Archive for July, 2012

July 27, 2012

Arriving with a “Refreshing Departure:” An Interview Jake Rohr of Fort Union

If a look back at the creative output of mankind has taught us anything, it’s trying times make for good art. Sure, there are some other lessons in there as well but to steal a line from Sean Nelson, “happiness writes white” and there’s nothing like discontent to get the ink flowing.

In modern times, few topics push artists as consistently and as reliably as break-ups. Tonight’s recommended headliner, Fort Union, has its start in an ending. What makes their story different than the traditional “Blood on the Tracks”-esque inspiration is the new Seattle/Portland duo taps into the shared experience of a band break-up to fuel a new beginning. Rising from the ashes of Friday Mile, Jace Krause and Jake Rohr took the opportunity to embrace change and explore less traveled, more experimental sonic terrain.

In advance of their album release show at the Tractor tonight, we were lucky enough to catch up Jake, the Seattle half of the equation, to talk about the band’s genesis, the debut album and their new approach. If you like what you hear (and read), be sure to head over to Ballard tonight for what promises to be a great show. Widower and SLM favorite Cataldo will open.

The self-description of Fort Union as a “refreshing departure from Seattle’s ‘guy with a guitar’ music scene” has certainly struck a chord with music critics and likely fans. While people know what not to expect, what key elements should they expect from Fort Union, musically speaking?

At their core, I think the Fort Union songs are accessible pop tunes with catchy melodies and we could’ve easily gone down the familiar ‘guy with a guitar’ folk/country route with the instrumentation and production. But that didn’t really interest us. Early on, our goals were to take this songs, flip them upside down, stretch em out and throw some texture, atmosphere and weirdness in there. Ryan Lynch’s guitar playing is huge part of setting our sound apart. It’s a constant presence throughout the record, both creating space and tying things together.

Your bandcamp page prominently mentions Fort Union formed from the ashes of a band breakup. How did Friday Mile’s end affect your approach to songwriting, arranging and recording in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if Friday Mile was still active and Fort Union was just a side project?

Jace and I had a handful of the Fort Union songs on the back burner while Friday Mile was still together. They had a bit of a different feel so we kept it as a separate project. Honestly, I would’ve loved to have worked on the two projects sided by side, but the restraints of jobs, schedules and finite amounts of energy didn’t allow that. When the band broke up, Jace and I dove right in on the Fort Union songs.

Speaking of recording, how did your experience recording in Jace’s garage differ from past recordings you’ve done and how did that ultimately impact the sound and feel of the album?

Our past recording as Friday Mile were all done in proper studios with engineers and producers. I think that was the right choice for that project and we learned a lot about the recording process by working and observing professionals. With Fort Union, we had a lot of ideas for the feel and vibe of the record, but the actual songs hadn’t been all written. We recorded as we wrote, initially just as demos that allowed us to play multiple instruments ourselves. I think early on we had the idea to go into a professional studio, but as the songs took shape over multiple passes we found that we really liked the way our recording sounded as is. We got the songs sounding as close as possible to where we wanted them and handed them off to Gary Mula to mix. He heard what we were going for, tore them down and built them back up. They sound beautiful thanks to his expertise but retain our original vision.

When you uploaded your album to bandcamp, you encouraged fans to set aside 40 minutes as the album was designed to be heard in its entirety. Can you share a little about your approach to the album as a whole and why the entirety is greater than the sum of its parts?

We always wanted people to experience this record as whole. We had done previous records that were more a collection of stand-alone singles and were ready for something more cohesive. These songs flow together and support each other. I wanted to make a great road trip album.

Can you talk a bit about your video trailer project for the album – how it came about, how you selected the local filmmakers and how this played into the bigger picture of releasing and promoting the album?

It’s so hard to compete for people’s attention these days with so many people promoting stuff online the we were looking for different ways to draw people to what we were doing. I realized one day that there are a lot of extended instrumental sections on the record that have a very cinematic quality to them. We know a ton of talented videographers and reached out to see if they could set some images to our music. We gave them 60 seconds each and a lot of freedom. It’s interesting that they independently all went the scenic, nature route. I was very happy with how they turned out.

Going back to Seattle’s ‘guy with a guitar’ music scene, are there any other Seattle musicians that break from that tradition that you’re particularly enjoying at the moment?

Oh man, there are so many bands that I think are doing great stuff out there. One band that I’m really digging right now is a ‘girl with a guitar’ band – Deep Sea Diver. One of my favorite shows of the last year.

