Tag Archives: review

Outlander in the Emerald City: Record Store Tour Part I

For as long as I can remember, each time I would travel to a new city I would automatically be able to rate its “coolness” factor by the amount of record stores were housed in its depths.  Thankfully for us music lovers, Seattle is teeming with a variety of shops of this nature, and I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorites from various neighborhoods.  

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For the first installment, I’m focusing on Sonic Boom Records.
For indie rock lovers especially, Sonic Boom on Market St. in Ballard is a necessary spot to check out frequently.  It is large enough to house an insane amount of music without reaching the size that can cause copious amounts of stress to those of us who often spend hours browsing for our favorite albums. It’s organized into the (new and used) vinyl section on the left side of the store, with the (new and used) CD section found on the right. 

The 45" singles section is always full of random-yet-awesome singles and splits. The local music section is one of my favorite aspects of Sonic Boom. Set up in the very front of the store, one is able to find a menagerie of old and new releases from artists originating from the greater Seattle area, including (but not limited to) samplings from Olympia-based K Records, Sub Pop, and many others. For those of you into music other than indie/alternative rock, Sonic Boom’s jazz, R&B, reggae, and world music sections are well-stocked, although it’s safe to say Sonic Boom’s main attraction is of the indie variety. 

Albums and CDs are very reasonably priced ($15-$25 for a new record, $10 $15 for a new CD). The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable about the music selection. A final perk: Sonic Boom often holds live local artist showcases on Saturdays!  Easily one of my favorite record stores in Seattle by far, make sure to give Sonic Boom a chance if you haven’t already.

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Katie Hanford

George Ezra’s Grand Debut

English singer/songwriter George Ezra blessed the United States with the release of his debut album on Tuesday, January 27. Don’t be fooled by his baby-face, though; Ezra sings with a voice deeper and more complex than the ocean itself.

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The 21-year-old’s debut studio album, Wanted on Voyage, can be found here on Spotify. This album was released in Europe last June, so you may have heard “Budapest,” the album’s biggest hit, being overplayed on radio stations nearly everywhere.

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Ezra has been compared to other male solo artists such as Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, but I think he deserves vast distinction due to his shifting musical style and the creativity and detail of his lyrics and music videos.

George Ezra’s hard-to-define style kept me on my toes while listening to Wanted on Voyage. For example in his track “Stand By Your Gun,” Ezra reminds you of the ‘80s by using his deep, thunderous vocals to contrast beautifully with an array of groovy synth sounds. As a whole, Wanted on Voyage is rather unpredictable, but it’s Ezra’s deep, sweeping voice that connects the tracks and completes the album.

On another note, George Ezra’s music videos are thought-provoking and beyond creative. The video for the first track on this album, “Blame it on Me,” tells a story alongside the song’s audio that will make you laugh, cry and feel incredibly thankful that you aren’t in George’s position.

You can find more music videos from Wanted on Voyage on Ezra’s YouTube channel here.

He has a great voice, catchy songs and killer music videos. George Ezra is a contemporary jack of all trades. What’s not to love?

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nilorap

Seattle Sounds: The Weather – 1983 (New Music Video)

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On November 25, The Weather, posted a status update:

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Throughout the night, various images and videos were also uploaded – building excitement with the band’s fanbase. Experience the anticipation for yourself:

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After weeks (and weeks) of waiting, the Seattle-based trio finally gave us a “sneak peak” photo, only to be followed up by a link to stream the single on a pretty random Soundcloud.

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Oh I’m sure it’s coming realllll soon, guys!

Yesterday, the music video finally dropped and it was definitely worth the wait! Check out the retro-scopic throwback track below:

If you recognize those faces, that’s not a surprise! Lead singer, Mychal Cohen originally formed the group as Campfire Ok. The original band’s albums, Strange Like We Are (2011)and When You Have Arrived (2013) have been acclaimed for their studio and live performances.

Since Campfire Ok’s last release, the lineup has changed and producers, Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans, have helped put together The Weather’s recording debut. To celebrate, the band will be performing with Ravenna Woods and St. Paul de Vence at Neumos THIS SATURDAY!

Get tickets now, RSVP on Facebook, and check out The Weather’s website for all sorts of new music and info!

Two Gallants – We Are Undone (Album Preview)

Some call this Folk-Rock, I call it kick-ass! Next month, Two Gallants will be releasing their newest album since 2012. Made infamous by a moment of police brutality in Houston, singer/guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel have opened up a whole new can of worms in We Are Undone.

