Live Review: Hamilton Leithauser and Courtney Marie Andrews at the Neptune Theatre 10/21

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

Five songs into Hamilton Leithauser’s headlining set at the Neptune Theatre last week, a man got down on one knee and proposed to his sweetheart. The news didn’t reach the stage until after the former frontman for The Walkmen howled the last refrain of “A 1000 Times,” from his latest studio LP, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, a collaboration between him and former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Bantmanglij.

Standing tall in a soon-to-be-discarded beige jacket, Leithauser peered down at a part in the front row. It looked like he was inspecting an accident. “Should I ask or should I not?” said Leithauser. The crowd cheered an affirmation. “Congratulations to the new couple,” said Leithauser. “This is very dark, lonely breakup song for you.” Then, he played “In a Black Out,” a Leonard Cohen-inspired song also from I Had A Dream…. As suggested by his funny, but dark response, Leithauser isn’t an artist you’d typically expect to soundtrack a proposal. Leithauser’s songs may be pretty and bright, but the characters that populate them are, more often than not, at least a little bit broken. Against a backdrop of timeless-sounding melodies, Leithauser’s characters struggle with scars in their past or yearn for impossible futures. Differences in decade aside, they’re the kind of characters you might imagine going out for a drink with Simon & Garfunkel’s down-on-his-luck boxer (“The Boxer”) or Bob Dylan’s embittered narrator in “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

“A 1000 Times,” for instance, follows a person wandering the streets of New York, dreaming of a lost love. Before it, Leithauser played “The Bride’s Dad,” an underdog’s waltz written from the perspective of a father who doesn’t get invited to his daughter’s wedding, shows up anyways, gives a speech, and gets kicked out. Leithauser witnessed the scene himself, he explained to the crowd. “I saw him cause this scene and be thrown out of the wedding as soon as he finished his toast,” said Leithauser. “And I was touched.” The crowd laughed, but Leithauser may have been only half-joking. He brought utter conviction to personifying each of his song’s characters. During “The Morning Stars,” which is about a ghost haunting a past partner, Leithauser howled with appropriate desperation. Later, on “You Ain’t That Young Kid,” Leithauser did his best Dylan, fishing a harmonica out of his jacket pocket and sing-speaking a few lines about stumbling out of a bar post-breakup. Whatever the songs called for, Leithauser delivered. The night was all the better because of his versatility and conviction.

Before Leithauser, Seattle singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews offered an equally compelling performance, bringing her distinctive mix of country, folk, and indie pop back to an eager hometown crowd. With a more-than-capable backing band behind her, Andrews performed flawless renditions of songs from her universally acclaimed 2016 LP, Honest Life.

She also gave a sneak preview of what’s to come, playing a handful of tracks from an upcoming album, which she recorded in L.A. this year. Many of Andrews’ new songs exhibited a fiery gospel edge. During one such song, “May Your Kindness,” the band slammed a hard beat together and then cut out completely. As if struck by the spirit, Andrews flung her arms out wide and kept singing. Soaring a cappella over the silence, she suddenly sounded just as much like Janis as she had like Joni. Andrews then pointed her index finger up at the ceiling, hit one of her highest notes that evening, and the crowd cheered. Andrews’ fourth record comes out in 2018.

Courtney Marie Andrews Setlist

  1. How Quickly Your Heart Mends
  2. Buffalo
  3. Table for One
  4. Kindness of Strangers
  5. Near You
  6. Rookie Dreaming
  7. Sea Town
  8. Irene
  9. May Your Kindness
  10. Warning Sign

Hamilton Leithauser Setlist

  1. The Morning Stars
  2. Sick as a Dog
  3. Alexandra
  4. The Bride’s Dad
  5. A 1000 Times
  6. In a Blackout
  7. When the Truth Is…
  8. 1959 (w/ Courtney Marie Andrews)
  9. Heartstruck (Wild Hunger) (w/ Courtney Marie Andrews)
  10. You Ain’t That Young Kid
  11. Astronaut (Beach House cover)
  12. Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up)
  13. Room for Forgiveness

Encore

  1. I Retired
  2. Peaceful Morning
  3. Trudy Dies (Will Oldham cover)
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Midnight In A Perfect World: Sean Majors

MIAPW-Sean-Majors_640x427

Sean Majors is a local legend when it comes to Seattle nightlife and its electronic music community. Over his 20-year career, he’s performed at close to 4,000 shows and shared stages with a long list of national and international top-tier artists. He’s also played a massive role in throwing thousands of events as the creative director and booker of Q Nightclub, Baltic Room, Trashed, LOST, and Upper Left. Whether it’s in small intimate nightclubs or at the largest venues and events in the Northwest, he’s constantly pushing to champion and promote cutting-edge dancefloor sounds, seven days a week. His exclusive guest DJ mix for Midnight in a Perfect World is a top-shelf journey through exquisite contemporary underground tech-house cuts, spotlighted by his sharp ear for moving and engaging track selections, as well as his seamless mixing talents.


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Song of the Day: Typhoon – Rorschach

Typhoon

photo by Jeremy Hernandez

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 DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Rorschach” by Typhoon from the album Offerings, available next year via Roll Call Records.

