Archive for May, 2011

The one photo I took over the weekend …

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I posted a bunch of good photos of Friday’s Death Cab/Bright Eyes/Jenny & Johnny show right here and I’ll post a bunch of good photos from last night’s Decemberists/Rodrigo y Gabriela/Dan Mangan show tomorrow.

But for today, let’s celebrate Memorial Day with the one photo I took all weekend with my phone.

Three questions:

1) Did anyone else see this kid?

2) If so, were you also kinda freaked out by his mask?

It’s unsettling, right?

3) Is that an ear or a backward “C”? If it’s a “C” is he the backward captain of his hockey team?

He was awesome, though. All dancing around and posing for dudes who took his picture even though they were kinda freaked out by his mask.

Plus I bet his face was warmer than mine.

Stream 20 of The Decemberists’ best songs

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

I did one of these for Death Cab for Cutie, so it seems only fair to do one for this weekend’s other Les Schwab Amphitheater headliner, The Decemberists, who play tonight.

Whether you’re unfamiliar with the band’s work, or you’re skeptical that these Portlandian folkies actually have some great songs, or you dig ‘em and need something to get pumped up for tonight’s show, or you simply want some music going while you putter around on a Sunday, this YouTube playlist should do the trick. It’s 20 of The Decemberists’ best songs in chronological(ish) order (I put “The Tain” at the end because it’s, y’know, 20 minutes long), stretching from 2001′s “5 Songs” EP to “The King is Dead,” which came out four months ago. Just press play and let the internet do the work.

[Photos] Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, Jenny & Johnny at Les Schwab Amphitheater

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Solid show last night at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend as Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes and Jenny & Johnny kicked off the venue’s summer concert season. As is always the case on Memorial Day weekend ’round here, however, the start of the summer concert season did not mean the start of summer. It was freezing out there, folks.

Anyway, I’ll write lots more about the show in my Feedback column in next Friday’s GO! Magazine. Till then, I urge you to scroll down and check out these awesome photos of all three bands and the crowd taken by The Bulletin’s Rob Kerr. They really give you a sense of what it was like being there, I think.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

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This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie kicks off the summer concert season at Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight. I spoke with drummer Jason McGerr about the band’s new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday:

Several factors influenced the sound of “Codes,” McGerr said. The band took longer to make it, and, for the first time, brought in an outsider (Alan Moulder) to mix it rather than having Walla do it.

And, the members of Death Cab went through significant personal change after “Narrow Stairs.” Gibbard and Harmer got married. McGerr is now a father.

“Our approach as players and Ben as a (songwriter), it has to be different,” McGerr said. “We’re just at a different time in our lives. There wasn’t much that was the same other than the individuals making the music.”

I hope you’ll read the whole thing by clicking here. Better yet, pick up a copy of GO! Magazine to check out a nifty graph of Death Cab’s history, record sales and big moments over the years.

On Sunday, Portland’s The Decemberists close out Memorial Day weekend at Les Schwab Amphitheater. Bassist Nate Query was nice enough to give me a call to chat about the success and sound of their new record, “The King is Dead.”

After nearly a decade making catchy, highly literate, history-obsessed music , “The King is Dead” is a return to the band’s rustic, American roots, a shift even more striking in the context of The Decemberists’ previous album “The Hazards of Love,” an epic, 17-track rock opera that mines British folk and prog-rock influences.

Query said “Hazards” is the concept of a narrative song-cycle album “taken … to its extreme,” and when it was time to think about a follow-up, that side of the band was tapped out.

“It felt like we didn’t have any of that left in us and it was time to make a record like ‘The King is Dead,’” he said. “(The folksy) stuff was in us the whole time, it’s just that we didn’t put any of it on the last record, so it was all just sitting there waiting to be (released).”

Click here to read the whole thing. And we’ve got a cool graph of The Decemberists’ sales and milestones, too!

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: A great band called Or, the Whale plays at McMenamins next week, plus an all-day concert and party at Maragas Winery, the Ron Steen Band brings jazz to The Oxford Hotel, The Dead Ringers do their tie-dyed tribute thing at the Tower Theatre and Silver Moon hosts The Staxx Brothers and Empty Space Orchestra on Saturday, and Yamn on Thursday. Plus, there’s a Last Band Standing update.

