Tag: Seattle WA

New Audio: Sub Pop Records and Soundgarden Release Second Single Off Remixed and Expanded Re-Issue of Their Debut Album

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Cornell (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kim Thayil (lead guitar), along with Matt Cameron (drums), who joined in 1986 and Ben Shepherd (bass), who joined in 1990, the Seattle, WA-based grunge/alt-rock quartet Soundgarden can trace its origins back to the formation and eventual breakup of an early 80s Seattle-based band The Shemps, which featured Cornell on drums and vocals, along with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Strangely enough, over the years what seems to have been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had started their recording career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the renowned alt rock/indie label released the band’s first two EPs 1987’s Screaming Life and 1988’s Fopp, two efforts, which the label re-issued a couple of years ago through both vinyl and digital formats, marking the first time in about 25 years that the EPs were pressed onto vinyl — and the first time they were released digitally. Interestingly enough, Sub Pop Records helped distributed Soundgarden’s 1988 full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

And although they had some creative differences with the album’s producer Drew Canulette and the band’s overall dissatisfaction with the final mixes, their full-length effort was a commercial success as it garnered both a 1990 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and attention from larger labels — including A&M Records, who quickly signed the band. At the time, the band had intended to spend some time remixing the album for subsequent pressings of the album; but those plans wound up falling by the wayside, as the band went on to write and record their sophomore effort, and major-label debut, Louder Than Love.

Last year, the members of the band acquired the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they enlisted the assistance of renowned producer, engineer, long-time friend and frequent, old-time collaborator Jack Endino, who has famously worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up what the band felt were persistent loose ends — while fixing the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the band found six early version of album singles that eventually wound up on Ultramega OK and reportedly those early versions, which would eventually become staples of their live sets at the time, capture the band’s sound and songwriting in a much rawer, less polished form — and much closer to the sound on the Screaming Life EP.

Almost 30 years after Ultramega OK’s original release, Sub Pop Records will be releasing the remixed and expanded re-issue of the album, as a long-awaited “correction.” Naturally, for die-hard fans and completists, the re-mixed material will capture the band’s sound as they fully intended it, while the re-discovered early material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and overall sound. Now, as you may remember, I wrote about the re-issue’s first single “Beyond The Wheel” and the re-mixed version possessed a crisper, cleaner sound, which helped to display Kim Thayill’s incredible guitar work and the interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like thundering drumming and Cornell’s Robert Plant-like wailing. The re-mixed and expanded Ultramega OK’s second single “Flower” much like its preceding single displays a cleaner, crisper sound, which gives the song the muscular insistence that the band became known for while interestingly enough, the song has moments that nod at Badmotorfinger and Superunknown.

Live Footage: A Place to Bury Strangers in St. Petersburg Russia and Santiago Chile

Currently comprised of Oliver Ackermann (guitars and vocals), Dion Lunadon (bass) and Robi Gonzalez (drums), the Brooklyn-based trio of A Place to Bury Strangers have a long-held reputation for a moody, atmospheric Wall of Sound-influenced sound which effortlessly meshes elements of psych rock, shoegaze, space rock and noise rock in a way that owes a profound debt to The Jesus and Mary Chain and others — and for one of most explosive, feedback-filled, punishingly loud live shows around, while being shrouded in strobe light and smoke machine fog. Recently, a Twitter follower had retweeted a recent post — of which I’m eternally grateful — and I began telling him about several bands with a similar sound, including A Place to Bury Strangers.

Now, there’s quite bit of live footage of the Brooklyn-based trio shot by fans and professionals alike, as well as several live sessions for renowned Seattle-based indie station KEXP; but in my opinion the best live footage I’ve come across was a live show in St. Petersburg, Russia shot by Musicserf Magazine in 2013, which includes “Deadbeat,” “Don’t Go,” “Ego Death,” “I Know I’ll See You,” “Missing You,” “Mind Control,” “Drill It Up,” “I’m So Clean,” “You Are The One,” “Keep Slipping Away,” and set closer “I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart.” The second video was shot at Bar Loreto in Santiago, Chile last year (presumably) and features the band performing “Fear,” “Deeper,” “I Live My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart” and “Wild Animal.”

After you’ve viewed the footage, you’ll see why the Brooklyn-based trio is one of my favorite live bands to see and to shoot.

