TV Eye: Week of 7/27

Purity Ring

Tyler, The Creator // photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

KEXP has our TV eye set for this week in late night television. Set your DVR, TiVo, or just drink some coffee to stay awake for these musical guest performances on your favorite talk shows. Here are the highlights:

Monday, July 27th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Buddy Guy
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Lord Huron
Last Call with Carson Daly: Natalie Prass (R)

Tuesday, July 28th:
Conan: Mac DeMarco (R)

Wednesday, July 29th:
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Tyler the Creator
Last Call with Carson Daly: Colleen Green (R)
Conan: Waters (R)

Thursday, July 30th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Lauryn Hill
Last Call with Carson Daly: Melvins (R)

Saturday, August 1st:
Austin City Limits: Kacey Musgraves and Dale Watson

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Out This Week 7/27

It’s been a long wait, but last week Montreal-born, Woodstock, NY-based artist Thomas Arsenault (aka Mas Ysa) released his debut full-length. (Watch his 2014 KEXP session here.) KEXP Music Director Don Yates calls the album, “a potent set of moody electro-pop with bright synths, propulsive rhythms, dramatic, tremulous vocals, emotive lyrics and epic sing-along choruses.”

Gwenno, the solo debut album from the former Pipettes frontwoman, brings “an impressive set of psych-tinged space-pop with eerie analog synths, hypnotic rhythms, breathy vocals and dystopian lyrics of a totalitarian future. Seven of the album’s eight songs are sung in Welsh while the other is sung in Cornish.”

Seattle-based band Grave Babies release their third album, “a fine set of dark, industrial-tinged goth-rock with buzzing, noisy synths, grinding guitars, stark industrial rhythms, gloomy vocals and dystopian lyrics.” Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard shares a sophomore album from his project Ricked Wicky, “a stronger hard-rock/heavy metal edge to Pollard’s crunchy power-pop.” Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile shares a new release from his solo project Ducktails, “a beautifully crafted, summery set of psych-tinged baroque pop.” And legendary hip hop group Public Enemy return with their thirteenth full-length, their first new album in three years.

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Monday Music News

photo by Victoria Holt (view set)

  • It was a busy weekend for Jamie xx: not only did he bring the beats to the Capitol Hill Block Party, but he also released a mix for Apple Music’s Beats 1 featuring tracks from The War on Drugs, The Persuasians, Deadboy, Apparat, The Durutti Column, The Doors, and more. You can listen to it here. Jamie made a mix for KEXP’s own Midnight in a Perfect World while he was in town — stay tuned for an air date announce. [Pitchfork]

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Live Video: Built to Spill

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

For as cosmic as their jams can be and as free floating as their new album title appears, Built to Spill have never seemed more grounded. On Untethered Moon, their eighth studio album and their first in six years, the veteran indie rockers haven’t drifted away from their roots but, thanks to producer Sam Coomes (of Quasi) taking the reins, have tightened their expansive guitar-heavy interplay into tight, crunchy but still stylistically freewheeling songs. A new rhythm section of bassist Jason Albertini and drummer Steve Gere (both longtime friends and former BTS roadies) adds extra punch, while frontman Doug Martsch sings skyward, as wistfully as ever, while intertwining riffs with fellow guitarists Brett Netson and Jim Roth. Thought tight on record, in-studio at KEXP, the five-piece unleash an unbridled set of riff-heavy rock, featuring three songs from the new LP and a 1994 classic. Watch the full session now:


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Live Review: Heems with Spank Rock at Sunset Tavern 7/20/15

all photos by Brittany Brassell

It’s only the end of July, but it’s already been an eventful year for Heems. The New York rapper dropped his first proper solo LP, Eat Pray Thug back in March, an excellent record that tells a heavy-handed story of what it’s like to like in a perpetually post-9/11 New York as a person of Indian descent. But after the label, according to Heems, restricted distribution channels and prevented him from approaching another album the way he wanted, it seems that Eat Pray Thug’s sequel will have another home. Furthermore, that home won’t be Heems’ own Greedhead label either, which Himanshu dissolved earlier this month due to financial issues. Thus, it’s with a heavy backdrop that Heems embarks on his first full headlining tour in support of Eat Pray Thug, but with a team of excellent opening acts for each of the tour legs, he’s set on bringing the magic of his new record, as well as some Das Racist and Swet Shop Boys material, to the stage for dedicated fans across the country. Together with dance rap wonder Spank Rock, Heems threw a party at the Sunset and stood defiant in a series of unfortunate recent events. Sometimes he’s up, sometimes he’s down, but Heems is always Heems, and nobody’s going to stop that.
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Song of the Day: Jaill – Getaway

photo by Kurt Raether

photo by Kurt Raether

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Getaway” by Jaill from the 2015 album Brain Cream on Burger Records.

