Clipping. Announce 2017 World Tour

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By Hollister Dixon

Los Angeles experimental hip-hop collective Clipping. have been steadily warming their engines since their triumphant return following frontman Daveed Diggs’ exit from his role in the smash hit Broadway musical HamiltonThis year saw the release of the Wriggle EP, and their first LP since 2014’s CLPPNG, called Splendor & Misery – a densely packed story of distant future space slavery and digital love (as only Clipping. could tell it). Today, the band have announced a lengthy world tour to support Splendor & Misery, which is slated to start in early December and go straight on ’til April. For all of you in the Northwest, you can get tickets to their Holocene (Portland) show right here, and their Crocodile (Seattle) here.

The band also stopped by Conan to perform Splendor cut “Air ‘Em Out”, which you can check out over on the Team Coco site. After the jump, have a look at their tour dates and check out the videos for “Air ‘Em Out” and Wriggle‘s “Shooter.” Both Splendor & Misery and Wriggle are out now on Sub Pop Records and Deathbomb Arc.

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The Wrens Return With a New Song, “An Irish Exit”

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By Hollister Dixon

It’s been so long since we’ve heard from New Jersey’s The Wrens. They’ve been teasing their long-awaited followup to 2003’s The Meadowlands since 2014, but we’ve only gotten occasional bits of music from them. Why the album has taken so long to be finished is something we may never know, but we do have our first big bite of the album.

On Wednesday, on the Wrens’ Twitter account, frontman Charles Bissell responded to someone asking about a surprise release of their new record by saying, “thinking about it, though I can’t drop album (much as I’d love to be done w/ it all), fuck it, I’ll post a song later today.” It took a couple extra days, but he made good on this promise on Friday by dropping a mostly instrumental demo of a song called “An Irish Exit”, as well as a nice long note about the song, his motivation for releasing it, and updating everyone on the status of their fourth LP. You can check that out below.

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Just As Was Told: Lift To Experience Detail Definitive Reissue of The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads

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By Hollister Dixon

This is the story of three Texas boys: in 2001, the Denton, TX band Lift To Experience – comprised of guitarist Josh T. Pearson, drummer Andy “The Boy” Young, and bassist Josh “The Bear” Browning released their stunning, singular statement, the double album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, wall-of-sound tale of Jesus Christ coming back to earth and finding himself in Texas. The band didn’t last more than a few years, but in the 15 years since Crossroads was released, the album has become one of the great unheard records of the 21st century. Earlier this year, the band reunited for just a moment to play a handful of shows, including the Meltdown Festival in London, at the behest of Elbow frontman (and Pearson bandmate in Western Arms) Guy Garvey.

In honor of their own personal Second Coming, as well as to mark the 15th anniversary of the release of Crossroads, the band have detailed a mammoth, definitive reissue of the album. Crossroads was originally recorded live to tape, but the band have gone back into the studio to give the album the mix it deserves. Josh T. Pearson explains, “We went back to the studio, neck deep in the heart of Texas, where Lift recorded The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads – remixing the album the way it should have be mixed originally. It’s good to have our balls back after years spent being castrated.”

The reissue of Crossroads will be out February 3rd, 2017 on Mute Records in three forms: CD, LP, and a beautifully expansive vinyl box set, which will feature Lift To Experience’s classic 04/15/2001 Peel session as well as their demo EP from 1997.

After the jump, you can listen to the remastered “Just As Was Told”, check out the brand new artwork for the reissue, an homage to the Texas-based graphics design studio Pen & Pixel famed for their 90’s Southern gangsta rap album covers, and see the tracklists for each of the three reissues. In addition, you can check out their new interview with The Quietus right here. Continue reading

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Los Campesinos! Announce New Album, Sick Scenes, Announce Tour

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By Hollister Dixon

Los Campesinos!, the best band in Wales (yes, the best, sorry Super Furry Animals) got somewhat quiet in the wake of their fifth album, No Blues. After rumblings of new recordings, this is set to change with their newly-announced 6th LP, entitled Sick Scenes. On the album, frontman Gareth Campesinos! had this to say:

We recorded the album, co-produced by long-time collaborator John Goodmanson and band member Tom Bromley, during Euro 2016 in Fridao, Portugal. The album exists as an expression of the pent-up aggression we felt due to being inactive for so long, but it’s also a celebration of just getting to be a band, of getting to play music with our friends. Thematically the record is concerned with fumbling for personal relevance while trying to be a better person. Repressing anxiety and attempting to function while constantly maintaining the perfect two-beer buzz. It is set upon a backdrop of non-league football, prescribed medication, and crumbling hometowns. These truly are the Sickest Scenes.

