Thursday Music News

Kevin Morby

photo by Kari N. Taylor (view set)

  • KEXP’s Online Content Manager Jim Beckmann celebrates his birthday today, and for the occasion, singer/songwriter Kevin Morby has shared the video for “The Parade,” one of Jim’s favorite tracks from last year’s full-length Still Life on Woodsist. (Okay, that might not be why the video came out today.) Director Elise Tyler explains the clip “…was a complete collaboration with Kevin. He wanted to document the people and places that make up his New York, and I had the honor to capture it for him. I wanted to feature the quieter places and moments that can sometimes get lost in the noise of the city, which I think also reflects Kevin’s nature as an artist and individual.” Morby will back in the Northwest this summer for Pickathon, and it’s just been announced that Dead Oceans will release his next album in 2016. [Stereogum]


  • Northwest supergroup The New Pornographers share a new video today, too, for the track “Champions of Red Wine” off the brilliant Brill Bruisers. Directors Leblanc + Cudmore capture a “rambling, drunk loner in a foreign environment,” with Cudmore adding, “It’s a portrait of this guy, a few hours, a couple of days, in his life as he flails wildly around – his only means of communication being physical. The video is a fragment of this character.” Watch below, and check out photos from last weekend’s performance at Sasquatch on the KEXP Blog here. [Consequence of Sound]

  • Guillermo Scott Herren, better known as Prefuse 73, shares a new track from his upcoming EP Every Color of Darkness. Stream the track “Search the Sky” below, out July 10th via Temporary Residence Ltd. In an interview with FACT Magazine, Herren explains that while his recent full-length Forsyth Gardens was inspired by his recent NYC neighborhood, the EP “relates to the nighttime and its denizens.” Listen below: [Pitchfork]

  • Montreal-based maestro Owen Pallett shares a sensual new video for the track “The Passions,” off last year’s full-length, In Conflict. Director Brian Vu tells Vice.com, “The video was filmed by my friends and I in familiar places. It’s an abstraction of the various stages of love shot within a video portrait style.” Watch: [Spin]

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Song of the Day: Thee Oh Sees – Web

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 Morning Show with John Richards, is “Web” by Thee Oh Sees from the 2015 album Mutilator Defeated At Last on Castle Face.

Thee Oh Sees – Web (MP3)

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KEXP Presents Hood-to-Hood Day 2015 in West Seattle this Friday!

The word on West Seattle is that once you live there, you will never move to another neighborhood in Seattle. Find out what all the fuss is about as KEXP celebrates Hood-to-Hood Day West Seattle! Join us this Friday, May 29, as we salute the beloved neighborhood, winners of last year’s Hood-to-Hood Challenge, with a day of free music and fun!

From noon until 6PM, at the West Seattle Junction (on the scenic intersection of Alaska and California), there’ll will be dancing in the streets with an incredible line-up of live music, starting at 1PM with a solo performance by John Danielle of The Mountain Goats (who play a sold-out show at the Showbox the next day). After that, breezy Australia electro-pop group Miami Horrow takes the stage at 3PM, followed by West Seattle’s own Michael Lerner of Telekinesis performing some brand new songs. Buzzworthy Philadelphia band Hop Along will close the broadcast and blow your mind with an impassioned set of 90s-influenced rock.

KEXP Hood-to-Hood Live Broadcast
1:00 PM: Live set by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats
3:00 PM: Live set by Miami Horror
4:10 PM: Live set by Telekinesis (Acoustic)
5:30 PM: Live set by Hop Along
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KEXP Presents: Out to Lunch Summer Concert Series

OutToLunch_ConcertSchedule_2015

It’s often been said that Seattle has the best summers. Not only is that true for the perfectly-mild temperatures, but it’s also true for our awesome FREE outdoor concerts! Along with KEXP’s own Concerts at the Mural series, you can also spend the summer at the 37th Annual Out to Lunch Concert Series!

This year’s line-up features 29 amazing artists, including Craft Spells, The Maldives, The Staxx Brothers, Radiation City, Shelby Earl, and more. These shows are all ages, open to the public, and held at various parks and venues across downtown from South Lake Union to Pioneer Square. Performances are scheduled from Noon to 1:30 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from July 9th through September 4th. Click here for the complete line-up, and check out a video round-up of some of the featured artists below!
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Wednesday Music News

Mikal Cronin

photo by Amber (Zbitnoff) Knecht (view set)

  • Merge Records rocker Mikal Cronin continues to kill it in the music video realm. Earlier this month, he enlisted comedians Kristen Schaal, Paul Scheer, and Kurt Braunohler to remake a Natalie Imbruglia video (watch here). Today, he tackles the clip for Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” for his own track “Say” off MCIII. Braunohler, Nelson Franklin, Nick Thune, and a slew of other comedians are all vying for the part originated by Chevy Chase, and things take a surprisingly grim turn. Watch below. [Consequence of Sound]


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SIFF Face The Music 2015 Preview: The Glamour & The Squalor

The Glamour & The Squalor
USA | 2015 | 82 minutes | Marq Evans

Festival screenings:
June 3 | 7:00 PM | SIFF Cinema Uptown (with after-party at Neumos, 21+ only)
June 5 | 4:15 PM | Harvard Exit

“I loved music. I couldn’t be paid off.”