Jaill – Getaway (MP3)

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2015: Girlpool, Wye Oak, The Kills

photo by Victoria Holt

The Vera Stage’s sound has been notably quiet (especially compared to the sometimes deafening main stage) all weekend, but that didn’t bother Girlpool, the drumless duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. In fact, if anything, it probably galvanized the Los Angeles duo. Their music is emotionally and melodically direct, and its lack of volume forces the listener to pay attention. It’s a smart play, and in a live setting, it works just as well. Tucker and Tividad’s twin vocals aren’t necessarily harmonies, but their unified delivery gives their songs gravitas, empathetic heft powered by their mirrored voices. Their debut album, Before The World Was Big, hasn’t even been out for two months, but it’s clearly connected with an audience in an intimate way that many records don’t, as there were a strong contingent of fans up front singing along with the duo. The pair’s world is undoubtedly getting bigger, but they’ve admirably made their invitation to their world one that demands empathy and respect. Even more admirably, people are joining in.

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Dave Lichterman

“Thanks to Block Party for inviting us to play,” grinned Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. “And thanks also for the bottle of whiskey with out name on it.” Despite playing during one of the day’s rainier hours, Wasner and bandmate Andy Stack were in good spirits for Wye Oak’s third show in nearly nine months. Drawing heavily off of last year’s underrated Shriek, Wasner switched between bass and guitar as she and Stack worked through most of Shriek and Civilian under a grey sky, which happened to be an excellent backdrop for the Baltimore/Portland duo’s music. One would expect the transition between songs from Civilian and songs from Shriek to be a jarring one – the former album is a noisy, guitar-driven break up album and the latter a synth-heavy, arty pop record – but Wye Oak have conquered the formidable challenge of integrating the two styles into one set. In either case, Stack is an understated, brilliantly-talented performer, playing keys and bass simultaneously for 95% of the set. Similarly, Wasner’s jumps between spiky basslines and thunderous guitar (still her best onstage tool, despite it no longer being her primary creative instrument) were a thrill to see in succession, proving that even if Wye Oak aren’t the road dogs they once were, they’ve got the chops (and the songs) to tap into the spirit that turned them into a top-notch live band in the first place.

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Dave Lichterman

For well over a decade, The Kills’ onstage setup was uniquely spartan, consisting of little more than the band’s two members, their guitars, and their drum machine. But when Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince arrived onstage for their first show of 2015, they weren’t alone. Flanked by four percussionists in the rear of the stage, Hotel and VV were no longer attached to center stage, which left them both able to strut up and down the stage and capitalize on their songs’ jagged punch. Even though they haven’t released a new album in four years, The Kills have been a fairly consistent presence on the touring circuit since the release of 2011’s Blood Pressures, and a powerful one at that. Much of that is due to Mosshart, who remains one of the best frontwomen of the past decade, equally masterful in her sultry and combustive approaches. That’s not to say Hince is any less crucial to the mix, as his ragged approach to rhythm guitar is the backbone of most of the band’s material, and his onstage presence the cool counterpart to Mosshart’s fire. Running through a career-spanning set (with a bit of new material in the mix), the new percussion-heavy setup breathed new life into the Kills’ consistently strong catalog and made it clear that there’s no going back to the drum machine.

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Dave Lichterman

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

photo by Victoria Holt

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2015, Day 2: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Com Truise, The Physics, and Snuff Redux

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

photo by Victoria Holt

More clouds? More rain? When have these things ever mattered to Seattle? Capitol Hill Block Party 2015 ventured onwards with nothing but smiles as time for Day 2 arose. Between Jamie xx and Built to Spill yesterday, Saturday had a high bar to clamber over. But the festivities got underway very quickly, with early main stage sets from local hip-hop legends The Physics and New Zealand via Portland psych rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Young rockers Snuff Redux played their first CHBP appearance over at Neumos for plenty of smiling faces. Plus, how about that closing Com Truise set, am I right? So far, Capitol Hill Block Party 2015 is two for two.

Scheduling seemed a bit bizarre on Saturday. Primary example: who put The Physics up first on the main stage? While the band managed to muster a sizable crowd for the early slot, it’s common knowledge that the Seattle hip-hop crew could have played a slot three hours later for five times the crowd with five times the smiles. The groups reps Seattle summers like no one else, and it would have been fun to see the group get a slot more representative of their hometown love. But even at 2:15 with crowds still rolling in as they began, The Physics brought a formidable set to the block party, rolling through material off their latest LP Digital Wildlife as well as new material to be dropped in upcoming months. With eight or nine members on stage at a time, it’s impossible not to two step along and just enjoy the cool summer afternoon for what it is. Thig, Monk, and Justo all showed up in excellent form, with a style and sound that set the bar high for the rest of the day. Starting Capitol Block Party Day 2 with one of our favorite hip-hop acts was a recipe for success.

