Live Review: Say Hi with Unlikely Friends at Barboza 12/12/14

all photos by Brittany Brassell

Holy shit, Say Hi knows how to get the party started on a Friday night at 9PM! I honestly think I saw more empty drink cups and shot glasses lining the Barboza shelf of subwoofers tonight than I’ve ever seen at their weekly Saturday night dance gigs. In a city on a hill where we show the Rocky Horror Picture Show weekly and regularly have Twin Peaks themed dance nights, I guess it’s really no surprise that Seattle knows how to get weird. But to welcome Seattle native Eric Elbogen back to a local stage after more than forty dates between now and the beginning of his tour in support of new record Endless Wonder, things got very fun very fast. But of course, that’s no surprise at all – it’s just Eric doing what he does best in the way that only he could do it. Together with budding Seattle supergroup (technically!) Unlikely Friends, Say Hi brought the house down at the Barboza for his second to last show of the year.

If you aren’t familiar with Seattle threesome Unlikely Friends yet, you’d best start familiarizing. The band has been playing shows in the Seattle area for since October and will drop their debut LP Solid Gold Cowboys in January. The band is made up of D. Crane (of BOAT), Charles Bert (of Math and Physics Club), and Chris Mac (from lots of Seattle stuff). The lead single “(I’ve Got A) Soft Reputation” is pure gold. Also, being that they (supposedly) played the entirety of the LP in their set here tonight, along with an incredible medley of one track with the B-52’s “Love Shack” and a song about pizza crust, our guess is the rest of the LP will be too. Chris Mac’s Beat Happening shirt was not an accident – Unlikely Friends rock Northwestern rock vibes through and through. For the crowd present tonight, celebrating both them and our favorite Northwestern synth pop connoisseur Eric Elbogen, this wasn’t a problem at all. If you see them in the near future, make sure and fill out one of their comment cards.

Unlikely Friends:

Last fall, Say Hi debuted a whole new kind of live set for his contribution to Barsuk 15, an incredible four day celebration of the label’s 15th birthday. A far cry from the rock arrangements of old, Say Hi’s ever evolving live identity found Eric decked out in a suit, manning a trigger pad and a microphone, knocking out punchy synth pop renditions of his massive collection of tracks like that’s the way they always were. Opening with a bass heavy, bouncing rendition of “One, Two… One“, Eric was all energy and dance moves. Good thing for us, Eric apparently liked the new setup. His new record Endless Wonder, the follow up to 2011’s already excellent Um, Uh Oh, goes full synth pop above and beyond to outdo its predecessor. Every track on this gem is unadulterated pop bliss, with a quirkiness and self-awareness that only Eric brings to the table.

Eric knocked out the best of Endless Wonder in dazzling form here tonight at the Barboza. The suit returned, as did a repurposed money clip on the tie – great touch. The cynical punchiness of “Such A Drag” was followed by the introverted melancholy of “Figure It Out”. Then after tugging on heartstrings over a pounding bass beat with “When I Think About You”, Eric calmed the room for a solitary moment of reprieve. Loading up his trigger pad with all harp samples, Eric laid down a bare-bones version of “Critters” that put shivers down your spine. Yes, some of us may know Say Hi as the guy who writes loves songs about vampires and androids and would rather talk about spaceships, but when Eric belted out that chorus, the room quieted to an awed standstill. “But I guess I didn’t know it when I saw it”, Eric sang, bringing all of the pent up resentment of that excellent track to full life here tonight. Then, as the song faded and the applause rang out, Eric queued up “Like Pears Like Apples” and said, “Ok, this next song is about butts”. Say Hi, ladies and gentlemen – always the mystery man and the charmer.

Through a pretty massive 17 song set, Eric navigated the far corners of the Say Hi catalogue to appease pretty much everyone in the room. “Devils” and “Take You Dancing” appeared from Um, Uh Oh. “Back Before We Were Brittle” and (because Seattle) “Northwestern Girls” appeared from 2008’s The Wishes and the Glitch. Then, Eric went heavy on the Oohs & Ahs classics playing “November Was White”, “Maurine”, and of course, “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh“. He also attempted to host several David Bazan-esque Q&A sessions, which mostly dissolved into telling groaner jokes. We did find out that the first two cassettes Eric ever bought were DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Guns N’ Roses, though – that’s pretty rad. Closing out with “Let’s Talk About Spaceships” and “Super“, Say Hi bid everyone farewell with as much reserved charm and tact as ever. Barboza was an early Friday night house party from beginning to end.

Say Hi:

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KEXP Presents: 2014 Yule Benefit at Neumos this Saturday!

It’s the most wonderful time of year… if “wonderful” actually means insanely busy. All the more reason to make some time for the music and attend KEXP’s 2014 Yule Benefit! It’s back and better than ever. This year features an amazing line-up of artists — Strand of Oaks, Cymbals Eat Guitars, S, and Cabana — and an amazing cause — KEXP’s New Home Campaign.

Last week, we came together for the drive virtually. Now, let’s get together in real time. Join your KEXP friends and family this Saturday, December 20th at Neumos as we celebrate all that’s to come in 2015 — this time next year, KEXP will be in its new home in Seattle Center! — with music by artists that made many 2014 top ten album lists.

You know why it’s called the “Yule Benefit,” right? Because you’ll benefit from attending this show. Seriously, take a breather from all that’s hectic about the holidays and enjoy the show.

Tickets are available online here, $20 in advance, $25 day of show. Doors open at 8 p.m., 21+
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2014 Top Ten List Spotlight: Cheryl Waters

For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2014, leading up to our 2014 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting has ended, but tune in on Friday, December 19th to hear if your picks made the list.

The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs // photo by Renata Steiner (view set)

Cheryl Waters’ 2014 Top Ten Albums

artist album label
The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream Secretly Canadian
Ty Segall Manipulator Drag City
Spoon They Want My Soul Loma Vista/Republic
The Horrors Luminous XL
Merchandise After The End 4AD
Temples Sun Structures Fat Possum/Heavenly
Sharon Van Etten Are We There Jagjaguwar
Parquet Courts Sunbathing Animal What’s Your Rupture?
Thee Oh Sees Drop Castle Face
Cymbals Eat Guitars Lose Barsuk

Cheryl Waters is the host of The Midday Show, airing Monday through Friday, 10AM-2PM.

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Song of the Day: Smokey Brights – If I Can’t Change Your Mind

photo by Andrew J.S.

photo by Andrew J.S.

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part 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 “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” by Smokey Brights from their 2014 self-released album, Taste for Blood.

Smokey Brights – If I Can’t Change Your Mind (MP3)

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2014 Top Ten List Spotlight: Kevin Cole

For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2014, leading up to our 2014 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting ends TODAY, Tuesday, December 16th at 6:00 PM PT, so let us know your favorites now, and tune in on Friday, December 19th to hear if your picks made the list!

Kevin Cole’s 2014 Top Ten Albums

artist album label
Ty Segall Manipulator Drag City
The War On Drugs Lost in the Dream Secretly Canadian
Caribou Our Love Merge
FKA twigs LP1 Young Turks
Strand of Oaks Heal Dead Oceans
Woods With Light and With Love Woodsist
Phantogram Voices Republic/Barsuk
Samaris Silkidrangar One Little Indian
Temples Sun Structures Fat Possum
Sugar Stems Only Come Out At Night Dirtnap

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Out This Week 12/16

The new releases list gets smaller and smaller as we get closer and closer to the end of the year. A few highlights do stand out, especially the long-awaited new album from R&B artist D’Angelo. After 15 years, he returns with his third album, Black Messiah, featuring production by ?uestlove. (Stream the album on the KEXP Blog here.)

Minneapolis-based cult-faves Trip Shakespeare reissue their long-out-of-print first two albums, 1986’s Applehead Man and the cleverly-titled 1989 release Are You Shakespearienced?. Both have been remastered and repackaged with bonus tracks. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood shares his score for the new Paul Thomas Anderson film Inherent Vice, out today on Nonesuch Records. And UK label Cherry Red release the fantastic box set collection, Millions Like Us: The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989, featuring 100 tracks from the Mod Revival scene of the late Seventies and Eighties. (Sounds like a great stocking stuffer for the mod-fan in your life!)
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Tuesday Music News

photo by Alex Crick

  • The Decemberists shared an artsy, lyric video for their latest track, “The Wrong Year.” It’s a charming folk song, complete with descriptive lyrics and a stunning string section. Their upcoming album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, will be out on January 20.

