are here to back me up. Their Pony Tail single had the audacity to tell the general NPR listening, latte drinking, Game of Thrones playing male populace of Seattle to cut off their ponytails. What a bunch of punks!

Ponytail:



stream: Dude

blooper

11. Blooper – Go Away (Self-released)

Blooper do saccharin powerpop so well that any cuts inflicted by their killer songs will bleed cherry syrup. Look out for a new 7-inch single from these Ballard popsters early in the new year on Manic Pop! Records.

Secret Song:



stream: Go Away

nightgowns
12. Nightgowns – Bonita (Swoon)

Tacoma’s Nightgowns, similar to Tea Cozies have been slumbering for a few years, but this EP sees them wide awake and in good form. Slightly bombastic and theatrical, but only slightly, Bonita sounds like that bubble the Flaming Lips use, but instead of it being in a sea of confetti, they are bounding across the high desert, down the cascades and into the Sound.

Tomorrow Girl:



stream: Bonita

Purrs

13. Purrs – Rotting On the Vine (Fin)

The Purrs are like the elder statesmen of nothing. They’ve been around for years putting out great records to little recognition. Perennially writing killer songs that are left rotting on the vine so to speak.  If anyone ever asks you, yes they do make them use to. Seattle’s Fin records have given the Purrs a new home and this beauty is a taste of their album due next year.

Rotting On the Vine:



stream: Rotting On the Vine

seapony

14. Seapony – Falling (Hardly Art)

Funny how Seapony’s second album is better than their first and yet last year they were number one in my Seattle albums and now they’re number 14. It might be because Falling was more of the same only better or it might be because I’m capricious.  They may have slightly fallen out of fashion, but this record will be considered a Sarah-esque classic in a few years. Too bad it takes obscurity for some people to really appreciate things.

Prove To Me:


stephanie

15. Stephanie – One Glove (Self-released)

Stephanie sound like they could have been on Factory records back in the early 80′s. They employed Erik Blood to record One Glove, but it sounds like they got Martin Hannett from the grave instead.  Stephanie employ sparse, jaggedy steely guitars that are part Magazine and part Durutti Column and a singer that some might say is an acquired taste but they make it work quite well.

Cell 44:



stream: One Glove

Live in Seattle Last Week: Disappears, Fresh & Onlys, Bleached, Veronica Falls, Cate Le Bon, Charles Leo Gebhardt

February 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Chop Suey, Crocodile, Gigs, Music, Seattle, Tractor Tavern | 3 Comments
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The glacially exciting winter touring season started to thaw out and this week and provided an early spring rush of shows that got me out of my winter show-going hibernation.  On Sunday, the Fresh & Onlys were up from San Francisco along with Chicagoians Disappears. Disappears are about to release their third and best record Pre Language. It’s their first with new drummer Steve Shelley who use to be in some other band called Sonic Youth.  Shelley is game for touring with his other band on indefinite hiatus and the Disappears are all the better for it. They played an amazing set of  intense, anxiety fueled post punk. Up until this night I was uncommitted to Disappears, their first two albums didn’t really fully materialize in my mind, but with Shelley on Drums and this new record they’re firing on all cylinders evoking the Fall, Girls Against Boys and even a little Sonic Youth.

Stream: Disappears – Replicate (from Pre Language)

After Disappears I thought that the Fresh & Onlys might have made a mistake in having them as openers. Not many bands could follow the Disappears’ powerful set and not come off sounding pale in comparison.  I shouldn’t have been concerned, because the Fresh & Onlys are a formidable live band themselves. You’d never know it by looking at them, Singer Tim Cohen looks like a mountain man that hasn’t bothered to shave or change out of his PJ’s.  They had a new drummer, Kyle Gibson is on the temporary injured reserve, who more than ably filled in. I should also mention that I think that the F&O’s musical prowess is closely linked to the height of guitarist Wymond Miles’ hair. Every time I see them his hair is taller and every time they’re better than than the last. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s some kind of biblical Samson thing he’s got going on (or he has a secret love for the Alarm). There wasn’t anything new in their set, which as kind of a surprise since we know these guys are prolific. They must have decided to keep the songs from their upcoming album due on Mexican Summer under wraps. They plucked the highlights from their slew of past records, it was especially cool to hear Peacock and Wing which is essentially their theme song with its “You should really be my fresh & only” refrain. It just reinforced my belief that any band worth its salt should have a “theme song” with its name in the chorus.
stream: Fresh & Onlys – Peacock and Wing (from their first self-titled album on Castle Face)

