South Carolina husband an wife team Shovels & Rope threw an infectiously fun clap and dance along set on the Sasquatch main stage. Somehow this dynamic duo managed to fill the enormous bowl with roots rocking americana sound, trading off on guitar, drums, keys, harmonica, and sharing beautiful close harmonies. A lot of the draw of Shovels & Rope is how much they seem to be enjoying each other, and enjoy performing. “Thank you guys so much, this is so fun,” drawled Cary Ann Hearst, as Michael Trent gave an amiable nod, and their grins throughout the set lent her thanks an air of humble authenticity. On some songs they lean in to share a single mic, drawing kissably close. It’s cute, but they also aren’t hesitant to employ a big synth bass line and blazing electric guitar on some more upbeat songs. It’s also fun to watch them trade duties on guitar, drums, and keys throughout the show. They played a set mostly made up of 2014’s Swimming’ Time and a number of tunes from their break through 2012 album, O’ Be Joyful. They went from that album’s title track into its single “Birmingham”, a great double header of feel good foot stomping. Newer tunes like the southern gothic rocker “Evil” showed a greater dynamic range. This is the group’s third time playing Sasquatch, but their first time on the main stage. Theirs has been a deserved rise in popularity, and it is hard to resist this sort of organic and joyous get-down on a sunny day at The Gorge.
“Wait, they’re here?” That’s how most people reacted when they heard Ex Hex were playing, mishearing their name for that of the nocturnal London trio. But that confusion soon turned to either pleasant surprise or completely expected enjoyment as Mary Timony spent an hour unleashing riff after riff after riff on as she and her bandmates closed down the Yeti stage. The trio’s debut album, 2014’s Rips, does exactly what it’s name says it does, and the live takes on “Don’t Wanna Lose”, “Waterfall”, “Hot and Cold” didn’t disappoint. Timony, bassist Betsy Wright, and drummer Laura Harris were in the most party-friendly of moods on Sunday night, and on a stage that had hosted more than a few guitar-driven garage rock bands, Ex Hex reigned supreme with their fiery energy and effortless cool. “You guys have got some real good vibes,” said Timony, calmly after nailing an extended, fast-paced guitar solo. Then she smiled and went back to shredding, as if a party like this was her norm. Then again, it kind of is.
Everyone’s recovering from the long Memorial Day weekend, including the music industry, but there are still some excellent new releases awake today. One of the highlights is the third full-length from Portland band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. KEXP Music Director Don Yates calls it “an adventurous, impressive blend of prog-rock, psych-pop, funk and R&B, with a variety of densely textured songs featuring spacy synths, atmospheric guitars, jagged rhythms, magnetic song hooks and oblique lyrics about a complicated relationship.” Another local artist, Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles, leads this week’s batch with their debut full-length. Yates notes, “this Seattle project spearheaded by La Luz frontwoman Shana Cleveland is an often-mesmerizing set of psych-tinged folk-pop with an acoustic-oriented sound featuring gentle finger-picked guitar, occasional cello, piano and clarinet, hypnotic, shuffling rhythms and delicate vocals.”
Other highlights this week include Saved and Sanctified: Songs of the Jade Label, the latest resurrected collection from the Numero Group, featuring raw DIY gospel from the West Side of Chicago. West coast artist Little Wings (aka singer/songwriter Kyle Field) team up with the Woodsist label for their eleventh full-length Explains. Captured Tracks releases a 2-LP set from Martin Newell, formerly of Cleaners from Venus. And longtime KEXP fave Joseph Arthur releases Days of Surrender, available on a USB drive with limited edition art prints from the Days of Surrender Series, or you can get the very (very) limited-edition edition with comes with Joseph’s touring van (for the price of $14,999). Joseph Arthur will be LIVE on KEXP on Tuesday, June 2nd at 9:30 AM PT, and playing the Triple Door later that night.
Alan Palomo and company, better known as Neon Indian, have shared an addictive, summer dance track called “Annie” – their first new song in two years. The synthpop outfit hasn’t released a full length album since 2011’s Era Extraña, but they’re working on one now. Hopefully we’ll have a release date soon. [CoS]
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 “Land Gone” by Novella from the 2015 album Land on Sinderlyn Records.
