Episode 103: Britpop

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Thanks to Michael Mannheimer and Jeremy Petersen for joining us this week! You can listen to this one above, or download it right here.

Topic:

  • Britpop!
  • What does Britpop look like? What separates a typical British rock band from a britpop band?
  • Is “Britpop” as a genre an actual genre, or just a buzzword?
  • What killed Britpop?

Songs:

  • Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds – “In the Heat of the Moment”
  • Blur – “Parklife”
  • Bob Dylan – “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”
  • The Mars Volta – “This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed”

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Photos: Melvins, Le Butcherettes – Roseland Theater, 10/19/14

Alt/Doom/Sludge/Drone/Heavy institution Melvins dropped by Portland’s Roseland Theater last night as part of their Hold It In tour, promoting the album of the same name made in collaboration with Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus. True to the band’s nature, their set was completely unique from the trio’s last few outings in recent years (frontman Buzz Osbourne also played a solo show at the Hawthorne Theater on June 18th of this year – which, despite being an acoustic affair, still managed to bring the band’s lumbering energy in full force.)

Opening the show was Guadalajara’s own Le Butcherettes, led by Teri Gender Bender – who may also be familiar to American audiences for fronting the group Bosnian Rainbows, the brainchild of one Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (the band has played Portland  twice in the last two years, first at the Star Theater on Oct. 20th, 2012 and again at Dante’s on Sept. 18th, 2013.)

Find Yousef Hatlani’s photos on our Facebook page now!

Melvins // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Melvins // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

LIVE: The Drums, Star Theater, Portland, OR

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By Jordan Portlock // Photos by Jordan Portlock

What? There is still a line for this show forty minutes past doors? What gives? Are The Drums silently taking over the world and nobody told me?

No, it turns out my initial impressions were misguided. The line turned out to be a clever form of crowd management to draw a spectacle on the street, the doors opened a bit late, and The Drums are not going to take over the world anytime soon. They do, however, put on a great show.

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LIVE: Old Crow Medicine Show, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR

By Jacob Heiteen

After walking out of their performance at the Schnitz, all I could think was how much I wished more bands were like the Old Crow Medicine Show. For those who don’t know, OCMS started life a group of buskers playing high energy takes on old-time folk songs, when bluegrass legend, Doc Watson, heard them playing outside a pharmacy. He then invited them to play is annual MerleFest, introducing them to a very wide audience and jumpstarting their career.

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Episode 102: I’m Alive

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Thanks to Nick Winterfeld for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download the episode here.

Topic:

  • Jackson Browne!
  • We discuss his influence on popular music, the artists he’s worked with over the years, and the ways you may already be a fan of his music without knowing it.

Songs:

  • AC/DC – “Play Ball”
  • Jackson Browne – “These Days”
  • Portland Cello Project – “White Winter Hymnal”
  • of Montreal – “Sirens of Your Toxic Spirit”

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PHOTOS: DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist – Roseland Theater – 10/07/14

The Renegades of Rhythm tour stopped by Portland last night, bringing a chunk of Afrika Bambaataa’s 40,000 LP-strong record collection to the Roseland Theater for one night only – in the hands of DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, no less (choice quote from Shadow: “Please bear in mind, the music you will be hearing is not from just any copy. It is from the original copy that all [Bambaataa's] recordings were made from.”)

The result was, without a doubt, one of the funnest shows of the year so far, as both DJ’s charged through countless crucial Funk, Electro, Disco, Hip Hop and Rock cuts, forming an aural representation of modern pop music history (and, as Cut Chemist pointed out at the end of the set, our own personal histories by extension.) Our very own Yousef Hatlani was there to document the night. To check out his full album, head on over to our Facebook page.

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

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LIVE: Pinback, El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA

By Henry Smith

We were running late. We had just flown off of Beverly Boulevard and onto Highland Avenue. Reasonably zipping through yellow lights, our chance to arrive early to the Pinback show had been blown. This was going to be a special show considering 2014 marks the ten year anniversary of the band’s third record, Summer in Abaddon. To celebrate the album’s decade of life, Pinback hit the road playing the whole thing front to back. This was the second to last show before the band closed the tour in their hometown of San Diego. Finally locating a bare stretch of curb on South Burnside Avenue, my roommates and I bickered over whether we had just found a valid parking spot as the clock struck 9:05 PM – five minutes into Tera Melos’ supporting set at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

“If I get a ticket, we split it, alright?” My roommate, Andrew, needed a little security before leaving his Beamer parked where it was. The “NO PARKING” signs were left indecipherable, like most are in West LA. After a couple seconds of sheepish silence, my other roommate, Lucas and I begrudgingly agreed that we would share the burden. We left the BMW to its own devices and hustled over to the El Rey’s main entrance on Wilshire Boulevard.

