Words // Brian Hodge
Video // Evan St. Martin at Frame & Anchor Films
Alabama Shakes: Paradise Boston 4.15.12
The Wooden Sky: Lizard Lounge 11.11.11
The Devil Whale: Royale Boston 9.30.11
The Head And The Heart: Boston 9.30.11
Wilco: Solid Sound Festival 6.25.11
Wilco: Solid Sound Festival 6.24.11
Sharon Van Etten: BMH Boston 4.14.11
Lady Lamb The Beekeeper: Boston 4.14.11
Jeff Tweedy: State Theater Portland ME 3.26.11
Deer Tick: Paradise Boston 3.3.11
Dawes: Paradise Boston 3.3.11
Middle Brother: Paradise Boston 3.3.11
Words // Brian Hodge
Video // Evan St. Martin at Frame & Anchor Films
We are proud to anounce our partnership and general friendship with the pod cast The Mixtape hosted by Sean De Tore. The Mixtape is a weekly pod cast and blog that cranks out great interviews and exclusive content that complements Visible Voice. Show your support by downloading the pod cast and checking out the blog. Look forward to more exciting content from the both of us!
Local group XVIII Eyes have a couple of records under their belt with the latest and greatest being "I'll Keep You". Rumor has it that the band first titled the album "I'll Keep You Loving This Record Until Time Stands Still Because It's So Effing Good", but it was just too long and a bit over the top. Ok, that's not true at all. At least the part about the album title. The record, however, is indeed so. effing. good.
I had the chance to chat with guitarist/vocalist Irene Barber about the name of the band, radio vs. social media, naming songs and fun gay bar times involving a bartender named Shannon who is "the tallest, toughest and coolest dyke around.".
the mixtape: When I hear the words 18 Individual Eyes I think of a massive man eating spider or some disturbing creature I would not want to meet at any time in my life. Where did you get the name 18 Individual Eyes or XVIII Eyes as it is sometimes stylized and what kind of thoughts does it evoke in you?
XVIII: Ha! The name does sound pretty Sci-Fi, which I think would be just as fitting for us. It's from The Bell Jar which I was reading at the time we were trying to find a name. The exact sentence is actually, "Eighteen separate eyes." The character is describing a trip to see a new doctor, and how she walks into the room to find that nine students (eighteen eyes) will be sitting in for the visit. We've made a formal decision to change our name to simply "XVIII Eyes." Most folks, including ourselves, leave out "Individual" when referring to us. So we thought we might as well cut it out, make the name shorter and hopefully sweeter as well.
tm: As I was researching you folks I stumbled upon a photo-blog with posts from 2010 when the band was comprised of all women. Nowadays I see that you've got a dude in the group. Was it important to be an all female group at the time or was it sheer coincidence?
XVIII: Coincidence. XVIII Eyes embodies both the feminine and masculine spectrums regardless of lineup. Our presence is mixed and I love that.
tm: I heard your new song "We Only Talk in San Francisco" on KEXP recently (which inspired this chat, btw) and loved the darn thing. Radio is still very present and important but these days we also have TONS of social media and ways to promote ourselves on-line. Do you put more weight into one medium than the other or are radio and internet both very important for what you're doing?
XVIII: Aw, well thank you very much! We are incredibly appreciative of KEXP and the support they give to local and independent artists around the world. I'm so horrible with social media. You'll catch me listening to KEXP far more often than you'll find me on the social webs. This isn't to say that social media isn't wonderful — our band definitely benefits from it whether it be someone following a tweet to this interview, or someone getting the details for our next show. I find myself discovering new music via radio, music blogs, and other music media on the internet that are not necessarily socially-driven. That said, I'm sure this isn't true for everyone, and so I'm not sure we should put weight in one medium over the other. I do know this though: The other night I was driving home and we came on KEXP, one minute later I got an email from Bandcamp saying we sold another download. I've gotta think that the person was inspired to go out and find us online after hearing us on the airwaves.
tm: Why do some of you look familiar to me? I know I've seen you around town. What do you do for your day jobs?