Skip forward to Tuesday night and the Tractor in Ballard where Veronica Falls and Bleached played along with Seapony. Seapony seem to be in between drummers and were using a drum machine again, but sounded ok nonetheless. Bleached, who have a handful of very good singles to date, but no album as of yet consist of two dudes and sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, formerly of LA punkers Mika Miko. Bleached may consist of former punks from LA, but they sound like they now subscribe to more paisley shade of it with a little cow-poke thrown in for good measure.I have a feeling that they have a few Gun Club records in their collection. Their set was full of confident swagger, good songs and even a cover of the Ramones‘ Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.

stream: Bleached – Searching Through The Past

Headliners, Veronica Falls were in town a little more than three months ago opening for Drums. I’m glad they returned, giving us another chance to hear the great songs from last year’s excellent self-titled album. While their opening slot at the Crocodile last year was good, seeing them at the more intimate Tractor was a whole lot better. Drummer Patrick Doyle seems to be designated guy to talk to the audience between songs. I kept expecting him to pull a Ric Menck and come out from behind his kit to grab the front mic to talk the way the Velvet Crush drummer use to do, but he seemed happy to lob his one-liners from the back of the stage. The rest of the band said little, but let their harmonies and playing do the talking. The sound was great, and the band played like a well oiled machine, making every song sound better than the record if that’s possible. They slipped in a few new ones including My Heart Beats which I assume is going to be an upcoming single. It was great fun, I wish I walked every show I go to feeling this good.

stream: Veronica Falls – My Heart Beats (new song)


The following night Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon played at the Crocodile with her band in support of her second album Cyrk. I wasn’t enamored with her first album, but she has made a huge leap with record number two. It evokes many of her compatriots like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Super Fury Animals, but isn’t easily pigeonholed as a Welsh record. It’s also easy to compare her voice to that of Nico, though she is less deadpan and on stage she displays an easy sense of humor. She referred to the audience as Seattle-ogians and when her drummer corrected her with Seattleites, she insisted that we should be called Seattle-ogians.
She wore a silvery, cosmic looking cape and switched between playing guitar and keyboard. Besides her voice and fashion standing out, her guitar playing was formidable as well. She demonstrated this during both Fold the Cloth and Cyrk which brought cheers from the audience. She had three guys in her band who switched around on instruments (with the exception of the drummer who stayed put). Her keyboard player did harmony vocals and did an amazing job with an ability to hit some really high notes. The set ended with Ploughing Out Parts I & II after which she returned alone for one final song and then left the stage leaving everyone more than satisfied.

stream - Cate Le Bon – Puts Me To Work (from Cyrk)

Charles Leo Gebhardt opened the night with a full band. I’ve seen him before with guitar and drummer but never with a bassist. Tonight he had Ratchel Ratner of the Wimps and Butts playing bass, TV Cohran on a full drum kit and Brian Standeford of Idle Times on second guitar. He played  songs from his two releases on GGNZLA and the full band treatment added another dimension to already quality stuff. Mid-set he broke a string and proceeded to try to tell a story, when that didn’t work out so well, the band played Idle Times’ Prison Mind and Gebhardt sang it as he fixed his string. A consummate entertainer!  Hopefully he gained a few new fans with his lively set, because his Ray Davies-esque pop deserves a larger audience.
stream: Charles Leo Gebhardt – Chapel of Roses

Oh Seattle, So Much To Answer For (Favorite Seattle Records of 2011)

January 1, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Posted in Albums, Best of, Lists, Music, Seattle | 1 Comment
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I took a year off from doing a favorite Seattle records list due to lazyitis (sorry Seattle). Here’s my top ten records from my fair city for 2011 (sorry Seattle).