Have fun this weekend! Stay warm…

Spend Friday learning (or remembering) why Death Cab for Cutie rules

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Here’s the thing: Lots of people like to turn up their nose at Death Cab for Cutie, and I get that. They make lovey dovey sappy emo-pop music that appears in “Twilight” films and on VH1. Teen girls love this band, not you. And that name … ugh. It’s not cool to like Death Cab for Cutie. Saying that you’re more pumped to see Bright Eyes at Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight earns you more cred.

I get all that.

The problem with that stance is that Death Cab is by far the best band on tonight’s bill, and one of the best bands of the past 15 years. I will acknowledge that they have not always been the best live band (I saw pretty mediocre DCfC shows in 2001, 2003 and 2004). And of course, their past three albums aren’t quite up to the bar set by their first four. But those first four set a very high bar. Heck, the first two are two of the best indie-rock records ever made.

What I’m saying is Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie have churned out an abundance of great songs since 1997, and their hits far outweigh their misses. So if you wanna go into tonight’s show ready to hate these dudes, have at it. That’s your right. But if you wanna go into tonight’s show with an open mind and an ear that appreciates an unforgettable melody, I’m here to help.

Below, I’ve compiled 20 of the band’s best tunes in chronological(ish) order, ranging from their pre-”Something About Airplanes” 7″ records to the new single from their new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday. There are rocking songs and pretty songs, fast songs and slow songs, angry songs and somber songs, pop songs and shoegazers. It’s a pretty good cross-section of Death Cab’s career so far.

So, it’s Friday and you’re probably sitting at your desk jonesing for the weekend. Maybe you’re going to the show tonight. Maybe you’re on the fence. No matter your situation, click below and let the YouTubes stream. If you can resist this playlist, you must hate great music.

Central Oregon’s Summer Music Preview

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

I think we can all agree that Memorial Day weekend shows at Les Schwab Amphitheater serve as a sort of unofficial kickoff to the summer concert season, and with the holiday right around the corner, I thought we should take a look at what’s coming our way between now and the end of September.

Below, you’ll find as much info as I could dig up about live music happening this summer in Central Oregon. There’s the Schwab’s shows (both ticketed and the free ones on Sundays), concert series at the Athletic Club of Bend and Black Butte Ranch, and everything currently on the calendars at the Midtown/Domino complex, Silver Moon and McMenamins. Oh, and some other random stuff that doesn’t neatly fit into any one category.

Plus, there’s a long list of upcoming festivals, including Sisters Folk Festival, Bend Roots Revival, Bend Summer Festival, The Bite of Bend, 4 Peaks Music Festival, High & Dry Bluegrass Festival and more.

I know there are a few things missing from this list. Neither the Deschutes County Fair’s music lineup nor the Munch & Music lineup were ready for publication today. But for the most part, this should be a pretty comprehensive listing of your opportunities to catch live music this summer. If you know of something I’ve missed, feel free to shoot me an email and let me know.

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stream the new Death Cab for Cutie album before their show Friday

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Seattle pop-rock band Death Cab for Cutie will kick off Les Schwab Amphitheater’s summer concert season Friday night, and I’ll have lots more on the band both here on Frequency and in The Bulletin between now and then. In the meantime, NPR has DCfC’s new album, “Codes and Keys,” streaming in its entirety. (Note: I’ve been listening to it for a week or so, and I have to say I’m really digging it. It’s not perfect, but it’s another solid effort from Ben Gibbard and the fellas.)

With 100 hours until the show starts, you should have just enough time to get to know these tunes pretty well for sing-along purposes. Happy Monday!

If the world ends today …

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

I wanna be on the record with my favorite albums of 2011!

And if it doesn’t, well, then these are my favorite albums of 2011 so far.

1. Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
A stunning sophomore effort by the Seattle-based masters of rustic harmonies that is, at once, among both the prettiest and most ambitious albums of the year. Add Robin Pecknold’s informal three-song solo EP (see below), and you’ve got a fast-growing case for him as arguably the best young songwriter going.

2. Adele, “21″
A powerhouse pop record by a woman blessed with incredible talent and excellent taste. It’s not often that the best music is also the most popular music, but that’s the case here.

3. Yuck, “Yuck”
Young, frail, floppy-haired and English, this quartet has all the charisma of a wet mop in a dark closet. But put instruments in their hands and distortion pedals at their feet, and they’re a fuzzy pop-rock Frankenstein of a band made up of the best bits of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub, Sonic Youth, Built to Spill and the Pixies.

