Oh yes, The Fun Police are back with another disc, ‘Clown Control’, weaving their way through a collection of 13 tracks that wander through genres like a journeyman traveller through customs. From punk folk to Asian flavored folk, straight rock to reggae, The Fun Police are blazing trails through music country, with a delicious taste of their flavorful offerings for everyone. Never heavy handed, these gents and one lady (the bad cop?) seem to churn out tune after tune of quality music that never really sounds like the track before it. Add it all up, and that is a delicious recipe for music lovers.
Awkwardness! Opens with big driving drums, a distorted loose bass line, synth bass followed by guitar then powerful vocal that channels both earlier electro-rock influences as well as power groups like Zeppelin. This is as straightforward rock and roll as any one makes, electro punk to the highest degree, and my favorite new road tune.
Love or Death-EP- LVDH
Available at iTunes
Love or Death’s new EP consisting of 3 electric and 2 acoustic tracks has all the makings of your next favorite band. I’ve been listening to these guys for the last three months, and it keeps getting better. Landscape visuals into the emptiness of metropolitan life contrasted with escapes into nature, and seize the day lyrics, all culminate into a truly authentic musical experience. “Smoke and Perfume” my favorite track, is first person view into the tragically sexual and lost youth of today. The darkness of the song is contrasted with the life of a hypnotic dance beat. Love or Death has conjured a new sound that is refreshingly genuine and without doubt will win a place in your heart.
Logan Lynn’s From Pillar To Post becomes available on iTunes, November 24th, 2009. The highly anticipated follow up to the 2006 critically acclaimed self-titled release, From Pillar to Post features a wiser and more experience Logan Lynn, who in tandem with his new label, Beat The World Records, has produced a fine album full of danceable cuts, featuring some risqué, stunning, and oft times scathing lyrics.
Quickly cementing themselves as the working mans band in Tacoma, their great blend of folk and rock seeks to make you dance or perhaps just rock back and forth while sampling some beers and enjoying the tunes. Rootsy folk, bluegrass, a slight bit of funk, rock, and some smart comedy and life-experience-thought make this more than an average band – I have caught their great show a few times now (@ Bob’s Java Jive), and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a night out.
On July 14th, 1789, the French peoples led a revolt against the crown, marking their own Independance Day in July, for their nation. In France, it is called Fête Nationale (“National Celebration”). The story goes that the Bastille fortress was stormed in response to several authoritarian measures being enforced by the Royal family and their guard, including lettres de cachet, which were arbitrary indictments brought forth by the nobles which could not be appealed. The Bastille was known for housing political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was icon of the type of government the Monarchy had evolved into. In a somewhat ironic twist, at the time of the siege there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance.
So now the date will also mark the continued revolution by Portland’s Dandy Warhols versus their former label Capitol Records (note the scratched out Capitol Records logo on the disc). This time around, we are treated to the band’s original mixes to their album ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ (WTTMH), released under the alternate name “…Are Sound”. Advance screening of the album provide some quick details on the upcoming release, though I’ll leave the majority of the changes for you to discover.
Absent from these mixes are the original title track ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’, but in its place is ‘Pete International Spaceport’, and eclectic mix of guitarist Peter Holmstrom’s guitar effects and work with the synthesizer. Much improved is the already fantastic song ‘I Am Over It’, which features an extended acoustic guitar portion laid over some of what an experienced WTTMH listener would recognized. Fan (and TV world favorite) ‘We Used to Be Friends’ is more of an unpolished gem that a dear favorite indie band would produce rather than the super-radio slicked version on WTTMH.
‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ was probably the most 80’s sound influenced album that The Dandy Warhols have released to date, likely brought on their appreciation of the timeframes icons such as Love and Rockets, Depeche Mode, and Bauhaus. Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran had his fingers on the production of the original disc, and perhaps that lent some strong influences from the timeframe as well. Those 80s under currents have been muted, though not abandoned in the “…Are Sound” version. Instead, “…Are Sound” blends more with the Dandy’s catalogue, both pre and post WTTMH, than the original does.