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Episode 101: The Ties That Bind

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BIG thanks to Ryan White for joining us! You can listen to our conversation above, or download it by clicking right here. You can also buy a copy of his book, Springsteen: Album by Album HERE, and read a fantastic new article on the genesis of the book HERE.

Topic:

  • Bruce Springsteen: Album By Album
  • We talk with Ryan White about his new book dissecting the albums of Bruce Springsteen, how the book came about, and how he (and the rest of us) got into Springsteen’s music, as well as the reasons why people adore and obsess over his work

Songs:

  • Paul Revere & the Raiders – “Kicks”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Darkness on the Edge of Town”
  • The New Pornographers – “War on the East Coast”
  • Kode9 & Spaceape – “Sine of the Dub”

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LIVE: Constantines, Neumos, Seattle, WA

As Jacob Gellman noted in his review of How To Dress Well, Neumos always smells like hotdogs. Capitol Hill’s central street dog stand sits right outside, and until it finally gets cold enough to close the doors, I think every single show at Neumos will be tinged by this sickening, beautiful scent.

Dreamsalon was up first; I can’t tell you much about them, other than that their drummer followed in Tom Krell’s footsteps by remarking on the hot dog smell. There’s really just not much to say about unremarkable garage-rock in 2014.

Constant Lovers, on the other hand, were pretty much the shit. I had done a small amount of digging on them pre-show, and read that Helms Alee frontman/custom amp builder/all-around-badass Ben Verellen had sat in on drums for their most recent record, and I was beyond thrilled when he sat down behind the kit. (I had also read the press release for their new record, Experience Feelings, which describes the experience of a street dog turning into a talking king cobra. Hot dogs were a theme this evening.) If Verellen was anywhere near as good at drums as he is at shredding (or as Helms Alee drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margulis is) then this was going to kill. And it did kill. I’m not quite sure how to categorize Constant Lovers— elements of both punk and metal floated through their relentlessly heavy sound, which I’m tempted to just call “hard rock,” shitty connotations be damned. Charismatic frontman Joel Culpin shrieked his head off like Travis Morrison after singing nothing but “Girl O’Clock” for a week and being raised on Taking Back Sunday, bassist Gavin Tull-Esterbrook played through one of Verellen’s massively loud amps for one of the most sickening bass tones this side of The Jesus Lizard’s David Wm. Sims, and Verellen’s drumming really elevated what could’ve been a sort of dull retread of the Lizard and other pigfuck classics to a new plain by bringing in the experimental metal influences of his main act. All this said, the best member of the band might have been the drunk guy on the balcony, who, during each of the pregnant pauses of “Snickerdoodles Are The Best Cookies” screamed a perfectly timed “YEAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!” It was the right reaction.

Constantines didn’t say anything about the hot dogs. They didn’t need to say much—they knew that this show mattered enough to the people in attendance that they needn’t pander or banter or really do anything at all other than play the shit out of their songs. What was surprising, and depressing, is how small this crowd was. When I read that the Cons were playing Neumos, I was shocked, because the venue seemed a bit small to contain what I thought would be the rabid throng clamoring to see the legendary Canadians, reunited after four years, at their first and possibly only Seattle show on this new run. But hardly anyone was there that night: the crowd wasn’t even dense enough to keep the lone crowdsurfer from falling on his head.

