Live Review: Little Big Show #17 with Angel Olsen, Chris Cohen and Sloucher

all photos by Jim Bennett (photo set)

Every Little Big Show can’t help themselves but get better and better each sold out night, which gives the MitskiKadhja Bonet, and Mal Devisa Little Big Show #18 coming up next on April 8 a great head start. What is equally great is the partnership between Starbucks, STG, and KEXP to make these philanthropic benefit shows happen specifically to support a youth not-for-profit, which for this past show was NFFTY whose mission is “to enable, nurture, promote and encourage the next generation of filmmakers to inspire, lead and entertain the world with their stories.” With the all the ongoing legislative bills and advocacy for keeping film in Washington State, this was a sound move to bolster the buoyancy of not only Washington’s film industry, but a medium of storytelling available to the future of Washington’s auteurs. Fortunately, we have Angel Olsen, Chris Cohen, and Sloucher to thank for this round of utilitarian non-profiteering.

Ashville, NC’s Angel Olsen launched her solo career, after touring as a backing singer for Bonnie Price Billy, around the same time Father John Misty launched his solo project, back in 2012, and she has had quite the comparable rise to fame. With good reason, Olsen is a sassy lipstick of dynamite that exploded in the last two years via her ability to concoct eruptive singles like ‘Shut Up Kiss Me” from her 2016 album My Woman, but also darkly stark, sit-with-your-thoughts compositions like ‘White Heat” from her 2014 Burn Your Fire For No Witness. But more on this cheeky chanteuse after some words on the bill’s stellar openers Sloucher and Chris Cohen.


Despite having just released their debut release, Certainty, in July 2016 (withe their release show on Rancho Bravo’s patio), the hometowners in the Seattle supergroup Sloucher have found a nostalgic Kill Rockstars-like groove in the local scene and are making moves. Working as the brainchild of guitarist Jay Clancy (Makeup Monsters, Pale Noise, Hibou, Cayucas), Sloucher eventually garnered drummer Jack Hamrick, guitarist Kyle Musselwhite (The Globes), and bassist Lance Umble (Bod, Telekinesis). Their feel good and get loose set, which included their Elliott Smith-worshipping title track “Certainty”, packed a bright grunge-pop punch to open the show. 


LA multi-instrumentalist Chris Cohen may not be a billboard name, but Chris Cohen is definitely a musician’s musician. He’s well versed and meditatively mindful about how he participates and talks about music. He’s one of those hired guns that has, in the background, shaped whole nuances of music inoculating his dexterity via Deerhoof, Cass McCombs, and more recently co-producing the rapidly rising Weyes Blood. Cohen came to us not as The Curtains, one of his former projects, but eponymously as Chris Cohen in support of his 2016 treasure As If Apart, his sophomore LP, which he recorded all the parts himself. Respectfully, since the art rocker has eschewed self-identifying his music in the psychedelia camp it would be a disservice to describe it as such, even though some of its connotations make it tempting to do so. Resourcefully, a different approach to describe his music might be the melodically dry-driven sensitivity of Cass McCombs out on a drive with mathy prog-rock movements of 70s giant Soft Machine and they’re on their way to meet up with Deerhoof’s experimental quirks and Helvetia’s autumnal tone. His thirty-five minute set focused on playing back-to-back songs with little banter, which allowed him and his impeccable band to enamor people with his daydreamy seamlessness.

Chris Cohen:

Angel Olsen. It’s a name rife with alternative capital now as deep-seated as John D. Rockefeller and a voice as heavenly as seraphim channeling the country-crooning vibrato of Roy Orbison and the sultry allure of Elvis. Not long ago I remember seeing her play at Barboza (which she joked about playing while switching guitars) in 2013 and 2014 then Neumos in 2015 and now she towers over Neptune’s sea of jaw-dropped fanatics  -most probably, including me – wishing such mountain-moving timbre spewed out of their mouths instead of hot air. Angel Olsen is a musician that definitely found her sound from the beginning, but now in her theater days she’s definitely found her larger stage persona embracing her western country influences and surrounding herself with a gray suit-cladded, bolo tie-wearing backing band of multi-gendered babes.

Despite being sleep deprived from only sleeping five hours and also recording a live KEXP session that same afternoon, Olsen hand delivered an expectations-exceeded escapade filled with horsepowered favorites like “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Miranda,” sarcastic crowd work riffing, playful stage antics, and slow dance ballads like “Heart Shaped Face” and “Sister” that demonstrated her range of compositional minimalism, romantically fatalist lyricism, and her knee-weakening voice that is a magnificent instrument within itself. Like a lot of her live renditions, the energy of the eight-minute “Sister” gradually whips up into a adrenaline-howling whirlwind and then back into a tranquilized and aired out waltz that almost sounds like a different song, a testament to her songwriting acumen.

