Archive for ‘Preview’

May 19, 2016

John Grant Brings His Icelandic Intellect to the Emerald City

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During the Renaissance, art and intellect mingled as an equally provocative and exciting duo. Both were highly valued and experimented with during this era. From Michelangelo to Galileo, from Shakespeare to Copernicus, huge strides were made in human civilization within the span of a couple hundred years.

Fast forward to 2016, where facts are being ignored for “gut feelings” and most artists are struggling to pay rent. Sometimes, much to our lament, it seems that art and intellect have failed.

However, maybe we’re about to experience a second Renaissance. At least, that’s the little glimmer you’re left with after speaking with musician John Grant.

Grant is bringing brains back into art in a big way. After becoming enamored with Iceland after a visit, the classically trained and over-educated musician moved there to create his second album and to add the Icelandic language to his repertoire (he already knows at least four other languages).

“Before moving there, I wasn’t attached to anything at the time and I was having some success with my first record, so I had a little bit of flexibility,” Grant explained during a conversation with us. “I was invited to play in Iceland so I went there and I just sort of freaked out over it. Got excited about the people I was meeting there and the landscape and the language so I decided to stay there and learn the language and make my second album and sort of build a little life for myself there and I haven’t regretted it.”

He’s become proficient to the point where he wrote the lyrics to Iceland’s Eurovision song last year. In Iceland, he finds a certain vocational equality that is lacking elsewhere.

“They don’t really encourage certain careers as being more valuable than other types of careers. They don’t put emphasis on being a lawyer or being a doctor as being better than being an artist.”

The title Grant’s latest album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, is the English translation of the Icelandic word for “midlife crisis” and the Turkish word for “nightmare.” But despite the rather grim title, the album delights the senses with clever lyrics and vivid swells of stringed instruments juxtaposed with spoken word and the electronic staccato of synths. It is an auditory blend of brooding balanced with blithe.

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure defies what we’ve come to expect from an album. The songs stand individually rather than as a cohesive story, jerking the listener to attention with every track transition. And within Grant’s cynicism for the modern world, listeners will surely smirk at the candidness or cheekiness of his lyrical wordplay.

“I’ve pretty much been turning to humor since I was born. Sort of as a survival mechanism but I also just really love good humor,” Grant said. “I’ve always included that naturally in my music sort of as a reaction to myself. And that’s a reaction to the absurdity of life and the difficulties of life and the difficulties of getting perspective and overcoming yourself. Leaving the past behind you and being in the present takes a large dose of humor.”

He has a knack for finding comedy in dark times, of which Grant has overcome several. He struggled with addiction in the past (he is now 11 years sober) and announced he is HIV positive at the Meltdown Festival in London. Fortunately, he always seems to find the silver lining and cites comedic powerhouses like Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Gary Larson and Looney Toons among his long list of his greatest influences.

The tour for Grey Tickles, Black Pressure will be passing through Seattle this evening at the Showbox. Grant is planning on putting on a great show.

“Look forward to some authenticity in music,” said Grant. “Expect to see three people on stage who are passionate about music. Who are very excited to be there and to connect with them in whatever way is possible given the atmosphere of the moment. We’re doing what we love to do and we feel really grateful to be doing it.”

We were also pleased to hear Grant has a particular appreciation of Seattle’s musical legacy, and of the next-level audiences in the Emerald City.

“I do really like playing Seattle because there’s a really deep appreciation for music up there,” said Grant. “There’s quite a long history of great music coming out of Seattle. I think people in Seattle are really appreciative of a wide range of music and it makes me look forward to going there.”

Catch John Grant at the Showbox at the Market tonight – doors open at 7:00 PM.

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June 2, 2015

Best of the Week: Two Walkmen, Elephant 6 and a DJ Doc Premiere

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This week brings to town some of our favorite artists and personalities from yesteryear who have reemerged, reinvented themselves or just plain survived through various iterations. In addition to great shows from bands you’ve quite likely obsessed over for the past decade, this week sees the premier of the Marco Collins documentary, The Glamour & The Squalor. Keep on scrolling for our top picks and videos below.

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March 31, 2015

Only the Best: 5 Seattle Shows You’ll (Probably) Love this Week

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A new week, another chance to see some exceptional live music. You could also wind up at some pretty lame shows.

Luckily we’re looking out for you.