XVIII: I'm guessing you've most likely seen Andy out and about as he bartends/backs and works security at a couple different spots. Our practice space is on 11th and Pike, so we spend a lot of time at Pettirosso. Samantha just opened Studio 915, her massage therapy studio in the Rainier Building. Jamie is taking a bit of a sabbatical and is working on her home recording studio. I do interaction design for a tech company in Fremont.
tm: What other talents do you have besides playing music and singing and junk?
XVIII: Both Sam and I live in the world of art and design. Jamie is a carpenter extraordinaire! And Andy can identify and name any aircraft you throw at him. We can all polish off a bottle of Fireball in one night. Disgusting or sexy, yes this is a talent.
tm: Tell me a story, either crazy or sane, about your time on the road.
XVIII: Out on the road we stay pretty even-keel - let's say somewhere in between crazy and sane, haha. A good story came out of our time on tour with Minus the Bear last winter. After our show in Des Moines, IA we all hit up the local gay bar across the street where we met the now revered, Shannon the Bartender. The tallest, toughest and coolest dyke around. She poured the stiffest drinks and told us the craziest stories. The bar also had those business cards where you can rate the attractiveness of people you meet 1 through 10. I don't know - are these used for booty calls later? Anyway, we asked Shannon to rate us - Jamie, Sam, me and our sound lady Robin. She gave us a 7 saying, "you're pretty good, but there is room for improvement." Damn! She put us in our place that night with tough love and booze. Shannon ended up coming to our show the next night in Madison, WI. She brought some pot cookies, and Andy and I ate one each without question or hesitation. Oh my word, they were way too strong. I sunk into a paranoia so strong I was convinced she had poisoned us. Andy was across the room flying through a Star Wars battle scene. Shannon, respect. You kicked the shit out of us two nights in a row.
tm: Your new record is called I'll Keep You. Who came up with that name? Also, as a band, how do you come up with album names/song titles? Are they super important?
XVIII: This album is a bit lighter in mood, much more open, exposed and publicly affectionate. We thought the title I'll Keep You effectively captures those qualities. "I'll Keep You" is also the first track on the record, which is the same first-song-equals-record-title equation we went with on our last record Unnovae Nights. A few of our song titles, and lyrics for that matter, are phrases spoken in conversations among ourselves. When it happens we all kind of stop and are like, hey that'd make a sweet song title. Being the lyricist, I'm usually in the best position to find or pull the appropriate title. But at the same time, I think the best titles are ones that just pop and intrigue. They don't have to have incredible meaning.
tm: Do you remember making/receiving a mixtape as a kid or even as an adult for that matter? If so, what was on it?
XVIII: I made a mixtape for myself when I discovered how to use a dual cassette player in 2nd grade. I made a mix from a couple of my mom's tapes - Dionne Warwick and Sade. It was my bath time mix.
tm: New record. Check. Upcoming show at Chop Suey. Check. What does the future look like for 18 Individual Eyes?
XVIII: Next month we are playing a show with My Goodness at the Croc. And we are already writing new tunes. We're excited to see what direction the writing goes. We'd love to go on tour in early spring. Announcements around both to come!
BY SEAN DE TORE
Walking into Ravenna Woods’ Seattle house/practice space/recording studio was pretty surreal. We quickly realized that this was not a house at all, it was a creative dungeon. It was a place to eat, sleep, drink, and produce music.
The band welcomed us to catch a glimpse into their jam session. We first started to roll the cameras in a bedroom on the top floor where they had never played before. Although the band sounded great we decided to relocate to their basement (practice/recording space). The basement was draped in rugs, posters, and various trinkets that made it feel less “cold”, it was clearly the beating heart of the house. While the band is fairly laid back, lead singer and guitar player Chris Cunningham is a driving force of intensity that bears his dark side throughout his lyrics.
