A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
December 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM
If you read my review of 106.1 KISS FM’s Jingle Ball 2013 show in Everett Sunday night, you might get the impression that the whole thing was kind of a bust. Musically, you’d be right. No one sounded particularly good and there were plenty of acts that fell short (Paramore, Fall Out Boy and Austin Mahone in particular were dismal).
So what made the event interesting? For one, there was a “red carpet” portion of the night. Why the Jingle Ball felt the need to have a red carpet crammed in the bowels of the Comcast Arena is beyond comprehension but it provided a chance to snap a few pics and talk with some of top-40 radio’s biggest stars.
Despite the fact that I spent a total of five minutes with the three acts I interviewed, it was a humanizing experience. Celebrities, they’re just like us! Hit the jump for the best snippets.
December 9, 2013 at 9:40 AM
Sponsored by radio station 106.1 KISS FM, the Jingle Ball at Comcast Arena in Everett Sunday night played very much like mainstream top-40 radio: The music ran the gamut of pop nonsense and there were commercials every 15 minutes.
Still, that’s not to say there weren’t some fun moments. Performers ranged from the up-and-coming (Travie McCoy, Austin Mahone and New Politics), girl-group pop (Fifth Harmony and Icona Pop), to huge names like Flo Rida, Fall Out Boy and Selena Gomez.
Perhaps the worst of it was Fall Out Boy, who headlined and proved why they broke up in 2010. Their set was an uninspired mess of thudding bass and dull vocals and the band seemed to labor from the moment it trotted out its two biggest hits, “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” from the 2005 album “From Under the Cork Tree.”
December 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Pop music pundits were predicting that the Seattle rap team of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis would show up in Friday’s Grammy award announcement, but few expected the duo to rake in seven nominations.
Even fewer expected the members of Nirvana, whose singer Kurt Cobain has been dead for 19 years, to get a nomination, as well.
But that’s how it came down. (more…)
December 6, 2013 at 2:04 PM
Exactly who does this Macklemore think he is? The Emperor of Seattle? The King of Rap? Shall we buy him a crown and a throne and build him a palace overlooking the city? Or is he just another overhyped music star who could be down-and-out in a couple of years and riding a boxcar out of town? (more…)
December 5, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Car windshields were frosty in the Tacoma Dome parking lot Wednesday night, but inside the Dome, ladies were dressed scantily, as if it were summer, and Toronto singer/rapper Drake was loose and animated in a tank top.
“I feel really good tonight,” Drake declared. “I just got a massage — let’s do this!”
He sang and rapped for hours with hardly any banter, muscular arms flapping as tens of thousands of fans screamed for the 27-year-old pop idol.
Early on, Drake said he wouldn’t talk much, that his concert would be about music. He performed often in silhouette in front of a wide, rectangular light display showing color fields. The colors matched his songs’ vibes, and helped the music sink in.
His set list was loaded with hits from his four-year career and great new album, “Nothing Was The Same.” Highlights included “Started From the Bottom,” with its lurching, unstoppable beat paired with a full fireworks display and a moody duet, “From Time,” with singer Jhené Aiko, who was a relaxing presence on stage. Aiko isn’t famous yet, but seems like she will be soon.
December 4, 2013 at 3:27 PM
Hey, I got this fabulous email this morning from a reader named Miles Stanislaw, in response to my article today about the late Seattle organ meister Dave Lewis.
You brought back fabulous memories for this 71 year old white guy with your article about Dave Lewis. Me and a friend or two and sometimes with girl friends were regulars at Birdland at age 17-19. We would get there at about 11. By midnight, pardon the cliché, the joint was truly jumpin’. We would sit in the balcony and listen to the fabulous Dave Lewis music and watch the amazing dancers on the main floor. The evening was helped along by the beverages we brought along to mix with the Birdland served soft drinks. My friends and I were always a tiny minority in the fun loving central district crowd. Birdland was a very exciting and intriguing place all because of Dave Lewis and his spellbinding music. Never been to any place like it since. I hope his grandson is half as successful in providing the thrills and excitement his grandfather gave to me. Please pass this on to the grandson of the greatest musician in Seattle’s history.