Here are the five very best in our (virtual, WordPress-hosted) book.

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March 25, 2015

5 Best of the (Rest of the) Week [3/25]

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OK, so it’s Wednesday and we’re just now getting our weekly recs up. Sorry about that.

Long story short, we’re no longer on speaking terms with our snooze alarm.

In good news, we’re happy to report the best of the week is still to come. This week brings some of our favorite new and old, local and beyond musicians to some of Seattle’s best venues.

Without further ado, here are the five best shows to come this week.

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March 16, 2015

Best Live Music of the Week: Tycho, Pickwick and more [Week of 3/16]

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At first glance this week seemed to be sorely lacking in good shows. However, with a little digging, we uncovered some gems for the most discerning of Emerald City music fans. We’re pleased to recommend some pretty intimate shows this week as well, with the largest venue being the Showbox SoDo, so you can get up close and personal with some great artists this week.

And, if it was a competition to see which venue can book the greatest number of recommendable shows for the week, we’d give the trophy to Sunset Tavern, one of our favorite little Ballard venues, as its calendar is looking pretty great this week!

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March 9, 2015

The Phoenix Rises: Chop Suey Reopens Amid Week of Great Live Music [Week of 3/9]

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Emerald City dwellers, rejoice! After a week chock full of great musical options, our recommendations culminate with the Grand Reopening of Chop Suey in Capitol Hill! We can’t wait to find out if the new owners have stayed true to the original vibe of the venue, but based on the debut lineup, we think the Chop Suey will maintain its superbly gritty underground live music reputation.

The show is already sold out, however. But if you can’t finagle a ticket to the Chop Suey Reopening, you can’t go wrong with any of the other shows we recommend this week.

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February 9, 2015

Feel the Love: Best Concerts of the Week [Feb. 9]

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Valentine’s Day week is upon us, and we suggest a non-traditional celebration for you (and your significant other, if you have one). Skip the expected chocolates and roses and instead opt for a memorable evening taking in some great music with a couple Heinekens. There are plenty of good options this week, whether you want to celebrate with a sweetheart or go solo.

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January 19, 2015

Weekly Best Bets: Seattle Concerts for the Week of 1/19

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This is a big week for music in our little corner of the country. Just as we wipe the tears from our eyes from the farewell show at Chop Suey, we’re reminded that Seattle’s music scene is still very much alive and well. This week kicks off with a set from punk’s poet laureate Patti Smith. As if that wasn’t enough musical prowess so early in the week, that show is followed by a (pre-announed but still) surprise club show from Seattle’s claim-to-indie-fame Death Cab for Cutie. After a couple days to recover from all that musical goodness, we wrap the week with a set from Portland’s Loch Lomond opening for another legendary group, The Vaselines.

Does it really get much better than this?

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January 16, 2015

Have Weekend Plans? Seattle’s Can’t Miss Music for 1/17 & 1/18

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Inevitably after the rush of the holidays there’s a lull in the city. We all need a few days to catch our breaths, remember what it’s like to wake up early for work, and think of creative ways to work off the extra calories we’ve consumed in Christmas cocktails cookies. The music scene tends to fall into a lull as well, knowing full well that music fans will be distracted with merry making outside the music venues.

The good news is that we’ve all made it through the lull and the Emerald City music scene is stirring from its slumber in preparation of the spring tour season. Take, for example, this weekend’s stellar lineup.

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November 24, 2014

Best Live Music of the Week – 11/24

Hello readers! Welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming of weekly music recommendations.

As you prepare to give thanks for your mom’s turkey and apple pie later this week, we’re giving thanks that the Emerald City can boast such amazing venues and artists. See below for a quick glance at the best live shows this week.

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11/26 (Wednesday) Bryan John Appleby, Shenandoah Davis, James Wallace @ Fremont Abbey Arts Center

This month’s installment of music at the Abbey features three talented, bluesy, indie singer-songwriters.

11/28 (Friday) Noah Gundersen, Rocky Votolato @ The Moore

Up-and-coming singer songwriter joins one of Seattle’s tried-and-true songsmiths at one of the loveliest venues in the city.

11/29 (Saturday) Black Whales (album release), The Young Evils, Timbre Barons, @ The Tractor Tavern

The 1960’s-influenced folk garage band Black Whales releases their latest collection of raw, psychedelic pop tunes.

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