Are Sound will be available on the 14th at the Dandy Warhols website. They provide far better quality sound files than you recieve from iTunes or Amazon, and it is actually cheaper if you purchase direct from the artist as well.
If you are interested in NW based indie rock, I would suggest each of the following links for checking out The Dandy’s and a few of the bands they have on their label, Beat the World Records.
A friend of mine who came to the Seamonster with me last night commented after leaving the show, “I don’t know — I’m just really not that into jazz.” Something about too many notes, where’s the ideas, the beat, etc: common criticisms and hurdles with the form. Personally I do not listen to jazz much at home and when I do it will probably Skies of America as oppossed to Miles Davis or Charlie Parker. Live, though, I usually find jazz refreshing. Even the Suffering Fuckheads.
The Fuckheads’ core consists of Mike Peterson on drums (the Accussed, Sean) and local Hammond maestro, Ron Weinstein. (For last night’s show they were joined by a trumpeter and guitarist.) Despite the intense hyperbole spouted by their MySpace page* the Fuckheads are not nearly all that skronky-blast-beaty-or-avant-gardy, at least in the final sound. Peterson and Weinstein fly furiously through rhythmic and melodic ideas, using jazz stanards and originals to simply give them some ground to fly.
Peterson is almost a one man show in himself. Looking like some demented, red-bearded woodsman who beats the skins somewhere between grindcore precision and Elvin Jones swing, it takes awhile to fly throught he sheer wall of his playing to decipher lightspeed rush of various rhythms, shifts, and musical jokes. Weinstein counters appearing like a enthusiastic teenager in a happy older man’s body, intertwining flying jazz bass-lines and a variety of organ techniques — Herbie Hancock getting out there in Booker T. Jones’ body with Charlie Haden’s soul lost in his right hand. (Never enough hyperbole, y’know).
Despite being a gloriously gone noise, the intensity/oddness comes mainly from the viciousness of the playing. As organ and drums wind up insane fury, they never break into intentional skronk, abrasiveness, or atonal wankery. Their weird schizoid genius is constantly filtered through (here’s a gasp to the post-avant-garde-modernism-whatever crowed) a dominance of their instruments and a desire to play music, and not deconstruct it. Whenever the trumpet slides in for a solo, chorus or jam, whatever fury was being brewed seems to disspiate. It’s a sound that let’s you know you’re firmly on ground, somewhere in a George Mitchell song, and not some John Zorn experiment.
The Fuckheads are too freaky to get caught up in the aesthetics of shock and awe. They play. They shred. They take no prisoners. But they also sound damn good.
The Suffering Fuckheads perform every other Thursday at the Seamonster Lounge (2202 N 45th Street). Next show is Thursday, 5/14.
*”The Suffering Fuckheads music is a lethal cocktail of skronk and blues, post- bop coupled with turbulent blast-beats, and tenderyet-skewed ballads (Beautiful Love) along side innovative band originals (Bar Slut). The Suffering Fuckheads are not sonic wallpaper. They are not going to behave and play background music. They are not going to play your next shitty dinner party. They are not going to play your wedding, but they might do your divorce.”
Perhaps none of you know of Aja West, Cheeba, or the Mackrosoft. Allow me to bring you up to speed. Aja West and Cheeba are Funk Masters Extraordinaire, band leaders in the extreme, bringing an eclectic blend of Jazz, Funk, Fusion, and even some steel drums to the mix. Aja and Cheeba, real life brothers, maintain a hectic schedule of recording and releasing their well thought blends on to CD.
Nam released his new album last Saturday at the Vera Project with Good Medicine (Macklemore, Geologic of Blue Scholars, Khingz, and Gabe Teodros). While I missed the show, I picked up the CD Monday at Sonic Boom. It’s simple. It’s fun. There are definite echoes of the Blue Scholars and Common Market, with tracks like “Where You At Now.” He doesn’t stick to the conscious rap genre though, with lighter tracks like “Feelin’ Fresh” featuring Khingz. “Get Live” is a personal favorite. But it’s all good.
