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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Owen R. Smith.

July 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Timber! music fest back to rock the forest

After the success of Timber! Outdoor Music Festival last year, organizer Kevin Sur felt one emotion: a deep, abiding gratitude to everyone who had helped bring it off without a hitch.

It was a feeling that stuck with him as he chose soul revivalist Charles Bradley to top a 2014 lineup that includes J. Mascis, Damien Jurado and the Seattle Rock Orchestra. The festival runs July 24-26 and kicks off Thursday afternoon with a performance by the Shumba Marimba Ensemble.

“We felt like we had an overwhelming amount of support from the music community in making our first year a success, and that got me thinking about Charles Bradley,” Sur said.


Comments | Topics: Charles Bradley, Timber Festival

July 8, 2014 at 5:33 AM

The amazing Mary Sarah debuts with country all-stars | New recordings

Mary Sarah, ‘Bridges’ (Cleopatra)

It seems almost incomprehensible that an 18-year-old singer could earn the respect of some of country music’s biggest living legends, but Mary Sarah makes it seem like she’s known them for years on her debut album, “Bridges.”

Mary SarahDolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and a host of others lend their voices to some of their signature songs, but Mary Sarah’s big accomplishment in her 12-track debut is that she never lets her star-studded guests outshine her.


Comments | More in Country | Topics: John Hiatt, Mary Sarah, Morrissey

June 17, 2014 at 5:31 AM

Say Hi grows up with ‘Endless Wonder’ | New Recordings

Say Hi, ‘Endless Wonder’ (Barsuk) Eric Elbogen, who performs as Seattle-based indie rock band Say Hi, spent much of his 2011 release “Um, Uh Oh” making pretty, contemplative songs that seemed designed mostly to not offend. “Endless Wonder” keeps its predecessor’s slick production while adding a funky swagger that’s noticeable right from the get-go on “Hurt in…


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Barsuk Records, Endless Wonder, New Recordings

June 10, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Craft Spells dreams all run together | New recordings

CraftSpellsCraft Spells, ‘Nausea’ (Captured Tracks)

Apparently Justin Paul Vallesteros hates that his band, Craft Spells, is often described as dreamy — so much so that he added a frosty crispness to its sophomore album, “Nausea.”. Though it does little to eliminate the dream-pop vibe, the overall result is a tighter collection of songs than on “Idle Labor,” his 2011 debut album.


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Craft Spells, Nausea, New Recordings

June 6, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Sweet harmonies and stripped-down folk| Concert preview

American folk rock is reaching another apex thanks to bands like The Lumineers and Seattle’s The Head and the Heart scoring big hits with anthemic songs with radio-friendly, pop-driven hooks.

While they may not peddle music as readily accessible as some of their peers, The Milk Carton Kids — who swing through the Neptune Theatre on Wednesday, June 11 — have benefited from the genre’s recent commercial success.


Comments | More in Americana, Folk | Topics: Concert Preview, Milk Carton Kids, neptune theatre

May 27, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Johnnyswim finds diamonds in hard year | Concert preview

Johnnyswim plays The Triple Door Saturday. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Johnnyswim plays The Triple Door Saturday. Photo courtesy of the artist.

It sounds scripted: at their darkest hour, husband and wife team Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano sit on their living room floor and write an angry song telling off their naysayers, but a trip to a local hospital turns the song into the uplifting title track of their debut album, “Diamonds.”

For Johnnyswim, the reality was much tougher than the soundbite, but they’re left with a brilliant first album full of anthemic tunes that fit well within the current folk-rock soundscape dominated by bands like The Head and the Heart and Mumford and Sons. They bring their new music to the Triple Door on May 31.

“It represents the last three years of our life,” Ramirez said. “These songs were in us and we’d be sick if we didn’t get them out. I lost my dad, Amanda lost her mom and her grandmother, and it all happened within a two or three month period. It was a really hard time of our lives.”


Comments | More in Americana, Folk | Topics: johnnyswim, The Triple Door

May 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Kithkin makes the end times sound good | Concert review

Kithkin celebrated their album release Saturday. Photo by Hayley Young.

Kithkin celebrated their album release Saturday. Photo by Hayley Young.

While revelers at Sasquatch danced the night away to The National on Saturday night, back in Seattle at The Crocodile Kithkin took to the serious business of drawing the battle lines of the coming apocalypse.

Kithkin, self-described “tree punks,” were on hand to celebrate the release of their debut album, “Rituals, Trances & Ecstasies for Humans in the Face of The Collapse.” It’s an album full of kinetic energy, comforting pop-tinged hooks and stories about the struggle to keep moving forward in an increasingly screwed up world. 


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: kithkin, master musicians of bukakke, The Crocodile

May 19, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Michael Jackson comes alive at Billboard Music Awards | News

Michael Jackson has still got the moves, even from beyond the grave. Maybe it shouldn’t be huge news — after all, stars living and dead have been doing hologram performances for a couple years now — but MJ’s eerie performance at the Billboard Music Awards last night has been making internet waves today. In a bit of…


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: billboard music awards, king of pop, michael jackson

May 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM

William Fitzsimmons charms at the Triple Door | Concert review

William Fitzsimmons played the Triple Door last week.

William Fitzsimmons played the Triple Door last week.

When William Fitzsimmons finished his first song, “Speak,” to open his early show Thursday at the Triple Door, the reverent crowd wasn’t quite sure what to do, so they greeted the release of the somber dirge’s building weight with silence.

It felt like the right response, though they greeted the delicate construction and careful execution of “Beautiful Girl,” which followed the bizarre opening, with the usual satisfying cascade of cheers and applause.

Things have changed in Fitzsimmons’ life since he last played in Seattle. He’s a father now, and he released a new album, “Lions,” in February. However, Fitzsimmons wryly observed that he’s still writing the same old sad songs, so maybe things haven’t changed that much after all.


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: The Triple Door, william fitzsimmons

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