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POCKET PANDA – THIS ARRANGEMENT OF MOLECULES is At Radio Now!!!

These guys are so great! Also whoa, they’re my third Seattle band in a row (this city has been really good to me lately!). This one is on the folk-rock side of things, heavy whiffs of Mumford & Sons for example. All the rest of the bands they remind me of, strangely, are Scottish: Snow Patrol, Frightened Rabbit, the Twilight Sad. Emotional, literate, orchestral indie rock. Do you like those things?? You should listen to this band! They’re also a super intelligent bunch (band leader Eric Herbig has a Ph.D. in molecular biology!!), so there’s a bunch of smart science stuff sprinkled in there too. The songs are real memorable, I’ve found myself waking up with a different one playing in my head every day this week. Something for (kind of?) everyone!

POCKET PANDA

THIS ARRANGEMENT OF MOLECULES

Self-Released

This Arrangement of Molecules, the new release from Seattle, WA’s Pocket Panda, throws entropy to the wind and shows us that random things can come together in beautiful ways. Their meticulously-crafted songs blend strings, synthesizers, driving beats, and dense harmonies into a rich and colorful musical landscape that is never predictable. Drawing from rock, folk, bluegrass, jazz, funk, and minimalism, their prismatic and multi-layered style often takes unexpected turns in the form of complex time changes, polyrhythms, and unconventional instrumentation. Yet this wonderful variety is all anchored to a foundation of joyful musicality and four-part harmonies.

Eric Herbig, the founder of Pocket Panda, was first immersed in art through the world of ballet at age 4. His mother dreamt of having her child become a world class dancer, but Herbig resisted and they settled on piano (which, given his infatuation with Seattle’s rock scene, soon segued into guitar). Tragically, Herbig’s mother would succumb to a rare, fatal neurological disorder. At her funeral a speech was read in which, as her dying wish, she commanded that he go to graduate school and study molecular biology.

In a tale of unexpected paths converging, Herbig honored his mother’s wishes, and strangely enough, this would provide the context for the formation of Pocket Panda. While Herbig pursued science by day, he played music by night, and after 6 years and over 2,000 Craigslist posts Herbig had reined in the talents of band members Jordan Cunningham (vocals/mandolin/guitar), Chris Allen (vocals/bass), Mike Waller (keys/accordion/harmonica/xylophone), and David Cho (violin). Amazingly, the Newtonian apple didn’t fall too far from the musical tree; called “the most educated band in Seattle” by many of their fans, Pocket Panda have a combined 11 degrees among them – including Herbig’s Ph.D. in molecular biology.

On This Arrangement of Molecules, the band explores the myriad forces that wrench people apart – from self-doubt to structural violence – if only to reaffirm how ultimately lucky we are to form the bonds we do, and how even luckier we are to carry our shared dreams to fruition.

This Arrangement of Molecules represents significant depth in both the spectrum of sounds used and the array of ideas presented in the lyrics. Songs such as “Garden” and “There You Go” use the melodic and structural modalities of indie-folk to frame the delivery of stories of lost love.  “Baghdad Ballet School” and “Setting Sun” shed the folk vibe in favor of a more edgy and hard hitting approach, befitting the songs’ contemplation of the ravages of war. “Riptide”, a social commentary on excessive materialism, combines multiple time signatures in the verse and chorus. Across the record, Pocket Panda show repeatedly that they are not afraid to deviate from conventional song structures in order to transport listeners into the narrative world they inhabit. This Arrangement of Molecules will take you on a journey that is sonically, thoughtfully and emotionally highly engaging. 

RIYL: Mumford & Sons, The National, The Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit, Snow Patrol

Start With: 1, 7, 4, 6     FCC 11


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

http://pocketpandamusic.com/

http://pocketpanda.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PocketPandaMusic

https://twitter.com/pocket_panda

http://vimeo.com/pocketpanda

https://www.youtube.com/user/PocketPandaMusic

https://soundcloud.com/pocketpandamusic/sets/this-arrangement-of-molecules/s-NPNYc

 

 

EX’S WITH BENEFITS – BAD HOTEL is at Radio Now!!!

I’ve got a new record to tell you all about: it’s the slammin’ EX’S WITH BENEFITS! If this music sounds extra familiar, it’s gonna be because you recognize the singer Dmitra Smith from her other band, Static People, whose album I sent you just last fall. She’s in two bands! They’re even based in two entirely different locations—Static People (and Dmitra) are based in northern California, but she travels to Seattle intermittently to play with this other rad band, Ex’s With Benefits (for the record, yep—they do spell it with that apostrophe)! The two bands have a lot in common—Dmitra has a pretty distinctive style and voice—but where Static People was a bit more of a fun poppy-punk band, Ex’s is a bit more of a serious Riot Grrl-ish punk-rawk band. The other particularly notable thing about this band’s members is that their drummer, Alex, used to be in the band Green River—that’s right, one of the first grunge bands ever. Green River members went on to form Pearl Jam and Mudhoney after they broke up. Which basically makes Alex Seattle royalty, and this is his newest project! (I first met Alex because he co-starred in a film recently featuring another Band Mom band, Tennis Pro—the movie is Big In Japan and you should check that out too!) You don’t want to skip this one. Dmitra’s voice also reminds me a bit of Marissa from Screaming Females (especially when it comes to that deep throaty tough-lady growl), and their lyrics can get pretty acerbic and political. Fans of Sleater-Kinney will find a lot to love here too. We already tied for #19 Most Added on CMJ last week; now it’s time to get serious about spinning the crap out of this thing!!

EX’S WITH BENEFITS

BAD HOTEL

Stone Boat Records

Ex’s With Benefits formed in 2012 when Alex Vincent (founding drummer of the seminal Seattle grunge band Green River, other members of which went on to form Mudhoney and Pearl Jam) had written some music for possible future recordings by Green River that never materialized. Not wanting the music to go to waste, he held on to them hoping, at the very least, to hear what they sound like with vocals put to them.