On Wednesday May 21st, Michael Vermillion and his band play a show at the Tractor Tavern to celebrate their debut album, Last Night on Earth. The album is a wide ranging piece of americana. The song “I Hate Losin’” is dark and sinister, while “Roadtrips” is relaxed and carefree. “Moses” grinds along like a big rig (appropriately) and the title track soars skyward. And then there is the ultra catchy, but inherently creepy “Out of Place in Your Arms”. The songs bring many other artists to mind; A little Tom Waits here, some Jeff Buckley there, and the trumpet makes me think of Beck. All of the pieces come together and work.
From 2001 to 2005 Michael Vermillion played bass in the emo/sceamo/whatevermo band, Vendetta Red. After leaving the band he began playing solo acoustic shows around town. He eventually added a full backing band, including peddle steel and the previously mentioned trumpet, to give the songs a much more lush sound. Michael contributed to the Lonesome Rhoads album and has also collaborated with Vince Mira, the sixteen year-old reincarnation of Johnny Cash.
If tomorrow night’s show at the Tractor is anything like his previous shows, Michael Vermillion will throw several covers into the set. He has a large repertoire of covers including songs by Merle Haggard, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and Leonard Cohen. But the greatest service Michael provides is exposing people to the music of Townes Van Zandt. It is highly probable that tomorrow’s set will include Michael’s version of Van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die”, which was also recorded for the album.
So get down to the Tractor Tavern tomorrow night and check out Michael Vermillion. Opening the show are Mario Matteoli and Lonesome Rhoads & the Good Company.
Michael Vermilion – http://www.myspace.com/michaelvermillion
“Have You Seen…” #1 -Michael Vermillion by Matt Koroulis
I am blown away this week. It’s been a little bit since I appeared here. Been inundated with new tunes, and this week has been no exception. If you’ve been spinning these albums, you’ve been offline, too:
First off, I got the second release from Gnarls Barkley, “The Odd Couple.” If you’ve seen “Austin Powers” you’ll remember those little goofy musical interludes (with the Posies’ frontman/part-time R.E.M. member Ken Stringfellow, don’tcha know?) with those goofy little early 60’s pop riffs. Producer/DJ Dangermouse appears to have been diving into those crates for inspiration. Fantastic album. And no “Crazy”-like song to be overplayed on every damned station. “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” is on KEXP and I don’t think I’ll get sick of it anytime soon. “Odd Couple” is in heavy rotation but it’s outshined by….
Lyrics Born’s “Everywhere at Once”. I tend to think the “where” in this case is the Eighties. And that’s no dig. He’s not chillin’ with Ronnie or Max Headroom or Spuds Mackenzie. I think he’s been tippin’ back cold ones with the Sugar Hill Gang and got Kool and the Gang or maybe Nu Shooz as his backing band. Give “Differences” a test spin at your fave music store. Longtime collaborator Joya Velarde (duh, she’s his wife) is there anchoring the song with the backing vox and keeping it sounding familiar, but there’s another vocalist (male) there. (Haven’t found his name yet – damned iTunes. -ed.) Tons o’ handclaps, funky deep background guitar riffs, snare hits, synth fills, all dope Casio keyboard stuff. ‘Cept in way higher fidelity than anything your older sister was rockin’ in ‘84. Spoiler Alert: Almost NO scratching. D-Sharp and DJ Shadow have LEFT THE BUILDING. Just like LB left Quannum.
This album is a natural, but totally unexpected, progression since LB started to implement the live-band show in the past few years. If I had been in town Sunday night, I would have been at the show. I really want to know how this new recording is performed live. If you’ve got his Quannum releases stuck on REPEAT, prepare for your mental CD to start skipping, because this is not “Send Them” or “I Changed My Mind”. His trademark rhyme delivery is here and just as fresh as when the first Latyrx came out, but it’s this new instrumentation. Totally unlike anything I’ve heard in the hip hop world. “Cakewalk” is spinning now, and I get the distinct visual of that last fade out shot in “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” as the street’s full of dancers… Dunno, can’t shake that.
