Genre Archives: Alternative/Indie Rock

Willy Porter

Please note that Majestic Theatre, High Noon Saloon, Orpheum Theater, and The Sylvee are requiring all fans to provide  proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours OR full vaccination for entry to all events at the venue moving forward. Additional policies may apply on a show-by-show basis. More details available here.

 

Some folks are lucky to find what they love to do at an early age and settle in for the long haul working to expand and improve their work over the arc of a lifetime.  Willy Porter is one of those folks.  He has followed his own path to explore the sacred language that music truly is.  30 years after his solo recording debut, he continues to reach further into his guitar & pen while stretching the form of what his own music can be.  He’s currently working on his 13th album for release in early 2022.

 

Snail Mail

At the artist’s request, please note this show is requiring that all fans must be fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after final dose) against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination prior to entry. Proof must be either the original vaccination card or a printed copy of the vaccination record. Children under 12 will not be admitted into this event. Please note that requirements and venue protocols, such as testing and vaccination, are subject to change, so be sure to check back closer to your event date for the latest information.

More details available here.

Sinkane

For fans of: Woods, William Onyebor, Kevin Morby

Sinkane music — every note of it — comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album Life & Livin’ It. This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.By the time they finished touring for their acclaimed Mean Love album in late 2015, Ahmed Gallab and the band had spread the gospel of Sinkane to the world, playing 166 shows in 20 countries. During the same period, he had also led The Atomic Bomb Band — the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David ByrneDamon Albarn, members of Hot Chip,LCD SoundsystemThe RaptureJamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sandersand Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “Those 14 months really changed my life,” Ahmed says. “Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band.”

As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for Life & Livin’ It, he had a clear goal; to conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. “I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic‘s America Eats Its Young, and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it.”

Ahmed soon brought the band in to help with the material, testing the songs at a four-show residency of sold-out shows at Union Pool in Brooklyn where the audience’s reception fed the creative process. They toured throughout the summer before setting up shop at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. Once again produced by Ahmed with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, the album draws from the best elements of Sinkane’s previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane’s live show is a central feeling of the recordings. Each one of the four members of Sinkane — bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam and Ahmed — sing and contribute additional parts on the album, with Trammell contributing lyrics to “Theme from Life & Livin’ It,” and Lam helping with arrangements. Jas Walton and Jordan MacLean of Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.

In making a record that feels like this, Ahmed’s primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. The songs “U’Huh” and “Theme from Life & Livin’ It” conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, “I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more.”

“Favorite Song” came about from Ahmed’s experiences DJ’ing in New York. “As a DJ you’re always paying attention to the collective energy in the club. When you play a song that everyone knows, everybody is connected, lost in the music.” That song, along with “U’Huh,” has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed’s native tongue. “Kulu shi tamaam!” means “everything is great!” while “ya zol ya zain!” is a Sudanese term of endearment meaning “my beautiful friend.” “It’s really easy to understand the tone of those words,” Ahmed adds. “They just feel good, you don’t have to know what they mean. It’s kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben — you don’t have to know Portuguese to feel what they’re saying.”

True to its name, Life & Livin’ It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He’s no longer searching for his home — he has created a home for himself. There’s a party there, and Life & Livin’ It is playing on the stereo. You are invited.

 

 

 

 

Cut Copy

For fans of Hot Chip, Holy Ghost!, Twin Shadow, Neon Indian 

It’s hard to believe that this was once a bedroom recording project by frontman Dan Whitford. Since then Cut/Copy has evolved into a full-fledged band with guitarist Tim Hoey, drummer Mitchell Scott, and bass player Ben Browning. With each member being a multi-instrumentalist, in Cut/Copy albums as well as in their electric live shows each member tends to participate in more than just their assigned station.

In the past decade, Cut/Copy has truly become an international act. Touring across the world, headlining massive sold-out shows, and slated on prime slots of prestigious festivals worldwide like Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, and Lollapalooza in the US; Europe’s Pitchfork Paris; Japan’s Summer Sonic; Australia’s Big Day Out. They’ve released four critically praised albums and accumulated a few hundred (and counting) tour dates in the process, the majority of which to sold out audiences.

Cut/Copy’s high-energy live show is matched only by the beautiful complexity of their songs. Layers that have parts with melody, sections with dissonance, nods to many genres like both disco and post-punk, all cleverly packaged into a present of a pop song. There is a Cut/Copy song for everyone. Their songs tend to be ageless – suitable for both teenage angst and cocktail parties.

