The name says it all with Boise’s Treefort Music Fest — think intimate clubhouse, and since this is the Northwest, think very big tree. The line-up is tremendous: not just national acts, such as Foxygen, TV on the Radio, Viet Cong, Rubblebucket, Trampled by Turtles, and hometown heroes Built to Spill, but emerging artists from Boise and beyond, with an emphasis on the Northwest. Treehouse Music Fest’s main street locale conjures up comparisons to SXSW, and the regional representation brings to mind Raleigh’s defunct Troika music festival, influences noted by Treehouse Music Fest organizers. In addition to the staggering amount of music, movies, panels, and discussions abound at Treefort Film Festival, Hackfort, Comedyfort, Storyfort, and Performancefort. Decompress between shows at Yogafort, Alefort, and Skatefort, and Kidfort. As well as two unannounced, bonus secret shows featuring one or more Treefort artists? Shut the fort up.
The festival runs Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29. 5-Day, Zip Line, and Secret Handshake passes are currently available for purchase here. Read KEXP festival reviews from 2013 and 2012, and previous 2015 announcements.
Musical magician Merrill Garbus, aka tUnE-yArDs, shares a new video today for the track “Wait for a Minute,” a soulful piece from last year’s album Nikki Nack. The clip, directed by SNEAL, features a pixelated Garbus singing behind an overlay of distortion, effects, and images. Watch: [Under the Radar]
Seattle duo Chimurenga Renaissance is generating heat in both International Music and Hip-Hop. They are musical royalty and prodigal sons who have managed to cross-pollinate the traditional and the modern, bridging two continents, two cultures, two generations and two genres.
The band came about through collaborations between Tendai Maraire from Shabazz Palaces and Hussein Kalonji, who played with many great Congolese bands. Tendai is the son of Abraham Dumisani Maraire, a master performer of the traditional Shona/Zimbabwean instruments, the mbira and marimba. Hussein is the son of the famous Congolese guitarist Raymond “Braynck” Kalonji. For some immigrant musicians, becoming a performer only manifests when you move to a new country, but for Tendai and Hussein, it was always in the cards. Both became immersed in hip-hop in both style and substance. For them, the music of their father’s wasn’t as much of a draw as something to push against. But later, their interest in African music became stronger when both of their fathers passed and the sons felt they needed a deeper connection to who they were, not just American Hip Hop performers but African musicians.
Chimurenga Renaissance is a synthesis of both of these cultural manifestations and also a unique expression of what it means to be an African living in the US, adding a particular offering to the dominant musical and cultural scene through their experiences here and in their fathers’ countries. With the power and flexibility of the internet and mobile technology, Hussein and Tendai can see and hear what is happening in Africa, contribute to both cultures, and alchemically transmute that music onto a new vibrant sound that speaks to musicians worldwide.
“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence – sometimes I did the same.”
Kendrick Lamar dug himself a bit of a hole on his explosive 2012 breakthrough LP, good kid, m.A.A.d city. His problem? He’s a fantastic storyteller. Actually, he’s likely one of the best we’ve ever had. In two and a half years, his “short film” album has transformed the face of the mainstream hip-hop game, with its incredibly vivid true-to-life moments, its personalization, and an unbeatable west coast cadence that felt like it had been gone for the better part of a decade. But it’s not the stories Kendrick tells that are the problem – those stories are his life, his dreams, and his ongoing discoveries, put to verse. Rather, it’s what the stories mean to Kendrick now, and moreover, what they mean to the millions of fans of all backgrounds and walks of life that listen to his music. With good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick built himself a house, and on each of these walls is cleanly projected a separate story, a separate anecdote of himself cleanly mixed and mastered and spun and streamed in just the right light to sell you one dimension, one dimension and no more. You watch the video for “Backseat Freestyle” and you get Compton Kendrick turned up to full blast with a black and white video shot with 90s camerawork and a post-production dustiness to make it look gritty. But with “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe“, you get the smooth, conscious Kendrick, removed from Compton context in the California hills, or at a funeral, introverted, trying to explore the thoughts in his head before betting lost in them, wondering what it all means. And if, God forbid, ever the two shall mix (like on the video for “Poetic Justice“) there’s a big warning label across the screen telling you not to take it all literally. Read More »
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 “Lions” by Duke Evers from their 2014 self-released Handful of Pennies EP.
