Live Review: The Drums at Neumos 7/17

The Drums at Neumos

all photos by Bebe Labree Besch (view set)

The Drums played a packed Neumos on July 17th, with frontman Jonny Pierce giving a spirited rendition of tracks from across The Drums discography. The Seattle show was the kickoff to an extensive tour for the band, which goes on until the end of the year, and includes a lengthy stint in Europe. A handful of talented bands will open the dates, including Ne-Hi and Hoops. If the Neumos show was indicative, Pierce & co. will continue to put on a dynamic stage show, echoing a slate of New Wave greats while giving a needed face lift to ’80s pop/punk tropes.

Soccer Mommy

NYC-via-Nashville artist Sophie Allison opened the show, under the moniker of Soccer Mommy. Joined by a quite good band for her live show, Allison spotlighted material from the forthcoming Collection EP, which will be released on Fat Possum Records. Though just 19 years old, Allison has fast matured as a songwriter, her tight song structures, and wistful harmonies translating well to the live stage. It was likely many audience members’ introductions to Allison’s music, but she demonstrated that she is a performer well worth watching.

Soccer Mommy

The eponymous Stef Chura acted as the second act on the bill, delivering an intense, mercurial set. Culling primarily from her 2017 record Messes, Chura’s singular voice acted as the musical anchor to her particular style of jagged indie rock. Though better writers have past lamented the difficulty of describing Chura’s voice, it struck midway between the off-kilter energy of the great Kristin Hersh and the sharp edges of Television’s Tom Verlaine. Chura’s vocal jumps were matched by precise, tightly wound guitar, bass, and drums, all of which veered between sensitive and bubbling over.

Stef Chura

Stef Chura

Stef Chura

Following a Drums-curated soundtrack which included Kraftwerk and Deerhunter, The Drums took the stage in dramatic fashion, all clad in black. Jonny Pierce arrived a minute later, wearing a slim Hawaiian shirt over what appeared to be a black sports jersey, alone at the front of the stage. The crowd, which was predominantly female and femme males, audibly delighted at every gesture, dance move, and vocal coo which Pierce emitted. Even as a mosh pit broke out amidst the smaller bro contingent of the crowd, the focus and energy remained on Pierce, who was meanwhile busy spinning and crooning.

The Drums

The Drums

The persona of Jonny Pierce remains quite interesting for how it plays with dualities. At once fey and sinister, rhapsodic and depressed, Pierce makes what is ostensibly pop music about human suffering. Even on the lighter Drums tracks, such as early hit “Let’s Go Surfing,” the tone of the song is transformed by Pierce’s live performance, which constantly veers between borders of light and dark. Especially when accompanied by the growing mosh pit, Pierce took on a demonic presence, pacing around the Neumos stage and staring down into the audience. In moments like this, Pierce could resemble a gay, internet-saturated Ian Curtis, certainly more punk than his sound would sometimes suggest.

The Drums

The Drums

The Drums

Though the subject matter of his most popular songs could be easily pigeon-holed (“the one about surfing,” “the one about his friend who died,” “the one about money or lack thereof,” all of which were played during the set), Pierce’s style and depth of performance adds complexity and pathos to what could be simple narratives. Material from the recently released Abysmal Thoughts blended in seamlessly with earlier cuts, the tousled, attractive, and precise band further bolstering Pierce’s sound. Overall, the set was a reassertion of The Drums’s talent, and of Pierce’s status as a necessary sex symbol for a younger audience.

The Drums

The Drums

The Drums

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Song of the Day: Captain, We’re Sinking – Trying Year

Captain, We're Sinking

photo by Jessica Flynn

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Trying Year” by Captain, We’re Sinking, from the 2017 album The King of No Man on Run For Cover Records.

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KEXP Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of The Ramones’ Leave Home

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Today, every hour from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM PT, you’ll have a chance to win the Leave Home 40th Anniversary deluxe edition box set, with DJ Kevin Cole giving away the grand package: the deluxe edition box set and the debut album Ramones 40th Anniversary deluxe edition box set, plus a bunch of stickers, prints, and buttons.

Barely off the road in support of their 1976 self-titled debut, The Ramones quickly returned to the studio to crank out another album. Joey Ramone said in a later interview, “I wrote most of the stuff I contributed at my apartment in Forest Hills before I left and moved back to a place in the city. I had no amp at home, just an electric guitar. I recorded it onto a cassette and played that back at rehearsal. We had better production, we were playing a little faster, and we had a lot of songs accumulated. We were in really good shape for that album.” Read More »

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KEXPort 2017, Day 1: Dynfari, Hatari, Hórmónar, Kuldaboli, Une Misére