Led by its founding member, composer and bassist Ezra Gale and featuring Rick Parker (trombone), Alex Asher (trombone), Jon Lipscomb (guitar) and Madhu Siddappa, the Brooklyn-based trombone-led dub quintet Super Hi-Fi can trace their origins to a rather unlikely beginning. Gale, who was a founding member of acclaimed San Francisco-based Afrobeat act Aphrodisia, an act that once played at Fela Kuti‘s famed Lagos, Nigeria-based night club The Shrine, had relocated to Brooklyn and was collaborating with Quoc Pham in Sound Liberation Front when Gale was asked to get a band together for Pham and Gale’s then-monthly Afro-Dub Sessions parties in Williamsburg. Much like DJ Turmix’s Boogaloo Party, the Afro-Dub Sessions Party would pair the live band fronted by Gale with the dub’s top-flight producers and DJs including Victor RicePrince PoloSubatomic Sound System, the Beverley Road All-Stars and others.

When Gale founded Super Hi-Fi, the project was initially intended to translate the improvisatory mixing process of dub to the live show; however, with the 2012 release of their critically applauded debut effort Dub to the Bone, a busy touring schedule in which they opened for nationally known acts like RubblebucketBeats Antique and John Brown’s Body, followed by the release of their Yule Analog Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, the project began to cement its growing reputation for crafting a unique and expansive take on dub and reggae.

With the recent release of Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana, the Brooklyn-based dub quintet push the boundaries of reggae and dub by paying tribute to Nirvana. And in typical Super Hi-Fi fashion, the members of the band manage to create their own take on the iconic Seattle-based trio’s material with renowned dub producers, Sao Paulo, Brazil‘s Victor Rice; Venice, Italy‘s Doctor Sub; and Brooklyn’s Prince Polo — all of whom are frequent collaborators with the band — assisting to further bend and morph the band’s sound in trippy and psychedelic ways, which help take fairly familiar songs into bold, new territory.

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Adding to the uniqueness of the release, Very Special Recordings, a small, boutique Brooklyn-based label founded by Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale, that specializes in releases cassettes that showcase the diverse of their borough’s and city’s music scene. Interestingly, while we all live in a world of Spotify playlists and streamable music that one never really owns, cassettes have seen something of a renaissance of late with several artists and labels releasing cassette only releases — and in some way, it’s a response against not just streaming services but against the trend towards technophilia for the sake of technophilia. While being relatively cheap to make and sell, a cassette tape does require a bit of effort  — you’d have to go to a physical record store to purchase your favorite band’s new record and then bring it home to play; have a label or friend mail or give you a tape; and at the very least, you’ll probably listen to the whole tape, if not an entire side once. Plus, let’s not forget, that unless your favorite song is the first song or last song of a side, finding it can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. And yet, if you remember buying cassettes at your local record store, as I do, it’s an experience that frankly I sometimes miss very dearly.

I recently spoke to Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale about Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana, how the arranging and re-arranging process differs from Gale’s normal songwriting process, the band’s upcoming releases and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: In the Q&As for The Joy of Violent Movement, we almost always begin with some fairly introductory stuff for readers.  So let’s begin, shall we?

WRH: How did the members of the band meet?

Ezra Gale: I had an idea for a two trombone band and placed a Craigslist ad for trombone players which got exactly two responses, from Alex Asher and Ryan Snow, who became our first two trombone players. Everybody else I just met through other musicians.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

EG: It’s dub, but I don’t know if it’s reggae.

WRH:  Who are you listening to right now?

EG: The last album I bought was Bowie‘s last album, Blackstar, which is just incredible.

WRH: Seminal albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind, U2’s Achtung Baby, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People, Soundgarden’s BadmotorfingerSuperunknown and Down On The Upside, Pearl Jam’s TenVs. and Vitalogy and others reaching important milestone anniversaries, it’s a bit surprising to me that to my knowledge more bands haven’t seriously begun to tackle them with more covers and more tribute albums, especially if you consider how many Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Beatles tribute albums have been released over the years. Why haven’t there been more Pearl Jam, U2, R.E.M. tributes and covers? And how did you come upon paying tribute to Nirvana? 

EG: I really don’t know about those other bands, for us we started playing a version of “Something In the Way” a couple years ago, and we all sort of got the idea that maybe a whole album of Nirvana tunes could be interesting.

 WRH: Much like your fantastic Christmas albums, Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana features a couple of very well-known songs such as In Utereo’s “Heart Shaped Box,” and their famous Unplugged cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” as well as some rather deeper cuts such as “Verse Chorus Verse,” their Incesticide cover of “Love Buzz” Nevermind’s “Something In The Way” and “Polly.” What inspired you to choose those songs to tackle instead of something more tried and true?

