The thrill is gone. Yesterday, B.B. King passed away at age 89. Born Riley B. King in 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi, the legendary guitarist and songwriter became known worldwide for his distinctive voice and nimble finger picking, particularly on his constant companion, the Gibson guitar he named Lucille, who, he sings, “took me from the plantation and brought me fame”. That fame earned King induction into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and too many other awards to list. From his first hit in 1952, “3 O’Clock Blues”, to performing live all the way up until just a year ago, B.B. King has become one of the most well beloved blues artists of all time. Gathered here is just a sample of the genius he blessed us with throughout his life:
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 Loren Connors.
Artist Mark Rothko is credited for saying, in regards to hope: “10 percent to make the tragic concept more endurable.”
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 Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Seagulls Into Submission” by EYELIDS from the 2015 album 854 on Jealous Butcher Records.
“Let’s get heavy,” Other Lives frontman Jesse Tabish jokes before launching into the principle dichotomies behind the creation of their latest release, Rituals. But whether they’re conflating old and new styles or humanity’s primal nature and our technologically isolating modern world, the surprising thing about the Portland-via-Stillwater, Oklahoma band’s densely layered songs is actually how light and airy they seem. Rituals isn’t a group going through the motions, either. Despite the pairing of the group down from five members to three (both Josh Onstott and Jonathon Mooney remained and relocated with Tabish), they’ve created their most adventurous set of songs to date. To bring their multi-dimensional sound to life, Other Lives packed the small KEXP live room with all kinds of instruments – horns, strings, keys, drums, timpani, vibraphone, you name it! – for a sensational in-studio performance. Watch the entire ethereal session now:
Beloved Bay Area band Thee Oh Sees release their sixth full-length, Mutilator Defeated At Last, on May 18th via Castle Face Records. You can stream the album in its entirety below. A press release notes that on the new one, “synths and acoustic guitars wind throughout the album like veins of gold through granite,” adding it’s “made to be played loudly and demands bodily sacrifice.” There ya go. [Consequence of Sound]
I have no idea what this album from 1959 was doing being added to the KCMU library in 1990, but I’m sure glad it was – and it seems like I would have been in good company at the time. Tom Lehrer is (and let me just jump in for a second to say how happy it makes me to type that “is,” having established that Mr. Lehrer seems to be alive and well and probably cracking people up at age 87) a musical/lyrical/satirical genius and mathematician, well known for his cleverly hilarious songs on topics political, social, scientifical, and mathematical. I know that he’s not for everyone – as the comments below attest – but I happen to come from a Lehrerian household (it’s entirely possible that my mom was in the audience for the performance captured on this record, although she probably would have mentioned it), and I’m smiling right now as I hear his breezily sardonic voice in my head.
At every great concert, there’s a moment where everything, for lack of a better word, clicks. When the audience moves from excited to engaged, when “wow” turns “holy shit”. On the closing night of Sleater-Kinney‘s three-night stand at the Showbox at the Market, that moment was two-and-a-half minutes into the first song. It happened during the bridge of “Price Tag”, when the band’s guitars dropped into a bellowing lunge and Carrie Brownstein leveled the room with her inimitable snarl. And then that moment happened again during the opening riff of “Oh!”. And again during the moment on “Start Together” when Corin Tucker’s guitar and Janet Weiss’ drums crash into Brownstein’s wiry opening lick. And as the night went on, it kept happening. Every band has the capability to create one of these standout moments –usually it’s during their hits or when a band member dives into the audience – but it’s a rare occasion when a band and an audience keep volleying them back and forth for the entirety of the show. On the closing show of the tour behind their first album in a decade, the fantastic No Cities To Love, the rare combination of a intimate venue, a fully-attentive audience, and a band on fire came to be as the Pacific Northwestern legends reaffirmed their status as one of the finest bands to ever emerge from the region.
Simon Stålhamre may be the creative force behind Small Feet, but it was not until he found the assistance of his band mates Jacob Snavely and Christopher Cantillo along with the inspiration of an island cabin residence that he was able to create music without self-sabotaging. It’s a good thing he finally did, and the result is music that showcases Stålhamre’s vocals and songwriting over gentle instrumentation and subtle electronic texture. It’s beautifully haunting music, that seems to reflect the dark, cold Scandinavian backdrop of Stålhamre’s past both physically and emotionally. The Swedish band recently signed with Seattle’s own Barsuk Records, who will be releasing their debut album, From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like the Ocean, on August 7th.
In anticipation to their upcoming record, KEXP is happy to host the U.S. video premiere for their song “Rivers”. In it, and capturing the chilling mood of the song brilliantly, Small Feet’s gentle guitar picking paired with ethereal sound textures that frame Stålhamre’s slightly reverberating voice is countered by the stark, striking visuals of a man running in reverse, consumed by fire. Watch the full video below and check out the rest of Small Feet’s growing discography at their on Soundcloud.
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 Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes from the 2015 album Sound & Color on ATO Records.
KEXP is excited to announce that we are teaming up with VuHaus (pronounced “view house”), a new non-commercial, digital music video platform for music fans seeking to experience and discover the best new artists and songs.
Through a website and mobile app, VuHaus will curate performances and interviews from leading public radio stations across the U.S. KEXP joins WFUV in New York City, KCRW in Los Angeles, WXPN in Philadelphia, KUTX in Austin, and KTBG The Bridge in Kansas City in presenting their in-studio sessions to viewers around the world. Read More »