Maybe this is attributable to Constantines’ kind of difficult-to-classify sound, and harder-to-classify legacy. I would describe them as a rock ’n roll band if the first song on their first record didn’t willfully proclaim “We want the death of rock ’n roll.” Plus the fact that their clear Fugazi influences started to wane after the first couple records, as their affection for Neil Young grew, and how all the while their salt-of-the-earth aesthetic and lyrical sentiment obscured the fact that these were incredibly smart musicians who weren’t necessarily interested in what was most simple and direct. That had sort of changed by 2009, when they released the ham-fisted Kensington Heights and proceeded to call it quits. In the interim, the post-hardcore influence that they so skillfully buried on Constantines, Shine A Light, and Tournament Of Hearts was picked up by a whole host of musicians, just demonstrating that the Cons were, like most great bands, ahead of their time. That their influence doesn’t directly show on bands like METZ, or Pissed Jeans, or even Constant Lovers is probably due to the weird amalgam of intricate rhythms and heart-on-sleeve, anthemic lyrics. Where these younger bands operate in somewhat disgusting irony half the time, Constantines are never, ever snide.

They opened the set with the best five-song lead-in I’ve seen this side of The National —“Draw Us Lines,” “Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright),” “Young Offenders,” “Hotline Operator,” and “Soon Enough.” “Draw Us Lines” is such a barnstorming, perfect opener that I felt sure they’d hold off on some of their more blazing tracks, but then the pristine segue into the blistering “Nighttime/Anytime” just ramped up everyone’s excitement even more.“Soon Enough” was the first Constantines song I fell in love with, and seeing it live in all its tender glory was one of the more beautiful experiences I’ve had recently. There were large masses of the crowd who sang every word of these first five songs with their fists raised in triumph, and it’s not hard to see why. These guys played like younger men at the top of their game, Bry Webb’s voice was just as harsh and gorgeous as it’s ever been, and it struck me that it would’ve been hard to say a Cons show ten years ago what really all that much better than this.

Sonically, the Cons were 100% on. Drummer Doug MacGregor has always impressed on record, and here he definitely stood out, working trick rhythms into anthemic backbones. The dueling guitars of Webb and Lambke were mixed nicely, while also allowing for some emphasis on Will Kidman’s keyboard work, which often gets buried on record. Bassist Dallas Wehrle held down the fort, workmanlike and stalwart.

After that five-star five-song intro (which I was not surprised to see has been their lead-in for pretty much every date on this tour), they started to trail off into slightly less thrilling territory. Kensington material like “I Will Not Sing A Hateful Song” was definitely better in the live setting, but still so painfully sincere in that distinctly Canadian way that I had trouble getting into it. They also opted to include a few Steve Lambke-led numbers, like Shine A Light’s sole throw-away, the hackneyed “Scoundrel Babes.” They even doubled down with Lambke’s Kensington joint “Shower Of Stones.” (I personally think every Cons album would be better off without it’s obligatory Lambke-led tracks.) What was remarkable to me was how stoked the rest of the crowd was on all of these songs I felt to be so obviously lesser material. It certainly increased my enjoyment of them to be surrounded by people for whom these songs were anthems.

They hit several more fantastic tracks in this midsection—“Insectivora,” “Young Lions,” “Shine A Light,” and “On To You,” which they dedicated to Sub Pop, who released their first three records. The main set ended with a perfect segue from “Tank Commander” into “Arizona,” the opener to their first album, completing a nice little circle. After a comically short interlude (I swear, these get shorter every show I go to), they came back for a strikingly burly rendition of “Lizaveta,” which was awesome, and closed out the night with Kensington closer “Do What You Can Do,” which was certainly appropriate, if not as fantastic as “You Are A Conductor” or “Little Instrument” might’ve been.

There’s no indication whether the Cons will be making another record; this tour is meant to coincide with the 11-year anniversary reissue of Shine A Light. If they’ve got new material, they certainly didn’t play it. But regardless, I’m so, so glad they’ve given fans this opportunity to see them again, especially fans like me who thought we’d missed our chance.

Episode 100: Our Hundredth Episode!

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This week is just us, but thank YOU for listening to us for two years and 100 episodes! You can listen to this MEGA-SIZED episode above, or download it right here.

Topic:

  • One hundred episodes!
  • We look back on the last 99 episodes of Faces on the Radio, the things we loved, the things that make us do what we do, and the things you can expect from the next 100 episodes.
  • PLUS: We give our advice to anybody looking to get into podcasting (or into a creative project in general).

Songs:

  • Kendrick Lamar – “i”
  • David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Who”
  • The Mountain Goats – “Estate Sale Sign”
  • Gordon Lightfoot – “Early Morning Rain

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