Tag: Seattle WA

Last month, I wrote about the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck. Initially formed in 1989, the band’s original lineup featured featured founding members Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass), and can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they felt was worthy of forming a new project around. At around the same time Scott was briefly in Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And interestingly enough, with the new material that McMillan and Scott started to write for their new project, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck with their then-primary project’s sound to create a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside Yours was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies, and it featured album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. Interestingly enough, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and famously, they opened for Pearl Jam the night they filmed the video for “Even Flow.”

With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. Their follow up effort, 1992’s  Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. And building upon a rapidly growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour and Pantera‘s Winter 1993 European tour. Immediately upon their return to Seattle, the band went through a number of lineup changes but they managed to release a video for  “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV — including an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

Sadly, at the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling their contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. As the story goes, Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract. Unsurprisingly, that was promptly followed by Roadrunner Records suing to block the band’s bankruptcy with the result being a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written about in legal journals — and eventually inspired congressional legislation. And although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a deep financial and emotional toil on the band, as well as stalled the band’s momentum.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited, and began working on new material; some of which wound up comprising their self-titled third album, an effort that the members of the band envisioned as their breakthrough effort. Recorded and finished over a two year period in five different studios in and around the Seattle area with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear taking up production duties, the band decided to build up buzz for the album with a busy live schedule, playing shows in and around Seattle; however, just as they were about to build up some buzz, the band went on a hiatus in 2003 to allow Ben McMillan to recover from a number of health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released, over a decade since the initial recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” featured an ambitious, arena rock-based sound consisting of enormous power chords, and a shout from the mosh pit worthy course — and while nodding at metal, the song manage stop remind me of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. “Noise Field,” their self-titled album’s latest single continues in a similar vein — a quiet, loud, quiet song structure that allows room for enormous power chords and thundering drumming. However, the one noticeable difference to me is that the song manages to sound as though it were influenced by Core-era Stone Temple Pilots.

“Noise Field” much like its predecessor will remind many listeners of grunge’s high point of 1991-1994 or so and simultaneously its low point of 1996-1999 or so; but underneath, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been for the band. After all, for the first, second and even third wave bands that find some level of success, there are many more bands, who get a brief taste of recognition but never quite make it further than that.

Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

 

 

New Video: The Hazy and Dream-like Visuals for Up-and-Coming Sibling Pop Duo Chaos Chaos’ “Dripping With Fire”

Comprised of Seattle, WA-born, New York-based sibling duo Asy and Chloe Saavedra, the electro pop duo Chaos Chaos is a decided sonic left turn for those who may be familiar with the Saavedras earlier work as members of Seattle-born band Smoosh, an act that opened for the likes of Bloc Party, Sleater Kinney and Cat Power, as the sibling duo’s latest project finds the duo pairing analog synth soundscapes, programmed and live drums with gorgeous harmonies. And while some have compared the duo’s sound to the likes of PJ Harvey, Stereolab and Little Dragon, the duo’s latest single “Dripping With Fire” sounds — to my ears, at least — much more like JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo but with a modern production sheen. 

Directed by Stephanie Dimiskovski with photography direction by Steven Rico possesses a surreal, dream-like logic. and as the sibling duo explained in a written statement to the folks at Noisey, “We wanted to shed light on a more true sisterhood by recalling the memorabilia of damaging [and healing] as the somewhat conflicted foundation of sisterhood.’ Each posed scene, like dioramas of the Saavedras’ personal life and emotions, takes viewers into another world.”

(Credit: Violet Foulk)

Currently comprised of founding member Nick Wold (vocals, guitar), Marc Nelson (bass, vocals) a.k.a. Nelson, and Jacob Wick (drums), the up-and-coming Los Angeles, CA-based indie trio DREAMERS can actually trace their origins back to New York. As the story goes, the band’s Wold moved from his hometown of Seattle, WA to attend New York University’s Steinhart School to study jazz saxophone, and he quickly formed a grunge rock-inspired band Motive, along with Chris Bagamery, who Wold had known back in Seattle. Interestingly, after Motive split up, Wold had been living and writing songs in a Brooklyn rehearsal space when he and Bagamery met Nelson, who they recruited to join their new project — DREAMERS.

The trio’s debut single “Wolves (You Got Me)”  was released in July 2014 and quickly landed regular rotation on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation and was included on their Danny Kalb-produced, self-titled debut EP, which was released later that year. They ended the year with Alternative Press naming them one of their 100 Bands You Need To Know. With growing buzz around them, the trio signed a record deal with Fairfax Recordings and with a busy touring schedule, the band eventually relocated to Los Angeles; however, they went through a lineup change with Bagamery leaving the band and being replaced by their current drummer Jacob Lee Wick, who joined at the end of 2015.

 

DREAMERS ended 2015 with the release of their sophomore EP You Are Here, which featured “Shooting Shadows,” which was cowritten by Wold and Atlas Genius‘ Keith Jeffery, “Wolves (You Got Me)” and “Drugs,” among others — and they were wound up being selected (out of 500 aspiring bands) to open for Grammy Award-winning and-nominated act Stone Temple Pilots, during a select schedule of West Coast dates. Adding to a steadily growing profile, the band released their full-length debut This Album Does Not Exist,” which features many of the aforementioned songs and its first official single “Sweet Disaster.”  

