Spin the Black Circle

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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J Mascis coming to the Tractor Tavern, offers free single

February 4th, 2011 by travis hay

J Mascis at the Showbox in 2009. Photo by Brittney Bush Bollay

Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis will be releasing a mostly acoustic solo album titled Several Shades of Why on Sub Pop Records March 15.

The album will feature several notable guests including Kurt Vile, Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) and Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession) to name a few. His tour supporting the album comes to the Tractor Tavern April 29. Opening for Mascis will be The Black Heart Procession.

A mostly acoustic record is an extreme shift away from the loudness of Dinosaur Jr. You can get a taste of what to expect from the album by downloading “Not Enough” off Several Shades of Why below. And check out the album’s artwork below too. Read the rest of this entry »


Vendetta Red to reunite March 5

February 4th, 2011 by travis hay

Looks like the days will be numbered six, six, six again.

If you get that reference, or if you read the headline, you know I must be talking about local scream-punks Vendetta Red. The band, which broke up in 2006 after an eight-year run  that included two albums released by Sony, is getting back together March 5 to perform its swansong album Sisters of the Red Death in full at El Corazon.

Vendetta Red gained local prominence in the punk scene in the early 2000s when it became known for passionate and energetic live shows. The band also became known for the charisma of its singer Zach Davidson, a Roger Daltrey doppelganger, and the combination of his brutally vivid and dark lyrics and wailing-scream of a vocal delivery.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band think Finch, Glassjaw and My Chemical Romance and you’ll get a good idea for what Vendetta Red sounds like. Yes, I suppose Vendetta Red could technically be considered emo, or more approriately screamo, but they were a damn good band with lots of catchy tunes and it’s great to see them back together again even if it is just for one show. Read the rest of this entry »


Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears coming to the Crocodile April 9

February 4th, 2011 by travis hay

When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, nowadays it feels like retro is the new modern. Or at least it seems like that is the case bands like Fitz and the Tantrums, the Black Keys and the Heavy are making with their soul/blues/funk/rock revival sounds.

Another band that should always be mentioned in the current batch of retro-revivalists is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. The band’s brand of funk-blues boogie rock is guaranteed to make you dance and their 2009 record Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is has constantly been in heavy rotation on my stereo since its release.

The last time the group rolled through town was Labor Day weekend of 2009 for Bumbershoot where they played an early afternoon set and a brief radio set for KEXP (video above). The festival-length set was a short and sweet affair, clocking in at around 45 minutes, and was on of the highlights of my Bumbershoot experience that year. The band has been on a few national tours since that Bumbershoot set but has oddly skipped Seattle on its tour itineraries. Fortunately the band’s spring  tour will see the group make its return to Seattle April 9 at the Crocodile. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased here.


Pearl Jam to reissue Vs & Vitalogy and offer lots of extra goodies with deluxe versions

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay

Pearl Jam finally revealed the details of the reissues of two of its classic records, Vs and Vitalogy, this morning and the details are enough to make any fanboy yell out “Holy Yellowledbetter” with glee.

The reissues will hit stores March 29 in various formats, similar to what the band did with the reissue of its seminal debut Ten.

The limited-edition boxed set, which is what every respectful Pearl Jam fan should be purchasing, will set you back $150. It contains five LPs, including a double-LP of Vitalogy, single LP of Vs and a double LP of the band’s 1994 concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston. Four CDs –including remastered versions of Vs, Vitalogy and two-disc set of the Orpheum concert — a cassette tape of the band’s 1995 Monkeywrench Radio show, a composition notebook of drawings and other materials from Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder, lithographs of the band and an envelope of memorabilia are also included in the limited-edition boxed set.

Pre-orders of the limited-edition boxed set are being done over at pearljam.com and the preorders include a digital download of six songs from the Orpheum Theatre show that aren’t available on the LP or CD versions of the show. The Orpheum concert is one of my favorite live Pearl Jam recordings (I’m listening to a boot of it right now) because it has such a varied setlist and it’s one of those great shows that captures the band in its prime. Here’s the setlist from Pearl Jam’s website: Read the rest of this entry »


Fleet Foxes announce new album, offer free single

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay


Seattle’s favorite bearded folkies (are there any other kind?), the Fleet Foxes, recently announced the release date and title of their highly anticipated sophomore full-length record.

The album, titled Helplessness Blues, will be released May 3 on Sub Pop Records. The band is staging a U.S. and U.K. tour to support the 12-track album which was mixed by Phil Ek (known for his work with Modest Mouse, Death Cab and dozens of other Seattle music staples) and co-produced by Ek and the Fleet Foxes. You can stream the album’s title track below.