Their much anticipated album The Jackal is available November 12! It is a true representation of the band’s balanced sensibility. The Jackal is perfectly produced to exemplify the purity of their sound, which is refreshing in a time when music is being ransacked by computers and producers who want to leave their “mark.”
Video // Kitchen Sessions & Visible Voice
Until Charli XCX started crooning and shimmying at Neumo’s, I had no idea what a cult following she has here in Seattle. The moment she cracked open her show with “What I Like,” the men surrounding me in the front row burst out dancing and singing every lyric. Standing in the middle of her band of female instrumentalists, she owned everyone’s attention with her raspy British accent and fervid headbanging. At just twenty-one years old, the English singer-songwriter is not only an international star, but also a fashion icon thanks to her goth-tinged wardrobe and huge, dread-laced hair.
Deer Tick has built a name for themselves by not only pumping out killer tunes, but by pulling out the stops. Just two years removed from the rollicking Divine Providence, the band returns with a clear-eyed, emotionally-charged record, Negativity.
As on Divine Providence, the band benefits from letting Ian O’Neil take a turn behind the mic. His “The Dream’s in the Ditch” is the album’s catchiest tune. Drummer Dennis Michael Ryan’s “Thyme” also acquits itself well.
But ultimately, this is lead singer John McCauley’s show. He addresses his dissolved engagement on album opener “The Rock”, and his father’s prison sentence for tax evasion (“Mr. Sticks”). The result is some of the band’s most autobiographical and affecting tunes to date. His sandpaper croak is still rough, but it’s more pointed than ever; his bloodshot eyes are wide here with a keen clarity, thanks in no small part to shirking at least some of the substances.
McCauley has always had a voice that sounds like he’s seen some hard times. Now he’s got some hard times to sing about.
The Pacific Northwest was lucky enough to get a second helping of The Avett Brothers this year, which included a high-energy show at Seattle's Key Arena on October 18. On the heels of the October 15 release date of their new album Magpie and the Dandelion, the band gave fans a few new gems - including Vanity, Bring Your Love to Me, and the album's first single Another is Waiting. Foot stomping commenced during crowd pleasers such as Laundry Room and The Fall. And die- hard fans would list Salvation Song and Backwards with Time as the highlights of the night.
Recently the Bros & Co teamed up with Seattle's own Chris Cornell to treat television viewers to a special performance of Vanity on adoring fan Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show. On October 30, the North Carolinians will rock the stage for a Live on Letterman webcast, and will do a regular show performance after. With Magpie and the Dandelion debuting at #5 on the Billboard Top 200, and #3 on iTunes top albums, it seems we will be seeing a lot more of the genre-defying brothers in the future.
Photos // Adam Richert
Last Thursday I walked down my street to a neighborhood house, knocked on the door of a person I had never met, and was invited in to listen to David Bazan.
A bar height chair was set in the corner of the living room, between the fireplace filled with votive candles and a warm glow of a lamp on the other side. The host had the vibe just right. Bazan walks in as if he were a friend invited over to play. He begins to tune as the crowd who was once standing awkwardly around the living area of this quaint house, now starts to take their seats. Just watching everyone arrange themselves in such a considerate manor is a testament to the living room session. Absolute respect for the home, the musician, and each other. The kind of respect that can only be derived from understanding and appreciation for what everyone is about to experience.
Bazan begins to play and then answers some questions. This is when the fans, who have been listening with intent silence, show their excitement. This is also when Bazan, becomes more than a musican and reveals all those genuine and sincere parts of his character that are perceived through his music, in the flesh. After answering a questions about religion and raising his children, Bazan asks if anyone else has any questions, then jokes "It doesn't have to be as personal, or it can be." While Bazan is in the living room he is an open book.
Bazan closes with the favorite "Bands With Managers", thanks everyone, and as the crowd shuffles around the living room, he casually exits. I suspected this was more out of respect for the host (as not to create lingering fans inside their living room), because as we walked out, we noticed he hadn't left. Bazan was standing in the front yard. We were able to thank him personally, shook his hand, and as we walked back home I looked back and noticed he was chatting and taking photographs with the little crowd that gathered that night just for him.