As a result, each of their four records have reached critical acclaim. Much of Cut/Copy’s catalog has been nominated for awards in the US and Australia including the GRAMMYs®, J Awards, and ARIA. Zonoscope, their third full-length release won 2 ARIA Awards in 2011. Cut/Copy’s diversity has also landed their songs into television with Nip/Tuck, gaming with FIFA ‘09, even mobile devices like Blackberry used a Cut/Copy song for their theme music and a spot in Levi’s® #LiveinLevis campaign.

DJing and mixes have also been a big part of Cut/Copy’s identity. From their famed Fabric mix, Fabriclive.29, to their release 2014 Melbourne dance compilation Oceans Apart, Cut/Copy mixes are highly anticipated, often duplicated, and profoundly inimitable. Whitford and Hoey also perform as Cut/Copy DJs embarking on their first DJ tour in the summer of 2015. To the delight of fans you’ll still hear the Cut/Copy sound within the songs they include in their DJ sets, but moreover for music lovers – they’re known to introduce an unlikely song or remind of a much-loved track that was accidentally forgotten.

Cut/Copy is full of surprises. With each album they’ve grown stronger as songwriters, performers, experimenters, and curators. As those who have been lucky enough to witness can attest, it has been an amazing evolution for this Melbourne band and the journey is far from over.

DISCOGRAPHY
2001: I Thought of Numbers (EP)
2004: Bright Like Neon Love
2008: In Ghost Colours
2011: Zonoscope
2013: Free Your Mind

 

METZ

Since releasing their self-titled debut record in 2012, which The New Yorker called, “One of the year’s best albums…a punishing, noisy, exhilarating thing,” the Toronto-based 3-piece METZ have garnered international acclaim as one of the most electrifying and forceful live acts, touring widely and extensively, playing hundreds of shows each year around the world.

Now, Alex Edkins (guitar, vocals), along with Hayden Menzies (drums), and Chris Slorach (bass) are set to unleash their highly-anticipated third full-length album, Strange Peace, an emphatic but artful hammer swing to the status quo.

“The best punk isn’t an assault as much as it’s a challenge — to what’s normal, to what’s comfortable, or simply to what’s expected. Teetering on the edge of perpetual implosion,” NPR wrote in their glowing review of METZ’s 2015 second album, II.

Strange Peace was recorded in Chicago, live off the floor to tape with Steve Albini. The result is a distinct artistic maturation into new and alarming territory, frantically pushing past where the band has gone before, while capturing the notorious intensity of their live show.

“Recording in Chicago was a blast. We tracked fourteen songs in four days. It was the first time we felt confident enough to just play live and roll tape,” Edkins said of the recording process. “Strange Peace is much more diverse and varied than anything we’ve done before, which was exhilarating, but terrifying, too. We took the tapes home to Toronto feeling like we’d made the record we wanted to make.”

The trio continued to assemble the album (including home recordings, additional instrumentation) back in their hometown, adding the finishing touches with longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Graham Walsh.

From the ferocious opening track, “Mess of Wires,” we’re met by the sheer force and fierce musicianship we’ve come to expect from METZ. With the unhinged, post-punk fragments of “Drained Lake,” and the whirling, acerbic pop features of “Cellophane,” the band’s hectic progression becomes clear. But Strange Peace isn’t merely a collection of eleven uninhibited and urgent songs. It’s also a kind of sonic venting, a truculent social commentary that bludgeons and provokes, excites and unsettles.

“The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty,” Edkins explains. “They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

With all the pleasurable tension and anxiety of a fever dream, Strange Peace is equal parts challenging and accessible. It is this implausible balancing act, moving from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, that only a band of METZ’s power and capacity can maintain: discordant and melodic, powerful and controlled, meticulous and instinctive, subtle and complex, precise and reckless, wholehearted and merciless, brutal and optimistic, terrifying and fun.

“Their whiplash of distortion is made with precision, a contained chaos. But you would never talk about them like that. Because METZ are not something you study or analyze,” wrote Liisa Ladouceur in Exclaim! “They are something you feel: a transfer of energy, pure and simple.”

In other words: to feel something, fiercely and intensely, but together, not alone.