What should people expect from your set this Friday?

We want to celebrate and throw a party. Our live set has bit more energy. We’ve got two drummers, percussion, harmonies and we rock the songs more than what you’ll hear on the record.

What’s next for you and the band through the end of the year?

We’re putting together some more shows this fall in the Seattle/Portland area to support the record. But we’ve got a whole bunch of new songs that we’re itching to get to work on. Hopefully a year from now we’ll have another record under our belt.

7/27 – Fort Union, Cataldo, Widower @ Tractor, Doors at 9:30pm, $8

July 23, 2012

The 3 Best Seattle Shows of the Week – July 23

Here’s a look at the three best shows of the week. As always, keep your eyes on our calendar as we’re continually adding more great shows to the mix.

7/23 (Monday) – Wye Oak (w/ Dirty Projectors) @ Showbox
Driving indie-rock with twangy flourishes powered by delicate female vocals.

7/25 (Wednesday) – The xx @ Showbox
One of England’s finest dark indie-pop groups promoting an upcoming album release, Coexist.

7/27 (Friday) – Fort Union (w/ Cataldo) @ Tractor
Dreamy, buoyant folk-tinged soundscapes from Seattle natives.

July 22, 2012

CHBP: Top Picks for Day 3

Today’s best sets are below. Enjoy it as this might just be the end of CHBP as we know it!

Gold Leaves | 3:30 pm • Barboza Stage

Seattleite Grant Olsen’s band that manages “to create a sound that recalls simpler times with enough flourishes to firmly root itself in the here and now.” [SEAliveMUSIC]

Kris Orlowski | 5:00 pm • Vera Stage

We’ve previously described Kris Orlowski’s music as “a classic recipe for great jams that will remind you of carefree summer days around a campfire with your best friends.”

Phantogram | 6:10 pm • Main Stage

Indie pop powerhouse Phantogram combine dreamy vocals with steady beats and melodic keys, which makes them a festival favorite. And if you like ice cream almost as much as you like music, stop by the Bluebird Microcreamery cart near the front entrance to try their Phantogram-cracker flavor, created especially for this show. We can’t decide if you’ll be more excited about the band or the ice cream!

Porcelain Raft | 9:00 pm • Neumos Stage

London-based musician Mauro Remiddi (a.k.a. Porcelain Raft)plays the type of gauzy dream-pop that will no doubt be hit for Block Partyers wanting to enjoy an atmospheric set that falls somewhere between Youth Lagoon’s Friday set and Grimes’ Saturday set.

RA Scion | 9:45 pm • Barboza Stage

While best known as one half of Common Market, or perhaps known by the pseudonym Victor Shade, RA Scion has become legendary for his lyrical talents since he began writing his own rhymes and rapping more than 20 years ago.


Yukon Blonde | 7:10 pm • Vera Stage

Previously, we’ve described Yukon Blonde as “a group Northern neighbors who happen to play some of the finest Canyon Rock that’s hit our ears for years.”

Grand Archives | 8:30 pm • Barboza Stage

While they’ve only been in existence for about five years, Grand Archives is one those bands that has roots that have been a part of the Seattle scene forever. Picking up right where frontman Mat Brooke’s work with Band of Horses and Carissa’s Wierd left off, the band’s thoughtful lyrics, delicate harmonies and country-tinged instrumentation have a timeless quality.

July 21, 2012

CHBP: Top Picks for Day 2

Today’s best sets are below… we’ll see you there!

Absolute Monarchs | 2:15 pm • Main Stage

Absolute Monarchs, which many know as the other band featuring Joel from the muscularly dexterous, critically-acclaimed Seattle duo My Goodness, plays the finest high-energy distortion-driven rock your likely to hear all weekend.

Lemolo | 3:30 pm • Barboza Stage

“With skillful keyboard skills and haunting yet playful vocals there’s little wonder why this female duo is the toast of the town.” [SEAliveMUSIC]

Beat Connection | 4:45 pm • Main Stage

Speaking of local buzz bands, Beat Connection has been picking up fans and critical acclaim with reckless abandon since their genesis back as a freshmen at UW in 2008. The group has since become one of Seattle’s most beloved purveyors of catchy, worldly electro-pop.

Grimes | 7:30 pm • Main Stage

With a penchant for layering exotic pop beats over rich dreamlike soundscapes and multi-tracked transcendental vocals, Claire Boucher’s one woman act Grimes might just be the most sonically ambitious set all weekend.