Video// By Brad Cordova // Vimeo
Walking into the Nectar Lounge Thursday night, one sound rose above the buzz of patrons like an echo crossing a glass-still lake. It was flutey, flighty, and filled with misty air. It was the voice of Pepper Proud. Originally from West Virginia and now residing in Washington, Pepper seemed right at home on that Seattle stage. Her humble, sprite-like mannerisms only complemented her surprisingly powerful voice, and everyone watching clearly revered the entire set. Thanks to a Kickstarter fund backing her upcoming sophomore album, “The Water Chapter,” you should catch her live as soon as possible -- she won’t be a Pacific Northwest secret for long.
Just after that act, a mutual friend introduced me to Paisley and Todd Gray, two of the musicians who’d performed with Pepper. While the Grays primarily make up half of the unbeatably catchy Pickled Okra, their abundant talent runs over into a handful of local collaborations. As if their finger-snapping tunes weren’t catchy enough, this couple has big ol’ genuine grins and cornfields worth of jokes. Catching them playing in any of their ensembles is a treat.
Next up on the night’s bill were the Blackberry Bushes Stringband. Call their toe-tapping twist on bluegrass whatever you want; they’re simply fun as hell. Lead singer Jes Raymond explained to the audience, “There are two things a folk band always writes about: freight trains and the highway.” About to take off on tour through the Midwest, she promised they’d try to not let all their new songs be about the road -- but couldn’t promise they’d be successful. Each one of their jovial jams soaked the room with sugary violin hums and beats that got couples in the crowd swaying.
Following the Blackberry Bushes’ sweetness, the Weatherside Whiskey Band promptly erupted the room with flying feet and dosey-does. They were not without a few slower, soul-stirring numbers either, showing the spectrum of talent within this five-person set. You just knew that, deep down in his gut, Jacob Yackshaw truly believed in his Czechoslovakian double bass playing. And when Amy Meyer sang, she had all the energy and precision of a hummingbird. It was pure joy to watch them help the crowd unwind together.
Headlining this hoot-n-holler type of night was the Coral Creek String Band, a Colorado ensemble with some serious touring chops. Their strings unleashed jams that spun like tight tornadoes and earned plenty of whoops along the way. Following three folky, fun acts couldn’t be an easy feat, but they proved themselves the perfect culmination to the evening.
Pepper Proud & Friends
Sophomore albums can be fraught with peril as artists strive to thread the needle between replicating past successes and redundancy. For the Head and the Heart, following a whirlwind unknown-to-indie-darlings debut, their next step would be examined especially closely.
Recorded in their hometown Seattle, Let’s Be Still accomplishes the rare feat of recapturing what made their self-titled debut memorable, while still moving the band forward in interesting directions.
Let’s Be Still opens strongly with “Homecoming Heroes” and “Another Story” capably striking the sweet spot between folksy and familiar. The band sounds full, polished and ready to take their folk-pop sound to huge stages.
The bright, flowery “Springtime” smartly transitions into the lovelorn “Summertime” before the live-show staple “Josh McBride” kicks things up again. The album’s back-half is a bit slower, with the title track and somewhat-psychedelic “10,000 Weight in Gold” leaving enough space for both sweet harmonies and wistful reflection. The record closes with “Gone”, a resolute (and knowing) number that leaves the listener confident in the band’s next step - whatever that may sound like, wherever that may be.
Overall, the record is perfectly pleasant upon initial listening, but its when you let the sounds sink in, the storytelling and nuance fully come to life and you are left with another great record. Let’s be still and enjoy.
Let's Be still is on itunes and in stores everywhere!
Please enjoy our exclusive photos taken in the recording studio during the making of "Let's Be Still"
Words // Brian Hodge
Photos // Adam Richert