The Bad Plus The Neptune Theater: Live Show Review

This past Thursday night I had the honor of seeing, The Bad Plus, at The Neptune Theater in what turned out to be an incredible performance. I have been a fan of The Neptune Theater ever since my first show there which was Snarky Puppy. I think the venue is an excellent size, and usually has pretty good sound as well. Upon arriving Thursday night, I was surprised to find seats on the floor right in front of the stage. This was my first concert at The Neptune that has been seated, but looking back on the performance it fit the atmosphere very well.

Having no opener for them, The Bad Plus came out on stage and instantly started burning on a tune I didn’t recognize, and eventually morphed into a roaring chart titled “My Friend Metatron”. Instantly blown away, I knew the entire performance was going to contain the highest level of musicianship. It was after this tune that bassist Reid Anderson finally addressed the crowd. Showing a remarkably dry sense of humor throughout the performance, Anderson welcomed us all to the show and made everyone chuckle before the lads brought down the energy with a sensitive cover of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

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As the tune progressed, The Bad Plus continued to expand our understanding of the song by adding dissonant harmonies and convoluting the pulse more and more. Following up the cover came an Ornette Coleman tune entitled “Law Years”. The juxtaposition of these two songs one right after the other perfectly highlighted that, The Bad Plus, are not only musicians that know what the crowd likes to hear, but are also heavy jazz players that love to venture off into the realm of free improvisation as they abandoned tonal center and traditional rhythm. The Ornette Coleman tune found The Bad Plus experimenting with textures and harsh timbres that any free jazz fanatic would have been impressed by. What followed for the next hour came an inspiring mix of both pop and heavy jazz tunes that shifted along the spectrum from the most “out” to the most “in”, inciting cheers and immense applause from the audience countless times.

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Over all, The Bad Plus demonstrated an ability to combine the familiar with the unknown, all the while remaining tasteful. Not a single note or idea was played that the music didn’t call for, which showed that pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King poses an immense sense of maturity and trust in each other as musicians. I would recommend seeing The Bad Plus to anyone who is a fan of music and can appreciate witnessing the experience and comfortability of three killin’ musicians who have spent the last 17 years shedding and making music together.

– DJ sneak peaks (Gabe)

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Live Review: The Suffers

Last weekend, The Suffers performed live at The Crocodile. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed.

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The show kicked off with two openers. The first was The Bandulus, an endearingly upbeat, Portland-based soul and reggae band. Right off the bat, the entire crowd danced and sang along. It was fabulous. The horn section of The Suffers even came out to join for a bit, demonstrating the closeness and camaraderie of the groups. The second opening act was Jakubi, an electronic/hip-hop/R&B outfit all the way from Melbourne, Australia. To be honest, these guys completely stole the show and were the highlight of the entire night. Laughing and pushing each other around, Jakubi was clearly having a good time. Lead vocalist Jerome Farah used a talk box to infuse some futuristic vibes alongside their funk and reggae sounds, and the result was an entirely different, raw energy that had the crowd more fired up than they would be all night.

By the time The Suffers filed across stage, the entire room was packed. The band paused in the darkness for a moment, arms raised silently toward the ceiling. It was a powerful display of unity before the lights flashed on and they jumped straight into their set. As with both openers, The Suffers had the whole crowd immediately moving to the music. People around me were clapping and head-bobbing, beer sloshing out of their cups.

Kam Franklin dominated the stage. “Presence” is the one word I would use to describe it. It was impossible to miss her strutting across, and I was blown away each time she unleashed her voice. In between songs, Kam stopped to casually chat with the audience. It really reinforced the already intimate feel of the venue. She spoke passionately about the importance of opening acts, praising both The Bandulus and Jakubi for their performances. After all, she said, The Suffers were once openers, too. Kam also called the theme of the night: chasing dreams. This upcoming January will mark the 2-year anniversary since The Suffers quit their day jobs to pursue music full-time. “Live the life you want to live”, urged Kam, “because being able to say you tried is the most wonderful thing.” She laughed, telling us that if we fail, we Seattleites have legal weed to comfort us.

