Friday Music News

photo by Josh Bis

  • Grizzly Bear dropped their fifth album, Painted Ruins, today via RCA but before it released they stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform lead single “Mourning Sound.” Ed Droste & Co played the beautiful, mellow song under a halo of red lights while Droste looked relaxed in a striped pullover. Catch all the best in TV performances with our weekly roundup column TV Eye and Grizzly Bear in the flesh on Friday, December 8 at the Moore Theatre. [ Under the Radar ]
  • Gorillaz released their latest album, Humanz, earlier this year and a standout track was the Peven Everett-featuring song “Strobelite.” Now, 2016 Polaris Prize winner Kaytranada has got his hands on the song and turned the upbeat dance jam into a smooth, slow-burning jam. Gorillaz will be in Seattle on Saturday, September 30 to play the Key Arena. [ Stereogum ]
  • Fridays mean plenty of highly-anticipated new releases are finally out for us to consume, but one release today that we did not anticipate was the debut self-titled EP from former Crystal Castles frontwoman Alice Glass. She released the track “Without Love” last week, which alluded to a forthcoming album but we had no idea it would come so soon! The EP was written entirely by Glass, with some additional writing and production by Jupiter Keyes. This fall she’ll go on tour with Marilyn Manson but, unfortunately, there is no Seattle date. [ Pitchfork ]
  • New York indie pop band The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are releasing their fourth full-length The Echo Of Pleasure on September 1 via their self-run label Painbow. Previously they’ve shared the singles “Anymore” and “When I Dance With You” from it and today they’ve put out into the world the third single, “My Only.” Frontman Kip Berman said of the song, “‘My Only’ is a song I started a long time ago, but wasn’t old enough to finish. I still don’t know if I’m old enough but it’s finished…So many young bands sing idly of absolute devotion, and that’s cool. But I am not young anymore. I’m married, with a young daughter and an old Volvo. There’s something about my life now that makes this song feel honest in a way it didn’t before.” KEXP is bringing The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to the Tractor Tavern on Saturday, September 23 to play with The Courtneys. [ Billboard ]
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National Radio Week: A Matt Pinfield WHTG Playlist

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As part of KEXP’s National Radio Week coverage, on the KEXP Blog we will be spotlighting some of the stories and personal testimonials given by a variety of radio luminaries in interviews done with KEXP DJs John Richards, Kevin Cole, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy. These interviews articulately explain the enduring legacy of early independent radio stations, as well as the importance of radio to shape and create a community through shared love of music.  In the words of WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas, “if you pay enough attention, radio will probably change your life.”

whtg_logoYou might recognize his name from the influential MTV show 120 Minutes, but before that, Matt Pinfield ruled the airwaves on WHTG-FM 106.3 in New Jersey. Originally an easy listening format, the station made the alt-rock switch in 1984, with Pinfield taking over as Program Director by the early ’90s. WHTG went on to score some of its highest ratings, landing “Favorite Radio Station” in a Rolling Stone annual readers’ poll. Sadly, the station was sold in 2000, and currently operates as Thunder 106, a country music station. We asked Pinfield to craft us a playlist reflective of the station in its prime, and here’s a sampling of his selections below:

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Midnight In A Perfect World: Kelly Lee Owens

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Welsh singer and producer Kelly Lee Owens has been making waves as a captivating solo artist in the underground music community over the past few years, blending immersive techno, ethereal dream-pop, and hypnotic krautrock to create her own singular style. She’s released a string of hotly-tipped EPs and singles, and earlier this year the London-based artist unveiled her brilliant self-titled debut album for the Smalltown Supersound label, providing one of 2017’s most impressive debut albums. A former record store employee with a deep knowledge of underground electronic music, her exclusive guest DJ mix for Midnight in a Perfect World confidently storms through some of her favorite techno, house, and tech-house cuts of today and the last few years, providing a non-stop kinetic dance party for the body and mind.


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Song of the Day: Planes on Paper – Television

Planes on Paper

photo by Nirav Patel

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 Morning Show with John Richards, is “Television” by Yakima duo Planes on Paper from their self-released cassingle released earlier this month.

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National Radio Week: Mike Fuller & KJET

Mike Fuller

Mike Fuller, hosting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition of his KJET show “Made In The States” (more on this below)

As part of KEXP’s National Radio Week coverage, on the KEXP Blog we will be spotlighting some of the stories and personal testimonials given by a variety of radio luminaries in interviews done with KEXP DJs John Richards, Kevin Cole, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy. These interviews articulately explain the enduring legacy of early independent radio stations, as well as the importance of radio to shape and create a community through shared love of music.  In the words of WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas, “if you pay enough attention, radio will probably change your life.”

