Trans Musicales Music Festival: Day Two

Trans Musicales Day 2

We just returned from our second day of filming live sessions from the Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, France, and our host at the Magic Hall Hotel is playing a killer French funk LP from an artist named Michel Jonasz. And here I thought we’d be discovering only new bands, but now I have a new favorite LP from the 1970s. I’ll need to find that later, but for now I’m still thinking about the new bands we saw today!

Today’s filming took place in the abandoned third floor of a former hotel turned dental university called the Hotel Pasteur. The first floor remains a student dental clinic while the second and third floors are now used as free community spaces. The third floor used to be the student laboratory space and has definitely seen better days, with peeling paint, graffiti, makeshift murals, and cracking linoleum, but as we filled the space with gear, bands, and music industry folks, it warmed up and ended up feeling homey by the end of the afternoon.

The first band of the day was Fai Baba, haling from Zurich, Switzerland. When deciding which bands to invite to our filming, Fai Baba was one of the first we all unanimously agreed we needed to see live and they did not disappoint. Previously releasing two albums as a duo and a new third album this year called Sad and Horny, Fabian (vocals/guitar) and Domi (drums) became a four-piece just before Trans Musicales, adding Oli on keyboard and Rodi on bass. On the recordings, they have a quite gentle dream-pop vibe, but with the addition of bass and keyboard, they morphed into a jazz infused prog rock force of nature. I asked Fabian, the singer/guitarist and band founder, when they made this change, and he said they had only been playing together in this incarnation for two weeks, this being their 5th performance.

Fai Baba

Fai Baba

We keep hearing from each band that one of the most unique things about Trans Musicales is the fact that the Artistic and Program Director Jean-Louis Brossard makes a point of booking unknown and often extremely new bands. The second band of the day, Octave Noire, is a prime example of a brand new band being booked by the merit of just a couple of recordings and having the development of their live performances nurtured by the festival itself. Singer/lyricist Patrick and keyboardist/synth player/music maker/dreamer of dreams Ton began writing songs in the beginning of 2016, then went their separate ways for months to develop the music on their own before reconvening a month and a half ago to begin playing live performances to prepare for their show tonight at Trans Musicales. The festival seems to be an amazing resource for new bands having a summit a month before the proper festival called the Tourné Trans, which helps workshop bands and give them experience in front of audiences before their showcase at the festival in December. This afternoon saw Octave Noire playing a groovy set of dream-pop with the addition of French pop-star Yelle’s drummer Franck Richard to improve the groove. Their debut album, Néon, is due out in January. Good news: they gave me an early copy so I’ll play it for you when I get back!

Octave Noire

Octave Noire

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!

Grand Parc

Just some of the 22 pedals.

Ok, gotta go. We’re heading out to the Parc Expo to go see all of these bands again live for their official festival shows. While you wait for tomorrow’s update, you can enjoy all of my screw ups when trying to introduce today’s venue. Bonsoir!

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Music that Matters: Monday Night John in the Morning

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.

Kristin Hersh at KEXP in 2016 // photo by Niffer Calderwood (view set)

Currently you’ll hear:

Music That Matters, Vol. 541 – Monday Night John in the Morning

Today’s podcast description is sung to the tune of the Monday Night Football theme. “John John John Johnnnnn. John John John John Johhhnnn. John…john…john…Johnnnnnn. JohnJohnJohnJohnJohn.

1. The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe (featuring Moses Sumney)
2. Lushlife – The League of Frightened Men
3. Little Children – (We Used to Feel) Higher
4. Sad13 – Less than 2
5. Kindling – Blinding Wave
6. Menace Beach – Maybe We’ll Drown
7. Kristin Hersh – Soma Gone Slapstick
8. Doubles – Plant
9. Desperate Journalist – Hollow
10. Austra – Utopia
11. STRFKR – Open Your Eyes

Listen here: (MP3)

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You can subscribe to all of our podcasts here.

