Ty Segall “Manipulator”

manipulator

By Zoe K.

Ty Segall is basically the rock ‘n roll King Midas: everything he touches turns shiny and gold. His new album Manipulator is his latest gift, and it’s also his most polished and memorable release to date. It is epic and passionate, full of catchy guitar riffs, falsetto harmonies, and a driving drum beat that keeps the energy high. Tracks like “Feel” are downright groovy thanks to some fantastic bass-playing. The album has been meticulously crafted and it shows. There is not a single skippable track on the 60 minute album. The gift just keeps on giving.

Last year’s release Sleeper was largely a product of recent events in Ty’s life. The result was a personal, clean sound due to the mostly acoustic instrumentation. Manipulator is a return to the fuzzy, distorted sounds of his prior work. The lyrical themes range from confronting authority to feeling isolation to expressing oneself through art.

The influences of his music range from glam artists like T. Rex and David Bowie to Black Sabbath and Neil Young. But Manipulator is not just a patchwork quilt of sounds taken from all these different sources. The album is his creation made possible by all the rhythms and melodies floating through his head.

Part of Manipulator’s appeal is that it is accessible to anyone who loves music with great energy and a fair share of attitude. Now is the time for newcomers to check out Ty Segall for the first time and old fans to rekindle the flame of admiration. I only wonder what he’ll give us next.

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A Local Kid’s Guide to Local Music at Bumbershoot 2014

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By Zoe K.

Bumbershoot is the holy grail of musical celebration for kids growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I attended my first Bumbershoot when I was 15, and it was like my rite of passage into adulthood. I had just discovered that there was a whole world of music out there that wasn’t being played on mainstream radio, and this was my chance to experience it live. The highlight of the festival for me was seeing The Presidents Of The USA on the mainstage in Memorial Stadium. The energy of the band and the crowd was unlike anything I had felt before, and I quickly got lost in the sea of sweaty people. This was where I belonged.

For young local performers, playing Bumbershoot is a huge achievement. One of the grand prizes for the EMP’s Sound Off! contest is getting to play the festival. This year, at least three Sound Off! alums will be performing, including veterans Schoolyard Heroes (2003) and The Lonely Forest (2006), as well as newcomer Sam Lachow (2012).

Every year there are tons of PNW artists performing at Bumbershoot. It would be understandable to ask, “I can see them anytime at The Sunset or The Crocodile, so why would I want to check out these local bands at a festival?” I’ll give you some reasons. First, one thing I love about seeing bands in many different settings is getting a totally different vibe from the show. Seeing Rose Windows play at the Fountain Lawn Stage in the afternoon will emphasize the grandeur of their sunny psychedelic sound, whereas seeing them at a DIY venue like the Black Lodge at midnight brings out the heavier guitar riffs. Also, it’s fun to follow a band as they evolve over the course of their career. The Head And The Heart are one of the headliners this year, but five years ago they were playing open mic nights at Conor Byrne. This will be The Lonely Forest’s last show after almost a decade of being part of the Northwest music scene, which I’m sure will be an emotional experience.

There are plenty of local bands spanning many different genres to discover this year. If you try one and don’t like it, there are over a dozen other shows happening simultaneously that might better suit your tastes. Take your pick:

La Luz, Sandrider, Iska Dhaaf, The Head And The Heart, Pickwick, Red Fang (Portland), The Lonely Forest (Anacortes), Schoolyard Heroes, Rose Windows, Shelby Earl, Hobosexual, Sam Lachow, Sandrider, Greyskul, Jarv Dee, Iska Dhaaf (soon to be NYC-based), Massy Ferguson, Cumulus, Modern Kin (Portland), Dude York (Walla Walla), La Luz, Fly Moon Royalty, Golden, Gardens, Kid Hops, RA Scion

Silver Platters Plays Pinball with Hobosexual

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Ben Harwood and Jeff Silva are the two halves of Seattle rock band Hobosexual. I thought it would be neat to get to know the guys since they’re playing a show on Record Store Day at Silver Platters’ Sodo location. I met Ben and Jeff at Add-A-Ball, a pinball bar in Fremont. We played a few games, including Street Fighter 2 and a really trippy pinball game set in outer space. I had to admit to the guys that I had never played Street Fighter before, so they demonstrated how it was done. Then we found a relatively quiet table to sit down and chat. The conversation went something like this:

ZOE: Would you please introduce yourselves for the recording?