HowEVER, another live-band-backed hip hop outfit is rockin’ in my earphones now:
The Roots‘ RISING DOWN just dropped. I am working my way through it. Stomping my left foot as I type. Goosebumps. This is the freshest, and not by virtue of being newest. It’s tight. I’ll save you the played out metaphors. I am gotta listen really close a few times through before I can say anymore than _go_get_this_album. Talib Kweli is here. Peedi Peedi is here. Mos Def is here. (I hear white people LOVE Mos.)
Last Tuesday was an interesting night to say the least. I ventured out to review the band The Dollyrots at El Corazón and woke up the next day with a flat tire, a screaming headache, and a Dollyrot’s t-shirt I’m sure I didn’t pay for. And thats how I guess I can describe The Dollyrot’s show, it kicked my ass. On tour to support their latest album “Because I’m Awesome” the band was amazingly receptive and humble, and the Jäger at El Corazón is friggn tainted I swear…
Currently signed to Joan Jett’s label Blackheart Records, “Because I’m Awesome” is super punk-pop with catchy verses and solid hooking choruses. And at first listen (and I’m sure the band is gonna love me for this) it reminds me of Avril Levine meets The Sounds. But that’s because of the high production quality of the album, once you see the band live it all comes together. I talk with my peers all the time about how to capture on recording the ‘live” feel so the listener can “get it” in their car as well as they do at the show. But with The Dollyrots that wouldn’t work, the album is only one-up’d by the live show. The polished poppy recordings are great, and help you get the jist of the songs, but when you see them live, Kelly Ogden’s raw badass vocals with Luis Cabezas guitar and Chris Blacks drumming punch you right in the face and let you know the band is for real, and punk as fuck. It’s a great combination to help them break through the hard-crusted lining that is the major label scene. And along with playing SXSW the last two years in a row, and sharing labels with bands like Green Day, Rancid, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, and Pretty Girls Make Graves the band seems to be on the high road to success.
With all that in mind you’d think they’d be on a tour bus with a ryder like as thick as The Odyssey. But no, they travel in a van with a trailer, eat pink malt balls (sorry Kelly I forgot which brand), stick to the per diem and drink tickets, and keep a level head (unlike me at their show). I was highly impressed with how grateful and humble the band is about being fortunate enough to make a living playing music. I’m not sure how I ended up with a free T (like i said the Jäger at El Corazón is tainted) but I hope they can forgive me cuz I’m gonna have to mail them $15. If you get a chance to see them live, DO IT… compared to the album it’s totally not what you’d expect, proving once again, you can’t judge a Dollyrot by its album cover.
About 6 months ago I was listening to a mix cd my friend had made. I had no artist or track information at the time, and remember being stuck on the 8th song, a catchy, upbeat and down right rocking track. Who are these guys, I wondered, singing along to this ‘Cannonballs Collide’ song? A couple of days later, band and track list in hand, and humbling correction that it is actually ‘Chemicals’ Collide, (duh), I am officially introduced to Cloud Cult. I loaded their 2007 release The Meaning of 8 onto my ipod and became instantly dazzled and infatuated by this band. I hadn’t heard anything like them before, lyrically or sonically, and I was hungry to get my hands on more.
Turns out I am a late-bloomer to these guys. They’ve been around for roughly 10 years, and have 7 albums out at this point, the most recent, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying through Tornadoes) of which is being released tomorrow. I have not yet had the chance to meander my way through their entire collection, but from the 5 albums I have (They Live on the Sun, 2003; Aurora Borealis, 2004; Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus, 2005; the Meaning of 8, 2007, and the most recent, Feel Good Ghosts), there’s clearly something that sets this band apart from the norm, and which is so curiously engaging, powerful and addictive. I am just as excited for their 2008 release as I am to go back in time and uncover each of their previous albums in addition to those I already have. Here’s my attempt to analyze and summarize Cloud Cult, as well as provide a sample ‘feel’ for this band by means of reviewing two of their albums, The Meaning of 8, and They Live on the Sun.