Spring is springing with excellent new releases, including the highly-anticipated debut (of sorts!) from Melbourne, Australia artist Courtney Barnett. KEXP Music Director Don Yates calls the release, “a masterful set that improves upon her promising early releases with even sharper songwriting and a more urgent and confident sound. The diverse set of songs ranges from stomping garage-rock and ‘90s-steeped grunge-pop to psych-tinged jangle-pop and bluesy, atmospheric ballads, though the focus rightfully remains on Barnett’s deadpan vocals and delightfully frank, witty and insightful lyrics balancing wry humor with a deep poignancy.” (You can also read a further in-depth review of the album here.)
Other highlights this week include the sophomore release from L.A. rapper Kendrick Lamar. Yates says, “Featuring a densely layered sound, the album masterfully combines dark, gritty grooves heavily steeped in ‘70s funk and jazz with Lamar’s tricky, elastic delivery and intricate, often-politically charged rhymes that delve deep into feelings of guilt, anger and self-doubt.” Seattle’s own Chastity Belt follows up their debut with “a consistently strong set of moody post-punk songs combining ringing, surf-inflected guitars, jagged rhythms and Julia Shapiro’s jaded, often-sardonic lyrics.” UK artist Laura Marling releases an excellent fifth album featuring “a more edgy and electric sound for her brooding folk-pop, combining her intricate acoustic guitar finger-picking with rumbling electric riffs and washes of guitar noise along with galloping rhythms for a more aggressive backdrop for her husky, elastic vocals and dark, often-biting lyrics. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion share their latest, recorded at the Daptone House of Soul in Bushwick, which they call “a document of New York City, a chronicle of grit and terror and love.” And JEFF the Brotherhood return with a new one, which frontman Jake Orall calls, “the most fully realized JEFF The Brotherhood record we’ve ever made.”
Dan Deacon has shard a psychedelic music video for his Gliss River track “When I Was Done Dying.” The wild animation, created by Jake Fried, Caleb Wood, Anthony Fransisco Shepherd, and many more, follows the lyrics pretty literally. I still have no idea what’s going on, but I bet that’s the point. [Pitchfork]
Okay, this is going to seem kind of weird. It’s late March now – Spring is finally upon us – and here we are presenting Courtney Barnett and her band decked out in costume. There’s actually a pretty good reason for it. When the Australian indie sensation stopped by the KEXP studio last Halloween to perform four songs from her 2013 Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, she stuck around to play a second set composed of entirely new songs, ones she couldn’t reveal until her new album came out. Every day isn’t Halloween but now that Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit has hit record store shelves, for you today can be. Here’s your treat:
Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Keith McIvor, a.k.a. JD Twitch, established himself as an internationally-renowned DJ as one-half of Optimo, also the name of the dynamic duo’s legendary club night where he served as a resident DJ alongside JG Wilkes. Known for their adventurous, eclectic, body-moving sets and equally wild parties, Optimo became a hotbed for touring acts while the DJ duo released critically-acclaimed mixes and were invited to contribute to the revered Fabric mix series in 2010. While their long-running DJ night is no longer active, JD Twitch stays busy touring and spinning at clubs around the world, releasing his own original productions, and running the Optimo Music and Optimo Trax record labels. For his entry into KEXP’s Midnight In A Perfect World series, he’s seamlessly pieced together a thematic mix revolving around nuclear war, a catastrophic topic that he manages to make groovy, cinematic, and propulsive with deep and classic underground dancefloor selections
Regardless of whether you consider the new release by Courtney Barnett her sophomore effort or first official LP, there’s no denying it’s a terrific album. In fact, if you were a fan of last year’s Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, I’m happy to tell you that Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (out tomorrow on Mom+Pop) is everything you hoped it would be.
Okay, that’s probably all it takes to send most of her growing legion of fans scurrying off to their favorite record stores to pick it up, especially considering the high anticipation for this album and the very recent buzz around her SXSW appearances last week. But there may be some of you out there who want a little more, who are wondering if the refreshingly clever-confessional approach on A Sea of Split Peas is sustainable or if she’s found a way to marry the bedroom pop of her early recordings with the garage-y fury of her live shows. The quick answers: yes and yes. Read More »