EG: Well, initially I wanted to do all really obscure ones. Nirvana is a band whose famous songs have been played to death and I don’t know if anyone really needs to hear another version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, for example. But I know them from when Bleach came out and they were just this really great, intense band from Seattle that not many people knew- my college band even opened for them then, randomly. So I wanted to spotlight some of those lesser-known songs of theirs. But then, I think i was riding my bike and I suddenly started hearing “Heart Shaped Box” in this really slow, weird way, so we ended up doing that one. Ultimately it’s just about giving each song a different treatment and finding something new to do with it, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before.

WRH: How do you go about re-arranging material that’s fairly familiar in a way that adds your particular spin to it — while maintaining something familiar? And how does the process of re-arranging material differ from your normal songwriting process?

EG: It is different than a normal songwriting process. This album was very similar to our two Christmas albums (“Yule Analog” Vols. I and II), in that the goal was to take familiar material and make it sound different. And like in arranging those Christmas songs, I made some rules for myself doing it, which were that the melody line had to be the same, but everything else around it could change. So the rhythms are obviously very different, but also, Nirvana was a band with only one singer and we have two trombones, so in a lot of these versions the second trombone part is made up- like in “Verse Chorus Verse”, “Heart Shaped Box” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially. And also the chords are quite different in some of these, “Polly” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially are pretty different chord changes than the Nirvana versions.

My attitude towards cover versions is just that there’s no point in doing them if all you’re doing is to play it like the original version. No matter how great the original song is, I don’t ever want to regurgitate what someone else has done- go listen to the original if you want that. At the same time, I think it should be recognizable as the original song, somehow. So the challenge of taking material and sort of shaping it into something different that still has echoes of the original song is something I really enjoy doing.

WRH: While doing a little research for this interview, I learned that you’re currently working on your sophomore full-length effort, as well as Beatles/Police 45 for Record Store Day. Could you tell us a little bit about those projects?

EG: Yes, we are about 80% done with the mixing for the new full-length album, which is going to be called “The Blue and White” and it will be our second LP of all-original music. It’s quite different I think, there are lots of vocals and different sounds for us. It was recorded and mixed all onto tape too, which has been a real pain in some ways (!) but is so, so worth it- it sounds amazing I think. It will be out in the springtime sometime I think, on vinyl, somehow or other, we haven’t figured out yet.

And then the single is done and will be released on Electric Cowbell Records for Record Store Day in April, it’s the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,”  which was actually recorded for our “Dub to the Bone” album but left off it, and a version of The Police‘s “Hole In My Life” which we recorded for the new album, both extremely whacked-out and different versions, I can’t wait to play it for people.

WRH What’s next for the band?

EG: We haven’t been playing live that much the last few months because I’ve been so focused on finishing these albums, so once we’re done completely with the new LP I’m looking forward to playing a lot more in the new year.

Initially known as the Seattle, WA-based Bigfoot Wallace and His Wicked Sons, the newly renamed The Kingdom Boogie Band can trace their origins to the formation and breakup of a renowned Pacific Northwest percussion heavy band Kithkin, a band which released four critically well-received albums. Anyway, the members of the newly renamed band are currently working on a full-length album under their new name, an album which will likely comprised of material that the band has dubbed country fun(k) on their Facebook fan page  — although from “Caul,” the band manages to effortlessly mesh psych rock, boogie woogie, glam rock and 70s AM radio rock in a way that feels mischievously anachronistic, while actively not being a carbon copy of the sound that influenced it.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Dan Matthews (vocals, guitar), Neil Hayes (guitar, vocals), Gary Moses (bass, vocals) and Cory King (drums, vocals), the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock quartet The Black Clouds have developed a reputation for a DIY approach to recording and producing their material and for touring — and for a continuing collaboration with the legendary Jack Endino, who has mixed and mastered each of the band’s first two albums. Building on a growing national profile, the band has played at several of the country’s largest festivals including Bamboozle and SXSW, and have opened for the likes of the legendary Mudhoney; in fact, I caught the New Jersey-based band open for Mudhoney when the legendary grunge rock forefathers stopped at The Bell House last year.

The members of the New Jersey-based quartet will be releasing their third full-length effort After All on January 6 and the album, which was recorded at Studio 606 will further continue the band’s collaboration with Jack Endino, who only only recorded, mixed and mastered the album but also produced the album and contributed some guitar on aa few songs. Additionally, Mudhoney’s Mark Arm contributes his imitable vocals to a couple of songs, furthering yet another collaboration with a Seattle grunge rock legend. After All‘s first single “Photograph” is a 1990s-inspired, explosive barn-burner of a song, complete with aggressive power chords, growled vocals and an anthemic hook reminiscent of Foo Fighters, Nirvana and others — all while being rather radio-friendly.