December 4, 2013 at 10:19 AM
It was cold, crisp and clear Tuesday afternoon as concertgoers lined up outside KeyArena for Deck the Hall Ball. But indoors it was snowing.
The snow was fake, or course, and confined to a giant video screen. But the flurries were just enough to lend a holiday vibe to 107.7 The End’s annual year-end concert, which featured such hot alternative-rock acts as Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Alt-J and Seattle’s new-folk darlings, The Head and the Heart.
Seattle station KNDD has been staging its Deck the Hall Ball for more than 20 years as a well-stocked concert marathon for faithful listeners. This year’s holiday-themed concert also provided bands with a chance to thank the station, as well as fans, for their support.
The thank-yous came in the form of tight, spirited sets showcasing the bands’ best music. There were no shoe-gazers in this energetic lineup.
December 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM
“Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion”
As an author and documentarian who’s steeped in Memphis music, Robert Gordon is admirably well-suited to write a history of one of the city’s most revered record labels.
And it’s as much a social history as a musical one, as Gordon contrasts Stax’s rise with that of the civil rights movement in Memphis. It made quite a statement to operate a company where whites and blacks freely worked side by side in a city where public swimming pools would be closed so they didn’t have to integrate. When Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records came to Memphis he was forced to meet with Stax representatives in his hotel room, as there were no restaurants where the two races could eat together.
Stax Records, co-founded by brother and sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (the label’s name formed from the first two letters of their last names), tapped into the burgeoning rhythm & blues/soul scene in Memphis, releasing early hits by father-daughter team Rufus and Carla Thomas and Booker T. & the M.G.’s (“Green Onions”).
Stax’s open door policy meant anyone could walk in and make a pitch. When the man who’d driven guitarist Johnny Jenkins to Stax for an audition mentioned that he could sing too, Stewart gave him a chance. The driver was Otis Redding; within a year he’d have his first hit on Stax subsidiary Volt.
Gordon carefully traces the development of the label and the many bumps along the way. Neither Stewart or Axton had much experience in the music industry prior to starting the label. A distribution deal with Atlantic turned out to be a mixed blessing when it was discovered that Atlantic actually owned the company’s master recordings. Redding’s death in a plane crash in 1967 was a huge blow, akin to a death in the family.
Free from Atlantic, Stax rebuilt itself, and there were further hits to come, from Isaac Hayes and the Staples Singers, among others. But, for some, the sense of family was gone. One of the best aspects of Gordon’s book is that you get first hand accounts from all of Stax’s key participants.
The story of Stax is one of triumph and tragedy. And Gordon tells that story with the passion of a fan and the authority of a historian.
November 29, 2013 at 5:03 AM
First thing on the phone, Atlanta hip-hop/pop star Future says he heard weed is legal in Washington state, and tells a story he’s told several other writers, about the time he and Snoop Dogg (and 15 other people) smoked two pounds.
If you imbibed like that, you might also forget you’d told the story a bunch of times.
Future opens for Drake on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome, with the R&B singer Miguel.
Future is all about being spacey. In the video for “Real and True,” a ballad from his upcoming second album, “Honest,” he can even be seen on a spaceship with Miley Cyrus (a new collaborator aiding in his pop crossover) and singer Mr. Hudson. Future’s first album was called “Pluto.” He frequently chooses to treat his recorded voice with a severe application of Auto-Tune software, making himself sound like an android.
November 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Seattle rapper Macklemore and musical partner Ryan Lewis told Rolling Stone this week they will start work on a new album sometime in 2014. Their previous album, “The Heist.” went platinum.
The duo appears in Seattle for three shows Dec. 10-12 at KeyArena, after which Macklemore says he plans to take a vacation “where no one knows who Macklemore is.”
That might be difficult.
See the full RS story here.
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