1. Seapony – Go With Me (Hardly Art)
Twee is alive and well in Seattle. Seapony kind of came out of nowhere late last year. They put their debut album out on local label Hardly Art, played countless shows around town and generally put the Northwest back on the map when it comes to indiepop.
mp3: Dreaming



2. Charles Leo Gebhardt IV – Begin Again (GGNZLA)
Leo Gebhardt plays guitar in a few Seattle bands, but it’s his solo stuff that really shines. Begin Again was his second release for the enigmatic Seattle label GGNZLA. Begin Again is full of rollicking and playful, Kinks inspired narratives.
mp3: Chapel of Roses



3. BOAT – Dress Like Your Idols (Magic Marker)
BOAT keep delivering hook laden albums sparked with humor and conviction. Like the Young Fresh Fellows before them, these industrious fellows create unforgettable pop right under the city’s collective noses. Dress Like You Idols contains some of the band’s best songs yet.
mp3Forever in Armitron



4. Cute Lepers – Adveture Time (1-2-3-4 Go!)
Adventure Time is Cute Lepers’ third (and best) album. It’s  full of glammy punk rock similar to the Rezillos. Songs full of high fructose corn syrup, actually, no they’re probably full of maple sugar, because they’re sweet and good for you. Hell, just eat them out of the box with a spoon.
mp3Misdirected



5. Emuul – The Drawing of the Line (Digitalis)
This record kind of popped up on my radar from nowhere, or maybe it condensed from a passing cloud. Emuul is the latest moniker of Kyle Iman and The Drawing of the Line is hypnotic music that will put you in a dreamlike state.  Don’t let that fool you, there are pop songs under the gauze of this instrumental electronica.
mp3Expectations



6. Webelos – Shadow Seasons (self-released)
Shadow Seasons sounds like it could have come out on Teen Beat back in the early 90′s. It’s a quirky little fellow with propulsive bass driven songs. Think Unrest, Eggs and the Monochrom Set.
mp3: If You Choose To Stay



7. Craft Spells – Idle Labor (Captured Tracks)
This record was made in a bedroom in Stockton, California, but by the time it came out Justin Vallesteros had relocated Craft Spells to Seattle.  Idle Labor is heavily influenced by the romantic synthpop of the 80′s. Bouncy, longing pop songs that could make you forget what year it was.
mp3: After the Moment



8. Witch Gardens – Alice, Agatha, Branch, & Christ (self-released)
If ever there was a band meant to be on K records, Witch Gardens is it. This is pure ramshackle pop fun by a band seemingly making it up as they go. I love what they’ve come up with so far which is primarily this cassette.
mp3: Softball Chick



9. Gold Leaves – The Ornament (Hardly Art)
I loved Arthur & You’s In Camera. Sadly, that band seems to be no more, but Grant Olson of the duo returned as Gold Leaves this year and it kind of picks up where Arthur & Yu left off. The Ornament is rich and velvety bringing to mind the cinematic records of Lee Hazelwood.
mp3: The Ornament



10. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground – Introducing (Suburban Home)
Even living in Seattle, you might not have heard about the second album from Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground. Maybe it was the odd choice of a title for album number two. Whatever the case, there was little pomp around its release especially compared to the first one, and I’ve yet to see it in a record store in town. Too bad, because it’s nearly as good as their debut and goes to the same tin pan alley, psychedelia, kaleidoscopic pop well.
mp3: Oh Lord, I Hate You California


Honorable Mentions:

Pony Time – Pony Time (Per Se) | Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop) | Night Beats -Night Beats (Trouble In Mind) | Erik Blood - Music From the Film Center of Gravity (Self-Released) | Consignment – New Low (GGNZLA) | Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge) | Green Pajamas – Green Pajama Country (Green Monkey)

Seattle Roundup

August 10, 2011 at 10:58 am | Posted in Music, Round-up, Seattle | Leave a comment
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Even when you are on vacation the cogs of the city continue to grind. The music may slow down a bit in the hazy shade of the summer months, but it doesn’t stop. Seattle radio station to the world KEXP has a summer concert series at the Mural Amphitheatre at the Seattle Center and this Friday’s show is an indiepop lover’s wet dream. Seapony, Math & Physics Club and Arthur & Yu offshoot Gold Leaves will take the stage this Friday afternoon starting at 6pm. It’s free and there’s a beer garden. Music is free, beer is not.

Another free summer show I’m looking forward to is Cairo’s strangely named Vibrations Festival.  With a name like that you would be forgiven for assuming it’s a reggae festival. At least it’s not called the Positive Vibrations Festival. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s all indierawk man. It all goes down at Veteran’s Park on Saturday, 20 August. You can climb the stairs to the water stand pipe and walk through the conservatory between sets  from Grass Widow, Charles Leo Gebhardt, Purple & Green, Flexions, Metal Chocolates, Stephanie, Witch Gardens, and Seapony (again).