Friend of the station Shakey Graves drew quite a sizable crowd to the main stage at Sasquatch, despite the heat and relatively early time slot. Alejandro Rose-Garcia built his repetition as a one-man band (and before that, as a recurring actor on Friday Night Lights), but he now adds drums and at times a second guitar to the Shakey Graves live sound. Though he shares little with The Osmonds, his sound is indeed a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a lot of fun. Rose-Garcia was full of energy, switching between intricate hammer-on guitar lines and blazing overdriven chords. He also likes to play with the levels of his voice, going from an intimate whisper to a full on yelp at a moments notice. This ass kicking Americana set included a fair amount of crowd participation, and the audience filling in lyrics clearly pleased the performer, who encouraged the crowd with a Texas-twanged, “fuck yeah, y’all!” For his biggest hit, “Dearly Departed”, co-vocalist Esmé Patterson was not able to make it, so Rose-Garcia implored the crowd to “please scream her parts as loud as possible,” with which the audience eagerly complied. This was a sweaty, fun, stomp along set of rootsy folk rock, and a great start to the day. Unusually for Sasquatch, the crowd stuck around after the last notes died, clapping and screaming for an encore (which are not allowed except for the last artist of the day on any given stage). Cleary, this audience loved what they heard and wanted more. Catch Shakey Graves at an exclusive show at The Garage in Seattle on May 28th, a benefit for KEXP’s new home campaign. Read More »
Jenny Lewis has long been an onstage powerhouse – it’s hard to imagine the Postal Service’s 2013 performance being as great as it was without her acting as co-frontwoman – but she’s never been so much fun as she has been on the tour behind 2014’s triumphant The Voyager. Beaming from the second she hit the stage, Lewis ran through a murderer’s row of her greatest strengths. She strummed through the breezy “Just One Of The Guys”, crooned during an acoustic version of “Acid Tongue”, and danced through the four-on-the-floor “Head Underwater”, each showing off their own take on the California songstress’ charm. That’s not to mention the bevy of Rilo Kiley material that she’s brought back into her live set, meaning that fans of the beloved, now-defunct ’00s quartet could hear “Portions for Foxes”, “The Moneymaker”, and “A Better Son/Daughter”. Pulling from 15 years of material may have portrayed Lewis as a veteran of sorts, but judging by the way she conquered the main stage on Sunday afternoon, she’s just getting warmed up. “Are you guys feeling blissed out?,” she asked. “Because I’m feeling blissed out.”
“I’m going to get all VH1 on you for a minute if you’re okay with that, crowd of 85% shirtless men.” Colin Meloy may be a bookworm at heart, but he’s spent the last fifteen years learning how to be a rock frontman, and during The Decemberists’ Saturday evening mainstage set, those skills were put to good use. For example, could just any frontman work a lyrical story about getting his son to eat breakfast (sample lyrics: “Hank, eat your oatmeal/Hank, eat your naan bread”) into the intro of one of their bigger songs (“Calamity Song”)? To be fair, not many would try such a move, but that moment was just one of many where Meloy translated a somewhat elevated idea into something relatable and maybe even anthemic. (See: 2009’s The Hazards of Love) The Portland quintet (with two auxiliary members) were just that on Saturday night, playing songs from their most recent album, this year’s What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World. Notably, unlike their 2009 appearance, there wasn’t a coitus-caused interruption to stop the Portland quintet’s set this year, so for seventy five minutes, the Sasquatch veterans did what they do best: brought the audience into the never-ending folk-soundtracked, literary narrative of The Decemberists.
The diversity between different regions in Spain comes across in the food, languages, landscapes and sounds. Spain’s limber musical muscles stretch far and wide, from electronic to hip hop, reggae to rock, traditional to trap and everything in between.
Spring and summer festivals are in full bloom, featuring stellar international acts alongside local gems hailing from around the country. Taking inspiration from the robust Primavera Sound and Sónar festival lineups, we’ve curated a vibrant collection of videos starring some of our new and all-time favorite bands out of España.
On May 18th, we hosted a special three-hour all-Spain version of El Sonido: listen here