We are HAM! If you aren’t yet, that’s okay. HAM is legend. It took years of inactivity to become the rock icons they are today. Following the Icelandic doom metal band’s prolific years, from 1988 to 1994, their legion of fans grew, until finally their members stepped aside from their other careers — some in politics — long enough to release 2011’s Svik, harmur, dauði (Betrayal, Tragedy and Death), some sixteen years after their last. Still, their performances have been as rare as the spiritual union of two rustic hermits living in separate valleys (apparently what one of their songs is about). It was high honor then, that HAM should turn the comfy space of Kex Hostel into a raging cavern of unholy (and headbanging) debauchery during our broadcast at Iceland Airwaves with “a few songs about friendship and love… and hate!” We are HAM! And now, so are you:
photo by Matthew B. Thompson
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Mountain” by Meatbodies from the 2014 self-titled album on In the Red Records.
Meatbodies – Mountain (MP3)
We love music. We love books about music. And we love parties with music, which makes this Saturday, November 29th kind of a dream come true. Celebrate the recent publication of Bruce Pavitt’s SUB POP USA: The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology, 1980-1988, at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery with tunes spun by Beat Happening front man and K Records founder Calvin Johnson.
If SUB POP USA: The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology, 1980-1988 isn’t at the top of your holiday wish list, it should be. The book chronicles the first eight years of Sub Pop, which started out as a fanzine, cassette compilation, and broadsheet column by Bruce Pavitt, with art by Charles Burns, Lynda Barry, and Charles Peterson, and brought national attention to bands such as Sonic Youth and Big Black. In addition to reprints of the actual fanzines and columns, the book includes forewords by numerous indie music notables, including Kurt Cobain biographer Charles Cross, Matador Record’s Gerard Cosloy, and Fantagraphics curator and former Sub Pop contributor Larry Reid.
SUB POP USA started fiercely independent, a call to arms from Issue #1, and remains so to this day. There could be no more appropriate tribute to Small Business Saturday. Hit the launch party and pick up a copy of the new book. Saturday, November 29 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. More information here.
No, we haven’t time-warped to twenty years ago: on this holiday week, the reissues and anniversary editions dominate the new release list. One of the highlights is the reissue of Flake Music‘s 1997 debut (and sole release) When You Land Here, It’s Time to Return. Flake Music was an early incarnation of The Shins, featuring much of the same line-up minus one guy. They even had a song titled “The Shins.” The album has been remixed by Kennie Takahashi, remastered by J.J. Golden, and re-released by The Shins’ home Sub Pop along with James Mercer’s own label, Aural Apothecary.
Another highlight of the week comes from local label Light in the Attic with their compilation Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985. This ambitious 2CD/3LP collection captures music by the “indigenous peoples of Canada and the northern United States, recorded in the turbulent decades between 1966 to 1985.” It’s an impressive set featuring comprehensive liner notes, artist interviews, unseen archival photos, and translated lyrics.
The remastered reissue of Cursive‘s 2003 album The Ugly Organ adds eight previously unreleased tracks recorded during those sessions. The reissue of landmark Public Enemy album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back also includes a second disc compiling bonus mixes and a DVD of 1989’s Fight the Power… Live, an out-of-print VHS of live performances and music videos from the album. And Seattle’s own Soundgarden share a rarities collection curated by guitarist Kim Thayil, featuring B-sides, EPs, bonus tracks, live recordings, songs recorded for soundtracks and compilations, and seven previously unreleased tracks.
To call Mammút‘s live act “emotive” is a huge understatement. Frontwoman Kata Mogensen seems to enter a completely different state onstage, even covering herself in fake blood or painting her face ominously, while the rest of the band unleashes a colossal sound. We’ve been fortunate to watch the young group rise to the front of the herd over the past five years, easily becoming one of the most engaging live acts in Iceland today, and their fifth performance for KEXP, this year at Kex Hostel at Iceland Airwaves, is their strongest yet. Read more about their mammoth session here and become entranced now:
all photos by Dave Lichterman
Before the Fallon performance, FKA Twigs was a pervasive mystery – a voice and an image spun together in perfect unity to create something entirely other worldly that you felt both drawn to and intimidated by. Maybe it was fear, or maybe it was just mystery, but either way, FKA Twigs was impossible to look away from. But since her American television debut, bringing the LP1 lead single “Two Weeks” to vibrant life through use of a haunting ribbon dance setup, FKA Twigs has become flat out addictive. Her mixture of sound and vision together embraces the modern context of pop music’s technological forward edge unlike anything else on the scene. Naturally, whatever dates weren’t already sold out did so very quickly afterwards, and every audience along Twigs’ blitzkrieg path has only had one thing to say: “Holy shit“. Joined on this leg of the tour by mysterious rock/R&B producer BOOTS, FKA Twigs truly outdid herself at Showbox at the Market on Tuesday night, giving a jaw dropping performance from beginning to end.
photo by Marie Cameron
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Easy Company | Interlude” by HOLLY from the 2014 album Maps and Lists on Outer Sunset Records.
HOLLY – Easy Company | Interlude (MP3)
All photos by Brittany Brassell
This past Wednesday at The Vera Project felt more like an awesome house party with all your friends – somewhere sunny and warm, and where a bunch of grimy dudes are taking turns playing songs in said party house’s dad’s garage – people chilling on the driveway, dancing or thrashing when songs called for it. Someone making a gallant jump from the roof into the pool (or in Wednesday night’s case the bassist from Criminal Hygiene stage diving during Twin Peaks’ set). The night opened with Seattle-area group Bod warming up the room and then diving in deeper to the garage grunge of the night with LA bands Criminal Hygiene and Meatbodies before the headlining act Twin Peaks arrived on stage. These four bands complimented and built on each other expertly. It was the kind of line up where you could see all these musicians agreeing on what should go on a 90s mix-tape. But each group focused on different aspects of these influences and ultimately threw a great party.