Sunday, November 24, 2013

*Updated 11/24* Upcoming Seattle Shows

I'm running a little bit behind this week so you're gonna have to serve yourself. Luckily, it's hard to go wrong; fewer shows than usual, but lots of gems. Waxahatchee would be amazing, but if you don't make it out to see Soft Metals you'll probably kick yourself. Have a great week!


24 Plains, Into the Storm, Breag Naofa, and Gladiators Eat Fire at Black Lodge
26 Jon Hopkins, Clark, and Nathan Fake at the Crocodile
27 Waxahatchee, Swearin’, and Dead Bars at Chop Suey
29 Daniel Bachman and Chris Forsyth at Gallery 1412 CANCELLED
29 Soft Metals, Ononos, New Weather, and Dr Troy at Highline
29 Acid Fast, Nervous, Keith Tucker Experience at Black Lodge
30 The Cave Singers at the Neptune
30 Sandrider (LP release), Constant Lovers, and Dust Moth at Neumos
30 Cock and Swan, Suzanne Perry with Golden Gardens, and Levator at Columbia City Theater
30 SHORT RUN/Seattle Globalist’s Comics Prom: Pony Time, The Shivas, and Specs Wizard at Washington Hall

107.7 The End's Deck the Hall Ball, Seattle,
Psychedelic Holiday Freakout, Various Venues, Seattle

3 Kid Smpl, Zoolab, Newazeyes, Algebraic Satellite at Barboza
5 Sandrider at Easy Street Records
5 Sarah Davachi, Kaori Suzuki, and Total Life at Chapel Performance Space
6 Psychedelic Freak Out: So Pitted, Gladiators Eat Fire, Cabana, Tea Cozies and more at Highline
7 The Dismemberment Plan at the Neptune
7 Golden Gardens, Scarves, and Half-Breed at Q Cafe
9 Bacillus, Being, Vasculae, Sissisters, Wrong Hole, OverDose The Katatonic at Highline
11 Dial Up: Robot Romanti, R-Pal, D’Nelski, Hojo, Other Mystery Homies at Q Nightclub
13 Pere Ubu at Neptune
13 Black Hat, White Boy Scream with Viviane James, and Bat at Teatro De La Psychomachia
14 Annual Hollow Earth Radio/Vera Project DIY Holiday Fair at Vera Project
14 Holograms, TV Ghost, and Atomic Bride at Chop Suey
14 King Krule at Barboza
14 Lunamoth, Gems, and Piano Piano at The Josephine
20 MOTOR XI feat. Pete Swanson, TJ Max, and DJ Slow at Chop Suey
20 The Comettes, and The Young Evils at the Tractor
21 He Whose Ox Is Gored, Grenades, Drunk Dad, and Caligula at Chop Suey
27/28 Built to Spill at Neumos
30/31 SRTFKR at Neumos

7 Tennis at Barboza
9 Reverend Horton Heat with Nekromantix and Old Man Markley at Showbox at the Market
11 Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, Mighty Mongo, and The Maxies at Showbox at the Market
17 Wooden Shjips at the Crocodile
22 Darkside at Neumos
23 Ryan Hemsworth at Neumos
24 Patterson Hood at the Crocodile
31 White Denim at Neumos

4 Oneohtrix Point Never, The Sight Below, and Nordic Soul at The Crocodile
7 White Lies with Frankie Rose at Showbox at the Market
11 Delorean at Barboza
15 The Presidents of the United States of America at Showbox at the Market
21 The English Beat at Showbox at the Market

1 Skinny Puppy with Baal at Showbox at the Market
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with Chad Valley at Neumos

17 Godflesh with Special Guests at Neptune (Rescheduled from Oct)

2 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Paramount

Thursday, November 21, 2013

SWL #45: Justin Timbreline, "Hyde"

John Judge’s work under the Justin Timbreline pseudomyn doesn’t blaze, it smolders. From his earliest releases on CTPAK, to his excellent midyear mix-tape, “Ass To Shake Your Music To”, the one commonality that all of his work shares (other than his distinctive tech-house influence) is an indelible sense of confidence. It’s not brash mind you; Judge certainly never pushes, but he never rushes either. Adhering to the “elegance via simplicity” maxim, his music is steady and hypnotic with builds that are more thick and savory than opulent, and breaks that never miss an opportunity to resonate. “Hyde” is the first track he’s released in several months and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. Labeled somewhat unassumingly as “subtle variations on a 4/4 groove over 5.5 minutes”, the track has a distinctively desert feel to me. No doubt this is at least in part due to the recurring vibraslap (i.e. the rattler sound), but also in part to the sizzling static that appears midway through track—conjuring images of rocks baking in the midday heat. I may be reading into things, I usually do, but whatever the intention, this track is intoxicating; push play to find out where you’ll end up.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SLW #44: =TOTEM=, "Transitional Thought"