He reconnected with a high school friend, Dmitra Smith, who was an amazingly powerful vocalist in San Francisco band Static People, and sent some of the songs her way to see if she’d be able to put something on top of them out of sheer curiosity. The “sheer curiosity” became a real collaboration almost immediately when everything just clicked. Her slasher/siren-song vocals on top of the power-pop/punk/rock riffs meshed together in perfect combination.

Soon to join afterwards was Frenchman extraordinaire Pascal Faivre on guitar, followed by rumbling Dave Place on bass.

Produced by Phillip Peterson (Tennis Pro) and recorded over four days at Jack Endino’s Soundhouse Recordings in Seattle, the album embodies the urgency and energy of its members, who live in two different states and share the bittersweet reality of coming together for precious time to make music.  As the cherry on top, they were thrilled to have legendary music giant Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Harvey Danger, Beat Happening) mix the record.

Recorded mostly live with minimal overdubbing, Bad Hotel offers 12 tracks filled with angry satire, caustic wit, sex and hot headed critique of recurring themes that continue to perpetuate themselves in our 21st century world. 

Over the four days this album was recorded, the band bled, sweated, screamed and laughed a ton.  Nothing is promised in art or life.  We still believe in DIY, punk rock and truth by fire.  We can sleep when we’re dead.

“They’ve set the bar very high for Seattle album of the year.”  – Northwest Music Scene
“That’s rippin stuff!” – Mark Arm, Mudhoney

RIYL: Static People, Bikini Kill, L7, Screaming Females, Sleater-Kinney

Start With: 1, 4, 9     FCC 2, 8, 10, 3 for the very strict (“Goddamn”)


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

http://exswithbenefits.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Exs-With-Benefits/459807920744564

https://twitter.com/exswb

 

 
 

SAN JUAN – HORIZONS is at Top 200 Radio NOW!!

My second add in 2015 is a really great one! They’re from Seattle, so the name is more closely related to the nearby San Juan Islands than Puerto Rico. Shout out to Rainy Dawg Radio for introducing us!! They’ve got a heavy whiff of that boy-girl folky love-song stuff you can’t get enough of via the likes of The Head and the Heart, Us the Duo, Angus & Julia Stone, The Civil Wars, The Swell Season…you get it. My favorite track is the last one on this six-track album, so if you want to jump to the really good stuff (or if you’re a hater and about to give up), skip to the end. And then get down to spinning and charting this thing!! We already made our Top 200 chart debut last week, at #145…this band is well on the way to greatness!

SAN JUAN

HORIZONS

Self-Released

San Juan has what you might call a relaxed edge to them, and they enjoy being such a contradiction in terms. On the forefront are tight, resonating vocals and a keen sense of melody. Bluesy undertones alongside singer-songwriter influences create a basis for folk-rock love songs that you can’t help but sway along to. Dreamy male and female harmonies over an alt-Americana trio of guitar, bass, and drums build their translucent, moonlit sound.

It all started with Kyle R. Andrews’ deep cutting voice and alternative-folk guitar at the end of 2011. He expanded the work of his initial solo album with the addition of Amie Rippeteau’s fiercely enchanting voice: together, the two offered a vocal texture that their audience could not only hear, but feel. Soon after, Joel Hughes was added as bass player, bringing a meticulous ear for song development, which helped give the music an even flow. San Juan was complete with the addition of Jeff Muschett on drums, whose background in jazz drumming carried a groove that fit right in with the band’s growing sound. The quartet, having formed during their time together at the University of Washington, played more than a handful of shows within Seattle before the fall of 2012. Then their streak paused when frontman Kyle R. Andrews left for a West Coast bicycle trip full of house concerts (a touring style Andrews plans to expand upon starting in June 2015, when he’ll embark on a 4-month bicycle tour from Seattle to Maine). After his return from that trip, Andrews began writing music specifically to fit San Juan’s unique sound.

The 6 tracks of Horizons comprise San Juan’s first studio album, recorded with the help of Grammy winner & producer Justin Armstrong (Deathcab for Cutie’s Plans, Nirvana, Dave Matthews). Open up the CD packaging and lay it flat to see the disparate elements of its design come together in a surprising bonus display of beauty: a sly hint at the story of the music to be found inside.

RIYL: The Head and The Heart, Us the Duo, Angus & Julia Stone, The Civil Wars, The Swell Season

Start With: 6, 2, 4     FCC CLEAN


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

www.sanjuanband.com

facebook.com/sanjuanband

sanjuanband.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/sanjuanband

instagram.com/sanjuanband

 
 

 

KINGSBOROUGH has been RIPPING UP the Top 200!!

Now that I’ve finally put 2014 to rest, it’s time to start talking about my 2015 releases!! My first add this year was the ripping KINGSBOROUGH. I met these Napa Valley dudes via their producer Jason Carmer (who’d also worked with my Animal Hours record from last fall). These guys are a straight-ahead Real Authentic Rock And Roll band, with the kind of bluesy influences that fans of Alabama Shakes and Black Keys will appreciate. Make that DID and DO appreciate, I guess, because this band has already KILLED IT on the charts!! After clocking in at #16 Most Added on CMJ’s Top 20 Adds chart back in January, this album has already gone on to chart on the Top 200 for SEVEN WEEKS IN A ROW, including a peak at #73. One of the strongest showings I’ve seen in a while – you people love this band!! YES!!

KINGSBOROUGH

THE NIGHT, THE GRIND, AND THE WOES

Self-Released

Fresh off of their festival debut at BottleRock Napa Valley 2014, Kingsborough has been creating an electric buzz as a new modern classic, spinning out soulful rock n’ roll. BAM Magazine describes their BottleRock performance as “rocking it like the big boys used to…in the same way that Springsteen has always done.”