The tour includes a May 3 hometown date at the Moore Theatre. Tickets for the local show go on sale Friday an can be purchased here.
The artwork on the album cover, pictured above, was illustrated by Seattle artist Toby Liebowitz and painted by Chris Alderson. You can preorder the record here.

Read the rest of this entry »


Live on Ten Legs: Pearl Jam for the casual fan

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay

Pearl Jam’s Live on Ten Legs, an 18-track compilation of live recordings from the band’s 2003-2010 tours, is a mixed bag of triumphs and missed opportunities.

One one hand it succeeds in showcasing some of the strongest material from the band’s second decade of existence. On the other hand the collection doesn’t add much to the band’s catalog and some of the versions of the songs for the setlist are questionable.

Live on Ten Legs release marks a busy year of activity for the band which will see Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty documentary hit theaters, the reissues of Vs and Vitalogy, a multi-day festival curated by the band and the promise of several surprise appearances. It’s a good start for the band’s twentieth year and its message seems to be that Pearl Jam has no intention whatsoever to slow down as it heads towards its third decade.

The record is the successor to 1998’s Live on Two Legs, which captured the band’s 1998 tour. However, those expecting to get the1998 version of Pearl Jam from this album should look elsewhere. Live on Two Legs, which is by far the superior album, features a tracklisting of aggressive and angsty material from Pearl Jam’s prime. The songs featured on this album show a more mellowed and mature Pearl Jam, which isn’t a bad thing, and gives the lesser-educated fan a sense of the direction the decided to take during the 2000s.  There isn’t a single song that appears on both live compilations, which means if you put them both together you get a pretty solid sampling of live recordings without having to go all fanboy and dig through the band’s exhaustive selection of official bootlegs. Read the rest of this entry »


From the vault: the White Stripes rock Seattle in 2003

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay

The White Stripes announced their breakup yesterday morning. This is something most diehard Stripes fans probably saw coming since the group has been on hiatus for several years and Jack White has been busy playing with the Raconteurs and Dead Weather as well as heading his own record label.

I was lucky enough to see the White Stripes perform a few times prior to their huge successes so I have a couple of fond memories of the band. The first thing that always comes to mind when I think of Jack and Meg White’s band is when I won passes to see them perform for a crowd of 50 or so people at Glenn Sound Recording Studios back in 2001 when White Blood Cells was first released.

Read the rest of this entry »


Campfire OK’s debut is chamber pop done right

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay

Camber pop can be a tricky genre to master. If you go all-in with elaborate instrumentation and production you could be viewed as excessive and get results that sound cluttered and unfocused. If you go the minimalist route you might be viewed as just another band of indie buskers trying to give off a false image of sophistication by including a glockenspiel on a few songs. Local chamber poppers Campfire OK don’t fall into either of those traps on their debut album Strange Like We Are.

The band blends banjo, piano, guitar, horn, drums and more to create an album filled with a wide variety of instrumentation, lush soundscapes and rewarding song structures. Opening track “We Lay in Caves” immediately grabs you with syncopated piano notes that sound like Radiohead scoring a film. Elsewhere on the album “Not Young Not Old” provides a bit of a punch, “Brass” is a beautiful, delicate ballad and “Mexico N-O” brings the record to a perfect close with a crescendo of drums, horns and guitar.

The album does flounder a bit by not offering much of a variety in its sound — having a piano-heavy backbone for most every song can get a bit repetitive — but to the band’s credit the chamber pop genre can be a bit limiting when it comes to trying to forge a unique identity. It’s clear Campfire OK has a lot to offer and it is going to fun watching this young band develop.

Campfire OK performs its CD release party at Columbia City Theatre Saturday, Feb. 5.


Tres Mtns. record gets release date, band to tour

February 3rd, 2011 by travis hay

Tres Mts. — the band consisting of Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Richard Stuverud from the Fastbacks and dUg Pinnick of King’s X — will release its debut album titled “Three Mountains” on March 8.

A few days after its release the band will embark on a brief tour that includes a March 16 date at Showbox at the Market. Ament’s Pearl Jam bandmate Mike McCready will be touring with the band. Tickets for the show go on presale Thursday (Feb. 3) at 10 a.m. over at ticketmaster.com.

The band announced its plans to release a record and tour last week and opted to give away a song for free download  instead of giving details of said album or tour. Since it’s release the song, “My Baby,” has been downloaded 10,000 times. In case you haven’t given the song a listen you can download it here.

Read the rest of this entry »


2010’s biggest disappointments in Seattle music

December 27th, 2010 by travis hay

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.


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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.