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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 22, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Brent Amaker chases immortality with Android Amaker | Feature

Brent Amaker in a new photo taken for the Android Amaker project. Photo by Frank Correa.

Brent Amaker in a new photo taken for the Android Amaker project. Photo by Frank Correa.

Brent Amaker is celebrating his 50th birthday Friday with a show at the Triple Door, so forgive the country music auteur for having immortality on his mind. It’s a theme that permeates his new project, Android Amaker, a concept album and art project about a future version of Amaker that has uploaded his mind into an robotic shell.

To be fair, Amaker had the fantastic on his mind far before his encroaching birthday. He said he’s always been interested in science fiction, but it was a Time magazine cover story, “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal,” he saw a few years ago when traveling that got his gears turning for his new project.

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0 Comments | More in Country, R & B/Hip-hop | Topics: brent amaker, frank correa, p smoov

April 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Blackberry Smoke lives up to its reputation at the Neptune | Concert review

Blackberry Smoke brought its unique country rock to the Neptune Theatre Friday.

Blackberry Smoke brought its unique country rock to the Neptune Theatre Friday.

It’s always a little awkward when big mainstream country acts get their enormous 12-piece touring bands to “rock out.” It feels artificial, perhaps because they are usually still in complete control.

How comforting, then, to see Blackberry Smoke at the Neptune Theatre on Friday. A down-and-dirty, five-piece band from Atlanta, Ga., that easily recalls Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC, Blackberry Smoke has a pretty big reputation to live up to as a live band after 14 years of relentless touring, and it was impressive to see how easily they wore that burden.

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0 Comments | More in Country, Rock/Pop | Topics: blackberry smoke, the neptune theatre

April 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Old sounds made new at the Tractor | Concert review

St. Paul and the Broken Bones played the Tractor Tavern Saturday with Radio Raheem.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones played the Tractor Tavern Saturday with Radio Raheem.

Neo-soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ first time playing in the state of Washington was Saturday, and a sold-out crowd at the Tractor Tavern rewarded the Birmingham, Ala., band for their journey by showering them with affection.

It was a night of old sounds made new, especially with Seattle band Radio Raheem opening things up. They’re a quirky outfit that mashes together everything from 80s music and a little rap with a little neo-soul/funk vibe. It’s a mouthful, but it’s reflective of the band’s multiple influences, all built around highlighting frontwoman Josie Howell’s commanding vocals. 

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0 Comments | More in Blues, R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop | Topics: radio raheem, st. paul and the broken bones, Tractor Tavern

April 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Blackberry Smoke fires up country rock tonight at the Neptune | Concert preview

Blackberry Smoke plays the Neptune Theatre Friday night.

Blackberry Smoke plays the Neptune Theatre Friday night.

Atlanta country rock band Blackberry Smoke has put out just three studio albums in 14 years on three different labels. That’s not usually a recipe for success — or staying power. But they’ve got both thanks to a reputation as relentless road warriors and a passionate fan base that extends to Europe.

It’s all part of doing whatever you have to do to survive in the industry, frontman Charlie Starr said.

“That’s just the music business,” Starr said. “None of us are independently wealthy. Before the days of Kickstarter it was like, ‘Well, we can’t stop touring and make an album because we don’t have enough money.’”

Starr laughed, but only because things are going pretty well for Blackberry Smoke as the “Fire in the Hole” tour hits the Neptune Theatre tonight with opener Delta Saints. The band has a new live album and DVD coming out and is planning on heading into the studio later this year to record its follow-up to 2012′s “The Whippoorwill.” They’re also heading back out to Europe later this year and will play in London, Paris and Berlin. 

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0 Comments | More in Country | Topics: blackberry smoke, delta saints, neptune theatre

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

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