White Arrows | 10:15 pm • Neumos Stage

As the story goes, White Arrows’ frontman has his undergraduate degree in shamanistic ritual. Take that for what you will but we have no doubt you’ll enjoy the band’s intricate interplay of aboriginal sounds and electro pop sensibilities.


Silly Goose | 3:45 pm • Cha Cha Stage

Billed as the finest Blink-182 cover band you’ll ever see, Silly Goose brings together Jenn Ghetto (Carissa’s Wierd), Thomas Wright and Jeffy Montano (Grand Archives) for a high energy musical experience you won’t soon forget.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo | 4:00 pm • Neumos Stage

Speaking of good times, Brent Amaker plays the type of highly self-aware but never self-important Johnny Cash-inspired tunes that never fails to put smiles on the faces of any audience.

Some samples of today’s best picks:

July 20, 2012

CHBP: Top Picks for Day 1

Despite the storm, we’re making the trek up to Capitol Hill for the first night of the appropriately named Capitol Hill Block Party. Not only is it known for being one of the premier hipster-spotting events in Seattle, or the event that makes it impossible to find parking on the hill, but there are also some musical gems awaiting our eager ears. Whether they’re staples of your music collection or slightly under your radar, you won’t want you to miss these great acts.

Today’s best sets are below… we’ll see you there!

Father John Misty | 4:00 pm • Main Stage

You may remember our rave preview of J. Tillman’s new act, and we can’t emphasize enough how much you need to leave work early to catch his set.

Youth Lagoon | 6:30 pm • Main Stage

“Youth Lagoon’s tunes are like taking a dreamy, auditory swim through memories that you never had, but seem familiar nonetheless.” [SEAliveMUSIC]

Fly Moon Royalty | 7:00 pm • Vera Stage

A must-see that we previously described: “The Seattle duo perfectly blends R&B with electronica which results in a velvety, danceable mashup of sonic goodness.

Colonies | 7:30 pm • Barboza Stage

A new find that we think “builds on these subtle touch-points of the earlier work of bands like Death Cab for Cutie and even some aspects of Modest Mouse and layers upon it their penchant for more atmospheric soundscapes.”

Nouela | 8:30 pm • Barboza Stage

The frontwoman of “People Eating People” decided on an appropriate name-change for her piano driven indie rock.


Thee Oh Sees | 7:45 pm • Main Stage

A primal blend of low-fi, post punk, psychedelic rock that you should check out if you can’t get to Colonies.

Fitz and the Tantrums | 10:45 pm • Main Stage

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: this combination of vintage soul with modern day dance music will literally force you to dance. Put your preconceived notions on the shelf and go see this band live. You’ll thank us later.

Some samples of tonight’s best picks:

July 2, 2012

This Week’s Best: Celebrate American Independence the Musical Way [July 2]

You don’t have to contain your 4th of July celebrations to Wednesday. At least not when it comes to enjoying good music around our Emerald City. Another reason to celebrate? All Seattle residents know that the 5th of July is the official start to our PacNW summer. So three cheers for all the great concerts this week!

7/2 (Monday) – Audra Mae @ Tractor
Soulful country crooner from LA by way of Oklahoma.

7/5 (Thursday) – The Torn ACLs @ Tractor
Fun-times pop rock from Seattle.

7/4 (Wednesday) – Pickwick @ Gasworks Park
Have a blast at the Family 4th Celebration with your favorite indie-folk-turned-soul band from Seattle.

7/6 (Friday) – Bryan John Appleby @ Columbia City Theater
Thoughtful, folk-tinged acoustic melodies from one of Seattle’s finest singer-songrwriters.

7/6 (Friday) – Lower Dens @ Barboza
Multifaceted, ethereal experimental rock from Baltimore.

7/7 (Saturday) – The Moondoggies @ Barboza
Driving, Americana-infused melodic rock from Ballard.

7/7 (Saturday) – The Next Fifty Play The First Fifty featuring Vendetta Red, Grand Hallway, Fly Moon Royalty, Seacats, Candysound, Special Explosion, Brothers From Another, Dungeon Science @ The Mural
Free show Seattle Center’s Mural Ampitheater featuring local acts playing original songs interspersed with covers of legends of PacNW.

7/7 (Saturday) – The Cloud War (formerly Brother Bear) @ Tractor Tavern
Indie folk pop with a vaudeville twist from Seattle.

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