The Physics:

The Physics

set by Brady Harvey

The Physics

The Physics

The Physics

The Physics

The Physics

Ruban Nielsen went all out making a heavy-hitting record this year with Multi-Love, but that doesn’t mean his live presence with Unknown Mortal Orchestra has grown any less explosive. Rocking an incredible golf shaman look, showing off plenty of fancy footwork, and ripping up and down the fret board like its nothing, Ruban is a wonder to witness on stage wherever you get to see him. Sure, the themes have grown more mature, with Multi-Love tracks dealing with love’s multiplicity and the innate difficulty of loving two people at once, but on stage today, it all comes off like a party. The crowd relaxes and lets the groove get in and take precedent over all else. Pike street is one massive cloud of smoke. UMO saunter through plenty of Multi-Love and go back to older favorites like “So Good At Being In Trouble“. The lo-fi tendencies of Ruban’s records all fade on stage – here it’s all soul and funk and weird Portland brilliance. UMO close with an extended jam version of the title track and “Can’t Keep Checking My phone” and the crowd goes nuts. Nielson and company were a great pick to keep energy rolling into the increasingly sunny Saturday afternoon.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra:

UMO

set by Victoria Holt

UMO

UMO

UMO

UMO

UMO

Seattle newcomer indie rock act Snuff Redux kept spirits high inside Neumos as the afternoon rolled on. The band dropped their debut EP Toy Kingdom back in January to much local acclaim. Shortly after, the band embarked on their first major tour ever, an 18 date west coast and pacific inland tour showing off the EP and getting their feet underneath them. This Capitol Hill Block Party appearance marks their first ever for the festival, and the hard work they’ve put in on the road and at local dates in the last three months sure shows. Snuff Redux look like they’ve been doing this stuff with this lineup for years. Lead single “Disintegrate The Days” lit Neumos up like fireworks. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing these dudes again quite soon.

Snuff Redux:

Snuff Redux

set by Victoria Holt

Snuff Redux

Snuff Redux

Snuff Redux

Producer Seth Haley is a pretty steady dude. He dropped an EP last year called Wave 1 that picks up where his last full length of spacey, 80s-infused electronic mastery left off. More recently, his production expands further into the pop realm, helping singer Little Boots with her excellent single “Business Pleasure“. Yep, Haley’s vector trajectory doesn’t seem to be decelerating over time at all. His Capitol Hill Block Party appearance comes about 3/4 of the way through a string of festival dates. At each, he’s been doing about the same thing: setting up his seriously badass space command rig and knocking it out of the park with a collection of his own intergalactic tunes and remixes until the crowd is ready to hit the hay. I feel like seeing Com Truise at any other time of day except “late” is a capital offense, mostly because his stuff plays like a galaxy of noise in between your ears. Tonight, Haley closed out another wonderful night with exactly the set fans were hoping for, and gave CHBP one last dance party for the day before it’s time to sleep and repeat.

Com Truise:

Com Truise

set by Brady Harvey

Com Truise

Com Truise

Com Truise

Com Truise

Check back to the KEXP blog for even more Capitol Block Party 2015 coverage as the weekend rolls on!

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2015, Day 2: Kinski, Giraffage, Zoolab, Toro y Moi

photo by Dave Lichterman

Day 2 of Capitol Hill Block Party started with more gray clouds and drizzling rain. But a packed lineup full of variety kept all gloomy feelings at bay. Local band Kinski kicked off the day with a birthday celebration and beat smiths Giraffage and Zoolab upped the energy in the late afternoon before Toro y Moi graced the main stage for a killer show.

Kinski’s wailing guitars cut through the normal early afternoon lull of a Saturday. The ferocious sound of the veteran Seattle band is always a pleasure to experience, but it had extra sentiment on Saturday as guitarist and vocalist Chris Martin celebrated his birthday with the CHBP Vera Stage. The birthday man, who proved he can shred just as well sitting down as standing up, seemed eager to take his birthday shot and attributed it to the song “Drink Up and Be Somebody” before he was corrected and given a proper birthday cheers. Whether Chris was just being humble, or was trying to avoid troubling thoughts of aging and mortality that often comes with birthdays was unclear. But the set showed that thoughts of the latter were irrelevant, as Kinski seems to only get better with age.
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Graphic Nature: Strange Wilds – Subjective Concepts

Strange Wilds

On Subjective Concepts Olympia trio Strange Wilds have produced a faultless full length of feedback ridden, jagged jams that have helped bring a riotous, rebellious renaissance to Seattle’s notorious label, Sub Pop. To discuss the cover art, steeped in the same tightrope tension as the music, KEXP caught up with vocal/guitarist Steven to talk about visual aesthetics of the new release.
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