When you hear the band Pickwick you are not sure what genre you are listening to but you know you like it. Their lush soulfulness and dance/rock awesome-sauce sounds keep you moving even when you don't realize it. From above the room, the dancing made the Troubadour look like a beating heart getting ready to burst. This Seattle based band is touring the country hard in a beast of a van but cranking out tour bus quality performance. Look out for them in a city near you!
For all the grit and guts conjured up by Surfer Blood’s name and lyrics, the band members carry themselves like well-mannered gentlemen onstage. Standing in the presence of this Florida-based rock and roll band, the struggles described in their tunes sound more like optimistic anthems. Due to lead singer John Paul Pitts’ usual poker face and the group’s immaculately cohesive jamming, it’s the sheer catchiness of each song that shines.
Citing an emotional connection with the Pacific Northwest, the group scheduled three shows at the Sunset Tavern in January 2014 and surrounded them with additional appearances in Portland, OR, and Vancouver, BC. Attending two out of the three shows at the Sunset Tavern, I noticed heaps of differences between them, despite taking place within one week of each other.
Surfer Blood’s January 4th appearance at the Ballard establishment was lively for sure, but unfolded with a bit of stiffness, as if fresh and clean as the newly-born 2014 itself. Washington-grown duo Cock & Swan began the night with ethereal tunes and poetry-slamesque lighting, cloaking the Tavern in dusky vibes. Next up were the downright lovable Portland group Wild Ones. Danielle Sullivan’s voice was somehow simultaneously coy and peppy, and the band’s evident giddiness onstage was icing atop their gratifying pop-rock cake.
Perhaps the contemplative feel of these two openers carried over into Surfer Blood’s delivery. While the execution was seamless, I did notice my pet peeve taking place: people in the front row who weren’t dancing in the slightest. At an upbeat rock and roll event, why choose to occupy that coveted space if not to, you know, freak out a little? Thankfully, there were plenty of jaws dropped in joy when Pitts walked right down into the crowd during “Take It Easy,” and by the time their set wrapped up, everyone made the room rumble so much, the encore was especially satisfying.
On January 10th, the Sunset Tavern felt noticeably more energetic. With two vibrant local bands opening the show -- the fantastically fun Dude York and groove-rock gurus Hibou -- there was no way Surfer Blood could come out anything but on fire. While their first set has started with the buoyant but lesser-known “Fast Jabroni”, this night’s began with “Floating Vibes,” initiating a veritable singalong. They also included “Catholic Pagans,” one of their most lyrically-rich songs.. When Pitts entered the crowd this time around, he wrapped his arms around multiple people, dancing all the way. The front row was filled with headbangers and rug-cutters, and this evening’s encore featured people cheering as loudly as the guitars were shrieking.
Equal parts surfer jams and garage rock, Surfer Blood’s sound resonated perfectly within the intimate Sunset Tavern atmosphere, and having concerts in such quick succession only proved the guys are at the top of their game. Seeing how both events sold out, I’d urge any live music lover to buy tickets to their January 17th show as soon as possible. It’s their final stop in Seattle for this current tour, and something tells me they’re going to make it their best.
Words//Photos by AJ Dent
Damien Jurado’s latest album, “Brothers and Sister of the Eternal Son,” finds the singer songwriter still ruminating in the despairing way listeners have come to know him best. “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son” is a melancholic folk rock album that at times is ethereal employing 60’s inspired arrangements a la the Zombies, or the moody calling of Echo & the Bunnymen. The songs are also psychedelic, worldly and a little cinematic if that film were an early 1970s sci-fi film. That’s not to discredit Jurado’s work. Jurado himself has never made the same record twice, which is what keeps his songwriting so interesting. On “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son,” Jurado still gives listeners something new while recognizing his work in the past.
Tracks like “Metallic Taste” and “Suns in Our Mind” are the poppiest Jurado allows himself to get musically. Though even at its bleakest moments the album’s songs still sink their hooks into you. “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son” comes across more like a soundtrack than a strict album. Jurado’s narrative follows the singer/songwriter as he continues to seek out an identity and finds himself at a crossroads. We never really know what it is Jurado is searching for, though perhaps Jurado himself doesn’t know either. “I don’t think I could choose a side / sunlights, they’re not meant to shine” he sings on “Suns in Our Mind.” What we do know is that the raw emotions at play on this album pull on our narrator influencing each word he gives us and paints a shadowy portrait of his world.
As an artist, Jurado has kept his music interesting by approaching his songwriting on each album differently. On “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun” Jurado once again teams with producer Richard Swift whom he last worked with on 2012’s “Maraqopa.” Jurado’s calls his latest effort a somewhat sequel to “Maraqopa” (look no further than the track “Return to Maraqopa”), but “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son” is more than just part two of a great album. Jurado seems to finally be getting comfortable in his own skin, or, at least, he’s found a skin that fits well for now.
The album’s production is atmospheric and beautiful. The lyrics: honest. Swift accurately helps Jurado capture his dreamscapes in sound and renders them gorgeously bleak. It’s a sound that comes across, at times, cleverly nostalgic and contemporary (so accurately rendered is the world created on this record, it has Father John Misty gushing about it on SPIN). If this album is Jurado getting comfortable, then let’s settle in with him.
