Posts tagged music writing
Posts tagged music writing
I wrote these briefs for Seattle Weekly to preview a SXSW send off and upcoming shows by Agnes Obel and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. You can also read these briefs here.
SXSW Send Off SXSW, meet the PNW. Three local favorites—alternative synth-pop trio The Flavr Blue, featuring “White Walls” singer Hollis; soul/hip-hop chanteuse Shaprece; and James Apollo, who leads a group of bluesy indie-rock musicians—will make their way to the annual Austin, Texas festival. But before they hit the road to the land of endless barbecue, they’ll show us exactly what makes them SXSW material. Neumos. 8 p.m. $5 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
The seventh event in Fremont Abbey’s Cathedrals Concerts series features Danish songstress/pianist Agnes Obel, accompanied by cellist Anne Müeller and Timber Timbre’s Mika Posen on viola, performing songs from Obel’s sophomore album Aventine. Its sparseness, a result of minimal instrumentation and Obel’s smoky, jazzy vocals, should be magnified by the cathedral’s resonant acoustics. With Bryan John Appleby. St. Mark’s Cathedral. 8 p.m. $17–$19. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Countless musical trends have come and gone, but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and its blend of jazz, swing, and rock have persevered. The septet, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and released its eighth album, Rattle Them Bones, in 2012, shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Snoqualmie Casino. 7 p.m. $19–$47. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote these briefs for Seattle Weekly to preview shows by Real Estate and Sea Wolf. You can also read these briefs here.
Real Estate There’s an airy, summertime feel to “Talking Backwards” and “Crime,” the first two songs released from Atlas, the third album from this New Jersey–based surf-rock quintet that features Ducktails’ Matt Mondanile. Based on those two songs, Atlas maintains the jangly-pop vibe of Real Estate’s previous release, 2011’s Days, but presents a cleaner, more precise version of the band. With the Shilohs. Neumos. 8 p.m. $20 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
To make 2012’s Old World Romance more melody-based, Alex Brown Church, frontman of Los Angeles–based indie-rock quintet Sea Wolf, recorded every song idea he had, reviewed a handful every week, and focused on the standouts. The result highlights Church’s thoughtful musicality, yet doesn’t throw his introspective lyrics by the wayside. With Kevin Long. Triple Door. 7:30 p.m. $15 adv./$18 DOS/$25 VIP. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief for Seattle Weekly to preview Ages and Ages’ show tonight in Seattle. You can also read this brief here.
After overcoming a childhood speech impairment that prevented him from communicating verbally, Tim Perry, lead singer of Portland-based choral-pop septet Ages and Ages, voluntarily entered a nonverbal state during a 10-day silent retreat. He wasn’t allowed to speak or write, but left with the bones of the band’s sophomore album, Divisionary, in place. The album’s emotion-driven lyrics are balanced by the uplifting instrumentation and congregation-like backing vocals. Must have been some retreat. With Arkomo. Barboza. 7 p.m. $10 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Scottish alt-pop quartet We Were Promised Jetpacks has been quiet of late, but that’s all about to change. The band just released E Rey, a live album with an accompanying film recorded during its 2012 tour. E Rey also includes a new song, a hazy jam called “Peace Sign,” which should hold fans over until WWPJ’s next album, slated for a fall release. With Honeyblood. Neumos. 8 p.m. $18 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
Catching New Politics live is like watching a band on a sugar high. The minute the Danish/American dance-rock trio takes the stage, its members are bouncing from one end to the other, with break-dancing singer David Boyd busting out his signature headstand freeze, all while performing songs from 2013’s A Bad Girl in Harlem. It’s enough to give the audience a rush of its own. With Magic Man. Neumos. 8 p.m. $15 adv. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief to preview Furniture Girls’ show tonight in Seattle. You can also read this brief here.
Electro-rock quintet Furniture Girls is kicking off the year in a big way with the release of two six-song EPs: Dreams, being released at this show, and Chaos. From the in-your-face “Drool” to the almost bluesy “Killbabykill,” Dreams is a grab bag, with themes of love, lust, Jack the Ripper, and . . . the zombie apocalypse. With Thrivealike, Aaron Daniel, The Yev. High Dive. 9 p.m. $8. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I reviewed Naomi Wachira’s gorgeous new album for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this review here.
Naomi Wachira, Naomi Wachira (out now, self-released, naomiwachira.com) As a self-confident Kenyan-American woman, Wachira knows herself, what she wants, and what she hopes to see from others—all recurring themes in this full-length follow-up to her 2012 EP African Girl. She has strong beliefs and isn’t afraid to face those who think differently, as heard on “You Better”: “I’m the fool who believes that I can change the world/Don’t waste my time if you don’t wanna be the same or do the same.” “We Are in Trouble” is a similar call to action: “How long will it take before we realize that we are in this together?” Wachira sings with so much conviction there’s no doubt she means every word, and her Sade-like voice (self-accompanied on acoustic guitar) is warm and inviting as she gracefully reveals a vast vocal range. The album also features Evan Flory-Barnes (Threat of Beauty, Industrial Revelation) on bass, cellist Natalie Hall (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), Darren Reynolds (Patrick & The Locomotive) on drums, and Latin percussionist Lalo Bello (Jacob Bain & Publish the Quest). Thanks to producer Damien Jurado’s light hand in the studio, Naomi Wachira has a delicate feel, with neither vocals nor instrumentation outshining the other. As a whole, this isn’t a story of a woman trying to find herself, but of a woman who has already worked through those challenges and is now stronger because of them. Wachira supports this idea right to the last track, leaving the listener with “I Know,” a final example of her independent spirit: “I’ll keep on fighting for me/’Cause I know what I’m meant to be.” (Fri., Feb. 21, Seattle Art Museum)
I wrote this brief to preview Jaspar Lepak’s upcoming show in Seattle. You can also read this brief here.
