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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.

April 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Reinvented Barcelona shines with electropop sound | Concert review

Barcelona played Neumos Thursday.

Barcelona played Neumos Thursday.

Note: This post was scheduled for the weekend and didn’t get posted because I don’t understand how dates work. So enjoy it today!

Watching a band reinvent itself can often be a painful experience, especially if that reinvention isn’t quite complete when they take that new material on the road. Fortunately for Seattle’s Barcelona, the transition from indie rock to a shimmering electropop was complete by the time they took they stage Thursday at Neumos.

After strong opening sets from Seattle’s Gibraltar and Portland-based Mackintosh Braun, Barcelona announced the change immediately with the sinister blast of 80s synth and soaring vocals of “Paper Lion,” a standout track from their new three-EP set “The Melodrama.” It was all the proof needed; Barcelona is a much different band.

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0 Comments | Topics: barcelona, gibraltar, mackintosh braun

April 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM

George Strait rides away | Concert review

(Ethan Miller / Getty Images for ACM)

(Ethan Miller / Getty Images for ACM)

After a career spanning more than 30 years that has included a record 60 No. 1 hits, George Strait, 61, has said he will retire when his current tour ends in June.

But it sure didn’t feel like Strait was retiring Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome, when he wowed a sold-out crowd with a masterful, career-spanning set that lasted well over two hours and touched on some of his biggest hits.

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0 Comments | More in Country | Topics: Concert Review, George Strait, Tacoma Dome

April 10, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Barcelona bucks the trend at Neumos | Concert preview

Barcelona plays Neumos tonight to celebrate the release of "The Melodrama," a three EP set.

Barcelona plays Neumos tonight to celebrate the release of “The Melodrama,” a three-EP set.

There’s nothing that says a band can’t give its sound a complete makeover, but it takes the right group of musicians to pull it off. In the case of Seattle’s Barcelona, the change was so radical that at first, it started off as frontman Brian Fennell’s side project.

Fennell was exploring writing in a different voice and using different sounds and never intended for Barcelona to transition from a pretty standard indie rock outfit to purveyors of lounge-ready electropop. But somehow, they did, and they’re celebrating the release of a slick three-EP set of albums titled “The Melodrama” tonight at Neumos on the tail end of a quick West Coast tour that started at SXSW. 

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0 Comments | More in R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop

April 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Bryan Ferry not in great voice but crowd loves him | Concert review

(Adam Whitehead0

(Adam Whitehead0

Music can be a time machine. No doubt that’s the force that helped former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry draw a packed house to McCaw Hall Monday night.

Memories came alive before the British rocker’s voice had a chance to. Dressed in a leisure suit jacket and looking dapper at 68, Ferry looked the part of the star his fans remember.

But something was off.

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0 Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Bryan Ferry, Concert Review, McCaw Hall

April 7, 2014 at 2:12 PM

NO highlights Canadian indie label showcase at Barboza | Concert review

NO headlined the Arts & Crafts showcase at Barboza Saturday.

NO headlined the Arts & Crafts showcase at Barboza Saturday.

Maybe it was the blackberry cider from Capitol Cider across the street, or simply a momentary disorientation from the usual crush of Capitol Hill revelers, but it took a moment to get into Reuben and the Dark’s set Saturday night at Barboza.

The band, fronted by Calgary singer-songwriter Reuben Bullock, finally seemed to get going with “Standing Still,” hard-boiled and buzzing with thick bass, then elegant and redemptive.

Building on that success, “Rolling Stone” turned a cliche title and concept into an earworm you might catch on a TV show montage. Floor toms and a rocking banjo helped the song snarl, and Bullock’s surprisingly elastic voice assured that it eventually soared. Other songs, like “Shoulderblade,” allowed the band to catch its breath and even work in a fun R&B hook. 

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0 Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Barboza, no, reuben and the dark

April 4, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Arts & Crafts invades Barboza tonight | Concert preview

The Darcys play Barboza Friday night.

The Darcys play Barboza Friday night.

Three intriguing acts from Canadian record label Arts & Crafts will cram themselves onto the stage at Barboza tonight in a lineup that should please a wide range of indie rock fans.

NO, Reuben and the Dark and The Darcys are all rising indie bands that fans should keep their eyes on, but it might be The Darcys’ brand of accessible, smart art rock that could end up being the highlight. Their third album, “Warring,” garnered a Juno award nomination for best alternative album, and that comes on the heels of “Aja,” a complete cover of Steely Dan’s jazz rock album. 

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0 Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: arts & crafts, Barboza, no

March 31, 2014 at 2:03 PM

London Grammar and Highasakite soar at Neumos | Concert review

Highasakite surprised at Neumos on Saturday. Photo by Hilde Mesics Kleven.

Highasakite surprised at Neumos on Saturday. Photo by Hilde Mesics Kleven.

Most of the people who sold out Neumos Saturday night were there for London Grammar, and the rising English trip-hop trio did not disappoint. But it was a forceful performance by Highasakite, a little-known outfit from Norway peddling in big, layered anthems that was the surprise of the night.

Highasakite, fronted by the laser-voiced Ingrid Helene Håvik, has been on tour with London Grammar for the past two weeks testing out material from their debut full-length album, “The Silent Treatment,” due out April 8. Perhaps because Saturday was the final night of the tour for them, the band seemed to be in an unstoppable groove.

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0 Comments | More in R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop | Topics: highasakite, london grammar, Neumos

March 28, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Morrison and West mix it up at the Triple Door | Concert review

Cahalen Morrison and Eli West played the Triple Door Thursday night with Greg Spatz and John Reischman.

Cahalen Morrison and Eli West played the Triple Door Thursday night with Greg Spatz and John Reischman.

Cahalen Morrison and Eli West don’t always play with each other, but when they do it’s usually a thrill. That was certainly the case during a breezy, fun Thursday evening at the Triple Door.

But Morrison and West just played a Seattle show in February when they released their third album together, “I’ll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands,” and perhaps didn’t feel like running through what would probably be a similar set list. That could be why the brilliantly decided to break their show up in a unique manner.

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0 Comments | More in Americana, Country | Topics: cahalen morrison, eli west, greg spatz

March 27, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Indie rock and rumble at the Tractor | Concert review

The Lonely Wild played the Tractor Tavern Wednesday.

The Lonely Wild played the Tractor Tavern Wednesday.

The Tractor Tavern billed its Wednesday show as “Indie Night,” which isn’t quite descriptive enough for our purposes. Sonic earthquake would be more accurate.

It’s not rare to find bands that are loud, but catching two groups on opposite ends of the Wall of Sound spectrum was a treat. First up was the nuanced avalanche of sound from Nashville, the Apache Relay, and the satisfying jangle of “Growing Pains,” from the band’s 2014 self-titled album. 

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0 Comments | More in Americana, Rock/Pop | Topics: the apache relay, the lonely wild, Tractor Tavern

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