I receive Hello Tokyo’s disc in the mail and pop it in. Don’t even look at the bio sheet and at once I hear Gwen Stefani-esque vocals reaching past a loud and dense backdrop of catchy keys, guitar riffs, and heavy drum and bass on the first track ‘Alert the Authority’. I’m paying attention, I like this song. A few more songs pass, I am listening. I reach track 4, ‘Steady the Gun’, which causes me to raise my head again. At this point, Kat (lead singer/songwriter) has evolved well past Stefani influences, into a sweet, yet edgy, voice of her own.
Hello Tokyo is a rock-indie-electro-power-pop group with appeal. Kat Kihler, appropriately, has a killer voice. It’s captivating and versatile, ranging from sweet to blunt to flat back up to sweet– striking various moods on queue.
The vocals are backed by an equally powerful sound of intense and poppy hooks. Think of Metric, and perhaps a hint of Sleater-Kinney. All three band members (Kat, John on guitar/bass, and Sam on drums) collectively shine in the production of Hello Tokyo. Guitar, bass, kit, keys and vocals combine in a way that, if one were to strip any one of the band members, you’d feel as if you’d lose the entire essence of their sound. They collectively produce a fine balance of sonic stimulation, each cumulatively propelling one another’s sound, a solid attestation of a good musical team. The guitars are simple and captivating at times, yet heavy and dense at others, hooks entering and exiting at all the right moments, and continually surprising me when I least expect it. The drummer rips a powerful beat and rhythmic edge, contributing to the intensity of the band’s sound and holding it all together.
Hello Tokyo is pleasurably catchy. Upon first listen, I found myself for the most part happy, though at times slightly unsatisfied, impatiently awaiting the next song with hope of a surprise similar to which I felt when I initially loaded the disc. However, the more and more I tune in – which is becoming an effortless process as I return to this album again and again – I find myself pleasantly absorbed by the many diversions and different directions many songs veer, which have a way of calming this sense of impatience and holding me captivated throughout the entire length of the album. Hello Tokyo’s ‘Sell the Stars’ delivers.
Top tracks: Alert the Authority, Run To You, Hands to Hold, and Your Majesty.
Hello Tokyo plan on a west-coast tour in the near future, we’ll keep you posted.
Check out the Alert the Authority Video
The phone rang down here at NWMB World HQ this morning, and a strange voice was on the other line. “Hang on, I’ll get him for you. He’s just stepping out of the studio.”
“Huh? Who’s stepping out of the studio? It’s 7:30 in the morning!”
“Hang on… here he is.”
Clueless, I asked the caller again, “Hello?”
A new voice: “This is Jack. Go ahead.”
After an awkward minute of getting acquainted, we were on our way. It was Mr. White, taking a break from some rehearsing in an undisclosed location.
Me: “So the new album sounds great. Where was it recorded?”
JW: “In my secret basement studio.”
Me. “How long did it take?”
JW: “Takes? It took two takes. About three hours. We really gel, we like to bang it out, you know?”
Me: “Wow! Three hours? Did you even have enough time to get a caterer over there?”
JW: “We subsisted on tater tots and beer. My mom brought brownies.”
Me: “What sound were you going for here? It sounds like you were listening to a lot of Bad Company/Paul Rodgers or something.”
JW: “How’d you figure that out?”
Me: “Title track, dead-on Rodgers vocal sound. Real throwback stuff. Nice…. So is ‘Rich Boy’s Blues’ autobiographical?”
JW: “Come on. That’s totally about Warren Beatty.”
Me: “Go figure. My next guess was Pete Townshend.”
JW: “Whomever you like.”
