Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

A few years ago after reviewing Elizabeth Gundersen’s project Le Wrens. It was genuinely became one of my favourite albums from such a promising new songwriter. It was sad to hear that Le Wrens project was discontinued, but then I found out this new solo album had came out recently, Of course Gundersen’s song writing does not disappoint. 

The opening track “Falling For You” is a love song that shows the complications of a new relationship. It’s that feeling of wondering if the other person is as into you as you are into them. There’s some really great modern country styles on the guitar here, but it’s a wonderful way to start the album as Gundersen’s powerful lead vocal is able to show off a bit. One consistent theme on the album that you hear immediately is her ability to articulate dynamics from soft spoken words to big powerful ballad proclamations.

“Walls” is a quintessential Americana track, mixing elements of what we might call country music with a nice Tom Petty kind of folk rock vibe. The storytelling elements in the lyrics make for a comfortable track, even if it’s about the feeling of being unsettled. It seems like the kind of track that could come from someone who has spent time on the road performing music. The line “I’m sorry that I’m broken, but these days most girls are”. Stylistically, “Farewell William” is one of my favourites tracks on the album. The soft, articulate piano work accents Gundersen’s vocal extremely well. The phrasing on this song is the kind of thing that you just can’t teach. She’s reciting poetic lyrics layered over some deceptively complex melody lines. This is the work of an accomplished songwriter. The authenticity drips from her lips on this one. I wish I had more technical terms to say that I just really, really like listening to it. What a beautiful way to say goodbye.

“Elephant Heart” was the first song from this album that I ever heard.  There’s a version of it on YouTube that I listen to it on regular rotation because it’s just SO good. This studio version is paced a bit differently, but still holds that magic of Gundersen’s lead vocal. Her brother Noah Gundersen appears on this track, providing his characteristic vocal brilliance in harmonies. The vibrant imagery from Elizabeth Gundersen as a songwriter, though, steals the show on this one. She gives all these incredible details about the interaction with this lover, then says “you were not there.” 

“Precious Wine” might be my other favourite track on the album. There’s a real dark aggression to the song that is deeply pleasing. The sense of bitterness and frustration is palpable, but at the same time the composition is still really nice to listen to. It’s got the right kind of “edge” to it that cuts through the tension of the situation the lyrics describe.

The final track “My Side” is a delightful, almost hymn-like song. The poetic delivery again transcends easy genre conventions, giving a thoughtful and emotional track. Duo vocals from Seattle artist Chris Rovik really make the song stand out. The minimalist aesthetic of the beginning plays perfectly into the orchestral bloom that comes later in the track. Cinematic and soothing, it’s a song with auspicious ambitions that come to fruition when the strings and vocals blend to perfection.

This is an exceptionally good album from an incredible songwriter. Gundersen’s work with Le Wrens, but this album shows a major step forward in development. 

Nathan Yaccino: Drums (1, 5) Bass (1, 2, 5) Piano (1, 3) Guitar (1, 2, 5) Synth (3)
Jacob Nevaro: Guitar (1)
Jonathan Gundersen: Drums (2) Vocals (2, 4, 5)
Elizabeth Gundersen: Guitar (6)
Noah Gundersen: Piano (4) Vocals (4)
Abby Gundersen: All Strings
Michael Porter: Guitar (2)
Chris Rovik: Vocals (6)
Andy Park: Synth (4)

I wrote most of the songs on this album during the transition from late teens to early twenties. “Elephant Heart” tells a story of that transition. Feeling that I was losing control and going back and forth between diving in and fighting back. Elizabeth

Released January 11th, 2018

Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out

Hailing from Olympia, Washington, Sleater-Kinney are pioneers in the riot grrrl movement. At its core, “Dig Me Out” is an album leading listeners through vigorous emotional strains — and the tension implodes on nearly every track. The record was released just barely a year after the bomb-hitting Call the Doctor, but the trio somehow managed to upstage themselves with “Dig Me Out”. This is the record where they first teamed up with Janet Weiss, and the change only did amazing things for them.