BEN: I’m Ben, and I play guitar and sing.

JEFF: I’m Jeff. I play drums, and I don’t sing.

ZOE: Because you don’t like to or you’re afraid to?

JEFF: I’m not certain that I can sing. I’ve never done it. I’d love to. I just haven’t had the opportunity, and I don’t know if I can.

BEN: He can sing. I got him really drunk at practice one time, and I got him to sing back up. It was awesome!

ZOE: Do you think that might be where you’re headed?

JEFF: We’re gonna try it. Absolutely, why not?

BEN: For Jeff it’s just that he’s never done it. It’s like jumping into an icy pond.

ZOE: Today I was playing the new album (Hobosexual II) in the store for my coworkers, and I had a woman come up to me and ask, “What’s playing right now?” She got really excited. Apparently she’s a cycling instructor for spin workouts, and she really wanted to play it for her class. I told her about how the album’s about a BMX biker gang, is that right?

BEN: Most people understand this concept album as retro science fiction. It’s the action/exploitation/grindhouse films from the 80s, but through a modern lens. When the 80s were around I was so little I barely remember them, but I have this weird fever dream memory of what they were about based on images from weird movie posters and VHS boxes. I’ve read several other people who have the same experience. The director of the movie Beyond The Black Rainbow was talking about that, and I saw that movie and thought, “Yeah, that’s exactly where my brain is.” It’s an awareness that [art] can be both good and bad at the same time. So much of [art] now is so deadly serious. Yeah, there is some stuff to take deadly serious, but all my favorite science fiction movies and designs are all from the 70s and 80s.

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ZOE: I feel like you have to laugh about things, because if you don’t laugh about them now you’re going to laugh about them in the future. Why look back and miss out on that?

BEN: Exactly. Have fun with it. If you have fun with it you’re never going to regret it. Anyway, the [album] is a tongue-in-cheek absurdist story that you would hear about in an A or B list 80s movie: movies like Solar Babies, Explorers, and of course the Terminator series. It’s an amalgam of weird cult movies.

ZOE: Jeff, do you do any of the songwriting?

JEFF: The only parts I write are the drumming parts. Ben’s in charge of all the lyrics and main rhythms. My drums might sway the rhythm in one direction or another, or maybe it will increase the tempo, but for the most part I just write the drums.

ZOE: You guys are playing Record Store Day at the Sodo store. Have you been involved with RSD before?

BEN: Yeah, small things like at Easy Street Records, but never a featured performance like this. I think because we have a record released around the same time it’s all coming together.

ZOE: Speaking of record stores, do you have a favorite find? Something you thought was awesome that you can only find in a record store?

BEN: I got a monaural version of John Lee Hooker’s It Serves You Right To Suffer. I found that in Chicago on tour in about 2008. It was only fifteen bucks, but it’s actually fairly valuable and hard to find in mono. In mono it just sounds incredible. Probably the best vinyl I have.

JEFF: I have a find, but I didn’t buy it. I couldn’t afford it. It was at Jive Time Records in Fremont. See, I’m a big Kiss fan. My first album growing up was Kiss’s Destroyer. The first three albums that Kiss put out were also packaged as something called The Originals, a three album set. I own every single Kiss album, but not The Originals. I’ll probably buy it, just not right now. I’ve never seen it anywhere else. I should probably buy it…

ZOE: It’s interesting to me how vinyl collectors will have a “collectors’ copy” and a “player copy” of the same album. I never knew that was a thing that people did until I started working at Silver Platters.