Under the moody pink and purple phosphorescence, her belly-hurting banter and charming of the crowd heightened in a very entertaining way throughout the night as she got more enervated and inebriated, which resulted in her giggling phrases like “I think that tequila is working now” after missing a singing cue in “Give It Up.” Of course, the crowd cheered, lionized, and enabled the non-stilted aspect of her down-to-earth rawness of just being a fun musician who might mess up for the sake of a good show and carry on s if nothing happened. “Give It Up” was the last number of her initial set then, as expected, she appeased the audience with an encore starting with atmosphericly droney renditions of “Intern” and “Woman” that symbiotically blended into each other and then tightly wrapped things up with a bow covering The Motel’s 1980 chart topper “Total Control.” Like her first exit, she said “Goodnight” and walked off stage as her band continued to jam on the same progression until they slowly decayed and the lights dimmed.

There aren’t a ton of band I go see on principle, but Angel Olsen is one of them.


Never Be Mine
High Five
Lights Out
Heart Shaped Face
Those Were The Days
Fly (Skipped)
Not gonna Kill You
Sweet Dreams
Forgiven Forgotten
Give It Up
Total Control – Motel’s Cover

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Music that Matters: Freepower

Check out some of the KEXP DJ’s favorite artists from the Pacific Northwest and around the world on-the-go. KEXP’s Music That Matters weekly podcast brings you an exclusive mix of new music from the world’s best independent artists.

Austra at KEXP in 2017 // photo by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

Currently you’ll hear:

Music That Matters, Vol. 553 – Freepower

Bursting through geographic and genre lines, Swedish synths, Seattle songwriters, and Memphis psychedelia highlight Cheryl Waters’ latest mix featuring new tunes from Austra, Childish Gambino, and Dyke Drama.

1. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
2. Shelby Earl – The Man Who Made Himself a Name
3. JFDR – Wires
4. Austra – Freepower
5. Childish Gambino – Have Some Love
6. Cory Hanson – Replica
7. Spaceface – Sun Kids
8. The Radio Dept. – Committed To The Cause
9. The Proper Ornaments – Back Pages
10. Ravenna Woods – Alleyways
11. The Gods Themselves – Love
12. Dyke Drama – Say When
13. Hembree – Holy Water
14. The Molochs – No More Cryin’
15. Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

Listen here: (MP3)

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You can subscribe to all of our podcasts here.

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Friday Music News

Old 97s

photo by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

  • Frontman Rhett Miller is no stranger to the sitcom scene (you may remember his appearance in NBC’s 30 Rock), so he’s right at home among the guest stars in the new Old 97’s video. Jenna Fischer (Pam from The Office) interviews the guys while Fred Armisen (of Portlandia, among other things) fills in as the drummer. (In real life, Philip Peeples was indeed unable to make the film shoot due to a back problem. And that’s really Armisen drumming!) Watch the Lee Kirk-directed video below. Miller said via a statement: “Lee Kirk and his team had written a great script and arranged for what would have been a very cool video when we discovered at the last minute that our drummer would not be able to take part in the filming. Thank god that Fred Armisen is a world-class drummer in addition to being literally the funniest man on the planet. What we wound up with was unexpected and amazing. This video could have been an hour long given all of the hilarious improv that Jenna and Fred did.” The new album Graveyard Whistling is out today via ATO. [ Pitchfork ]

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KEXP at Trans Musicales: Grand Parc

photo by Morgan Chosnyk

Today, we continue sharing our discoveries from the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, France, where last December we captured twelve exclusive sessions. We’re sharing with you one unique session per week, and you can watch all the previously release ones here. This week’s feature is of Grand Parc.

DJ Morgan says of the experience:

The day wrapped up with a fantastic band out of Normandy, France, called Grand Parc. Founding members Nick and Annie, who both play guitar and sing, plus Jean-Baptiste on bass and Guillame on drums, played an extremely skillful set of shoegaze-math rock-French pop. They had elements of Stereolab, Pinback, Blonde Redhead, and Foals, all while sounding completely fresh and original. Fun fact: I counted 22 effects pedals between them all. I don’t know what they all do, but they must know how to use them all effectively because they sounded awesome. Definitely a new favorite!

Watch our live session Grand Parc, recorded at Hôtel Pasteur, an historic building converted to an art space, and be sure to find more about the band on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages.

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Song of the Day: Weirdo Machine – Something Inside

Weirdo Machine

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Something Inside” by Weirdo Machine from their 2016 self-released EP, Eagle.