The album will be released on February 24th, 2017 worldwide courtesy of the always-lovely Wichita Records, and it’s available for pre-order right here. On top of that, they’ve released the first taste of the album with “I Broke Up In Amarante”, a song which hearkens back to their pop-punk infused roots. They’ve also announced a three-week North American tour, which will include (as Gareth Campesinos! points out, and as this writer is more than aware of) their first west coast dates in five years – This will include a date at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, if you, dear reader, are interested in seeing your writer in a state of joyful apoplexy. Tickets for all of these shows will go onsale at 9pm local time on Friday, November 11th. All North American dates will feature support from New York chiptune rockers Crying.

After the jump, you can have a listen to “I Broke Up In Amarante”, gander at the tracklist, and check out when they’ll be stopping by your town.

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Feelies Complete Recording New Album, In Between

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By Hollister Dixon

In the midst of the band’s 40th anniversary, legendary New Jersey Band The Feelies have announced that they have completed the recording of In Between, their first album since 2011’s Here Before, to be released on Bar/None Records on February 24th.

Feelies Founders Glenn Mercer and Bill Million recently sat down with Impose Magazine to talk about the exciting new direction of In Between:

“On the new record we did a lot of it at my house in my home studio with extra equipment, explains Glenn Mercer. “It’s the same room where we rehearsed. We’ve been here since we reformed and a little bit prior to taking the hiatus in the 90’s. So it’s a room we’re really familiar with and feel comfortable in. We also did some recording at an engineer’s studio, so it was all done very low key. We refer to it as “off the clock” when you’re not paying an hourly rate, so in that sense it was a lot more relaxed. I don’t think anyone would notice a drastic change in the sound or the vibe of the record. I think it sounds a lot more relaxed and laid back.”

“I think all of our albums reflect a certain degree of reaction to the work that we previously did and In Between is no exception,” continues Bill Million. “We liked the sounds and the feel of the demos for this album and we thought it would be difficult to capture that in a recording studio. So that was our starting point and it evolved in a much more relaxed way that loaned itself to more creative interplay. Time wasn’t a component. If you let it, music can take on a life of its own and we wanted to allow the songs to develop with that idea in mind.”

Further details about the album’s release are still unknown, but you can expect that more will be announced in the coming months. In Between also helps mark the band’s 40th(!) anniversary, though they disbanded in 1992, only to reunite in 2008 with drummer Stan Demeski, bassist Brenda Sauter, and percussionist Dave Weckerman.

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LIVE: Sigur Rós, Keller Auditorium, Portland, OR

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Sigur Ros // Photo: Hollister Dixon

By Hollister Dixon

There’s something remarkable about the career trajectory of Sigur Rós. Their lyrics and song titles are almost entirely in Icelandic, except for ( ), their 2002 album sung entirely in Vonlenska (otherwise known as Hopelandic), a completely made-up language. Icelandic is an impossible language that a scant 300,ooo people speak – to put that into perspective, the population of Portland is just under 600,000, so if every Icelandic-speaking person lived in this city, there would still be another half of the city that didn’t understand a word of it. And yet, for the last 20 years, the band have built an obsessive and adoring fanbase all over the world who have fallen in love not with the words frontman Jónsi is singing, but with the sound of his angelic falsetto, the sound of a guitar being played with a cello bow, and the breathtaking landscapes they create with their music. They are emotional on the same level as bands like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor: the words may not exist (or, in Sigur Rós’ case, may not be understandable), but they’ve gotten unbelievably good at emoting without the need for a shared language.

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MFNW Presents Project Pabst (Night Two): The Hollister Dixon Report

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Ween // Photo Credit: Yousef Hatlani

This review is part of a series on MusicFest Northwest Presents: Project Pabst. This include Digable PlanetsGuided By Voices, and Day One of the festival.

By Hollister Dixon

When the merger of MusicFest Northwest and Project Pabst was announced, I had my concerns and doubts. There’s always a worry that it’ll be a “too many cooks in the kitchen” affair, where everything adds up to be less than the sum of its parts. I’ve been a die-hard fan of MFNW for years, but when compared to the lineups of Project Pabst in the two years that the festival has been at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the newcomer Project Pabst has completely outpaced the longer-running festival with a focus on acts that make you say, “Wait, they’re playing Project Pabst? That’s so cool.” To put it simply: it says a lot about that festival that Violent Femmes performing their first album front-to-back is an act that had to be relegated to the undercard in the first year. MusicFest Northwest at the Waterfront was a blast both years, but it was hard to ignore that the lineups both years felt a little too predictable at times.

The marriage of two minds that lead to MusicFest Northwest Presents Project Pabst (or just Project Pabst for short; sorry MFNW, but the full thing is just a mouthful), a two day (or five, if you count the night shows) Waterfront Park blowout with the likes of Ice Cube, Ween, Duran Duran, Tame Impala, Drive Like Jehu, and more.

