Thursday, August 25, 2011

bumbershoot 2011 : your guide to the northwest’s finest and more

The Northwest’s two biggest, city-based music fests happen on back to back weekends and OMN will be heading up to Bumbershoot for the 41st edition of Seattle’s longest-running music and arts festival.

Over Labor Day weekend–September 3rd through 5th–more than 120 musical acts will take stages on the Seattle Center’s grounds including Key Arena headliners like Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs, Wiz Khalifa, Broken Social Scene, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Hall & Oates. Plus twelve Portland acts will be making the drive up north including several playing the Decibel-curated electronic showcase.

And that’s just the music; there’s comedy, theater, film, dance, spoken word, visual arts, kids activities, and more (like skeeball). There’s some decent overlap between the Bumbershoot bill and MFNW, so here’s a quick rundown of who you can catch two weekends in a row if you’ve also got your MFNW wristband:

Little Dragon, The Kills, Butthole Surfers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, YACHT, Charles Bradley, Sharon Van Etten, Thee Oh Sees, Phantogram, You Am I, DåM-FunK + Master Blazter, Emancipator, Shabazz Palaces, Tennis, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, PS I Love You, Joe Pug, AgesandAges, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Kasey Anderson and The Honkies, Mad Rad, Natasha Kmeto, Pickwick

There are also a few notable additions to this year’s fest:

A partnership with Seattle’s premier electronic festival, the Decibel Festival, will bring a host of electronic talent to the EMP Sky Church stage over the course of three days. With live electronic performances from so many Portlanders like The Great Mundane, Natasha Kmeto, Emancipator, and Nice Nice, Seattle names like Beat Connection and Truckasauras, and national/international acts like School of Seven Bells, Tycho, Shigeto, Com Truise, and HTRK, the musicians will meld their beats and samples to the to live video accompaniment from VJs Momo the Monster, Brandy Gray, Epileptic and T.J. Davis. These Decibel-curated days will be followed by two nights of Bumbershoot After Dark with more electronic dance from six DJs and producers (like Four Tet and DåM-FunK).

Then there’s the METAL stage! On Saturday, September 3rd doom experts (since 1971) Pentagram, PDX ass kickers Red Fang, Seattle sludgers Witchburn, and North Carolina beardos Valient Thorr will take the El Corazon-curated Exhibition Hall Stage for an afternoon of wicked licks and face melting.

And lastly, there will be

a jazz showcase [curated by Matt Jorgensen] on EMP Level 3 (a brand new Bumbershoot venue), highlighting local standouts Wayne Horvitz Café Paloma Band, Thomas Marriott’s Human Spirit and the Gail Pettis Quartet.

And now, OMN is here to tell you who from the NW is hot alongside the many other acts we’re fawning over.

Get OMN's picks here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

top ten

Inspired to see what my ten most played tracks were in iTunes, I peeped at what my actual listening habits reveal about my taste in music and found there's nothing to be ashamed about. As a disclaimer, I have a tendency of purging older, even nostalgic, tracks and albums over time but much of what's here has lasted the lifetime of this Mac Book (since 2008).

1 -- Baustelle "L." (Montepulciano, Italia) : Followed by "Charlie fa surf" and "Baudelaire" amongst several other Amen-era tracks in my most played. This was the first album I discovered by the band and it appears that I listened to it a lot that year I lived in Italy.

2 -- Deelay Ceelay "No Vex" (Portland, Oregon) : From their debut EP Thank You, which you can download for free here. Their first full-length, Sunset Drumsets, just dropped.

3 -- Sigur Rós "Gobbledigook" (Reykjavík, Iceland) : Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust also came out in 2008 while I was living in Italy and I suppose I was preparing for my first ever Sigur Rós performance that summer at Southside in Germany. Their set was followed by In Rainbows Radiohead. Epic.

4 -- Phoenix "Lisztomania" (Versailles, France) : Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix brought Phoenix back into my consciousness, and everyone else's, with a much-needed resurgence in 2009.

5 -- Metric "Help, I'm Alive" (Toronto, Canada) : I remember stumbling across this early version of the song some six months before Fantasies would be released. Obviously, I couldn't stop listening to it.

6 -- Radiohead "15 Step" (Abingdon, England) : Although I can't remember what I paid (if anything) for In Rainbows, my mp3 of the opening track is well worn.

