Maja Ivarrson by Brittney Bush Bollay
Maja Ivarrson by Brittney Bush Bollay
Marty Marquis (not a 1970s porn star) at SP 20 :: Travis Hay photo
Earlier this month I had a conversation with Blake "B Shorty" Lewis on the date his new album, Heartbreak On Vinyl, was released. We chatted about his connection with the local hiphop scene, the making of the album, his tour plans and a few other things. You can check out the first part of the interview here.
In the second part of our conversation (see below) we continue to discuss "Heartbreak On Vinyl," which is hands down the most original record created by an American Idol contestant, as well as Blake’s promising new side project called Orchestral Drive-By. Blake played a bit of the project for me (sorry, it is not a part of the recorded interview) and like Blake himself, it’s truly original and unlike anything currently coming from the Seattle music scene.
The project involves all local musicians, including Blake’s buddy KJ Sawka, and each track brings something different. Of the unmastered tracks he played for me, one had a harder rock edge, another a beautiful orchestral pop sound a la The Beatles and yet another was more up the techno-trance dance alley. Nothing has been mastered yet but as you can tell It is a very diverse set of songs. One of the tracks features a female vocalist with an amazing voice that sounds like an angelic cross between Sia and Dido. Her name escapes me at the moment but she is local and when you hear her I guarantee you will fall in love with her singing ability. Hopefully when Blake finishes (he still has to record and write some songs and is looking to snag some guest artists including possibly RA Scion, the Seattle Symphony and Ben Gibbard) it will get proper distribution and shine a light on a lot of lesser-known local talent.
If you were following my Twitter account Saturday night (you can read it in the box on the right of this page) you already know that The Saturday Knights decided to end their run as Seattle’s premiere party-rap band. This is an unfortunate loss for the local music scene as Spence, Tilson and Barfly released one of the best local rap albums of the decades, "Mingle," last year. One of the great things about TSK is not only were they great on record, they were a great live band too. In memorium of TSK, here is the video for "Count it Off."
Exciting news from my inbox this morning. Them Crooked Vultures, the supergroup of Josh Homme, John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl, are playing in Seattle Nov. 21. The press release I received did not have ticket info other than stating tix go on sale this weekend. The release also says the band, whose self-titled debut album will be released Nov. 17, is playing at the Paramount Theatre. The band’s Web site confirms the Seattle date but has The Showbox listed as a venue. I’ve sent an email to the band’s publicist to clear up the details and I will post the correct venue when I hear back from the band’s camp. Until then enjoy "New Fang," the fist single from the new album. (UPDATE: The show is at The Paramount. Tickets cost $41.50)
I reviewed The Hold Steady’s free concert at the Crocodile Thursday night for Crosscut. The jump links to the full review.
The Hold Steady mixes well with alcohol — after all they have been labeled “America’s bar band” by critics and fans — so pairing the Brooklyn quintet with Southern Comfort for a free concert at The Crocodile Thursday night was a no-brainer.
The Kentucky-based booze sponsored the invite-only event that was billed as a show where The Hold Steady would play a set filled with covers of songs by their influences. In theory this is a recipe for a great rock cocktail, but instead of getting a musical blend of liquor and a mixer the show was more like a straight shot of The Hold Steady sans chaser. Only four of the 20 or so songs in the band’s set were covers, which was a little disappointing, but it is tough to complain considering the show was free.
A few weeks ago the city of Seattle celebrated its music scene during the first Seattle City of Music Awards. The night honored Fleet Foxes, KEXP and Quincy Jones. There were performances by the Maldives, Pearly Gates Music, the Seattle Rep Jazz Orchestra and the Tea Cozies, who rocked the afterparty. I wrote some words about the evening over at Crosscut and you can go here to give it a read.
(Editor’s note: I wrote a little more extensively about Eddie Vedder’s role at Roger Daltrey’s show over on the Crosscut blog. You can read it by clicking here.)
Roger Daltrey’s named his first solo tour since 1985 “Use It Or Lose It,” a reference to his voice, and the 65-year-old Who frontman definitely did use it Monday night at Showbox SoDo.
Daltrey played a set of classic Who material along with a few songs from his solo catalog and some choice covers (including “Better Man” which was one of three songs featuring a cameo by Eddie Vedder) to a packed crowd at the cavernous venue. On the tour Daltrey is rearranging Who songs and playing lesser-known tracks from the band’s catalog. Monday’s show started off on the rearrangement note with a slightly acoustic arrangement of “Who Are You.” The set also included a harmonica-heavy “Going Mobile,” Daltrey’s “Walk On Water” and a goosebump-inducing “Baba O’Riley.”
Also making an appearance was “Squeezebox,” which is perhaps the worst rock song ever written. Unfortunately immediately upon its first notes all the liquored-up fifty-somethings in the crowd proceeded to awkwardly dance which was equally entertaining and slightly scary. Although I suppose I’m being a little harsh considering when I’m in my 50s I will probably be drunkenly dancing around in a similar fashion to The Hold Steady, Pearl Jam and other bands I love so dearly.
Daltrey’s five-piece band was more than serviceable as a Who replacement crew. Simon Townshend is the most notable member of the group as he is Pete’s brother and he sang a few of Pete’s vocal parts throughout the show. But while the band was tight they were definitely not The Who (or The Two as sometimes called by curmudgeons now that there are only two surviving original members of the four-piece). It was an amped-down show without the trappings of a The Who arena rock show.
Almost as impressive as the set list was the sound itself as SoDo is not known for having great sound. The barn-like warehouse of a venue can swallow a band’s sound and I have witnessed many top-tier modern rock acts (My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria, Placebo) fall prey to its murderous sound-stealing demons. But that was not the case Monday as Daltrey’s voice soared through the club and when Vedder came out to help close the night by screaming the louder parts of “Bargain” he almost sounded better than he did at KeyArena a few weeks prior.
Paper Zoo, a youthful four-piece, opened the show with a five-song set. They are a little difficult to pigeonhole into one classification of rock, but I’ll give it a try (isn’t that my duty as a rock writer?). Put it this way, if Wolfmother had taken more acid and smoked less weed and listened to Pink Floyd instead of Black Sabbath they might come close to sounding like Paper Zoo.
The highlight of the group’s set was “Paper Zoo,” a deliciously demented Sgt. Pepper’s-esque trip of a song that acts as both a proper theme song and proper introduction to the band. Upon first glance the Paper Zooers, wearing tattered clothes and looking the role of children of ZoSo, seemed like an odd choice to open for a rock legend. But upon first listen, the band’s psychedelic sound rooted in classic rock made them a perfect fit for Daltrey’s power rock end of the musical spectrum.
Fresh Espresso, the hip hop duo of Rik Rude and P Smoov who both as of late seem intent on dominating the local hip hop scene, released a remix of "Something New" off the group’s excellent Glamour record along with a new track called "Bedroom." The remix features Macklemore, Gatsby and Grynch and it’s pretty dope. The video for the remix along with the two tracks (which you can download for free) are below.