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
This is another late post, but I wrote this brief to preview How To Dress Well’s Seattle show for Seattle Weekly.
“What Is This Heart?”, the latest from How To Dress Well, the stage name of singer Tom Krell, might be this year’s most swoon-worthy release yet. For one thing, Krell’s falsetto is impossibly gorgeous. And though he does away with a lot of the indie-R&B heard on previous releases, trading it for a ’90s pop feel with hints of synth (“Face Again”), sweeping orchestral arrangements (“Pour Cyril”), and insanely danceable hooks (“Very Best Friend”), that doesn’t mean “WITH?” lacks soul. Lyrically, the album cements Krell’s status as one of the most emotionally open songwriters around, and features a mix of personal and universally understood observations on life and relationships,
both familial and romantic. With Maiah Manser. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
This is a day late, but I wrote this brief to preview Little Dragon’s Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Not since Robyn and Lykke Li burst onto the scene has a Swedish act garnered as much buzz as Gothenburg quartet Little Dragon, and rightly so. The band, which formed in 1996 but released its self-titled debut only in 2007, mixes sultry electro-jazz, the smooth attitude of club music, and shimmering pop beats into one giant ball of musical energy, most recently heard on Nabuma Rubberband. The album finds lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s seductive coo mesmerizing as usual, especially on the many Prince-inspired slow jams. The band keeps that musical energy high, even when Nagano’s voice is more subdued, with a steady pairing of groovy keys and percussion. Looks like Little Dragon is no longer Sweden’s best-kept secret. With Dam-Funk. The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. 9 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief to preview Sylvan Esso’s Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
With “Coffee” from its self-titled debut, Sylvan Esso—that’s Amelia Meath of Mountain Man and Nick Sanborn of Megafaun—have created an unassuming pop hit. Meath’s sweet-and-low vocals and the track’s electro-pop backbone pair in such a way that “Coffee” wouldn’t seem out of place at either a club or an open-mike night. Just try to get it out of your head. With Dana Buoy. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, neumos.com. 8 p.m. $12. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote these briefs to preview upcoming shows by Jack Johnson and Bradford Loomis and Beth Whitney for Seattle Weekly. You can also read these briefs here.
Singer/songwriter/surfer/filmmaker Jack Johnson is nothing if not consistent. For more than a dozen years, he’s churned out sun-soaked jams, most recently on From Here to Now to You. There are funkier grooves throughout the album, but Johnson mostly sticks to what he knows: upbeat acoustic songs about life and love. With Amos Lee, Michael Kiwanuka, Bahamas. The Gorge, 754 Silica Rd., Quincy, Wash., 509-785-6262, gorgeamphitheatre.net. 6:30 p.m. $57 and up. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
The Banner Days, a collaboration by local singer/songwriters Bradford Loomis and Beth Whitney, could easily pass for a Swell Season release if you didn’t know better. The pair blends indie folk with a bit of soul. And like Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Loomis and Whitney’s voices are lovely on their own, but really shine together. With The Native Sibling, And Yet. Secret Crown Hill venue released upon purchase of tickets. bradfordloomis.com. 8:30 p.m. $12–$14. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote about an awesome electro-soul duo from Seattle called Fly Moon Royalty for The Inlander. You can also read this article here.
Seattle’s Fly Moon Royalty isn’t afraid of a little ‘world domination’ with its music
By Azaria Podplesky
Singer Adriene “Adra Boo” Green and producer/DJ Mike “Action Jackson” Sylvester, aka electro-soul duo Fly Moon Royalty, are no strangers to elbow grease. After all, they met while working at a restaurant in Seattle.
"As soon as he said he was a producer, it was like, ‘Boom!’" Green says their connection.
Once the duo began working together, other musical projects took a backseat, and the pair released its self-titled debut in 2011.
Rave reviews from the likes of Seattle and City Arts magazines, which named Fly Moon Royalty one of the city’s best new bands and best local band, respectively, performances supporting soul band Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Chewelah native Allen Stone, and 2012’s Dimensions EP propelled the band into early 2014 and the release of its second EP, Unfinished Business — much of which was heard at the duo’s stunning Marmot Fest set last month.
The five-track EP was the product of the duo’s unstoppable work ethic, culled from extra songs Green and Sylvester had in their arsenal.
"The EP was called Unfinished Business because those songs were that,” Sylvester says. “We have a full-length album that no one’s heard yet. It’s some of our best work, in my opinion. It’s hard to sit on it … But we thought we needed to take care of unfinished business before releasing that.”
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