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Friday Music News

Nick Cave

  • If you missed last night’s encore screening of One More Time With Feeling at SIFF Cinema Uptown, you’ll be glad to know the emotional Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds documentary will be coming to DVD and Blu-ray (in both 2D and 3D formats) on March 3rd. Director Andrew Dominik gives an intimate look at the making of their sixteenth album, Skeleton Tree (KEXP review here), and the terrible tragedy of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur, who passed away in 2015. Watch a trailer for the film below. [Pitchfork]

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2016 Top Ten List Spotlight: Michele Myers

For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2016, leading up to our 2016 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting ends on Friday, December 9th at 6:00 PM PT, so let us know your favorites now, and tune in on Friday, December 16th to hear if your picks made the list! Anyone who votes is automatically entered to win the Top 10 Albums of 2016 as voted on by you, the listener, provided by Sonic Boom Records. Winners will be notified by email on Friday December 16th.

Tiffany Wilson

Tiffany Wilson // photo by Melissa Wax (view set)

Michele Myers’ 2016 Top Ten Albums

rank artist album label
1 The Kills Ash and Ice Domino
2 Massive Attack Ritual Spirit Virgin EMI
3 Cassius Ibifornia Interscope
4 Nice as Fuck Nice as Fuck Love’s Way
5 Terrace Martin Velvet Portraits Ropeadope
6 Underworld Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future Smith Hyde Productions
7 Kaytranada 99% XL
8 St. Paul and The Broken Bones Sea of Noise Records LLC
9 Tiffany Wilson See Sharp We Coast
10 Navvi Omni Hush Hush

Michele Myers is on the air every Friday night from 9 PM to 12 AM.

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Song of the Day: Kingdom of the Holy Sun – Flown Away

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 Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Flown Away” by Kingdom of the Holy Sun, from the 2016 album At The Gates of Dawn on Dead Bees Records.

Kingdom of the Holy Sun – Flown Away (MP3)

A quick internet search of Kingdom of the Holy Sun reveals that the Seattle, WA band’s music has found eager ears all over the world. That may seem odd for a band just starting to gain traction, but Kingdom of the Holy Sun’s true domain has never been earth, let alone the United States. The 6-piece delivers cosmic sounds through their garage tinted brand of psychedelia, whisking listeners away on otherworldly journeys. Their 2016 release, At The Gates of Dawn, features all the cosmic appeal of earlier albums with more focused song writing, resulting in 10 tracks you can sing a long to as well as get lost in. For those unfamiliar with the band’s latest offering, At The Gates of Dawn lead track and song of the day “Flown Away” is the perfect place to start. The track offers a minute of shimmering instrumentation featuring a buzzing guitar and the elegant canter of strings playing tug-of-war over the lead melody before rolling vocals take the forefront. It is a meandering affair that will have even the most grounded listeners floating away among the sonic clouds of Kingdom of the Holy Sun.

Unfortunately Kingdom of the Holy Sun does not have any announced upcoming shows, but keep an eye on their Bandcamp and Facebook pages for possible future shows. Check out a video for today’s song below.

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Trans Musicales Music Festival: Day One

Chouette // all photos by Morgan Chosnyk

One of my favorite things about humanity is when we discover common bonds between us regardless of environment and background. Of course there are the basic necessities: food, water, shelter, but the commonality we share that is the most interesting, because it is abstract, is music. We all create and seek music; it’s a part of every culture and it’s our job as curators and stewards at KEXP to collect the best music from across the globe and give others the opportunity to enjoy it.

In the past few years, KEXP has been reaching beyond our backyard to bring new music from other countries into our playlists and into your ears. From Iceland Airwaves to the OFF Festival in Poland, we’ve been collecting amazing audio and video from across the globe. This year we, have been invited to Rennes, France, for the legendary Trans Musicales festival. Now in its 38th year, the Trans Musicales has a rich history of presenting young bands that often go on to be well known. The festival organizers invited us to pick out 10 to 20 bands from their lineup to film and bring back for you to discover. After narrowing down the list of nearly 70 artists to our top choices, we ended up with 11 bands to film over the course of four days. To make it even better, each day has us filming in four different locations – a church that is now an arts conservatory, an old hotel that is now an institute of sciences, the Rennes Opera house, and a wing of City Hall. Meanwhile, in the evening, the festival takes place in various venues all over town.
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2016 Top Ten List Spotlight: Reeves

For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2016, leading up to our 2016 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting ends on Friday, December 9th at 6:00 PM PT, so let us know your favorites now, and tune in on Friday, December 16th to hear if your picks made the list! Anyone who votes is automatically entered to win the Top 10 Albums of 2016 as voted on by you, the listener, provided by Sonic Boom Records. Winners will be notified by email on Friday December 16th.