The duo’s last full length release, The Bloom And The Blight, pulled us through every possible set of emotions. Free-flowing indie-punk tracks like “Halcyon Days” and “My Love Won’t Wait” cleverly contrasted blues ballads like “Broken Eyes”. In this album, Stephens and Vogel showcased their signature sound – slow starts with tremendous percussive peaks which bring us closer to the fuzz, buzz, and controlled chaos of the band.

This focus on juxtaposition seems to be even clearer in last year’s preview of next month’s release. Check out the lyric video below:

The vocals ring out openly over an ever-changing guitar riff. During the first shift in the guitar’s melody, Stephen’s tone sounds like Muse’s Matthew Bellamy before the band took its ever-famous electronic escapade of 2012. Nothing is overly-complicated in this mix of textures – alterations of simple progressions take catchy Black Keys-esque movements and bring them to a point of epic dance-ability.

If the track’s abrupt closure only leaves you wanting more… check out the band’s webpage for streams, videos, tour dates, and to pre-order the album!

Weekly Digs: Ernie Graham – Artist Profile

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It’s easy to feel like you’ve gotten to know an artist just by listening to their music, and sometimes I feel weirdly betrayed if it turns out someone who’s music I really like is a bit of an asshole. With the music of Ernie Graham and a few odd photographs, comes a strange confidence that he was a genuinely good dude. Just look at that smile:

imageIn the end though I suppose it’s probably just the music that matters, not the person who created it. Ernie Graham was a man, and he created some excellent music. Starting out as a rhythm guitarist for Tony & The Telstars in his home of Belfast, Ireland, Graham soon split for England where he met Henry McCullough. The two headed back for Belfast and formed The People, later called Eire Apparent. Eire Apparent is mostly known for recording an album produced by Jimi Hendrix, with a couple songs featuring his guitar work. These are gems for any Jimi fans, but Eire Apparent’s stuff was seriously excellent, and should stand on it’s own merit. Here’s an pretty raw 1968 single of theirs:

Here I Go Again

The band broke up in 1970 and Ernie decided to go solo, releasing the eponymous LP Ernie Graham in 1970. This album is an absolute stunner, and if you’ve got a record player I can’t recommend it enough. On it, Graham takes a new direction with his sound resulting in what most would define as “pub-rock”, a musical movement aimed at bringing music back to it’s basics from the glam rock that was emerging around the same time. Some parts folk, some parts roots; good vibes abound and Ernie Graham captures the soul of the genre perfectly. Here are a couple standouts from the album which was reissued by 4 Men With Beards this year and can also be found on CD:

So Lonely

The Girl That Turned The Lever

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The album was praised by critics but sold poorly, and in 1971 Graham joined the band Help Yourself, appearing on their 1972 album Strange Affair. Ernie would go on to form the band Clancy, releasing two albums with them and later going solo again. In the 80s after another failed attempt at success with a new band, Ernie Graham called it quits on his music career and took a job on the railroads. In 2001 he died due to complications with his alcoholism. Perhaps a sad ending for a man who never received a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but I think he must have died proud of the music he helped create. Here’s a song from Strange Affair to send you off:

Brown Lady

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Jamie Coughlin

Rad Report–come with me and join the Manatee Commune

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The music created by Manatee Commune is like a gust of wind that breathes life and energy into you as you walk down the street on a cold winter day  (similar to the ones we’ve been having in Seattle this last week). It’s the kind of music that exhales only positive vibes into anybody who takes a listen. When I first heard these beats I felt myself inhale a rush of emotions, which cannot be produced by anyone other than the incredible Grant Eadie—the creator and member of Manatee Commune. 

Described by Eadie himself as “chillwave, bedroom electronic, [and] rainy goodness,” Manatee Commune’s music is really unlike any other. There aren’t many artists producing such relaxing, yet intriguing types of music that can induce such an intense experience. The ethereal sounds within Eadie’s music bring out this feeling of awe that’s hard to describe, but is similar to the sensation of having climbed a mountain and having meditated on the summit. The idea of “the sublime” comes to mind, the concept of something completely awe-inspiring and stupendous—this is exactly how I feel when I play a song by Manatee Commune.

While definitely fitting into an electronic genre, I think of Eadie’s music as mostly experimental and trancelike. The most interesting and coolest part of many of these songs is that natural sounds are incorporated into them, which are definitely a reminder of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle specifically (where Eadie is from and currently resides). This gives the music a very relatable and homey feel to it that is applicable whether you’re on that grind studying for finals next week, or whether you’re trying to ease your mind and get some good sleep.

Although I feel like it’s remarkably easy to connect to Manatee Commune’s music through soundcloud and bandcamp, I’m really excited to be able to experience these rad rhythms live on December 3rd (tomorrow)! The show is actually FREE and is presented by our very own Rainy Dawg Radio in UW’s Ethnic Cultural Theater. I, myself, have yet to experience Manatee Commune live, and have heard that it’s an unbelievable experience. I hope to see you all there so we can enjoy the breathtaking work of this fantastic artist together. 

