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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 December, 2010

2010’s biggest disappointments in Seattle music

Monday, December 27th, 2010

A lot of great things happened in local music this year, but you won’t be reading about them in this post. Don’t worry all you peppy optimistic scene supporters, there will be a year-in-review post recapping all that was good in Seattle music in 2010. And lucky for all of us in Seattle, there was a lot more good than bad in the Emerald City’s music scene.

Unfortunately, you have to take the good with the bad so in this space we’ll be taking a light-hearted look at some of the lamer events of 2010.

Soundgarden reunites
OMG! Soundgarden is reuniting! Wait, they’re only playing three shows this year and only one of those is in Seattle? And it’s at the Showbox, which has a capacity of around 1,000? And tickets are only available through a fanclub email system that’s going to screw thousands out of a chance to see the band by sending them an email to buy tickets hours after the show has already sold out ? Man, I guess I should consider myself very lucky.

Buffalo Madonna at CHBP 2010. Photo by Jason Tang

Mad Rad behaves
Okay, so it’s not a bad thing that P Smoov, Terry Radjaw, Buffalo Madonna and DJ Darwin behaved themselves this year. I imagine avoiding trouble with the law helped the foursome produce the great party album with killer beats that is The Youth Die Young. But seriously guys, we expect to hear of something along the lines of Buffalo Madonna starting a brawl at a frat house or P Smoov smacktalking a bathroom attendant at the Westin in 2011. The local music media needs you to stay in the headlines for all the wrong reasons so they can try to maintain relevancy while still getting their valuable page views. So get your shit together guys and start getting arrested or something already.

Ear Candy shut down
Disappointment was about the twentieth stage of grief for me when I got a cease and desist order from a major corporation demanding I shut down the blog and website I used to operate called Ear Candy due to possible trademark infringement. It came right after the angry “I’m getting a lawyer and fighting those bastards” stage and right before the accepting “Oh shit, I’m totally going to lose this fight” stage. Fortunately the death of Ear Candy gave birth to Guerrilla Candy, so at least there’s that.

Go! Machine cancelled
Last year was a banner year for local hip hop and it was capped off by the fantastic two-night party that was Go! Machine at the Crocodile. Just about every big name in 206 hip hop this side of Blue Scholars was a part of the festivities. But organizers weren’t able to pull a repeat this year, which may or may not have been a result of the scene reaching its peak in 2009. However, it’s looking like that’s not the case if you consider the anticipation for Shabazz Palaces’ Sub Pop debut in 2011 and the rise of Macklemore in 2010.

One Reel layoffs
One Reel, the company that produces Bumbershoot, laid off eight of its 14 festival staff in October. What does all of this mean for 2011 and the 41st installment of Bumbershoot? Guess we’ll have to wait for Labor Day weekend to find out.


The best concerts of 2010

Monday, December 27th, 2010

When I look back at all of the wonderful shows I was lucky enough to attend in 2010 it seems pretty clear that it was a great year for concerts in Seattle. From big names like Arcade Fire, Gorillaz and Muse coming to town to festivals like Bumbershoot attracting music fans young and old to see the likes of Drake, Bob Dylan and Weezer, in my book there was no better place to be than in Seattle for concerts in 2010.

With so many amazing concerts to choose from I’m surprised I somehow managed to narrow down my list of favorite concerts of the year to 15. Not surprising is that 11 of my 15 favorites were from local artists big and small. Here are my favorite shows of the year in chronological order with a one-sentece summary for each :

Shabazz Palaces at Neumos 01.08.10
One of the most hyped local hip-hip acts delivered during its public debut

McCready and McKagan having a hootenanny Photo by Jason Tang

Hootenanny for Haiti at the Showbox 02.28.10

Some of Seattle’s biggest stars came out for a good cause

No-Fi Soul Rebellion at Nectar Photo by Alex Crick

Ear Candy Birthday Bash at Nectar 03.20.10
A birthday with Katie Kate, No-Fi Soul Rebellion, Lisa Dank and Queerbait! is a damn good birthday

Shawn Smith fronting a reunited Mother Love Bone

Brad and friends at the Showbox  04.14.10

Why yes I would like a Mother Love Bone reunion featuring Shawn Smith on vocals.