From stage to studio, this independent group of four Santa Rosa, CA musicians embodies the old school “working band” mentality with a heavy focus on raw performance. Their vast array of influences, ranging from Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Doobie Brothers to Jack White and The Kings of Leon, creates a sound that is familiar yet indefinable. Their debut full-length album, The Night, The Grind and The Woes, was produced by Grammy Award winner Jason Carmer (Third Eye Blind, Run-DMC, Kimya Dawson, Chuck Prophet, The Donnas).

RIYL: The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Cage The Elephant, Kings of Leon, Gary Clark Jr, Creedence Clearwater Revival

Start With: 3, 5, 7     FCC CLEAN


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

www.kingsboroughmusic.com

facebook.com/kingsboroughband

twitter.com/thekingsborough

instagram.com/kingsborough.band

My Top Stuff of 2014

HA, ha ha ha. 2014!! I’ve been working on this post since before the end of the year. Three months ago!! I was really trying to get this up by the time of the Oscars, since that broadcast seems like the definitive line of Last Chance To Care About Last Year, but with no real deadline actually threatening me I ended up just letting this go on…and on…forever. But hey! I finally finished this! Wanna talk about 2014 one more time?!

I’ve said this before, because I do always tend to do this much later than seems reasonable even if it’s not usually THIS late: I realize doing it this late means almost nobody could possibly care, but I do like to be able to fit in viewings of as many movies as possible before making my big judgments…and anyway I’m mostly just doing this for myself anyway, to make me feel like I’ve been doing something worthwhile and memorable with my time and sort it into a digestible time capsule, and to have something to show for myself around here. If I’m going to see every movie that ever comes out I might as well be able to prove it, right?

2014 was a pretty great year for me. I got myself situated into my new hometown of Seattle, and things just got progressively better and better. In March I traveled to Austin (and San Antonio) for my 8th SXSW in a row. May-June I worked in the box office for the Seattle International Film Festival, which was a super fun time in itself and opened up a few more doors for even more cool stuff to come. In July I started volunteering, and then in November got hired as a show manager, at an all-ages venue called the Vera Project, where I’m feeling super at home. I moved in November from my initial North Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford to an even better situation in my new South Seattle neighborhood of Columbia City. I also traveled back to NYC in October for CMJ, and Ohio in December for the holidays. I hosted or hung with friends visiting Seattle from all over the world, including NYC, LA, Philadelphia, Ohio, Australia and New Zealand. And through it all the Band Mom hummed along, doing better than ever before just like a six-year-old business should: the last couple weeks of the year even kicked off a CHARTING HOT STREAK that lasted into the new year where in all I went NINE STRAIGHT WEEKS where every single record I was working showed up on CMJ’s charts!!!

You’ll see my festival and venue work again reflected pretty heavily when we get down to my Top Shows lists, much as they were in my Top Stuff of 2013, 2012 and 2011 (I didn’t have such jobs in 2010 and 2009, but the venues I’d later work at were reflected pretty heavily in those lists as well). I’m maintaining the rule that Band Mom Bands are ineligible for the Top Albums list because I couldn’t possibly rank them against each other, but that I can’t rule out shows where I worked the door or box office or show managed or had a Band Mom Band play for my Top Shows lists, because then there would be almost no shows to consider.

As always, I never claim stuff on this list is the ‘best’ of the year. Art is impossible to grade on an objective scale, and it’s insulting and ugly to posture as though one could do so. These are just my favorites:

top 15 albums of 2014:

  1. angel olsen – burn your fire for no witness

  2. the casket girls – true love kills the fairy tale

  3. andrew jackson jihad – christmas island

  4. beck – morning phase
  5. sisyphus – sisyphus
  6. ryan adams – ryan adams
  7. stars – no one is lost
  8. mirah – changing light
  9. alvvays – alvvays
  10. tacocat – nvm
  11. divorcee – divorcee
  12. pattern is movement – pattern is movement
  13. kithkin – rituals, trances & ecstasies for humans in face of the collapse
  14. white sea – in cold blood
  15. yellow ostrich – cosmos

I kept my Top Albums list to a reasonable number this year because I listened to my 9 Band Mom albums (+2 singles) plus the ones that made the cut above a TON, then there were like 100 more that I listened to just a little bit, so the list was gonna be either 100 or 15 (although runner-up status to new pornographers – brill bruisers, Top 16 just felt like an awkwardly uneven number that would NOT BE OKAY). This time, like in 2013, I went with 15, but I can’t promise next year won’t be another 2010. As mentioned and as always, Band Mom artists are ineligible for this list because I wouldn’t even begin to know how to rank them: this means you, robby hecht, melaena cadiz, you me & apollo, scarves, static people, brenda xu, animal hours, tie these hands (plus their second single), sama dams, and tomo nakayama. That’s artists from Nashville, Brooklyn, Colorado, Seattle, San Francisco, Lincoln NE, and Portland OR. You all released FANTASTIC albums that are tied for number one in my heart, and I love you the most.

top 15 shows (concerts):

  1. neutral milk hotel w/elf power @ the neptune (april)

  2. the pizza underground w/toby goodshank, dj derek erdman @ chop suey (april)
  3. the hot ‘n’ readies three times: @ still liquor (feb and october) and @ bainbridge island grange hall (october)
  4. rose windows @ mcmenamins hotel in centralia (february)
  5. sxsw ’15 highlights: jason anderson, good field, tereu tereu, casket girls, courtesy tier (march)
  6. sean nelson 25th anniversary show w/anthonie tonnon @ columbia city theater (may)
  7. advance base, headphones, gordon ashworth (concern), scarves @ rendezvous (august)
  8. “margaret” show feat. eliza rickman, shenandoah davis, mts & tunnels, led to sea, lonesome leash, jherek bischoff, zac pennington, jason webley, chicken john @ historic everett theatre (april)
  9. la luz, craft spells, unknown mortal orchestra @ hilliard’s brewery (june)
  10. oh! pears, secretary, eidelons, sama dams @ heartland (january)
  11. “loves me not” show curated by marco collins feat. mike herrera (mxpx), matt batey (ruler), jenn ghetto (s), naomi wachira, jason dodson (the maldives) @ volterra drawing room (february)
  12. pattern is movement w/ yellow ostrich @ barboza (march) TIED WITH pattern is movement w/wye oak @ neumos (july)
  13. mountain goats @ showbox (june)
  14. tennis pro, aqueduct, the catch @ the crocodile (june)
  15. angel olsen @ capitol hill block party (july)