Hatari headlines the first day of KEXPort 2017 // all photos by Lilja Jónsdóttir

Now in its sixth year, KEXPort celebrates KEXP’s ongoing relationship with Kex Hostel in Reykjavik, where we broadcast every year during Iceland Airwaves. Typically, it’s a music marathon consisting of 12 bands in 12 hours, but this year they’ve expanded the program to feature 15 bands over two days. While a few artists this year have been featured by KEXP before, like Sóley, Fufanu, Vök and Hórmónar, most of them are completely new to KEXP listeners and among the newest talent in Iceland. It’s no wonder then why the locals coming out in droves to make each year of KEXPort a huge success.
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Wednesday Music News

photo by Renata Steiner (view set)

  • ’90s/early 2000’s dream pop outfit Luna have two new albums in the works, a covers album called A Sentimental Education and an instrumental EP called A Place of Greater Safety. Today they’ve shared a track from A Sentimental Education, a cover of Mink DeVille’s “Let Me Dream If I Want To.” They’ve previously shared a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “One Together,” for the same album. Luna split up in 2005 but reunited in 2015 for some shows. The band haven’t released a new album in 13 years, since 2004’s Rendezvous. [ Under the Radar ]
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Forecastle Festival, Day One: ODESZA, Chicano Batman, Waka Flocka Flame

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Forecastle Music Fest at dusk // all photos by Morgen Schuler (view set)

Written by Morgen and Amie Schuler

As I stepped onto the grounds of Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY, I had a weird combination of anxiety and nostalgia roiling around in my chest. You see, I grew up in the area and Louisville is the place I called home for over 18 years. I still do, to a degree, but Seattle has been the place I’ve hung my hat for the last 14, so I usually call them both home (which is confusing all on its own). But as I stared out over the Ohio River with those familiar bridges lining us on both sides, I felt at home; my accent may have even thickened a little within the first two hours I was there.

Forecastle_Day1_wp_12

Chicano Batman

Friday was definitely the most brutal, not in the lineup, but in weather. It can get seriously hot and add on to that 70% humidity and you’ve got something really ruthless. I knew if I could get into the spirit of the festival and enjoy myself on this first day, then the rest would be much easier so that’s exactly what I did. What better way to get my booty shakin’ than to watch Chicano Batman get the groove going. In matching suits they pulled out the inner dancer in all of us and got our whole bodies moving to the music. Channeling The Temptations with their R&B vibes perfectly complimented the sleepy yet excited crowd coming out for a weekend full of music.

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KEXP Track Premiere: Ephrata – Odds

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Seattle’s Ephrata have been purveyors of dreamy, expansive-yet-poppy music scene they formed in 2012. With each new single and EP, they’ve expanded their sonic palette and even managed to squeeze in some startling visuals and music videos — sometimes things got bloody. The band will self-release their debut self-titled record on Sept. 22. Ahead of the record, they’ve shared their new single “Odds.” It hits the hallmarks of a great Ephrata track — glimmering guitars, serene vocal harmonies, and a melody so infectious that it will be stuck in your head for days.

You can stream the track below. We also caught up with the band and discussed the road that led to the new record, how they’ve forged their aesthetic, and get some hints at their next music video.



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Enter to Win a Trip to Iceland Airwaves 2017

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Iceland is hands down the most beautiful place I have ever visited and even though I know there are many great festivals happening all around the world, I have a difficult time imagining something as special as Iceland Airwaves.”

– Miyuki (2013 Iceland Airwaves Flyaway winner)

KEXP wants to send you and a friend to explore the land of ice, fire, and groundbreaking music. Since the 1999 inception of Iceland Airwaves, this tastemaker festival has presented Florence and the Machine, the Flaming Lips, and TV on the Radio as well as Icelandic icons like Sigur Rós, GusGus, and Of Monsters and Men.

With that kind of track record, you’re sure to return from Iceland Airwaves with a slew of new favorite artists. Enter now to win airfare, festival passes, and three nights hotel accommodations. While you’re waiting, here’s a sampling of some of this year’s eclectic musical offerings.


It’s been a long wait for fans of Fleet Foxes between albums. Six years to be exact. But Robin Pecknold and his fellow foxes have returned with Crack-Up, a batch of rich, melancholic folk rock that stands up alongside their finest work.

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Song of the Day: Mammút – “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me”

photo by Jim Bennett (view set)

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me” by Mammút, from their brand new album, Kinder Versions, out now on Bella Union.

Mammút – “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me” (MP3) Read More »

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Tuesday Music News

photo by Renata Steiner (view set)

  • The War On Drugs are following up 2014’s critically acclaimed album Lost In The Dream this fall with A Deeper Understanding and today we have another single off the record, “Strangest Thing.” The epic atmospheric song comes with a 8mm visual directed by Shawn Brackbill. A Deeper Understanding will be out August 25 via Atlantic. The War On Drugs will play two nights at The Moore Theatre on Monday, October 9 and Tuesday, October 10. [ Pitchfork ]

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