Since then the band has been busy with a rather busy touring schedule that has included the summer festival circuit, and in fact, I wound up chatting with the band’s Nelson after their closing day set at The Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field last weekend. (More on that in future.) Recorded on my trusty iPhone 6s (so you do get the general ambience of a press area at a festival, including the 7 train above us), we chatted about the band’s formation and influences, as well as his advice on how artists can make a name for themselves; but along with that, Nelson shares a touching story about an incredible act of kindness by Chester Bennington during their stint opening for Stone Temple Pilots, and he updates us on Lil’ Trucker, the abandoned kitten the band found while on tour in Texas. Check it out.

 

New Video: Found Recordings Set to Release Previously Unreleased Third Album from Seattle-based Grunge Rockers Gruntruck

Initially formed in 1989, the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck featured Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass) can trace their origins to when founding members Ben McMillan and Norman Scott wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they had was worthy of forming a new band around. Interestingly enough, around the same time Scott had a brief stint with Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And with the new song and other material that McMillan and Scott started to write together, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck — in other words, a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside You was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies. Along with the release of their debut, the band released a Henry Shepherd-produced video for album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. (I should note that Henry Shepherd is the brother of Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd.) Interestingly, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and in particular, they opened for Pearl Jam on the night that renowned grunge rockers filmed the video for “Even Flow.” With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. 1992’s sophomore Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Building upon a growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour, as well as in Europe during the winter of 1993 with Pantera. After the band returned to Seattle, they went through several lineup changes but they released a video for “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV, including a reference on Beavis and Butthead, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

At the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but the folks at Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract, which was promptly followed by their label suing to block their bankruptcy petition. The result was a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written up in legal journals and eventually inspired congressional legislation. Although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a financial and emotional toil on the band — despite the fact that they were attempting to recapture some of the momentum they had captured before.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited and they had been working on new material together and some of the songs written wound up comprising the material on their self-titled third album, an effort that the band envisioned as a breakthrough effort. The album was recorded over a two year period in five different studios in and around Seattle with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear, who has worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees taking up production duties, and once it was finished the band went through a busy live schedule in Seattle, to build up buzz for the album; however by 2003, the band went on hiatus, as McMillan needed time to recover from health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released. And over a decade since its initial recording, Gruntruck’s self-titled album is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” features an ambitious arena rock sound consisting of enormous power chords, a shout worthy chorus and while clearly nodding at metal, the band’s sound manages to be reminiscent of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

Filmed by Thomas Engisn and edited by Gary Lundgren, the recently released music video features grainy VHS footage from the band’s original lineup performing sweaty, ass-kicking shows — and it’ll remind you of watching similar videos on 120 Minutes and other video shows.

New Video: Watch Renowned Seattle-based Emcee Grieves Entertain in Purgatory in New Visuals for “What It Dew”

Benjamin Laub is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who’s best known by his stage name Grieves, and interestingly enough, Laub has released four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, which debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves, which debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200. 

Grieves’ fifth full-length album the Chords-produced Running Wild is slated for release Friday through renowned hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and the album’s latest single “What It Dew” finds the critically and commercially successful emcee employing a complex rhyme scheme and some mischievously witty punch lines as he discusses succeeding against all odds and despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — while pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like, look like and talk about. 

The recently released video was directed by HELICAL, the collaboration between Carlos Cruz and Thai M. Tran, the video pokes fun at the song’s more serious subject matter, as it features Grieves trapped in purgatory, and forced to entertain a shitty dive bar in perpetuity, where the regular patrons are the living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. The video ends with Grieves eventually making the best of a horrible situation, by finding something good about it. As the Seattle-based emcee explains of the video treatment “Not everything is a crisis. Some things are simple and easy. Feel good and let go with this one!”

New Video: The Animated and Psychedelic Visuals for Gordon Raphael’s “Savage”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the summer, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts Seattle, WA-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer Gordon Raphael. As a producer, Raphael has worked with an impressive, who’s who list of contemporary indie rock and rock artists including  The Strokes, Regina Spektor, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown, The Cult‘s  Ian Astbury, Hinds and others; however, Raphael primarily sees himself as a singer/songwriter and guitarist.  “I love producing, but playing guitar and writing songs is what I’ve always done,” Raphael explains in press notes. “I wanted to show what I can do on the other side of the desk all the time, but producing kept getting in the way.”

Raphael’s full-length debut Sleep on the Radio was released last month and the album draws from Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Kimono My House-era Sparks, Frank Zappa and prog rock among others. Reportedly “View From Blue,” the album’s first single was part of over 1,000 songs he had written over the years; but it came from the most unlikely source — from a dream. In particular, “View From Blue” is a part of a selection of 12 songs that were carefully honed and perfected to the point that they were living, breathing and fully fleshed out songs that needed to be played, recorded and heard – – right now.  And as a result, while the song clearly nods at Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie — think “Queen Bitch,”“Panic in Detroit,” and others — the anthemic, hook-laden song possesses a forceful urgency underneath its boozy, free-flowing psychedelia.