These were almost entirely in WA, except for the one obvious exception, and I know I cheated by tying a few together. Didn’t want to make the list any longer but couldn’t decide either! Also cut some really great ones out though, including great shows I worked. Don’t be offended if your show that I was at didn’t make this list, it was still great!

top 50 movies:

  1. i origins

  2. boyhood

  3. grand budapest hotel

  4. the skeleton twins

  5. the guest

  6. interstellar
  7. birdman
  8. dear white people
  9. nightcrawler
  10. veronica mars
  11. only lovers left alive
  12. obvious child
  13. inherent vice
  14. rosewater
  15. happy christmas
  16. the sacrament
  17. they came together
  18. calvary
  19. life partners
  20. amira & sam (previously titled sam & amira)
  21. whiplash
  22. the babadook
  23. particle fever
  24. under the skin
  25. guardians of the galaxy
  26. lucky them
  27. jodorowsky’s dune
  28. creep
  29. harmontown
  30. force majeure
  31. the lunchbox (dabba)
  32. locke
  33. laggies
  34. big in japan
  35. like father, like son
  36. the one I love
  37. citizenfour
  38. foxcatcher
  39. attila marcel
  40. unbroken
  41. snowpiercer
  42. the double
  43. blue ruin
  44. night moves
  45. fish & cat
  46. willow creek
  47. le week-end
  48. maleficent
  49. alan partridge
  50. the disappearance of eleanor rigby

honorable mentions (roughly in order; this whole list was initially a numbered top 150+ until I considered how completely insane that would be. but FYI I feel EXTRA strongly this time about the top 20 of the above list, and any of the top 5 really could have been interchangeable, but strongly enough about all of these to mention ’em. I did see 62 other 2014 movies that didn’t make any list at all!):

frank, joe, filth, mood indigo, finding vivian maier, the signal, virunga, selma, still alice, boys, the tale of the princess kaguya, if i stay, b.f.e., life after beth, big hero 6, the rover, ida, about alex, starred up, the imitation game, pride, the judge, a long way down, the normal heart, the zero theorem, wild, coherence, the foxy merkins, point b, the congress, the boxtrolls, hateship loveship, gone girl, cesar chavez, the missing picture, to be takei, dinosaur 13, x-men: days of future past, the homesman, housebound, the liberator, we are the best!, the theory of everything, edge of tomorrow, nymphomaniac (pt 1 & 2), tim’s vermeer, borgman, 20,000 days on earth, love is strange, young ones, a birder’s guide to everything, words and pictures, land ho!, the grand seduction, cake, the gambler, abuse of weakness, fight church, neighbors, the interview, razing the bar, two raging grannies, knights of badassdom, this is where i leave you, 22 jump street, kill the messenger, belle, a fantastic fear of everything, divergent, half of a yellow sun, how to train your dragon 2, venus in fur, regarding susan sontag, enemy, rob the mob, the fault in our stars, top five, breathe in, decoding annie parker, palo alto, cuban fury, alex of venice, american sniper, patema inverted, for no good reason, the hobbit: battle of the five armies, the drop, the hundred foot journey, the dance of reality, horrible bosses 2, big eyes, you must be joking, st vincent, hunger games: mockingjay pt 1, captain america: the winter soldier, transcendence, that awkward moment, lucy, tammy, begin again, dom hemingway, gloria, awful nice, lego movie, stranger by the lake, the heart machine, burt’s buzz, hellion, a walk among the tombstones, the book of life, ride along, a letter to momo, 13 sins, no good deed, sin city: a dame to kill for, proxy, muppets most wanted, the face of love, the monuments men, kelly & cal, listen up philip, into the woods, a most violent year, magic in the moonlight, healing, white bird in a blizzard, hector and the search for happiness, night at the museum: secret of the tomb, catch hell, sex tape, intramural, wetlands.

top NEW actors of the year (as in i’d never heard their names before/hadn’t noticed them in anything and now they seem like a big deal to me, were each in several things i loved): david oyelowo (selma, interstellar, a most violent year), dan stevens (the guest, a walk among the tombstones, high maintenance, night at the museum: secret of the tomb)

standout actors of the year (who were not new to me, but were in a bunch of stuff i loved and seemed to have a really big year): gaby hoffman (obvious child, veronica mars, wild, transparent, girls), randall park (the interview, neighbors, sex tape, they came together, the mindy project), jake lacy (obvious child, intramural), tessa thompson (dear white people, selma although she was sadly absent from the veronica mars movie), and scarlett johansson (under the skin, lucy, captain america: the winter soldier, chef, plus she was still riding that buzz from Her with its super-late 2013 release)

also as an aside, a few years ago I made up a ‘best sound design‘ category because I felt so strongly about black swan’s and then we need to talk about kevin’s and then upstream color’s, and was mad that they were slighted in oscar nominations, and this year I feel the same way about the sound in THE BABADOOK.

oh and I created a bunch more superlatives this year, like: best unexpected rocker cameo in a movie. j. mascis (dinosaur jr) in the double wins it, although art alexakis (eve 6) in wild is a close runner up.

also: most overused clips. baraka and samsara are all over the place!! noticed them specifically in both lucy and the giver this year, and I bet there were more. they’ve become the go-to library of “world images”. oook.

on a similar note, song most covered in films: radiohead’s “creep” (I noticed it in book of life, the gambler, and the zero theorem. give it a rest, guys)

how about, best score: absolutely goes to antonio sanchez for birdman, although james newton howard is a not-so-distant runner up for nightcrawler, that one was really remarkable and nobody’s talking about it. son lux takes bronze for the disappearance of eleanor rigby, that was a lovely and affecting piece of work as well.