All of the above is well and good if you live around here. If you don’t, just know that Seattleites think summer is when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun makes an appearance for at least 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. What do you do besides suffer from Seasonal Effective Dissorder year round?  Listen to music I guess.

The Glasses are about to release their third album and in the absence of Tullycraft they are taking over the crown of the Emerald City’s writers of undeniable, saccharine-twee songs. Their new record is called Love Is Queer and they play a record release show down in Georgetown on Friday, 26 August. Grab the album for free over at their bandcamp page.

mp3: The Glasses – Love Is Queer


It’s not often that a new label is birthed around here so we should all give thanks for Fin Records which has a bunch of 7-inch singles available for your consumption. My favorite so far is the Seacats single. Both songs are plucked from the band’s Metal Music album that came out a few months back, but sometimes it’s nice to have the best songs on a slab of wax and that is what Fin Records has done. Seacats evoke a bunch of NW bands. Long Winters, Boat, Modest Mouse and Young Fresh Fellows  all come to mind. What are you waiting for?

mp3: Seacats – We Don’t Sleep (from the single in Fin Records)


The Dutchess and the Duke have ceased to be, but as you may have heard, the Duke Jesse Lortz has a new thing he’s calling Case Studies. It’s not a far cry from his previous band. The album is about to be released on Sacred Bones. It was recorded in the rain shadow of Sequim (pronounced Skwim) over on the Olympic Peninsula with the help of some Crystal Stilts.

mp3: Case Studies – Lies (from The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night on Sacred Bones)


Supposedly Arthur and Yu are still a thing, but Grant Olson has put that band on ice for the time being and donned the moniker Gold Leaves.  The Seattle Weekly wrote a nice piece on the album where Olson describes the record as his R & B, doo-wop, country record. If you appreciate obscurities like Fred Neil, Moose, Jack Nitzsche, and Jim Sullivan then this record is meant to be in your house.

mp3: Gold Leaves – Cruel/Kind (from The Ornament on Hardly Art)


Not quite Seattle (though I hear they’re trying to trade up to Seattle from Portland), Orca Team have a cassette release on Seattle label GGNZLA. Kissing Cousins is more of their uncanny 50′s zombie sock hop vibe. Not only are they good, but apparently they are prolific as well.

mp3: Orca Team – Michael (from Kissing Cousins on GGNZLA)


When making a mix tape I always liked to put a mellow song at the end. For this post Seattle’s Emuul provide that effect. Emuul is the moniker that Kyle Iman goes by. His new EP The Drawing of the Line isan excercise in how to be sublime. It will pick you up and set you on a pillowy cloud, massage your temples and put you in a dreamlike state.

Sonny and the Sunsets at the Funhouse

July 2, 2011 at 9:52 am | Posted in Funhouse, Gigs, Music, Seattle | Leave a comment
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Sonny and the Sunsets, The Sandwiches and Seapony at the Funhouse, Seattle | 28 June 2011

I’m not sure if it was the music or the people, the Funhouse last Tuesday night was steamy as San Francisco’s Sonny and the Sunsets blew through their Buddy Holly/Everly Brothers/Modern Lovers inspired set. On record the songs are more subtle and less rocking, but live the band are downright rollicking. This came as a surprise when I first saw them a year and half ago, but I was ready for their power-pop alter ego’s this time. The guitars and bass are turned up causing you not to hear some of Tahlia Harbour’s harmonies but when you’re in a dive bar swilling Rainier tallboys, harmonies are not foremost in your head.
The band were tight. Sonny Smith, looking a little like Lars Finberg’s older brother, with his hollow-body guitar dealt out the riffs and the words. The rhythm section was solid. Kelley Stoltz on a break from making his own records played drums and made goofy faces. Smith is prolific songwriter having done a music/art exhibit he called 100 Records which he wrote and recorded 100 songs. So they had a lot of material to choose from, but the latest album Hit After Hit got the most attention. Smith’s amiable stage presence and solid band  made for a lot of fun, although the Sunsets may have been having the most fun. Their encore, which almost wasn’t until Stoltz coaxed Sonny back out, was lengthy. They played for another 20 minutes nearly clearing out the Funhouse as a lot of us had to get up Wedneday morning for our day jobs.