BEN: Records are made to be played. It’s counterintuitive to not play it.

ZOE: A lot of the value comes from not opening the record. It’s really fun to price vinyl and see all this awesome stuff come in, but for me I can’t imagine not playing my records.

JEFF: Back to the woman who wanted to play [our album] for the spin class, did she buy it?

ZOE: She did! She told me about a competition that they’re training for, and she wants to play the album to pump people up.

JEFF: What age would you say this woman was?

ZOE: I dunno, maybe in her 40s? She was rockin’ out in the store!

BEN: The thing about Hobosexual II is that it’s selling like crazy. We couldn’t have anticipated it being this awesome. The demographic of people who like it, like our all ages following is burgeoning and getting more massive. The all ages show that we did for the record release was insane. We almost destroyed Easy Street Records, inadvertently. Two mosh pits broke out. It was insane. There’s a video [from the show], but the guy’s camera got hit and went into the mosh pit. You see this blur, and then you’ve got the camera back. Then you’ve got the other demographic of people in their 30s, 40s, even 50s who are more classic rock oriented because of their upbringing. Naturally we love anyone who listens to our music.

ZOE: Do you like playing all ages shows or do you prefer 21+?

BEN: I don’t really have a preference. I like to help the kids if I can because they don’t get enough. It’s more rewarding to have a kid who’s not ham-faced come up to you at the end of a show who actually listened and say, “That was amazing,” as opposed to at a 21+ show where people won’t remember who you were and what your band was called the next day because they were so hammered. But we have done a number of 21+ shows that were phenomenal, where none of those factors apply, and it’s just awesome. The best ones are when everybody can go, like at The Neptune [Theater].

ZOE: Do you have a favorite venue to play in Seattle?

JEFF: I think the two best experiences I can remember today were at the Neptune Theater. Neptune’s great for stage sound and playing in front of 1,200 people screaming. But we’ve played fun shows at The Comet, Blue Moon and Tractor [Taverns].

BEN: I’d say the Tractor because they’re load-ins are terrific and their crowds are amazing. They treat the bands really well. For The Comet it had to be the right moment. You could see fifty shows and feel like you don’t want to go there anymore, but then you see one and it’s the best show you’ve ever seen.

ZOE: It was an institution. It definitely leaves a void. Do you remember your first live show as Hobosexual?

BEN: Our first show as Hobo was in Arlington at The Murkwood. Jeff had to learn twelve songs in four days.

ZOE: Are you guys touring right now? Do you have any shows coming up?

BEN: So far we’ve got four different tours on the books where we’re going out regionally, one where we’re potentially going out east. I’d say between now and next fall we’re gonna be out there a lot. We’re playing with Ancient Warlocks, and we’ve got Sasquatch coming up.

ZOE: Did you start getting into music at a young age?

JEFF: I was like 8. I’ve been doing it most of my life. I can see stopping a lot of things in my life, but not drumming. I love it too much. My dad was a drummer his whole life, and as a kid he played in a Beatles cover band. This was while The Beatles were still around. He quit for a while when I was born, but he picked it up again about 8 years later, so there was always a kit in the house. I was so shy that I would get home from school at two o’clock, my parents wouldn’t get home til 5pm, so I’d go in the basement and play drums for three hours. Then when I saw the headlights pull up I’d shut everything off and go upstairs. I don’t think they knew I played drums for years. Eventually they found out I was playing, and I got over my stage fright.

 

And the rest was history! Get in on the action Saturday April 19, Record Store Day, at Silver Platters Sodo. If you like rock ‘n roll and having a good time, you won’t want to miss this show. Hobosexual plays at 4:30 PM.

Record Store Day 2014 Preview

Record Store Day 2014: Preview

By Zoe K.