I also really want to talk about this year’s best comedy special, because nick offerman’s american ham is the best comedy special I have seen in YEARS. I haven’t traditionally included rankings of those on these lists but I do watch a lot of comedy specials.

some stats notes on movies: in 2014 i saw 380 different movies (whoa, that’s over 140 more than last year, and the lateness of this post has nothing to do with that, those were movies i watched within that year!). 104 of them were in theaters, and to date i’ve seen 244 movies that came out in 2014 (that’s 50 more than last year! although I’m also publishing this like 2 weeks later than last year. this includes several that i watched after the year ended, so they’ll be among the total i report having watched in 2015, but they’re also part of the group of 2014 movies i’m counting as eligible for this best-of list).

as for movies with questionable release dates, the rule i made up is basically that if i saw it in like a festival or limited-engagement special event in 2014, even if it didn’t get even limited national release otherwise, it counts for my list, but if i did not see it in a festival before 2014 and its first limited release (a usa release that’s not a specific festival, even if it showed in fests pre-2014) was this year, then it counts. in other words it’s pretty subjective to my perspective, but it had to have its (limited or wide) release begin in 2014 OR be seen by me in a festival or special event (i saw movies at SXSW, SIFF and a few assorted micro fests and special screenings, and in theaters and homes in New York, Seattle, Ohio, and Austin) in 2014.

also of note, i saw 7 2014 movies in 3d (and only one in IMAX: interstellar, which was very worth it; i saw the hobbit in the HFR 3d at the cinerama, seattle’s best [and recently renovated to be even better] screen, and i’m still not sure that was worth it). i continue to think 3d is a stupid cash grab that almost never adds to the film, but I suffer from pretty severe fear of missing out so i keep getting suckered in. all the 3d movies i saw this year were either animated or action/adventure, which all did an ok job at throwing in fun moments (falls down cliffs, flying) to make use of the 3d, but i wouldn’t exactly go out of my way to recommend splurging on 3d for any of them. IMAX for interstellar though. yes.

I saw two movies more than once in theaters: big in japan got me 3x, and the guest got me 2x. not a coincidence that those were the two movies I caught during this year’s sxsw.

this is my longest movie list ever…there are just so many that I truly feel strongly about! also I keep seeing more and more movies every year in theaters, because of this service called Moviepass where I pay a monthly fee for nearly-unlimited movies so that it actually made financial sense to see MORE movies than less, and I was happy to oblige. I also continued to get paid for writing about movies last year for this obscure VOD website called cinecliq, but that gig’s finished now, because cinecliq has since “rethought their editorial strategy” and dismantled their critical portion of their blog, so I’m hoping to pick up a new film criticism gig in its wake this year.

here’s what an average of exactly 2 trips to the movie theater a week (plus a few extraneous otherwise tix) looks like, btw:

although i obviously saw a ton of movies this year, you’ll always miss a few; there are a few that i still intend to see. i do feel pretty good about the above list, but a few potentially serious contenders just didn’t have a wide enough seattle release for me to get to them (yet?), so, these might have had a chance at making the above lists had i been able to catch them: two days, one night; leviathan; tangerines; timbuktu; wild tales; last days in vietnam; the salt of the earth; song of the sea; beyond the lights; glen campbell…i’ll be me; mr turner; annie; goodbye to language; a girl walks home alone at night; hide your smiling faces; the dog; comet; rocks in my pockets; rudderless; v/h/s: viral; tracks; let’s be cops; god help the girl; mistaken for strangers; annabelle; two night stand; one chance; je t’aime, je t’aime; burkholder; jellyfish eyes; coming home; ardor; chinese puzzle; before i go to sleep; and life itself. pretty much everything else, if it had a theatrical release in 2014 and it’s not listed here, it’s on purpose. SO THERE.

saw filmmakers/actors in person promoting:

-big in japan (cast, crew, everyone ever associated with the film, all over the place throughout the year, but once particularly memorably at SXSW, march 14)

-obvious child (jenny slate & director gillian robespierre, SIFF fest @ the egyptian, may 20)

-the foxy merkins (director madeleine olnek, SIFF fest @ the harvard exit, may 25)

-amira & sam (then titled sam & amira – martin starr, dina shihabi, director sean mullin, other cast and crew, SIFF fest @ the harvard exit, may 28)

-bfe (director shawn telford and most of the cast, SIFF fest @ the harvard exit, june 2)

-alex of venice (director/star chris messina and other cast and crew, SIFF fest @ the harvard exit, june 6)

-creep (mark duplass & director/co-star patrick brice, SIFF fest @ the egyptian, june 6)

-lucky them (director megan griffiths & producer lacey leavitt hosted by lynn shelton, northwest film forum june 15)

-snowpiercer (director bong joon-ho with an interpreter, SIFF uptown, june 16)

-willow creek (stars bryce johnson and alexie gilmore, director bobcat goldthwait, a few others associated, SIFF uptown, june 26)

my 10 favorite comedy shows I saw (in chronological order):

-sxsw: the creek & the cave showcase hosted by james adomian ft andy haynes, kate berlant, jerrod carmichael (and big jay oakerson) @ esther’s follies 3/10

-hari kondabolu album release show ft. kimya dawson, elicia sanchez, ahamefule oluo @ the neptune 3/10

-greg barris, harry moroz, alex hooper, dan st germain @ the comedy underground 4/18

-josh gondelman, brian moote, derek sheen @ the comedy underground 8/20

-bumbershoot: paul f tompkins’ dead authors podcast 8/31

-wyatt cenac w elicia sanchez @ barboza 9/24

-mike birbiglia w kevin barnett and josh rabinowitz @ union hall (brooklyn ny) 10/20

-whiplash: hosted by aparna nancherla ft nick thune, josie long, jermaine fowler, julian mccullough and a weird walkout by chris rock @ ucb chelsea (manhattan ny) 10/20

