It Started With a Mixx: A Los Campesinos! Primer

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By Hollister Dixon

Over the last decade, Los Campesinos! have been an incredibly dynamic beast. Starting as a too-smart tweepop band, they’ve morphed into a band of consistent and surprising depth. The band’s frontman, Gareth Paisey, is one of the sharpest lyricists working today, and though the rest of the band’s lineup has shifted pretty constantly over the years, he’s always been surrounded by other, equally talented players. The band are days away from the release of their 6th LP, Sick Scenes, and are about to embark on their first major North American tour in five years.

We present to you 10 songs over the course of the last six albums. It would be easy to do an equally wordy rundown of all of the band’s non-album material, but for the sake of ease, I’ve decided to stick to their albums.

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INTERVIEW: Clipping.

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By Hollister Dixon

This week, Los Angeles experimental hip-hop group Clipping. will be embarking on their North American tour in support of their new album, Splendor & Misery (out now on Sub Pop). I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to ask William Hutson, one of the band’s producers, about the inner working of the band, their creative processes, and how Splendor & Misery came to be. 

You can find all of the band’s upcoming dates – including their upcoming Portland performance at Holocene – right here.

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Grandaddy Announce Tour In Support of New Album, Last Place

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By Hollister Dixon

It has been 11 years since we got Grandaddy‘s last album, Just Like the Fambly Cat. The band announced their breakup shortly before the album’s release, and though they’ve been in action again since their return to the stage in 2012, they’ve still been relatively quiet over the years. That’s all about to change with Last Place, due out March 3rd on 30th Century Records. The album has been described as “a symphonic swirl of lo-fi sonics and mile-high harmonies, found sounds and electronics-gone-awry mingling with perfect, power pop guitar tones.” For anyone who knows and loves Grandaddy, this an incredibly enticing thing.

The band will also be embarking on a neat little world tour starting in late February, taking them all the way until the summer, with European festival sets at Primavera SoundMotel Mozaique Festival, and This Is Not A Love Song Festival.

After the jump, you can check out “Evermore” from Last Place and see where the band will be stopping this spring. This includes two shows at Portland’s Revolution Hall – one all ages, and one 21+. Word to the wise: just see both! Tickets for these two are here and here.

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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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