Moving thousands of miles from her then-home of Minneapolis to Durban, South Africa, in 2009 gave Americana singer/storyteller Jaspar Lepak, now based in Seattle, more than enough material for her sixth album, 2011’s Forgiving Wind. Written and recorded entirely in Durban, Wind showcases Lepak’s delicate voice and the city’s talented musicians, who contributed banjo, mandolin, dobro, percussion, and more. Couth Buzzard Books. 7:30 p.m. Free. All ages. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I reviewed THUMPERS’ fantastic new album, Galore, for Seattle Weekly. You can also read this review here.
THUMPERS, Galore (out now, Sub Pop, thumpers.co) In just an eight-word Twitter bio—“POP IN THE SOUL & EXPERIMENTAL IN FORM”—London-based duo THUMPERS has nailed the description of its sound. Its debut, Galore, is bright and poppy, with big, sing-along-ready choruses and colorful keys, but it’s also more than a few steps off the beaten path with songs like “Tame,” which begins with what sounds like someone breathing heavily to the beat, features a chant-like chorus, and ends with a guitar riff manipulated to sound almost like a bagpipe. THUMPERS was formed in 2011, but Marcus Pepperell (vocals, guitar, and piano) and John Hamson Jr. (vocals, bass, and drums) came from indie-rock trio Pull Tiger Tail, and have been playing together since their teens. The duo finds lyrical inspiration in those coming-of-age years—for example, the slower, reflective “Now We Are Sixteen,” which includes London-based indie-pop duo Summer Camp, call-and-response vocals, and lyrics like, “Everything seems better when we’re 16.” There’s a communal sense to Galore’s layers of sound and the group vocals on several songs, including the aptly named closer “Together Now.” The duo also made the album, produced by David Kosten (Bat for Lashes, Everything Everything), a family affair, with siblings contributing to the recording process, including additional vocals from Pepperell’s sisters on the bouncy “Unkind (A Tougher Love).” THUMPERS, which signed to Sub Pop in September and opened for Scottish electro-pop band CHVRCHES in the fall, has made a joyful first statement with Galore, an album bound to make the band’s U.S. debut a strong one. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I interviewed Gary Larsen for Seattle Weekly to preview Royal Teeth’s upcoming show in Seattle. You can also read this brief here.
Royal Teeth: Another Step in a Slow Climb
When Seattle Weekly spoke with Royal Teeth frontman Gary Larsen in June, the Louisiana-based indie dance-pop quintet he leads with singer Nora Patterson was preparing to release its debut album, Glow (it dropped in August). Everyone in the group had already quit their day jobs and devoted themselves full time to the band—this brought about the EP Act Naturally ; an anthemic single, “Wild”; and an appearance on Carson Daly—but the group was still eager to do more. “We hope by the time this record comes out and we look back on another year,” Larsen said at the time, “we’ll feel like we’ve moved forward even farther.”
Fast forward to today, and seven months of touring—not to mention appearances in ads for Buick and State Farm—has been a boost for the band. “It feels really great to have built up to the point where we have an entire album of music for people to listen to and people are coming out to see the shows,” Larsen says. “It’s that slow climb, but we’re at the point now where we’re really starting to see results.”
The band recorded Glow with award-winning Canadian producer Gavin Brown, who’s worked with, and helped garner awards for, the likes of Metric, Lady Gaga, Sarah Harmer, and others. In June, Larsen discussed the process of working at Brown’s studio in Toronto, far from the humid climes of the band’s native South. “A lot of people say when they listen to our music, there’s a very bright and positive vibe, it’s very colorful music. But we recorded [the new album] in Canada during one of the coldest winters they’ve had in years.” The climate helped inspire the tone of the record, Larsen says, imbuing it with more intimacy than Act Naturally while retaining “the bright, positive nature of our music.”
Larsen is an accurate spokesman—the album is a collection of songs that inspire thoughts of love and adventure, heavy on percussion and sing-along-ready choruses; Larsen and Patterson’s pretty vocals harmonize well while each shining on their own. Yet true to Royal Teeth’s ambition, Larsen is already looking ahead, anxious to expand his band’s sound on the next album, on which he hopes to capture the energy of its live show.
Back on tour for now, Larsen remains open to whatever the future brings. “We really don’t have a feeling of how far we can go,” he says. “But if it’ll keep going, we’ll keep pushing it.” With Chappo, Hibou. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442, neumos.com. 8 p.m. $18 adv. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY
I wrote this brief for Seattle Weekly to preview Joy Mills’ show in Seattle tonight. You can also read this brief here.
With just a hint of twang, Americana singer Joy Mills (formerly of the Starlings) brings a bit of Southern sweetness to the Northwest. As the Joy Mills Band’s frontwoman, she released Trick of the Eye, a collection of songs with a lot of down-home soul, in 2012. She’s playing solo tonight, but a new Joy Mills Band record is in the works. With the Believers. Treehouse Cafe. 8 p.m. $12–$16. 21 and over. AZARIA C. PODPLESKY