This album shows a sense of confidence. Sleater-Kinney were still an underground band when this record came out; Call the Doctor was a critical hit, but still wasn’t smashing numbers, and the band had shifted from a tiny indie label to a less tiny indie label. Dig Me Out is an album that will always push first into people’s minds when they think of the band, because it’s the record where everything first clicked for them — the record that marked their territory as a defining rock band in American history. 

“Dig Me Out” was the third studio album by the American rock band Sleater-Kinney, released on April 8, 1997, by Kill Rock Stars. The album was produced by John Goodmanson and recorded from December 1996 to January 1997 at John and Stu’s Place in Seattle, Washington. Dig Me Out marked the debut of Janet Weiss, who would become the band’s longest-serving drummer. The music on the record was influenced by traditional rock and roll bands, while the lyrics deal with issues of heartbreak and survival.

The album cover is an homage to The Kinks’ 1965 album “The Kink Kontroversy”. Two singles were released in support of the album: “One More Hour” and “Little Babies”.

Call the Doctor confirmed the band’s reputation as one of the major musical acts from the Pacific Northwest, rebelling against gender roles, consumerism, and indie rock’s male-dominated hierarchy. After the release of Call the Doctor, drummer Janet Weiss of Quasi joined the band. Previously, the band had had a number of temporary drummers, including Misty Farrell, Lora Macfarlane, and Toni Gogin. Weiss would eventually become Sleater-Kinney’s longest serving drummer. For its third album, Sleater-Kinney worked again with producer John Goodmanson.

Both Tucker and Brownstein remarked that Weiss became an essential part of the band’s sound. According to Tucker, “Musically, she’s completed our band. She’s become the bottom end and the solidness that we’ve really wanted for our song writing”. In addition to playing drums, Weiss provides hand claps and tambourine in “Turn It On”. Dig Me Out also contains more guitar and vocal interplay by Tucker and Brownstein than Call the Doctor. As Brownstein explained, “If you were to separate our guitar parts I don’t necessarily think they would fully stand on their own. Our songs aren’t really complete until the other person has put their part over it, and their vocals”. The lyrical themes on Dig Me Out deal with issues of heartbreak and survival.

The band left Chainsaw Records and decided to release the album through Kill Rock Stars, another independent record label which singer and guitarist Corin Tucker thought had better resources to ensure the band’s distribution. Goodmanson also remarked that Kill Rock Stars afforded the band a generous amount of studio time for an independent label, stating that Call the Doctor only took four days to record while Dig Me Out was recorded over the period of eight days.

The song “One More Hour” is about the breakup of Tucker and Brownstein’s romantic relationship.

Dig Me Out also features songs that show frustration with sexism and gender stereotypes. “Little Babies” is a protest against the traditional maternity role, while the title song “Dig Me Out” exposes a woman in a dominant role. The album’s title was inspired by the fact that the band had to literally dig out the recording studio after a heavy snowstorm that took place in Winter 1996 in Seattle. Musically, the song “Words and Guitar” was said to “[leap] and [skit] with the just-released repression of early Talking Heads”, while “Dance Song ’97” was said to “sport Devo-esque keyboards of a distinctly ’80s vintage”

Sleater-Kinney:
  • Carrie Brownstein – guitar, vocals
  • Corin Tucker – vocals, guitar
  • Janet Weiss – drums, percussion

On his astonishing debut album “Live Forever”, Bartees Strange shapeshifts across songs with grace and charm, winning over even the most jaded listeners. In the album’s first section alone, the Washington, DC-based musician gallops through gut-wrenching indie rock on “Mustang,” floats airy rap over post-punk on “Boomer,” and waxes R&B dreams-turned-poetics on “Kelly Rowland” — the juxtaposition of which turns Live Forever into a revitalizing expanse. In many ways, it’s the sound of Bartees Strange building the world he’s always wanted without realizing it was even possible to do so, or that so many listeners want to join him there.