 

 

New Video: The Trippy and Hypnotic Sounds and Visuals of Bonobo’s “Kerala”

January 13, 2017 will mark the release of Green’s sixth Bonobo effort Migration, and his first full-length release in four years. Fittingly as Green mentions in press notes, the material thematically speaking focuses on migration. “It’’s interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of places evolve,” the renowned British producer and electronic music artist remarks in press notes. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that the material possesses a transitory nature — some of the material, including the album’s first single “Kerala” was initially composed while on the road and then was road-tested and revised during Stateside DJ sets. And the album’s guest spots feature a number of artists, who have emigrated themselves, including Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based vocalist Michael Milosh of Los Angeles-based indie pop act Rhye, who recorded his vocal tracks while in Berlin, Germany; Australian-born, Brooklyn-based global, indie pop sensation Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker, who bonded with the British producer over a shared love of disco; Florida-born, Los Angeles-based Nicole Miglis of Los Angeles-based act Hundred Waters; and the New York-based Moroccan collective Innov Gnawa among others. Adding to the album’s transitory nature, Green also employs the use of found sounds that include a Hong Kong elevator, rainfall in Seattle, an Atlanta-based tumble dryer and a New Orleans fan boat engine.

As for “Kerala,” the single manages to further cement elements of Green’s signature sound while expanding upon it as shuffling and skittering 808s are paired with gorgeous yet arpeggiated and knotted strings. And the song builds up until Green drops a cut and layered vocal sample from Brandy that gives the composition a bit of soulfulness and swooning euphoria while possessing a shimmering and cinematic quality.

Directed by video collective Bison, who has produced videos for Jon Hopkins, London Grammar and Rosie Lowe and starring Gemma Arterton, the video compliments the shuffling and trippy nature of the song by creating slowly staggered looped effects in which Arterton is haunted by both terrors unseen by everyone else around her — until the camera pulls out to see an unidentified flying object hovering at the horizon.

 

Comprised of Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Zubin Hensler (trumpet), Andy Clausen (trombone) and Willem de Koch (trombone), New York-based instrumental act The Westerlies have developed a reputation for crafting compositions that possess elements of jazz, classical and chamber music, done with a self-assured swagger and a mischievous wit. Interestingly, the quartet can  actually trace their origins to their birthplace of Seattle, WA where the members of the band were both childhood friends and occasional musical rivals, competing against each other in local and regional competitions — but despite the fact that they all grew up in the same city,  each performer/composer has a unique and diverse musical background that winds up influencing their songwriting approach. In fact, observers and fans of the act have noted that in each individual composition, you can hear that song’s composer gently pulling the entire band towards his own tastes, with the band following along.

Adding to the uniqueness of the project, each member independently moved to New York, which led to the old friends and rivals reconnecting and performing together while they studied at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

Produced by Grammy-winning producer Jesse Lewis, best known for his work with Roomful of Teeth, Brooklyn Rider, Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma and the L.A. Philharmonic, the quartet’s self-titled sophomore effort is comprised of material composed by each member and although the members of the band had known of Lewis through his work, as it turns out Lewis went to the same Seattle high school that three members of The Westerlies went to. And as a result, the connection that the five collaborators had was deep and it allowed the members of the band to further push their compositional talents and the sonic limits of brass instrumentation.

Composed by Andy Clausen, the forthcoming sophomore effort’s first single “New Berlin, New York” is a bold layered composition that manages to possess a mischievous wit and charm and a larger than life swagger, and while being layered, the composition is spacious enough to allow each instrument and each musician to strut and stunt throughout the composition. But just underneath the bold, swaggering surface is an aching vulnerability.

 

 

 

New Audio: Seattle Supergroup Temple Of The Dog Release Bluesy, Unreleased Demo In Advance of 25th Anniversary of Debut Effort

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of their full-length album and to celebrate the occasion, the album will be re-released on September 30, 2016 in a deluxe package that will feature previously unreleased demos, live material, alternate takes and concert video. And although the members of the Seattle alt rock supergroup have played a handful of legendary shows back in the early 90s and a couple of reunion appearances over the years, this year will also mark the first time that the act has gone out on a headlining tour.

“Black Cat,” was a previously unreleased demo that finally sees the light of day, and as you’ll hear it’s a propulsive and percussive, bluesy dirge that pairs Cornell’s signature wails with grimy blues power chords in a song that manages to channel Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden’s “Spoonman.”