Soundgarden at the Showbox 04.16.10
The biggest reunion of the year in a very small setting (more…)


A timeline of the year in Seattle music 2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
The Seattle music scene had quite a good year in 2010. This meant there wasn’t a shortage of topics, or news items, for chroniclers of the scene like us here at Guerrilla Candy to write about. From Shabazz Palaces making an unforgettable public debut at Neumos to the hype-heavy Head and the Heart winning over thousands of fans, there was rarely a dull week of 2010 for those invested in the local music scene. So in case you weren’t paying attention, here’s a recap of the year that was for Seattle music:

Shabazz Palaces at CHBP 2010 Photo by Jason Tang

Star Anna having a Hootenanny with Mike McCready. Photo by Jason Tang

A crocodile with a party hat? How cute.


Seattle’s breakthrough music acts of 2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The Head and the Heart

My pals at Sound on the Sound introduced the blogsphere (and in turn KEXP and the rest of the local music community) to this group whose beautifully poetic folk took Seattle by storm in 2010. From opening for Vampire Weekend to opening and sort of touring with Dave Matthews to a massive article in the Seattle Times, this is a band to watch for in 2011.

Viper Creek Club

Mat Wisner and Brandon Jensen built a name for themselves as a solid team of remix artists by putting their own spin on tracks by Blue Scholars (listen below), Mad Rad, Metric and others. They also managed to create quite a fantastic debut album in Letters and land spots on bills that will get them noticed, including a slot at Mad Rad’s album release show last earlier this month. Hopefully more remixes, shows and music will come from VCC in 2011.

BlueScholars “Lumière” (Viper Creek Club remix)

Sol

Sol, or Solzilla as he is sometimes known, has been working his grind all year long while coming into his own as a MC. The Dear Friends II EP (which you can get for free) shows lots of potential for this young and talented artist and his latest release, the track “Feed My Ego” (listen below), shows that his talent is continuing to evolve. Sol seems to continually tease his fans on Twitter and Facebook by mentioning collaborations with other artists and the prospect of new music so here’s to hoping he’ll deliver on his promises soon.

Sol – Feed My Ego (prod. Grumps)

(more…)


A local music holiday gift guide for last-minute shoppers

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

From Crosscut:

Shop local is a common phrase heard this time of year to encourage holiday shoppers to support local businesses. While you’re supporting local businesses you might also want to consider supporting local artists, especially if you’re picking up something for the music lover on your shopping list.

Since it’s no secret that Seattle’s music community is stacked with an abundance of talent here are some recommendations of records released by locals in 2010 to help you get going if you’re looking to live out that shop local mantra to its fullest.

The city’s youthful hip-hop scene continued to grow this year with several excellent albums any hip-hop head would appreciate. For starters there’s Jake One and Freeway’s The Stimulus Package which pairs local producer extraordinaire Jake One with Philadelphia underground rapper Freeway resulting in some of the best hip-hop of the year. You also can’t go wrong with Macklemore’s reissue of his Vs EP. The reissue includes the original EP along with remixes and unreleased tracks. You can legally download the original for free here if you want a sampling of what the reissue has to offer. Another choice for the more aggressive and bratty hip-hop fan is Mad Rad’s The Youth Die Young. Think License to Ill era Beastie Boys with more sexually explicit lyrics. Parents be warned, there is quite a bit of objectionable language on the Mad Rad record.

The city’s folk scene is picking up steam too and it spawned several amazing albums. The band that made the biggest splash in the scene this year was the Head and the Heart, which made its debut this year. There’s plenty of local hype behind these guys (not every new band gets a massive feature in the Seattle Times) and big things are expected from these Sub Pop signees. Another artist expected to have a big 2011 is Chris Mansfield, aka Fences, who has drawn comparisons to Elliott Smith with Fences’ self-titled debut. Also of note from the folk scene isTidelands, the sophomore effort from the Moondoggies. The campfire rock featured on that album is some of the best music Seattle had to offer in 2010.

If there is a punk rock fan on your list there is a trio of albums you should be on the lookout for at the record store. First there’s Unnatural Helpers’ Cracked Love and Other Drugs which boasts a track list of 15 blazing songs that play out in a fiery 27 minutes. The band is a modern day punk rock Mudhoney. On the more experimental side of the punk spectrum is The Lights’ Failed Graves, an album that mishmashes rock subgenres and blends them into an excellent stew of punk rock potpourri. Somewhere in the middle of those two lay The Cute Lepers and their album Smart Accessories which at times comes across as a new-wavey Ramones record.

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Pearl Jam throwing a festival in 2011?

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Pearl Jam in Spain, 2009. Photo by Karen Loria

Looks like the first small details of how Pearl Jam plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year (outside of releasing a live album)  are beginning to slowly be revealed.

According to the band’s longtime manager Kelly Curtis the band is planning a festival to be held “somewhere in the middle of the country” during the summer of 2011.

