I wrote this brief to preview Slow Club’s Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Complete Surrender, the latest album from Slow Club, the English duo of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor, is a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. While sharing vocal duties, the pair presents several musical options for listeners. For fans of ’60s pop, there are tunes like “Tears of Joy” and “The Pieces.” Those in the mood for something more melancholy should check out “Paraguay and Panama” and “Dependable People and Things That I’m Sure Of,” while those looking for a new take on bluesy soul will appreciate the title track and “Suffering You, Suffering Me.” Despite the variety, Complete Surrender doesn’t sound disjointed; Watson’s bright voice and Taylor’s powerful vocals tie everything together. With Roses, Hibou. Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9951, thebarboza.com. 8 p.m. $12 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief to preview Tom Morello’s benefit show for 15 Now for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Tom Morello has never been afraid to stand up for what he believes or use his platform as a world-renowned musician to raise awareness of social and political injustice. In the past, the Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave/Nightwatchman guitarist has protested the use of music in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and performed at Occupy movements around the world. In 2002, he co-founded a nonprofit, Axis of Justice, with System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. Most recently, Morello has lent his voice to 15 Now, which seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the U.S. For this show, an acoustic concert benefiting the organization, he shares the bill with Chris Cornell. Yeah, it’s sold out. With Subject to Downfall, The Missionary Position. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 262-0482, elcorazonseattle.com. 8 p.m. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I’m writing an article about Anberlin and will be sending the band a few questions soon! Do you all have any questions for the band?
I talked with legendary bassist Mike Watt of Il Sogno Del Marinaio for The Inlander. You can also read this story here.
Eager to Learn
Legendary bassist Mike Watt is still excited by everything music has to offer
By Azaria Podplesky
Though Mike Watt has been playing bass for more than 40 years, he still considers himself a student.
"There’s a danger about being around a little while. You think you know it all," he says from Los Angeles. "Nobody can ever know it all, no matter how long they live or what they’ve done."
Watt’s thirst for knowledge began as a founding member of the pioneering punk band the Minutemen. Since then, he’s gone on to create Dos, fIREHOSE, the Secondmen and the Missingmen, and has also played with the Stooges since 2003.
More recently, his educational endeavors led Watt to form Il Sogno Del Marinaio (Italian for “The Sailor’s Dream”), an experimental rock trio with Italian musicians Stefano Pilia on guitar and Andrea Belfi on drums.
"I’m getting into middle age, and I’ve found that it’s really important to keep learning," he reiterates. "A situation like [Il Sogno Del Marinaio] is totally up that alley."
Read more …
I reviewed King Tuff’s Black Moon Spell for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this review here.
King Tuff, Black Moon Spell
Out Sept. 23, Sub Pop, kingtuffworld.com
Magic, mystery, love: King Tuff, aka Kyle Thomas, handles it all on his third full-length. Titles like “I Love You Ugly” and “Demon From Hell” may seem a bit harsh, but Tuff’s lyrics, sung in a slightly whiny, love-it-or-hate-it voice, are often more sweet than sour. And a heavy dose of psychedelic shimmer (like that of Portugal. The Man) and garage-rock riffs add to the album’s brightness. “Sick Mind,” for example, is so full of peppy vocal harmonies that the condition seems appealing. Several songs barely pass the one-minute mark, but these mini-tunes don’t seem like throwaway tracks. Rather, they add quick bursts of energy to an already spirited album. Next show: Wed., Oct. 22, Neumos
I wrote these briefs to preview Seattle shows by the Baseball Project and Pomplamoose and Seattle Busker Week. You can read these briefs here and here.
2014 has been the year of immortalizing our nation’s favorite things in song. First Pizza Underground gave us its pizza-themed Velvet Underground covers, then the Baseball Project released 3rd, its latest ode to America’s favorite pastime. The supergroup—R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows, and Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon of Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3—leaves no aspect of the sport unmentioned, from athletes (both famous and infamous) to stats geeks and card collectors. But the group shouldn’t be seen as a novelty act. Each song is well-crafted, showing the band members’ years of experience, and tells a story even novice baseball fans can enjoy. With Dressy Bessy, Sean Nelson & Friends. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, neumos.com. 8 p.m. $15 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
To delve into the world of Pomplamoose—the indie-pop/electro duo of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn—is to experience something as visual as it is audible. Each song the pair releases is accompanied by an insanely creative “VideoSong.” Some are full of fun wigs and outfit changes; others feature images projected onto foam-board props that the pair moves around in time to the song. It’s all part of Pomplamoose: Season 2, a three-part project that includes new music videos, a full U.S. tour, and an album of the same name that features original tunes, mashups, and covers. The fact that Pomplamoose is doing all this without the help of a label makes it that much more impressive. With John Schroeder. Neumos. 8 p.m. $18 adv. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
As someone who doesn’t live in Seattle and gets to visit only every so often, it doesn’t feel like I’m really in the city until I hear a folk singer strumming a guitar while someone nearby plays the accordion and a magician performs sleight-of-hand with a parrot perched on his/her shoulder. It may seem cacophonous to some, but to me it’s what makes Seattle Seattle. To celebrate the artists who entertain the masses in their own idiosyncratic ways—and 40 years of street-legal performing—Pike Place Market kicks off Seattle Busker Week with a festival. Starting at 11 a.m., the Market will host multiple stages highlighting Seattle’s best street performers. The Week continues through Saturday with a host of events throughout downtown. pikeplacemarketbuskers.com. Free. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote these briefs to preview Coheed and Cambria and Esmé Patterson’s Seattle shows for Seattle Weekly. You can also read these briefs here.