At Midnight, May 30th, 1982, a great moment in Seattle radio happened: KZOK-AM, a ’70s pop station called “Solid Gold 16″ became KJET 1600. They signed on with “I Love Rock N’ Roll” Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. The upstart station at 1590 on the AM dial would soon become one of the world’s only voices for alternative music and was one of the only stations that took the local music scene seriously. Listeners included members of Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Pearl Jam. Together with KCMU (KEXP), a local underground publication called The Rocket and the newly-founded Sub Pop Records, KJET played a pivotal role in creating a network of support for fledgling local music acts.

KEXP’s own Cousin Mike was once KJET’s own Mike Fuller, as he joined the station in 1984. Today at 8:00 AM on The Morning Show on KEXP, DJ John Richards welcomes Fuller and fellow former-KJET DJ Bill Reid (aka The Tallest Man in Radio) to the airwaves. We also got a chance to chat with Mike off the mic.

The very first KJET t-shirt

The very first KJET t-shirt

What made your station special?

A lot of alternative stations in those days were kind of novelty/new wave-y (think Josie Cotton’s “Johnny Are You Queer?”) but KJET was always about playing the best music. We did play some new wave-y stuff, of course, but we leaned much more heavily on guitars than synths.

What was the initial reaction to the station?

It was very positive — helped, I’m sure, by the fact that people were still mourning the loss of KZAM. KCMU was around, but the signal still didn’t reach much beyond the U-District and we were still finding an audience. A little-known fact is that KJET’s owners tried a short-term experiment with a new wave/punk format before KJET, when it was still called KZOK-AM. I believe it only lasted a few months, but I loved that station and KZAM. While my friends were all listening to The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and the Steve Miller Band, I’d switched to the Ramones, U2, Sham 69, Split Enz, etc. They thought it all sucked and I was crazy.

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National Radio Week: Mr. Shovel (Mark Sovel) Digs Into Indie 103.1

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Silversun Pickups at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles // photo by Mark Sovel

As part of KEXP’s National Radio Week coverage, on the KEXP Blog we will be spotlighting some of the stories and personal testimonials given by a variety of radio luminaries in interviews done with KEXP DJs John Richards, Kevin Cole, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy. These interviews articulately explain the enduring legacy of early independent radio stations, as well as the importance of radio to shape and create a community through shared love of music.  In the words of WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas, “if you pay enough attention, radio will probably change your life.”

15 Days. Three guys. And a $1,000 shopping spree at Amoeba Records. That’s what it took to launch Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles, a station Rolling Stone magazine declared “America’s Coolest Commercial Station” just one year later. It was only on the air for a short period, but in that time, they helped make stars out of local bands and under-the-radar acts like Arcade Fire, Silversun Pickups, Warpaint and Cold War Kids. We chatted with one of those three guys, Mark Sovel aka Mr. Shovel (read that story here):

In the beginning:

I was the music director from the day it started until the day it ended. A week before it went on the air, I didn’t know I was going to be the music director. I got a call on December 19, 2003, from a colleague, and I was supposed to leave with my family to go on Christmas vacation. He said, “We’re going to put this station on the air at Christmas, can you help us put it together?” I said, are you offering me a job? They were vague, but this was the kind of opportunity I had been looking for all my life, to have my hand in building a radio station from scratch, especially one where I could do whatever I wanted. So I canceled my ticket. We went to Amoeba, went on a shopping spree one night, and spent the rest of the night looking at CDs and going “okay, ‘Hitsville UK,’ we’re going to play that on the radio.” There was no oversight. The situation was quite abnormal — we had one company, Clear Channel, who was leasing the radio station from another company. Neither of them cared what we did with it.

From a programming perspective, there was zero oversight. So we said okay, we’re going to play The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, Pixies, Radiohead, Cure, Smiths… things that weren’t getting played on commercial radio. And we would go deep on those things, along with playing a bunch of new music that wasn’t getting played on the radio. It was a phenomenally rare opportunity. I ended up being given the titled music director after we launched. While we were going on that shopping spree, we were there with this corporate guy with the credit card. By the time we got to the P-section, he said we were done, and I said, “hold on a second, we didn’t get the Sex Pistols,” and I ran up to the S-section and grabbed that first record. We put in ¾ of that album into gold rotation, and Steve Jones ended up hearing that when we launched. He basically hit us up and said he wanted to be a DJ. “My only condition is that I can play whatever I want and say whatever I want.” My program director, Michael Steele, said you’re the one who’s going to produce the show.

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Throwaway Style: Learning Independence from College Radio

KSPU

Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, every Thursday on the KEXP Blog.