4. The Decemberists, “The King Is Dead”
After the bloated, underwhelming excess of “The Hazards of Love,” Portland’s brainiest band went back to their roots, strumming out 10 solid tracks of modest, jangling Americana. It’s not as challenging as Colin Meloy’s most literate rock opuses, perhaps, but sometimes being endlessly listenable is enough.

5. The Psychic Paramount, “II”
Noisy, frenzied psych-rock freakouts that’ll leave you frazzled, paranoid and anxious. An acquaintance said “II” is “kinda like getting kicked around by a hit squad with the helicopter hovering ten feet above.” Yes, please!

6. Telekinesis, “12 Desperate Straight Lines”
Dude tosses out power-pop gems like it’s his job. Which it is. And he’s better at his job than just about anyone.

7. Moon Duo, “Mazes”
More repeato-drone from these space travelers, this time with a touch more psych-damaged sunshine melody mixed in.

8. Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”
One of the best BIG rock bands returns with more arena-ready hooks for the masses. Sweaty, muscular, fist-pumpin’ shout-alongs, etc.

9. Frank Ocean, “nostalgia, Ultra.”
Say, have you heard of Odd Future? Tyler, the Creator? Yeah? This dude knows those dudes, and his mixtape’s better than anything they’ve done this year.

10. (tie) White Fence, “Is Growing Faith” … Explosions in the Sky, “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care” … Jonny, “Jonny” … Grails, “Deep Politics” … Hauschka, “Salon des Amateurs” … Mogwai, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” … Big K.R.I.T., “Return of 4Eva” mixtape … Thee Oh Sees, “Castlemania” … Tim Hecker, “Ravedeath, 1972″ … Matthew Robert Cooper, “Some Days Are Better Than Others” soundtrack … The Dodos, “No Color” … AgesandAges, “Alright You Restless” … Robin Pecknold, “Three Songs” … Xray Eyeballs, “Not Nothing” … Apex Manor, “The Year of Magical Drinking” … Darlings, “Warma” … Beastie Boys, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two” … The Very Best, “Super Mom” mixtape …

OK, I cheated. But at least I got everything in “print” so that when whoever, whenever opens up Earth’s vast online time capsule and makes a beeline for this blog to see what I was into in early 2011, they won’t be disappointed. And they’ll learn that the Beastie Boys actually made a good record. Talk about a sign of the apocalypse!

[Video] Empty Space Orchestra CD-release show at Century Center

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Eventually, I’ll post some thoughts on Empty Space Orchestra‘s CD-release show last night at the Century Center in Bend, as well as some nice Andy Tullis photos. For now, moving pictures will have to do.

First up, “Brainjar” … which I sort of unwittingly joined halfway through. Hey, it was late.

And here, the band does “Tennessee Red” and then goes right into a rippin’ version of “It’s Hard to Play Basketball in the Dark.” Check the light show!

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Eugene’s sunny pop/rock/reggae band Rootdown returns to Bend this weekend to celebrate the release of its new album “Tidal Wave.” I spoke with frontman Paul Wright about Rootdown’s upbeat music and upbeat message.

“Our banner is one of hope and positive momentum,” Wright said. “We want to be about encouraging people and about bringing hope, and sometimes living in Oregon — at least on our side over here — it can be pretty depressing six or seven months out of the year.

“When it’s sunny here, man, we take notice,” he continued. “We kinda bring that same feeling that I get when it’s springtime and summer starts to hit here. I think we bring that with our show and our music.”

I hope you’ll read the whole thing by clicking here.

Feedback this week focuses on the sudden springtime surge of locally made albums we’re experiencing, and I look ahead at what other local recordings are underway and might be released by the end of the year. Wondering what’s up with Moon Mountain Ramblers, Eric Tollefson, Mosley Wotta, Erin Cole-Baker, Tuck and Roll and a bunch more? Click here to find out.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section, we’ve got the wildly eclectic Vagabond Opera, a showcase of local songwriters Tollefson, Sara Jackson-Holman and Kylan Johnson at McMenamins, the return of the Portland Cello Project, the shred-tastic guitar skills of Jennifer Batten, and some ’90s-influenced indie rock from Slow Trucks, plus a Last Band Standing update.