Curtis mentioned the news of a Pearl Jam festival on Pearl Jam’s Sirius/XM Radio program. Unfortunately he did say the festival is being planned for a location that is not Seattle. However, knowing Pearl Jam and its love for its hometown there will be some celebrations happening locally. Hopefully that means something similar to this pipe dream of a festival proposed by a member of the Ten Club message boards.

While no details of the festival are known, one thing is for sure: 2011 will be a big year for Pearl Jam.


Anthrax rumored to cover Alice in Chains on new LP

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

According to the British rock rag NME the new album from metal legends Anthrax will include a cover of Alice in Chains’ “We Die Young.”

The album, which is expected to be released next year and is tentatively titled Worship Music, will also include former Anthrax frontman Joey Belladonna. It will be Anthrax’s first album since 2003 and its first with Belladonna since 1990.


Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story to be released next year

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The documentary Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story will be released on DVD March 15, 2011 by Universal Music Enterprises packaged along with two CDs of music written by Wood, including unreleased Malfunkshun material.

The film is a look into the life of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood and it includes live footage from both MLB and Malfunkshun, the band he was in with his brother Kevin prior to joining Mother Love Bone. There are also interviews with grunge figures including Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jack Endino and other details about Wood and his impact on local music.

Although it has a tragic ending (Wood died of a drug overdose in 1990 and the film begins with his father reading his eulogy at Wood’s funeral) it shines a mostly positive light on Wood’s life. Aside from concert footage and hearing Cornell, Gossard and others talk candidly about Wood, highlights include seeing Mother Love Bone in the studio and getting a glimpse into the glam rock side of Wood. Most all grunge enthusiasts will especially enjoy watching Wood work with a group of children while recording “Stardog Champion”

The film has only been shown publicly twice. It debuted at the Northwest Film Forum in 2005 and was screened at Hard Rock Seattle earlier this year. It’s on par with Hype and Tad: Busting Circuits and Ringing Ears as one of the best documentaries focusing on the local scene I’ve watched.

For more information about the film, listen to this interview with Kevin Wood I conducted earlier this year.


Pick a Posie: Conversations with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow

Friday, December 10th, 2010

If you’re a local music fan then you already know the story of the Posies. The band got big in the early 90s during the heyday of grunge, released a few classic power-pop albums which weren’t grunge at all — including one of my favorite records of all-time, oh and Dear 23, Failure andAmazing Disgrace aren’t too shabby either — and in 1998 the band broke up with principal players Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer going their separate ways to pursue solo careers and other artistic endeavors.

Twelve years and two albums later (the band reunited in 2005 and released the comeback album Every Kind of Light) The Posies are back and touring behind one of their strongest efforts to date. Released earlier this fall, Blood/Candy is the band’s most pure pop album and it is winning over Posies purist like myself as well as appealing to a new fanbase. At the core of the Posies is the friendship between Auer and Stringfellow. The two have known each other since childhood and if the beauty of Blood/Candy is any indication of where their friendship stands, Auer and Stringfellow’s relationship is stronger than ever.

Saturday at Showbox at the Market the band concludes its busy year during which they debuted Blood/Candy at the Crocodile in April, performed at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in May and recorded and released the new album. At the show Stringfellow and Auer will be performing double duty, serving as both the evening’s headliners as well as members of the backing band for opener Brendan Benson whom Stringfellow and Auer struck up a friendship with during a benefit for the late Alex Chilton of Big Star, a band both Posies served as members of late in Chilton’s career.

I talked with Auer and Stringfellow separately during a tour stop in Washington, D.C. and here are a few excerpts from our conversations: (more…)


MTV’s $5 Cover: Seattle makes its debut online Dec. 15

Friday, December 10th, 2010

MTV’s $5 Cover: Seattle, the pseudo-reality film that depicts the local music scene, will be released online Dec. 15.

Directed by Lynn Shelton, the 12-part web series follows 13 local bands during a scripted series of events that take place during a weekend in Seattle. While the film was scripted the events were based off real life experiences. $5 Cover: Seattle made its debut at SIFF Cinema in March (read my impressions here) and was originally scheduled to be released in June.

Clocking in at about an hour in length the film features several notable local bands including THEESatisfaction, The Lights, Champagne Champagne and the Maldives. While the film focuses on several local bands the main story centers around the Moondoggies.

A separate series of shorts about various aspects of the local music scene called “Amplified” were also shot as part of $5 Cover: Seattle. No word on whether they will be released Dec. 15 as well. Update: There will be more than 60 behind-the-scenes features and video clips, including the Amplified series, released on Dec. 15 as well. The Amplified short about the Moondoggies is below.


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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.