Monday Music News

photo by Melissa Wax (view set)

  • Folk rock musician Kevin Morby (of The Babies and Woods) put out City Music in June via Dead Oceans and today he’s shared the video for the song “Downtown’s Lights.” Directed by Hugo Jouxtel of La Blogothéque, the clip features Morby watching himself perform and then wandering the streets of Paris with a bouquet of flowers. “Paris has always shown a lot of love towards my music, and I am very grateful,” says Morby. KEXP is bringing Morby to the Tractor Tavern next week for a two night stint on Sunday, August 20 and Monday, August 21. [ Stereogum ]
  • Hundred Waters recently released a surprise EP Currency and they’re following that up with an LP called Communicating. They’ve previously shared the singles “Particle” and “Blanket Me” and today they’ve got the latest release, “Fingers,” accompanied by a rather unnerving video. Directed by Allie Avital, who previously worked on Hundred Waters’ “Murmurs” video, the clip features vocalist Nicole Miglis fearlessly laying on the floor while slowly being covered by over 12,000 millipedes, spiders, and other bugs. Communicating will be released September 14 via OWSLA and “raises questions of romantic and non-romantic love, self-realization, growing apart, and finding understanding.” [ Under the Radar ]
  • Grizzly Bear are delivering their new album this Friday, August 18 via RCA. Entitled Painted Ruins, it will be their first album since 2012’s Shields. Today they’ve shared a video for the single “Mourning Sound,” a “playful, pastel-drenched commentary on women’s liberation,” according to a press release, which stars Harry Potter actor Clémence Poésy and a group of badass women who dance around a mansion and shoot lasers from different parts of their bodies (also featuring a decent amount of man butt so it could be NSFW). Catch Grizzly Bear when they stop by the Moore Theatre on Friday, December 8. [ Pitchfork ]
  • Last week, The Knife posted some strange teaser videos to their long-defunct Facebook page and the changed their profile picture, leading many to speculate that new music might be on the way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It turns out the Swedish electronic duo are releasing a live album, concert movie, and photo book documenting their performance at New York’s Terminal 5 during their 2014 tour supporting Shaking The Habitual, which featured an 11-piece dance troupe. Also unfortunate, it will be difficult to actually acquire this album/movie/book if you live in the UK, USA, Canada, Asia, or South America due to a long running dispute between the band and its label partner in those territories. If you somehow don’t live in any of those territories, it will be released September 1 via Rabid Records. [ SPIN ]
  • Chelsea Wolfe is about to unleash her new album Hiss Spun to the world on September 22 via Sargent House. Ahead of the release, she’s shared the fantastically dark new video for “16 Psyche,” which features guitar work from Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age (who also have a new album, Villains, being released August 25). Directed by Zev Deans, it has the look and feel of classic hard-rock videos from the late ’90s, early 2000’s. Catch Wolfe when she plays the Showbox on Monday, October 30 with Youth Code. [ Stereogum ]
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TV Eye: Week of 8/14

Run The Jewels // photo by Melissa Wax (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, August 14th:
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Liam Gallagher
Last Call with Carson Daly: Froth (R)
Conan: Portugal. The Man

Tuesday, August 15th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: A$AP Mob
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Blackberry Smoke

Wednesday, August 16th:
Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Midland

Thursday, August 17th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Meek Mill featuring The-Dream
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Grizzly Bear
Conan: Pokey LaFarge

Friday, August 18th:
Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Run the Jewels (R)
Last Call with Carson Daly: Ludacris (R)

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National Radio Week: The Man Who Inspired DJ Kevin Cole, WGTB’s Leo Del Aguila

photo courtesy of NPR Oye

photo courtesy of NPR Oye

As part of National Radio Week, Kevin Cole will honor the station that began his radio career: WGTB-FM in Washington D.C, specifically focusing on music director and DJ Leo Del Aguila (aka Professor Mota). Today on the Afternoon Show, Cole will air exclusive interviews with Del Aguila, as well as play a number of tracks which Del Aguila picked as emblematic of a classic WGTB playlist. Below is a testimonial from Kevin Cole about the impact Del Aguila had on the shape of his career, as well as Del Aguila’s recollections of his own beginnings in radio, and the significance of WGTB. For more on WGTB’s radio activism, check out this KEXP feature on WGTB’s pioneering use of radio as a means to incite social awareness and change.

