Capitol Hill Block Party: Sunday, Part 1: Dum Dum Girls, The War on Drugs, Pollens, Tanlines, and more

photo by Victoria Holt

Every summer, the crowds pack into Pike street between Broadway and 12th to throw a party unlike any other. Capitol Hill Block Party is a tried and true block party, rocking the streets until 12:30 in the morning, showering them with confetti, and giving both attendees and nearby Capitol Hill apartment dwellers a show to remember for months to come. This year is no different! Check the KEXP blog for coverage of the full weekend’s experience!

photo by Brittany Brassell

Kicking the action off on the Neumos stage Sunday were Seattle DIY garage rock wunderkinds Dude York. This trio is consistently the funnest local act you can catch nearly every month. The band’s new record Dehumanize has been melting faces for half a year now, and their live set hasn’t lost any of its vicious power while the band was recording. Peter, Claire, and Andrew ripped through a relentless ten songs or so in 30 minutes, giving brief anecdotes between songs (“This one is called ‘Cannibal’! It’s about being hungry!” or “This one is called ‘Giving Up’! It’s about the future!”). Altogether, the day couldn’t have started off with more energy. The band took the Vita stage later for an encore set where further hijinks ensued.

Dude York:

set by Brittany Brassell

Seattle talent kept things going at Neumos as Manatee Commune took the stage after Dude York. Grant Eadie has been making some masterful stuff with his one man project and put it all on full display here today. Armed with a table full of sample pads, wire, a laptop, and a drum machine, Eadie also manned a standing drum kit to keep both sonic and kinetic energy flowing from the stage at all times. Numbers trickled in throughout his set until the room was packed out. Manatee Commune was a welcome addition to Capitol Hill Block Party this year and will without a doubt be seeing some new fans at his upcoming appearances around town. As his set ended, Grant jumped on the mic and told everyone to leave to go watch xxyyxx. No wonder why, really - I’m sure he was out there dancing with the rest of us.

Manatee Commune:

set by Dave Lichterman

Marcel Everett’s xxyyxx project has growing in a remarkably organic style over the last few years, and now, the guy has gone from bedroom producer genius kid to festival main stage big name. Everett deserves it, though - his one of a kind style can get a chilled out party going at any time of the day, whether it’s 1:00 in the morning like at Pemberton last weekend, or 4:00 in the afternoon like on the hill today. Everett spun a diverse set of originals, remixes, and crowd pleasers (yeah, we all saw that smirk when T Pain “Chopped and Screwed” dropped). Xxyyxx saw an excellent crowd that got the party started early, despite the hot weather. Everett spun 20 minutes extra and not a soul complained - fantastic set for a lovely afternoon.


set by Brittany Brassell

Brooklyn synth-pop duo Tanlines could not have been happier with their 5:00 slot. “Too late on a Sunday and people start thinking about Monday”, Jesse Cohen said, “but 5:00, you guys are still partying”. Cohen couldn’t have been more right - despite fighting sound with RAC on the main stage, Tanlines pulled in a great crowd at the Vera stage and played a brief, sugary collection and brand new tunes as well as favorites from their 2012 True Panther LP Mixed Emotions. Eric Emm manned the drum pads and the shimmering synthesizers while Cohen handled the vocals and guitars. Over far, far too soon, Tanlines had to call it a day, though the crowd could have done with another hour. However, it did whet our appetites for what these two are cooking up next.


set by Brittany Brassell

Adam Granduciel might seem like a weird act to put on the main stage right before the closing party act takes things home in ridiculous fashion. The War on Drugs find themselves in a comfortable place somewhere between festival rock showiness and Phish-esque 4-hour jam sessions, but here with only an hour to kill, it was interesting to see how the massive crowd would react to the serious change in stage dynamic. But if you’ve ever seen The War on Drugs live before, you know there’s nothing on earth that could convince you to be elsewhere when Adam and his band are onstage. Fresh off the release of excellent new record Lost In The Dream and armed with guitars, saxophone, and keys to boot, The War on Drugs played a marvelous performance that could have gone on for another two hours. Pulling out the best of the new record and some fan favorites from Slave Ambient, Granduciel ripped through one beautiful guitar line after another, never contenting himself to goofy festival antics or cheesy interaction. Well, I guess only once - Adam threw on a wide-smile and yelled “Are we having fun yet!!!” before cracking up with his band on stage. Acutely aware of the weird setting but not one to lose a single moment, Granduciel and the War on Drugs gave us one of the best sets of the weekend without an ounce of ego on the side.

