Song of the Day: Tomten - Mother Minnow

photo by Michael Willis Peters

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Mother Minnow” by Seattle band Tomten from the 2014 album The Farewell Party on Veriscolor.

Tomten - Mother Minnow (MP3)

Bright and melodic, Tomten’s charming brand of baroque indie pop draws equally from the bright pop sounds of the power pop groups of the’70s and the more orchestrated indie rock of the late ’90s. Formed by singer/keyboardist Brian Noyeswatkins, bassist/songwriter Lena Simon, and drummer Jake Brady while they were in college, the band built a reputation for their dream pop-influenced tunes while playing shows around the Pacific Northwest and producing two albums, 2010′s self-titled effort and 2012′s Wednesday’s Children. Recorded with producer Jason Quever (Papercuts) in San Francisco and Sacramento, the band’s most recent album, The Farewell Party, finds the band – now consisting of Noyeswatkins, Brady, and bassist Dillon Sturtevant – sharper and more direct than ever, showing off an expanded range of songwriting and orchestration. The Farewell Party‘s “Mother Minnow” winds and turns through a run of glistening pop melodies with a natural ease. Although the song is carried by warm keys and Brady’s crisp drumming, a bittersweet melancholy runs underneath it all (“Give me a reason/tell me why/let me forget my failures/let me sigh”), giving the tune a layer of emotional depth that augments the band’s knack for gossamer sounds. Unabashedly poppy and smart without pretension, “Mother Minnow” shows the band firing on all of its bright, harmonious cylinders, laying on hook after hook before fading out as gracefully as when they started the song.

Tomten is currently on a North American run in support of The Farewell Party, and although they’ve already completed their West Coast dates, you can keep up with the band’s travels on their Facebook, Bandcamp and Dillon’s blog. Below, watch the video for the band’s 2012 track “So So So”.

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KEXP Suggests: Other Stuff at Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival

Yeah, yeah, sure — The Replacements, Wu-Tang, Elvis Costello... Everyone knows how amazing this year’s musical line-up is for the 2014 Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, but, Bumbershoot has always been more than just the tunes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the art exhibits, lectures, and comedy shows you can check out in-between the great bands.

Don’t live in Seattle, or can’t make it to Seattle Center? Let KEXP bring Bumbershoot to you: all weekend long, we’ll be broadcasting live from our “secret” Music Lounge stage, with live performances all day long. Check out the schedule, and listen along all weekend.

Jini Dellaccio shooting The Sonics in the KEXP studios // photo by Jim Bennett

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Thursday Music News

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

  • James Mercer and Danger Mouse, a.k.a. Broken Bells, share a new video today for the track “Control,” featuring archival footage of space travel and alien encounters. No J Mascis cameo though. Check out the video below, and watch them perform more songs from the album After the Disco in the KEXP studios here. [Pitchfork]

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Review Revue: Gary Heffern - Bald Tires in the Rain

If I were a better blogger, I would have gone into KEXP armed with the Bumbershoot lineup and found an album from one of the many fine bands playing at this weekend’s festival (Negativland, say, or maybe Jonathan Richman) so as to bring you a remotely topical post for this week. Instead of that, I picked this album more or less at random, so I hope you will enjoy it on its own merits.

Gary Heffern was not a name I was familiar with - although it turns out I have typed it at least once before, as someone joked on the cover of Tom Waits’s Frank’s Wild Years that it “sounds like Gary Heffern.” He was known, as we will learn below, for his previous work with the late ’70s-early ’80s punk band The Penetrators, out of San Diego. (Here’s a recent interview with Heffern on the occasion of San Diego club The Casbah’s 25th anniversary.) Not to be confused with the late ’70s-early ’80s punk band The Penetrators, out of Syracuse, of course.
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Live Video: Strand of Oaks

photos by Renata Steiner (view set)

For creators and fans alike, music has always provided catharsis, relief and healing. But Few artists tap so directly into that power as Tim Showalter, whose project Strand of Oaks goes so far as to name its most recent album Heal. Like pages from a diary, the Philly-based songwriter’s lyrics delve into moments of crisis, frustration and, ultimately, inspiration that couldn’t be more true to life, since they are his own – basically “comic book origin stories”, as Showalter says in his insightful interview with the Morning Show’s John Richards. But most importantly, his pull-no-punches approach on the more muscular and anthemic songs on Heal, which themselves pay tribute to their own inspirations, turn his moments into ours, making it impossible not to relate. So, take a script from KEXP and watch this entire performance and interview now. You’ll be mainlining the healing power of Strand of Oaks before you know it.