Danny Brown

Danny Brown // photo by Victoria Holt (view set)

Reeves’ 2016 Top Ten Albums

artist album label
The Avalanches Wildflower Astralwerks
Cymbals Eat Guitars Pretty Years Sinderlyn
Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition Warp
Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial Matador
Blood Orange Freetown Sound Domino
Crater Talk to Me so I Can Fall Asleep Help Yourself Records
Nothing Tired of Tomorrow Relapse
G.L.O.S.S. Trans Day Of Revenge Total Negativity/Nervous Nelly
Thrawsunblat Metachtonia Ignifera Records
Noname Telefone self-released

Reeves is on the air every Tuesday morning from 1AM-6AM.

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Thursday Music News

photo by Brittany Feenstra (view set)

  • We’ve finally got a release date to announce for the new Run the Jewels! The highly-anticipated RTJ3 hits the internet as a free download on January 13th, with physical copies to follow, same day in North America and January 20th everywhere else. Special guests include Kamasi Washington (who, incidentally, will be LIVE on KEXP tomorrow at 1:00 PM PT), Trina, BOOTS, Tunde Adebimpe, and Danny Brown. Check out the track “Legend Has It” below, and get a first look at the album artwork. The duo explain: “For us, the RTJ1 hands were about ‘taking what’s yours’ – your world, your life, your attitude. The RTJ2 hands were wrapped in bandages, signifying injury and healing, which for us represented the growth in ideas and tone of that album. For RTJ3 the bandages are off, the chain is gone and the hands have been transformed into gold. For us this represents the idea that there is nothing to take that exists outside of yourself. You are the jewel.” Damn. [Spin]

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Review Revue: The Jazz Butcher – Big Planet Scarey Planet

The Jazz Butcher - Big Planet Scarey Planet

This is the third album by The Jazz Butcher I’ve covered in this blog series (see also here and here), and I’m embarrassed to admit I have yet to properly spend time getting acquainted with this long-running English band’s deep discography. Something tells me that the next several years will be a great time to really get into Big Planet Scarey Planet. I mean, the title says it all, doesn’t it? In case it doesn’t, here’s this delightful sum-up from the band’s annotated discography page: “Early 1989 was, indeed a strange and desperate time after all that triumphalist Tory looting that had been going on. We listened to a lot of hip-hop and soul music at the time, and I think that we considered ourselves sufficiently HARD to take the whole fucker on in an l.p.” On the off chance anyone needs an appropriate soundtrack to triumphalist looting in the coming years, I’ve got it all picked out for ya.

“Don’t know much about the Jazz Butcher, but I really enjoyed this.”

“It has been so long – we’ve missed you!”

“‘The Good Ones’!!”

“I make a personal plea for H. That’s where it is on my turntable. Best JBC release since ‘Sex + Travel.’ Real varied in terms of sound, + subject matters range from war to travel to love to death to eleven year old miscreant products of Thatcherism.”

“Side one is masterful + side 2 is real good. Skip the one that’s mainly samples, but otherwise play away.”

“H. Supah swell! Better than Fishcoteque & more rockin! And he’s friends with the Spacemen 3! H.”

“Robert is right 100%. H.”

“I lurv it.”

KCMU welcomes to the Backstage on Friday the 1st o’ December. By all means – GO!”

“All right, he’s come and gone, move it down.”

“10/17 – I count 3 votes for H.”


“Here’s one against.”


“Why, this isn’t jazz at all!”


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Midnight In A Perfect World: DJ Topspin a.k.a. Blendiana Jones


A trusted local favorite that’s been rocking parties and precisely-crafting renowned mixtapes for over two decades, Seattle’s DJ Topspin is well-known for his harmonic ear, deep knowledge, signature blends, and innovative remixes, all characteristics that ultimately yielded his alternative alias, Blendiana Jones. DJ Topspin, a.k.a. Blendiana Jones, is also a co-host on the ‘Can You Dig It!?‘ podcast alongside fellow Midnight in a Perfect World contributor DJ Supreme La Rock, providing listeners with an insiders’ view on DJ life and culture. His exclusive guest DJ mix for Midnight in a Perfect World is a supremely smooth showcase of his premier track selection and seamless mixing techniques, cruising through some of his current favorite R&B, hip-hop, and soul jams that also includes one of his exclusive blends and unreleased material from Seattle’s Sax G.

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