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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.
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Archive for March, 2010

TMBG, Posies added to Sasquatch!, but is the fest snubbing local indie bands?

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Sasquatch! is known for having an abundance of smaller Seattle artists as part of its bill but this year there is a noticeable absence of local indie bands. I assume there will be additional locals announced as it gets closer to Memorial Day weekend but as it stands right now the lineup is pretty full and the smaller local indie bands are limited to Fresh Espresso, Shabazz Palaces, The Long Winters, The Lonely Forest, The Long Winters and Minus The Bear.

Sure having six lesser-known hometown bands on the bill of a major three-day festival is great and the exposure will likely be helpful for those six groups, but in 2008 there were 22 indie acts from Seattle at Sasquatch! out of the 73 total that performed at the festival. That’s a pretty big number of local artists considering last year there were 11 local indie groups out of the 78 total at Sasquatch! according to my count. Given last year’s number is half as many small locals on the bill the year before, perhaps Sasquatch! is shifting away from its tradition of focusing on indie talent from Seattle and focusing on making money instead. After all, Live Nation is a co-producer of the festival and as anyone who has purchased an $11 beer at the Gorge will tell you, Live Nation likes to make money.

There are 10 weeks until Sasquatch! 2010 and so far 81(!) bands are lined up, which I believe is the biggest number of acts ever to play Sasquatch! Hopefully there’s still room for a few more bands of the local indie variety to be added to the festival.

Speaking of additions to Sasquatch!, a few additions have been added to this year’s Sasquatch! lineup. Boston geek rockers They Might Be Giants will play on May 30, hometown power-pop icons The Posies will be at the festival May 29 and indie favorites The Heavy will grace the main stage May 31. The other musician added is Brit-popper Martina Topley Bird.

There have also been some additions on the comedy front. Pothead comic Doug Benson, UPDATE: On March 20, 2010 Bobcat Goldtwait was added, replacing Benson in the lineup, diary-reading Mike Birbiglia and Todd Barry are the three big names. Other comics that have been added include: Rory Scovel, Hannibal Buress and Moshe Kasher.




Music Monday SXSW edition: Spaceman, Grynch and Spin magazine

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Bummed because you didn’t make it to SXSW? Well, just because you missed out on the fun in Austin doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the music that was performed during the festival with free downloads from a few of the local artists who were at SXSW and a compilation of non-locals courtesy Spin magazine.

Sportn’ Life Records most animated rapper, Spaceman, released his Greetings Earthlings mixtape last week and you can get it for free by clicking here.

The mixtape features some production by Jake One and guest spots by Grynch, J Pincer, Fatal Lucciauno, Brainstorm of Dyme Def and more. To my knowledge this is the first collection of recorded Spaceman material and it is is a precursor to a full-length Spaceman record. Admittedly my knowledge of Spaceman is pretty limited so I could be wrong about Spaceman’s recorded output. However, word on the street is that Spence from The Saturday Knights is working on an official Spaceman full-length album. No, literally it is the word on the street because I heard it from Spence when I ran into him on the street.

Grynch, a.k.a. the pride of Ballard,  should be a familiar name to readers. Like most of Seattle’s music community, he became a temporary Austin resident last week when he performed multiple sets, including a spot at the Billboard showcase, last week. He dropped his Rapping About Rapping mixtape last Monday.

The title is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the biggest criticism he used to receive, which is that he only raps about rapping. It includes production by some of Seattle’s finest including MTK, P Smoov and Jake One. You can download it by clicking here. Oh, and on a proud and congratulatory note the album artwork is a photo shot by my buddy Alex Crick.

On the national scene tip, Spin magazine released a mix of bands that played SXSW. The album includes The xx, Surfer Blood, Freelance Whales, Japandroids and other of-the-moment indie bands. Download it here.


Download Blue Scholars’ new track for free

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Geo and Sabzi just dropped a new track, titled “Paul Valery” for download over on their Web site. You can get the track, which is about the future and supposedly samples Owl City (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never listened to Owl City out of loyalty to the Postal Service) by clicking on the widget below. And for the record, I must say it is great to hear a group from Seattle rip off a group that rips off a group from Seattle. Well played Blue Scholars, well played.


Lisa Dank: Seattle’s compelling and polarizing pop star

Friday, March 12th, 2010

High Horse by Lisa Dank

Juliane Popelka has created a rarity among Seattle’s music scene: a bona fide pop star.

Sure there’s been the pitchy, bad-hair-day-pop of Sanjaya and the excellent electro-pop beatboxing of Blake Lewis, but those two mostly gained fame thanks to reality television. Popelka is doing it by herself and in the process she has become the architect of one of the scene’s most compelling characters.

Popelka’s pop star is a self-made beast that blends Lady GaGa visuals with “Justify My Love”-era Madonna lyrical content making for a shocking and entertaining audio and visual treat. Chances are you’ve never heard of Popelka, but if you’ve been paying attention to local music you’ve already figured out by now that her pop star alter ego is Lisa Dank.

On stage Lisa Dank is an uninhibited force to be reckoned with complete with a commanding stage presence. Her shows include elaborate stagewear, props (including a giant fake penis and an animal’s jawbone she uses as a percussive instrument), backup singers and dancers accompanying her songs about sex, drugs and partying. She jumps into the crowd, writes on the floor, grinds on audience members and demands your attention.