The Stone Foxes

For fans of Black Pistol Fire, Buffalo Killers, The Blackwater Fever

The Stone Foxes are San Francisco’s rock band.  They bear the torch of their predecessors with the knowledge that rock ‘n roll can move a new generation. They’ve played in front of thousands at festivals like Outside Lands and Voodoo Fest, they’ve headlined the legendary Fillmore Theater in their hometown and they have supported acts like The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and ZZ Top.  Now, with the release of their fourth album, Twelve Spells, they have solidified a place in their City’s rich rock ‘n roll history.

Founded by brothers Shannon(vocals/drums/harp) and Spence Koehler(guitar/vocals), who came from the Sierra Nevada foothills near Tollhouse CA, The Stone Foxes started back in the Koehler’s SF State days in the Sunset District of San Francisco. Two weeks before they went on tour in 2011, they decided they needed a keyboard player and they added Elliott Peltzman from Fairfax CA to play for a couple months…but he never left. They needed another drummer who could also play bass and guitar for tour in 2013, so Shannon called his high school friend Brian “The Buffalo” Bakalian…he never left either.  Their old friend Vince Dewald came in to jam one day later on that year, and after the Indiana kid started singing, playing his lefty guitar, and his brother’s right handed bass upside down, it was a done deal.  Finally in 2014, after convincing(basically begging) Vince’s old bandmate to move back from his home town of Boston, Ben Andrews came out to play guitar and violin.  After their first practice with Ben, the circle was finally complete and they had beers at the Lone Star tavern on Harrison Street to celebrate their new found brotherhood.

The Stone Foxes are an experience to dive into, to get wild with, to sweat with.  “The Stone Foxes have an energetic style that’s rooted in swampy, foot-stomping rock…ambitious arrangements with diverse moods ranging from acoustic twang to thunderous electric-guitar riffs.”
– NPR/WXPN “WORLD CAFE”

Invoking the audience with their commanding stage presence, even jumping down into the crowd if the mood strikes. Their fans know they are in for something action packed and they light a fire in the band, just as the band spreads fire back into them. Guitarists digging in, lead vocals changing between two unique voices with impassioned nuance, and keyboard and organ sounds that fill the space with smoke and burning embers. There are crunchy drum tones, wailing harmonica draws and violin cries that can silence even the most raucous of rooms. But this is not a sit-down-and-watch kind of event. Like Elvis once said about rock n roll, “If you feel it, you can’t help but move to it.” The Stone Foxes’ live show brandishes this kind of dynamic passion on stage.  It’s impossible not to feel it.

With the release of Twelve Spells, the band has chronicled their new beginning.

“Garage rock gold…the sound of a band hitting their stride.”

– PANDORA

“Perfect back-to-basics rock”

– ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

The sounds they are creating are new with tinges of western darkness, punk, surf, and americana, but are strongly tied together by their everlasting rock ‘n roll core.  Lyrics about gentrification, income inequality, romance, and heart surgeries pour out of their stream of consciousness.  It’s a fresh rock ‘n roll album that chronicles the years of their unification, taking on the issues of their lives and our times.

“Driving this Weekend?  Listen to Twelve Spells by The Stone Foxes…Time will fucking fly.”
– DENIS LEARY

Pickwick

For fans of Delta Spirit, The Cave Singers, White Denim, The Donkeys, The Dig 

Listen to LoveJoys, the sophomore release from Seattle, WA’s Pickwick, and you’ll hear a band that has pushed aside external pressures and expectations, overcome internal demons, and plugged directly into their own creative center. Slinky, sinewy, and articulate, the record pulses with a palpable confidence. Hypnotically intricate, just-right sonic ornamentation shimmers around a thick, undulating bed of propulsive rhythm. Submit willfully, give yourself over to Pickwick’s practiced ministrations, and you’ll find yourself exhausted and deeply satisfied, slick with a sheen of glitter and sweat.

Following the breakout success of 2013’s self-released Can’t Talk Medicine (which WXPN lauded for its “wonderfully engaging lo-fi rock and soul”) the band found themselves on national tours with Neko Case and Black Joe Lewis, performing on the main stage of the Sasquatch Music Festival, headlining the Capitol Hill Block Party, and performing alongside with the Seattle Symphony. They holed up to begin work on what was to be the follow up release, and things got complicated.