One of the best documentaries this year in the Seattle International Film Festival’s Face The Music series, The Glamour & The Squalor is one of those insider stories that needs to be told, and it is written and directed for maximum love from both Seattleites and music freaks, and for those who are both.

I remember when I first heard the name “Marco.” It was probably some evening at the Cyclops, in excitement from an eager musician who had met him at a show and talked about him in hushed, happy tones. As if he was someone everyone in the music scene should revere and expect to do great things for us. I don’t know if I heard “Collins” till I became addicted to listening to his show shortly thereafter. He was our Marco.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that hearing about him that way was the case. That musician “came and went,” but Marco is still here, still raging it with local, high quality music. He’s starting over again now, bringing bands like Hobosexual and Hightek Lowlives to the new heads (and who are filmed excellently here). Yet for a time he was not only king of new music for Seattle, but also breaking future world-wide successes like Beck and the Prodigy to us first.

Back in the early 90s, though, it had been bleak years for Seattle quality music radio fans. Our once-adored, creative KCMU had been snuffed and shuffled aside by public radio yuppies through a thing called World Cafe. And it would be a few more years before KEXP stepped in and took back its original spirit, and moved it forward.

Old Pac NW underground rock fans like me had given up on the idea of any kind of classy, sassy, fun, and inventive radio programming. Seattle might have seemed like a mini-L.A. by now, with people streaming in to start bands left and right, but there was no regional KROQ to take care of stoking our alternative rock audio needs. For press we had The Rocket, which was awesome, and street fanzines, but the pirate radio and public access on cable could only do so much. And the music scene was getting so, so great — and big, locally and nationally, entwined together – something had to break on those airwaves.

And something did, or someone at least broke it for us. Somewhere in those days, you started to see stickers for 107.7 The End at the OK Hotel, slapped around at bus stops outside clubs on the way to Lower Queen Anne – and when we listened in, we heard the hired a sweet, shaggy master curator of sounds both daring and delicious.

Marco Collins was raised in the sticks by a mother he adored, and an Irish cop father who was disturbed by his fervent KISS fandom, deep passion for new music, and his lack of interest in a potential female “sweetie” who lived nearby. In The Glamour & The Squalor, we come to understand how the cruel judgment of Collins’ father was later matched by fellow teenagers, who would beat the pretty lad up on the school bus. Marco would hang out with young women who would spray paint his jacket with an anarchy symbol (“I didn’t know what it meant but it looked cool!”), and somewhere in that viciously closeted adolescence his mom made him full believe he could do anything. And so he ended up in radio, moving to San Diego, and it is here where we find him turning listeners on to a very young Eddie Vedder in a band that was definitely late period post-punk, but unlike anything else really happening at the time.

A latter day punk himself, Marco knew he had to carry the word forward into the world. Although he’d been outcasted, picked on, and knew he was gay in a scene where rock and roll was dominated by “dudes,” he had mad charisma to get people to listen to new bands, and made a bee-line for Seattle. Early on in the splendidly made The Glamour & The Squalor, we hear the adoration from Collins’ fans — famous people themselves, like Shirley Manson of Garbage, and Matt Pinfield of MTV. For ribald and racuous scenes that couldn’t be recreated verbally or filmed dramatically, some fun animation shows us watching Marco going night after night to Seattle clubs in the early 90s, holding his drink, shaking his head to the rhythm and distortion and feeling the music exploding out of this area rivet him, inspire him, flow through his world like spirits through William Blake.

Collins took on the role of a music evangelist for life, hitting the corporate, high-tower offices of 107.7, and doing crazy things like playing a tape of Nirvana’s In Utero before it was even near being finally mixed. Collins locked himself in a booth that late Friday afternoon and wouldn’t let the label rep in to take it from him; a gracious if pretty pissed off Kurt Cobain is actually filmed in the doc as commenting on it as being a shrewd move, but he was wary of such early versions being out in the world. By that Monday, this pirate grunge attack was shut down.

There are a few good, greasy stories like these in The Glamour & The Squalor, with gorgeous imagery featuring ample amounts of both glamor and squalor, and just enough band shots among the astute observations of Collins’ peers and revered performers. But it never gets too overly dramatic and sensationalized. Both the sunshine-beauty and night-time gnarly shadows of Seattle shines again and again throughout the story, as the strengths and weaknesses of its maven are revealed.