Screw all those kids waxing poetic in the Youtube comments about being born in the wrong generation; I love being a music fan in 2013. Sure, there are other eras that would have been amazing to witness (1976-1984 comes to mind), but the barrier between musician and listener has never been thinner for those who prefer to let the music speak for itself. I bring this up because my usual bandcamp search for new “Seattle” releases has netted yet another phenomenal artist, a new (apparently) experimental electronic project called =TOTEM=. There is no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profile…nothing online about the project except two killer EPs on bandcamp: 'Liquid Parallels' and 'Nocturnal', both packed to the brim with house and hip-hop-inspired micro-songs that rarely pass the two minute mark. Though brevity is not usually a recipe for success outside of punk music, =TOTEM= is particular adept at making each second count by expertly interspersing anthemic synth with loops of meandering experimental tone. “Transitional Thought” is a good place to start, but I could also listen to “I Loved Her (Once)” on repeat. Both EPs are "Name Your Price" on BC.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Album Review: 'I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America, 1950-1990'

I was in my late teens before I realized that if I really wanted to enjoy music, I'd have to stop imposing my will and just let it speak for itself. Essentially, I was stuck in a cycle of buying mediocre punk records because they sounded like great records that I knew I liked. Of course there is some logic to the idea; after all, it’s a pretty safe bet that if you like one punk record you’ll like others, but I wasn't feeling incredibly inspired by the lower reaches of Epitaph's catalog. So like most audiophiles, I decided that to get what I want, namely a fresh perspective, I needed to open my mind a little and meet each new genre/artist/work half-way.

Laraaji Photo Credit: Liam Ricketts
This can be a tall order when dealing with a genre like new age music, whose yuppie pandering and re-appropriation of cultural/spiritual precepts for profit left much of the musical community with a sour taste after it’s apex in the 90’s. However, the new comp from Light In The Attic Records, ‘I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950 -1990’ is more than worth the effort it takes to set aside all of that. Composed of 20 tracks culled from DIY releases outside of the big business sound that “devolved into the spaced out elevator music we know and loathe today”, the scope of this anthology is massive. From meandering synths and natural sounds, to delicate piano pieces, to gongs and pulsing drone, there’s a little bit of everything here. 

However, one of the record's most redeeming qualities is not what it has, but what it lacks. Given the emphasis on private issues and the label’s insistence that you “forget everything you know, or think you know, about new age”, you might expect  ‘I Am The Center’ to be an incredibly pretentious affair--emphasizing fringe musicianship at the expense of quality. Luckily, that’s not the case. For one thing, while some of these artists are obscure (e.g. Alice Damon), others like Laraaji, who was ‘discovered’ by Brian Eno, are well-respected big names. Even the album artwork's unapologetic use of mythical aesthetic (complete with fantastic mountains, glowing orbs, and winged creatures) make it clear that this is a celebration, and not a reaction.

With the path clear, and the mood set, I was free to indulge in the more than 2 hours of loving crafted material presented here. I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive when I first pushed play, but at the end I was actually a little shocked by how familiar it sounded. Clear standouts including “Unicorns in Paradise (excerpt)” by Laraaji (below), “Om Mani Padme Hum” by Constance Demby, “Pompeii, 76 A.D.” by Gail Laughton (which was featured on the Blade Runner soundtrack), and “Glide V” by Peter Davidson showcase the undeniable influence that new age pioneers have had on modern experimental and ambient music. In fact, having owned the record for less than 48 hours I’ve already spent time looking for more from several of the artists. In this way, ‘I Am The Center’ is more than a good comp, it’s a gateway through the nonsense to the core of new age for those brave enough to make the journey.

You can pick up 'I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990' at Sonic Boom in Ballard, or direct from Light In The Attic here. It's available in all formats including clear vinyl.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Artist Interview: Parzival. Check out our exclusive stream of the first single from 'Pisces Rising'!

I first saw Parzival perform several years ago in a Pioneer Square alley as part of the excellent First Thursday Art Walk. People were milling about and chatting, snacking, sipping wine and admiring the art displays. Then, as the band began to play, everyone turned their focus to the stage. It was captivating, feel-good music, and people, Seattlites no less, started to dance! I liked the set so much that I bought the album, ‘Postmodern Love’, and its combination of deeply personal singer-songwriter charm and unstoppable rhythm quickly made it my favorite go-to album of 2011.

Parzival Performing at First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square, Seattle, September 1, 2011.

So, when I learned he was writing a new record (his fourth, but second major release) titled ‘Pisces Rising’, and the opportunity came up in June to join a close group of friends for a premiere of some of the new material, I jumped on the chance. The performance included piano, vocals, and guitar, with accompaniment on the fiddle and cajon, and just like before, friends from the blues dancing community were there, dancing along and having a great time.

‘Pisces Rising’ First Live Performance, June 2013.