As the band was forty songs into writing a pop R&B record, they became deeply unsatisfied with the direction the music was taking. Tensions boiled over, and they lost a member in 2016. Walking away from a mountain of music, the group was able to tap into the joy of writing for themselves. “We rediscovered what we do best by not overthinking what we make, and learned to love the process of creating again” relates vocalist Galen Disston. “LoveJoys is a specific type of euphoria,” says drummer Alex Westcoat “a liberating feeling of inspiration that can only be achieved through the sacrifice of one’s own ambition. It is the shedding of expectations; an uninhibited escape into a world of child-like infatuation and wonder.”

After an intense three month writing session the band – Disston, Westcoat, guitarist Michael Parker, bassist Garrett Parker, and keyboardist Cassady Lillstrom – turned to producer Erik Blood (Shabazz Palaces, Tacocat and Moondoggies) for guidance in putting the music to tape. “We are huge fans of his, and a mutual friend made the introduction” says Disston. “Erik requested we go out to drinks together every couple weeks for a four month period; he wanted to get to know us before we got too deep into working together. The first time he came to a practice I kept my back to him the whole time because I was intimidated, and after we’d played him all our demos, he picked them apart and pushed us into a new and better sound.”

LoveJoys was recorded at “Chemical X” and “Black Space” (February – May 2016), Blood’s studios in the basement of the old Rainier Brewery building in Seattle. It features performances from: Tendai Maraire (Shabazz Palaces), Sean T. Lane, Marquetta Miller (Breaks and Swells), Taryn Rene Dorsey, and the Black Space’s in-house horns and strings – Alina To (Passenger String Quartet) and Jeremy Shaskus (Breaks and Swells).

Written in the midst of personal and political turmoil, lyrically and sonically LoveJoys became an escape somehow, a place for the band to purge all their deepest concerns while somehow also being relieved of them. LoveJoys embodies the relationship between inspired creativity and the use of escapism as a way of getting there. Like little fossilized explorations of his own greatest fears and anxieties, Disston’s lyrics bury themselves into the band’s bright new sonic landscape, both contradicting their collective fantasy and reminding them of why they chose to construct it in the first place. “This record is an escape toward love and joy in the face of uncertainty” says Westcoat. It’s a sonic sanctuary built from unrestrained creativity, and a potent tonic; undiluted joyful creativity, guaranteed to transport the listener to a place of ecstatic release.

 

JOSEPH

For fans of First Aid Kit, Johnnysim, The Lumineers, and Judah & the Lion

There is nothing like the sound of siblings singing together. Whether it’s the Beach Boys or the Everly Brothers—or, more recently, First Aid Kit—absorbing the same breathing rhythms and speech patterns adds an element to vocal harmonies that can be pure magic. With the release of I’m Alone, No You’re Not, the mesmerizing, hypnotic sound of the trio known as Joseph—made up of sisters Allison, Meegan, and Natalie Closner—joins this elite company.

“It’s just second nature, like a fifth limb that’s already on you,” says first-born Natalie. “There’s an ability to anticipate what’s going to happen and blend with it. When Meegan and Allison sing, they know exactly what I’m going to do and when.”

But the Closners didn’t actually start singing together when they were growing up in Oregon, the children of artistic parents (their dad was a jazz singer and drummer, their mom a theater teacher). Natalie was the performer—“the older sister who stood on the edge of the fireplace and told everyone, ‘Watch me!,’“ she says. Twins Meegan and Allison stayed out of her lane, joining in for their mother’s musical theater productions but otherwise avoiding the spotlight.

When Natalie was in college, she began pursuing music more seriously. The summer before her senior year, she went to Nashville to check out the scene and work on her guitar playing and songwriting. She had recorded an EP and done a few rounds of touring when a friend sat her down one day.

“It was kind of dramatic,” she says, “He took me aside and said, ‘I don’t think you really believe in this.’ It stopped me in my tracks.” She thought deeply about the music she was making and had a curious epiphany; she decided to ask her sisters if they would consider singing with her.

Initially, they didn’t really get it. “We thought she was asking us to be background singers, so we didn’t take it that seriously,” says Allison. “It was more commitment than I was expecting—I even tried to leave at one point, but after a while, I was convinced.”