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KEXP Video Roundup: Giving Thanks

Are you stressed out because the cranberry sauce isn’t turning out as planned? Mad that you missed the Thanksgiving Day Parade? Dreading that the dinner table conversation with your extended family might get way too political? Well, just remember that many mental health professionals advise that a way to alleviate stress and worry is to take a moment and be thankful for the things you have in your life. And one of the things that all of us have is music that reminds us of the spirit of gratitude that this holiday is supposed to be based on. Why not take a break from turkey day stress and enjoy this Thanksgiving video playlist that we made just for you? No need to thank us.

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Wednesday Music News

photo courtesy of the artist

  • A very cool piece of Northwest history has emerged today. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie has shared a recording of their very first show in Bellingham at a house venue called the Pacer House from November 22, 1997. Gibbard’s friend Trevor Adams had the foresight to record the gig on his dictaphone and save it for 20 years. Gibbard said of the show: “Chris Walla and I had just finished the You Can Play These Songs with Chords cassette and we thought it would be fun to play a few shows around Bellingham to celebrate the release. We recruited Nick Harmer to play bass and Walla’s childhood friend Nathan Good to play drums. None of us thought we were starting a band nor did our ambitions for DCfC extend very far past this particular evening. We simply thought it would be fun to play these songs for our friends before moving on to other things.” They’ve also shared the original flyer for the event. The recording is available for purchase on Bandcamp, with the proceeds going to Seattle nonprofit The Aurora Commons. [ Paste ]

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KEXP Premiere: High Pulp debuts Super Funky Basement Sessions Series

high pulp seattle

Funk music isn’t just heard, it’s experienced. You can have a great time playing a funk article at home on your stereo, but it takes on a whole new life when it’s right in front of your face. Seattle future funk-fusion act High Pulp gets this. With a staggering 10 members in the group, they push and pull off of each other with propulsive intensity. To try and capture this magnetic energy, the band has released a new series dubbed the ‘Basement Sessions’, kicking off with three videos of the band playing, well, in the basement. If you need a boost to kick off your long holiday weekend, consider these videos like pouring Emergen-C into your coffee. Here’s what drummer Rob Granfelt has to say about the series:

“The basement sessions are an attempt to capture the live elements of the band – the improvisation, the stretching, and the energy – that can be difficult to hear on studio recordings. We decided that our practice space (Scott’s basement) would not only be a practical space to shoot in but also a comfortable place for us to perform, hopefully conveying a certain amount of intimacy with the viewer. These three videos are the first batch of videos leading up to the release of our debut album. Another batch of three additional tunes will be released in the near future called ‘The Warehouse Sessions’ which were filmed at Dozer’s Warehouse on Beacon Hill.”

Check out the videos below and get lost in the groove. You can catch High Pulp live this Sunday, Nov. 26 at the High Dive with D’Vonne Lewis, Limited Edition, and Freudian Slurp.

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Song of the Day: Hey Elbow – Quest

Hey Elbow

photo by Mattias Albinsson

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 DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Quest” by Hey Elbow, a single which is available now via Adrian Recordings.

Hey Elbow – Quest (MP3) Read More »

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Tuesday Music News

photo by Alex Crick (view set)

  • Sigur Ròs guitarist and vocalist Jónsi has announced that he’ll be releasing a collection of unreleased solo electronic recordings called Frakkur: 2000-2004, which will be available on limited-edition vinyl at the Norður Og Niður festival. The fest is put on by Sigur Ròs, who are also headlining for four nights. Other artists scheduled to play the Icelandic festival include My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, Juliana Barwick, Dan Deacon, Tangerine Dream, GusGus, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and Jarvis Cocker. The festival takes play December 27 – 30. Jónsi has shared a four-minute sample from Frakkur: 2000-2004. [ Paste]

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KEXP Premiere: Sera Cahoone covers Wham!’s Last Christmas

Photo by Kyle Johnson

It takes a lot for a song to enter the Christmas canon. Most of the songs we sing every year have survived generations, outlasting our memory and seemingly always existing. It’s not that new holiday songs aren’t still being written — good ones still emerge constantly, but very few can reach the ubiquity of say “Jingle Bells.” In recent memory (and I use that term liberally), only two songs immediately come to mind for breaking that barrier: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”

“Last Christmas” is transcendent in its own right. Not only has it lasted as an enduring Christmas song, it sounds unlike any of its peers. Despite its peppy, poppy melody, it’s one of the more melancholic season tunes. It’s about love and loss, giving yourself up to someone only to be rejected. It’s also oddly romantic in a way that faithful standards like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” don’t really touch on. “Last Christmas” shows the complexities of love through all its ups and downs, not to mention addresses the lingering sadness the holidays bring for some. Yet there’s hope as well, in that iconic line, “This year to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.” Read More »

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Song of the Day: GDJYB – That Day I Went To His Funeral

GDJYB

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 DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “That Day I Went To His Funeral” by GDJYB from the album 23:59 Before Tomorrow on Redline Music Limited.

GDJYB – That Day I Went To His Funeral (MP3) Read More »

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