Posts Tagged ‘Shabazz Palaces’

2011 MusicfestNW: Day 2 (One Month Later)

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

(Thanks to a busy schedule, it’s been a month since MusicfestNW took over Portland and I still haven’t published daily recaps of my experience. My bad. Still, I think seeing 20 of the coolest bands going over three days is worth documenting, even belatedly. So below, you’ll find Day 2; find Day 1 here and be sure to look for Day 3 on Monday. And if you’d like to read my overview of the festival’s highlights that ran in print, click here.)

When you attend a large music festival like Portland’s multi-venue, multi-genre MusicfestNW, you have to know going in that such events cost money, and therefore they’ll be pursuing sponsors, and so you’re likely to be bombarded with corporate promotions and logos when all you’re trying to do is go see some rock shows. It’s just the way it is.

Still, it felt a little funny to me to be sitting and waiting for Ted Leo — one of the most staunchly independent punk-rock figures of the past two decades — inside a Dr. Martens store, surrounded by former- and faux-punk fashion staples and eating free barbecue-flavored popchips and drinking free berry-flavored vitaminwater, both grabbed from giant bins full of product meant to get me hooked on popchips and vitaminwater. (Did those two companies lose their shift key and space bar or what?)

When he took the stage in front of a packed house, Leo announced that he was playing the show because Dr. Martens revived its vegan line of boots, which at least made the whole thing make a little more sense. He then launched into a solo set that included pretty much all my favorite Ted Leo tunes: “Me and Mia” and “The Sword In the Stone” and “Under the Hedge” and “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” Here’s that last one:


Countdown to Shabazz Palaces Day / The Best Songs of 2011 So Far, Part 1

Monday, June 27th, 2011

As regular readers know, Frequency was fortunate enough to read about and fall in love, love, love with Shabazz Palaces a full two years ago, when it was still a mysterious, futuristic hip-hop project bubbling up from Seattle. So I’ve been anticipating for a while now the release of “Black Up,” the first full-length album from former Digable Planet Ishmael Butler’s amazing new project.

Anyway, release day is tomorrow, and y’all should all go cop the record from Subpop so you can get a sweet patch with your order. In the meantime, check out the final track on “Black Up,” below. It’s called “Swerve… The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)” and it is without question one of my favorite tracks of the first half of 2011. The whole album blazes, but the smeared, shimmering synth line here marks “Swerved” as a standout. I cannot get enough of this track right now.

You can stream “Black Up” in its entirety by clicking here. Oh, and Pitchfork just weighed in with an 8.8.

Subpop signs Shabazz Palaces

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Ten months before Pitchfork declared Shabazz Palaces “rising,” I wrote this post imploring you to do whatever it took to listen to Seattle’s mysterious, vanguard hip-hop act.

Problem was, that was tough to do, because the Shabazz Palaces EPs weren’t particularly easy to get, and the group had a minimal presence on the web, with no MySpace, and no streaming doodads on its website.

Today, though, legendary Seattle indie label Subpop announced that it has signed Shabazz Palaces to a record deal, with a full-length “expected and anticipated” in 2011. Excellent news.

Subpop also put together a stream of five Shabazz Palaces songs, making it much easier for you to hear how great this stuff is. Don’t navigate away from this page until you’ve clicked “play” below:

Shabazz Palaces by subpop

Shabazz Palaces, live but still lurking … and rapping about John Wall

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I talked a little bit in my year-end review of 2009’s best albums about the murk and mystery surrounding the amazing Seattle-based hip-hop act Shabazz Palaces (download a song here), but the shroud was lifted — at least partially — last weekend when the group made its live, public debut at Neumos, in its hometown.

I so wish I could’ve been there. Ugh. Fortunately, The Stranger’s Eric Grandy has a detailed review and photos here, and video here. And Andrew Matson, who blogs about music for The Seattle Times, got excellent video of a song called “Show Tonight” that doesn’t appear on either of the two Shabazz EPs.

The song is, of course, terrific — we expect nothing less from these folks at this point — and you should listen to it for that reason alone. But if there’s one thing I love as much as music, it’s University of Kentucky basketball, so my ears pricked up at the John Wall shout-out that goes down at 3:20:

“Ballin’ like John Wall, Wildcat freshman,” Palaceer Lazaro says against a typically sinister, militant beat. Wall is quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon, and I’m glad he’s on my squad, even if only for a short time.

