Live Video: Viet Cong

photo by Brittney Bollay (view set)

There’s a lot of buzz about Viet Cong right now, and for a lot of reasons, but while their pedigree, controversial name, and recognizable post-punk influences make for easy talking points, it’s their ferocious energy and novel songwriting that seems to resonate so strongly with fans and critics alike. Miraculously, the Calgary band, half of whose members come from defunct group Women, maintain their reverence for the past while sounding surprising new. On their recent self-titled LP, the dual guitars of Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen bristle and serrate like entangling spools of wire as bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace pound complex tattoos on string and skin. Yet as even Flegel howls and growls, the songs remain more melodic than menacing and, no matter how frenetic, entirely danceable. To kick off their tour, Viet Cong ripped up the darkened KEXP studio for one of the most intense sessions that room has ever seen. Check out the videos now:



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Friday on My Mind: Spring 2015!

photo by Alper Orus

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

First and foremost, a very big thank you to each and every one of you who donated at any point this past week during our Spring Fundraising Drive. It’s the generosity of our listeners that keeps KEXP strong and enables us to provide you with all the services that you’ve grown to know and depend upon for music discovery. Music programmed by humans, streaming audio and video, and blog posts like Friday on My Mind are all powered by support of each and every one of you. THANK YOU. If you haven’t yet had a chance to make a gift, we are down to the final hours of the Spring Drive, so there is no better time than right now to donate.

Today is also officially the very first day of Spring for 2015. The sun is rising earlier and setting later in the afternoon. The days are supposed to get slightly warmer, but as we here in Seattle are experiencing, Spring weather can vary greatly. This past week, Seattle was classic Seattle with it’s manic depressive weather. Yesterday ended grey, dreary, and wet despite the fact that a good portion of the week was sunny and clear, and yet there was record setting rainfall. So the saying goes, ‘March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb’, but for Seattle, I think it’s too soon to call it either way. So on that note, here are a few songs about lions, lambs, and Spring…
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Agitated Atmosphere: Michael O. – Really?

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As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Michael O.

Last year’s Face the Facts EP from former Mantles member Michael Olivares was the sort of retro-basement pop that was unsentimental in its saccharine content.
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Song of the Day Podcast: Dreamsalon – Soft Stab

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 is ‘Soft Stab’ by Dreamsalon from the 2014 album Soft Stab on Sweet Rot / Dragnet Records.

Dreamsalon – Soft Stab (MP3)

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Thursday Music News

photo by Gregory A. Perez

  • My Morning Jacket return with their seventh studio album, The Waterfall, on May 4th via ATO Records/Capitol Records. It’ll be the band’s first release since 2011’s Circuital, and the first of two new albums planned for this year. Jim James and friends have shared a video trailer for the album, featuring behind-the-scenes studio footage from Stinson Beach, California, and peeks at tracks from the new album. Check it out below. [Under the Radar]


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Review Revue – My Dad Is Dead . . . and He’s Not Gonna Take It Anymore

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My Dad Is Dead is one of those band names that might just sound like a one-liner or an attempt to grab your attention, but in the case of Mark Edwards’s solo recording project, legend has it that the music on this debut LP was in fact created in direct response to the loss of his father. With so much music – particularly the indie rock of the ’80s – being built around abstraction, metaphor, and absurdity, the simple, direct honesty of that moniker is both refreshing and heartbreaking. You can almost imagine Edwards sitting down and saying “My dad is dead. Now what?” before beginning the recording career that would span three decades and over a dozen full-length albums. (MDID is no more, but Edwards continues making music with newish band Secular Joy.)

Speaking of people who aren’t gonna take it anymore (awesome segue alert!), these comments serve as a good reminder to Give the Music Director a Break! Sometimes you might not agree with their calls on rotation, and you should absolutely feel free to express your own opinions, but there’s no reason to resort to rudeness and threatening language. Of course with the benefit of hindsight it’s clear that . . . and He’s Not Gonna Take It Anymore should have made it up to Medium rotation, but poor Pete was doing the best he could. Read More »

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Album Review: Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

If you really think about it, Sufjan Stevens has made a living for over 15 years now asking one simple question: what should I believe? On his debut, A Sun Came, belief was an overcrowded canvas, wet with word vomit and impossibly complex to navigate (much like all of our minds). For the two state albums of Michigan and Illinois, belief was shaped by facts. Personal realizations were scattered between annotations and incidents torn from state history books. For Seven Swans, belief was shaped by faith, passed down from generations past, possessed and habitualized to form an ideology and a resulting outlook. For his ample amounts of holiday music, belief is steeped in tradition, both secular and sacred, taking the best of both worlds and combining it into the most likable yet unshapely thing you can make it. With 2010’s Age of Adz, Sufjan may have departed stylistically, but he returned to maybe the most familiar source of human belief: personal experience. But this experience was not Sufjan’s own – rather, it was that of Prophet Royal Robertson, a schizophrenic artist who painted the Apocalypse according to his own visions, complete with spaceships and a new age to come that looked radically different than our own. And so, between the endpoints of Father Abraham and Adz, we find Sufjan Stevens wandering the plains, confronting a thousand and one beliefs and trying each of them on for size, impossible soul in hand trying to find what it is that makes all delighted people raise their hands.
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Song of the Day: Ghosts I’ve Met – The Shape of Space

photo by Driftless Photography

photo by Driftless Photography

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 is “The Shape of Space” by Ghosts I’ve Met from the 2015 self-released album The Shape of Space.

Ghosts I’ve Met – The Shape of Space (MP3)

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Album Review: Twin Shadow – Eclipse

As soon as word came out earlier this year that George Lewis Jr. had signed with Warner Brothers, there was one thing that was clear: Twin Shadow was getting bigger. Not just in the commercial sense – rather, all of the massive 80s indulgences explored on past records were now going to have the ceiling removed entirely. And really, did anyone not see that coming? Listening back to the trajectory from Twin Shadow debut Forget to the self-produced western Prince vibes of Confess, a boundless pop canvas with plenty of 80s nods seems like the perfectly natural next step. Thankfully, with Eclipse, that’s exactly what we get from George. Twin Shadow hits the big time this week, and the horizon has never been bigger. Eclipse is pop magic made for taking all your John Hughes moments to the very top.


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Wednesday Music News

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

  • Issaquah hometown heroes Modest Mouse returned to late night TV after six years with a stop by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Watch them perform the track “Lampshades on Fire” off their first new album in eight years, Strangers to Ourselves. You can catch the mice on Saturday, May 23rd at the Sasquatch Music Festival, and keep track of all these late night television musical highlights with KEXP’s TV Eye column. [Consequence of Sound]


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