Weirdo Machine – Something Inside (MP3) Read More »

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Midnight In A Perfect World: DJ ZAI


DJ ZAI is the alias of Seattle native Isaiah Hinojosa, a self-taught vinyl DJ that strives to connect the dots between a variety of global club sounds every time he gets behind the decks. With a refined taste that covers a wide range of genres and tempos, he can frequently be found spinning at progressive club nights such as Research, Jet, Customs, FWD, and OMW. ZAI’s ability to handle numerous styles has also enabled him to lend support for a variety of world class talent, including Hodge, R3ll, Jacques Greene, Cooly G, and Rizzla. His exclusive guest DJ mix for Midnight in a Perfect World is a premier showcase of his eclectic and cutting-edge style, smoothly bouncing between the outer fringes of techno, house, UK funky, Gqom, and other fledgling experimental club rhythms from all over the world for an immersive and thrilling sonic journey.

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Thursday Music News

photo by Adam Cohen

photo by Adam Cohen

  • Last year, legendary singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of 82. Today, his son Adam shares a posthumous video for the track “Traveling Light” using previously unseen footage of his father. The video was co-directed with Sammy Slabbinck, who also worked on Cohen’s final album You Want It Darker. Watch the heartfelt video below, which starts with a seemingly-fragile Leonard saying, “I feel a lot stronger, but I’m actually a lot weaker. I wake up in my bed and I feel like, ‘That’s how I used to feel.’ Not exactly but, you know. And then I swing my legs off the bed and I try to stand up!” [ Under the Radar ]

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KEXP Suggests: Sound Off! Semi-Finals #3 at the MoPOP Museum 2/24


Week by week, we get closer to MoPOP’s Sound Off! finals on Saturday, March 11th, which will be broadcast LIVE on KEXP’s Audioasis! Now in its 16th year, this all-ages “battle of the bands” has introduced us to acts like The Lonely Forest, Naked Giants, Manatee Commune, and more.

Last week’s winners were Federal Way punk-pop trio The Good Weird, with Torpoise named runner-up. (Runners-up will be entered into the Wildcard Pool, and one of the three Wildcard bands will be selected by the Mo’Pop Youth Advisory Board to compete in the finals.) Let’s take a look at who will be competing in the final round of semi-finals this Friday, February 24th:

[ Photos courtesy of MoPOP Museum ]
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Review Revue: Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart – Bomba 12″

Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart - Bomba

You know a musician is beloved at your local college radio station (circa 1990) when they release a 12″ single within months of a full-length LP, and both end up covered in laudatory comments. Such was the case with the “Bomba” record, coming hot on the heels of Without Judgement but no less celebrated for that fact. I would normally give a little more background here, but a) you can see the Without Judgement post if for some reason you want a few more words from me on Mr. Wobble, and 2) the KCMU gang provided pretty much all the background you might need below, and they didn’t even have Wikipedia to consult.

“A collaboration between Jah Wobble (Invaders is his band) and Andy Weatherall (part of the Boys Own team). This is a mix of the reggae & ethnic beats of the Invaders album, with the house beats of Boys Own as well as Pulse 8. I preferred the “Non-sonicus Mix,” the Miles Away mix does have part of Miles Davis’ 1960 recording of “Concierte de Aranjuez” cut into the piece for a nice effect.”

“This is very cool!”

“Strange, isn’t it, that of the old PiL members, it’s Wobble & Atkins that have come out the best musically, while Levene disappeared and Lydon, well…”


“Good good good!”

“I WANT TO HAVE JAH WOBBLE’S BABY, but unfortunately I can’t. But I can play this record. DJ, do yourself a favor + play this record. You won’t regret it. A side is sublime. B side samples not only Miles Davis, but Meat Beat Manifesto too. It’s the best parts of Without Judgement blended with the best parts of Pulse 8’s ‘Radio Morocco’ single. This will transport you to rarely reached levels of ecstasy. Play it up.”

“45 RPM” [always important information to have]

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2017 Upstream Music Fest + Summit: First Wave of Artists Announced


KEXP is excited to announce the first wave of artists playing the inaugural Upstream Music Fest + Summit, Thursday, May 11th, through Saturday, May 13th, in locations all over Pioneer Square.

Upstream describes the lineup as “a love letter to music discovery in our region,” and just take a look at this first round of 100 artists: Flying Lotus, AlunaGeorge, Shabazz Palaces, Snarky Puppy, Beat Connection, Iska Dhaaf, Mike McCready and friends, Thunderpussy, Grace Love, Hibou, The Grizzled Mighty, The Maldives, and that’s barely scratching the surface.
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