Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 1:00 pm
Unlikely collaborations can unnerve and unwind heavy and extreme music in ways we'd never before imagined. There's Painkiller, the guts-spilling grind-jazz band featuring saxophonist John Zorn, bassist Bill Laswell and Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 11:10 am
If you try to watch this video for its plot, good luck. There's a mermaid, a sandstorm, a dude, a chase, sea creatures, close-up lips ... I tried, but gave up and simply gave in to the flow of the song and the images.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes Sweetheart 2014, a collection of handpicked covers from a group of modern musical dreamers who artfully grapple, in one way or another, with that most vexing of subject to ever befall mankind, L.O.V.E. Sweetheart 2014 (Hear Music/Concord Music Group) is available on CD at Starbucks and all digital outlets.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 12:09 pm
Phantogram plays spiky, dense and danceable pop-rock songs with an electronic pulse: Most of its songs have an insistent grind to them, with a percussive through-line snapping and jabbing and infusing virtually every moment with jumpy urgency. But singer/keyboardist Sarah Barthel and guitarist Josh Carter still let these songs breathe in surprising ways, so that the moments of quiet that slip through — like the spare and surprising piano which pops up at the end of "Black Out Days" — have that much more impact.
The English band Temples hails from the small town of Kettering, where its psychedelic music came together in the home studio of singer-guitarist James Edward Bagshaw in 2012. In that small space, the group made the big-sounding Shelter Song, which got the young band noticed; a recording contract soon followed. The album Sun Structures was recorded in much the same fashion.
The members of Real Estate are awfully young to pine for their lost youth, but nostalgia remains crucial to the New Jersey band's tender, impeccable sound. Real Estate's shimmering pop-rock seems to echo out of the past — from beaches and garages and tape decks — with the kind of melancholy beauty few bands outside The Beach Boys could hope to match.
In pop-music circles, Suzanne Vega is known almost entirely for two songs from the late 1980s: the child-abuse ballad "Luka" and a song that launched literally dozens of dance remixes, "Tom's Diner." But Vega has been making vital, inventive music the entire time — much of it folk-based, though her sound has taken many smart detours along the way — and is about to put out her first album of original material in seven years, Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles.
We were already excited to have legendary musician John Doe of the pioneering punk band X join us in the KEXP studio, so you can imagine our surprise when he walked in with the also-legendary Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. Doe's musical partner, Exene Cervenka, caught a cold during the Seattle stop for the band's cleverly named "X-Mas 2013″ tour, so Doe called on his old tourmate from 1999.