After the show I contacted him to learn more about the recording process (then still underway in Eugene, OR). Here’s what he had to say:

JUNE 2013

NGD: What genre do you identify your music with?
Parzival: When I started writing music I was heavily influenced by alternative rock artists of the 90s and early 2000s especially the ones with an acoustic element - Wallflowers, Tonic, Coldplay. So I feel a strong identification with that genre. Because I've performed a lot solo and because songwriting and lyrics are very important to me, I also put myself in the singer-songwriter category. All that said, of course I feel my music is its own unique thing and can’t be fully categorized, haha. 

NGD: Can you explain what Pisces Rising means to you and to this album?
Parzival: Pisces Rising means my core, unadorned self. Another name for this album could be “Bare”, or “Naked” – except it isn’t a Christina Aguilera album, so I’m expressing that in a more nuanced, symbolic way. In astrology your "rising" sign represents what you are underneath it all. Pisces Rising is an exploration of my core self and the kinds of thoughts and feelings a Pisces rising has, which is my actual rising sign.

NGD: How do you feel this album is different from your first major release, Postmodern Love?
Parzival: Glad you asked! My first record Postmodern Love was highly produced, because we wanted to prove we could compete with "radio" music. This album is taking a relatively more bare, stripped down approach to record-making, sticking for the most part to what a three-piece acoustic band could perform, and recording and mixing the record in six weeks rather than taking four months like on the first album. This way the production can capture some of that raw, unguarded character that Pisces Rising is meant to represent. Also, the songs have a little more serious side, with more minor key tonality. But I think listeners will recognize them as sibling albums.

NGD: How's the recording process going so far?
Parzival: So far recording has been focused and fun. I'm tracking piano on this album, which is new to me, so that's a challenge. Also, you never know exactly the sound you'll end up with [on the album] until the creative process has unfolded, so there's still some unknown there, which is exciting and sometimes a little unnerving.

NGD: How long have you been dancing, and how has it influenced your music?
Parzival: Ah, I really appreciate this question, Nikki. I've been social dancing for five years. Dancing really has had a formative influence on my music. Dancing and playing for dances has brought out two elements in my music: keeping a steady groove, and having the overall feeling of the music lend itself to people connecting with each other. Partner dancing is all about connection - so from the feel of the music and voicing to the lyrics, I want people to be closer to each other after hearing my music. As a funny side note, with the acoustic instrumentation of this album, my Eugene, OR producer Jeff Davis and I liken the music a bit to Mumford and Sons if they were to periodically break down into funky, R&B-esque dance feels. Just on a conceptual level, that album aesthetic seems very cool to me.

NGD: And now for a silly question! If you could play a sold out concert anywhere and with anyone, where and who would you pick? For instance, Madison Square Garden with Bon Jovi on back-up guitar and Flea on the drums, opening for Queen Latifah.
Opening for Coldplay at the Gorge, with Jonsi from Sigur Ros coming out to add bowed guitar to my songs, and Macklemore laying down a guest rap about people connecting with each other and gradually creating world peace on my song “Seven Dances (To Save The World)”. That sounds pretty fun. 


NGD: How was recording and mixing the album this summer? Did you learn anything new about the songs, or did they transform during the process?
Parzival: Recording and mixing the album took a ton of time and attention to detail. We stuck to the nine songs I came into the studio with, but a few of them did change along the way, which is always interesting. One song, “Flower Child”, had about five different versions and lyrics, and in the end I settled on something *very* similar to the original version. I was struggling with the melancholy of the song, and tried different ways to make it more upbeat. But what I learned is to think of songs sort of like children. Each child has its core nature, and even though I can affect it and mold it, to fight that unique nature is pointless. So I let the song be sad and reaped the cathartic rewards of accepting my art as it is.

So yes. The recording and mixing process had its lessons and its emotional times. Overall, though, it was a long, dedicated act of work. 

NGD: Did you perform much while making this album, or is it easier to focus on the new album by taking a break from performance?
Parzival: I performed a few times while making the album. Performing especially helped me warm up my voice and stage presence for singing final vocals. I took a break from the whole round of booking and gigging, but when I was approached about sets here and there I would play them and enjoy them. 

NGD: Are you performing in the coming months and if yes, where?
Parzival: There will be a CD release show on November 30th at Velocity Dance Center on Capitol Hill. It’s a cool spot, and as you might imagine, dancing will be encouraged.

As part of this interview process, Parzival has teamed up with NGD to present a streaming copy of the first song on ‘Pisces Rising’, “Beauty Saves”. Not only is it a great album opener, but it’s a perfect example of what Parzival’s music is all about: energetic, optimistic, and full of love. It features piano, acoustic guitar, an infectious melody and fun, toe-tapping rhythms.

You can now purchase a download, limited edition CD, or other perk through Parzival’s ‘Pisces Rising’ IndieGoGo fundraiser here. Also, be sure to RSVP to his upcoming release party at Velocity Dance Center on November 30th; you might just find yourself caught up with the spirit of love and dancing.