Jake Bugg Live At Silver Platters

On January 20, 2014 Jake Bugg drew a packed crowd to our SoDo store for a fantastic live performance. If you happened to miss the show, or if you want to relive the experience, now is your chance! Jake Bugg is releasing a live EP of songs performed at Silver Platters on both CD and 12” vinyl.

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Mudhoney On Top

This live LP captures a truly unique Mudhoney performance atop the iconic Seattle Space Needle. Only a dozen people witnessed this event, part of Sub Pop Records’ 25th Anniversary celebration, but now the recording will be available as a limited RSD Exclusive Release.

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Flaming Lips “7 Skies H3”

It’s okay if you didn’t have $5,000 to buy the digital copy of this 24-hour-long song when it came out in 2011. Maybe you did have the money, but were creeped out by the human skull packaging. The 50 minute edit will be available on clear vinyl for RSD!

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Black Angels Clear Lake Forest

This is the follow up to 2013’s Indigo Meadow on 10” clear vinyl, featuring seven newly recorded songs from Austin’s psych-rock outfit, just in time for all your summer picnics.

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 Grateful Dead Live at Hampton Coliseum

Great news, Deadheads! Here’s a live recording of their 1979 concert in Hampton, VA on two 180g vinyl records in a gatefold sleeve. Unless you were at the show, their first time at the Hampton Coliseum, you’ve probably never heard this one before because this vinyl version is the first time this show has been released in any format.

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Velvet Underground Loaded

Loaded is an essential album in any record collection, so if you don’t have it already now’s your chance. This 12” LP is being reissued on pink, white and black splatter vinyl, which just ups the awesome factor. Loaded was their final studio album with Lou Reed, and it includes tracks such as “Sweet Jane” and “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.”

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 Dream Theater “Illumination Theory”

Have you been waiting for Dream Theater to release a picture disc? Wait no longer, for it is here. This 22-minute-long song is the closing track on their self-titled album released last year. Don’t cut yourself on the broken glass.

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Of Montreal Satanic Panic In The Attic

I can’t believe that it’s been ten years since this album was first released. Of Montreal have been quite prolific in the years since then, but this breakthrough album was where it all got started. It’s going to be great to listen to this yellow and blue 2 LP on a portable turntable outside and reminisce about how great things were in 2004, back before we lost our innocence.

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Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

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Against Me!

Transgender Dysphoria Blues 

Zoe K.

Being punk is taking a stand against an oppressive system. How much more oppressive can the system get when it denies a person’s identity? Against Me!’s frontwoman Laura Jane Grace hid her identity for thirty years before very publicly coming out as transgender in an in-depth Rolling Stone article from May of 2012. Transgender Dysphoria Blues, out on the band’s own label (Total Treble Records) on January 21, is their first release since Grace’s transition began.

It is necessary to have some knowledge of the immense oppression faced by the transgender community in order to understand the new album. The levels of discrimination and violence directed at trans people are staggering: according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 2013, they experience unemployment and homelessness at double the national rate, and when they were able to obtain jobs, 90% of survey participants reported harassment or discrimination in the workplace. As if that wasn’t enough, 26% of transgender people have experienced physical assault because of their identity, and almost half have attempted suicide.

Grace’s songs on the new album reflect this brutal reality with lyrics that convey pain and suffering. On “True Trans Soul Rebel” she sings: Yet to be born or already dead / You sleep with a gun beside you in bed / You follow it through to the obvious end / Slit your veins wide open / You bleed it out. Death is a theme further explored in the hard rock-influenced “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ,” where Grace sings about how the best end one can hope for is martyrdom. Their second half of the album features two songs titled “Dead Friend” and “Two Coffins,” where the former is about losing a friend before their time, and the latter is a song about dying and being buried with the person you love.