Album Review: Gem Jones – Admiral Frenchkiss

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Lo-fi pop doesn’t tend to be too rhythmic. The bedroom musicians who produce it tend to focus more on things like melody or atmosphere, since rhythm is probably harder to create with the limited production capabilities of a bedroom or whatever. If there’s anyone out there who’s starved for rhythm (also known as “groove” or “funk”) in the lo-fi world, don’t despair—Gem Jones can fulfill your need. The Iowa City producer’s latest release, Admiral Frenchkiss, grooves hard while still retaining a ragtag lo-fi charm.

Admiral Frenchkiss opens with “Black Lantern,” which combines jazzy brass with off-kilter synth effects. The combination sounds a little strange at first, but the track is nonetheless infectious with its energy. The same can be said for “Rock N Roll Dementia” and its soulful melodies. In both songs, the real star is the rhythm section: the drums and bass keep the melodies grooving along steadily. Things slow down a bit for the keyboard-driven “Shallow Rivers” (which, strangely enough, reminds me a bit of the “Waves” record from Nintendogs) and the laid-back “God in U.” Weirdness still creeps into these tracks, though—the meandering electronic sounds at the end of “God in U,” for example, elevates it from a straight reggae tribute to something more interesting. “Grimeshock” kicks things back into high gear with drums, bass, and synths once again powering away with a fierce rhythm. And finally, there’s “Ectomorphic Love,” a spacey ballad that sounds kind of like a love song from an alien. In fact, the whole album kind of sounds like it could’ve come from an alien, since I have no idea what Jones is singing the entire time. His voice ranges from falsettos recalling the days of classic soul to manic shouts reminiscent of Damo Suzuki. Rather than detracting from it, these vocals help to increase the weird appeal of the music.

With all the wild sounds present on Admiral Frenchkiss, it can be surprising to learn that Jones played all the instruments himself. It’s impressive that he managed to coordinate such controlled musical chaos on his own, and it’s an achievement worthy of commendation. So, you can reward Jones’ effort by buying Admiral Frenchkiss at his Bandcamp or getting it on cassette from Goaty Tapes. This is the kind of music that sounds good even when blasted out of a cheap old cassette deck—it might even sound better that way, actually.

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LeAnn Nguyen

Weekly Digs: Ted Lucas: The Om Album

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Ted Lucas got his start as a studio musician and member of various folk/rock bands around the Midwest. A classically trained guitar player, Lucas also studied blues, country, jazz, and contemporary music and drew inspiration from the likes of Ravi Shankar to develop a beautiful sound of his own. In 1974 he released his only album, a self titled effort recorded largely in his attic studio that has come to be known as “The Om Album”.

The two sides of the album are quite distinct from each other. Side A consists of a gorgeous medley of six folk songs, while Side B contains three longer, more instrumental jams. In the first six tracks, Lucas develops beautiful and familiar melodies with his perfectly soft guitar playing and warm, open voice. In a way that makes you think Bon Iver must be a fan, Lucas crafts intricate harmonies with himself that settle themselves in your head all day but never wear on you; his music is comfortable.

Get a taste of the music by listening to a track from Lucas’ self-titled album:

The lyrics of his songs are simple and direct, smiling out of the songs at you. In the album’s opener he sings “It’s a plain and sane and simple melody/brings a song to you, brings some joy to me”, setting the tone for the album as a whole. The next three tracks, “It’s So Easy”, “Now That I Know”, and “I’ll Find A Way” are all intricate and touching in their own way and as you’re listening you keep expecting a let down, like how can it stay this good??

Then Lucas comes at you with “Baby Where You Are” and “It’s So Nice To Get Stoned”, tracks that are irresistibly excellent. Side B showcases Lucas’ guitar talent, especially on “Sonny Boy Blues”, a seven minute long rail against over drinking, and the closer “Love & Peace Raga”. The raga is played in a traditional Indian style; intricately picking it’s way along for nearly eight minutes, weaving together melodies, and creating a gorgeous tapestry of sound.

This album is an absolute gem from start to finish, and while it sadly never got the attention it deserved, I get the sense that Ted Lucas was not a man concerned with material gains. So take a few minutes and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. Yoga Records put out a reissue in 2010 which can be found on iTunes or Amazon.