mp3: Sonny and the Sunsets – Home and Exile (from Hit After Hit on Fat Possum)


Fellow Bay area band the Sandwiches accompanied Sonny and the Sunsets up to Emerald city. They had a really cool look about them and their sound is definitely unique. I’m still not sure what I think of their album Mr. Jones Cookies, sometimes it tickles and other times it scratches. I couldn’t stop thinking they sounded like an Appalachian soul band if there were such a thing. Seattle’s Seapony also played and it’s always a pleasure seeing them. Their twee sounded good in Funhouse punk environs.

mp3: The Sandwiches – In the Garden (from Mrs. Jones’ Cookies on Empty Cellar)


Here are the remaining Sonny and Sunsets summer tour dates:

July 7, 2011 Soda Bar San Diego, CA w/ Wounded Lion*
July 8, 2011 Echo Los Angeles, CA w/ Wounded Lion*
July 22, 2011 The Empty Bottle Chicago, IL
July 23, 2011 Pike Room Pontiac, MI
July 24, 2011 Sneaky Dees Toronto, ON, Canada
July 26, 2011 Divan Orange Montreal, QC, Canada
July 27, 2011 North Star Bar Philadelphia, PA
July 28, 2011 DC9 Washington, DC
July 29, 2011 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
July 30, 2011 Tix Glasslands Gallery Brooklyn, NY
August 5, 2011 Pickathon Roots Musicfest Happy Valley, OR

Seapony On the Hi-Fi

June 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Albums, Music, Previews, Seattle | Leave a comment
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Photo snagged from Seattle Weekly

The first thing I noticed about Seapony‘s debut album besides the slightly chillwave cover image was the layout of the CD. It looks like it came from the Sarah Records catalog circa 1992. The colors, fonts and inner sleeve photo reminded me of Blueboy‘s If Wishes Were Horses. The cover does not lie, Seapony’s sound is entirely reminiscent of the Sarah Records catalog as well.

Singer Jen Weidl has a sweetness to her voice that is offset by her disaffected delivery. This makes the songs sound innocent and jaded at the same time. Lead guitarist and songwriter Danny Rowland has created clean and simple pallets of jangling and ringing tones for his songs. Listening to the record on head phones accents the quietness of it, making it pass by without an impression and that nearly happened to me. My mind changed after putting it on the old hi-fi stereo with some descent speakers. Playing on the old hi-fi, the songs seem to crackle from the speakers, blossoming into full foliage. It makes me wonder how many of us actually listen to albums on a descent stereo any more instead of crappy headphones? Sometimes it makes all the difference in ‘getting’ and appreciating a record. Go With Me is a subtle understated record that doesn’t demand your attention but sort of nestles up beside you when you’re not looking, like that ordinary everyday aquaintance that you one day realize is an interesting and cool person.


mp3: Seapony – Dreaming


mp3: Seapony – Blue Star


Both songs from Seapony’s album Go With Me. Order a copy for your home hi-fi today from Hardly Art.

Seapony have played around town quite a lot since their debut late last year, but they have recently gone the way that Echo and the Bunny did way back and retired their drum machine and added a human drummer to their line up so Thursday’s record release gig at Vera Project is cause to see them (again). If you need more cause to go to Thursday’s show, here’s one: 14 Iced Bears!  The very same C-86 angular janglers are back and Seattle is one of the few stops on their short West Coast tour.  The band’s collection of singles and BBC sessions compiled on Slumberland’s In the Beginning along with the band’s self-titled debut are some of the best under-heard stuff from that era. I’m hoping that they skip much of their second album Borderline as it doesn’t hit quite the sweat spot as their earlier material.

mp3: 14 Iced Bears – Inside


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

March 6, 2011 at 12:25 am | Posted in Gigs, Jewelbox Theatre, Music, Review, Seattle | Leave a comment
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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

Singles of the Year Countdown: 20-11

December 15, 2010 at 12:01 am | Posted in 7 inch, Lists, Music, Singles, Vinyl | 2 Comments
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The tension builds…I bought way too many seven inch singles this year. I’m not trying to brag. It’s a problem really. The seven inch is like crack to the record geek, a fleeting moment of pop perfection and then it’s off to either flip the record or put on another one. This was a daunting task this year and I feel like I left out a lot of stuff, but a top 60 would have been too much and limiting it to 40 makes you have to really decide, what were your favorite singles of the year. Here are numbers 20-11.