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Song of the Day: Rubblebucket - Carousel Ride

photo by Shervin Lainez

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Carousel Ride” by Rubblebucket from the 2014 album Survival Sounds on Communion Records.

Rubblebucket - Carousel Ride (MP3)

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Photo Gallery: Concerts at the Mural Swingin’ Roadhouse Night 8/22

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires // photo by Jim Bennett

It was a raucous, rollickin’ way to close out the 2014 Concerts at the Mural series! Last Friday, August 22nd, hundreds of Seattleites gathered beneath the Space Needle for an evening of music curated by our specialty show DJs, Don Slack of Swingin’ Doors and Greg Vandy of The Roadhouse on KEXP.

Pianos in the Parks winner Mindie Lind kicked off the evening with a lovely set on one of the brightly colored pianos that was stationed in a King County park during the last month. Local legend Mark Pickerel played a debonair solo set, accompanying himself on percussion using his feet. Seattle sweetheart Star Anna delivered a feisty set of fierce roots rock. And straight outta The Magic City, Birmingham, Alabama, Lee Bains lll & the Glory Fires were indeed on fire with a hot, hot, hot August performance.

Thanks to everyone for making this year’s Concerts at the Mural series such a success! See you next year on the Mural Amphitheatre lawn.

Swingin’ Doors on KEXP host, DJ Don Slack // photo by Bebe Labree Besch

DJ Greg Vandy, host of The Roadhouse on KEXP // photo by Krissi Pearson

photo by Krissi Pearson

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Wednesday Music News

photo by Dave Lichterman (view set)

  • Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis has cut his acting chops on IFC’s Portlandia, and he’s joined by the show’s co-creator Fred Armisen in his video for the track “Every Morning.” (Keep an eye out for a cameo from James Mercer of The Shins!) J will be LIVE on KEXP from NYC this Friday, August 29th at 9:00 AM PST. [Spin]

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Live Video: Mac DeMarco at Pickathon

photo by Shelly Corbett (view set)

Earlier this month, KEXP returned to the magical space of the Bunny Glade during Pickathon 2014 to capture intimate acoustic sessions in this wooded oasis. Each of the 17 exclusive performances were special, but we couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our final day than with the charming slacker-pop of Mac DeMarco. Though Mac had originally intended to perform just three delightfully crooning numbers from his excellent 2014 album, Salad Days, he couldn’t help but offer the crowd that had gathered to watch this unannounced impromptu performance in the woods one more song. Watch Mac has he’s cooking up some irreverently fun good times in this session, recorded live at Pickathon, and then tune in to KEXP on Saturday, August 30, at 2:30PM, to hear him perform live from the Bumbershoot Music Lounge.

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Album Review: Rustie - Green Language

The kids are coming up from behind - James Murphy called it 12 years ago and not much has changed since then. Seen nowhere stronger than in the realm of dance music, youthful vigor and forward thinking to an increasingly younger audience seems to dominate the scene as the spectrum of influences seems to double in proportion every couple months or so. In an increasingly post-modern (post-Internet, if you will) context, the hard lines between genres seem to soften with every year, and now the smartest producers in the room refuse to be bound by any descriptor. The latest of those whose relentless pursuit of the horizon knows no bounds would be Scottish electronic genius Rustie. Russell Whyte’s track record thus far is pretty spotless - a handful of sporadic, spiraling EPs, a critically heralded LP (2011′s Glass Swords), production credits on Danny Brown’s phenomenal breakthrough LP Old, a couple bulletproof remixes, and a summer single for the books (last year’s “Triadzz“/”Slasherr“). But with LP #2, Green Language, Rustie gives us a concise, brutal snapshot of his production blitzkrieg, dropped dead in the eye of the storm. Part dub, part hip-hop, part something entirely undefinable, Rustie ascends to the heavens with Green Language, an electronic record that feels like it could define the present state of the amorphous genre in 2014 better than 99% of his competition.

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