If the only thing you knew about Bartees Strange was that his debut EP, “Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy”, was comprised entirely of The National covers, you would probably draw some conclusions about what Strange’s music sounds like—and, given the specificity of The National’s niche, understandably so. “Come to a place where everything’s everything,” Bartees Strange sings on “Jealousy,” an apt description of a debut album that grabs from emo breakdowns, hip-hop cadences, indie-rock riffs, glitchy production and gentle minimalism. Though many of the songs are about feeling hemmed in, Live Forever is purposefully expansive, grounded in a singular vision. “These songs make sense because I’m Black and because my voice ties these songs together,” he told NPR Music. It takes conviction to gesture, as the title does, toward immortality, especially in a music industry that has never adequately valued Black musicians, that insists on categorization (“Genres keep us in our boxes,” he bemoans on “Mossblerd”), that says putting all your chips on your art is too big a risk. Luckily for us, Bartees Strange has it. 

But your assumptions would almost certainly be wrong. Sure, Strange can summon the same pulse of The National’s most kinetic anthems (see “Mustang,” which in a different era might have been a breakout hit). But his debut album, Live Forever, bristles at the idea of slavish adherence to a formula, even one as sturdy as The National’s. The D.C.-based songwriter has a broad swath of influences; Live Forever slinks through countless genres, blending energetic hip-hop, dynamic indie rock, amorphous jazz, and sinuous R&B with the confidence of an expert in each.

It’s unusual to see so many familiar elements joined in such a singular way. While Live Forever has the ambition of a newcomer, highlights like “Boomer” and the gleaming menace of “Flagey God” are the work of someone who knows exactly what he is doing.

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Bartees Strange is a producer and songwriter in Washington, D.C. His mother is an opera singer. His dad served in the military for decades. He travelled widely for his parents jobs — born in Ipswich, England 1989, his family did stints in Germany, Greenland, and a number of states across America before he hit his 12th birthday when they settled down in Mustang, Oklahoma

Bartees Strange – Live Forever Out Now

Deep Sea Diver is Jessica Dobson, Peter Mansen, Garrett Gue & Elliot Jackson. Emotions abound; inarticulable. We understand fully that we are releasing an album at a time when a lot of people are experiencing economic hardship. So many people have lost their jobs, can’t pay rent, and are not in a place to buy anything other than what is essential for living. This album, so far, sounds very personal and reflective. Lots of intricate sounds and meticulous effort was put into the sound!
Dobson, who was signed to Atlantic Records at 19-years-old, has experienced just about every high and low when it comes to the music business in the years since. And in an era when bands, venues, tours and everything else are experiencing atrophy, Deep Sea Diver is fairing – knock on wood – pretty well. In some ways, better than ever. Ever since their solo single release in April to their new LP out on the famed ATO record label, things have oddly, paradoxically fallen into place for the band.

The new 10-track album has been finished for a year. But it can take a while for a record to find the right placement. With ATO, Deep Sea Diver has found that home. “Impossible Weight” is stellar. Each track sticks out, impresses. “Eyes Are Red (Don’t Be Afraid)” feels like a rush of energy after running a race through New York City. “Shattering the Hourglass” inspires, saying forget the construct of time. “Wishing” pulls at the heart. And “Impossible Weight,” which features Sharon Van Etten, is a blistering eruption of rock. The LP pops with tight rhythms, bright guitars and Dobson’s clearest, crispest vocal performance to date.

“Everything has always been backwards for Deep Sea Diver,” Dobson says. “It’s been an uphill battle. Self-releasing records is really hard and we’ve done that so many times. But with quarantine, we took the approach of saying ‘screw the music business.’”