It’s horrifying as Collins realizes the unifying rock scene of the 90s was coming to a close with the very real threat of media consolidation making vital artists like Bjork “questionable.” That was it for him; 107.7 had jumped the rock and roll ship. Meanwhile, earlier, Marco had been living in quiet fear of his homosexuality being revealed; but in a very positive way, things changed about that over the next decade. This lead up to his efforts with Kerri Harrop and others in the scene supporting the basic civil right of marriage equality, something that seemed long overdue but still excited Collins, as it helped settle some of his own demons. By the spot-on time Macklemore cuts the elevated hip-hop anthem “One Love,” Collins’ joy at seeing equal right legislation passed fills a bar he witnesses it in.

He seems to be there alone, though. All by himself, yet finally set free. Due to the loneliness, and the pain, and the frantic ambition which fueled his cultural passions but also his addictions, at this point in the film he heads back to deal with the sources of his internal misery. This is neither overplayed or drawn out, but nor is it downplayed. It arrives at the only moment during SIFF 2015 where I’ve cried, but I have the feeling other people will have their own scenes to feel that heart-struck as well.

The Glamour & The Squalor is highly recommended, deeply affecting, and incredibly inspiring.

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Sasquatch 2015, Day 4: Future Islands

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

Future Islands has certainly blown up over the last year, as evidenced by the large crowd they drew to their main stage set at Sasquatch. This Baltimore, Maryland band is one of those rare groups whose breakthrough success essentially comes down to one single performance. In their case, it was their network television debut, an enthralling performance of “Seasons (Waiting on You)” on Letterman in March of 2014. Frontman Samuel T. Herring’s passionate on stage dancing and vamping throughout the lead single from their fourth album, Singles, was the talk of the internet, and the video quickly garnered millions of views. This set the bar quite high for future live shows. But if anything, Herring somehow found a way to up the intensity, drama, and energy for their set at Sasquatch.

Backed by catchy synth pop sounds, Herring’s voice soared into an emotive lyricism before suddenly crashing into an deep, growling roar more commonly found in hardcore or metal music. He bobbed his head and craned his neck in time with the uptempo beats, bent his knees deep, shimmied across the stage, and essentially danced all-out for the entire show. The man does not stop moving for a moment. Several times he underscored emotional moments by pounding on his chest so hard that the thumps were clearly picked up by the microphone. So big is his performance, so theatrical, that it is tempting to wonder if Herring is being a bit tongue in cheek. But his earnest and humble banter between each song, the genuine intensity he brought to his moves, and the often pained and lovesick lyrics tend to suggest that the singer means business. And it is hard to deny a performer that literally bleeds for his audience. At some point in the show Herring must have cut his hand on something, because streaks of crimson dripping down his fist were easy to spot on the giant screens flanking the stage. The singer paid no mind, and continued through a fiery set, wearing his heart on his sleeve both figuratively and literally.


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Midnight in a Perfect World: Jon Spencer

photo by Renata Steiner

NYC’s Jon Spencer is a veteran of the alternative music world, best-known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, in addition to playing a key role in Pussy Galore and Boss Hog. Hot on the heels of his killer new album, Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party, Spencer’s Midnight In A Perfect World mix storms through a fun, party-starting blend of blues, funk, rock, and punk that spotlights retro classics and hidden gems that are all wonderfully rough around the edges.


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Song of the Day: Crocodiles – Crybaby Demon

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 Morning Show with John Richards, is “Crybaby Demon” by Crocodiles from the 2015 album Boys on Zoo Music.

Crocodiles – Crybaby Demon (MP3)

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Sasquatch 2015, Day 3: St. Vincent

all photos by Matthew B. Thomson (view set)

On stage Annie Clark, or as she’s known, St. Vincent, is like an alluring, otherworldly android. She skitter steps around rapidly on high stiletto heels, staring blankly and doe-eyed, smiling at odd times while tearing through guitar lines seemingly effortlessly. Much of her show seems almost choreographed, moves precise, robotic, and at times in unison with her rhythm guitar player/keyboardist. Hers is a very conscious stage presence, each strange move intentional, and it is completely captivating. But her set on the Sasquatch main stage proved her to be not just an engaging performer, but an excellent musician as well; Clark is the complete package. Her confident guitar lines lead the way on her early hit “Cruel”, and the single “Digital Witness” from her 2014 self-titled album was very danceable over the massive, bass-heavy sounds coming from the stage. Her set was fairly light on stage banter, but when she finally spoke she said, “good evening ladies and gentlemen, and a special welcome to the others, and the queers, and the dominatrixes, and the dominated of Washington State,” before launching in to “Huey Newton”, drawing her fingers across her exposed neck in a throat slitting pantomime. At one point she briefly handed her guitar to an audience member and surfed over the excited crowd. When she finally returned to the stage, she collapsed dramatically, laying almost perfectly still on for several long beats before finally rising to a kneeling position as a tech draped her with a new guitar. It’s theatrical moments like these that make St. Vincent such a stellar live act. 

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