Me: “I guess I had a lot of Who and Queen on the brain, listening to ‘Consoler of the Lonely’. What’s going on there?”
JW: “Yeah, that was Brendan’s input. The harmonies on ‘Stones’ and ‘Top Yourself.’ Yeah, that’s what we were after.”
Me: “Can you elaborate a bit more on the other influences you had in the recording of this album?”
JW: “Uh, the Stones, Los Lobos, Meatloaf… Ravi Shankar.”
JW: “I totally stalked him for a week in February. Had my ear pressed to the wall of Abbey Road while he rehearsed.”
Me: “Did you go to London just to do that?”
JW: “Nah, I ran into him while shopping for tapestries for our tour van. Followed him around. Had to change out of my red pantsuit just to absorb his genius. I bought a Utilikilt off a guy on the street, borrrowed an Oxford hoodie from a student in the square.”
Me: “Did you keep the Utilikilt?”
JW: “It was seized at Kennedy on the way back home.”
Me: “Hmph. What do you think of the new Dirtbombs?”
JW: “Sucks. No. Kidding. It’s outstanding.”
Me: “PBR or Milwaukee’s Best?”
JW: “The Beast.”
Me: “Barack or Hillary?”
JW: “Who? Next question.”
Me: “What else are you listening to?”
JW: “‘In Step’ by SRV [Stevie Ray Vaughan], Stones’ Brussels Affair bootleg. 1973? Awesome. And I pledged to PBS so they sent me the entire Monterey Pop Festival on DVD. Amazing!”
Me: “Last questions: will there be another Raconteurs album?”
JW: “Before you know it.”
Me: “Any last thoughts?”
JW: “April Fool’s, readers. I didn’t really call NWMB.”
Its the P-H-Y-S-I-C-S…aka The Physics
Their debut album “Future Talk” was one of my favorite releases last year (any genre, any town) and stays in heavy rotation. Spring/summertime will bring more spins of this record for its cool-out, crack a brew, holler at the ladies, backyard cookout vibe.
MC Thig Natural possesses such a great combination of infectious flow, intricate wordplay and effortless delivery that “rewind that” will become a regular part of your vocabulary. Producer/MC Just D’amato builds some seriously soulful beats that put you in a good mood all by themselves, and holds it down on the mic as well.
This record should be available at local retailers and I highly recommend you go buy yourself a copy. If they don’t have it, tell them to get it. Do it for yourself. Do it for the kids. Do it for the town.
Last week, I got an advance copy of Portishead’s upcoming release, “Third” and have been struggling to get through the album. Due for a 29 April release in the US, this 11-track showcase of darkness leaves me wanting more. Where the hell are the hooks in these songs? Beth Gibbons’ unmistakable sound is there, but the instrumentation has moved on in a new direction since their previous two studio recordings. “Silence”, the lead-off track, makes promises for the rest of the album but it never quite delivers. It’s followed by a very Mazzy Star-esque “Hunter”… it’s all very somber and chilling as we’d expect, but given the decade that the group has had to (potentially) create these songs, I am disappointed and frustrated.
I haven’t seen writing or musicians’ credits for “Third”, but I cannot help but think of Pink Floyd’s last studio offering, “The Division Bell”, which required some 409 writers to collaborate to “create the ‘Pink Floyd’ sound”. Yeah, that’s meant as some damning praise. (OK, it wasn’t 409… but there were a lot of people involved.) More recently, there was Massive Attack’s 2003 album “100th Window”, which had fallen on ears accustomed to the dark sounds of “Mezzanine” and Tracey Thorns’ unforgettable contributions to “Protection.” It was a fairly significant departure, perhaps due to the absence of long-time member of Grantley Marshall.
To this listener, the difference between Portishead’s sophomore effort and this one is just as significant. (The distinction is in the instruments and not the singers as Sinead O’Connor hasn’t replaced Gibbons.)
I’ll see if I can follow this up with something further and more encouraging. In the meantime, spin “Roseland NYC Live”, their last release, for a proper visit with P’head.