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Jessica Dobson, frontwoman and principle songwriter for the Seattle-based band, Deep Sea Diver, was adopted. While this is indeed a very personal bit of information it is also pertinent to the story of the band’s new LP. Any work of art takes a lifetime to create. While, in truth, from first note to final mix, a song may take, say, a year or two, the work is, in actuality, a culmination of a person’s entire existence. It wasn’t until recently that Dobson met her birth mother, which was both monumental and fascinating for the expert musician. The encounter is one of several recent marvelous moments for Dobson and her percolating, neon-electric-sounding group, which is set to release its latest LP, Impossible Weight .

Released October 16th, 2020.

We are incredibly, Incredibly pleased to announce to you this morning, our new single, “Impossible Weight” is out. I could not be prouder to present this song that means the world to me— and features one of my favourite artists in the world, Sharon Van Etten. It was such an absolute pleasure to work with someone that has been a true inspiration to me and specifically while writing and recording this song.

Along with it, we are releasing a music video that is one of my proudest moments as an artist. A moment where we can present visuals that speak to this season—a time of loneliness, of desolation, but also of beauty. I wanted to create something very triumphant and beautiful in a year that has been the opposite of those things.

I want to ask you, if you are willing, to come alongside of us today. This is a terribly difficult season for musicians. Without touring, it is almost impossible to get our music out into the world. Like all bands, shows have always been the way in which we sell the majority of records and promote our albums. Right now, that is simply not an option for us. SO.. we humbly ask of you…. If you would like to help us succeed and you believe in us—SPREAD THE WORD. Post about our song / music video today. Word of mouth is Always the best way forward for us. Follow us on Spotify, Youtube, etc.. Like our comments and comment yourself on our posts—as that alters the algorithm that can enable our music to get out to more and more people. The more people that hear and enjoy our music, the more sustainable this can be for us.

We love you and have been excited about this day for so long. This song is one of my favourites, and the video is so badass. Hope you enjoy it and we truly hope to see you soon. XO

Jessica and Deep Sea Diver

Dobson’s Deep Sea Diver bandmates include her husband Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth). Impossible Weight is the band’s third album. The band entered the studio not long after the touring cycle for their sophomore album, 2016’s Secrets.

“We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson reveals. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

Deep Sea Diver is Jessica Dobson Peter Mansen Garrett Gue & Elliot Jackson. Just when I thought I couldn’t love this band any more than I do, they totally proved me wrong.

Releases October 16th, 2020

This is the double vinyl version of the new song/album by the Microphones. Excellent and fancy manufacturing of all components. Comes with a big poster. Foil stamping. The usual exquisite quality.

Phil Elverum releases the first new music under his long-hibernating moniker, the Microphones, in 17 years. The new album is titled “Microphones in 2020″ and is out today via his own label, P.W. Elverum & Sun. This new album follows The Microphone’s previous record, 2003’s Mount Eerie. Elverum has toured and released music under the name Mount Eerie since 2003, but he briefly revived the Microphones moniker for a show at What the Heck Fest in his hometown of Anacortes, Washington last year. The album consists entirely of a 44-minute-long track. “We all crash through life prodded and diverted by our memories,” Elverum says. “There is a way through to disentanglement. Burn your old notebooks and jump through the smoke. Use the ashes to make a new thing.

The Microphones in 2020. Phil Elverum (who retired the moniker in 2003 and has gone by Mount Eerie ever since) brought back the name he used for such classic albums as The Glow Pt. 2 for the first time in 17 years, and the result is a one-song, 44-minute album where he muses on the very idea of being “The Microphones.” “There is too much focus on the title of a thing,” Phil told us in a new interview. “Ideally, we can just make stuff without a title for it and without an identity for it. Things can just rest on their own merit, but that’s too idealistic [laughs] and impossible.”