The War on Drugs:

set by Dave Lichterman

Seattle indie pop group Pollens had a bit of a tough slot Sunday night battling both A$AP Rocky and Dum Dum Girls, but they sure made their Neumos set count. The band’s sporadic use of vocal sampling and off-kilter harmony, mixed with animalistic percussion and eclectic instrumentation, makes their music a vibrant and overtaking experience. While Pollens do all of the above on their record Brighten & Break quite well, it’s all taken up a few notches in the live setting, where size and scope and both fully realized. Pollens made the best of a competitive slot and pulled in a great crowd for their bright, all-encompassing Sunday night set, wrapping up the local love at Neumos before Beat Connection & friends took the stage for an encore performance to cap the festival off.


set by Victoria Holt

It’s no surprise to see Dee Dee Penny and the Dum Dum Girls at the very top of the marquee for Capitol Hill Block Party’s closing day. While crowds bustled in waiting for an hour-late A$AP Rocky performance at the main stage, those in the know packed out the Vera Stage with eager ears. Dum Dum Girls ripped into Too True opener “Cult Of Love” with a vengeance and didn’t slow down much from there. Dee Dee’s new record is pure late-80s magic, channeling heroes like Siouxsie Sioux and the Stone Roses into the key of her soul. Even on the most danceable numbers like “I Got Nothing” and “In The Wake of You”, Dee Dee puts her very essence on the line to make the performance as impactful as possible. The band dipped back a few years to pull out favorites like “He Gets Me High” and “Bedroom Eyes”, but crowd interaction stayed pretty high across the board. Easy to understand though - it’s impossible not to want to belt out every line with Dee Dee as she stares across the crowd like a haunted sage. As the band reached their usual closer, Only In Dreams classic “Coming Down”, the mood got somber, but the voices got louder. There’s something incredibly emotive about Dee Dee’s music, and even a warm summer’s night with bass pounding from the stage two blocks down the street can’t stop that feeling from revealing itself at times like this. Dum Dum Girls finished off a hilariously fun weekend with a powerful set, equal parts pain and pleasure.

Dum Dum Girls:

set by Brittany Brassell

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Wednesday Music News

photo by Amber Zbitnoff (view set)

  • Jersey boys Real Estate head south of the border for the video for “Had to Hear,” out 8/25 as a limited edition 7″ single from Domino Records. (The b-side will be their cover of “Paper Doll” by The Nerves that they performed in their Seattle encore earlier this year.) Directed by Richard Law, the clip captures scenes from their show in Mexico City. They’ll be back in town on Labor Day weekend, playing the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival. [Pitchfork]

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Video Roundup: Pickathon 2014

This Friday, August 1st through Sunday, August 3rd marks the 16th Annual Pickathon Music Festival at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, and every year, the festival continues to live up to its city’s name! The festival features a line-up of over fifty joy-inducing bands — including The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Valerie June, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco, Courtney Barnett, just to name a few — and most bands play twice during the festival. Tickets are still available here.

Can’t make it to Happy Valley? Let KEXP bring the happiness to you with the festival’s live video broadcast, featuring bands on both the Woods stage and the Galaxy Barn stage, and running from 11AM to 2AM each day. Find out more and view the video broadcast schedule here.

As in previous years, KEXP will be on-site to capture special, intimate performances from the artists over the weekend, which we will happily share with you later. But in the meanwhile, check out some previous KEXP live performances from the artists you’ll see this weekend:
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Album Review: Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

Jenny Lewis has always been a voyager. Whether it was way back when penning heartbreak after heartbreak with Rilo Kiley or finding fresh, rocky footing on her own Rabbit Fur Coat and Acid Tongue, she’s wandered around like an ongoing cameo in someone else’s story. Lewis is a gifted spectator, blessed with the ability to tell a tale from afar, even when the events may have ripped through her soul just the night before. She’s never been to question her place - rather, she’s taken it with a grain of salt and moved forward with shinier shoes than the next one. For all these reasons and a couple dozen more, Jenny Lewis has given us a thousand sunsets to drink to - a sage from the Vegas strip, come to tell stories of the neon night life in the stark, brutal honesty of the day-glow.