-cmj: heart of darkness hosted by greg barris ft larry murphy, corn mo, jason saenz, shonali bhowmik and the i love you chair @ union hall (brooklyn ny) 10/24

-RISK! hosted by kevin allison, ft dan savage (and others) @ the vera project 12/12

2013’s comedy list was a top 25, but I feel pretty good about moving away from nyc and still having a top 10 that wasn’t just a list of EVERY single comedy show I saw. miss u tho, ny comedy.

favorite new tv shows:

transparent

broad city

bojack horseman

looking

short poppies

the birthday boys

silicon valley

last week tonight with john oliver

a to z

review

jane the virgin

cosmos with neil degrasse tyson

mozart in the jungle

an honourable woman

peaky blinders

marry me

favorite non-new tv shows:

derek

house of cards

adventure time

bob’s burgers

brooklyn nine-nine

high maintenance

scandal

sherlock

portlandia

new girl

parks and recreation

marvel’s agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

an idiot abroad

drunk history

girls

the mindy project

(fell behind on current seasons of american horror story, downtown abbey, and louie that might’ve otherwise made the list, also planning on checking out halt and catch fire, garfunkel and oates, true detective, the knick, justified, parenthood, boardwalk empire, house of lies, veep, shameless, comedy bang bang, enlightened, episodes, masters of sex, the comeback, kroll show, key & peele, inside amy schumer, nathan for you…need more hours in the day)

and lastly, some stray cool stuff i did in 2014 that didn’t fit into any of the above categories:

-jerry springer: the opera featuring sean nelson as the devil @ the moore theater in january

-watched the hometown team win the superbowl with friends on vashon island in february (also spent a truly fantastic 4th of july on vashon)

-attended a minor league hockey game in san antonio (with my brother’s dog) in march, and two mariners baseball games in seattle in may and july

-ate dinner in the space needle with my parents in july

-saw john darnielle do a reading from his excellent new book wolf in white van @ barboza in september

-watched a panel of friends (including kelly mcclure, rachel brodsky, caroline shadood and others) speak about feminism in the music industry at cmj in october

-worked as a production assistant on a web series in july

-worked for gamer convention PAX at an event where we gave away free pancakes among people dressed up as SIMS characters

-saw my wonderful friend kayla get married in fort townsend state park; drank mead

I’ve capped off these posts the last few years with “celebrity encounters”, where I humblebrag (RIP harris) about meeting famous people then post my favorite photo, but all my “celebrity encounters” are really already detailed above…oh wait! I did go to Aberdeen to meet Kurt Cobain.

THE END! I love you.

TOMO NAKAYAMA – FOG ON THE LENS is climbing the Top 200 radio charts now!!

Tomo Nakayama is a name worth remembering. (Worth pronouncing too, it’s actually exactly how it looks if you sound it out carefully, don’t worry, you can do it!) He used to be the leader of a bigger band, Grand Hallway, in Seattle. They played really beautiful orchestral chamber pop, and this (his first solo album) has a lot in common with the older stuff, maybe a little more orchestral and a little less pop, still beautiful and deep and evocative and sad. Perfect stuff for this season. Also, the other person most involved in this record besides Tomo is Yuuki Matthews, a guy who has played with Sufjan and Pedro the Lion and also his main gig is as a member of The Shins! ALSO, Tomo recently released this video about this crazy thing he did on his official album release date in November: he played FOURTEEN FREE SHOWS IN ONE DAY!! Yes. That IS amazing. I went to his Seattle show last week, his triumphal return show after a tour of Japan, and bumped into David Bazan and Damien Jurado. Seattle knows what is up with this dude, and so does CMJ! He’s spent two weeks on the Top 200 so far, this last week reaching its peak so far at #123! YEAH!! It’s all up from here on this guy.

TOMO NAKAYAMA

FOG ON THE LENS

Porchlight Records

Tomo Nakayama is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter from Seattle, Washington. His music has been praised by NPR, The New York Times, and KEXP, and he has toured throughout the US and Japan and at fests such as SXSW, CMJ, Sasquatch, and Bumbershoot. Fog On The Lens is his first solo album, made after nearly a decade fronting beloved Seattle chamber-pop band Grand Hallway, and composing for and acting in Lynn Shelton‘s Sundance Grand Jury-nominated film “Touchy Feely“.

Fog On The Lens was written and recorded during a residency at Town Hall Seattle. Literally handed the keys to the historic building for three months, Tomo utilized the 92-year-old Roman-revival style hall as his own personal recording studio. Recording alone at odd hours of the night, Tomo used a single microphone plugged directly into his laptop to capture the natural acoustics of the various rooms of Town Hall. Emphasis was placed on first takes and keeping the performances as raw and unedited as possible. In essence and in spirit, Fog On The Lens is a bedroom album created in a cathedral-sized room.

To mix the record, Tomo enlisted the help of producer/multi-instrumentalist Yuuki Matthews (of The Shins and Teardrops). Yuuki displayed an immediate and intuitive understanding of Tomo’s vision, mixing onto analog 4-track cassette tape and overdubbing his own wildly imaginative array of analog synthesizers and homemade keyboard sounds which heighten the album’s evocative, dream-like atmosphere.

Fog On The Lens finds Tomo pursuing a rawer, more playfully spontaneous and intimate sound than the dense, fully orchestrated sound of Grand Hallway. It combines elements of the acoustic and electronic, analog and digital, lo-fi and hi-fi, the urban and the pastoral. The past and future collide in a colorful, hazy collage. It bears the influence of Tomo’s favorite musicians like Arthur Russell, Bjork, Paul Simon, Cass McCombs, The Velvet Underground, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, yet exists in a world entirely of its own. Fog On The Lens is a quietly confident step forward from a restless soul, unafraid to follow his muse, wherever it leads him.

Fog On The Lens sees a simultaneous release in the US on Porchlight Records and in Japan on & Records.