Words by Craig Robert Brown
Photos by Adam Richert
- 01/21/14 Burlington, VT ArtsRiot find tickets
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Diamond Doves clearly have some new ideas for the new year. This week, the multifaceted multi-instrumentalists that made up Elvis Perkins’s backing band have released a shiny single that’ll brighten your winter.
“One Good Reason” is a smart synthy jam from Wyndham Boylan-Garnett and Nick Kinsey, featuring some nifty strings from San Fermin’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Perkins on background vocals. Altogether it sounds like the group’s most polished effort yet.
Hearth Music paid tribute to an underrated legend of the country music dynasty at the Columbia City Theater. It was a night full of nostalgia and answered the question "where have all the average people gone."
The night was hosted by Iaan Hughes of KBCS who carried the audience through the musical career of Miller by showing videos of him playing with artists such as Willie Nelson (before the beard and pony tail), Johnny Cash, Dean Martin, and of course the Muppets. I was not expecting this show to be an informative show but so glad it was! Everyone left the theater learning a thing or two, no matter how big a fan.
Country came out in full force by some of the finest folk acts in the Emerald city such as Ms. Pepper Proud, Liam Fitzgerald (of the Raineros), Jon Pontrello of the Moondoggies, Country Dave and His Pickin Crew and many more to contribute to this throw back night. Each band played 2 songs (or so) so if you blinked then you might have missed a song. Roger Miller has so many hits such as "Chug-A-Lug", "King of the Road", "You Cant Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd", and "Dang Me", but what truly takes me back is his soundtrack to Disney's Robin Hood. Such beautiful and catchy songs that never go out of style.
The show at Neumos on Friday night was nothing short of a Christmas special, from Peter Mansen in an adorable onesie to Bryan John Appleby’s delightful holiday get-up, complete with Muppets and a choir. A perfectly sweet open to Deep Sea Diver’s folk-driven rock, Appleby’s heartfelt set comprised of tender tracks from Fire on the Vine and carmelized Christmas numbers. Folk revivalism done tastefully, these narrative tunes are intricately instrumental and refreshingly honest.
Nearly two years out from the release of History Speaks, Deep Sea Diver’s sparse set refuses to wilt on record or stage. It doesn’t take more than one song to sink deliciously under the tasty spell of Jessica Dobson’s haunting synth-matched vocal hooks riding on Mansen’s galvanizing drums. Dobson’s possessed stature and impressive technical precision luxuriate in a likeness of Annie Clark (St. Vincent), and it’s not difficult to imagine the songstress reaching similar heights. A former member of The Shins (whose influence resounds in the nautical licks of ‘You Go Running’), Dobson on stage is simply captivating. Opening with temporal plays on flickering bare bulbs and exploding bursts of flood light, the band showed us promising new gems and several endearing Christmas covers. Dobson’s confessional 'O Holy Night' was backed by a stage decked with spectacular strings of lights that formed a massive tree, which the band had personally slaved over. The sonic celebrations left me with enough elation stuck on my heart to float away from the Pike/Pine antics filled with warm holiday fuzzies.
Photos//Words By Cassandra Croft
Saturday night at the Nectar Lounge, The Caleb Klauder Band proved that the only thing more fun than saying the term “honky-tonk” is listening to it live. Originally from nearby Orcas Island, WA, and now living in Portland, Klauder embodies honky-tonk tunes with a pinch of the Pacific Northwest. As evidenced by the title of his 2010 album, “Western Country,” his songs contain plucky puns, references to soul-saving roads, and that swoony twang capable of melting even the Seattle freeze. The air smelt of whiskey and the fresh sweat of lively dancing. It made me smile to note the spectrum of ages at the show; young couples kissed in every corner as clearly lifelong partners swung one another around in front of the stage. With all the button-ups and cowboy boots about, I half-expected to see people sipping sarsparilla. Not everyonelooked dressed for a hoedown, though -- those who’d be labeled by pop culture as “hipsters” were right in the thick of it too, stomping their feet and cheering at each fiddle solo.
Urging the audience members to all “take home someone sweet” that night, Klauder’s clear charm and warm voice filled the venue with positive vibes all through his set. When one of his strings broke and he had to dash off to fix it between songs, the band burst into an instrumental number with just the rightamount of giddyup to keep people swaying. As each member participates in a multitude of other projects, their experience shone through, making for a cohesive and catchy show perfect for the Nectar Lounge’s stage and size. I highly recommend hitting a Caleb Klauder Band concert to anyone in need of a pick-me-up with plenty of country-style panache.
Words // Photos by AJ Dent
Cass McCombs' Big Wheel and Others is one of my favorite albums of the year. It's a massive, rambling, folk-country epic. Clocking in at 22 tracks, it features some gorgeous guitar work, wry lyrics and some really great tunes.
Stream "There Can Be Only One" and see his other tour dates below.
Tue Dec 03 2013 Il Motore, Montreal, QC, Canada
Wed Dec 04 2013 Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON, Canada
Fri Dec 06 2013 The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL, US
Sat Dec 07 2013 Zanzabar, Louisville, KY, US
Sun Dec 08 2013 High Watt, Nashville, TN, US
Mon Dec 09 2013 The Earl, East Atlanta, GA, US
Thu Dec 12 2013 The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY, US
Fri Dec 13 2013 Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, PA, US
Sat Dec 14 2013 Ottobar, Baltimore, MD, US
Words // Brian Hodge
Video // Evan St. Martin at Frame & Anchor Films