All of us can look back and point to key moments that changed the direction of our lives. Interning at WGTB-FM, a powerful East Coast freeform radio station licensed to Georgetown University in Washington DC, was one of those pivotal moments that transformed my life. At the time I was a music loving freak and Music Director at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota. I was working on an independent study degree in radio/broadcasting, and as part of that program did a semester internship at WGTB-FM. I’m sure I was nothing but a blip on the radar of Music Director “Professor Mota” (Leo Del Aguila), but the encouragement and opportunity he gave me changed my life. It opened my awareness to the creative potential and power radio could have, and set me on a path that’s included launching Rev 105, a brief stint at WOXY, and for the last 14+ years as KEXP’s Senior Director of Programming. When Leo gave me my air shift on WGTB, he told me “the airwaves are a blank canvas. Paint.” I use that line all the time! I’ve always wondered what happened to Leo. Working on our National Radio Week feature gave me a unique opportunity to track down and personally thank the man that changed my life. Thanks, Leo. — DJ Kevin Cole

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In Stores Now 8/14


Philly-based band The Districts return with their third LP, what KEXP Music Director Don Yates calls, “their strongest set to date, with a fuller, more dynamic and densely textured sound combining thick, swirling guitars, muscular rhythms and often-dark lyrics of isolation and dysfunctional relationships juxtaposed with anthemic, life-affirming choruses and sweeping melodies.”

Guided By Voices deliver a new one: “the latest album from Robert Pollard & co. sounds like one of their strongest releases in quite a while, with more consistently stellar songs ranging from crunchy Who-style power pop to brooding psych-pop.” On her fourth LP, Brooklyn-based artist Frankie Rose brings “an assured blend of propulsive, nocturnal synth-pop and shimmering, Cocteau Twins dream-pop.”

The third solo album from Gillian Welch’s longtime musical partner David Rawlings “is another smartly crafted blend of string-band music with elegiac folk-rock and orchestral country-soul, featuring Welch on harmony vocals along with accompaniment from acclaimed fiddler Brittany Haas and members of Old Crow Medicine Show and Dawes.” Veteran British-bred band The Cribs return with their seventh full-length, “a solid set of grungy garage-rock. Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, the album combines thick, rumbling guitars and muscular rhythms with fist-pumping song hooks.” And the third LP from Providence, RI band Downtown Boys is “a hard-hitting blend of driving post-punk and raucous garage-rock, combining buzzing guitars, searing keyboards, wailing sax and energetic rhythms with Victoria Ruiz’s impassioned vocals and politically militant, bilingual lyrics attacking racism, classism, and homophobia.”
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KEXP Premiere: Prom Queen – End Of The World

Prom Queen

photo by Morgen Schuler (view set)

Seattle’s Leeni Ramadan (aka the glitter-gloom pop singer, Prom Queen) has established herself as a singular-voiced, bouffant-boasting player in the Emerald City music scene. If the ultimate goal of any creative person is to establish an immediately recognizable style, Ramadan has done that already. With a pink guitar in hand, she stands front and center on stage proclaiming ideals of bubble gum love and staring-in-the-eye-of-the-demon prescience. And if you need an example of this, look no further than the first single off her upcoming LP. The song, “End Of The World,” is the first track off the soon-to-be released album, Doom-Wop, a foreboding record dressed up in varsity jackets and poodle skirts. KEXP presents the exclusive premiere below.

“It’s the end,” the song begins, Ramadan’s flute-like voice floating high, “of the world.” The singer, as if sitting on a rooftop like a perched bird, is “all alone” as her surroundings seem to crumble everywhere else. Guitar strings are plucked and the bass booms beneath while cymbals crash. The song, Ramadan says, is about an apocalypse – specifically, the one we’re all dreading and yet considering a real possibility in today’s politically and socially turbulent times. Read More »

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National Radio Week: Radio as Activism


As part of KEXP’s National Radio Week coverage, on the KEXP Blog we will be spotlighting some of the stories and personal testimonials given by a variety of radio luminaries in interviews done with KEXP DJs John Richards, Kevin Cole, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy. These interviews articulately explain the enduring legacy of early independent radio stations, as well as the importance of radio to shape and create a community through shared love of music.  In the words of WFNX DJ Kurt St. Thomas, “if you pay enough attention, radio will probably change your life.”

This post focuses on the role of radio as a medium for activism, introducing new perspectives into often hostile or unreceptive communities, and giving oppressed groups a necessary voice. Two radio stations featured today on the Midday and Afternoon Shows particularly demonstrate radio’s power to incite increased social awareness: Washington D.C.’s WGTB and Memphis, Tennessee’s WHER. KEXP spoke to WGTB’s Leo Del Aguila (Professor Mota) and NPR’s Davia Nelson (The Kitchen Sisters) about the role WGTB and WHER had in their respective communities.

WGTB on the air in 1975 // photo courtesy of Georgetown University

WGTB on the air in 1975 // photo courtesy of Georgetown University

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OFF Festival 2017, Day 3: Conor Oberst, Boris, Swans, Lor, L.Stadt, MORE

Lor and KEXP DJ Morgan

Lor and KEXP DJ Morgan

We just finished having breakfast with our friends from Don’t Panic! We’re From Poland, an awesome organization that promotes Polish culture across the world, who assisted KEXP in coming to and broadcasting from the OFF Festival. Just as an aside, the Polish people do not mess around when it comes to breakfast. The buffet at the hotel has a crazy amount of food and drinks with an army of staff constantly replenishing and refreshing the plates. And it’s not just me — I had a full conversation about it with a member of the Bubu Gang the other day in the van on the way back to the hotel. It’s a thing! But I digress.

Yesterday we wrapped up the third and final day at the OFF Festival and got to mix things up a little by doing two field recordings of two great Polish bands. We ventured out of the festival grounds a little ways and set up in a beautifully pastoral green field with lovely trees in the background. It was the perfect setting for the two bands we filmed. Read More »

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Midnight In A Perfect World: Carpainter


Carpainter is the alias of Tokyo-based DJ/producer Taimei Kawai, one of the most exciting young artists representing the fertile Japanese electronic music scene. A co-founder of beloved Japanese net-label Trekkie Trax, Carpainter’s colorful, high-energy, cutting-edge club tracks have been capturing ears all over the world, finding homes on Trekkie Trax as well as Maltine Records, Top Billin Music, Hot Mom USA, Heka Trax, and Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs label. His mix for Midnight in a Perfect World mix comes ahead of his next release, the “PAM!!!” single coming out August 23rd on Trekkie Trax, and it’s a proper showcase of his distinctive style, fusing numerous UK-centric club styles — house, garage, dubstep, grime, bassline — with emerging Japanese club influences for a refreshing, playful, exploratory international flavor.

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Song of the Day: Ariel Pink – “Time to Live”

photo by Bebe Labree Besch (view set)

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 Morning Show with John Richards, is “Time to Live” by Ariel Pink, from the upcoming 2017 album Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, out September 15th on Mexican Summer.

Ariel Pink – Time to Live (MP3) Read More »

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Radio On: A KEXP National Radio Week Video Roundup


If not for radio, punk and new wave would never have spread across the country the way it did. Thanks to groundbreaking DJs from the 1970s like Rodney Bingenheimer at Los Angeles station KROQ and Vin Scelsa at New York’s WNEW, bands were able to reach an audience their crappy tour vans may never have taken them to.

Musicians valued the power of the FM dial. The Phil Spector-produced track “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” paid tribute to the artists The Ramones grew up listening to, shouting out DJs like Murray the K and Alan Freed. Elvis Costello‘s “Radio Radio” started out as a loving tribute to the medium — his father was a vocalist for a radio dance band — but the song became more biting as he came up against commercial stations, hence lyrics like “but they don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason.” Even the dour Ian Curtis of Joy Division implored listeners to “dance dance dance dance dance to the radio.”

Thankfully, some stations do have the power of choice, and KEXP is celebrating these airwave-breakers all week long — from Monday, August 14th through Friday, August 18th. We’re kicking things off with odes to the dial from the musicians themselves; scroll down through this Video Roundup and listen along all week as we salute some great stations.

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