RIYL: Bon Iver, Paul Simon, Elliott Smith, Yo La Tengo, Kurt Vile, Damien Jurado, Jherek Bischoff

Start With: 2, 4, 6, 8     FCC CLEAN


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

http://tomomusic.bandcamp.com

http://tomonakayama.com

http://facebook.com/tomonakayamamusic

http://twitter.com/tomonakayama

 

SAMA DAMS – COMFORT IN DOUBT is charting at Top 200 Radio Now!!

Portland’s Sama Dams is the best. I met them earlier this year in Seattle when they opened a show my buddy Corey’s band Oh! Pears were playing, and man am I glad I did. Their music reminds me a lot of Dirty Projectors, or Xiu Xiu, or OK Computer-era Radiohead. Glitchy, experimental-y pop with vox heavily influenced by R&B. The band is named after the lead singer, Sam Adams, with the space moved over one letter to make it a band name because the band’s not just him, but now it’s pronounced to rhyme with “Alabama Clams”. Sama Dams. Try it. You’re gonna love it. Now it’s time to get this spinning!! A bunch of you are on board this train already and know how great this band is. Radio 1190 (aka KVCU, in Boulder) had a sweet session with them recently when they passed through on tour, which you can check out right here. (S/O to James!!); they also had a good time stopping in to Radio Boise and also doing a Daytrotter Session on the tour they just finished up! In fact, enough of you are already loving it that it made its debut on CMJ’s Top 200 last week, at #191! Woo!! That one will still be a big priority for me in early 2015, as well (since this week is the last CMJ charting week of 2014, aah!), so I’m glad to know it’s off to such a solid start already!!

SAMA DAMS

COMFORT IN DOUBT

Self-Released

Comfort in Doubt, the second full-length from Portland, OR avant-garde three-piece Sama Dams (pronunciation key: “Sam-uh-Dams”, or pronounced to rhyme with “Alabama Clams”), sings with the keen cry of innocence lost. With the first track “My Ears Are Ringing,” an impossibly catchy and sparse masterpiece of glitch R&B, the listener embarks on a journey through darkness akin to the trip audiences took with Radiohead’s OK Computer. Striking the fine balance between edgy experimentation and caramel sweet pop, this uncompromising trio drives into the desert with only an unerring musical compass to guide them.

The band is straightforward about the challenges surrounding their sophomore effort. “We were very busy between constant touring schedules and juggling personal lives, which resulted in a lull for writing new material,” says drummer Chris Hermsen. And yet, the time scarcity that is a stumbling block for many bands on their second album may have opened the door to creativity from an unforeseen source: Lisa Adams, organist, vocalist, and partner to frontman Sam Adams.

While Lisa had been collaborating musically with Adams since they moved to Portland in 2010, the new album marks her first foray into songwriting.  After recording and touring the band’s first album No Vengeance, she stepped away from a full-time career teaching music to devote more energy to the band. The shift was undoubtedly fruitful for the band—the cutting cynicism of her ingeniously hooky “Dirty Work” belies her inexperience, and the sweetly soaring melody of songs like “Maggie” provide a counterpoint to Sam’s angular style.

Whether introducing a song or selling tee shirts after the show, the band shows a good natured and Midwestern charm that rarely accompanies the kind of moody, boundary-pushing rock that Sama Dams makes. Hailing from Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa, the band has been at the forefront of a movement in Portland’s music scene away from twee chamber pop and toward something more expressive. What is striking in their music and in their performance is that nothing is added for effect; there is the sense of an exploratory process that is occurring before our eyes and around our ears. And nothing is more exciting than discovery.

 RIYL: Xiu Xiu, Radiohead, Dirty Projectors, St. Vincent, Nicholas Krgovich/No Kids

Start With: 1, 2, 6     FCC CLEAN EXCEPT FOR THE VERY STRICT: 1 (“Damned”), 2 (“Ass”)


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

https://www.facebook.com/samadamsmusic

http://twitter.com/sama_dams

http://samadams.bandcamp.com

http://sama-dams.com/

 

TIE THESE HANDS has a new single: “WEEKENDS”!

Remember Tie These Hands, from the album I sent you last summer (2013), or the digital single I worked earlier this spring (Feb 2014)? (if you’re at a radio station but weren’t around last summer, you probably actually still got a copy of the CD, I was able to send so many—maybe take a look around!)

They’re doing this thing now where instead of releasing a full album, they’re just putting out one single at a time, really spending a serious amount of time and care on each song and also putting out a video along with each one. That way there isn’t a year+ wait between albums so there’s no excuse to forget about them! So, there’s no full-length coming to follow this up, so don’t wait on that. And also it doesn’t exist in hard copy form, so don’t look for one (although if you’re DESPERATE for a hard copy and absolutely won’t accept a download, but you do play singles and would be fairly certain to play this one, let me know and we can probably arrange something for the band to help you out) – but the download comes in both mp3 and lossless WAV formats, and there’s also a second track included, an alternate acoustic version of the first single, “Trampoline”. Grab it now, watch the video, send it out to yr djs or add it to your digital rotations—I don’t expect you to chart it, because I know with a digital single that’s pretty unrealistic, but I DO want you to play it and let me know what you think, because it is great!!

TIE THESE HANDS

“WEEKENDS” Single

Self-Released

After spending five weeks on the CMJ Top 200 (and one at #14 Most Added) with their August 2013 album Come On, Lincoln, Nebraska’s Tie These Hands are back at it with the 11/4/14 release of “Weekends”. “Weekends” is being released as a single with a simultaneous video premiere. After recording and releasing albums traditionally since 2002, the band is heading in a new direction with their future releases: the next Tie These Hands album, which begins with February 2014 single “Trampoline” and continues with this month’s “Weekends”, will be recorded and released as individual new singles, complete with videos. After years of recording at the iconic Nebraska studios Presto and ARC, often with the help of engineer AJ Mogis, the band has embraced the DIY ethic. Full control of the creative process, from recording to release, allows Tie These Hands to get fresh, new music to fans much quicker than the traditional release model. “Weekends” can be streamed or purchased on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, and anywhere digital music is available. This downloadable track is packaged along with an acoustic version of the band’s earlier 2014 single, “Trampoline”.