Take a journey with me, waaaaaay back to the year 2009. Every Thursday at 1 AM across campus the Seattle Pacific University campus, a few groups of students would huddle around their laptop speakers. They were listening to maybe the most popular radio show at the time on the campus’ Internet radio station KSPU. But they weren’t tuned in to hear some great new bands or unearthed jams. The show was called “Numbers” and it featured a guy reading… numbers. Just numbers. The idea was that listeners were to write down every number each week and try to find the hidden code. An entire quarter went by and I don’t think anyone ever figured what the numbers meant. The mysterious host was my roommate and even I never got a hint at what it was all about.

So, not every show on KSPU was like that (or I should say “isn’t like that,” the station is still alive and well today!), but Numbers probably best embodied the spirit of what the station was really about — independence. A theme that extends across college radio as a whole. We had students hosting radio plays, post-punk showcases, 8-bit jams, and variety shows that ran the gamut of genres. Personally, I co-hosted a show called stripped.down which was originally supposed to be an all acoustic music showcase but evolved (or maybe devolved) into some sort of variety show with my best friend Zach — we ended up breaking Numbers’ listenership record when we hyped up a live on-air mime act where we pantomimed moving a beached whale back into the ocean; an act clearly destined for the purely aural experience of radio. It fucking slayed.
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Thursday Music News

Photo by Arden Wray

  • Alvvays are due to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, Antisocialites, on September 8 via Polyvinyl. Today they’ve shared the third single from the new album, “Plimsoll Punks.” It follows the wistful tracks “In Undertow” and “Dreams Tonite.” In a press release the band claims “Plimsoll Punks” is their response to Television Personalities’ 1995 song “Part-Time Punks” off of Paisley Shirts & Mini Skirts. Catch Alvvays on Saturday, October 28 at The Showbox. [ Under the Radar ]
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Review Revue: Sonic Youth – Sister

Sonic-Youth-Sister

It’s been great to see all the celebration of various independent radio stations around the country this week. Part of what makes this series so fun for me is digging through the scribblings of college radio DJs who were on the air around when I was discovering some of my favorite music through college radio.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Boston area, which had (and still has, as far as I know) an embarrassment of riches in the college radio department. My go-tos were WHRB, WMBR, and WZBC, all of which exposed me to strange and wonderful sounds I never would have heard before. I don’t know which station introduced me first to Sonic Youth, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t either the “Rock of Boston” or the “alternative rock” station of my youth. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to college and independent radio stations everywhere!

“This band can do no wrong in my book but this time out they have poorly mixed/produced drums. [So, is that wrong or not?] Other than that this record is GREAT. They’re moving into a more song structured approach rather than the clang and bang of earlier work. I found this record to be a bit of a sideways move but it presses forward so that Sonic Youth maintains their stature as one of the pre-eminent bands of the ’80s.”

“‘Hot Wire My Heart’ [rest of comment illegible]”

“The CD has two (2) extra tracks.”

“Buy it, quick!”

“March Gooch would rather starve than miss the opportunity to buy a CD (that rocks, mind you) with extra tracks.”

“Mr. Creed [that first comment] says it all. Their most effective record.”

“What does this record effect?”

“MOST IMPORTANT ALBUM OF THE YEAR (Besides Wire and the Cure, of course).”

“Are those Hippie buns on the back?

“It says ‘____ Mother Fucker’ on her leg”

“Best album art in a long time. [illegible] ’bout the music . . .”

“Produced in a tube amp studio. Therefore, the warm fuzzy noisy quality. PS I like a lot of this.”

“MOST IMPORTANT ALBUM OF 1987!”

“Oh I already said that. Sorry.”

“Good stuff. Course you know my vote for best of ’87 but this is up there.”

“‘Hot Wire My Heart’ originally done by a group called Crime.”

“I keep staring at the cover. Someone stop me, it’s just not natural (or is it?)”

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Local Artist Spotlight: The Courtneys

The Courtneys KEXP

photo by Brady Harvey

Every week, KEXP features a new local artist with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. This week, we’re featuring Vancouver BC indie rock group The Courtneys, who play Concerts at the Mural this Friday, August 18, with Thunderpussy and Dude York.

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Listening to The Courtneys feels like blaring out monster guitar chords while laying on the couch, binge watching your favorite teen drama. The Vancouver trio has a knack for churning out enthusiastic power-pop licks, powered by the bond of friendship shared between the members. Earlier this year the band released their second LP, appropriately titled The Courtneys II, which does what any good sequel should: heightens the drama and furthers the legacy of the original. We caught up with Courtney Loove (the only member actually named Courtney) to talk about the friendship that binds the band, ramen, celebrities, and figuring out what makes a “perfect record.”

So much of the energy of The Courtneys comes from your friendship and comradery as a band. So, how did you all become friends?

Jen and Sydney met in their hometown of Calgary and were roommates before they became bandmates. They moved to Vancouver and that’s when I met them. I saw Jen and Sydney’s band Puberty play, and also saw Jen drumming for Makeout Videotape, and knew we should be friends. Read More »

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