A transformation occurred when the Closners were in the process of recording their first album, Native Dreamer Kin. At the time, they were calling themselves Dearborn, but their producer felt that the name didn’t fit the strength of the music. They went to visit their grandfather Jo, in the eastern Oregon town of Joseph. Allison made a playlist for the trip and called it “Joseph,” which is what influenced the band’s name.

“Once she said it, it just hit us all—that’s what this is and who we are, these are the sounds of the land that we’ve lived on,” says Natalie.
With this new sense of themselves, Meegan and Allison began taking a more active role in the group’s songwriting. Meegan notes that while the process was a “totally new journey” for her, it felt similar to the candor and vulnerability of her long-time journaling—just “pulling out the gold and arranging that into neater lines.”

She and Natalie both point to the song “Honest” as a keystone for the development of I’m Alone, No You’re Not. “We were trying really hard to write a song, but nothing was coming,” recalls Natalie. “One night, Meegan was working on some lyrics and getting frustrated, so she wrote in the margin of the page, ‘I can’t say a true thing. It’s hard to be that honest.’ Immediately after that, her most honest sentence spilled out—‘There’s always two thoughts, one after the other: I’m alone. No, you’re not.’ And she thought, ‘Oh, there’s the song.’ “

Meanwhile, the group was cultivating a devoted fan base in the most traditional ways possible: touring the Western states playing living room shows, backyard parties, and secret house party gigs; reaching an audience directly through such platforms as Noisetrade; selling their self-released CD and building a loyal following step by step. By the time they were approached by ATO Records, Joseph had already built a strong community of fans on its own.

As they moved toward making their second record, the project took an additional turn when the Closners decided to work with some other songwriters in Los Angeles. “We were afraid of it at first because the songs were more pop than we were used to writing,” says Meegan, “but as we internalized them, they started becoming super-important to us.”

They point to “More Alive Than Dead,” co-written with Ethan Gruska, as an example of these contributions. “That song describes an experience with a partner where you have hard things in your combined past,” says Natalie. “You’re haunted by them until you realize that those things are dead, and as long as you dwell on them, you’re missing the real live person in front of you.”

She adds, though, that Gruska was critical in clarifying and sharpening the nuanced emotion of the lyric. “When Ethan sent us back the demo, I lost it, He was able to see the heart of the song and bring it out, cut to the core of what I was trying to say.”

Finally, the women of Joseph recorded the album with acclaimed producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis, First Aid Kit) at his studio in Omaha. He was able to open up their expansive, evocative vocal sound with powerful and striking arrangements, adding depth while highlighting their haunting intensity.

“This was our first time doing a recording like this,” says Natalie, “and we learned so much about creativity. Mike is a genius, and he’s just a total maniac as a musician, so he took these bare bones songs and brought them to life with lush, gorgeous textures and sounds.”

The initial reaction to the music on I’m Alone, No You’re Not has been remarkable. Joseph was selected as a #SpotifySpotlight artist, and booked for festivals including Bonnaroo, Pickathon, and Sasquatch even prior to the release of the single “White Flag,” a song inspired by an article predicting a massive earthquake for the Pacific Northwest.

“Reading that created a heaviness that was making us jumpy, scared, and miserable,” says Natalie. “It became clear we had two options: be scared and cowering, backing away from the world into paralysis, or keep moving and live. Defy fear. Wear peace. Find better ways to love the people in our lives instead of huddling together like frightened sheep thinking about earthquakes.”

Most rewarding for the Closner sisters has been feeling the audience response to the new songs, as they tour supporting such artists as James Bay and Amos Lee. “This is really when you learn what’s special about a song, or if it’s special,” says Natalie. “It’s this crazy firecracker thing that happens—‘Am I feeling something? Is anyone? What is this song, what does it do, which parts make the most sense?’

“It really is about connection with people, and we’re so grateful we’ve gotten the chance to do that. This has been a totally wild journey, and we’re constantly blown away with possibility of what could be.”

Deer Tick

For fans of: Langhorne Slim, Delta Spirit, Dawes, A.A. Bondy 

Deer Tick is going on tour this fall

The name of the tour is Twice is Nice.

The tour is to support the new records

Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Vol. 2.

At each show, they will play two sets; an “acoustic” set

And an electric set. There will be an intermission and

A comedian will open the shows.

Deer Tick will play music from all their albums.

Buy tickets to see Deer Tick on tour.

 

Part of the Miller High Life Concert Series

Welcomed by Isthmus

 

 

 

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