Posts tagged music writing
Posts tagged music writing
I wrote this brief to preview Rachael Yamagata’s Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Rachael Yamagata: singer, multi-instrumentalist, relationship counselor. On her latest album, Chesapeake, and throughout her discography, Yamagata voices the joy and pain that come with relationships. On opener “Even if I Don’t,” for instance, she goes through the “Should I or shouldn’t I?” inner dialogue most listeners have had when thinking about getting back together with an ex before deciding it’d be “a foolish thing to do.” And on “Miles on a Car,” she sings about doing all you can to see someone you love: “I only need a map of where you are/There’ll never be a place that is too far.” Good or bad, Yamagata guides listeners through it all. With The Dove & the Wolf, Hemming. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618, thecrocodile.com. 8 p.m. $16. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote these briefs to preview the Seattle date of the Burger Records Caravan of Stars and upcoming shows by Phish, Slow Magic and Trampled by Turtles for Seattle Weekly. You can also read these briefs here.
Independent label Burger Records is known for its extensive roster of garage-rock and fuzzy-pop artists and for releasing a majority of that music on cassette. Burger Records Caravan of Stars brings some of the bands behind those beloved tapes to venues across the country, giving fans outside of the label’s home base of California a taste (pun intended) of what Burgerama, Burger Records’ annual festival, is like. The Caravan’s West Coast leg features L.A. rockers together PANGEA, Danish garage-pop quartet Mozes and The Firstborn, Portland lo-fi/psychedelic quartet the Memories, and, from Puerto Rico, Spanish-singing garage rockers AJ Davila y Terror Amor. Also with So Pitted, Bread & Butter. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 262-0482, elcorazonseattle.com. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
After 30 years, Phish is still one of the most engaging touring acts around. Its latest release, Fuego, will only do more to cement that title. “555” and “Wombat,” with its groovy bass line, really bring the funk, and the Latin-tinged “Waiting All Night” will no doubt get a crowd off its feet. The title track and “Wingsuit,” though, are where the band really shines. The nine-minute “Fuego” is full of everything that makes Phish so popular—sing-along-ready lyrics and inventive jams—and “Wingsuit” practically begs to be swayed to. Now to find that Ben & Jerry’s T … KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 684-7200, keyarena.com. 7:30 p.m. $73 and up. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Slow Magic touts itself as “the sound made by an unknown imaginary friend.” And for all that’s known about the man behind the music, the band might as well be a product of listeners’ imagination. Slow Magic goes unnamed in interviews and wears a neon-bright, zebra-like mask onstage, which adds an even more mysterious air to an already anonymous musician. Though it may take a song or two to adjust to his stage persona, Slow Magic’s anonymity doesn’t detract from his brand of electronic music, most recently heard on his sophomore album, How to Run Away. Think Geographer sans vocals and with more percussive elements. With Kodak to Graph, Daktyl. Neumos. 8 p.m. $12 adv. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Folk music can go from zero to 60 with just a few strums of a banjo, and few bands exemplify that quality quite like Minnesota quintet Trampled by Turtles. On the band’s latest, Wild Animals, the group builds upon its reputation as an indie-folk band, with songs like the title track and “Lucy,” and dips into country-rock territory on “Silver Light.” But Trampled by Turtles hasn’t forgotten its punk roots. The band really picks up the pace on “Come Back Home,” which features an incessant banjo riff, and adds a touch of bluegrass flair to “Western World.” With Wild Animals, the group has yet again shown its mastery of the extensive folk-rock spectrum. With Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 652-0444, showboxpresents.com. 9 p.m. $26 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief to preview Rags & Ribbons’ upcoming Seattle show for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this brief here.
Portland-based melodic-rock trio Rags & Ribbons has the uncanny ability to sound much larger. The soaring vocal harmonies that kick off “Magnesium Dream,” from the band’s latest EP Magnesium Dreams, for instance, make it seem twice as big. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Weyerhaeuser and pianist/vocalist Jon Hicks’ choir backgrounds have a lot to do with it, but it’s also because of the way they, and drummer/vocalist Chris Neff, weave intricate layers of sound so effortlessly. Throughout the six-song EP, the band blends piano-driven melodies with heavier elements, building each song until, at its peak, it’s an arena-ready jam of Muse-like proportions. With Kiven, Ghost Parade, If Penguins Could Fly. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 262-0482, elcorazonseattle.com. 7:30 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
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 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."
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
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