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Another highlight of the night came with an announcement: The Suffers have been writing new music while on tour, and they wanted to play some of it for Seattle. My favorite was “Do Whatever”, a follow-up to Kam’s words about chasing dreams. It featured strong jazz and R&B influences, making me feel like we had suddenly landed in the middle of a downtown jazz club. Other great renditions included “Stay”, “Midtown”, and “Giver”, the final performance of the night. Kam’s voice was clear and soulful, ringing throughout the room. This song is so much better live; I could truly appreciate the talent and restraint of the percussionists when they were sitting 20 feet away. The horn section was also able to show off fabulously, with rich, gentle crescendos from Jon Durbin and Michael Razo. (These two had adorably synchronized dance moves.)

As the night wound down, this band wanted us to remember two things, if nothing else: their name and their hometown. And I must say, The Suffers from Houston, Texas will live in my memory for quite some time.

Find more from The Suffers: Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

Emily Tasaka

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Show Preview: The Suffers at The Crocodile 11/12

Coming all the way from Houston, Texas, The Suffers will be performing live at The Crocodile this Saturday, November 12th, at 8:00 PM. Get excited, because these soulsters do it like no other. They call themselves a “Gulf Coast Soul” band, combining soul with reggae, South American, and jazz influences. The result is beautiful. It’s a seamless blend of genres that doesn’t fit in any one box. It also perfectly reflects the diversity of band, which includes a Latin percussionist, a classically trained saxophonist, a jazz drummer, and a gospel singer.

In their self-titled 2016 debut, The Suffers tastefully arrange each section of their 10-piece ensemble alongside the powerful vocals of Kam Franklin. Her captivating voice is so warm and rich, and I can’t wait to hear it fill the room this weekend. For first-time listeners, I recommend “Giver” (below). Other notable tracks include “Make Some Room” and “Gwan”, which was performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Even if soul isn’t your thing, I hope you all can “Make Some Room” in your busy schedules to enjoy these fabulously soulful Texans. It’s going to be a good time.

Find more from The Suffers: Facebook / SoundCloud / Twitter

Emily Tasaka

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EP Review: Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra – Preach ‘Em Now!

       I’m going to be honest here and say
that I first found out about Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra only a
short time ago. I first heard the song “Cold Canary Gaslight” and fell in love
with the wonderful and distinct sound that the band produces. Marty O’Reilly’s
smoky voice paired with the delicious blend of jazz, folk, and blues instantly made this band one
of my favorites. They just recently released a new EP, called Preach ‘Em Now! and I have opinions on
it. Here they are:

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        The EP starts off with the track,
“I Heard the Angels”, which is a cover of Reverend Gary Davis’ song. Or at
least, it might be. I’m not sure what the history of the track is, or who the
first to record it was. But anyway, the track opens up with a single guitar,
playing a bluesy riff. It initially sounds like something you’d hear in an old
coffeehouse on open mic night, and I mean that in a good way. The guitar sounds
as smoky and rough as Marty’s voice, and the entire track has an almost lo-fi
tone. The kick drum joins in, then the bass, and the EP takes off. The
introduction of the violin creates a vibrancy, while the distorted guitar keeps
you laid back and slightly depressed, creating what I can only describe as a
dystopian atmosphere. The song truly does sound like the inner turmoil of a man
about to face death. Which is interesting, given it’s actually a worship song.

           The next
song is “Preach ‘Em Now!”, the EP’s title track. It starts off with a blues
rock sound, before delving into a more jazzy vibe. The whole song alternates
between jazz, blues, and blues rock. While this may sound like it would make
for a confusing and annoying song, Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra
makes it work. Towards the end, the song develops into an instrumental showcase
of the violin and the guitar, delighting the ears.

           “Left for
the Wolves”, the third track on the EP, slows the album back down, bringing
back the sad and slow violin and double bass. This song is a lot more jazz
heavy than the previous, with the double bass creating a laid back atmosphere
that pairs well with a fine glass of wine and a fireplace. Then, the violin
comes in periodically, sometimes shouting and sometimes whispering to the
listener, alternating the mood of the song throughout.

           “Shudder”
continues the jazz and double bass theme. However, the upbeat guitar and
bassline take the EP in a new direction: joyful. The violin is still there to
add an unsung frantic tone to the meaning of the song, but isn’t as depressing
as the previous tracks, and wails far less. The change in direction that occurs
with this song is what keeps the EP from going stale and leaving every track
sounding the same. 

           Then, to
end the EP, “Shudder” brings up the rear. Immediately, this song sounds
different. Starting the track with only vocals and a semi-acoustic guitar,
Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra went with a more personal feeling to
the last song on the EP. The lyrics to this song elude me, but the track gives
off a feeling of optimism in the face of opposition. This, along with the
opening track, are my favorites from the EP. 

          I liked Preach ‘Em Now! more than their previous album, mainly due to the dedicated cohesiveness the band stuck to in this instance. No song sounds dissimilar to the previous, yet each is unique and offers its own flavor to the delicious spread that is this EP. Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul
Orchestra isn’t too well known yet, but they deserve every new listener they
receive. Give ‘em a listen.  

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Niles Kyholm



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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Leave Home For More Adventurous Horizons

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Before I delve into my (rave) review, I have to warn you,
reader: this song is an overwhelmingly scintillating odyssey with lyrics that
will either chill or inspire you. I cannot take responsibility for the intense
emotional reaction you are prone to have when you embark on this gorgeous,
sprawling, 7-minute voyage. 

Here is a preview of some of the lyrics, all of which are
absolute poetry: 

“Cold eats the flesh of broken hearts / tender the strike of tinder gods.

Hot coals.

Embers across a rayless sky / still warm my soul, I often cry.
Hot coals.”

…Kind of awesome imagery, right? 

I am a staunch advocate for long songs with multiple phases. MGMT’s “Siberian Breaks” and Daft Punk’s “Touch” are definitely in
my top 25. And “Hot Coals” easily entered those ranks on my first listen.

Featured above is a fan-made music video that Edward Sharpe and
the Magnetic Zeros
shared on their Facebook page with the following
comment from lead singer Alex Ebert

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The song lilts from a blues rock beginning into more familiar
alternative folk territory, before transitioning yet again into a jazzy and
upbeat chorus complete with masterful piano ornamentations and wire brushes on drums. The time changes just keep coming, surging forward seamlessly and sending the
listener deeper into this vivid arena of aural stimulation. 

In later stages, there are trumpet features
and swelling organs that I believe are resuscitative. Seriously. If I
ever go into a coma, play this trumpet solo to revive me. 

This is the first single to be released by the band since
their eponymous album in 2013. It is also ESMZ’s first studio release since their messy
split
with Jade Castrinos. Many
fans have voiced complaints about the band’s sound without Jade, especially at
live shows. But if you’ve enjoyed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in any
musical capacity besides their hit single “Home”, you may find this change is less
a tragedy and more a testament to the band’s maturation. “Hot Coals” is
unmistakably Jadeless. And indeed, it is still a creative masterpiece that demonstrates
fantastic growth for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

 

There has already been plenty of discussion about how ESMZ
will have to adapt to losing their lead female voice. I would like to turn the
focus instead toward the statement “Hot Coals” makes: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will thrive in this
new era.  

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Ten’s company: The band’s current members are Alex Ebert, Nico Aglietti, Stewart Cole, Josh Collazo, Seth Ford-Young, Christian Letts, Orpheo McCord, Mark Noseworthy, Crash Richard and Mitchell Yoshida.

Egert said, “Hot
Coals, to me, are memories.” Perhaps that is why the track is so remarkable; it
is a collection of nostalgias lovingly spun together into a song for the ages.
This single about memories establishes itself as more than memorable – it is an
unforgettable milestone in Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ discography
that has left me eager to see what flames they’ll kindle next.   

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DJ M-Schizzle



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