Released Aug. 7th, 2020
as a 2xLP by P.W. Elverum & Sun

The Ex Hex to Fugazi’s Helium, you can tell Ian MacKaye’s new trio with wife Amy Farina (they were both formerly the Evens) and Fugazi’s Joe Lally is the most fun he’s had in years, with the simplest and most succinct tunes of possibly his career  dare you to not hear flickers of Grease’s “Summer Nights” in “Hard to Explain.” On their just-released self-titled debut, Farina’s pounding drums and Lally’s crawling bass are given roomfuls of atmosphere to walk around in; rarely has a power trio been perfectly content to not fill the audio space. The parity is refreshing, too: “Say Yes” and “Too Many Husbands” are almost entirely Farina’s show and absolutely the funkiest things MacKaye’s ever been part of. A best-case scenario for an artistic democracy in miniature.

The most Fugazi thing on Coriky is “Inauguration Day,” which begins, “Forecast calls for an execution,” if you thought Mr. Straight Edge lost any of his political bite.

MacKaye is best known for being the frontman of the influential hardcore punk and alternative rock bands Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi, and The Evens. He is a founder and owner of Dischord Records. understated chorus vocals, Lallys amazing bass sound, and just the perfect amount of MacKaye guitar, to make this track an exceptional opener!.

With the shut down of distributors and record stores still in place across the country and world, Dischord has decided to postpone the release date of the Coriky record until late May. We realize that there are many people who have been waiting for the records they ordered and we very much appreciate their patience. The decision to further postpone the record was made in solidarity with the shuttered shops and distributors and with the hope that the independent music network will survive.

This is uncharted territory, but we’re doing our best to look out for all concerned and hopeful that we can all get to the other side of this together.

Coriky is a band from Washington, D.C. Amy Farina plays drums. Joe Lally plays bass. Ian MacKaye plays guitar. All sing. Formed in 2015, Coriky did not play their first show until 2018. They have recorded one album.

Released June 12th, 2020

The Band:
Amy Farina: Drums, Vocals Joe Lally: Bass, Vocals Ian MacKaye: Guitar, Vocals

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Like irony-breathing critic-turned-rockers from Blue Öyster Cult to Pet Shop Boys, Elizabeth Nelson writes the kind of lyrics those of us still unturned just want to quote at you all day. “An icepick deep in Trotsky’s back — his last thought is that it’s understandable.” “U put the ‘u’ in ‘cruel and unusual’ / But u typically put urself first.” “He went to Julliard / Which isn’t as easy as it sounds.” “What in the world’s come over me? / Asking for a friend.” “They digitally removed the coke from Neil’s nose, you know / Or so the rumour goes. I don’t know.” “I’m pretty sure ‘Ana Ng’ is the best one / But ‘They’ll Need a Crane’ is certainly a close second.” And these are all from 2019’s A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life alone  their seven-year catalogue keeps going back like this; may it keep going forward too. It may be healthier that Nelson and husband Timothy Bracy head up one of the most confident and muscular garage-rock bands going, threading all that deadpan text deftly through darting-needle melodies that stitch together hurtling hard-rock rave-ups. You’ll forgive them for being critical darlings because they’re also the goddamn life of the party.

The many moods of wishing ‘A Goddamn Impossible Way Of Life’ a happy first birthday. The Paranoid Style released our second full-length LP a year ago today, and few things quite literally have ever been the same. I loved making this record so much and only regret not going with my first instinct for an album title: “More Songs About Grover Norquist And Food.” Thanks to everyone who purchased it. The late-adopters and heretics are forgiven.

If all of the above didn’t sell you, “Turpitude”‘s “I smoke for the following reasons — the Contract With America / I smoke because of Pulp Fiction / I smoke because of Mojo Nixon” can’t, can it?

The Paranoid Style Presents: A Girl’s Gotta Eat. The Paranoid Style is Elizabeth Nelson and Timothy Bracy from The Mendoza Line. On this song they are joined by Ken Flagg (MC Frontalot, Edible Norris) and Bruce Bennett (The A-Bones). All songs are written by Nelson and Bracy except where noted.