On her new record, The Voyager, Lewis makes a conscious change in article. Her first full-length record in six years, Lewis is done being one of many. The Voyager is a collection of stories, not altogether unlike ones we’ve heard from her somber strings before, but the siren singing is more defiant. This is Jenny Lewis, the one and only, and every track makes a fully realized statement of grounding and independence that only Lewis could make. Unapologetic as ever and still unlike anyone else, Jenny Lewis returns this year with a timeless effort of priceless value.
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Live Video: Dean Wareham

photo by Charina Pitzel (view set)

If Dean Wareham‘s own name isn’t familiar, his previous projects most likely are. Galaxie 500 and Luna may never have quite reached the commercial success to match their critical acclaim, but both bands inspired a generation to follow of dream-pop wanderers and romantic rock dreamers. And both were favorites among KCMU and KEXP DJs and listeners alike. Fortunately, Dean Wareham kept busy after Luna’s demise, focusing on soundtracks and collaborative work with former Luna bassist, and his wife, Britta Philips, and he returns now with his self-titled “solo debut”, which forgoes none of the dreamy psych-pop, chiming guitars, atmospheric keyboards and gentle vocals that he’s always been known for. Accompanied by Philips, in addition to guitarist/bassist Raymond Richards and drummer Roger Brogan, Dean Wareham stopped by KEXP recently to draw us back into his own world and it couldn’t be dreamier.

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Song of the Day: J Mascis - Every Morning

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

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 Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Every Morning” by J Mascis from the 2014 album Tied To A Star out August 26th on Sub Pop Records.

J Mascis - Every Morning (MP3)

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KEXP & Seattle Center Presents: Concerts at the Mural Donor Appreciation Night 8/1

It’s hard to believe it’s already August, but that just means it’s time for our Concerts at the Mural series! Every Friday in August, KEXP teams up with Seattle Center to bring you FREE, all ages entertainment on the Mural Amphitheater lawn.

And this Friday, August 1st, we’re kicking things off in a major way with our Donor Appreciation Night. KEXP is listener-powered, and without our donors, an event like this is impossible. We’ve paired up the adorable Anacortes, WA quartet Cumulus with the frenetic percussive-pop of Kithkin to open the show. And who better than “the Screaming Eagle of Soul” to headline: Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, all the way from Brooklyn, New York. If you’ve seen Bradley in concert before, you know this man gives an incredible, passionate performance — it’s the same passion KEXP has for music, and we’re grateful to YOU for powering our airwaves, our concerts, and our community events, like this one!

In fact, we want to look out on the Mural Amphitheatre lawn and see a sea of KEXP t-shirts, so if you’re a donor, wear any KEXP t-shirt you have to the concert to show everyone you power the station where the music matters! Each donor who sports a KEXP tee and stops by the KEXP tent will be entered into giveaways for special KEXP swag. See you under the Space Needle!
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Tuesday Music News

photo by Dave Lichterman

  • TV on the Radio announced their plan to release a sixth studio album titled Seeds,the first since 2011′s Nine Types of Light. According to a press release, Tunde Adebimpe said this album is “1000%, without a doubt, the best thing we’ve ever done.” Check out the Seeds preview below. [CMJ]

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Out This Week 7/29

It’s been six long years, but the latest solo album from Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis is out today. KEXP Music Director Don Yates describes the album, The Voyager, as “a strong return to form steeped in classic West Coast ‘70s and ‘80s pop-rock with smartly crafted songs juxtaposing breezy melodies with incisive lyrics that cut deep. Produced by Ryan Adams along with Beck and Johnathan Rice, the album features a warm, lush sound that puts the focus on Lewis’s gorgeous vocals and consistently strong songcraft.”

Speaking of Beck, today he releases a full-album version of his 2012 sheet music release, Song Reader, with each song recorded by a guest artist including Jack White, Jarvis Cocker, Laura Marling, Eleanor Friedberger, and many more. Beck himself appears on one track, “Heaven’s Ladder.”

KEXP is also excited about the latest from local duo Shabazz Palaces. Their latest, Lese Majesty, is “another mind-blowing set of experimental hip hop with woozy beats and spacy textures accompanying Butler’s reverberating vocals and abstract raps.” (You can read a more indepth review of the album on the KEXP Blog here, and tune in for a LIVE in-studio from the boys on Monday, August 4th at 3:00 PM PST.)
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Song of the Day: Spoon - Rent I Pay

photo by Dave Lichterman

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 Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Rent I Pay” by Spoon from the forthcoming album They Want My Soul on Loma Vista Records.

Spoon - Rent I Pay (MP3)

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