Coheed and Cambria might be rock’s geekiest band, and that’s meant in the best way possible. The prog-rock quartet’s extensive discography comprises concept albums (including In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, which will be played in its entirety at this show) that each tell a chapter in the fantasy tales of Coheed, Cambria, and Claudio Kilgannon. Over the years, this story has been further explored in a series of comic books called The Armory Wars, all penned by lead singer Claudio Sanchez. The music doesn’t come second to the plot, though; the band’s albums all have a cinematic feel to match The Armory Wars’ epic storyline. With Thank You Scientist. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/paramount. 7:30 p.m. $25.75 adv./$29.25 DOS. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Short of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” the women singers croon about rarely, if ever, get to share their side of the story. Esmé Patterson wanted to change that with her latest album, Woman to Woman. On it, the vocalist (who also performs in Paper Bird) wrote response songs from the perspective of seven of pop music’s most famous ladies. Elvis Costello’s “Alison” became “Valentine,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” turned into “Never Chase a Man,” and Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene” is reinterpreted as “A Dream.” “Loretta,” “Caroline, No,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Evangeline” also have their say. In her “folk & roll” style, Patterson adds color to these famous figures immortalized for years in one-sided stories, restoring to them their long-unheard voices. With Led to Sea, Edmund Wayne, Paleo. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, tractortavern.com. 8 p.m. $8. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I chatted with Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, about sudden fame and his latest album, Whispers, for The Oregonian. You can also read this article here.
Passenger’s Mike Rosenberg on sudden fame: ‘Your whole world twists slightly and you have to make sure you react in a good way’
In the midst of a world tour, days off are few and far between for folk singer Mike Rosenberg. But even then, Rosenberg, who performs under the stage name Passenger, doesn’t find them very relaxing.
"Days off at the moment are still full of work," he said from a recent tour stop in Minneapolis.
There are TV and radio appearances, interviews and video shoots — all related to the tour that will keep him on the road until February of next year.
A majority of the shows sold out months in advance, including Rosenberg’s stop at the Crystal Ballroom on Tuesday, Sept. 9.
Rosenberg has been on the go since early 2013 when “Let Her Go,” off his fourth album, “All the Little Lights,” exploded seemingly overnight.
After an at times frustratingly slow 10 years of busking (he continues to do street performances for fans before shows when his schedule permits), Rosenberg, 30, wasn’t quite prepared for the sudden fame.
"Before it happened to me, I’d look at other people who had become really successful and think ‘What a dream. That must be absolutely everything they ever wanted,’ " he said. "When it does happen to you, you realize yes, it’s incredible. But it also comes with a bit of a weird aftertaste.
"Your whole world twists slightly and you have to make sure you react in a good way."
Rather than let that twist completely overwhelm him, Rosenberg used it as motivation to keep the momentum going. He opened for fellow Brit Ed Sheeran for the better part of a year, which Rosenberg called a “brilliant learning experience,” and began working on his fifth album, “Whispers.”
The album, which was released in June, is a journey across the spectrum of emotions one can experience in a lifetime, including frustration (“27,” “Scare Away the Dark”), love (“Heart’s On Fire”), loss (“Bullets”) and remorse (“Riding To New York”).
"My point is that life isn’t just miserable, melancholy and sad," Rosenberg said of the album’s emotional balance. "It’s also insane and brilliant and wonderful. From a songwriter’s point of view, I think you’ve got to try and get all of that across."
From the looks of it, people have responded well to his honesty. “Whispers” topped Billboard’s Folk Albums chart and peaked at number 12 on the Billboard 200, a reaction Rosenberg wasn’t sure he’d see.
"There’s a bit of me that was a bit worried ("Let Her Go") would be big for a year then everyone would bugger off again," he said with a laugh. "It feels like it’s a really solid, loyal fanbase full of lovely people. I feel very, very lucky."
— Azaria Podplesky, Special to The Oregonian
I wrote this brief to preview Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars’ upcoming Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
There’s a carefree vibe to Libation, the latest album from Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, which masks the band’s improbable beginnings. Displaced during the nation’s civil war, the band bounced from one refugee camp to another for three years, playing music for fellow refugees along the way, before eventually making their way home and recording their first album, Living Like a Refugee, released in 2006. The group continues to spread the message of hope and peace while sharing their native folklore through song. On Libation, the All Stars take an unplugged approach, reminiscent of their days playing in camps. But this time going acoustic is a choice, not a necessity. With Irukandji Legion of Brass, Darek Mazzone. Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9951, thebarboza.com. 7 p.m. $18. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief to preview Dave Matthews Band’s series of shows at the Gorge Amphitheatre for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Few bands can fully command an audience’s attention while playing an awe-inspiring venue like the Gorge, but Dave Matthews Band has been doing just that for more than 15 years. This summer, the seven-piece will add another element to its visit: multiple sets each night. After a day of music from various artists and a performance from singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, DMB will play an acoustic set. Then it’ll be time to don your dancing shoes as the band kicks up its blend of rock, jazz, and funk during an electric set. With the amount of material the band has, each night should be a collection of DMB deep cuts and radio hits. Through Sunday. With Moon Taxi, JD McPherson, Shovels and Rope, Betsy Olson, Bombino, Ana Tijoux, David Ryan Harris, Dumpstaphunk. The Gorge Amphitheatre, 754 Silica Rd., Quincy, Wash., 509-785-6262, gorgeamphitheatre.net. 7:30 p.m. $61.50 and up. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY