Song of the Day: The Baseball Project - From Nails To Thumbtacks

photo by Renata Stenier

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “From Nails To Thumbtacks” by The Baseball Project from the 2014 album 3rd on Yep Roc.

The Baseball Project - From Nails To Thumbtacks (MP3)

Sports and rock music haven’t always been a winning combo, but the members of The Baseball Project’s earnest enthusiasm for the sport and musical pedigree produces one of the most consistently enjoyable musical tributes to sports. The idea of having a baseball-centric group was first conceived by Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., The Minus 5; San Francisco Giants) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate; New York Yankees) in 1992 while the two were touring together, but it didn’t come to fruition until 2008, when Peter Buck (R.E.M.; Washington Senators) and Linda Pitman (Zuzu’s Petals; Minnesota Twins) helped bring the idea to life, recording an album where each song was based on an idea or player from the sport’s lengthy and rich history. Recording and touring sporadically behind two albums in between the members’ breaks from their main gigs, the band was invited to write a running commentary on the 2010 season in song form for ESPN, and preceding the recording of their third album, the aptly-titled 3rd, Mike Mills (R.E.M.; Atlanta Braves) joined the band’s roster. The subject of “From Nails to Thumbtacks” is Mets/Phillies center fielder Lenny “Nails” Dykstra, whose post-baseball years were filled with as many downs as his career was with ups. Aside from all having a love for baseball, all of these musicians’ previous bands have contained a significant pop influence, which is undoubtedly present when they sell Dykstra’s fall from grace – ”you gotta fly high to fall this far” – with a buoyancy that belies his story. Its deftness is partially a tribute to a set of top-notch musicians, but also to a sport who continually produces some of the most interesting figures in all of athletics.

After playing SXSW last month, The Baseball Project don’t have any more live dates announced at the moment. (Probably because they’re too busy watching the just-started baseball season. Or breaking the news of Letterman’s retirement.) Keep an eye on their website and Facebook for any updates, and watch the band play “Ichiro” live on KEXP at last year’s Musicfest NW.

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Live Video: Anna von Hausswolff

photo by Dave Lichterman

Swedish singer-songwriter Anna von Hausswolff‘s experimental performances continually captivate audiences and listeners alike, offering them extraordinary and sophisticated forms of aural solace. Her newest album, Ceremony, is an ominous yet poignant journey into grief and darkness. Von Hausswolff’s “Deathbed” is a monumentally ambitious, ten-minute art-rock piece which encapsulates both stylized, dramatic arrangements and intimate lyrical composition, similar to Yes and King Crimson. Like her progressive rock precursors, von Hausswolff incorporates the organ into her quasi-symphonic music with brilliant yet different results. While “Sova” exhibits von Hausswolff’s sprawling vocal range, “Funeral For My Future Children” illustrates her ability to effectively intermingle her sopranic lamentations with a more traditional but nonetheless spellbinding form of singing. So, in case you missed von Hausswolff on the airwaves, you can listen, and watch, here now:

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KEXP Suggests: ‘Mo-Wave 4/11 - 4/18

Seattleites! Are you into affordable music festivals, diverse musicians, and general weirdos? Are you into DIY punk, wild performance, and ground-breaking, earth-shattering, social movements? Well, this April 10th through the 18th, Seattle is hosting the ‘Mo-Wave! Festival, a celebration of the queer inside each of us.

Only in its second year, ‘Mo-Wave presents another fresh assortment of queer musicians, like KEXP faves Tacocat, Ononos, Night Cadet, Dust Moth, Half Breed, Crypts, and many, many more. Music, visual, and performance art takes place at Chop Suey and PONY Seattle, with a festival launch at Summit Ave’s True Love Art Gallery on April 10th. Additionally, in case you cannot make it out to the festival this weekend, there is a performance exhibit the following weekend in the Velocity Dance Center. ‘Mo-Wave was named “Best Festival” by the Seattle Weekly in only their first year, and they’re doing their best to retain the crown! Check out the complete schedule below.
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Wednesday Music News

  • To those of you who might not know, Nirvana will soon be inducted by R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The inductees will include Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl. The latter two members will be performing with Pat Smear (who will not be inducted); however, there is heavy debate about just exactly who will sing Cobain’s lead vocals. Stereogum suggests that Joan Jett might fill the void but, at the moment, there is still much to be determined. For $20, you can tune into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame simulcast beginning tomorrow night, April 10th, at 7 P.M. Other inductees for the 2014 year include: Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall and John Oates, KISS, Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens. [Stereogum]

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KEXP Premiere: PUJOL - Circles

After releasing his debut album, United States of Being, on Saddle Creek Records in 2012, Daniel Pujol, mastermind behind the group PUJOL, stitched together KLUDGE, an epic punk-rock album. In terms of composition, Pujol spent weeks in a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee mall recording from 5pm to 6am. Thus, KLUDGE presents itself as a masterful DIY release, showcasing the many possibilities of hard-work, sleep-deprivation, and creative improvisation. About the album, the band’s press release states, “KLUDGE idiosyncratically captures life as it exists in our weird almost future world of flying robots, cancer from food, cell phone wire taps, metadata, $7.25ish minimum wage and $15.50 an hour endless choice buffets. The claim is evident in this latest release, which KEXP has available to you in today’s premiere of “Circles”.

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Live Video: Neil Finn

photo by Charina Pitzel (view set)

It’s hard to believe that the album Dizzy Heights is only the third solo release from beloved singer/songwriter Neil Finn. From Split Enz to Crowded House to the Finn Brothers and his soundtrack work, the New Zealand icon hasn’t stopped making music for the past 30 years. “It’s confusing for the general public to track my projects,” he admitted to KEXP DJ Stevie Zoom. “I start writing songs, and it becomes a project.” No matter what he calls himself, Neil’s distinctive voice shines through on every release. While we’re never sure what band name he’ll use next, he tells us, “there’s lots of new music in the pipeline. I’m feeling very blessed.” We felt blessed to have him in the KEXP studios -- watch his session below:

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Live Review: Future Islands with Ed Schrader’s Music Beat at The Crocodile 4/3/2014

all photos by Dave Lichterman

After the band finished ripping through a particularly danceable rendition of “Spirit” off their new record Singles, Future Islands frontman Sam Herring looked down at his sweat soaked shirt and pants. After a failed attempt to wring a piece of it out, he just laughed along with the rest of the crowd. The guy could have walked in from a hurricane outside and you wouldn’t have known any different. “I don’t know, man”, Herring laughed to the crowd, “I guess you just gotta stick with what you’re good at”. The joke was well received, but the truth of that statement was a far more resounding message than Herring may have intended. Future Islands are back on the road this year touring in support of a phenomenally well received new record, out through their new home at 4AD Records, complete with all the late night TV hype and SXSW acclaim a spring tour band could ask for. But in no way have Future Islands fallen into good fortune by chance - they earned it through blood, sweat, and tears... but mostly sweat.

Future Islands threw down at The Crocodile Thursday night after an excellent in studio session at KEXP. The show had sold out almost a month prior, and the crowd couldn’t have been more stoked to see one of their favorites own such a marvelous performance. Together with a really great opening set from Baltimore garage rock act Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Future Islands set the bar pretty damn high for all tours coming through town any time soon.

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Song of the Day: Israel Nash - Rain Plans

photo by Pooneh Ghana

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Rain Plans” by Israel Nash from the 2013 album Israel Nash’s Rain Plans, out now on Loose Music in the UK and to be released this summer in the US.

Israel Nash - Rain Plans (MP3)

If someone told you that Israel Nash was blood relation to any member of CSNY, you probably wouldn’t doubt it, especially not after hearing his latest release, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans. The truth is, he’s not, but the Missouri born Israel Nash Gripka does draw the line from Neil Young’s Ontario to Laurel Canyon to Dripping Springs, TX, where Israel Nash currently lives. Lest you think Nash is a newcomer to the scene, Rain Plans is his third album and a glorious neo-psychedlic masterpiece that’s a step well-beyond his well-received first two albums. (And he’s already quite popular in The Netherlands!) In dropping the “Gripka”, Nash is also shedding the raw Nashville-to-Muscle-Shoals grit, instead building lush melodies and gorgeous harmonies on this mostly meditative collection. Today’s featured song, the epic title track, and a particularly CSNY-influenced number, highlights Nash’s warm vocals as it sweeps listeners from one eddy of jangling or grooving guitar to another, eventually building to a long, delectable jam. While “rain plans” may be your backup for inclimate weather, you’re not going to want to go anywhere else while any song from Israel Nash’s new album is playing.

Israel Nash just announced a tour with Jessica Lea Mayfield, which will bring him to The Crocodile in Seattle on June 16th. Check out his website and Facebook page for more information. For now, here’s a stripped down yet amazing version of “Rain Plans” performed in a boat in the canals of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands:

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Live Video: Benjamin Verdoes

photo by Alex Crick (view set)

Former Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band frontman Benjamin Verdoes came out to the KEXP studio to perform some of the new songs off his latest, 11-track solo project, The Evil Eye. From the unhinged, experimental undertones of Where The Messengers Meet to the structured melancholy of his new-found collaboration, Verdoes’ current music signifies an interesting maturation of his style. With The Evil Eye, Verdoes believes that “this record is very autobiographical. It doesn’t make much sense to have anything that blocks that.” In his attempts to connect with others through his music, Verdoes’ self-reflective, self-conscious songs assuage the collective anxiety we share with regard to our own existences. On “Unknown Fears,” the first track in today’s live session, Verdoes sings, “Why do I try to do anything anymore / because we both know I fall apart in the end.” In all his songs, the elaborate instrumentation teems with tragic lyricism. Verdoes’ The Evil Eye is a product of stark contrasts, well-wrought juxtaposition, and creative interpretation. View more Verdoes here:

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Tuesday Music News

photo by Brian Cullen

  • Ex-Red Red Meat frontman Tim Rutili’s music project Califone have revealed a dazzling video for “Magdalene” from last year’s Stitches album. The song itself is flawless and the amazing animation manages to elevate it further. Enjoy a stunning five-minute reprieve from reality, below. [Stereogum]

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