My biggest disappointment this year came in the form of adulthood getting in the way of the full immersion I’ve always loved to engage in. Other than seeing Guided By Voices at the Crystal Ballroom, I completely missed the first day of the festival because of work, leaving Arya Imig to pick up the slack. Here’s what I saw during my few hours at the festival on Sunday:

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LIVE REVIEW: Guided By Voices, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

This review is part of a series on MusicFest Northwest Presents: Project Pabst. This includes Digable Planets and both Day One and Day Two of the main festival.

Guided By Voices // Photo Credit: Hollister Dixon

Guided By Voices // Photo Credit: Hollister Dixon

By Hollister Dixon

I started 2014 as a passive fan of Guided By Voices. I’d heard Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes just like the next guy, but they never connected with me in the way they did with some people. I was never into lo-fi recordings, finding them hard to really connect with when you have to wade through muddy production just to hear the good stuff. Then, in June, I discovered the secret: I actually saw Guided By Voices. This show was – and there’s no way around the word – transformative. I walked away from that performance ravenous for everything Robert Pollard had ever done. I obsessed over their music. I alienated people around me with this obsession. In August, just two weeks before getting to end my Summer Of Pollard with another Guided By Voices show, I branded myself with the GBV rune and the word “Incurable”, from the song “I Am A Scientist” (“I am a journalist, I write to you to show you: I am an incurable, and nothing else behaves like me.”)

One week after I got that tattoo, Guided By Voices announced that they were not only cancelling their entire tour, but breaking up entirely. “Guided By Voices has come to an end. With 4 years of great shows and six killer albums, it was a hell of a comeback run. The remaining shows in the next two months are unfortunately canceled.” Even as a new acolyte, it felt less like the band had broken up, and more like Bob Pollard had personally broken up with me. This was short-lived, though: in February, another reunion was announced – though it deviated entirely from the classic lineup entirely. Pollard recruited Bobby Bare Jr. (who opened for GBV at that first show, funnily enough), Kevin March, Nick Mitchell, and Mark Shue. In mid-July, the reunion added former guitarist Doug Gillard to flesh everything out. Sure, it was less a Guided By Voices reunion and more of a “Bob Pollard + Doug Gillard + a few hired guns” tour… but, any chance to hear GBV songs is worth it. Right?

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LIVE REVIEW: Digable Planets, Portland, OR

This review is part of a series on MusicFest Northwest Presents: Project Pabst. This includes Guided By Voices and both Day One and Day Two of the main festival.

By Hollister Dixon

While waiting for Digable Planets to start, my show companion (Colin McLaughlin) and I had a long discussion about truly underrated hip-hop albums. For me, the band’s Blowout Comb – their second and final record, released in 1994 – is a shoe-in for that Top 10. Blowout Comb sounded like it was from the future back in ’94, and listening to it now it’s striking how ahead of its time it still sounds. At times, it feels as though the trio – made up of Butterfly (Ismael Butler, later of Shabazz Palaces), Ladybug Mecca (Mary Ann Vieira), and Doodlebug (Craig Irving) – built a time machine with the sole purpose of seeing what soul and funk sounded like in the 3070’s and bringing those vibes back to the 90s. The band broke up shortly after, though they’ve reunited sporadically in the 20 years since.

There’s always a worry that any reunion is a lazy cash-grab, done “for the money”. Let’s set the record straight, before we go on: if Digable Planets are playing for us again “for the money”, it presents an entirely compelling case for capitalism.

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MFNW Presents Project Pabst (Night One): The Arya Imig Report

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Duran Duran // Photo Credit: Yousef Hatlani

This review is part of a series on MusicFest Northwest Presents: Project Pabst. This include Digable PlanetsGuided By Voices, and Day Two of the festival.

By Arya Imig

When one music festival merges with another, it’s easy to assume that some capitulation to acknowledging vulnerabilities has been made by one side or another. Regardless of the circumstances which led to the merger of MusicFest Northwest and Project Pabst, the results of the lineup and attendance prove that greatness recognizing greatness pays off. The elements that have made the festivals successful separately over the last few years, especially since MFNW moved to a single site day time model, were on display in stereo Saturday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

That said, the most valid criticism of the result of the merger is that it resulted in a deficit of all ages access to events of the festival. This is an issue worth acknowledging the importance of, and addressing with legitimate understanding of why it’s good for all parties involved. There are many valid legal reasons why the festival itself was unable to be all-ages due to the alcohol sponsorship involved being in conflict with the state’s convoluted and antiquated liquor control laws. There are many small ways to involve the next generation of music fans in enjoying the artistry of some of the icons who played this year. Future legend Vince Staples at the Doc Marten’s store is one thing, but let’s hope it’s a template that can be built on for next year. Other than this major caveat, with Sunday tickets and weekend passes sold out, it’s safe to say the festivals made a smart decision in joining forces.

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