11. Crystal Stilts – Shake the Shackles (Slumberland)

I think we all knew how good Crystal Stilts were, but Shake the Shackles ups the ante.  It lets tiny rays of brightness peak into their dark gloomy sound without any integrity compromise.  The addition of the organ provides a new dimension and Brad Hargett almost sounds like he hasn’t lost all hope for mankind.

mp3: Shake the Shackles



12. Bubblegum Lemonade – Caroline’s Radio (Matinée)

There’s just something about a Rickenbacker and the way it hum and buzzes, and when you add into the mix a killer song, the combination is undeniable.  Caroline’s Radio takes you back to another time when all three Kennedys were still alive and when you lived for the radio, and would lie in bed with the transistor to your head and of course Roger McGinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker.  Of course it’s not 1964 anymore and the Jesus and Mary Chain came along  at some point, and then there was Bubblegum Lemonade.

mp3: Caroline’s Radio



13. Veronica Falls – Found Love in a Graveyard (Captured Tracks)

Found Love In a Graveyard has been floating around since 2009, but didn’t get slapped onto a seven inch until this year.  That it’s still in this year’s top 40 is a testament to its longevity.  Judging by its title you might think it’s good old fashioned goth stomp, but instead it’s a classic bone rattler with jangling guitars and boy-girl vocals that I’m always a sucker for.  It’s 2010 now and Veronica Falls have a song Right Side of My Brain floating around, look for it in next year’s top 40.

mp3: Found Love in a Graveyard



14. Seapony – Dreaming (Double Denim)

Sometimes you find the best things in your own back yard.  That was the case with Seapony who started as a Trasmittens side project, but with all the attention that Seapony are getting I bet it’s no longer a side project.  Dreaming is decidedly Twee, with a sugar vein so deep and wide that it is pretty much guaranteed to induce a rush, or at least a smile.

mp3: Dreaming



15. The Babies – Meet Me In The City (Make A Mess)

Sometimes the sum is more than the parts, and that is the case with the Babies.  Cassie from Vivian Girls and Kevin from Woods combine to form babies (not real ones, a band) and their two singles from this year were easy favorites.  Meet Me in the City is a rollicking good time that sounds like it was recorded down in some remote holler in Queens.

mp3: Meet Me In the City



16. Total Control – Paranoid Video (Smart Guy)

Another Eddy Current Suppression Ring related band (they’re hard to avoid around here), this one featuring guitarist Mikey Young and quite a departure from what you might expect from ECSR.  Paranoid races down the autobahn, darting in and out of lanes, cutting you off, and flashing it’s high beams at you to get out of the way.  Motorik!

mp3: Total Control – Paranoid Video



17. Weed Hounds – Skating Away From The Cops (Iron Pier)

The Weed Hounds present another case of the B-side usurping the single’s  A-side.  Beach Bummed is pleasant enough, but the band start scaling great heights on Skating Away From the Cops.  I’m talking heights not reached since the Pale Saints.

mp3: Skating Away From the Cops


18. The Tartans – West of La Brea (Yay!)
What’s west of La Bbrea?  West Hollywood? Beverly Hills? The 405? The Pacific Ocean? A job? The Tartans turn all suave and sophisticated for their third single and come up smelling like roses.  I’d go West of La Brea for this, not even knowing what is there.

mp3: West of La Brea


19. Wounded Lion – Pointed Sticks (Trouble In Mind)
Wounded Lion doctorin up their best Gary Glitter impersonation.  Scuzzy guitars, handclaps and muppet babies on the b-side?  There are far too many ‘serious’ bands around these days and Wounded Lion are definitely not one of them.

mp3: Pointed Sticks


20. Comet Gain – I Never Happened (What’s Your Rupture)
Comet Gain seem to ebb and flow.  their hasn’t been an album since 2005′ s City of Fallen Leaves, but singles compilations and side projects seem to appear from nowhere at unpredictable times to lighten up my turntable.  I Never happened is a sad introspective song that sees David Feck’s love unrequited and rendering him nonexistent.  Heavy.

mp3: I Never Happened


[40-31] [30-21] [20-11] [10-1]

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