7 -- Cut Copy "Hearts on Fire" (Melbourne, Australia) : In Ghost Colours was another album from 2008, which was also the year I first saw the band perform.

8 -- Digitalism "Magnets" tied with "Idealistic" (Hamburg, Germany) : After keeping Idealism in heavy rotation, I was duly prepared to see Digitalism at that same Southside festival. And now they've finally got a new one out.

9 -- Mayer Hawthorne "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin" (Ann Arbor, Michigan) : Couldn't resist this white boy's falsettic soul.

10 -- Rodrigo y Gabriela "Viking Man" (México, D.F., Mexico) : Who also appeared at Southside; my first time seeing them. But not last.

And the immediate runner ups include:

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside "Danger"
Sufjan Stevens' The BQE "Movement IV: Traffic Shock"
Yelle "Je Veux Te Voir [Club-Club Version]"

While Elbow's "Forget Myself," "Grounds For Divorce" and "We're Away" all tied with Foo Fighters' "See You" and Starfucker's "Laadeedaa," "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" and "Holly" ...followed by more Baustelle (hey, Amen had 17 tracks!), Cut Copy, Digitalism, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton (of Metric), one Hockey cut ("Song Away") and Jónsi… there's a pattern here.

What's in your top ten?

Friday, August 19, 2011

'sex with the lights on' : a q/a with seattle’s pickwick

Listening to Pickwick’s soul-injected pop, it’s hard to image the Seattle six-piece making any other style of music. And once you've seen their dynamic, youthful live show, you’ll recognize a band that’s found their sound.

Pickwick began with lead vocalist Galen Disston writing folk songs on an acoustic guitar backed by drummer Matthew Emmett. The band grew to five members in 2008, including Cassady Lillstrom (keys, background vocals), Garrett Parker (bass) and Michael Parker (guitar, background vocals), but finally cemented their lineup with the addition of producer, engineer, percussionist and mentor (aka “father figure”) Kory Kruckenberg–a Grammy winner no less for 2011′s Best Engineered Classical Album.

It’s the classic story of a band reinventing their sound, but Pickwick’s metamorphosis was profound, going from a Wilco derivative to an emotionally charged, garage-pop, R&B force. But guitarist Michael Parker would rather you think of their sound as “sex with the lights on.”

The process of transformation allowed the group to “figure out what kind of band we were meant to be all along,” continues to Parker. Listen to "The Round":

Shedding their inhibitions and drawing from influences like Sam Cook, Otis Redding, Spoon, The Walkmen and Cold War Kids, Pickwick decided to go for "low-fi soul" rather than kill the band, which had stagnated in a genre that simply wasn’t for them. And although their name (and typographical choices) may still contain a countrified air, the material is anything but.

Their few recordings envelope a raw, lucid, harmonic bliss that transforms into live shows packed with spirited verve. But don’t think you can easily brand Pickwick as another pack of neo-soul white boys. While they are still defining and refining their sound, discovering that universal lesson of “less is often more,” according to Parker, Pickwick’s new material is instinctive and self-fulfilling, a natural expression that wraps the tangible passion of lead singer Galen Disston’s vocals with a driving bass and drum backbone plus key touches, guitar riffs, and a bevy of hand percussion. The result is intended to be self-liberating and the fact that audience’s seem to relish it as well is just a perk.

The band is hardly solemn though; their live performances are ebullient. Displaying a sense of humor, Parker says, “Up until recently, the pinnacle of our success was our short residency at the Emerald Queen Casino opening up for a troop of John Candy impersonators… it went ok. Lately we’ve been playing bigger and bigger shows and festivals around the Northwest. As a band who has been slugging it out for a few years we feel very fortunate to be where we’re at. In the next month alone we will have played Doe Bay Fest, Bumbershoot, and [an unofficial] MFNW [showcase]. It’s a trip.”

Visiting Portland for their third time in September, Pickwick will be at Rontoms’ free Marmoset Music Party on Sunday, September 11th (the final day of MFNW) appearing alongside PDX favs like Tu Fawning, Dolorean, Pancake Breakfast and Seattle pals Hey Marseilles.

OMN had the chance to chat with guitarist and the band’s pseudo-psychologist Michael Parker about Pickwick’s beginnings and future.

Read the rest on OMN.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

watch : can i drive the tractor?


The Foos recently held a contest where fans could win front row spots to a live performance... in their own garage. Hence, the Foo Fighters Garage Tour. Here's what ensued, including many moments of Classic Dave :

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

deelay ceelay : outside the normal realms

“We’re outside the realm of a rock band yet outside the realm of an electronic band,” explains Deelay Ceelay’s Chris Lael Larson. “It feels like we’re doing something that’s a little hard to pin down.”

Two drummers. Beating two drumsets. To an electronically orchestrated mash of samples and live instrumentation. Backed by a psychedelic stream of chaotic yet naturally flowing visuals projected on a massive sheet screen.

Yeah, it’s a little hard to categorize.

To many, it may seem daunting to pour your heart and soul, time and finances into a band that might not be well-received or even perceived as a band. An experiment that could’ve existed as a one-off art project.

Don’t think the band didn’t have their own reservations.

Reflecting on their beginnings, Chris states, “It felt like an experiment. The idea was: ‘We’ll just be two drummers.’ And I didn’t really think… I wasn’t sure that it would work to be honest.”

Then again, if you’re creative and optimistic, it might not be a stretch at all.

“So it was encouraging after our two or three shows that it was as fun as it was and people seemed to respond to a degree,” Chris continues. “It was kind of a surprise, but even now, almost three years in, it almost [still] feels like an experiment of sorts.”

And, if you’d describe a song off your debut album, which you worked on “squirreled away for the better part of a year” in a basement, as: “It should sound like an evening party… in a coastal region… in an equatorial city,” followed by amiable chuckling, how can you go wrong?

People, especially Portland people, will seek out this warmth and bask in it, whether it’s hot or cool, wet or dry.

The drumming duo of Deelay Ceelay has encountered the above trials and prevailed with a topically pulsating debut album, appropriately (and awesomely) titled Sunset Drumsets. The percussively talented team of Chris Lael Larson and Delaney Kelly have followed a path of constant refinement which has taken their two-man, audio-visual production from its launch at TBA in September 2008 to being wildly accepted around town as sweaty party starters to their long-awaited, self-released and self-recorded first album.

A creative spark, mutual respect, and friendship were the elements that started this journey some nine months before their first performance, which also coupled as their EP release–Thank You can still be downloaded for free here.

“Wanting to come out of the gates ready to move,” according to Delaney, Deelay Ceelay rehearsed long hours and prepared a vast library of custom visuals, spending an unfeasible three to four months on a single video at one point, in the months leading up to their TBA premier.

The intensive focus on prepping the project “was very intentional [after] having done it the other way in bands for so long… where you get two or three rough songs and go, ‘Yeah, let’s have a show!’ and then have to work them out in front of people,” says Chris.

And although Deelay Ceelay weren’t sure if the band would even work live, let alone how the audience would respond, they were a success and Deelay Ceelay was soon playing all over town, defying classification and never allowing anyone else to brand them.

Chris, with his graphic designer and visual artist eye, brings a distinct ocular vision to all communications including the sunny environs of the new album’s artwork–an album that’s soaked with camouflaged field recordings that create tropical vibes and a bubbling atmosphere, like the album opener “Sidewalking” (listen below).

“It does seem optimistic,” contemplates Chris, adding, “if I had to put an adjective on it.”

And there was a conscious effort to “recreate the dance experience that always happens at our shows,” says Delaney. “For the last two and half years, the only thing people have been able to listen to is a four-song EP that we recorded before our first show,” says Delaney. “Because with the first EP, we weren’t really sure what we we’re doing–if it was in fact an ‘indie’ rock band or a dance/electronic project. With this album we’ve tried to reinforce that we’re more interested in those pulsing dance tracks.”

It’s the knowledge that their experiment does work, on record and on stage, but the two experiences are very different.

“Most people hear about us or discover us through seeing us and then hear the recordings and it’s maybe more toned down. But,” Chris explains, “it can’t not be in a certain way because [live, it's] two drumsets pounding.”

On the new record, Deelay Ceelay has no somber moments; that’s not their style. Auditory samples will draw forth images of treks through bustling cities on the album opener “Sidewalking” (below) and soothing tides on the closer “Ocean Dragons.”

The additional use of scattered vocal samples–speeches by George Andrus, a 94-year-old folk/outside artist who lives south of Salem, OR–resembles former tour mates and friends Starfucker...

Read the rest on OMN.