**This is NOT a CMJ charting campaign, but digital singles like this will be coming in regular intervals for the foreseeable future: please feel free to download and spin as they’re released, in lieu of a new full-length Tie These Hands album!**

 

RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Weakerthans, Say Hi, Built To Spill, The Good Life     FCC CLEAN


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

http://tiethesehands.com/

http://tiethesehands.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TieTheseHands

http://youtu.be/sayUzQ5pM08 (video of track)

 
 

 

ANIMAL HOURS – DO OVER is taking over Top 200 Radio Now!!

I actually met San Francisco’s ANIMAL HOURS through Static People, but besides sharing a hometown, these two bands could not be more different. I’d describe this one as Americana-inflected dream pop, with songs so catchy you’ll be SURE you’ve heard them before and then you’ll never be able to forget them. Check out this video for one of my favorite tracks, “Yellow Roses”, to see what I mean. This album tied for #20 Most Added on 10/14, and it’s poised to take off from there!!

ANIMAL HOURS

DO OVER

Self-Released

Animal Hours makes dreamy indie-pop songs draped in lush harmonies, wrapped in a blanket of Americana. A collective of San Francisco Bay Area writers and artists, Animal Hours is the conception of singer-songwriter Orion Letizi with collaborators Heather Anderson (Blue Rabbit), Adrianne Serna and Paul Goldowitz.

Produced by Grammy-winning, multi-platinum producer Jason Carmer (Kimya Dawson, Third Eye Blind, Run DMC), Animal Hours’ debut album Do Over is a collection of nine songs about losing everything we were to find exactly what we need. It explores the American melancholy found in back seat ballads, hotel bars and Sunday mornings. The album also features guest performances by legendary pedal steel player Greg Leisz, Arion Salazar (bassist for Third Eye Blind), founding Camper Van Beethoven member Victor Krummenacher, Brooklyn piano virtuoso Dane Terry, singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet and noted San Francisco string and horn ensemble, the Magik*Magik Orchestra (best known for their work with John Vanderslice).

Songs by Animal Hours writers have been showcased in numerous film, television and commercial spots, including MTV’s Jackass, the ABC Family show Jane By Design, national campaigns for IKEA, Kellog’s and more.

Nicholas Schneider of influential San Francisco Bay Area blog The Bay Bridged calls Do Over “darkly enticing pop music with hints of folk and Americana skirting around the edges… [Music] you listen to with the lights off, just you and the contemplative melody, wholly embracing that sadly-sweet darkness and letting the music lead you through it.”

RIYL: Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Wilco, The Band

Start With: 2, 8, 1, 3     FCC CLEAN


Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

 

http://animalhours.com/

https://facebook.com/animalhoursmusic

http://twitter.com/animalhours

http://soundcloud.com/animalhours

http://youtube.com/user/animalhours

plus.google.com/+Animalhours

http://animalhours.tumblr.com/

 

BRENDA XU – FOR THE WINTER is Adding at Top 200 Radio Now!!!

My newest add for this week is BRENDA XU!! This gorgeous ambient-folk artist from Seattle came to me through my good friend (and Band Mom artist) Shenandoah Davis. Her music is delicate, sparse, and lovely, and reminds me (and a lot of you already as well, based on the feedback I’m hearing) of Daughter. Her last name is pronounced “shoo.” She’s taking a tour down the West Coast next month (dates listed below, to be expanded soon). Make sure you listen to this album ASAP, and then fit it onto your adds chart this week!!

BRENDA XU

FOR THE WINTER

Self-Released

The five years since Brenda Xu (pronounced “shoo”) released her debut full-length album, A Little Illusion, have been filled with considerable change, all of which is apparent in her new record For The Winter.  After receiving numerous accolades for the debut, including a nomination for “Best Acoustic Artist” in the San Diego Music Awards, Xu relocated to Seattle and took an indefinite hiatus from performing, focusing on navigating her way through a new city and finding her place in the Seattle music scene.

Slowly, the pieces fell into place: she became friends with Seattle-based producer Don Farwell and began forming a band to support her new songs. The years between Xu’s debut and For The Winter are immediately apparent. Not only has her ability as a lyricist grown far beyond her years, but sonically, the album is a noted departure from her past singer-songwriter career, and instead treads the delicate line between washed-out ambient tones and carefully crafted acoustic arrangements.

For The Winter will transport any listener through a range of seasons and emotions, while reminding us that for every season’s waxings and wanings, they all share one commonality: that they will eventually come again.  Summer will continue to be followed by autumn, and winter by spring.  As for Brenda Xu, she’s leaving an unusually long winter behind and turning the leaf into her second spring.

RIYL: Daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Cat Power, Aimee Mann, PJ Harvey, Vienna Teng, Bon Iver

Start With: 6, 7, 2, 3     FCC CLEAN


BRENDA XU TOUR DATES:

9/18 – Seattle, WA – Fremont Abbey (album release show)

10/4 – Portland, OR – The Waypost

10/5 – Cottage Grove, OR – Axe & Fiddle

10/7 – Sacramento, CA – The Torch Club

10/8 – Roseville, CA – Beatniks Books

10/9 – San Francisco, CA – 50 Mason Social House

10/10 – Atascadero, CA – Last Stage West

10/11 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Abbey

10/12 – Altadena, CA – Coffee Gallery Backstage

10/16 – San Diego, CA – Lestat’s

10/17 – Los Angeles, CA – Room 5

10/18 – Fullerton, CA – The Night Owl

10/19 – Paso Robles, CA – Sculpterra Winery, Paso Robles

10/20 – San Luis Obispo – Bon Temps Creole Cafe

10/22 – Santa Rosa, CA – Cellars of Sonoma

Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!

www.brendaxu.com

www.facebook.com/brendaxumusic

www.twitter.com/brendaxumusic

www.brendaxu.bandcamp.com

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