The album is not all morbid musings on mortality, though. There’s also a resilience in Grace’s lyrics, especially in the last song on the half-hour-long album, “Black Me Out”: I don’t want to see the world that way anymore / I don’t want to feel that weak and insecure, which is an acknowledgement of how the time for hiding and feeling ashamed is over. The lyrics of all the songs are intensely personal and heartfelt, and Grace touches on subjects, like her experience as a transgender woman, that have been seriously underrepresented in punk music. Against Me! provides some hope for acceptance in a society where transgender people still face oppression every day.

Shearwater “Fellow Travelers”

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Shearwater

Fellow Travelers

By Zoe K.

Not everyone can say they have gone on tour as a band, but most people can relate to the experience of traveling. It doesn’t matter if you’re just going a hundred miles down the road or thousands of miles overseas: the sensation of discovery and wonder coupled with a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) feeling of being an outsider is constantly present on some level. Austin, Texas band Shearwater try to capture this experience on their new album Fellow Travelers, which is a unique collection of cover songs originally written by bands that they have toured with over the span of their fourteen-year-long career. The album features songs by a diverse range of sources, from the eclectic and avant-garde band Xiu Xiu to mainstream rockers Coldplay.

Fellow Travelers successfully integrates the sound of each distinct song into a cohesive whole that is unmistakably Shearwater. Jonathan Meiburg’s emotive voice would not work on any given song, but thankfully he has chosen pieces that really benefit from his distinctive sound. The song “Cheerleader” by St. Vincent is not as sneeringly defiant as the original, but instead the line “I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more” comes across as more of a sincere realization of past mistakes. Xiu Xiu’s challenging song “I Luv the Valley OH!!” is redone in a way that makes it less abrasive and more accessible. One of the strongest tracks is Wye Oak’s “Mary Is Mary,” which sounds like a delicate anthem that could’ve easily been included on Shearwater’s 2012 album Animal Joy.

Black Friday Preview

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Black Friday Preview

By Zoe K.

This is probably the first time in my life that I have been excited about Black Friday. I don’t like crowds or consumerism, so clearly I have my reservations about the biggest shopping day of the year. This year I will not only break my tradition of hiding in my bedroom avoiding the chaos around me, but I will consider going to work early to shop this year’s special Black Friday releases before my shift starts.

Black Friday is an offshoot of the original Record Store Day held in the spring, where music lovers get a chance to buy awesome limited releases from their favorite artists, mostly on vinyl. Black Friday is a slightly different version of RSD; this time it is geared toward celebrating the holiday season by featuring some Christmas LPs and 7”s in addition to the usual offerings.

There are many awesome LPs to check out this year. Bob Dylan is releasing Side Tracks, a 180 gram, 3 LP set of rarities not featured on any studio albums. The Flaming Lips have a new six song EP called Peace Sword containing the title track, which was written for the film adaptation of Ender’s Game, as well as other songs inspired by the film. Another notable release is Family Dog at the Great Highway, which contains recently discovered recordings from an intimate 1970 acoustic show by The Grateful Dead. This album contains a mix of original songs, covers and rare tracks and is going to be available on 2 LPs until the 7,500 copies run out.

If you’re a fan of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, you’ll surely be excited about the 2 LP Live From KCRW album premiering on November 29. This live recording includes tracks from last year’s release, Push The Sky Away, as well as favorites like “The Mercy Seat” and “Jack The Ripper” from their classic albums. British band Foals are releasing a limited 12” record of six tracks recorded using CCTV. Josh Tillman of Father John Misty is releasing The History of Caves on LP, which is his soundtrack to his wife Emma’s 2013 short film of the same name.

Don’t worry, there will also be plenty of fun Christmas releases too. John Denver And The Muppets are doing A Christmas Together, which will be released on a 12” picture disc. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Vince Guaraldi Trio playing “Linus and Lucy” from the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and now you will be able to own a gold 7” containing the song plus “Oh Good Grief” on the B-Side.

Go ahead and get into the holiday spirit! While you’re at it, don’t forget to join the festivities at all three Silver Platters locations.