  • Local band Dude York just premiered a new video for “Hesitate” off their latest release, Dehumanize, out now on Help Yourself Records. Dehumanize is sure to end up on KEXP’s Top Albums of 2014 countdown. Is it on your list? Watch the video below, and be sure to vote for your favorite albums of 2014 here before 6PM today!

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KEXP Staff, Volunteers & Interns Top Ten Albums of 2014, Part 2

First Aid Kit // photo by Alex Crick

For the last two weeks, we’ve been sharing with you KEXP DJs’ Top Ten Albums of 2014 lists, and yesterday we also shared picks from some of the dedicated people who work behind the scenes at KEXP as staff, volunteers and interns. Below, we share Top Ten Albums of 2014 lists from more of these passionate music fans.

If you haven’t voted for your own Top Ten Albums of 2014, there’s still time. VOTE HERE by 6PM on today, December 17, and then tune in to KEXP on Friday, December 19, starting at 10AM, to hear the entire countdown of KEXP listeners’ top albums of 2014.

Anna Alter DJ Assistant
tUnE-yArDs Nikki Nack 4AD
Temples Sun Structures Heavenly
First Aid Kit Stay Gold Columbia
Luluc Passerby Sub Pop
J. Mascis Tied to a Star Sub Pop
Jenny Lewis The Voyager Warner Bros.
Bahamas Bahamas Is Afie Brushfire
Spoon They Want My Soul Loma Vista
Interpol El Pintor Matador
Goat Commune Sub Pop
Michael Brinley DJ Assistant and Front Desk Volunteer
Blake Mills Heigh Ho Verve
The War on Drugs Lost In The Dream Secretly Canadian
Brian Eno and Karl Hyde High Life Warp
FKA twigs LP1 Young Turks
Swans To Be Kind Young God
Woods With Light and With Love Woodsist
Real Estate Atlas Domino
Perfume Genius Too Bright Matador
Mac DeMarco Salad Days Captured Tracks
The Weather Station What Am I Going To Do With Everything That I Know You’ve Changed

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Live Review: HAERTS & Mikky Ekko at The Crocodile 12/13/14


all photos by Brittany Brassell

For all of those in attendance at the Crocodile on Saturday night, rest assured that you got see a show that will never, ever happen again. Tonight, we saw Columbia and RCA’s freshest flagship acts play a co-headlining date showing off records that are only crawling up the charts as we speak, and this will be the last time either of them play a venue of this size, let alone together. The night’s two offerings were paired in a perfectly complimentary nature. The 80s power pop magic of HAERTS, who KEXP has had nothing but good things to say about since their debut track, “Wings”, dropped early last year, opened up the night with an excellent set of material from their self-titled debut LP, out now on Columbia. Then Mikky Ekko followed with a sultry set of R&B-tinged pop tunes from his upcoming RCA debut LP, Time, out January 20. For both of these great young artists, this tour is just the very beginning, and there’s a lot of upwards to go from here. But for the dedicated crowd at the Crocodile Saturday night, we got a chance to see HAERTS and Mikky Ekko show off their shining potential in an intimate setting that won’t be repeated again going forward.

Mikky Ekko
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Live Video: ADHD at Iceland Airwaves

photo by Jim Bennett (view set)

The guys from ADHD keep busy with a multitude of projects, but that’s not to say they distract easily. In fact, since forming on a whim in 2008, this award-winning Icelandic super-group of sorts has produced five albums of expressive avant jazz. But still, bringing brothers Óskar and Ómar Guðjónsson (saxophone and guitar respectively), Davíð Þór Jónsson (organ and piano) and Magnús Trygvason Eliassen (percussion) together into one room to record with us has taken a few years, so what better place than the reverent space of the Free Church in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, where the band met us before our Iceland Airwaves broadcast began. Rejoice! The service begins now:

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