Kudos to the folks in Seattle for covering this show so thoroughly. Sounds like it was stunning.

The best music of 2009 (so far)

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Well folks, it’s early July, and that means one thing to obsessive music geeks everywhere: Time to make a list!

The first six months of 2009 have come and gone, and they were a bit of a roller-coaster for me, music-wise. For the first few months of the year, I didn’t hear much that I loved and was convinced this would be the weakest year of new music in quite some time. (I’m talking non-local here. Locally, it’s been a stellar year for recorded music. Click here or grab a copy of today’s GO! Magazine for more on that.)

In the last few months, though, things have picked up considerably. Truth is, I think running this blog has helped a lot. It has forced me to pay closer attention to new music, and to check out more stuff than I think I normally would’ve. As a result, there are a lot of names on the list below that I wasn’t necessarily familiar with on New Year’s Day.

And that, really, is what I love about music. I’m constantly on the lookout for what’s new. I love the thrill of discovering a new band, even if they’re not necessarily making a new sound. I like looking forward, not back. (Never mind the fact that I’ve listened to Kathleen Edwards’ 2008 album “Asking For Flowers” more over the past six months than any of the albums listed below.)

With that in mind, let’s look back (haha) at the records that really grabbed me in the first half of 2009. I’m not going to clutter this post up with CD covers or YouTube videos. Just click on the artist names to find out more.

The Best of the Best
Crocodiles, “Crocodiles” (slacker shoegaze)
Japandroids, “Post-Nothing” (noisy garage rock … read more here)
School of Seven Bells, “Alpinisms” (icy electro-pop … read more here)
Shabazz Palaces, “CD1″/”CD2″ (brainy Seattle hip-hop … read more here)
Weinland, “Breaks In The Sun” (graceful folk-pop … read more here and watch video of their live show in Bend here)

The Best of the Rest
Brakes, “Touchdown” (pure, perfect pop-rock)
Dinosaur Jr, “Farm” (guitars on blast)
Truck North, “Truck Jewels” (Philly hip-hop … read more here)

More Good Stuff
Animal Collective, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (psychedelic Afro-electro-pop)
Arbouretum, “Song of the Pearl” (stoner blues)
Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, “When Sweet Sleep Returned” (psych-pop)
Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Eating Us” (analog weirdness … read more here)
Gui Boratto, “Take My Breath Away” (twinkling electronica)
Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch, “Dark Night of the Soul” (creepy pop … read more here)
The Decemberists, “The Hazards of Love” (indie-prog)
John Doe & The Sadies, “Country Club” (country)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart” (throwback twee)
Sonic Youth, “The Eternal” (noise-rock)
Telekinesis, “Telekinesis!” (indie-pop)
Various artists, “Dark Was the Night” (indie-rock Mt. Rushmore)
Wale, “Back to the Feature” (D.C. hip-hop)

OK. Hopefully I didn’t forget something. If I did, remind me in the comments. Think I should’ve included your favorite album? Tell me in the comments. Think one of those albums stinks? Let me know in the comments! I love nothing more than talking about music…

Wait, no … is *this* the best “album” of 2009?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Shabazz Palaces 1Shabazz Palaces 2

Dave Segal at The Stranger gets the credit for this one. After he wrote a couple of glowing pieces about the Seattle hip-hop project Shabazz Palaces, I pretty much had to check it out, even though it was tricky to find a sample. (It still is. You really have to know where to look.)

Boy, am I glad I did. These two CDs have a sound that is, to these ears, nearly perfect hip-hop. There’s plenty of hazy, Southern-style funk and bump and boom-bap, plus off-kilter touches of jazz, electro and African music to keep heads guessing. Beats clatter and clunk throughout, and the production is expertly vintage; play these records, turn ’em up loud, close your eyes and let a vision of spinning vinyl fill your brain.

The whole thing is intentionally mysterious: The CDs have no titles. Shabazz Palaces has no MySpace, no bio on its Web site, no marketing campaign. Word is getting out about who’s behind this music, so if you do a little Googling, you can figure it out, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise here. All I know is that, at a combined 45 minutes running time, I’m counting these two CDs as one release — one release that’s among the best of the year so far.

Oh, and make sure you get back over here on Friday for an overview of my favorite albums of the first half of the year. I’ll also have a column in GO! Magazine recapping what a great year 2009 has been so far for local music.