Here’s another track from the reissue to keep you company:

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Jamie Coughlin

Outlander in the Emerald City: “Dance the Gloom Away” with Springtime Carnivore’s New Album

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With Seattle’s rain accumulation on the steady upswing, I think it’s safe to say we could all use a bit of sunshine.  Well, you’re in luck: Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled debut comes in clutch when trying to brighten up a particularly overcast day.  With lofty melodies and a tone that places a warm and fuzzy feeling deep in your bones, Springtime Carnivore provokes a nostalgia for a time that many of us (including Greta Morgan, mastermind behind this project) have never actually experienced.  Head-bopping beats, whistling melodies and bright keys epitomize the best aspects of early ‘60s pop, and Greta’s voice is just distorted enough to give it that lo-fi feel we all love. 

The album begins with the short “Western Pink”, a keyboard-dominated instrumental that flows right into the poppier aspects of her sound.  “Collectors” and “Name on a Matchbook” each showcase SP’s supreme talent for weaving catchy pop sensibilities amongst fuzzy guitars and psychedelic-tinged keys, creating an indie-pop song that will force you to drop what you’re doing and dance around like a teenager at a Sock-Hop.

Things slow down with the ballad-y “Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)”, featuring a beautifully bare vocal track free from effects until her reverb-drenched harmonies flood the chorus.  “Other Side of the Boundary” is even more stripped-down, and is best categorized as a truly melancholy acoustic ballad.  This tune allows SP’s folk side to shine beautifully, and her falsetto in the chorus leaves you with chills running down your spine.

After picking up the tempo a bit in “Last One to Know” and “Two Scars”, Springtime Carnivore ends on a somber note with “Find a New Game”, featuring only Greta and her keyboard. Get a taste by listening to the latest track available for streaming, “Sun Went Black” below:

From full-blown indie-pop songs to simple piano accompaniments, Springtime Carnivore reaches a wide range of appeal, all the while maintaining loyalty to a ‘60s sound that the younger generation wishes we could have experienced the first time around. However, her record brings a modern twist that gives the music much more depth and longevity.  I’m sure we’ll be envied by our grandkids for being able to experience her sound the first time around.  

Check out her full album on iTunes and Amazon, and get a taste on Autumn Tone Record’s Soundcloud

AND if you dig what you hear, catch her with the Generationals at the Crocodile THIS SATURDAY (November 15)!

Katie Hanford

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Katie Hanford

Rad Report: A digitized croc for the night!—Digitalism’s Seattle Show 11/4

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Moelle and Tüfekçi, duo of the remarkable Digitalism, walk onto the stage behind a screen of white drop down strings that hang from the ceiling. Complete with lights beaming upon the threads and the performers as well, the duo assumes each of their roles behind their computers and synthesizers. They appear nearly digital—looking as if they are part of an LED light screen.

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This is the scene that I walked into at Digitalism’s show at the Crocodile on November fourth. Standing in the crowd of people that were all there to experience the good vibes that were radiating through the room didn’t feel like your average concert; it felt more like a full experience between the extreme electronic sounds, the smooth vocals, and the amazing light show which seemed to become more intense throughout the night.

After their first album, Idealism, and their Pogo EP were released in 2007, the German duo’s success took off. I’ve personally been into digitalism for a while since I heard Pogo shortly after it was released and instantly heard brilliance beam out of my headphones. It had been a while since I’d heard that Digitalism was going on a US tour, so I was stoked to have this opportunity to be able to see and write about them. I’m not interested in all electronic music, but unlike others of similar genres, Digitalism adds unique themes within their songs. Much of their music actually has vocals, which are preformed by Moelle—unlike most other electronic artists, he even sings on stage at live shows.

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At the Crocodile, I found myself mesmerized by the duo’s initial strong electronic build with the synths. A few songs into it, I became even further impressed as Moelle walked over to his vintage microphone and began adding suave vocals. I noticed that many of the songs had a retro feel to them, just as the microphone did. This really added an exciting atmosphere to the music and took the normal electronic feel from average to extraordinary.

The show was taken to another level as the music came to a halt after an intense build—Moelle and Tüfekçi walk off stage as the crowd goes wild for an encore. The lights begin to flash and the two once again stroll over to their synths. The drops their indietronica beats as Moelle walks over to the old-fashioned mic for the last time of the night, allowing his vocals to resonate toward the audience. For the last couple songs (ending with their most popular “Wolves” and “Pogo”), the crowd is enthralled by the funk vibe seems to rush out of the performers. “Pogo” is a bright song with creative, yet simple, lyrics—and what a great song to end with. One line from the song, “Yeah, woohoo, there’s something in the air” seems to capture the entire feeling of the night. As soon as Digitalism walked nearly weightlessly onto stage, there was definitely a different feeling in the air that continued until they played their final beats.

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Rad Rebs