“Savage,” Sleep on the Radio‘s latest single sounds as though it draws from Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, Brit Pop and 60s psych pop as twinkling synths, buzzing and whirring electronics are paired with blazing guitar pyrotechnics, an anthemic hook and a  spacey, psychedelic vibe that belies an incredibly sensual nature.  And much like its preceding single, Raphael’s latest reveals him to be a songwriter, who can craft an incredibly catchy hook and has an ability to have both a signature sound and aesthetic while being a musical chameleon, who can morph into any genre, any style at will.

Directed and produced by Marta Figuredo, the recently released animated video is set in a intricately detailed and drab world in which a Raggedy Andy-like Raphael carries a flower that opens up a brightly colored, wildly psychedelic universe. 

New Video: Alt Rock All Star Act Filthy Friends Return with Ironic Visuals for Rousing Anti-Trump Anthem “Despierta”

Earlier this summer, I wrote about Filthy Friends, an act that’s both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who also happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years — with the band featuring Corin Tucker, best known as being a founding member and frontwoman of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), best known as the frontman of renowned Seattle-based punk band The Fastbacks, and producer, who has mentored some of the area’s up-and-coming bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s known for being a member of legendary prog rock act King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M. 

“The Arrival,” the second single off the band’s forthcoming debut effort Invitation may arguably be one of the more straightforward, glam rock and alt rock-channeling single, as it featured a roomy arrangement consisting of bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook paired with Tucker’s imitable vocals — and in my mind, the single should remind fans of each of those acts that these old timers can still kick ass, and as a result, the song possesses the cool, self-assured swagger of old pros, who can make it seem far easier than what it really is. Now, you may recall that the band released  “Despierta,” a song that they contributed to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music‘s “Editions of You.” As far as “Despierta,” it shouldn’t be surprising why the members of Filthy Friends felt it was a perfect addition to the anti-Trump compilation, as  the song has a relevant sociopolitical message — the song pretty much tells the listener that it’s time for new ideas and a new way of doing things, that it’s young people’s time to get to work on getting a bunch of fucked up shit right. And much like “The Arrival,” the members of the All-Star act pair that message around power chords and an anthemic hook.

Directed by Megan Hattie Stahl, the recently released music video employs a relatively simple yet funny concept: a bunch of young people, who are desperately trying to catch their new favorite band but with a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World-like zaniness but it ends with a bitter irony — the one person, who actually makes it, misses the band, making his effort seem pointless. 

New Video: An Intimate Portrait of Life on the Road with The Head and the Heart in New Visuals for “City of Angels”

Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.” 

Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with  Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received to boot. 

2017 may be arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and a bunch of other stops. (Check out the tour dates below.)  In the meantime, the band’s latest single “City of Angels” will further cement the band’s growing reputation for a sound that  simultaneously nods at 70s era Fleetwood Mac, 60s psych folk and pop, arena rock and contemporary indie rock, but with a swooning earnestness; after all, their latest single like all of the preceding singles is written from a sincere place; in this case, a bittersweet longing for a home you’ve left some time ago — but underneath there’s a growing sense that you may never be able to come home again. 

The recently released video was directed by Claire Marie Vogel, and its an charming and  intimate, fly-on-the-wall like portrait of the band that captures them in a variety of moments both big and small. As the director says in press notes, “When The Head And The Heart asked me to join them on the road to make a video for ‘City of Angels,’ there were many moments, big and small, that made it a trip of a lifetime. Record store shopping in a thunderstorm, backstage birthday parties, a summer ski lift through Catskills mountains, all night bonfires on a California beach, surprise songs in a Charlottesville bar, mini golf beside a river. It was a thrill to be a welcomed fly on the wall and treated as one of the gang. I knew ending the trip at the Monterey Pop Festival would be special, but when we found ourselves in a charmingly odd practice room – the band rehearsing with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and Lou Adler, a founder of the festival throwing his two cents in on their arrangement — it felt utterly surreal.”

With the release of “Blue Hell,” the lead single and album opener off their full-length debut effort, Uncontrollable Salvation, the San Francisco, CA-based punk rock/indie rock quartet Pardoner quickly received attention for angst-filled, power chord-based, mosh pit-friendly rock. And unsurprisingly, Uncontrollable Salvation‘s second and latest single, album title track “Uncontrollable Salvation” will further cement their reputation for crafting 90s, inspired slacker rock full of buzzing power chords and rousingly anthemic hooks, and while the song has garnered comparisons to Polvo and Dinosaur, Jr., which are fair, I also hear elements of the beloved, Seattle grunge sound.

The Jack Shirley-produced Uncontrollable Salvation is slated for a September 8, 2017 release through Father/Daughter Records. And to build up buzz for the album, the band has two Bay Area shows in August. Check out live dates below.

Live Dates

August 5 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord (w/ Alex Napping)
August 30 – Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club (w/ Froth)