AOTY - Bad Moves

Bad Moves’ brand of adolescent angst-fueled power-punk has gone to college, emerging older, wearier, and wiser, while retaining all of its rebellious energy. Aside from some inaudible vocals on the first few tracks, Untenable is a thoughtful, dystopian delight; though that’s no surprise from a band that writes and plays each song like it’s their last.
Bad Moves is four friends making upbeat power-pop about anxiety and identity, drawing on a sound that stretches from forbears like The Nerves and Cheap Trick to contemporary artists like Sheer Mag and Haim. After years knocking around the Washington, D.C. punk scene in bands of their own, guitarists Katie Park and David Combs, bassist Emma Cleveland and drummer Daoud Tyler-Ameen began playing together in 2015, with a few goals in mind: Songwriting would be collaborative, singing would be everyone’s job and arrangements would be generously staggered, blending voices and ideas to avoid centering any one member.
On its self titled 2016 EP, the band explored bleak adulthood, writing about bad jobs, corrupt leaders, frustrated dreams and gentrifying cities. Tours of the US and UK with friends Jeff Rosenstock, Martha, Nana Grizol and The Spook School brought a widening fanbase and a sharpening sound, with new material that dug into the wilderness of childhood and how its lessons ripple out later in life. As anticipation grew for a full-length album, the band made a breakthrough appearance on the Cartoon Network’s Craig of the Creek, voicing their animated selves in an episode about the show’s lead characters putting on their first DIY concert.

“Tell No One”, was released September. 21st, 2018 on Don Giovanni Records, was Bad Moves’ debut LP: 12 songs about confronting old secrets and stumbling into self-discovery, wrapped in a sound that hometown weekly Washington City Paper calls “exuberant catharsis, the type of pop that makes you breathe deep and shout.”

“Untenable”, released June 26th, 2020 on Don Giovanni Records, is the sophomore full-length by Washington, D.C.’s Bad Moves.

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From its evocative, unhurried introduction, an ear-catching blend of jangle and fuzz, “Stop Pretending” is an immediate success, a song so crafty and well-crafted that its origins—written and recorded in two days this April, under lockdown conditions—seem all but miraculous. The end result sounds to me like the pandemic’s first true classic, a song at once languid and incisive, both musically and lyrically: We recorded this song, “Stop Pretending”, this week, as we were continuing to stay at home. The song was written using a collaboration exercise that we had given to our fans as an outlet to create and find connection in a time of duress & isolation (we called it the “Stay Home Stems” series) —and it ended up also working for us— this song was written, recorded, mixed and mastered in two days at our house, & this what we have to show for it.

If often write apocalyptic songs as way to enter a new world that juxtaposes despair with hope.. I hope it can bring a little bit of light in a dark season.

This life is dangerous, There’s no need to build those walls
Our love is all we have, Who knows where we’re heading

The song offers no solutions but the notion that we must make the effort to be present with what actually is, and tap into our basic goodness, even when the bad people are being awful. The music feels like a balm to the soul, with Jessica Dobson’s guitar noise and distortion churning below a soothing melody and heartfelt vocals. The instrumental break at 2:39, all growl and gristle, is weirdly lovely. Guitars get the job done. Oh and don’t miss the dog at the very end.

Deep Sea Diver is the Seattle-based duo of Dobson and husband Peter Mansen. Dobson played all the instruments but the drums and the “noise synth”; she engineered and mixed the track as well. Deep Sea Diver has released two albums and two EPs to date. Dobson has played with Beck, Spoon, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among other artists, and was a member of the Shins for a while in the early ’10s.

Support the band via Bandcamp; while there you can also explore the rest of their catalogue.

The Band:
Drums- Peter Mansen
Noise synth- Elliot Jackson
All other instruments & vocals- Jessica Dobson
Additional harmonies – Natalie Schepman

Stop Pretending by Deep Sea Diver, all rights reserved to them released April 1st, 2020