Yes a lot of what Lisa Dank is doing has been done before, but it’s not being done right now and it’s unlike most everything happening in Seattle. This has made Lisa Dank’s stage shows notorious spectacles that are well worth checking out. Her next performance will be at Ear Candy’s Birthday Bash 2010 at Nectar Lounge Sunday ($6, 8 p.m.) and it will be her last local show before she drops her 13-track debut album on April 20 which is tentatively titled Baker’s Dozen.

“I’ve been told a lot that seeing Lisa Dank live reminds people of theatre and that’s the direction I think I want to continue towards. I want to make each show a performance, not just me singing and dancing,” she said. “I have people that come to every show and I want to start making it more like an ongoing, evolving show, so every time someone goes to see Lisa Dank they will be getting a different experience.”

Popelka considers her music, along with the music of locals like Queerbait!, Sap’n and others, to be a part of Seattle’s “fourth wave.”

So what exactly is the fourth wave?

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Remember SP20? Now you can relive it with Sub Pop’s Record Store Day offerings

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Record Store Day, the annual event where indie record shops offer tons of exclusive goodies to music fans in celebration of independent record stores, will be here on April 17.

Last year Seattle’s own Sub Pop Records celebrated Record Store Day with the release of some limited-edition vinyl offerings from Bllitzen Trapper, Flight of the Conchords and more. This year Sub Pop stepped up its game a bit with some pretty cool releases including a benefit CD of live performances from 2008′s two-day SP 20 celebration (that’s the cover of the album over there on the left) and a limited-edition 7″ reissue of Soundgarden’s first Sub Pop single “Hunted Down” with “Nothing to Say” as the B-side. If you weren’t at SP 20 check out the review of Day 1 here and the review of Day 2 here.

Here are the details of the Soundgarden and SP 20 releases as well as  the rest of Sub Pop’s Record Store Day offerings straight from the peeps at Sub Pop

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New free music from Brad, Minus the Bear & Drive-By Truckers

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Minus the Bear is gearing up to release its new album, Omni, on May 4. “My Time,” the lead single from the album, was released as a free download yesterday. You can listen to the track, which features heavy use of a Japanese Omnichord synthesizer, below and get your free download of the song by clicking here. Minus the Bear’s local tour stop supporting the album will be at this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival, however, you can see the band prior to Memorial Day Weekend during an in-store performance at Sonic Boom Records on Record Store Day (April17). I’ll post more details (such as which Sonic Boom and the set time) as they are made available.

MINUS THE BEAR: “MY TIME”


Sunny Day Real Estate working on new album, set to step in the studio in May

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This just in from the awesome news department: Sunny Day Real Estate is entering the recording studio in May to record a new album

That’s what Marco Collins, former KNDD and current KEXP jock, reported on his Twitter account late Monday night. Collins wrote that he received an e-mail from SDRE/Foo Fighter member Nate Mendel stating the band would be recording in May.

The band, Jeremy Enigk, William Goldsmith, Dan Hoerner and Mendel, reunited last year and during the reunion tour SDRE performed a new song which was one of a few signs that the reunion was going well. You can read my review of the band’s homecoming stop on the tour here. Another sign things were working out during the reunion were the constant smiles on the faces of Enigk and the rest of the band during the show. Peep the photo proof of the smiles here.

The band’s 1994 debut album Diary  along with its second record LP2, were reisuued by Sub Pop last year. No word on what label will release the new Sunny Day Real Estate album or when the record will be released.


The video about the video for No-Fi Soul Rebellion’s “!”

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

No-Fi Soul Rebellion is the husband-wife dance-rock duo of Mark and Andrea Heimer. Currently based out of Bellingham, the pair are known for putting on fun, energetic live shows that typically include the band setting up their gear in the crowd with Mark running all over the place with a 50-foot microphone cord as he sings, screams and dances. More on the No-Fi Soul Rebellion live experience later this week, but needless to say No-Fi show isn’t a spectator sport, which is why Ear Candy likes Mark and Andrea so much and is thrilled to have No-Fi headline Ear Candy’s Birthday Bash 2010 Sunday at Nectar Lounge ($6, 8 p.m.). The above video is the failed attempt to film a video for “!” off the group’s 2008 album Terrible Muscles. Mark calls it the worst music video ever, but I’ve seen worse.


From Crosscut: EMPSFM’s Sound Off! proves the kids are alright

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I wrote the below post about Sound Off! 2010 for Crosscut.

Great Waves @ EMP|SFM's Sound Off! 2010 Finals 3.5.10 - 047 by EMP|SFM.The kids are alright.

Those words of Pete Townshend rang true during the finals of Experience Music Project’s Sound Off! competition, which showcased some of the brightest rising stars in Northwest music Saturday night (March 6).

The final round of the four-week, underage battle of the bands featured four groups that showed remarkable talent, musicianship, and poise, all delivered with the passion and vigor of youth.

Sound Off! is more than your typical battle of the bands. The contest focuses on young musicians who are 21 and younger, and at stake is more than just getting to be the cool kids in the cafeteria. The winner of Sound Off! gets a slot at Bumbershoot 2010 (although I suppose that might earn you popularity points in the lunchroom, too).

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VIDEO: Grunge on ice

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010


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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.